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September 21st, 2013
11:41 AM ET

Can Pope Francis make his vision a reality?

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN

ROME (CNN) - Pope Francis has sketched a vision of a Catholic Church that’s more welcoming – to women, to homosexuals, to divorced and remarried believers, to pretty much everybody –- and less invested in the culture wars.

In a now famous interview published Thursday, the pope said he knows some militants want him to toss around more fire and brimstone. But he insists that Catholic positions on hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage are already well known, and anyway, “Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”

None of that implies a change in church teaching, but it does suggest a fairly serious shift in tone. The question now becomes, is this just the pope talking? Or is he capable of bringing the rest of the church along with him?

Despite the mythology of Roman Catholicism as a top-down monolith, the truth is that it’s actually one of the most decentralized institutions on Earth.

There are only about 3,000 personnel in the Vatican directing the affairs of a church that counts 1.2 billion members, which means that Rome doesn’t have the manpower to micromanage anything but exceptional cases.

Probably 90% of the decisions that matter – what pastor will be assigned to which parish, or what tithes will be used for –- are made at the local level.

Popes trying to steer this colossus in a new direction, therefore, need middle managers as well as the rank and file to pull in the same direction, and experience suggests they don’t always fall in line.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

Pope John Paul II, nearly 27 years, exhorted the church to be more evangelical, more daring about taking its message to the streets, and while he unleashed powerful new energies – think about World Youth Days, for instance – that missionary aspiration still remains a work in progress.

Similarly, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI desired a church more appreciative of tradition and more focused on its core identity, and again most observers would say the end result over eight difficult years was a mixed bag.

If Francis is to bring the Catholic Church into line with his more pastoral and compassionate vision, two fronts seem especially critical.

First is personnel. Nothing a pope does to shape culture in the church is more important than naming the roughly 5,100 bishops of the world, who set the tone in their own backyards.

A new papal direction may be invigorating, but if people don’t pick up the same vibe from their local bishops and pastors, over time it will only seem like sound and fury signifying little.

To date Francis hasn’t made many flagship picks except for his own successor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but he’ll have to do so soon, since archbishops in critical locales such as Madrid, Cologne and Chicago are all older than 75, the normal retirement age.

Popes typically rely on their nuncios, or ambassadors, around the world to recommend new bishops.

In June, Francis gave his nuncios their marching orders, saying he wants bishops who are “close to the people, fathers and brothers” as well as “gentle, patient and merciful.” He also said they shouldn’t have “the psychology of princes.”

How well he spots talent to fit that profile will help determine whether his dream of moving past what he called “a church of small-minded rules” becomes reality.

MORE ON CNN: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

The other key test is structural reform, beginning in the Vatican and radiating outward, perhaps especially on financial transparency and the fight against child sexual abuse.

Scandals in those areas have plagued the Vatican and the wider church in recent years, making it difficult for many people to see Catholicism as a vehicle for compassion.

Francis has set up three commissions to ponder reform, including a body of eight cardinals from around the world set to hold its first meeting in Rome from October 1-3.

If those groups don’t deliver significant recommendations, which are embraced and implemented by the pope, once again his rhetoric about reforming the church may ring hollow.

Popes play many roles, including prophet and CEO. Francis has delivered a stunning debut as the church’s voice of conscience and spiritual guide; now he has to get down to the brass tacks of management to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

John L. Allen Jr. is CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Leaders • Pope Francis

soundoff (2,596 Responses)
  1. Applaud Aloud

    What you are talking about here is what Dr. J. Vernon McGee called the apostate church. It is the composite Christian church (at least) and yes Christians are dropping out in the thousands for the reasons you listed. But the sad thing is the Christians churches refuse to give up apostasy. They cling to absurd dogmas (never preached by Jesus) such as Calvinism, celibacy, inerrant Bibles, infallible popes, insensitive money grubbing, condemnation, damnation, B.S., manipulation, mysticism, theatrics, frauds, suicides, baloney peddling, end-times hoaxes, visions .. and apparently that does sell to the ignorant (as in the dark days of the bubonic Plague). Everyone else is moving on but for some reason they cannot understand and they own the infrastructure and so they dictate what they are going to offer. They own the revenue generators (universities, hospitals, radio stations, TV stations, publishing houses) and they can make a nice profit selling their wares. (said Simple Simon to the Pieman "let me taste your wares") They still fill churches with sheep. They offer child care, elder care, food , grade school, bingo, tours, cruises, camping and other benefits. The sell beads (as in buying Manhattan), water, cards, figurines, headstones, medallions, calendars, refrigerator magnets, bumper stickers, T-shirts, jackets .. and the sell endorsements to companies and charities. The get along with commerce, support political candidates (for a price), and influence urban governance. They really do not want to change .. and so they will go out of existence rather than change.

    October 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  2. nowitspringsforth

    Reblogged this on now it springs forth.

    October 7, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  3. M MURDOCH

    "I'm guessing his Daddy (aka Grandpa)" dodo

    agreed. so, i'm guessing point being spray face. the reason u r going 2 jail.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:20 am |
  4. YTR452456

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    October 4, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  5. YTR452

    PUBLIC CRIMES IN LATINO AMERICA CNN.

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    SATELITES USED TO GENOCIDE IN VENEZUELA AND OTHERS COUNTRYS.

    FBI INTERPOL AND EUROPOL KNOWs AND MEDIA SAY NOTHING ARE YOU MANIPULATED.

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    October 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  6. YTR452

    PUBLIC CRIMES IN LATINO AMERICA CNN.

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    October 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  7. smell

    test

    October 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • smell

      kddkd

      October 1, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  8. buckwheat sambo

    Athies have a point. They know that whale anatomy proves evolution and thus proves god ain't. They ignore the fact that w/o god, there ain't no whales! Such complete morons!

    September 29, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • Chuckles

      how do you figure?

      September 29, 2013 at 4:30 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      " They know that whale anatomy proves evolution and thus proves god ain't."

      Um...no. Facts that support evolution in whales suggests absolutely nothing about god...only about evolution. Even if evolution were demonstrated to be entirely wrong it would still say nothing about god. You can't point to a gap in our knowledge and claim "See...god did that". That's just the tired old "god of the gaps" argument The case for god would require it's own supporting facts and evidence. Fanciful stories from long dead men doesn't qualify as evidence of god. Gaps in our understanding of the nature of or origin of this universe or life doesn't qualify as evidence for god. Voices in peoples heads doesn't qualify as evidence of god. If fact there is nothing whatsoever that qualifies as evidence for god or we wouldn't be having this conversation. Really really wanting it to be true isn't good enough but sadly it's all you have to go on.

      September 29, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Wow how many personalities do you have faith/hharri/kelly/murdoch/buckewheat? This is a sign of schizophrenia, you should seek some medical help and please stay off the streets, away from animals; children and other adults (set aside the fact that you need the Doctor's for your twice daily injection of those meds).

      September 29, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • buckwheat sambo

      Well well well. I guess they finally got me. But wait. Do this girlfriends. Out of nothing material, go make your own whale. As soon as you do, let me know. Then, we will discuss how accurate all your beliefs are, k? On your Mark, get set, go doe doe! Quit your crying and just do it u idiot, lol

      September 29, 2013 at 6:14 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Oh you stupid stupid child, you need an education. Your lack of comprehension of how evolution works is obvious. Suck it up, your lack of understanding doesn't mean you get to impose your imaginary friend. Does your Mommy know you're using her computer or is she still not home from her 'special job'?

        September 29, 2013 at 6:20 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        Right back at ya. Get your god to make a whale right now. Oh wait...whales already exist and they are quite capable of making copies of themselves without the need for god to do anything. In fact you god has been entirely absent when it comes to manifesting anything whatsoever. You claim he created the universe and life within it but what has he done lately? (crickets)

        September 29, 2013 at 6:28 am |
        • christiansteve

          U just admitted god made whales, u moron!

          September 30, 2013 at 5:16 am |
    • captain america

      Stupid is coming into another mans country and trying to tell them your bull sh it opinion. There's your sign

      September 29, 2013 at 6:27 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Stupid is not comprehending how to use the reply button. Stupid is not comprehending that this is an INTERNATIONAL news site. Stupid is not comprehending that the US goes in to everyone's country. Stupid is using a super hero's alias when you're the furthest thing from a hero. Stupid is acting like a complete ass on a public forum. Stupid is denying the evidence and facts.

        September 29, 2013 at 6:34 am |
        • Mirosal

          He chose that name because comic books strecth the limit of whatever grade school education he failed.

          September 29, 2013 at 6:37 am |
        • captain america

          Stupid is being an ass hole in your own country and thinking your bull sh it will be accepted in another. There's your sign.

          September 29, 2013 at 6:38 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Mirosal: Education? The bible at his Mommy's dining room table in the trailer doesn't count. Do trailer parks use a grade system?

          September 29, 2013 at 6:39 am |
        • Mirosal

          as far as I know, no they don't. They either say "You done good" or "You idiot can't you do nothin' right?" .. which is what his mommy told him during his home-schooled se'x-ed class

          September 29, 2013 at 6:43 am |
        • truthprevails1

          CA: No stupid is you. Constantly posting without adding an ounce of intellect. Your hate for all other people is obvious. Please take Sam Stone's advice to buckwheat/hharri/faith and join your imaginary friend.

          September 29, 2013 at 6:48 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        To the point.
        captain america is stupid.
        Nuff said.

        September 29, 2013 at 6:38 am |
        • captain america

          The point is no one wants you ass hole in either country. There's your sign

          September 29, 2013 at 6:39 am |
        • Mirosal

          It seems that CA is not familiar with Emma Lazarus ..... all are welcome here,

          September 29, 2013 at 6:41 am |
        • truthprevails1

          CA is not familiar with much. An article about the pope and this loser thinks it is pertinent to the US only. I'm guessing his Daddy (aka Grandpa) and Mommy don't realize he is using the computer this morning, they'd have to take him out behind the woodshed and beat him (please) if they did. I guess they don't have maps in the trailer park either.

          September 29, 2013 at 6:50 am |
        • Mirosal

          You're correct m'lady. His geography is limitesd to either "ra-cheer" (right here) or "over yonder a ways"

          September 29, 2013 at 6:53 am |
        • AtheistSteve

          Do everyone a favor captain america and just go fellate your shotgun. You know you wanna.

          September 29, 2013 at 6:54 am |
        • hal 9001

          I'm afraid your assertions are correct, "AtheistSteve". "captain america" is, in fact, stupid.

          September 29, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Applaud Aloud

      the validity of evolution doesn't prove God does not exist. It proves that Genesis is not literal. How about this: Exodus never happened (archaeologists ALL agree - even Jewish archaeologists - that Exodus never happened). No Exodus means .. no Moses, no Talmud, no ten commandments, no Ark, no Passover, no Genesis, no Abraham, no Jacob, No manna, no Red Sea. The Canaanites "evolved" into being Israelites .. and there is no evidence before Solomon and Solomon was not a great king (he was a tribal king). The diggers are not sure if there was a Solomon's temple. ... but none of that proves that God does not exist. It proves that humanity probably does not understand God (and thus invented ways to understand God). God does not create humanity's woes; humanity does. God is the Omega, the primal cause, the Prime Mover. But that said we really do not have an understanding of God (but he does exist)

      September 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        I didn't really know where you were going with this , then saw the "prime mover", a reference to a ridiculous hypothesis by the creationist/young earth/ I need to twist science to fit my bible crowd. Originnaly from aristotle, it has long been discarded by people who want ACTUAL knowledge.

        September 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Applaud Aloud

          I tried to respond but the BOT stole it. I do not want to type it again.

          September 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Timothy

      The only thing that can possibly prove 'there is' or 'there is not' a God is our own faith. All we experience about the world and life is based on rules and 'right' and 'wrong'. Let's take a look at Math for an example. We have these laws/rules, such as additive property and subtractive property. When we go to school, if we do not adhere to these rules we are told we are wrong, graded as such and not allowed to progress until we take the accepted rules and use them. These man made rules cause us to understand the world and life in a way that seems to work for us. We also assume there can be no other system that can possibly work and so we have stopped attempting to find another system and simply believe this is how it is. But what if somewhere else another intelligent life form created rules somewhat differently that we have and taught those rules to everyone to the same extent we have taught ours- and those rules work based on how they view their world and now cause them to be blinded to our math rules as we are blinded to their rules. That sounds stupid...absolutely because we have great FAITH that everything can be expressed in numbers as we have expressed them and because we can see no other way and we have been taught this way is 'right' and any other way is wrong. Faith in what we believe is what gives us our sense of 'right' or 'wrong' in ourselves and others. Thus the argument will never go away until all the world determines that all shall be taught one way is right and the other wrong and we are graded and forced to give into that teaching. Irony here is that without that argument we have no reason to research and explore in that never ending scientific search for the 'TRUTH'. Thank goodness we have both those who have faith in a God and those who do not. Too bad we cannot see the value in each however.

      October 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • sam stone

        Faith is wonderful. But, it ain't proof

        October 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  9. snotrunningdownhisnose

    i love sambo murdochi love sambo murdoch

    September 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  10. snotrunningdownhisnose

    i love sambo murdoch

    September 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  11. snotrunningdownhisnose

    You give me some sound, logical answers and I'll believe in it too. So far, you've either evaded the questions or provided no logical answer. If you're going to be a creationist you'll have to do much better

    prove it.

    i'm dying here doedoe

    September 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  12. snotrunningdownhisnose

    Athy
    Topher, I'm just trying to get your answers on creation. You give me some sound, logical answers and I'll believe in it too. So far, you've either evaded the questions or provided no logical answer. If you're going to be a creationist you'll have to do much better.Observer
    prove it.

    i'm dying here doedo
    Answer: Jesus said ZERO. Zip, Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Nill about gays.

    September 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  13. buckwheat

    Did you girls hear what FSM said? Should have. For it is written, Santa! Ahahahahah!

    September 28, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • buckwheat

      Personally, I recommend going back to school, dodo. Get ur masters, then ur PhD, then come back and we can review ur latest theories on Horus, FSM and ur doggie, k?

      September 28, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • sam stone

        still not sucking on that 12 gauge, faith?

        September 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  14. Warning

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfCXeVuVr18&w=640&h=360]

    September 28, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Athy

      I'm prepared. When is it coming? Do I need reservations? What should I pack? Can I take my iPad?

      September 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You christians have been crying wolf for 2000 years now. You can't even prove that your god exists. Why in the world should your "warning" be considered anything but a joke?

      September 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • Topher

        Because, thanks to God, He gave you a Creation and a conscience to know He exists. You will be without excuse.

        September 28, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • sam stone

          you are a coward, gopher

          fvck you and your preaching

          judgement is a bad joke designed to trap the gullible

          like you

          September 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
        • sam stone

          come on, gopher.

          you KNOW you will spend eternity in heaven

          you don't merely believe it

          you fvcking KNOW it

          why not show some fvcking iniative and go there now?

          you are not helping save anyone down here

          jeebus is waiting for you

          i know why

          you are a coward

          you do now want to face the possibility that you could be wrong

          you want someone else to take the punishment you feel you deserve

          you are a blathering coward

          make some more empty proxy threats

          coward

          September 28, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • Sara

          Topher,

          "Believing in evolution does nothing for you except allow you to reject God."

          Not so. Believing in evolution allows one to understand humans in a much fuller and more useful way that is consistent with reality. On a day to day basis most people may not care about how the retina functions, but we all deal with human psychology, and that psychology makes much more sense when you understand the evolutionary process.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
        • sam stone

          The fact that gopher would mention evolution with god shows that in addition to being a coward (which we have discussed earlier), he is also a moron

          Gopher......you are a punk

          October 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • Athy

        Topher, can you answer my questions on whale legs, backward retinas and human toenails? I need to enter your final answers into your official answer book.

        September 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          Vestigial Whale Legs: Not legs and not vestigial.

          Retinas: They work. So complain if you want, but you're the one that looks silly.

          Toenails: Protection.

          By the way, dude, I need to give you a big thank-you! If you hadn't practically bullied me into looking up "vestigial whale legs" the other night I would have had no idea about it. Now I know what those bones are for. Of course, I could have lived the rest of my life not caring, but c'est la vie. Now I know how to answer when atheists ask me. Thanks, dude.

          September 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • Athy

          Topher, I'm not complaining at all about the eyes. I think eyes are lovely, don't you. What makes you think I'm complaining about them? Just tell me why your "intelligent" designer would design them like that. Do you even understand the question? I can't make it any simpler.

          And you're apparently saying the vestigial whale legs are there for some purpose. Do you care to elaborate on that purpose and give us some studies that support that answer?

          And you're sticking with your story about the toenails? Only for protection? Protection from what? Why do our toe tips need protection?

          September 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "Just tell me why your "intelligent" designer would design them like that."

          No idea why He made them like that.

          "And you're apparently saying the vestigial whale legs are there for some purpose. Do you care to elaborate on that purpose and give us some studies that support that answer?"

          Dude, I wrote on this several times over the last couple of nights. Why do you think I'm going to change my answer? Those bones are there to help support reproductive organs.

          "And you're sticking with your story about the toenails? Only for protection? Protection from what? Why do our toe tips need protection?"

          Ever drop a hammer on your toes?

          September 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information. "
          That should tell you everything you need to know about " creationist science".

          September 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          Also, toenails also act as a bull's eye for my wife's large shampoo bottles in the shower. 😉

          September 28, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • Athy

          Why do whales need protection for their reproductive organs? Protection from what?

          You don't have any explanation for why vertebrate eyes are designed backward? Is that your final answer? Evolution has a very simple answer, but you reject it. Yet you cannot provide the "real" answer.

          And, yes I've dropped many hammers on my toes. Toenails provide no protection at all. Why didn't the "intelligent designer" make toenails much thicker and bigger? And, continuing on that subject, why did your beloved designer even give us toes to protect in the first place?

          Here's another one for you to chew on, Topher. Dandelions reproduce without fertilization (a condition known as apomixis), yet they retain flowers and produce pollen. Flowers and pollen are thus useless characteristics for dandelions for their reproduction. Evolution provides a very simple and logical answer for this. But you reject evolution in favor of creation. So the question is, why did your so-called "intelligent designer" provide dandelions with flowers and pollen?

          September 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
        • Athy

          Sorry, Topher. I misread your whale-leg answer. You claim the whale needs those bones to support its reproductive organs. You do realize, don't you, that whales live in water? The water provides plenty of support, through its buoyancy, for the whole damn whale, including its reproductive organs. You still want to stick with that answer?

          September 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "Why do whales need protection for their reproductive organs? Protection from what?"

          I didn't say protection. I said support. I'm not a biologist, so I'd have to read into it further, but I image muscles that far down the body need something to attach to.

          "You don't have any explanation for why vertebrate eyes are designed backward? Is that your final answer? Evolution has a very simple answer, but you reject it. Yet you cannot provide the "real" answer."

          No, I don't have an answer. I haven't looked into it. It really doesn't benefit my life much to know. But I do know they work. So why should I care?

          September 28, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "You do realize, don't you, that whales live in water?"

          Of course.

          "The water provides plenty of support, through its buoyancy, for the whole damn whale, including its reproductive organs. You still want to stick with that answer?"

          So then by that logic a whale's rib cage is also vestigial.

          September 28, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          So far your rejection of God is based on toe nails, eyes that work just fine and dandelions? Dude ...

          September 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " So far your rejection of God is based on toe nails, eyes that work just fine and dandelions? Dude ... "
          Deliberate misrepresentation. But you already knew that.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
        • Topher

          What did I misrepresent?

          September 28, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " What did I misrepresent? "
          Your feigned innocence is noted.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • Topher

          Just repeating Athy's noted objections to Creation.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
        • Athy

          Topher, I'm just trying to get your answers on creation. You give me some sound, logical answers and I'll believe in it too. So far, you've either evaded the questions or provided no logical answer. If you're going to be a creationist you'll have to do much better.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "Topher, I'm just trying to get your answers on creation. You give me some sound, logical answers and I'll believe in it too."

          Glad to hear it. Are you ready to talk about God yet?

          "So far, you've either evaded the questions or provided no logical answer. If you're going to be a creationist you'll have to do much better."

          Right. I've evaded. Cause we haven't discussed "vestigial whale legs" for ... what is this, the third or fourth day?

          September 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
        • Athy

          Below is a summary of the questions I’ve asked Topher on creationism and Topher’s answers so far. Topher, feel free to update or amend your answers before I publish the final list. And be warned, there will be additional questions. All these questions are easily and logically answered by evolution, but Topher rejects evolution, so his answers obviously must be equally or more logical than the answers provided by evolution. See if you think any of his answers meet that criterion.

          Question: Why did the creator design whales with what virtually every scientist recognizes as vestigial legs?
          Topher’s Answer: They aren’t legs. They’re bones that support the whales reproductive organs. Even though the whale lives in water and needs no support for anything.

          Question: Why did the creator design the eyes of all vertebrates with the retina backwards?
          Topher’s Answer: I don’t know.

          Question: Why did the creator give humans toenails?
          Topher’s Answer: To protect the toes.

          Question: Why did the creator give humans toes?
          Topher’s Answer: No answer yet

          Question: Why did the creator design dandelions with flowers and pollen even though neither is needed for the plants reproduction?
          Topher’s Answer: Dismisses the question as being silly.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "Even though the whale lives in water and needs no support for anything."

          These are your words, not mine. Please don't misrepresent me.

          "Topher’s Answer: I don’t know."

          If you REALLY want to know the Creationist's position, I can send you a link or copy a summary paragraph from an article. But I doubt very much you really want to know.

          "Topher’s Answer: Dismisses the question as being silly."

          Again, putting words in my mouth. I never said the question was silly. I just think you're looking for the most obscure objection to try to give me a "gotcha" question. You can find any of these online.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          Let me ask you this and I'm not being snarky, I'm actually interested ... to an "atheist" as yourself, what does knowing about toe nails do for your life? If you're completely a cosmic accident and when you die you cease existing at all, what does it matter (provided you aren't a foot doctor)?

          September 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, if it's not silly, Topher, answer it. You must have an explanation that's better than evolution. Look it up on your creationist website if you have to. Give me a summary of the answer. And what about toes? Why do we have those silly toes? Answer the question? Why did the creator give us toes? Just a brief summary is all we need and I'll add it to the list.

          September 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          Here you go, dude. This is a summary paragraph from a Creationist's position on the inverted eye thing ...

          "The ‘inverted’ arrangement of the vertebrate retina, in which light has to pass through several inner layers of its neural apparatus before reaching the photoreceptors, has long been the butt of derision by evolutionists who claim that it is inefficient, and therefore evidence against design. This article reviews the reasons for our having the inverted retina and why the opposite arrangement (the verted retina), in which the photoreceptors are innermost and the first layer to receive incident light, would be liable to fail in creatures who have inverted retinas. I suggest that the need for protection of the retina against the injurious effects of light, particularly with the shorter wavelengths, and of the heat generated by focused light necessitates the inverted configuration of the retina in creatures possessing it."

          September 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Athy

          Topher, these questions are all easily answered by evolution. Can you provide creationist answers for any of them that would make evolution less logical? This isn't about whether I believe in god or not. Forget about that. Let's concentrate on these questions. Take your time if you have to. Just work on these questions. Forget about what I believe, it's irrelevant. Just the questions, only the questions. Give me your final answers in the next few days and I'll update the list. I have a few more, but I won't confuse with those just yet. Concentrate on the ones I've given you so far. Just those. And forget about what I believe. Again, that has nothing to do with this conversation. Just answer those questions to the best of your ability. I would think a creationist like you would have no problems with these questions.

          Again, never mind about my beliefs. Never mind about my position on god or religion or evolution or creationism. This is all about your beliefs. Concentrate on answering those questions only. Can you do that?

          September 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "Topher, these questions are all easily answered by evolution."

          Could be. That doesn't make them correct, though. As we've discussed over the last few days, science rejects evolution.

          "This isn't about whether I believe in god or not."

          Of course it is! Believing in evolution does nothing for you except allow you to reject God.

          "Forget about that."

          How can I? You're a blind man walking toward a cliff. Dude, I don't want you to perish! I'm pleading with you, turn around! Instead of being so concerned with how each side explains toe nails, humble yourself before God. You've stored up His wrath and He's going to pass judgment. But He also loves you and is willing to let you go. PLEASE think about this.

          "Give me your final answers in the next few days and I'll update the list."

          No offense, but I really don't care about your list. But I'll tell you what ... I'll look up one more subject, you name which one, if you promise me you'll think about God. And not just to bash Him. But consider the offer laid before you. I think that's fair.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
        • Sara

          Topher,

          "to an "atheist" as yourself, what does knowing about toe nails do for your life?"

          Humans have evolved to be (generally, at least) stimulated by novelty and learning.

          "If you're completely a cosmic accident and when you die you cease existing at all, what does it matter (provided you aren't a foot doctor)?"

          Not all atheists believe the above. Remember that many Buddhists are atheists and many atheists believe that consciousness is a part of all matter or even are idealists. But assuming you are talking about simple emergent materialists (who might belive in material gods, btw) it would matter because of the afformentioned immediate psychological benefits of novelty and learning and because most believe (right or wrong) that on a social scale increased knowledge can improve quality of life. Knowing about the evidence for evolution would, for instance, help one to accept the theory and vote in more socially advantageous ways.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
        • Topher

          Hi, Sara. How are you?

          "Humans have evolved to be (generally, at least) stimulated by novelty and learning."

          I'd agree we're stimulated by learning, but if I thought I was just going to vanish and be completely forgotten within a generation, I'd be spending a lot more time on fun stuff. Or at least be studying something I found much more interesting. But toe nails? Dandie Lions? Seems like a waste of what little time I had to exist.

          "Knowing about the evidence for evolution would, for instance, help one to accept the theory and vote in more socially advantageous ways."

          Why, in your worldview, should I care about society? Survival of the fittest, after all. The rest can go to ... well, you know. If the rest of you fail, more for me. More space. More food.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Athy

          Why do invertebrates have verted eyes then? The eye could easily protect itself from excessive input radiation by simply using a smaller iris. This smaller aperture would sharpen vision as well, as any camera buff would know. Yet your "intelligent" designer chose to make the retina backwards (with its unavoidable blind spot and reduced sensitivity) and use a larger iris (with its poorer focusing power) to regain the lost sensitivity. That doesn't sound too intelligent to me. Can you explain why an intelligent designer would use such an obviously defective design? Feel free to peruse your creationist web sites for an answer, but remember, it has to be a logical answer. By that I mean an answer that would satisfy most people, not just you.

          And, while we're on the subject of eyes, I'll give you your next question now (at the risk of confusing you even more). Why do some salamanders and fish that live in dark caves all their lives, and have no need for eyes, still have vestigial eyes under their skin? The eyes, which are much smaller and withered compared to light-dwelling animals but are still clearly complete eyes with muscles, lenses, retinas, etc, appear to have no purpose whatsoever and, in fact, don't even function in light because of the overgrown skin. Evolution provides a simple logical explanation for this that even a child could understand. I assume you have an equally logical creationism explanation. Can you enlighten us? Remember, it's vestigial eyes in cave-dwelling salamanders and fish. Nothing to do with my beliefs in god, evolution, creationism or anything else. Concentrate on those vestigial eyes, Topher. Take your time. Don't wander off the subject.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I don't suppose you read the paper I left for you on Cetacean limb development, Topher? An enterprising cell and developmental biologist could coax limb buds in Cetacean embryos to develop into actual limbs. I'm curious about how that would fit into your Creationist-inspired world.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          So should I expect you to ignore my request then?

          September 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
        • Topher

          Tom, Tom, the Other One

          "I don't suppose you read the paper I left for you on Cetacean limb development, Topher?"

          I didn't. Can you give me the link again? I'll try to remember to look at it this weekend. No promises, though.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Sara

          Topher,

          "I'd agree we're stimulated by learning, but if I thought I was just going to vanish and be completely forgotten within a generation, I'd be spending a lot more time on fun stuff. Or at least be studying something I found much more interesting. But toe nails? Dandie Lions? Seems like a waste of what little time I had to exist."

          I feel the same way about football and the three stooges, but hey, there's no accounting for taste. Additionally, as I mentioned before, these things lead to bigger areas of knowledge that may be interesting more broadly.

          "Why, in your worldview, should I care about society? Survival of the fittest, after all. The rest can go to ... well, you know. If the rest of you fail, more for me. More space. More food."

          It depends whay you mean by the word "why". This can mean either "with what cause" or "to what end". Which do you mean?

          September 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Here you go, Topher:

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1482506/

          September 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy?

          September 28, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Hey Athy, This is just off the top of my head, I think I heard that toes are for balance.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
        • Athy

          Topher, I'm trying real hard to believe in creationism, but I still have these silly doubts. If you won't answer my questions, how am I ever going to be convinced? If you can't or won't answer my questions just say so, I'll go somewhere else. What about those vestigial eyes, Topher? A creationist like you should have the answer right at your fingertips. How else could you believe in creationism without knowing these things? And the toe question is still unanswered.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
        • Topher

          Athy

          "Topher, I'm trying real hard to believe in creationism, but I still have these silly doubts."

          I doubt that very much. I really don't care if you believe in Creationism. That's not your problem. I'd much rather you be saved. So, since so far you've ignored my request, I'm guessing you're not going to do it. So I'm not going to bother with doing your "atheist" homework for you.

          "If you won't answer my questions, how am I ever going to be convinced?"

          Google.

          "If you can't or won't answer my questions just say so, I'll go somewhere else."

          I was willing to play along, but if you don't want to return in kind, go somewhere else.

          September 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • Athy

          And why did your creator protect our retinas by reversing them in spite of the much more obvious and better solution of simply reducing the iris opening? It's a better solution because it sharpens the eye's focus and eliminates the blind spot. I think even you would have to agree that's a better approach. Please comment. There must be some logical reason for this.

          September 28, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
        • Athy

          Topher, you're a sniveling coward. I've posed questions that any creationist should be able to answer, but you keep evading them by changing the subject and waffling around with unrelated comments. Since you're unwilling or unable to answer i'll open the questions up to any creationist, including Topher, on this blog.

          September 28, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
        • Topher

          That's OK, keeping rejecting God. It is appointed for man once to die, and then judgment. Be sure to tell Him how you just couldn't repent because, well, toe nails. And "God, I also couldn't humble myself because I didn't understand about vertebrate eyes. And don't forget dandy lions!"

          C'mon, dude. You know He exists. Please due some research on something that ultimately is going to matter. Even if you still reject it, at least know what you are rejecting. PLEASE!

          September 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • Austin

          Topher, is that me?

          September 28, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • Athy

          Topher, I reject nothing! Holy shit, but you are slow! Just answer the questions! Forget about what I believe. Forget about what you believe. I don't know how to make the questions any simpler! Can anyone out there help me here? Maybe somebody that deals with mentally challenged people? Topher, it's really not that complicated, please believe me. I'm desperately trying to understand creationism. Why do dandelions still have flowers and produce pollen when they don't need either one? Why do some fish and salamander species that live in dark caves still have vestigial eyes? Why did the creator design vertebrate eyes so obviously wrong? Let's have the explanations, Topher. Can you do it? I would think these questions would be child's play for a creationist. Are they too much for you? Take your time, give us some answers.

          September 29, 2013 at 1:34 am |
        • lol??

          athy sayz,
          "......................Question: Why did the creator design dandelions with flowers and pollen even though neither is needed for the plants reproduction?
          Topher’s Answer: Dismisses the question as being silly...................."

          So you don't get any wild ideas about inbreeding like Darwin and European royalty. They were pesty.

          September 29, 2013 at 1:56 am |
        • lol??

          lol??
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          1Cr 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

          Jhn 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

          September 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  15. mike

    Your downy little sidies and your silver buckled shoes

    September 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  16. Meredith S.

    She pretended not to want love, I hope she was only fooling me.
    I anderson

    September 27, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • hhoari

      I pretended to be Christian, but I was oinly a troll.
      Dr E
      kati
      sam tone
      blessed
      doodoo
      bingo
      wary
      alaqeada
      sam stone (stolen)
      al
      observer
      sammy
      kari
      bethany
      barry
      blake
      faith
      hharri
      charlie
      terry
      mary
      yudhisthira mahabharata jr
      eddie
      tex

      September 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • sam stone

        he/she/it just wants more personalities on it when it files that big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big lawsuit

        September 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  17. Susan StoHelit

    An interesting change. The priest who is being arrested for molesting kids – unlike prior cases, when the problem was reported to the church, they contacted law enforcement immediately, are cooperating, and are defrocking the priest.

    September 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Personally, I'm encouraged.

      September 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Meredith S.

      This is encouraging! Think how much pain and heartache could have been avoided if this had been in place all along. A step in the right direction, Susan.

      September 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Athy

      Defrocking isn't enough. They should de...well, you know what I mean.

      September 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  18. The fundy mindset

    Larry of Arabia: "You know, when I preach against sins, and that offends you, it could just be your conscience has been pric.ked."

    You know – i'm just tired of the sound of little hamster wheels – energy wasted on foolishness.

    Let's take another peek inside the fundy mindset to see how inquiry and verification is going:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c&w=640&h=360]

    September 27, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • sam stone

      Larry of Arabia: "You know, when I preach against sins, and that offends you, it could just be your conscience has been pric.ked."

      fvck you and your preaching

      September 27, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • mike

        Lol!

        Preach it babe! Poor baby. Rotting virus.

        September 28, 2013 at 5:14 am |
        • sam stone

          come on, faith, jeeebus and his truth being sprayed on your face are only one 12 gauge click away.....

          September 28, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  19. Douglas

    Thank you Pope Francis for breaking the silence!

    We can hate the sin and yet love the sinner as we show them the path to salvation.

    Who puts old wine into new wineskins?

    Ye must be born again!

    Rise up from the abyss of sin, lies, deceit and fornication that has destroyed a generation.

    Reject the prince of lies, Satan, and repent for the kingdom of God IS at hand!

    September 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Athy

      I checked both my hands. Didn't see the kingdom of god. And, boy, am I disappointed!

      September 27, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • sam stone

      doogie probably takes his god in his right hand every morning, thinkin' about them gays and their gay c-o-u-t-i-s....

      "oh, god, oh g-g-g-awd....jeebus, oooooh, jeeeeebussssss"

      September 27, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Doris

      Here, class, we see the mark of the elusive Douglas. As much a mystery as the Chupacabra, he is a twisted, unnatural mix of RC and Shaker.

      September 27, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v50d4pGJfno&w=640&h=360]

        September 27, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • H R Puffinstuff

      Take your stupid idea of celibacy and shove it up your ass, you nasty old fart. Humans were born to be sensual creatures. If you can't get that through your thick skull, tough. You appear to be massively repressed.

      September 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        You sound like you could use a little alone time

        September 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • sam stone

        isn't that the essence of religion? a bunch of people telling others how to live their lives?

        September 28, 2013 at 9:25 am |
        • snotrunningdownhisnose

          preach it idiot! fool

          September 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  20. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Well, fight about it and leave the Christians alone. same article:

    ".............“There is increasing concern,” declared epidemiologist John Ioannidis in a highly cited 2005 paper in PLoS Medicine, “that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims.”........................."

    September 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    "It’s science’s dirtiest secret: The “scientific method” of testing hypotheses by statistical analysis stands on a flimsy foundation. Statistical tests are supposed to guide scientists in judging whether an experimental result reflects some real effect or is merely a random fluke, but the standard methods mix mutually inconsistent philosophies and offer no meaningful basis for making such decisions................" Dialectic will get cha every time.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/57091/description/Odds_Are_Its_Wrong

    September 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Billy

      Way to cherry-pick the article. I can do the same. Biostatistician Sander Greenland and Steven Goodman found fault with loannidis' methods in "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False: Problems in the Analysis", noting that Ioannidis (who did not collaborate with any statisticians on the article) appeared to have confused alpha level with p value and also built the assumption that most findings are likely to be false into his reasoning, thereby making his logic circular. Therefore Goodman and Greenland rejected Ioannidis' claim as unsupportable by the methods used.

      September 27, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • lol??

        Well Billy, YOU dialogue the dirt away.

        " “It may be true, but he didn’t prove it,” says biostatistician Steven Goodman of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. On the other hand, says Goodman, the basic message stands. “There are more false claims made in the medical literature than anybody appreciates,” he says. “There’s no question about that.”

        Make Hegel PROUD!

        September 28, 2013 at 1:53 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.