November 3rd, 2013
06:42 AM ET

The surprisingly badass birds of the Bible

Opinion by Debbie Blue, special to CNN

(CNN) - As long as humans have been breathing, they've invested birds with meaning.

They fly all over the Bible - from beginning to end - and they have a prominent place in the founding narratives of almost every culture and religion. They are not just bones and feathers. They are strength or hope, omen and oracle.

In the Bible's first book, Genesis, God hovers over the face of the water like a dove, the Jewish sages suggest in the Talmud. In its final book, birds gorge on the flesh of the defeated "beast" in Book of Revelation.

Birds are the currency of mercy, sacrificed to God in the hopes of winning blessings or forgiveness. They bring bread to the prophets. Abraham has to shoo them away from his offering, and a pigeon accompanies Jesus on his first visit to the temple.

Jesus told us to "consider the birds." I love this about him, and I've taken his advice to heart.

In doing so, I've found paying attention to these wild, awesome animals reveals hidden layers of meaning in the Bible and new lessons for modern Christians looking for grace in unexpected places.

Here are a few of the surprising things I've learned about Bible birds.

1. Pigeon

Take the one bird everyone thinks they know: the dove.

In each of the four gospels, the Spirit of God shows up at Jesus' baptism in the form of a dove. In the popular imagination this Holy Spirit dove is snow white.

But the bird at the baptism was more likely a rock dove, a species much more prevalent in Palestine. These birds are grey with an iridescent green and violet neck. They're more commonly known as the pigeon.

Though most of us have separate categories for pigeons (dirty) and doves (pure), ornithologists will tell you the names are interchangeable.

That means the symbol for the Holy Spirit is just a hair's breadth away from the symbol of urban trashiness.

The dove has come to seem a bit bland as far as Christian symbols go. Maybe it would be helpful to imagine the Holy Spirit as a pigeon instead of a dainty white dove.

Pigeons are ubiquitous, on the streets. They are forever leaving droppings on our sidewalks and windowsills. What if the spirit of God descends like a pigeon, somehow - always underfoot, routinely ignored, often disdained?

2. Vulture

The Hebrew word "nesher" is often translated in English versions of the Bible as eagle, but most scholars agree that "griffon vulture" is at least an alternate, if not a more fitting, translation.

When God reminds Moses how He bore the Israelites on "nesher's" wings, and when the prophet Isaiah promises that the faithful will rise up with wings like "neshers'" -  think vulture instead of eagle.

Vultures may be loathsome to the average westerner, but they are some pretty badass creatures.

They are remarkable purifying machines. They take care of rotting remains that could otherwise spread diseases. They have uniquely strong digestive juices that kill bacteria and nasty pathogens.

The Mayans referred to the vultures as death eaters. This struck them as a good, godlike thing. It makes sense. We need something to eat death (digest it, rid it of its toxicity). Vultures stare death in the face and fear it not at all.

3. Raven

Before Noah sends out the dove from the ark, he releases a raven. Which apparently never comes back.

Commentators have often come to the conclusion that the raven must have failed in its mission. Maybe it got distracted while eating the corpses of the people drowned in the flood.

Philo, the Jewish commentator, called the raven a symbol of Satan. Augustine said it personified impure men and procrastinators.

In the book of Proverbs, we meet ravens plucking out the eyes of disobedient children. But it is also the raven that flies to feed the prophet Elijah when he is stranded in the desert.

In Luke, Jesus asks his hearers to consider the raven. He says this might free them from anxiety.

This takes on more meaning when you've followed the bird through the text. The raven fails, it blunders; it is noble, it is voracious; occasionally its succeeds in doing the right thing - much like us.

Jesus says, consider the raven, and don't be anxious: God feeds the carrion-eating procrastinator, which means God will care for you as well.

4. The Rooster

The rooster announces Peter's betrayal on the night before Jesus dies.

Other than that, the bird usually doesn't get much attention. It announces the dawn. Yawn.

But the rooster is symbolically loaded.

The cock has long been associated with masculine virility (the slang term for the male body part is not an accident).

The rooster was believed to be so potent that if a man smeared himself with a broth of boiled cock, the fiercest of beasts could not harm him. Rabid lions cowered before it. Even the most terrible monster would be so struck with fear at the sound of a cockcrow that it would simply die of fear.

We miss something in the story of Peter's betrayal if we don't consider this barrel-chested badass.

5. Chicken

Of all the birds Jesus might have compared himself to, he chose ... a chicken.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings," Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke.

It's a loving image, but there's a certain fragility in it as well.

The chicken was domesticated from the wild red jungle fowl nearly 6,000 years ago. They've been caged, stuffed with garlic, wrapped in bacon, Kentucky fried.

In other words, it is vastly different, in the cultural vernacular, to be a chicken than it is to be the slang term for rooster.

That makes me think that God's power may be different than how we're used to imagining it.

It's quieter, slower.

More like a mother hen than a strutting, crowing rooster.

If considering the birds can change our ideas about what holy means, what God is like, then maybe we can begin to see grace in wild places where we’d never noticed it before.

Debbie Blue is the author of "Consider the Birds," and a founding pastor of House of Mercy, a church in St. Paul, Minnesota.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (723 Responses)
  1. magicpanties

    Wow, what utter, waste-of-time, useless, meaningless, did I say utter yet?, tripe!

    November 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  2. Roger that

    Its time mankind gives the Bible a bird.

    November 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Roger that


      November 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      November 3, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  3. Apple Bush

    I read this article and can confirm that it is an article.

    November 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • magicpanties

      yes, an article of faith, sublime, mysterious, copropholliac

      November 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  4. Ctrl+C - Ctrl+V

    More command of the keyboard is needed.

    November 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  5. MandoZink

    What year did Jesus think it was?

    November 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • bostontola


      November 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  6. bostontola

    "If considering the birds can change our ideas about what holy means, what God is like, then maybe we can begin to see grace in wild places where we’d never noticed it before."

    Why single out birds when other animals in the bible illustrate the power of God so much better like satyrs, griffons, co ckatrices, ziz, unicorns, basilisks, etc. Oh, because they don't exist, better not mention that.

    November 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Your agnostic nightmare

      Unless you have checked every corner of every planet of every galaxy in every universe you can not say there is no such things as basilisks

      November 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
      • bostontola


        November 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  7. Reality # 2

    From the topic:

    "In doing so, I've found paying attention to these wild, awesome animals reveals hidden layers of meaning in the Bible and new lessons for modern Christians looking for grace in unexpected places."

    For modern Christians looking for Truth, it has arrived:

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    November 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Tristan

      Jesus could not have been illiterate, he was well versed with the Torah and scriptures, most likely spoke multiple languages and was referred to as Rabbi.

      November 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        The illiteracy of the simple preacher man aka Jesus, as per some contemporary experts:

        From Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography, p. 99,

        "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate m–amzer (pp. 98-102) in his claim to be the Lord's anointed".

        Note: Luke 4: 16 is a single attestation. No where else in the NT does it say Jesus could read thereby making said pa-ssage historically unreliable. (Luke 4:16-24) has been compared to a number of other pa-ssage and found to be equivalent with the exception of Luke 4: 16 which is the only passage in the list of equivalents that mentions reading:

        November 3, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was illiterate coming from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist. e.g. The Excavation of Jesus (with Professor Reed), pp 30-31..

          November 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.

          Luke 2: 41-52, the twelve year old Jesus in the temple- As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 275, " the episode is unhistorical" (again, a single attestaion). See also http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=433_Jesus_at_Twelve

          It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

          Of course, Muslims believe that Mohammed was also illiterate. This way, they can claim that the only way he could have received the "angelic", koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic domination of the globe by any means, was orally since he could not read and write.

          November 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
        • Tristan

          The Babylonian Talmud (which dates to 3rd-5th century)
          states that the Jews had schools in nearly every one of their towns.[156]

          Geoffrey Bromiley states that as a "religion of the book" Judaism emphasized reading and study, and people would read to themselves in a loud voice,
          rather than silently, a practice encouraged (Erubin 54a) by the Rabbis.[156] James D. G. Dunn states that Second Temple Judaism placed a
          great deal of emphasis on the study of Torah, and the "writing prophets" of Judaism assumed that sections of the public could read.[135]
          Dunn and separately Donahue and Harrington refer to the statement by first-century historian Josephus in Against Apion (2.204) that the
          "law requires that they (children) be taught to read" as an indication of high literacy rate among some first century Jews.[135][157]

          Richard A. Horsley, on the other hand, states that the Josephus reference to learn "grammata" may not necessarily refer to reading

          Craig A. Evans states that it should not be assumed that Jesus was a peasant, and that his extended travels may indicate some measure of financial means.
          [162] Evans states that existing data indicate that Jesus could read scripture, paraphrase and debate it, but that
          does not imply that he received formal scribal training, given the divergence of his views from the existing religious background of his time.
          [163] James Dunn states that it is "quite credible" that Jesus could read.[135] John P. Meier further concludes that the
          literacy of Jesus probably extended to the ability to read and comment on sophisticated theological and literary works.
          [164] and may be about an oral tradition.[158]

          November 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Tristan

          Dr Keith writes,
          Literacy in the ancient world is substantially more complex than most people think. I think this is one reason why some scholars treated
          (and still treat) the topic of Jesus’ literacy as a novelty topic. They read Crossan say that Jesus was illiterate and either agreed or disagreed,
          thinking that the terms “literate” or “illiterate” were relatively straightforward. If one reads, however, Catherine Hezser’s work on literacy,
          or Raffaella Cribiore’s discussion of the school papyri of Greco-Roman Egypt, or even William Harris’s classic monograph, one realizes that
          literacy manifested in many contexts, languages, and skills. There was nothing straightforward about it, and yet it was extensively
          tied into the social and political systems of the ancient world. Current studies, like Sang-Il Lee’s Jesus and Gospel Traditionsin
          Bilingual Context, are only making clearer just how complex Jesus’ environment was in terms of language and literacy.

          In the book The Pericope Adulterae, theGospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus, Keith writes,
          that the references to Jesus “writing” in the ground in John 8.6, 8 were indeed claims that he could write.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

          New Torah For Modern Minds

          “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
          Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

          The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

          Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

          The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

          The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

          November 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Reading material for those trying to find the historic Jesus:

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

        2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
        – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication plus many reviews.- not one gospel or epistle written by Jesus.

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

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

        16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
        theologians, ethics, etc.

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

        November 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  8. No Way Yahweh

    This article forgot to mention another "Badass" bird from the Bible. The BAT!

    Oh wait... bats aren't birds...

    Leviticus 11:13-19
    13 “‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle,[a] the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the BAT.

    November 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • IDK

      So rather than delve into alternative philosophies you chose to focus on minutiae?

      November 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
      • Jed

        You bet. If the "word of god" has even simple facts wrong, well, whadya think about that "god", stupid???

        November 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
        • IDK

          I bet you hate icky things like figures of speech and "feelings".

          November 4, 2013 at 1:15 am |
        • Jed

          You lose, stupid.

          November 4, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  9. The christian spirit animal is the vulture

    Go figure, the whole town is full of christians. Typical.


    November 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  10. MandoZink

    The existence of Satan as a deity is good example of the problem that Christians have. You offer a scapegoat where individual responsibility should be.

    As an atheist, I fully understand that a mature being must adopt a high standard of personal integrity. Being decent and compassionate is its own reward.

    November 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • The Word is The Light

      Living in sin is not a reward.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
      • OTOH

        @The Word,

        You are living in Muslim sin. You will be going to Muslim hell. How much does that scare you?

        November 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • The Word is The Light

          It doesn't scare me. They added to the Bible by creating their cult. The Bible tells us not to add to it. The joran is in direct violation of God's word. Any other Nobel prize-winning theories or are we done here?

          That's what I thought. Bugger off.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • OTOH

          "They added to the Bible by creating their cult"

          Precisely what Paul and the gang did to the OT (not that the OT is anything special, mind you).

          November 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • My mind is blown

      That is the FIRST tine I've ever seen an atheist start out a good example statement with the words "The existence of Satan"
      That was funny.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
      • A Frayed Knot

        I guess that we need to take the time to properly identify these imaginary beings as "Your Satan character", "Your "God" character", etc. Believers seem to be too dense to get it otherwise.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • MandoZink

        Yeah. As a reader of various mythologies, I notice that In the bible God killed more people than Satan did. As a matter of fact, Satan didn't kill anyone. That other vengeful angry deity did 'em all.

        November 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • Mythos

          Nope Satan didn't kill anybody. He was just the guy who sat there calling the religious people stupid. Soon after they bot committed suicide. Either he was right or they were just desperate to get away from his company.

          November 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Check the book of job for some killing by satan.

          November 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          The Book of Job is apalling, Robert. One scholar I knew called it divinely inspired fiction. Satan has access to God and can test God. Job's family is killed in one such test. In the end Job gets a new family and everything's all right somehow (it sucked to be a member of his original family wouldn't you say?).

          November 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Job is a tragedy. I've read some good commentary on the book and while it does begin as a tragedy, not so unlike ones that happen everyday, it does contain a powerful spiritual message. I always thought when I read the book, how aweful, Job was good guy and God let the devil kill his whole family for no good reason. With the good commentary and further study, I was able to see the reason God allowed it. Job and satan had something in common, pride. He was self righteous. In the end, Job realizes it and admits as much to God.

          November 3, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Your god is a real bastard in the book of Job. Why does his family have to pay for the sins of their patriarch? That's a real habit of your god: Make the kids suffer because of what their parents did. Your god has a real thing for scapegoats, doesn't he? He just can't punish the guilty, oh no. The innocent have to pay instead. Your god is an immoral jerk.

          November 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • Robert Brown


          Why do you think they were innocent?

          November 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • tallulah13

          What makes you think that they weren't? Where in the bible does it say that they deserved to be killed?

          November 3, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          The most important lesson god teaches in the book of Job is that family and lifelong friends are replaceable and it shouldn't bother us if our loved ones suffer a horribly terrifying and painful death because it's just all part of god's plan.

          November 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          It's an unwinnable argument, Tal. RB is just going to say that all those people deserved never ending torture by fire for not saying the right magic spells in the right order every single day while cutting open the ribcage of some spotless bird or goat to keep god's bloodlust satiated. You know, one afternoon their kid got sick and they just couldn't get to it that day. So, if somebody fvcks up with god like that, then he can allow Satan to do whatever he wants with them cause they're all just living on grace day to day anyway. Plus, it's all part of god's plan, so it's ok, really, it is.

          November 3, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
        • tallulah13

          I would like to see Bob rationalize why he thinks these people deserved to die.

          As a teen I was forced into a masonic organization called Job's Daughters, and as part of our super-secret initiation ceremony, we retold the story of Job. There was nothing at all mentioned about the wickedness of the original family. The entire Job story was posed as simply a game between god and satan with Job as a pawn.

          The kicker, of course, was that it was okay that Job's entire family was killed because god gave him a new family, and the new daughters were even prettier than the old ones. I thought it was a rather horrible message.

          November 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Tallulah, I had the same misconception about the book. It isn't about the interaction between God and satan, it is about the self righteousness of Job and his repentance of it.

          As far as what his family did, I don't know. I do know this, I'm sure thankful I don't have to get what I deserve.

          November 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Who cares what his family did. They deserved far worse than they got. God was being merciful to them to crush them and suffocate them and have them eaten by animals. Besides, Job got a fresh new pretty family and friends straight out of the plastic box. Yippee.

          That's what the book is saying.

          November 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
        • tallulah13

          So why did you ask why I thought the family was innocent? What was the point of that? There were no reports to the contrary, so why were you so willing to believe the worst about them for no reason at all? And why do are you okay with people being killed for no reason other than the sins of the father? How can you not question the morality of that, but instead make this about you and your own fears?

          I could never worship your god. He is just as immoral as you are.

          November 3, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
        • Robert Brown


          If that is all you got out of it, I'm afraid you missed the point.

          November 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
        • Robert Brown


          Job was worried about them,

          Job 1:4-5
          King James Version (KJV)
          4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

          5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

          November 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
        • tallulah13

          What proof did Job have? Did god confirm Job's fears, or was that even mentioned? Do you think that a father's fears are justification for the slaughter of an entire family? Do you think that is morally acceptable?

          November 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • tallulah13

          (now in the right place..)

          And Bob? Satan had god's permission to kill Job's children. God is complicit.

          November 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
        • Heads Up


          It might be a good idea to somewhere in your ana.lysis to slip in the fact that you are discussing a fable... like the symbolism of The Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. I don't know if Robert considers it a fable, but others think that it really happened (!), and this is why so many believers get confused and keep saying that non-believers really do believe and just hate "God".

          November 3, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Jed

          Robert Brown is just stupid and deluded. He can't help it.

          November 3, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Robert, the number of 'points' I get from the book are not the issue. No need to feel superior, here. The lesson I highlight is present and powerful. You certainly have no 'points' to address on the issue I raise, do you?

          November 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Head's Up, I am discussing this as if it was real because robert is doing so. I want him to explain the logic behind his reasoning, because in a real situation, his god would be considered an immoral creep and robert doesn't seem to get that.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:23 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Tallulah & Capt.

          I’m paraphrasing here, After Job had continually justified himself to his so called friends and they had pretty much told him he must have done something wrong, God says to Job where were you when I created all things? In other words who are you to question me? Job apologizes and repents.

          Is this much different than calling God immoral?

          November 4, 2013 at 9:07 am |
        • tallulah13

          God killed people in order to get their father to admit he was arrogant. How in the world can you even pretend that is an act of a moral being?

          November 4, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • a reasonable atheist

          Why is Job's family treated as if they have no value? That's the main issue I have with this sparable. His wife and children are just hapless pawns to be disposed of in a bet between god and satan. If you think punishing someone by harming those they care about is acceptable, you are a psychopath. The ego of god is so easily-bruised that he/she/it will allow bystanders to be murdered in a fit of petulance. That's extreme narcissism, a trait commonly exhibited by psychopaths. I get that the intended lesson of the story is that one should humble themselves before god, but why would I ever want to show any sort of respect or admiration towards one who practices such savage and wanton brutality?

          November 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • MandoZink

      Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right

      You need to be moral. When the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment. That's not morality, that's just sucking up and apple-polishing.

      November 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I don't think I've met a theist who actually has a sound reason for believing in a God.

    November 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • hkip


      look who it is. the troll that lives here on this site. how old are you? mid 50's? female? live around delaware?

      November 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
      • fyi


        You are referring to a different Tom, Tom. Please keep up or pipe down.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
        • hkip

          fyi, they are one in the same. thanks for playing. you lose.

          : )

          November 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • fyi

          No, dear, they are not one in the same. I hope that you are not any kind of detective or investigator in real life.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      I have folks like Bill Deacon and Topher that have sinned in their minds so egregiously that they need the forgiveness of a mythical god to live with themselves. The cowards way out of reality.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Imaginary salvation by an imaginary saviour from the imaginary consequences of imaginary sin.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Except they may have performed more than imaginary sins before they were born again, perhaps.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  12. The Word is The Light

    I have never met an intelligent atheist.

    November 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Igaftr

      Hello. Now you have.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
      • The Word is The Light

        Wow, so convincing.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Igaftr

          The only thing your original statement did was to show how dim your light was. I don't need to convince you of anything. I am intelligent and I am an atheist.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          How trollingly pointless.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • The Word is The Light

          No, you are not.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      How would you even know that?

      November 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • MandoZink

      At least you recognize your problem. That is a promising start.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well, you should stop trolling, get out of your mom's basement and meet some real people. Who knows? Maybe you'll even make a friend!

      November 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Check out the Monk debate between Hitchens and Tony Blair, you could probably learn something if you get beyond your bias.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Munk debates.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • The Word is The Light

          Thanks for proving my point.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Igaftr

          What point....you did not make a point.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          There are many intelligent Christians and many intelligent atheists. There are stupid Christians and stupid atheists. To imply otherwise through some sort of expansions of one's own personal experience as "evidence" merely proves the speaker's lack of honesty and critical evaluation.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          The Word...
          If you think a typing error preports a lack of intelligence says more about you than the error, very lame.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        BTW I did correct my mistake, Mia Maxima Culpa, you may want to watch that program also, again you may learn something beyond your bias.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      What is your measurement of intelligence? Which method of testing, analyzation and experimentation do you use? Or is this just another faith claim?

      November 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  13. mike

    Opinions are like armpits.

    Most people have a couple, and some of them stink.

    November 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And yet I'm grateful to live in a society where we are all welcome voice our opinions. How do we learn and grow without learning that there are ideas other than our own?

      November 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  14. InsanityPrevails

    (I've got a bit of a theory I'd like to test. I'm just going to say the phrase)


    (and see how long it takes before I get swarmed by keyboard-samurai.)

    November 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Trollier than thou

      Oh man you're going to make me look that up? Forget it.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Fiona

      I don't see your point. Do you have one?

      November 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Jake from State Farm

      Acts 7:1 and the high priest said, "Is this so?"

      JfSF: "And...?"

      November 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • InsanityPrevails

        My point is, most of the time someone brings up a Bible quote on Belief Blog, it starts a flame war(or is involved therein).

        November 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • MandoZink

      Okay. My reply:


      See. Every bit as relevant and no less rational.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  15. Colin

    Quick trivia question. What were the first and last books of the entire Bible to be written, who wrote them and in what language were they originally written. Fist correct answer wins.

    November 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was first...

      Last I think was Inheritance by Paolini

      Did I win?

      November 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        I left out the language sorry, I don't want to be disqualified. The first was written in English and the last was written in Montanan.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Doris

      I would guess nobody knows, and
      nobody knows.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Hi mama I would guess both were written in igplay atinlay.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          igpay atinlay to be correct.

          November 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • InsanityPrevails

      That's kinda tough.
      I'm no religious scholar–I'm not really any sort of scholar at all, to be honest–but from what I've heard, the Old Testament is heavily based off of the Jewish holy book, the Torah. So for the first book of the Bible, you'd have to find the origin of the Torah, right?

      November 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
      • nope


        the old testament is the torah. It was written in Hebrew. The new testament was written in Greek by the roman empire to control morons. As we can see, it worked well. Countless millions of idiots still believe it's all true.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • actorforchrist

      The first book to be written is probably Job and was probably written in Aramaic. Its position as the first book makes a good deal of sense because it contains much more information about the Creation than does Genesis.

      The last book to be written is more difficult but was likely Hebrews and was probably written in Greek.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • nope


        November 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  16. Misa

    I like the image of Jesus as a mother hen, but I might have to disagree a bit here. I've kept chickens for a few years, most of them were strays a neighbor abandoned and who made my backyard their feeding grown. One of the hens I caught had a clutch of 1 day old chicks, and let me tell ya, that hen would've gouged my eyes out if she could, and she did try. I had to lock her and her chicks in the garage until dusk, so it'd be easier to grab her without getting hurt.

    An angry hen will make the most ungodly sounds to protect her chicks and will attack anything that looks like a thread. so much for a peaceful image.

    November 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I have a bunny. To learn more about rabbits please visit: http://www.wikipoops.com

      November 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Dried out bunny crap looks like cereal buds, hope the kids can tell the difference.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          rabbits are shit machines.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Quite true, but if you got laid as often as they do given the opportunity, you would be a happy fellow.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Fiona

      And I had a pet rooster that was incredibly sweet and docile. Nothing macho our outre about him at all. Animals vary in temperament as much as people do.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • ?

        I had a dog that was very fond of peoples legs, pheromone imbalance in that h0rny dogs mind.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  17. Trolling along

    Okay time for the atheists to cry "fowl" and shoot the bird to the religious.

    November 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Surfin'

      A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird
      B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
      A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word

      (I suppose these folks would capitalize "The" and "Word", though, eh?)

      November 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • Joel Osteen

        Is not. Everyone knows grease is the Word!

        November 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Owl

          We should try not to get too emutional about it, though, otoh, poor egret!

          November 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Owl

      Time for the doves to stage a coo.

      November 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  18. Apple Bush

    I can't be bothered with reading this article, however I do know that bird poop makes excellent material for stigmata.

    November 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Trolling along

      You shouldn't put bird poop in your eye.

      November 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        It looks great on a statue with a some berry juice.

        November 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Mother Mary come to me
          Speaking words of wisdom

          But wash off the bird crap, please.

          November 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  19. Theo

    Great article! Thanks!


    November 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Fiona

      Dunno about that. Every time I read the word "bada_ss," I think of the Honey Badger.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  20. Bob from Accounting

    I wonder if the only reason that CNN has "belief" blog is to give their target audience a place to belittle those that think differently than them.

    If I could blow your little troll minds for a second, perhaps the vast majority that read and participate in these articles are not the same religious trolls that infest the science articles. Maybe, instead of "getting back at them there religious types" you are instead just making it harder to come together. Maybe, just maybe, when you ask yourself why there is so much strife in the world, you are part of the problem.

    And before you start with some atrocity an opportunistic aristocracy committed a thousand years ago, keep in mind that eugenics was the creation of the atheists and are still supported by atheists such as Richard Dawkins

    November 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Couldnt have said it better myself. This story seems to have been created just to attract trolls. Birds of the Bible? Come on.

      November 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • agreed

        @ Anonymous:
        Not only that... there was no (zero) spiritual revelation in this post. Just a carnal piece of reasoning.

        November 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm |


        November 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • heehee

      Eugenics was the creation of the atheists? Still supported by atheists?

      Hmmm... my actual historical instances of religious atrocities are no match for your imaginary ones.

      November 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Colin

      "eugenics was the creation of the atheists and are still supported by atheists such as Richard Dawkins" Where the hell did you get that clanger from? You started off making a bit of sense but just went south from there.

      November 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jake from State Farm

      If you start off your post with troll-like comments, congratulations. You're a flame-throwing troll.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • nope


      religious people have been the root cause of division across the globe for thousands of years. think again, genius.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • MandoZink

      In actuality, Dawkins had posed some purely academic questions, meant to solely to stimulate discussion, such as:

      "I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler’s death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them"

      This was inevitably twisted by less capable thinkers into declaring a support for eugenics. That is not a surprise.

      Those who often point out past atrocities by so-called “atheists” are significantly mistaken as to the fundamental nature of the people who committed those acts. While religious violence is carried out by extremists in the name of their religious beliefs, the frequently mentioned historic atrocities by non-religious tyrants were committed by maladjusted individuals. They were either paranoid, narcissistic, megalomaniac, psychopathic, totalitarian or a combination thereof. They did not have any comprehension of the inherent moral sense of human kindness that the majority of rational atheists come to know.

      If Christians so often wonder why atheists are a bit put off by theism, it is because we are relentlessly and deceptively demonized by them with no rationale.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Answer

      If we atheists were behind the eugenics then we have sorely been lazy. Time we actually used it to wipe you religious cunts off the map.

      November 3, 2013 at 7:32 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.