Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

The Street Corner Prophet

When the Belief Blog ran a recent article on a television host who declared that atheists “don’t have to live here,” a commenter identified as “Karie” got into a heated exchange with someone who called themselves “Bible Clown.”

Karie called Bible Clown a “disgusting, deviant perverted virus,” and a “Bozo,” before ending with this prediction:

Hell is coming for you love. Special dungeon just for u and u won’t be able to die. LOL.LOL.”

The street corner prophets often act as if they’re deeply concerned about the fate of souls they disagree with, but you can tell that they relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

“We change no one’s mind by attacking,” said Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City.

Camosy has made a career out of bridging religious differences. He’s part of a “Contending Modernites” group, which finds common ground between Christians and Muslims. He’s also the co-founder of a website devoted to dialing down the heat in religious arguments entitled, “Catholic Moral Theology.”

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

The Provoker

There isn’t any notion of “embodied trust” with the next online character: The provoker.

The provoker doesn’t even pretend to care about the final destination for someone’s soul. They come out punching, and they love to say things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone in person.

In the recent article on Warren, a reader who went by the surname of “Just the Facts Ma’am,” tells another:

“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.”

In an article about millennials leaving the church, a reader who identified herself as “Jenna,” tells another: “Jesus never said any of that mess. You are a false prophet if I’ve ever seen one.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a provoker:

No one will listen to you if they don’t like you, said Joe Carter, an evangelical blogger and author of “How to Argue like Jesus,” a book that explores how Jesus verbally tangled with his enemies and persuaded his friends.

Carter said Jesus was such an excellent communicator because he told stories that provoked emotions, took surprising twists and forced people to draw their own conclusions. But he also connected with people because of a simple reason: he cared about them.

“When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to be persuaded by you,” Carter said. “We tend to be persuaded by people we like and trust. Jesus had that in spades.”

The Atheist

One of my best friends was an atheist. Whenever we ran into one other, we’d launch into these long, philosophical discussions about religion.  I loved it. Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious.

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script. In fact, they have some of the nastiest religious arguments I’ve witnessed online.

A sample:

In a recent Belief Blog article about atheism, a reader identifying himself as “Sam Stone” says to another: “Free people do not need a savior, Kate. Only slaves need saviors.”

Another reader who identifies himself as “CamDEn1” tells a Christian, “You are an uneducated fool. Ever you heard of Richard Dawkins? Sam Harris? Atheists have more respected scholars than Christianity…”

I get the source of frustration for some atheists. They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Here’s how to argue over religion if you’re an atheist:

Get beyond the stereotypes and actually spend time with a person of faith. And if you’re a person of faith, do the same with an atheist. You might be surprised.

That’s what happened when Camosy, the Fordham University ethics professor, embarked on a speaking tour with the renowned atheist and philosopher, Peter Singer, who is seen by many as the founder of the animal rights movement.

Camosy said the speaking tour forced him to read and pay attention to Singer’s arguments. He discovered that they share concerns over global poverty. He saw Singer as a person of good will.

“That created the space for us to have an honest, open and fruitful exchange with one another rather than exchanging barbs,” Camosy said.

It also created the space for personal transformation.

“Actually reading him converted me to being a vegetarian,” Camosy said. “But it was only being open to his arguments that made me see.”

The Scholar

I have a friend who is smart – scary smart.  He’s a genial, funny guy who happens to be a theology professor. I try to hang with him when we talk religion, but there’s always a point in the conversation when he loses me. I compare that moment to watching the starship Enterprise go into warp drive. He just goes into hyperspace and my brain just isn’t big enough to follow.

There a lot of big brains in our blog’s comment sections. I call these readers “the scholars.”

Some of them are self-appointed biblical experts. They talk as if they have God’s cell phone number: God has revealed great mysteries to them. They know the divine plan.

In a recent article I wrote about contemporary Christians feeling as if they were persecuted, a reader identified as “Tom Skylark” let me know what all this persecution was really about.

 Skylark said:

“Christians will face continued persecution then 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will happen right before the 7 year tribulation when Israel burns Russia’s weapons for 7 years. (Ezekiel 39:9). Those who are not taken in the rapture will have the opportunity to receive Christ during the 7 year tribulation but will be beheaded for their testimony. (Revelation 20:4). How far is Russia towards its prophetic position which means the rapture (! Thessalonians 4:16-17) is even closer?

Actually, I did not know that, and I’m still not sure what it means.

Sometimes the scholar is someone who believes all religion is hopelessly derivative: it’s all based on something that came before.

A reader by the name of “Seyedibar” responded to my article on Christian persecution with this:

“A little study of history and comparative religion goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Israel. Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, one of a hairdresser and carpenter. .. And if you back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren’t aware that the creator of the Garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.”

 Like I said, hyperspace. I just can’t go where “Seyedibar” has gone before. I love the scholar’s passion for religion, but some of them lose me when they try to deploy all their knowledge of history and religion in any effort to change someone else’ beliefs.

How to argue about religion if you’re a scholar:

Accept that there is a limit to knowledge. I’ve never seen anyone say in response to a religious argument: “You are right. Your argument is irrefutable. I’m going to jettison a lifetime of beliefs on the spot right now because I obviously have no coherent reply.”

It just doesn’t happen.

Gordon Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University, said most people change religious beliefs “not because of one argument” but only after long conversations and intimate exposure to another faith.

“Logical arguments are nice but they're not going to change someone’s life,” Newby said. “We’re way too complicated for that. We’re not programmed machines. We have this whole limbic system of emotions and appetites and everything else.”

The Peacemaker

There are some readers who give me hope when I go to the comment section. They are the “peacemakers,” and they surely bless me with their attitudes.

Peacemakers try to keep arguments from getting personal. They are the online referees.  They turn the other cheek.

An exchange between someone called “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” shows a peacemaker in action.

“Bootyfunk”  gets upset with “KatieRose” because she says  “we must respect all ideas in the world, no matter how crazy.”

Bootyfunk says people don’t have to respect all ideas, and tells Katie Rose she shouldn't tell people not to debate religion on a blog about religion.

What does KatieRose say in response? She doesn’t go to war. She makes the peace:

“Okay! That works for me,” KatieRose said. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue: I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion.”

“Bootyfunk” ends the discussion with a smiley-face symbol and a “smooches, Katie.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a peacemaker:

Keep on doing what you’re doing.

If only the rest of the comment section had more peacemakers. I actually e-mailed readers like “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” to get their perspective, but all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story. Only one person – an atheist – responded to my invitations to chat, and he didn’t want his name used.

But I have a feeling I’ll hear again from these holy trollers when I scan the comment section of Belief Blog. So will you, even if you don’t read that much about religion. These holy trollers show up in our lives and our workplaces. Many of them will sit next to us at the dinner table when families and friends get together for the upcoming holidays.

When the conversation turns to religion, you may meet your holy troller, and you will have to make a choice.

Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?

What kind of holy troller will you be?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

soundoff (3,856 Responses)
  1. A true story

    There actually were a few times in my life I too became obsessed with different gods that I didn't believe in, and I honestly did it because I had a crush on those gods. I'm not proud of it but it was what it was. It caused me to spend a great deal of time annoying their followers until I found myself fascinated and obsessed with something else.

    October 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Commenting Now

      Sounds more like ADD/OCD to me. Stay thirsty, my friend.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      all mythologies are interesting: Norse, Egyptian, Greek/Roman, Christian, Jewish, Islamic.
      none are real, but hey all have fascinating tales of magic.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  2. tc

    Nothing to argue about – everyone should just do as they see fit as long as it involved respecting one another.

    October 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      respect the person - you don't have to respect an idea or belief.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I give respect to people, ideas (including religious ones) have to earn it.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        I agree, and as Hitchens used to say, and I hope we would, "when someone makes great claims, great evidence is required."

        October 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  3. Apple Bush

    Many people read this article and concluded that Christians are angry, nasty trolls. I would too, but I don't want to read it.

    October 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    this author wants a stale discussion where everyone wears kiddy gloves and no one makes a comment that hurts anyone's feelings. some ideas deserve ridicule and sarcasm. some ideas are so silly or so cruel they don't deserve to be taken seriously. i'm sure "religious brainwashing" offends the author - but what if that's what it is? can't call it as we see it because someone might think we're mean? i don't have to respect crazy ideas - religion falls into that category. the idea of god is childish and shows a disregard for logic and reason - and yes, we're going to point it out, regardless of who's feelings get hurt.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Hey Boot, who is your LEAST favorite poster on this blog?

      October 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        i like em all!
        the christians on this site do a great job of turning people on to atheism.
        the more ridiculous the better.
        Live4Him is probably my favorite helper.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • Commenting Now

          Hey, congrats on the shout-out,Bootyfunk. Yeah, Live4Him certainly is....something.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      My least favorite is black jelly beans.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
      • black jelly beans

        Fuck you AB.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  5. Lionly Lamb


    October 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Is that

      Wolf Blitzer??

      October 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • Commenting Now

        Sure as heck looks like it!

        October 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    2 + 2 ≠ 5

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

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

    Ya know what? 2 + 2 ≠ 5

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

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

    2 + 2 ≠ 5

    October 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      No one has said "let's compromise." No one has said each side must accept what the other has said. But, people are saying we can debate without being rude.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        no-one? you're kidding right?

        October 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Doris

      Well as someone who is highly agnostic, I have difficulty with any assertions about absolutes. But I would agree that you'll find many more people in the world agreeing with 2+2=4 than some of the other virtually baseless ideas you hear floating around here.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • John

      You make a good point if the question was about math. That is easy. But many discussions that get heated are about areas in life that are not so black and white.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Dave

      Yeah. I like math. So much simpler than religion.
      "How to argue about religion online." My solution... I don't. Why should I argue about religion when there are over twenty subsites on the cheezburger network? The pokememes aren't going to read themselves!
      Besides, to me, an Atheist and a theist arguing religion is like two walls yelling at each other in two different languages, and I don't speak either.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
      • Commenting Now

        20 different subsites for the cheezeburger network? They have a network for cheezeburgers?

        October 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
      • Doris

        LOL. I posted once that William Howard Taft, the only U.S. President to have also held the office of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, once said: "I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe." The first responder said something to the effect that most likely Taft believed in a cheeseburger.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      I appreciate your sentiment, but 2+2=5 for extremely large values of two. You might want to find a more absolute metaphor.

      October 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  7. MIchael

    The fallacy of Christianity is an Atheist acts more Christ-like than your typical Evangelical.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Doris


      October 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
      • Doris

        OK I think I got it. I suppose that depends on what you mean by Christ-like.

        October 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Maybe so

      They certainly talk about him more often.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Dave

      I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.
      Something most of my 'bretheren' seem to forget is Matthew 7:1 and John 8:7. And at the end of the day, it wasn't Atheists who were protesting at the funerals of my brothers and sisters in arms...

      October 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  8. bob

    Religious discussions should be limited to facts and logic. The sound of hot air escaping would soon cease, and the name callers would abandon the topic and go back to debating politics, which is much more faith based than religion and relies entirely on name calling rather than on facts or logic, or morals or decency, or justice and wisdom, or almost anything truly religious people find worthy of discussion.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the Westboro Baptist Church are devout. they follow the bible closer than almost any christian in the country, sans the Ahmish. what do you think their discussions on religion sound like?

      "i sure wish all the f.a.g.s would die."
      "me, too."

      yes, truly religious people only ever discuss meaningful topics.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  9. Stayxsie Johnson

    Religion is for irrational igorant people, who cant think for themselves....sorry...but not trolling. the facts only!!!

    October 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Hugh Harvey

      No many of them are intelligent people who are so assured they are right that they cannot see any one who is not religious as an immoral person. Some of the most moral people I know are those who do not subscribe to any religion, but they live a life of non hypocritical calm. Religious people always claim that anyone who doesnot belong to their religion as immoral without any knowledge of the person. They base everything on the fact that there are many obnoxious atheists, overlooking the fact that there are many times as many religious people who are very obnoxious.Case at point: I knew a lady schoolteacher who had been a member of a pretty main line church since she was about 13 yrs old, she had two sons and four grandchildren and when she was in her 70's she had indicated she intended to will/donate a substantial sum to the church, she taught 50 yrs, her husband was an engineer so she had some assets, when in her 80's she occasionally attended the church where her sons & children attended, her church became concerned and she was summoned and told that she could not continue as a member if she sometimes attended her sons church. A member at the time of over 60 yrs, she told them she would never promise not to attend sons church, so take her off of the rolls, but she would still attend unless they physically stopped her, they took her off of the rolls, she still attended, P.S. they didn't receive a PENNY>

      October 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        True. That strict, cold dogma is what is turning off so many, leading them to decide that being a "none" is better than being one of the gang. Folks are starting to think for themselves and embrace the simple human truths they hold in their hearts. Good for them.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        "No many of them are intelligent people"
        +++ he didn't say they were not intelligent - he said they were irrational and ignorant. those are not the same things. someone can be a very irrational and ignorant genius. they are not mutually exclusive. many religious people fall into that category - intelligent, but deluded. smart people can be brainwashed, too.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
        • Commenting Now

          I know a few of them that are so scary smart, it's unreal...they say there's a fine line between genius and madness. Some cross that line.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  10. Truth

    25:1 Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion (the Qur'an) upon His Servant (Muhammad) that he may be to the worlds a warner –
    25:2 He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and who has not taken a son and has not had a partner in dominion and has created each thing and determined it with [precise] determination.
    (Sahih International Translation of Qur'an)

    October 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      No. My gosh, there's a tremendous amount of acceptable violence written into the Qur'an. There's nothing loving about that.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
      • Commenting Now

        Same can be said of the OT. And the God is even the same.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Led Gosselin

      And on the Fourth Day of the Gisterol Panthreobat, Truth will turn into a shrew. No one will notice any difference.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  11. rodboy

    You don't argue about beliefs, they are faith based just like the athies – the don't know how matter got here, we don't know how G O D here. So which bet is safer and has more rewards and is better for mankind

    October 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • bostontola

      Neither bet is safer, atheism is less of a drain in this world and not as prone to corruption in this world.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Which god?

      October 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Well, no one has presented any proof of God to me yet, but there has been plenty of proof on particle physics. And even I have a problem with the Big Bang coming from nothing. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I can't follow that level of astrophysics. In time they may even change their minds. But the interesting thing is that at no point has any bit of evidence ever pointed to the existence of God, or any god for that matter. I would greatly welcome it, but it's not there. So, it makes sense to place my bet on the side of, "what we have, is what we have, and we should take care of it, and each other."

      October 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
      • Rich

        Interesting thought, so I had to reply. 🙂

        My arugument: How in the world would a mortal man prove that an all-powerful God exists? If you can think of a way, I'll show you a god that is not God. The bible says he is "spirit" and came down as a man named Jesus for a period of time.

        One of the Star Trek movies has Spoke and Kirk searching for God at the center of the Universe. They reach a mystical planet and beam down to meet God. God says to bring the enterprise closer so he can inhabit it. Kirk asks "Why does God need a ship?" Duh!!

        How crazy and insane we must be trying to prove/disprove or even have the smallest comprehension of someone that can create Universes? I thnk the only way to do it is to get off my high horse and bend a knee for a moment recognizing my smallness in relation to the infiniteness of space and power that exists out there.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          The unprovable real god behaves exactly like the non-existent one.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
        • Commenting Now


          October 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • aldewacs2

          You don't feel the need for proof, but you feel the need to just "believe" an assertion?
          P ffffff ttt.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Ok, you've written a lot, so bear with me. I have heard that argument before, but phrased slightly differently: "Imagine the greatest thing you can imagine...God is greater than that." It's not a proof, but it's a demonstration of infinity – there's always something greater. And by definition, God would have to be just that, greater than the greatest thing I can imagine (perhaps it was the biggest thing I could imagine). But it wasn't a proof, and I (and another religious person pointed that out).

          I know the Star Trek movie well that you refer to. And if I recall, "God" then punishes them for doubting him – something any Christian (or former Christian) expected given what we had been taught. But then the immorality of that act, or perhaps the lack of understanding and forgiveness for that statement spoke much to all of us, and we concluded it was not God on the planet.

          So on this, "How crazy and insane we must be trying to prove/disprove or even have the smallest comprehension of someone that can create Universes?" That is something that Mr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson discussed in his talk, "The Perimeter of Ignorance," where many of our greatest scientists, when they had reached the limits of their knowledge on a problem, willingly and freely embraced intelligent design as their answer. He talks about a few of them – Isaac Newton, Huygens, etc. The thing he also points out is that it was only a matter of time until another great scientist came along, was not at the limits of their knowledge, solved the problem, and did not invoke God or intelligent design as the reason for their discovery. It's truly amazing, and I can remember doing the same thing myself years ago when I was a Christian, but on more day-to-day problems. I think many of us can relate to having done the same thing, only to look back some time later at the situation and realize there was a simple answer to the problem/issue that had simply evaded us.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
        • Rich

          How would you presume to know how an infinite God behaves unless you were his equal? Are you dependent upon science to find evidence of God when you can't even measure the universe? Do you believe that we are mortal and have no god-seeking inner-spirit? Just 100 years and then no more. Have you asked for him to speak....His spirit to your spirit? His word says that those who seek him will be found by him. Try asking "If you are there, speak to me in my innermost being?" What have you got to lose?

          October 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Rich

          We can have smarter and smarter people that can stand on shoulders of giants to have greater understanding. That's great. We must keep doing that. I'm not intimated by knowledge upon knowledge upon knowledge in terms of my faith being threatened. There is *always* more out there and we can go deeper and deeper and reach the stars someday. That's great too, but that doesn't mean we live in an ignorance bubble now. The fact that we know there is more and more out there to be known – an infinite number of things – is a proof for God as well.

          You know "I think, therefore I am." I believe that everything that exists was thought about and therefore IS. The conclusion is inevitable. He is called "THE GREAT I AM" in the words of the ancient Hebrews. Put away the iDevices for a few days and get in touch with your inner most being for a while. All the "education" and busyness of the world enables many to ignore the still small voice inside.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Rich, here's the best I can answer that, and I'll use the Old Testament. How many times does God do something do demonstrate his power? There are people having revelations, Noah's Ark, rescuing the Jewish people from bondage, the Tower of Babel, etc. A very small use of God's power would be to reveal himself to us now. No disasters are required – just reveal yourself to everyone, at the same time, in the same way. Now, that event, simple as it is, would be all the proof I would need. We all have the same experience, yet were all different, with different languages, and in different places. I would start spreading the Word – instantly.

          But you know, that very simple thing has never happened, and I'm not alone in asking for that very simple miracle. Religious people are even afraid for entertaining, or having entertained the very thought, are told "not to test the Lord thy God," and are told of incredible punishments for being a non-believer. I can't answer your question any better than that.

          October 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Led Gosselin

      rodlessboy, google "Pascal's Wager". Just do it.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Nothing wrong with pascal or his bet.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • Commenting Now

          Seems like God would know who is a serious believer and who is hedging their bets. Lacking conviction in a belief doesn't seem like real belief to me.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          Of course there is, Robert, it is irrational

          Perhaps you should try reason in place of sycophantry

          October 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          It presumes the christian god as described by christianity or nothing. The flaws as you saw when you researched it are the other possibilities that it does not cater for: there is a god but it's not the christian god so it sends you to hell; there is a god but it knows you were insincere and sends you to hell; there is a god and as long as you led a good life it sends you to heaven. And Pascal allows a god to explain what he can't.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
        • Robert Brown


          True, God would know, but if you start with the idea there could be a God, it seems you would be more likely to find him.

          Consider this example from Matthew 28 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
          These were the remaining 11 disciples, after Jesus rose from the dead and yet some doubted.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          No Sam, it's not irrational. It might be just a start.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
        • sam stone

          Fine, Robert. I am done trying to reason with you

          go home, boy, and get your shinebox

          October 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Ok Santa, maybe saying nothing wrong with it was a little strong, but if it does bring you to consider God I think it is helpful.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          As always Sam good to talk with you.

          October 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • sam stone

          i wish i could say the same, robert

          but i cannot

          believe what the fvck you want

          October 7, 2013 at 6:19 am |
  12. Lionly Lamb


    October 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  13. Monica

    About no one responding the writer's email requests: I think most people have these junk email addresses they set up just to have a sign in to millions of different websites across the internet. That's why they probably didn't respond. I'd never know if someone emailed me at this address, I NEVER read emails there, it's exclusively for junk and website signups.

    Also, peacemakers annoy me – muhahahaha, muhahahahahah-ha!

    October 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      It's not really about peace-making, but it is about having a respectful environment so that people will want to participate in discussions. And you are dead-on about the spam email and the lack of responses!

      October 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  14. Jumpin

    All of us fall into some category above. There is nothing to argue about. Everyone believes in something and everyone believes their points are right. So be it. We are all right and that's that.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      No, we all can't be right. That's impossible. But we can be respectful about it.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  15. bostontola

    Some religious people try to argue their beliefs based on logic. Religion is faith based, no logic or evidence required.

    In fact, religious faith needs to be extra strong because it's not just the absence of evidence, it must hold even when the religious belief is in conflict with enormous amounts of scientific evidence to the contrary.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  16. Vic

    That is a nice way by the CNN Belief Blog to address the reality of people's exchanges on the topic of "religion" in cyberspace. We all can get along for the most part if we use proper tone and language, whether we agree or disagree.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance


      October 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      All religions can't be right....but they CAN all be wrong.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  17. Lionly Lamb


    October 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  18. Brett

    I thank God that He revealed to me that I am a sinner and need to be forgiven. I thank God that He revealed to me the Jesus Christ is the One who took my sins upon HImself so that I could be forgiven. I thank God for the peace and direction He has given me now that I have received Christ as my Lord and Savior. May you come to know His peace and forgiveness also. Receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. God Bless

    October 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Roger that

      Exactly how did he reveal all of this to you?

      October 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
      • Brett

        God uses what He calls "the foolishness of preaching" ( 1 Corinthians 1) to bring about salvation. To the world it is just that, foolishness. To those who are called by God it is the "power of God unto salvation". I heard the gospel and the Spirit of God convicted me of sin and made me aware that Jesus Christ is my only lifeline. He is the only Way to God the Father. God Bless

        October 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          You sound like a CRAZY person.

          How convenient, you find yourself guilty as sin, and find a scapegoat to cleanse you.

          Are you really this irresponsible?

          October 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Ron

          Dorian, Brett sounds perfectly sane. You however, sound angry and quite delusional. When did they let you out?

          October 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment, thank you very much.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      No, you are not a sinner and you were not born wicked. We all make mistakes and it is within our ability to recognize that, forgive ourselves, apologize to those we have offended, and be a better person for it, all by ourselves. You may be surprised at the good things of which your are capable all by yourself.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      i think a book, or a person "revealed" this to you and you bought it sight unseen

      October 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  19. Lionly Lamb


    October 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Is that


      October 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  20. Comment

    It's cool if you want to think outside of the box, but don't build a new box for yourself.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
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About this blog

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