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. Elie Lebbos

    wow the comments really suck ... I'm an atheist (though I do not dislike everything Dawkins does) who supports you proposal dear Rachel, thank you for the effort.

    September 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • jens gessner


      Rachel's proposal is illogical, and even seems disingenuous. And here is why:

      The biggest problem that atheists have with religion is NOT that religious people are irrational. – They are deluded, for sure, but why should I care about their delusions? The bigger problem is religion's insistence on influencing public policy based on irrational belief.*

      Rachel seems to be suggesting that we should dismiss extremist voices of 'the other side' in the discourse, because they do not represent the mainstream. But there is a huge difference between an atheist scientist who expresses his own, controversial opinion on a matter completely unrelated to atheism, and an christian evangelist whose irrational preaching makes its way into public policy. Thus, IF Richard Dawkins' comment about his own childhood experience resulted in people demanding changes in the criminal code, or IF his assessment of the long-term effect of 'mild pedophila' caused proposed changes in public policy and the way we view child abuse, then Rachel would have a valid argument. – But nobody, atheist or not, is making any proposals to that effect. Therefore, her comparing Dawkins with Robertson is nothing more than cheap journalism.

      *The most serious issue is competing religious views and their resulting threat to all of humanity, but that is beside the point.

      September 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • heehee

      Nah.. she wants to communicate and come to an understanding, and yet she ignored Dawkins' meaning, which was that religious states do not tend to support science and advancement. She chose instead to score points. How's that for trying to understand each other? It's not really all that honest. What she means is, "let's be nice", but like many people perceives sharp and clear statements as impolite and aggressive.

      Myself, I can't treat all ideas equally, because they're not equal. I also can't ignore the very, very obvious differences in craziness and hate between the religious right and the so-called militant atheists. I would like to see the same standards applied to both for once.

      September 16, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  2. Xtrao

    How about NO, Rachel.

    How about a fair counter-proposal even? We, atheists, are held accountable for all the (allegedly) wrong stuff Dawkins says, and you are held accountable for all the stuff that the Paterson does? We, atheists, can afford it. Can you? I doubt.

    September 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  3. Colin

    The reason no thinking person who is concerned about society should sign a truce with religion is demonstrated by a few short questions.

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in an “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;

    (b) Cosmology;

    (c) Psychology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q. 2 What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) paleontology

    (b) archeology

    (c) biology; or

    (d) Judaism, Christianity or Islam

    Q. 3 Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    Q. 4 It is only acceptable as an adult to believe Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology

    (d) religion

    Q.5 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:

    (a) hetero$exuality

    (b) genetics

    (c) nationality; or

    (d) religion.

    Q6. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes that prayers are answered

    Q7. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.8 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.9 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.10 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Q.11 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) the mafia

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) any given religious organization

    Q. 12 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" (like protect myself from disease with a condom, for example). I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or

    (d) A regular Christian, Jew or Muslim following my religious belief

    In short, nothing in history of human endeavor can make otherwise smart, functioning people believe the most implausible of supernatural absurdities the way religion can. Further, nothing can make otherwise good people do very bad things the way religion can.

    No, I could no more sign a truce with religion than I could sign a truce with, ignorance, stupidity or parochialism.

    September 16, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • AE

      A thinking person who is concerned about society also won't take your pretend test based on your personal biases.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
      • Colin

        Being opposed to supersti.tion and dogma is no more a bias than being opposed to ignorance is. There is nothing biased about wanting people to escape the close mindedness and parochialism of any given religion.

        September 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
        • lol??

          Who put you in charge of people's minds?? The god of this wurld and the "Wegodian" puppets??

          September 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
        • AE

          If people are suffering from such a condition, that is great if you are ready to offer them help. What do you do for them besides writing up tests that prove your point of view?

          Not all people who read this blog are suffering at the hands of superst.ition or dogma. I'm not. I've got God who is real and available.

          I belong to a community that promotes and embraces open mindedness. And their actions speak volumes about what they truly believe.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, AE, suppose you make up a test to support your POV. (That's "point of view" for you folks that are not in the motion picture business.)

          September 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
        • AE

          My test:

          Do you honestly want to know God?

          September 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
        • Athy

          What are the choices? This is a multiple-choice quiz, not an essay.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • lol??

      God is very upfront and open with His flock and NOT sneaky like the socies.

      Phl 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

      September 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • lol??

      Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

      You are left out, Colin. No room at the mind.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • 616

      Colin, answer the following:

      1) When was the last time you r a p ed a girl?
      a. last week
      b. yesterday
      c. last year
      d. all of the above

      2)How great is President Bush?
      a. great
      b. the greatest
      c. can't even fathom his greatness

      3) Unfair questions are...
      a. prefectly fine as long as I ask them
      b. not fine if I don't get to ask them
      c. stop pointing out the faults in the copy/paste of mine, I worked hard on it
      d. all of the above

      September 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
      • AE

        Ok, that certainly made the point I was trying to make. Very nicely stated.

        September 16, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        666, The answer to each of Colin's questions can be found in either the religious texts or the doctrine of the religious followers.

        September 16, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
      • heehee

        That was one hilarious post. (and I'm an atheist).

        September 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  4. Colin

    Problem is, Dawkins was factually correct. Trinity College HAS been awarded more Nobel Prizes than all the World's Muslims. Secondly, the mild pedophilia he experienced apparently did not cause him any lasting harm.

    How can purely factual statements be "destructive", or even controversial? If it's "all about the truth" as the author proclaims, speaking the (politically incorrect) truth should be lauded.

    September 16, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • donna

      Exactly. Dawkins is guilty of the same crime Lawrence Summers committed...

      September 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • 616

      What can we say, it's all about location.
      Why are people christian? Because of where they come from right?

      Who developed the Nobel Prizes? A bunch of white people right? Shockingly, white people tend to win the most. Does that make whites more intelligent?
      Dawkins should find other measures of intelligence than a group that would give Obama or even Arafat a peace prize.

      September 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
      • heehee

        He wasn't saying Muslims are less intelligent.

        September 16, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Sara

      He didn't just say it caused him no harm, but that it had caused no harm to any of the kids that teacher had molested, something he could not know. Regardless, it has nothing to do with his beliefs about god.i

      September 16, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  5. lol??

    Rachel looks fine in the picture. Then she exposed her carnality and brags about it. AAAAahhhhh americultian wemen,

    "One Way Or Another"

    One way or another I'm gonna find ya
    I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha
    One way or another I'm gonna win ya
    I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha
    One way or another I'm gonna see ya
    I'm gonna meetcha meetcha meetcha meetcha
    One day, maybe next week
    I'm gonna meetcha, I'm gonna meetcha, I'll meetcha
    I will drive past your house
    And if the lights are all down
    I'll see who's around

    One way or another I'm gonna find ya
    I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha
    One way or another I'm gonna win ya
    I'll getcha, I'll getcha
    One way or another I'm gonna see ya
    I'm gonna meetcha meetcha meetcha meetcha
    One day, maybe next week
    I'm gonna meetcha, I'll meetcha
    And if the lights are all out
    I'll follow your bus downtown
    See who's hanging out

    One way or another I'm gonna lose ya
    I'm gonna give you the slip, a slip of the lip or another
    I'm gonna lose ya, I'm gonna trick ya, I'll trick ya
    One way or another I'm gonna lose ya
    I'm gonna trick ya trick ya trick ya trick ya
    One way or another I'm gonna lose ya
    I'm gonna give you the slip

    I'll walk down the mall
    Stand over by the wall
    Where I can see it all
    Find out who ya call
    Lead you to the supermarket checkout
    Some specials and rat food, get lost in the crowd

    September 16, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Always good to hear from the clinically insane contingent.

      September 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • Observer

        midwest rail,

        Do you actually read anything he writes? Does anyone?

        September 16, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Thad

      Her CARNALITY? Are you freaking insane? Don't answer that. You are.
      Misogynist pig. When are you going to start to use your real name, Fred Phelps?

      September 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • lol??

      M Rail is my very own personal stalker and Observer is a marriage hater.

      September 16, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
      • Thad

        You're ugly. Your heart is ugly. Your soul is ugly.

        September 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
        • Observer

          He is also a proven LIAR, but it's likely that people don't expect honesty anyway from someone with his level of maturity.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  6. Kate

    Pope Francis is the False Prophet, who will try to unite all religions, including atheism. The main changes in the Catholic doctrine to be witnessed soon: change of prayers, change of Eucharist, introduction of a new cross. All of it has one aim – worshiping satan and accepting sin. Read more http://biblicalfalseprophet.com
    Maria Devine Mercy – The last prophet before Second Coming of Jesus Christ, publishes the Messages from Jesus Christ at http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com Read it and make your own opinion. Many prophecies have come true already – Pope Benedict resignation, great floods (in August 2013 – Russia's greatest floods during last 250 years)

    September 16, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • jens gessner

      Yikes, I hope you don't pay money for that nonsense.

      September 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Mike

      Funny how these amazing prophecies are always published after the fact, isn't it?

      September 17, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Coo coo for cocoa puffs

      September 17, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  7. Kenneth

    So, is it ironic that the people who claim to embrace logic and rationality get so irrationally angry when confronted with religion? I mean, I understand being angry about the Rick Perrys of the world trying to legislate their beliefs on everyone else, most people can understand how that isn't kosher. But to foam at the mouth when even the most even handed comment is made by a religious person seems, well, irrational.

    September 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • AE

      It is very ironic. Usually those who claim to be more logical than others, actually aren't.

      Logic does not lead all people to atheism.

      September 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

        Godless Vagabond
        Only if they are logical.

        September 16, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
        • AE

          And they don't post on this site.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Nick

          Illogic is defined by absolutism.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Are you absolutely sure about that?

          September 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
        • AE

          Arrogance is defined by absolutism.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          LOL, that sounds absolute and arrogant. Ha!

          September 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
        • lol??

          God is absolute and not illogical like modern bi-o-logical thought.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
        • AE

          “the most profound of all religious sentiments should not be certainty, which inevitably leads to arrogance, but modesty, which because of a generous God, leads to mercy and forgiveness”

          Peter Gomes

          September 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
      • Parzival

        Logic doesn't lead people to atheism or religion. A desire for fulfillment and reason in ones life above all other things leads people to religion. Religion becomes the crutch of reason in a person's life. A perfectly logical man or woman might need that crutch, whereas others may not. I do not judge those who cannot stand on their own two feet without it. It's a hard proposition to live your life free of predetermination and reasoned purpose.

        I am an atheist and find that to be one of my own personal conflicts. I would like there to be more reason for things sometimes, I would like there to be something more than my own self-ascribed purpose, but at the end of the day I simply cannot sell out what I believe to be true for what makes me feel more fulfilled. It's a hard road to travel. Perhaps some religious edict is right and we collective non-believers are wrong. I'm not opposed to this possibility, it's just that I see no reason in years of searching to think that is the case. In fact the harder I've looked, the less I believe.

        September 17, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • donna

      How is it irrational to be angry over things that people are trying to do to you. your family and friends?

      September 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • Kenneth

        I thought I addressed that with the Rick Perry reference.
        That is not irrational. I feel the same way, and I am a Christian.
        It is the people who cannot even have a conversation about someone else s beliefs that I am referring to.

        September 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
        • donna


          Well, I think there are a lot of people one both sides who come for a fight, or tend to post arguments rather than comments of support. I think that's the nature of these message boards and not specific to religion.

          But having said that, it's not illogical to be angry when people do things you think are harmful to you and yours.

          If you are a voter, you are imposing your beliefs on me. Therefore, it personally affects me if you base your actions on blatant irrationality, especially when it takes the form of oppressing human rights. It affects me if you raise your children to reject science. It affects me if you encourage others to reject science.

          So I get why you think it's unpleasant to be around the hostility, but it's not illogical when you personally experience things that impact your ability to be happy. I do get very angry knowing that a lot of these posters will actively try to restrict my rights for example.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • Kenneth

          donna, I couldn't agree with you more.
          As a modern Christian, it drives me crazy when other Christians proclaim the world to be 6,000 years old. In the same vein, it drives me crazy when conservatives deny global warming because of their politics.
          No, I get how some of these people can be tiresome with their proselytizing and rabid intrusion into your life.
          Please be assured that there are many of us that are not like that.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
        • AE

          "If you are a voter, you are imposing your beliefs on me."


          "It affects me if you raise your children to reject science."


          Not all non-atheists vote the same way. Not all non-atheists reject science.

          Some atheists vote against causes you support. Some atheists reject science.

          You really need to re-read this article about trying to paint people with broad strokes.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • Martin

          So do you, AE. You're painting some pretty broad swaths with your brush yourself.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
        • donna

          Kenneth, I know there are a lot of very wonderful spiritual and religious people who don't impose their beliefs on others. 🙂

          September 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
        • donna


          I'm not sure how to respond. Are your "hu?'s" really questioning whether or not voting has an impact on other people?

          And I never suggested that all of any group vote the same way. Not a bit.

          I think you need to reread my comment IN CONTEXT with the conversation we were having...

          September 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
        • AE

          The context of the thread is about the irony of people who claim to be logical, but act illogical.


          It sounds like you are stating people who disagree with you should not be allowed to vote.

          "If you are a voter, you are imposing your beliefs on me."

          As a voter, you do the same thing. Right? Isn't that how democracy and voting works? How does that justify you getting angry and acting illogical?

          And you also seem to imply that generally religious people are anti-science. That is just not the case.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
        • donna


          I answered the question. Kenneth had no problem understanding what I said. It was quite clear. I explained why being angry at people who were religious could be logical. Do you always complain about other people's conversations?

          I never suggested people didn't have the right to vote. Not even close!

          Every comment you make to me is falsely representing what I've said. I'm not going to reply to you if you continue doing that. Stop making things up and just read the words I write...

          September 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
        • AE

          I apologize.

          I have people act hostile and irrational toward me on this site. And they claim I am trying to interfere with their lives and impose my will onto the government. And, contrary to the evidence, they try to insist I am anti-science.

          Ken did a better job of proving that point of view wrong.

          I must have read this wrong:

          "If you are a voter, you are imposing your beliefs on me"

          All voters impose their beliefs on each other, right? Nothing unique to religious people.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
        • donna


          "If you are a voter, you are imposing your beliefs on me"

          All voters impose their beliefs on each other, right? Nothing unique to religious people."

          Of course. I was making the case that people's religious beliefs can have a real world impact on others who don't share those beliefs, because I was justifying a personal emotional reaction to the subject.

          I'm sure we could list a lot of things affect voting for good or bad, but I was just talking about this aspect. 🙂

          September 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • Joey

          AE if you have ever voted to ban abortion or gay marriage you are forcing your beliefs on others, end of story.

          September 17, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "But to foam at the mouth when even the most even handed comment is made by a religious person seems, well, irrational."

      That presumes that an even-handed remark was made.

      Let's stipulate that the remarks of no one individual should be representative of a large group (unless we're talking about the pope). That's not really the issue here.

      Ms. Held Evans (rightly) uses the dopey opinions of Pat Robertson as being not representative of all Christians. OK fine. The problem is that she has to stretch to find a exemplar for equally dopey opinions by an atheist.

      The statement regarding Muslim scientists is irrefutably true and directly correlates to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the late eleventh century.

      Richard Dawkins like all those of his background and generation attended an English boarding school in the 1950s. This environment was rife with what we consider abusive today. In his opinion it didn't hurt him much – most of his contemporaries probably agree with him. Hardly a gaffe.

      What do you think about the topic of bullying today? Were you bullied? Do you think it is just one of those things you had to deal with growing up? (Same question as Dawkins' comment really.)

      September 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • James A Young

      Perhaps the obvious fact that people act on their beliefs is a valid reason to be concerned about the beliefs of looney tune religious-nuts. 911 should be a clue as to what they are capable of.

      September 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
      • Kenneth

        They also act on their beliefs to feed the hungry, tend the sick and house the poor, but somehow that doesn't ever seem to count to some of you people.

        September 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  8. withcauses


    September 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • doobzz


      Stealing advertising space?

      September 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  9. Kenneth

    Two days later, the story buried where you have to click three times to get to it, and the pettiness is still raging on.
    Religion, politics or sports. Never shall cooler heads and level minds prevail.

    September 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • heehee

      I come back for posts like yours. Your priceless sanctimony and self-congratulation are very entertaining. Please keep it coming! It's so hard to resist the temptation to try to point out what you're doing, but I know it's pointless. It's simply marvelous watching you in action.

      September 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • Kenneth

        Glad I can help your mom entertain you kid.

        September 17, 2013 at 9:07 am |
        • heehee

          Brilliant! That's what I was looking for. Thanks for obliging!

          September 17, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Kenneth

          Hmmm. It seems I have a stalker. Or perhaps a groupie.

          September 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • heehee

          Yes I have a thing for clowns.

          September 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Kenneth

          I'm sure you have a deviant thing for clowns and the attention of a certain "special" kind of priest.

          Honestly, though, I read an article on a tech blog that you guys have some kind of point system where you sit around and circle-jerk over how annoying you can be on the internet.
          So, do you guys have, like, geek-dollars that you can trade in at some online troll store? Can you buy t-shirts and mugs and mouse pads?

          September 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • JustUsBikers

          That was pretty good! LOL

          September 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  10. Slavery is alive and well.

    Americult's kings got so used to handing out goodies from Santa's bag of tricks they didn't notice the bag was empty. These were mobster bagmen more suitable for Bagdad with their history of Bagdaddies.

    September 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  11. so the eyes of man are never satisfied

    Send all yer money to the king and fight to get some back. That's politics.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  12. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Pro 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Doris

      OK, you're off the hook on this one Pithhead. I should have known it was Gullible's Travels, Part One that would indicate that destruction is something that can be filled up.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • G to the T

      A KJV user? Really? Here's another translation "Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes". Oops! No mention of "hell" in the OT? wonder why?

      September 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  13. Rob McQueary

    Spot on (as always). Thank you, Rachel, for holding a high standard for truth without getting sucked into pettiness. Speaking of discussions with Atheists, look what I was up to yesterday – http://rethinkxian.com.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Rob:
      you said "spot on (as always)."
      you need to read this:

      note well the italicized summation at the end of the article:
      "...you have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals."

      September 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • Rob McQueary

        So, Russ, when you read the book, what conclusions did you draw?

        September 16, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Rob:
          1) you're attempting to dodge Keller's critique by putting the onus on me to have read the book. that's a dodge (would you do that will ALL the books in the world?) – is the critique valid or not?

          a) i'm not a woman. i find feminists more receptive to critique from other women. otherwise they can just play the gender card.

          b) this is the reason book reviews exist: you can't read all the books. which ones are worth your time? good reviews help you know. and it's clear: this book is not worth the time.

          c) back to the original point: kathy keller's critique is rather devastating. did you read that (unlike a book, it'll take 3 minutes)? even the brief summation I quoted above presses the point.

          2) i've read a number of feminists in this field. i have not read this book. here's why:

          a) it's clearly an unoriginal premise (several others had already attempted this pursuit, namely AJ Jacobs [as a man] years before, and – as Keller references – another woman simultaneously).

          b) the reviews made it clear that there was nothing new here – especially that her hermeneutical premise was faulted from the outset (meaning virtually all her deductions would necessarily also be).

          c) having read other feminist authors in this field, i appreciate (while radically differing from) those who honestly admit their purposeful departure from orthodox Christianity as historically understood – as well as those who actually want to remain faithful, of course. but it is clear that Rachel Held Evans wants to do hermeneutics firmly grounded in the former category while masquerading as a theologian in the latter. that is disingenuous... which brings me to the more direct & personal point...

          3) for you to openly adopt her theological stance means either you are unaware of that disingenuous approach OR that you are purposefully embracing it. which is it? ...or do you actually think she *is* being faithful (which would only AGAIN draw us to the devastating critique Keller brings against her)?

          September 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
        • Rob McQueary

          I find it interesting that you can draw such firm conclusions about me from one simple question.

          That said, yes, I think you should read every book you plan to critique.

          September 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • Everyone's a critic

          You read a review, Russ, and dismissed Rod's opinion completely based on that review.
          I've reviewed your review, and concluded all you want to do is start an argument based on the fact that Rod likes RHE, and you don't. So the hell what?
          This is based on:
          1. Your condescending tone of your post, and
          2. Your unwillingness to admit that another person's opinion may differ from yours, and
          3. You haven't read RHE's book, so your critique of Rod's opinion, who has clearly read it, is unfounded and disingenuous.

          Having now read the book, you clearly do not know whether Rod's opinion of RHE is "spot on" or not; if you disagree, state why without depending on a review of a person who didn't like the book. In other words, what do you think of this article?
          Don't agree? Why?

          September 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Rob:
          1) reading every book... that's (practically speaking) impossible. why do you think book reviews exist?

          2) you said she's "spot on." that's a rather firm statement. so yes, according to your own words, there are firm things to be deduced. and, you notably chose NOT to respond to those deductions...

          September 18, 2013 at 1:06 am |
        • Russ

          @ everyone's critic:
          1) if you read the review, why didn't you engage ANY of the content. my point was not to "start an argument" but to point out that Rob was seriously mistaken.

          2) i expect some people to disagree with me. why else would i be on a diverse site?

          3) you're still dodging the original critique, which – as i've stated repeatedly – is NOT mine, but Keller's. and it is foundational & devastating for REH's position. notably, you've given NO response to the substance of that critique but instead have chosen to attempt to dodge it by focusing on me. and yet the criticism still stands.

          4) i commented directly on this article back on comment page 33 where i said this:

          Evans is robbing herself of the greatest asset to the discussion: honesty.
          For example: is Dawkins simply being consistent where other atheists are not?
          (As a Christian, I would welcome the same critique via Pat Robertson.)
          If there is no ultimate justice or good or evil, what basis does one have to reject such "evils", much less be upset about them?

          A dialogue that will not engage the most extreme examples is a disingenuous one.
          It's like having a debate where the agreement in advance is "just don't ask any hard questions."

          September 18, 2013 at 1:20 am |
      • lol??

        If I was her hubby I'd be afraid of her turnin' to a pillar of salt. Leave it up to the psychopathic org known as CNN to giver her exposure.

        September 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • Thad

          You have such an ugly heart, Fred Phelps. Please take yourself and all of your hatefulness elsewhere if CNN isn't to your liking. You won't be missed.

          September 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  14. Hell and destruction are never full

    Psa 2:1-3 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Doris

      Hmm. I don't believe in hell, but I can understand the concept of filling it up. How can one fill up destruction? Seems like a pith-poor moniker, but maybe it fits.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  15. Hell and destruction are never full

    Better quit dissin' Santa. You made him king of americult, clothed or not. Nations and mobs alwayz demand a king.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Kathy

      Uh huh. Americult has kings. Just ask the prosperity ministries.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  16. eric

    If it is about the truth, Dawkins' writings probably come a lot closer than the story of Christ's resurrection, which I believe is a central tenet held by all Christians.

    September 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  17. Bill Deacon

    Thoughts on prayer for doobz and ken:

    Prayer -A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in
    sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer.
    –St. Faustina

    Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratiitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.
    –St.Therese of Lisieux

    "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers."
    –St. teresa of Avila

    Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.
    –Saint Ephraem of Syria

    "Purity is the fruit of prayer."
    – Blessed Mother Teresa

    Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.
    –St. John Chrysostom

    Let us all resign ourselves into His hands, and pray that in all things He may guide us to do His Holy Will ... When thoughts of this or that come I turn to Him and say: "Only what you will, my God. Use me as You will".
    –Blessed Mary MacKillop

    The most potent and acceptable prayer is the prayer that leaves the best effects. I don't mean it must immediately fill the soul with desire . . . The best effects [are] those that are followed up by actions-–when the soul not only desires the honor of God, but really strives for it.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    My little children, your hearts, are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.
    –Saint John Vianney

    How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    Don't imagine that, if you had a great deal of time, you would spend more of it in prayer. Get rid of that idea; it is no hindrance to prayer to spend your time well.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    Prayer ought to be humble, fervent, resigned, persevering, and accompanied with great reverence. One should consider that he stands in the presence of a God, and speaks with a Lord before whom the angels tremble from awe and fear.
    –Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

    We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend upon material success . . . but on Jesus alone.
    –St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

    "The prayer most pleasing to God is that made for others and particularly for the poor souls. Pray for them, if you want your prayers to bring high interest."
    –Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

    Anyone who has the habit of speaking before God's majesty as if he were speaking to a slave, careless about how he is speaking, and saying whatever comes into his head and whatever he's learned from saying prayers at other times, in my opinion is not praying. Please, God, may no Christian pray in this way.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    I would never want any prayer that would not make the virtues grow within me.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    Vocal prayer . . . must be accompanied by reflection. A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of Whom, I don't call prayer-–however much the lips may move.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much
    more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.
    –St. Teresa of Avila

    “Much more is accomplished by a single word of the Our Father said, now and then, from our heart, than by the whole prayer repeated many times in haste and without attention.”
    –Saint Teresa

    My daughter...why do you not tell me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details? Tell Me about everything, and know that this will give Me great joy. I answered, But You know about everything, Lord." And Jesus replied to me, "Yes I do know; but you should not excuse yourself with the fact that I know, but with childlike simplicity talk to Me about everything, for my ears and heart are inclined towards you, and your words are dear to Me.(2; 921)
    –St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

    Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.
    –Saint John Vianney

    I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice. My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. I claim veneration for My mercy from every creature, but above all from you, since it is to you that I have given the most profound understanding of this mystery. (1572)
    –St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

    Without Prayer nothing good is done. God's works are done with our hands joined, and on our knees. Even when we run, we must remain spiritually kneeling before Him.
    –Blessed Luigi Orione

    We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.
    –St Frances Xavier Cabrini

    Read some chapter of a devout book....It is very easy and most necessary, for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read.
    –St. Vincent de Paul

    Are you making no progress in prayer? Then you need only offer God the prayers which the Savior has poured out for us in the sacrament of the altar. Offer God His fervent love in reparation for your sluggishness.
    –Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, from a letter

    It often happens that we pray God to deliver us from some dangerous temptation, and yet God does not hear us but permits the temptation to continue troubling us. In such a case, let us understand that God permits even this for our greater good. When a soul in temptation recommends itself to God, and by His aid resists, O how it then advances in perfection.
    - St. Alphonsus Liguori

    [The devil] dreads fasting, prayer, humility, and good works: He is not able even to stop my mouth who speak against him. The illusions of the devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.
    –Saint Antony Abbot

    When I immersed myself in prayer and united myself with all the Masses that were being celebrated all over the world at that time, I implored God, for the sake of all these Holy Masses, to have mercy on the world and especially on poor sinners who were dying at that moment. At the same instant, I received an interior answer from God that a thousand souls had received grace through the prayerful mediation I had offered to God. We do not know the number of souls that is ours to save through our prayers and sacrifices; therefore, let us always pray for sinners. (1783)
    –St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

    We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: "I will pray, and then I will understand." This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.
    –Saint Charles Borromeo

    We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives – that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him.
    –Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

    Prayer ought to be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by the inspiration of Divine grace.
    –Saint Benedict

    "In order to succeed in it (prayer), it should be done when we first awaken, when our whole being is calm and recollected. We need to make our meditation before anything else.
    –Saint Peter Julian Eymard

    "As far as possible, you should pray in quiet and silent devotion. Try to have a favorite topic of prayer, such as a devotion to the passion of Jesus, the Blessed Sacrament, awareness of the divine presence; go directly to Jesus without too much fuss.
    –Saint Peter Julian Eymard

    "Have confidence in prayer. It is the unfailing power which God has given us. By means of it you will obtain the salvation of the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones." Ask and you shall receive," Our Lord said. Be yourself with the good Lord."
    –Saint Peter Julian Eymard

    September 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

      So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

      September 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        The rule of Saint Benediict is "Ora y Labora". Which means "Pray and Work" Why do you act as if they are mutually exclusive?

        September 16, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          So said Benedict. So what, in reality, prayers are waste, work is necessary to survive unless you are born into royality

          September 16, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • doobzz

      @ Boof

      That's a whole lot of nothing. Why would I care what any of these dead people think, especially that depressed, horrid old crone who taught that pain and poverty were kisses from Jesus or some Polish nun who chose a name that is Latin for "lucky"? Apparently she wasn't so sure about prayer working either.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Mother Theresa isn't quoted above doobz. There are other Saints than the ones you've seen on TV.

        September 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Oops overlooked the one on purity. Personally drawn to Teresa of Avila more than of Calcutta.

          September 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • doobzz

          Boof, I lived as just a staunch, apologetic, data and fact driven Roman Catholic, and possibly for longer than you have. I am familiar with this list of the revered dead, as well as all the other RCC trivia you toss about. You arrogantly assume your vast knowledge of your religious dogma is impressive. Unfortunately, rote memorization is only valuable in spelling bees and on Jeopardy.

          September 16, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Roger that

      If a child prays for justice after being molested by a priest, does God answer that prayer or is it cancelled out when the priest prays for forgiveness?

      September 16, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • AE

      Thanks. I appreciate those quotes. They are true.

      September 16, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  18. It worked

    I am an atheist now. Reading these profound statements from the educated atheists has completely changed my beliefs.

    Science bless you all.

    September 16, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • doobzz

      What didn't work is your latest attempt at wittiness.

      September 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • It worked

        Science save the queen.

        Is that better?

        September 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
        • doobzz

          I don't care one way or the other. The queen doesn't need saving any more than the rest of us. Science will be better for her if she gets sick though.

          September 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  19. Reality # 2


    Sick as it may sound:

    "A survey was administered to 193 male undergraduate students regarding their s-exual interest in children, as well as their responses to a number of questions theoretically relevant to pe-dophilia. In total, 21 % of subjects reported se-xual attraction to some small children, 9% described s-exual fantasies involving children, 5% admitted to having ma-sturbated to such fa-ntasies, and 7% indicated some likelihood of having se-x with a child if they could avoid detection and punishment. These se-xual interests were as-sociated with negative early s-exual experiences, ma-sturbation to po-rnography, self-reported likelihood of -r-a-ping a woman, frequent s-ex partners, se-xual conflicts, and att-itudes supportive of se-xual do-minance over women. The data did not, however, support clinical theories regarding se-xual repression or impulse-control problems among potential pedophiles."

    September 16, 2013 at 4:49 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.