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December 7th, 2013
09:16 AM ET

An atheist photographer focuses on faith

Opinion by Mark Schacter, special to CNN

(CNN) - I don’t believe in a divine presence, nor do I subscribe to any organized religion.

And that, perhaps oddly, is why I am drawn to the mystery of faith.

With the wonderment of an outsider, I try to understand the seemingly incomprehensible (to me, at least) pull that faith exerts over so many people's lives.

As a photographer approaching this mystery, I am confronted by what might seem like a contradiction: Photographs capture what can be seen, and yet faith is often invisible.

But even if personal faith can't be seen directly, there are some tangible traces of its existence, and that's where I point my camera.

In particular, I photograph houses of worship, whose bricks and clapboard, stained glass and steel are often the largest and most visible manifestations of religious faith.

I've photographed Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Baha'i sanctuaries in the United States and Canada.

I've also interviewed Christian ministers, a rabbi, a imam and a Buddhist scholar about the significance of their spiritual homes, pressing them to explain how they reconcile their sometimes opulent houses of worship with the fact that religion is ultimately about transcending worldly things.

Often, they answered that the magnificent building is of little consequence. It serves a valuable purpose only if, through its grandeur, it transports worshipers to a spiritual state of mind.

“The point of the building is to leave people feeling awestruck,” said the Rev. Michael Busch, rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto.

But is it the building itself that gives the space a sacred quality, or is holiness derived from the devotions of worshipers, present and past, who have occupied the space?

I don't pretend to know the answer to that question. But I do know this: Even an ardent atheist can look at a house of worship and see the signs of an invisible human longing that is common to us all, believer and unbeliever alike.

Mark Schacter is a photographer based in Ottawa, Canada. Mark's newest book of photography, Houses of Worship, has just been published. It's available now in Canada and will be released internationally soon. His website is www.luxetveritas.net.

The opinions expressed in this commentary belong to Mark Schacter.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Buddhism • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Houses of worship • Islam • Judaism • Mosque • Opinion • Sikh • United States

soundoff (2,235 Responses)
  1. Merry Chri$tmas

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

    Bad Religion loves Christians!

    December 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Best Christian Rock band ever!!!!!

      December 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
      • Merry Chri$tmas

        I kind of freaked out when I heard that on the radio this morning. And one of the members talking about how important Christianity is with his family. Very interesting.

        December 8, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Might have to get this one. I love a good Christmas album.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Akira

      I'd be very interested in seeing how Bad Religion would treat Handel's Messiah.
      Might have buy this one.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • atomD21

      Now that is my type of Christmas album!

      December 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Truth defender

      Becarefull with these false prophets!!

      December 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  2. lol??

    The pwogwessive mind. First it's gay photogs and now atheist photogs. it'll never end!!

    December 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Poor you. Life will go on, I promise.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
      • lol??

        More make work for the pharisees in the Affirmative Action club.

        December 8, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
        • Akira

          It is good to be employed.

          December 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        But do you pwomise ?

        December 9, 2013 at 4:21 am |
  3. Apple Bush

    God fathered himself after he already existed. This would be a clue that there are flaws in the Bible.

    December 8, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      Oups something's wrong!
      You are here even though there is scientifically absolutely no way for you to be involved in your own life whatsoever.

      I guess that's an indication that scientific theory is incomplete at best.
      Luckily, Goedel's theorem already says that contradiction free and complete are mutual exclusives, so why don't you read your own bibles? 🙂

      December 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        You have no proof that I am here. It is impossible for you to validate my existence. The work of science will never be complete. There are some true statements.

        December 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
        • lolCAT2000

          Correct, I have no proof you really exist.
          I just believe in you.
          My religion.
          Amen.

          December 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        That is your fatal flaw lolca2k.

        December 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Youtube - Context!!!!!!

      I'm still trying to get over the wrestling match between Jacob and God with Jacob winning, and Jacob seeing God's face. Wrestling matches, walks in a garden – wonder why He doesn't come visit us given that he has time to wrestle.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • atomD21

        I've come to realize after growing up in a conservative church and then moving away from that environment that the majority of people that sincerely believe the Bible is to be taken completely literally have never read it all. My first major step away from American Evangelicalism (made up word?) was reading the entire Bible.

        December 8, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
        • OO oo

          too bad u lie. u have no idea how many reborners read their bibles regardless if you abandoned your god

          December 9, 2013 at 12:19 am |
        • brent scowcroft

          agreed OO oo. point being, so, if they hadn't hacked this dump, and cnn and wordjoke weren't complicit, they wouldn't face gobs of torts seeking billions

          December 9, 2013 at 5:21 am |
        • midwest rail

          Nope, no lawsuit, no billions, no nothing. Just pointless trolling. Carry on.

          December 9, 2013 at 5:33 am |
        • oo oo

          This is partly why the claims that Acharya makes warrant scholars to distance themselves from her. It certainly is not because she is female (despite what crap she makes up about that), as all one has to do is look at Mary Ann Tolbert, Elaine Pagels and Paula Fredriksen to know that female scholars are well respected based on the work that they do, just as male scholars are. She is simply not respected because her research is amateurish and generally inaccurate. She could write a new book and prove me wrong...but I do not think she is in it for the facts.

          December 9, 2013 at 5:49 am |
        • but I do not think she is in it for the facts.

          but I do not think she is in it for the facts.

          lol

          just look at her numerous other selves. they mimic her and insult christ and christians 24/7 while cnn, having been informed hundreds of times of their legal liability, turns the other cheek.

          December 9, 2013 at 5:55 am |
        • nclaw441

          My own view is that everything in the Bible is true, but that there are likely portions that are stories which contain truths without being historically and literally true. There are books of fiction which, by definition, are not literally true but which contain truths about life. Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence comes to mind.

          December 9, 2013 at 8:44 am |
        • Science Works

          nclaw441 this is true too – no bible needed !

          Open Access Peer-Reviewed
          Research Article

          MicroRNA-Driven Developmental Remodeling in the Brain Distinguishes Humans from Other Primates

          http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001214

          December 9, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • Science Works

          nclaw441

          Are you able to wrap your brain around the MicroRNA deal ?

          December 9, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  4. Apple Bush

    I believe in nothing. There was nothing before I was born, and when I die there will be nothing. Therefore my belief in nothing is well-founded. There is no box my belief system or lack thereof, will fit in.

    I will still be part of universe when I die and that is something so perhaps I shouldn’t say I believe in nothing.

    But when this universe dies my particles will become the nothing and that leads me back to believing in nothing which is certainly something.

    December 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Nothingness is the allness of everything that is nothing... From the nothing that encircles every atom to the nothing that separates the stars ad their planets, Nothingness are just these, the nothing around everything that is not Nothingness...

      December 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        I disagree you crazy old fuck. Nothingness is the very state of all things at all times. When an particle is nothing, so then is its partner. Nothing is the nilhist understanding of reality and that reality is nothing.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • devin

      And that is a purely faith based ideology, no more or less so than Christianity or any other of the world's religions. You have ABSOLUTELY no proof that there was "nothing" prior to or after your material existence.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • Yep

        Apple Bush is a man of faith. I don't have faith in his beliefs. But that is ok. Most don't.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
      • Answer

        Tell everyone what it was like before you were born.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Proof of nothing is nothing.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
      • tallulah13

        In the absence of evidence for anything else, "nothing" is the logical default.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
      • Yep

        The world must revolve around my consciousness.

        December 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      don't go before death... what about yesterday? What about tomorrow?
      Are you sure that you are alive right now?
      Are you sure you have evidence of being alive this very moment?

      December 8, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
      • lolCAT2000

        I meant to write "after death/before birth". So I'm going to correct myself right now! How am I doing this! No idea. 🙂

        December 8, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
      • Evidence

        When an atheist dies, his/her atheism dies, too. And God's way lives on.

        December 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
        • Bingo

          The lepechaun lives on in exactly the same way.

          December 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  5. Ted

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    7

    December 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5rRZdiu1UE&w=640&h=360]

      I like this one better.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  6. Lionly Lamb

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4z5xTQT7qs&w=640&h=360]

    December 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Beautiful architecture.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  7. martin

    so you now become a capitalist using the internet as a marketing tool

    December 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  8. Danny

    Funny how art should inspire conversation, among other things. And here we are in the blogs, once again, rehashing the same arguments, thinking it will somehow yield different results.

    December 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Answer

      One person's mind at a time. Change.

      We will rid ourselves of these delusions.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
      • lol??

        "Wegodians" are at the end of the line. They ran out of idols.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
        • Answer

          So the standard zombie reply and make up bs terminology. Way to go.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  9. Answer

    Here is an honest inquiry on your religious statues and buildings..

    Do you really think that if you built the most magnificent and most beautiful works of art; that it makes your religion and your god turn out to be actually – real?

    December 8, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • lol??

      Lady Liberty and the washington monument. You can see what was on the pwogwessives' minds.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Answer

        So you can't even answer with a proper reply. We understand your stupidity.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
        • lol??

          You and the demon in yer temple??

          December 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
        • tallulah13

          The "we" is anyone who can read, you silly troll.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Kev

      It's an act of faith, devotion, and even at times of sacrifice.

      December 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
      • Shell

        Why would an omnipotent being need any of that?

        December 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Indeed. Why does god need human beings to spread his word? This is a being that can simultaneously watch, hear or ignore any number of a quadrillion trillion trillion living or inanimate things throughout the universe. This is the all-powerful creator who provided every rule under which we understand our universe. All technology flows from him, yet he can't tell us himself to behave?

          December 8, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Kev

          It's not about what God needs it's about what we need.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
        • Kev

          The need being faith.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Circular Kev.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
        • Kev

          In what way?

          December 8, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          In the way your reasoning is circular. Think about it.

          December 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
        • Kev

          Please enlighten me. How?

          December 8, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Kev, how? Well I can't speak for everybody, but most of us reason with our brain.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • Kev

          Well, if you can't explain your point then you cant explain your point.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:26 am |
      • Kev

        How?

        December 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Across the threshold;

      A tiny crumble then a cascade of plaster;

      Jesus is not pleased with my intrusion!

      I care not for I have come only to sing tenor in the choir;

      They have a female tenor and she is singing sharp.

      I did not choose this life; it was thrust upon me.

      I will not wave my hand in the air with the arrogance of the sopranos for I am not welcome here in this house;

      Soon this will be a heap and the children will be saved!

      As long as the choir sings in tune I can leave this wretched place and seek solace in a New Age shop the sells good Indian incense.

      Sorry about the ceiling...

      December 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  10. oo oo

    I got no money comin in but I can't feel sad.
    That was the best cup a coffee I ever had
    And I won't worry bout a thing
    Cause I got it made
    Here on the inside
    Outside so far away

    A song for jeff

    December 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  11. Aaron

    When I go to my church building, I go for simple worship, and to help the community I'm in. It's not the building that makes the difference. In fact, our building here in Harvard Square is pretty much absent of any expensive art, or elaborate architecture. Yet I still feel a holiness inside of it every time I'm there. It's a divine spirit that is with us and the people that are around us. It's how we serve them, and how they serve me. The goodness of the experience brings us closer to God. I find that I'm closer to God in this more "raw" church experience coupled with my own personal efforts.

    I appreciate this element in other religious meeting houses.

    December 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I appreciate beautiful architecture and art wherever I find it. It's not a religious thing. It's just admiration for beautiful things and for the artists and craftspeople who create them. It's always nice to see that humans are capable of creation and not just destruction.

      December 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • Aaron

        I totally agree, I love beautiful architecture and art. I'm not intending to take away from the value of it. It's one of my favorite things to do in New England: enjoy the amazing architecture all around me. It's just not where I spend my time to find God.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Answer

      Sprinkling the words; "divine", "holy" ...

      The words that you cling to; that comfort of your delusion. You tie those words to the emotions and that is all it is.

      December 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  12. The Bible - Rough Draft

    Once upon a time there was a super invisible buddy in the sky named God, except he hadn't invented buddies and sky yet. He was just sitting there alone in the nothingness for eons and eons, doing nothing. Nothing. Just hanging out in the nothingness, doing nothing, as you would expect from an all-knowing all-powerful guy. Then he gets off his unemployed butt and invents light, though he won't get around inventing the things that make light for a couple of days.

    Then God decided to make some action figures, but he bumbled the design and they did not work as expected, even though an all-knowing deity would know what was going to happen by designing them this way. So he gets really miffed that they behaved as he designed them, and he is so angry that what he always knew was going to happen happened that he punishes them and all their offspring forever for eating a piece of fruit. As anyone would.

    After a bunch o' begatting, the flaw in God's design made him pissy again, so he decides to slaughter everyone for jollies, and what the heck, all the animals except two of each. God decided to have some giggles and have Noah make an impossibly unseaworthy and large boat, go fetch all them critters, and fill that boat up with food and all for many months. Then God had more giggles and killed everyone except Noah's kin, and what the heck, all the animals too.

    Then they got begatting and begat and begat, including two sons who somehow continued to begat despite the absence of begattable women. One of the begats was Jacob, who beats all-powerful god in a wrastlin' match. Later God will send his hit men in to kill everyone in a couple cities except the guy who offered up his daughters for rape, as any true Christian would.

    God also has one guy live in a fish for three days, kinda a normal thing to do. I'm sure many of you have lived inside fish for days too.

    After a while, God decides to have a kid, because he wants to kill the kid as part of a magic ritual. And because he realized his old rules really sucked. God Jr. has many spiffy adventures, like getting angry at a fig tree and killing it, and telling his followers to do a bunch of things they are supposed to do like be nice. But his followers figure they are getting to go to GodWallyWorld anyway, so they ignore the rules. Then Junior gets lynched in a guilt trip scheme God-dad always intended. But God loves a good zombie story, so it's Morning Of The Living Dead time in Judea.

    Then God decided that Junior had blown it and not given enough information, and finds a bully named Saul to tell everyone what to do. Saul changes his name to Paul, which is really effective at going incopnito. Fools them good.

    So Junior's followers live happily ever after by simply sending the author money, again and again and again. And those who don't send money, bad stuff in hot tubs for you.

    This is all true. You don't need any other verification. Heck, you will be tortured for even doubting it. God and Junior Zombiesay it's true, so it's true. People will say it's not, but that just proves it's true, because I say so. So it's true.

    The End. But don't forget to send money.

    December 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • devin

      Dude, you got a hold of some REALLY bad cliff notes.

      December 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • Billy

        Really? It's certainly better than some Craig's notes.

        December 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
      • Saraswati

        I thought that was a nifty little summary for anyone unfamiar with the religion. The last few lines maybe need some clean-up, but the rest was pretty acurate.

        December 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
        • devin

          " a nifty little summary". I guess so if you tend to gravitate toward trite stupidity.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • Bingo

          I too have always considered the Bible to be trite stupidity.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • romnesia

          devin, isn't that what your buybull says?

          December 8, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
        • devin

          rom

          "buybull". That little play on words/word, was masterfullly clever. Did you pick that up from somewhere else or were you able to fabricate it all on your own? Either way, it was sheer brilliance

          December 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
        • Answer

          The religious freak doesn't like the "bull" in the retort. Haha.

          Have to play it down and convince themselves that it isn't bull. So hilarious.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
        • devin

          I see you're easily amused.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
        • Answer

          Ya freaks are so hilarious to laugh at.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
        • tallulah13

          And the "religious freak", as you say, has yet to explain exactly what was wrong with the Rough Draft. He's blustered and postured, but not offered anything substantial.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
        • romnesia

          devin we cant all be a genius like what you is with all that original religion an prayin an all

          December 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sounds like a solid retell to me. But you forgot the part where god "hardens the heart" of the pharaoh so that he won't listen to Moses. I guess god really had a hankerin' to kill him some first-born sons.

      December 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
      • The Bible - Rough Draft

        I'm busy on a new ending at the moment, called "The Kill-Crazy Rampage Of Loving Jesus." Someone suggested "Revelation" as a title, but that's pretty boring.

        December 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • lol??

          You need to curl up with yer dog on a cold winters nite, have a couple Swedish coffees, and play a holy wood movie, say "Natural Born Killers". Don't ferget to put some extra wood on the fire and don't stumble on those wood chips fallin' onto to yer shoulder from ye ol' block.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Good job illustrating the utter absurdity of the Bible stories. I'd like to see you continue to develop and flesh it out more.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
        • lol??

          Stuck on flesh dandi??
          "1Cr 15:50
          Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

          The sons of the Beast know nothing about inheritance. Daddy Beast spent it all.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  13. Bootyfunk

    this article shows us how inspiring human architects can be. don't attribute that 'magical' feeling to a deity - attribute it to the amazing skill of the craftsmen that worked on it.

    December 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Sired Booty...

      I take it a 'photographic eye' isn't itself what makes a photo sometimes giving someone a magical feeling..?

      December 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • lol??

      Bootsie, God is not impressed by guile. You can look that one up. So as far as craft goes,
      2. skill in deception and trickery; guile; cunning

      Any more bunnies in yer hat??

      December 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    A wonderful day today!

    Two Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door to speak with me. After 3 hours discussing fact and science they have both seen the foolishness of their religion and have become atheists! It was wonderful to see the delight in their eyes as they finally saw the real world.

    A great day!

    December 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Were they hot?

      December 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        no

        December 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • JW

      Lol... Good story teller Deslexic. But it could happen. Just like there are many that were ex atheist, Mormons, evangelicals, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Evolutionists... That are now JWs!

      December 8, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Except that such a scenario is much more likely for Jehovah's Wittnesses:

        "Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses."

        http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

        December 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
        • JW

          I don't know about the veracity of the info you have provided. Who ever provides numbers regarding JWs outside JWs are generally fake numbers.

          As it is now there are more people becoming JWs then leaving. And some that left eventually come back.
          As of right know there are almost 8milion JWs in 239 lands.
          When we talk about JWs where talking about ministers who publicize. If you add others who have attended our meetings, add 11milion more.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
        • Noel

          I have a long driveway and a yard sprinkler system that douses the front porch, and the entire driveway all the way to the road......all 1/5 mile of it. I figure when I see two guys in white shirts approaching, as soon as they reach the porch, it always seems to be the exact time I was going to flip the switch and water my yard. Those guys have some seriously bad luck. I mean, what are the odds that for the past three visits, they got as far away from the road and being dry as possible when I decided my yard needed watering? Weird! It is funny to see them sprinting away though. It's too bad about what happens to those white dress shirts when they get soaked. Probably looks like I'm running a JW wet t-shirt contest at my house. Oh well.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Maybe they just aren't being coercive enough, or not doing a very effective job of brainwashing–er, I mean indoctrinating their children. They better start dusting off the lurid Hellfire images.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • JW

          Dandina- each person has to make a decision. What's the problem?! By the way, we do not believe in hellfire

          Noel- 2 guys white shirts?? Aren't those Mormons??

          December 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
        • Noel

          Nope.......Witnesses out on their mission to fill as many ears with lies as possible. What an awful thing for someone to do, to actually go to your door and try and push their beliefs on you? But you're a JW, shouldn't you know this about the shirts.....?

          December 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
        • JW

          Mormons Generally wear white shirts with these black tags saying "elder ...". If it's two guy witnesses it could be a coincidence that both wear 2 white shirts, but we wear any coloured or white shirts, and we do not wear ID badges saying " elder".

          December 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
        • tallulah13

          The JWs who have periodically knocked at my door have all been at the far end of middle age or older. I have always tried to be polite to them because courtesy is free and I generally respect my elders.

          I think it's sad to think of elderly people so afraid of death that they are willing to go door to door to sell their faith, even in terrible heat or cold. If me taking a pamphlet gives them some sort of comfort, then I will happily do so, even if I find the content of these things to be laughable and downright ignorant.

          The mormon "elders" are kind of fun to talk to. Come on. They're about eight years old and as worldly as a puppy. I confused a couple of them a few years back when I told them I had no desire for eternal life. If more show up, I'm going to ask if I can talk to a female "elder". I'd love to hear them explain why that's not possible.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
        • JW

          Noel: Rom 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.."

          December 8, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
        • Saraswati

          tallulah,

          " If more show up, I'm going to ask if I can talk to a female "elder". I'd love to hear them explain why that's not possible."

          Good idea. I actually feel abit bad when they get so easily stumped, though. The whole idea of sending these kids out so unprepared is pretty mean.

          December 8, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
        • JW

          Talluah- Thansk for being polite. We may feel happy that you accepted any literature we offer you, but when its me personally, i ask if the householder is going to read the material for sure, i prefere if someone is sincere with me. But our literature is for free, who knows , maybe one day there will be any article that would interest you, or your family of friends.

          About Mormons, i know that the try to preach...but what they preach is a mix of the bible with the book of mormon. There preaching people are all young people...One day i asked why?, the response was that these young people for being missionaries for couple of years, receive some sort of credits for university..then after those 2 years they stop preaching. Though ask them directly why.

          December 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
        • tallulah13

          No one has ever asked if I read them or not. I probably would skim through it, if only because I find religious hand-outs to be entertaining. But I would never admit that to a senior person. I would rather simply hand back the flyer than admit to laughing at their faith. Again, it's respect for my elders, not their religion.

          December 8, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
        • Des

          Sure sounds like JW is trying to set a hook again. Same tactics as he tried on other blog posts too. Lookout, tallullah; although I think you will be robust against his cult's literature, he'll be trying to push it at you shortly.

          December 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
        • JW

          Des- Hey Des LOL...Wazzup??

          December 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
      • devin

        Anybody care to run the numbers on those who have left the faith in contrast to those who have left their current ideology and embraced Christianity ? The former will pale in comparison to the later.

        December 8, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
        • Saraswati

          What group are you interested in? The percent of the world that is Christian has dropped 1-2% in the last century, but has seen much steeper declines in Europe and the America's. But if you have a specific group to group conversion in mind we can probably find comparisons.

          December 8, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hahaha

      10+

      December 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  15. Answer

    Hey you religious freaks...

    Can you walk properly without invoking your god?

    Can you breathe in and out without the help of your delusional god?

    What things are you capable of without invoking that your god has a hand in it?

    December 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Answer

      Oh blah blah – the religious freak who wants to share their insanity.

      December 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  16. Answer

    We get it.

    You religious freaks HAVE to reconfirm to yourselves EVERY MOMENT of EVERY DAY to stave off that return to reality.

    December 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  17. Justice

    Unbelievable that on an article about faith written by an athiest the best the anti-Christ can come up for a topic is evolution and junk science consisting not of artful expression but cut and paste.

    What more could one expect from athiest who consider themselves a mob!

    December 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Answer

      Troll harder.

      You freaks always fail to troll.

      December 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • bostontola

      No way the anti-Christ came up with evolution and junk science. It must have been the Green Goblin.

      December 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      pathetic effort

      December 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Doris

      Wait, the Pope wrote the article? (wonders some Lutherans reading Justice's comment)

      December 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  18. JW

    Scientifically and mathematically God not having beginning not end is not impossible... Just like numbers have no beginning nor end.

    December 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • bostontola

      No one said it was impossible. If there is a god though, its not the one in the bible. The bible, while an interesting and impressive accomplishment for the time, is rife with factual errors and is obsolete morally.

      December 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • JW

        Which God is it then?
        Which God promises, to restore the earth in to a global paradise, and eliminating, death, diseases,violence, and to give everlasting life to humans?

        December 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
        • bostontola

          JW,
          Why do you consider defined promises, however wonderful they may be, evidence of existence of the god purported to have given those promises?

          I believe there are no gods as most people think of them, but I can't prove that. There is a lot of evidence that the biblical god is false though.

          December 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • JW

          Boston- no other God can promise what the God from the bible promises. Because the God of the bible is the true God, the other gods are just poor imitations!

          December 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • tallulah13

          And yet again belief boils down to fear of death.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • bostontola

          JW,
          I wish you the best with that.

          For me, promises are easy to make. The easiest promise to make would be for something after death. There is no way to verify it.

          So what you have is a bible with many errors, obsolete morals, with a unverifiable promise. It's all yours my friend.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • JW

          Boston- the bible doesn't teach that the majority will go to heaven. God will awake the majority here to a paradise earth. No other gods can promise this.
          The God of the bible had brought the other gods into shame. Example is , how the Egyptian gods proved powerless in the te of Moses!

          December 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
        • bostontola

          JW,
          Like I said, I wish you the best with all that.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • George

          JW: "God will awake the majority here to a paradise earth. No other gods can promise this." etc.

          And just how are you aware of these promises? Because they're written in a book? So what–lots of other gods have lots of other promises written in lots of other books. Not sure what your point is.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
        • JW

          Boston- thanks. I wish you and all to benefit of what God has promised.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • JW

          George- thee is only One God. The Almighty. The other gods are, fake, or weak, there promises are delusional. But of course you would have to study to prove what I just said.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          JW, How did you prove that the other gods are not real? And what evidence did you use to differentiate between those other gods and yours, i.e. what do you have that would convince, say a Hindu?

          December 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • Saraswati

          JW, The god Hagadabini is a collection of core parts of the universal consciousness. She is aware of humans but allows suffering because she doesn't have either full control or power. With other universal consciousness clusters she strives for increased unvirsal self awareness and will help elements of human consciousness approach that goal for peace, growth and wellbeing. Long after the earth is gone Hagadabini will help our awareness grow as one through many rearrangements of the clusters of human thought.

          I just made that up this second and it makes more sense to me than the Christian god.

          December 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
        • Doris

          JW's second question sounds like a great ad for a god. So far, nothing has given me reason to believe that's all the idea was in the first place.

          December 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • Des

          Doris, it is an ad. JW is on yet another fishing expedition to try to find converts for his cult, and the questions are his usual starting point. He's actually been trying the exact same selling approach on other recent blog posts. Beware, although I highly doubt that you are likely to become a convert!

          December 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Just like the religious freaks that never cease their blabbering til they die.

      December 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
      • Answer

        Ya look at the religious socies that so want their disease to infect everyone.

        December 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  19. Reality # 2

    The great "ph-oto" of human evolution:

    "In its 4.6 billion years circling the sun, the Earth has harbored an increasing diversity of life forms:
    for the last 3.6 billion years, simple cells (prokaryotes);
    for the last 3.4 billion years, cyanobacteria performing ph-otosynthesis;
    for the last 2 billion years, complex cells (eukaryotes);
    for the last 1 billion years, multicellular life;
    for the last 600 million years, simple animals;
    for the last 550 million years, bilaterians, animals with a front and a back;
    for the last 500 million years, fish and proto-amphibians;
    for the last 475 million years, land plants;
    for the last 400 million years, insects and seeds;
    for the last 360 million years, amphibians;
    for the last 300 million years, reptiles;
    for the last 200 million years, mammals;
    for the last 150 million years, birds;
    for the last 130 million years, flowers;
    for the last 60 million years, the primates,
    for the last 20 million years, the family H-ominidae (great apes);
    for the last 2.5 million years, the genus H-omo (human predecessors);
    for the last 200,000 years, anatomically modern humans."

    Periodic extinctions have temporarily reduced diversity, eliminating:
    2.4 billion years ago, many obligate anaerobes, in the oxygen catastrophe;
    252 million years ago, the trilobites, in the Permian–Triassic extinction event;
    66 million years ago, the pterosaurs and nonavian dinosaurs, in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event."

    And we are guaranteed the final "ph-oto" will take place in 3-5 billion years when Earth is absorbed by the expanding Sun as-suming we are not wiped out by a wayward asteroid, nuclear war or a few giant volcanoes.

    December 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Cheap Energy

      The only thing I would add is, "150 years ago humans discover cheap energy and our modern age begins." Wonder what's going to happen when that cheap energy runs out?

      December 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        The wind will not stop blowing, the water will still run downhill, geysers will continue to blow and the waves will continue to move i.e. Mother Nature's movements will continue to provide fairly cheap energy.

        December 9, 2013 at 8:02 am |
  20. JW

    Isaiah 40:26: "Lift up your eyes to heaven and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who brings out their army by number; He calls them all by name. Because of his vast dynamic energy and his awe-inspiring power, Not one of them is missing."

    December 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • igaftr

      yes JW

      Nogomain did a great job of creating everything...he even created himself out of nothing.

      I count over 110 creator gods men have made...shoul d you not be questioning the whole JW thing, since IT is what is flawed...like the bible.

      December 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • JW

        Igate- where do numbers start, and where do they end?

        December 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • igaftr

          theoretically they don't.

          Are you now going to attempt to relate your god to a number like one fool tried to compare god to pi?

          December 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • JW

          You got the right answer! The bible says that God has no beginning nor end.

          December 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          JW, What evidence is there for god outside of the bible? All the evidence we have points away from a personal god.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • Noel

          Holy cripes....... Anyone else beginning to think JW is actually an atheist pretending to be a theist? I mean, come on, even you theists have to looking at his posts and thinking to yourself, "dude, just shut up already.....you're making the rest of us look bad". It only just occurred to me that he may just be playing the role of a religious type, because nobody can be THAT STUPID on less it's an act. It's just not possible.

          December 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
        • Answer

          Religious freaks ARE that stupid.

          December 8, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
        • igaftr

          Yes JW ...as I dsaid....Nogomain did have a beginning though...he created himself out of nothing...like any good creator god would do.

          December 9, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      The bible is a compilation of the Bronze Age mythology of a specific middle eastern tribe combined with the propaganda supporting one of the many messianic cult figures that were active in Rome at the time attributed to Christ. Quoting it lends you no more credence than quoting a few choice lines from one of the Twilight books.

      December 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Isaiah, yet another OT fortune teller !!!

      December 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Isaiah shared your misconception, JW. But we knew that it is a common and long-standing misconception.

      December 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.