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. AB Fresh

    Keep keep keep keep keep keep your pimp hand strong
    Preach the God fearin’ song
    Slap it rap it oil it up and tap it
    That’s the new religion baby
    Sexy three-way with the Jesus honey
    Cat’s hung like a 3 month old baby
    But he knows where to find the thing that makes you normal
    And that dudes not lazy!

    October 7, 2013 at 2:20 am |
  2. Jason

    As far as the article and author are concerned, there should NOT be any "constructive" talks. Insane beliefs SHOULD be met with dismissiveness and derision. The exact same as people, even believers, dismiss the guy on the corner who claims he is the resurrected Jesus!

    I love the fact that these morons believe in some magical being so greatly, yet dismiss Thor and all the other thousands of Gods in human history, because theirs is the "right one". Screw that, they are just as asinine and deserving of ridicule as the next idiot!

    October 7, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Jason

      Honestly, the reason why a lot of Atheist get upset is because its like arguing with a child who keeps asking the question "Why?" over and over again.... It's aggravating. The proof is on our side, and it is overwhelming, yet they persist even with evidence to the contrary (or non-evidence if you want to look at it that way).

      It is enough to drive sane people insane trying to show them the evidence, or non-evidence, and they still persist! It should be no wonder why Atheist are getting more vocal!

      October 7, 2013 at 2:22 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        they don't understand we're trying to help them.

        October 7, 2013 at 2:33 am |
        • saggyroy

          As with all other addiction and dependency problems, the hardest thing to do is admit you have a problem.

          October 7, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You're right. Your perfectly logical argument has caused me to question a lifetime of personal experience and the values and beliefs I've gathered. I'm ready to completely change my life in accordance with what you say. Man,. how could I have been so blind? Thank you.

      October 7, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  3. CommonSensed

    Please don't feed the holy trolls.

    October 7, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • AB Fresh

      This morning I went poo poo and there's no god
      followed by a little break off, there's no god
      Then I had a cup of coffee, there's no god
      Cuz I prayed to hold it it so there's no god
      no sugar cream or sin, there's no god

      October 7, 2013 at 2:14 am |
  4. Jason

    I honestly don't think the majority "Christians", or any religious faction for that matter, have even read their own religious texts. It is some of the most deplorable written texts on Earth! I would even submit, that to believe ANY of that nonsense, makes you immoral by todays standard.

    for one small example: The holy trinity

    God is upset with mankind and wants to punish mankind, so God creates a Son with a virgin to save mankind (Jesus). Except The son is also God, who then dies for our sins to save humanity from God's (or him selves) wrath and is resurrected, only to die again and become the holy ghost, which again is God.

    Anyone with logical thinking should see this as complete full blown asinine nonsense.

    October 7, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • GodIamNot

      Hi Jason, without being a "Scholar" you have just setup a strawman argument. Because the Christian faith is not what you have presented, I am sorry, but if you care to get the correct version, I can help however as the article highlights – I doubt you are very much interested in changing your view. But just so your clear – what you have paraphrased is not the Christian Message.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:39 am |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        Jason is on the money actually– he gives an example- he even says its a small part- meaning there are many (hundreds) of takes on this story. Want to make money and be the big dog?, create your own version – why not? its not like you ll have to stand tall before the Man in the afterlife and explain why you gave his infallible book a unauthorized revision or anything.

        October 7, 2013 at 5:01 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          He's gives and example but it's a blurred example of something he cobbled together on his own. Who's dogma is this version Jason?

          October 7, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • ME II

        "...as the article highlights – I doubt you are very much interested in changing your view."

        Are you not playing the same game? By simply stating 'that's not what I believe' and attacking another with 'you're not interested in changing', you are not engaging anyone.

        October 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  5. Apple Bush

    ....here I am trying to bang this Jew broad, and she's prejudice against atheists. Can you believe that? A Jew broad prejudiced against atheists? I mean come on!

    October 7, 2013 at 1:34 am |
  6. Pseudotriton

    "Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious."

    Well duh. That's what turned many into atheism in the first place. Because if you have truly read and tried to understand the bible, you'd discover that it is nothing but a fairy tale–don't even qualify as a fable. Only those who have done nothing more than casual glimpsing through it would take it seriously.

    October 7, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Most Christians,er....every Christian I know just bookmarks passages they heard in church. They don't read the Bible and they don't trust themselves to understand it.

      October 7, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • saggyroy

      Yup. Not only did I read, I studied the footnotes and cross references in the NT, and Revelations. Then I started on the OT, got half way thru Leviticus, and couldn't take it anymore. I'm not a scholar, I was using it to bolster my faith at the time. I am now an atheist not because of anyone else, I am an atheist because it just doesn't make sense to me.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:57 am |
  7. dewie

    so far, those responding to the question, what do athies believe? have proffered the following: everything, stooges, not unicorns or fairies or santa.

    and they no christ could not possibly be god, except 4 the one who answered, "infinite" or everything.

    October 7, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I believe

      Humans do not require a god to be moral.
      Religion divides more than it unites.
      It is untrue that atheists “believe in nothing”.
      It does not take more faith to be an atheist.
      Atheists do not deny god because they wish to be god.
      Religion and science are incompatible.
      Complexity does not equal design.
      The scientific method trumps primitive anonymous texts.
      The scriptures are ridiculous, offensive and demonstrably false.
      One does not require an afterlife to have a meaningful life.
      Threats of eternal punishment betray a weak argument.
      Schools should be filled with facts, not fanatics.
      Your personal experience does not prove god.
      An inability to disprove god does not prove god.
      Not knowing what caused the big bang does not prove god.
      Even if you prove evolution is completely wrong, it will not prove god.
      And if you believe in any gods the burden of proof is on you.

      October 7, 2013 at 12:34 am |
      • dewie

        so, you 2 have no idea.

        very well

        October 7, 2013 at 12:44 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          The question was answered for myself, atheists as a group do not have shared beliefs. The only answer they share is to the question "do you believe god(s) is/are real.

          I am not surprised that a person who does not seem to know the difference between "no" and "know" has difficulty understanding this concept.

          October 7, 2013 at 12:54 am |
        • dewie

          what u share in common with others is simple. none of u has the slightest notion how we got here. and, u all no beyond a shadow of doubt that jesus is not one with the father

          October 7, 2013 at 1:35 am |
        • Observer


          Yes. EXACTLY LIKE YOU, they have NO PROOF where they came from. You have zip. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. None. NO PROOF. They just are honest and admit it, which puts them far ahead of you. Ooops!

          October 7, 2013 at 1:50 am |
        • dewie

          but u have evidence, so what is the problem?

          Yes. EXACTLY LIKE YOU, they have NO PROOF where they came from. You have zip. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. None. NO PROOF. They just are honest and admit it, which puts them far ahead of you. Ooops!

          October 7, 2013 at 2:06 am |
        • Eagle Eye

          "so, you 2 have no idea."

          Oooooh, you wrote the complete word "you" - you're losing it, Honey!

          October 7, 2013 at 2:11 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Oh, Jesus put us here! How did I miss that?

          Why do objects fall to earth? I have an answer dewie! Tiny Pixies drag them to the ground and hold them there!

          Having an answer is not impressive dewie. Not surprised you don't get that either.

          October 7, 2013 at 2:31 am |
      • mathmattx

        I'm so glad you posted how absolutely little you actually know!

        October 7, 2013 at 1:33 am |
        • Alex

          Not just what little 'atheists' know, mathmattx, how little we ALL know. People can claim to know more than what empirical facts can demonstrate, but they'd be wrong. They can believe they know, think they know, but they don't know, they just assert that what they believe is true, without being able to back it up.

          It's not "I'm an atheist, and we have zero evidence for the beginning of the universe, so atheists can't talk about it, but religions can because they have holy books", it's "we have zero evidence for the beginning of the universe, so NOBODY can talk about it as though they know. They don't."

          October 7, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • tallulah13

      Your spelling and grammar are atrocious, dewie. I can't really figure out what you are trying to say.

      October 7, 2013 at 1:38 am |
      • dewie

        u can comprehend others responses to my questions, though, and you haven't presented your beliefs

        October 7, 2013 at 1:55 am |
        • CommonSensed

          Isms in my belief are bad things. Man should not believe in isms. Man should believe in himself.

          Also, I believe I'll have another beer.

          October 7, 2013 at 2:04 am |
        • tallulah13

          I have no interest in answering the questions of a person too lazy to ask coherently.

          October 7, 2013 at 2:23 am |
        • dewie

          Taliban claimed she had no interest in discussing the topic of this blog, but she did manage to comment twice on how much she enjoyed my grammar and spelling. stick with the topic. Johnnie baby, arrest that chick

          October 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
      • I_get_it

        He's not trying to say anything tallulah13, he's stark, staring crazy.

        October 7, 2013 at 1:57 am |
      • dewie

        U should mind ur own business.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:58 am |
  8. Krhodes

    "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."

    You can't tell an atheist that...they cannot operate that way. Take away the logical fallacies and personal attacks and they have no argument.

    October 7, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Observer


      Speaking of logical, there aren't many atheists who support books claiming that unicorns, talking serpents, and dragons are real.

      October 7, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • shawn l

      How can you use the word logic when the definition of "faith" is a belief in something even without evidence?

      October 7, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      When you can demonstrate that your god is the real one over all the others then you will have an argument, until then you just have a claim.

      October 7, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Maxwell's Demon

      Funny you say we have no argument when all you've got is a group attack.

      October 7, 2013 at 12:30 am |
      • Krhodes

        You read the replies didn't you? I think my statement has been abundantly proven.

        October 7, 2013 at 2:13 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Congradulations Krhodes! You successfully torched another straw man, way to go Don Quixote.

          October 7, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • Pseudotriton

      Don't you mean that you can't tell a *theist* that? After all, what slightest sense of logic is there in believing an invisible skydaddy that supposedly controls everything but then won't even stop some school children from being killed by tornadoes?

      October 7, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • tallulah13

      Many of my friends and family are christian. They are great people and I get along well with them. I just don't believe what they believe. If the only christians I ever encountered were the ones on this blog, I would think christians to be some of the most ignorant, arrogant and downright dishonest people in the world.

      October 7, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      I assure you, if I spend 1 hour, 1 week, ten years, or a century with a believer, I will still come to the same conclusion I drew at age 6 about god, the churches, their clergy and their adherents.

      October 7, 2013 at 2:03 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        I agree, I long ago discarded my six year old version of theology.

        October 7, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          by 6, I had already figured out that God just wasn't there – that it was just a bunch of stories...I more I saw of religious people and their churches ( I eventually landed in a deeply religious home) the more that view was reinforced. I got too much of a view of human nature as well as a glimpse of several Christian denominations too early on to get pulled in.

          Unless you are 'born again', I think neither you or I have altered our core beliefs at all.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • CommonSensed

      Take away your illogical fallacies and your self-righteousness and you have no argument.


      October 7, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Krhodes

      Point proven!

      October 7, 2013 at 2:10 am |
      • Observer


        Yes. You lost badly.

        October 7, 2013 at 2:13 am |
        • Krhodes

          If you say so....anyone knows that absolutely God does not exist must be smarter than everyone else.

          October 7, 2013 at 2:17 am |
        • Observer


          There is no proof that God exists or doesn't exist so picking on atheists for "logical fallacies" more than believers was pointless. At least atheists don't usually support books claiming that unicorns, talking serpents and dragons are real, which would seem to put them actually ahead of believers.

          October 7, 2013 at 2:22 am |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        point proven? really? atheists are atheists primarily because of logic...by way of ever increasing evidence of how we came to be and how our physical world operates – and it all points to there being no God of any kind at the wheel, never has been. add in the human factor with our cons and tendency to exploit the gullible and it is all crystal clear what the game is.

        We ve given this madness too much respect...it should have none in our modern world.

        Its kind of absurd for the writer of this piece to suggest that if only I spent time with believers that id reach some sort of middle ground....a lie is a lie, false is false no matter what spin you put on it.

        October 7, 2013 at 2:25 am |
        • krhodes

          You got the absurd part right.

          October 7, 2013 at 4:40 am |
  9. dewie

    "Cpt. Obvious
    I would say that the stooges were but a concept in the mind of an imagination machine, but then again, what isn't?"

    very well. anything else?

    October 7, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  10. Sarah H.

    Unfortunately religion affects everything, for example; The new President of Iran would not shake President Obama's had or take any pictures with him. Why? Because The President of Iran believes America is "little satan" and Israel is "Big Satan". This issue here is not political. Religion is based on an individuals beliefs. This is why we can't have peace. Someone is ultimately going to be offended. So when I hear about interactions between global leaders like the one above, I turn into a student and dig for the answers. Historically, Israel has been a hot spot. Why? Go find the answer. Oh, but let me remind you that unrevised text and first hand testimonies of historic events are the best resources. The biggest mistake you can make on a quest for truth is to take someones opinion over a eyewitness testimony to an account, historically.

    October 7, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • Sarah H.

      Let me give you a really fun example: Go look up the definition of Truth. Are you going to look it up in the original 1st edition Webster's Dictionary or are you just going to google it? You'll understand why I think this is a valid point when you figure it out.

      October 7, 2013 at 12:13 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Something like: If F is a true statement, then there is a fact x that makes it true, so that if x then necessarily F is true.

        October 7, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • tallulah13

      Personal testimony, especially ancient testimony, is still nothing more than hearsay unless you have corroborating evidence. In the case of Christ, not only are the accounts of his life written well after his death, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are all variations of the same text. Mark is the oldest, likely written around the year 70-75. That is a long time to wait to record testimony, therefore searching local records for names and events (easy, since the Romans were dedicated record keepers) is a much better bet.

      Jesus is not mentioned even once in contemporary records. There is no way that the miraculous events surrounding hom claimed in the bible would have escaped the notice of the locals. When the only "evidence" comes from the people who want you to believe something, it is prudent to be skeptical.

      October 7, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  11. Mike Hansen

    65 Reasons to Believe Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross

    October 6, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  12. pa jesseson

    hey, writer. yo mama...........

    this be the lord speaking and you ain't nothing to me.


    hey, writer. yo mama.....................

    I happen to be the Lord conversing with you, who I created and who, compared to me, ain't she it.

    which religion do you prefer, yo?

    October 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
  13. dewie

    and while we're at it, who would like to explain y zeus is your god? feel free to jump right in

    October 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  14. Rich

    It's amazing how much passion this talk about God evokes? Why not such passion on other topics? I think I know why.....

    October 6, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Because so many people believe in a hugely important concept with ZERO proof and want laws and lives and countries to behave according to their whims? Would you have anything passionate to say if 90% of the population wanted the world to be governed according to their belief in fairies, or Santa, or unicorns?

      October 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
      • dewie

        god could b the stooges because they were real and they weren't fairies, unicorns or santa

        October 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I would say that the stooges were but a concept in the mind of an imagination machine, but then again, what isn't?

          October 7, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  15. MissAnkleBiter

    i would say I'm the peacemaker with a heap of questions. I want to be able to ask your beliefs and share mine without getting me or my icons bashed, as I'll do the same for you:)

    October 6, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  16. Reality # 2

    Putting an end to the future of Christian "holy trollers":

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

    (references used are available on p. 11 of the commentary section)

    October 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
  17. N/A

    If nothing else, arguing religion gets a heck of a lot of comments. In the end, does it really matter? To each their won. Get a life.

    October 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  18. Bootyfunk

    Mr. Blake, you mentioned me in your article: 'Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online.' You have made the mistake of assumption.

    "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." You assume we read your email and decided not to respond. I have a junk email associated with the blog here. It's not that i decided not to respond – i didn't even know you emailed me. That’s bad journalism. You shouldn’t assume answers to questions, for you may be wrong in your assumption, as you are in this case.
    I didn’t know you emailed me. After I saw my handle in your article, I went and looked through my junk email address for your email. I couldn’t find it. It was not under “John” “Blake” or “CNN.” But I had thousands of emails in there, so perhaps I missed it.

    And your choice of words were purposely inflammatory: “all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story.” How would you have any idea what we wanted since you didn’t successfully make contact with us? Your choice of words said we dodged the hard questioning from the tough reporter, that we got your questions but they were just too hard-hitting for us to handle. You are guilty of exactly what you accuse others of. Your slights were subtle and not overt, but they were there. No one is afraid to answer your emails. Perhaps next time be a little more honest in your journalism and say just say you didn't receive a response to an email.

    I would very much like you to resend your email. I will answer any questions you put before me. I’ve made a new email, just for use on the CNN Belief Blog. Please resend your email to that address and I will be happy to answer you.

    btw, you listed 5 kinds of 'Holy Trollers' - you missed one: The Subtle Censor. I'll tell you more about this insidious troll when you write to me.

    October 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Different kinds of Censors:

      Subtle Censors
      Capricious Censors
      Biased Censors
      Vengeful Censors
      Imperial or Authoritarian Censors

      October 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
      • Truth Seeker

        You forgot one, Incensed-ors!

        October 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  19. peick


    Why even allow people to discuss this online? Just turn off the comments. As you said, no one is convincing anyone, anyway. It's just entertainment. And most of the people on here are supposed to be doing their day jobs, anyway.

    October 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Truth Seeker

      I'm on vacation, and house work, if you do it right, will kill you! Then what would I have to look forward to?!

      October 7, 2013 at 2:15 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.