home
RSS
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. Atheist Apologist

    Sorry for the bad atheist behavior on this blog.

    December 9, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Would you like to engage in a friendly, respectful debate?

      December 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • Atheist Apologist

        Sorry. No. I'm out of here. I'm not religious, but in the words of the Bible... like Jesus I'm just going to knock the dust off my sandals and leave you all to yourselves.

        December 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Atheist Apologist

      but i is only a christian troll who don't have good arguments

      December 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  2. atheist

    EMOTIONAL ATTACKS!!!

    December 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Only those lacking a better argument needs to resort to such.

      December 9, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
      • atheist

        You pathetic, delusional, retarded, imaginary sky-fairy worshiping jerk. I'm ent!tled to acting hostile and arrogant, because I know I am right and you are wrong. If you were right, how come it isn't on the front page of every science blog?

        December 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Theist

          i produce verses from the bible daily what more evidence is there

          December 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • atheist

          I go to blogs where people post Bible verses all day long.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Theist

          cuz i is so ignorant i don't know it be a beleif blog

          December 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • atheist

          I come to a faith and belief blog. And then complain that people are talking about their faith and beliefs.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  3. Gentle Godlessness

    "To atheists, I make an especially avid plea to reconsider their own position as well. I am tired of heated debates that lead to personal insult. I find Christians who are close-minded frustrating, but I find atheists who speak sarcastically and disrespectfully equally disappointing."

    Paul O'Brien

    December 9, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • sam stone

      when believers get less pompous, i will get less sarcastic

      okay?

      December 9, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • Baby

        They started it!

        December 9, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • Gentle Godlessness

        Non-believers act pompous, too.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      How respectful is it to argue that the bible is factually correct when the foundation is in conflict with our knowledge and then tell us we're going to hell because we don't buy in to the delusion?

      December 9, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • igaftr

      When the belief is ridiculous, should it not be ridiculed?

      December 9, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • igaftr

        Why is it not OK to say things to believers when you get told you are a sinners and going to hell every day?
        Then their "love thy brother" and "don't judge others" book of "love" calls you a fool and swine for not believing their book which has more holes than swiss cheese.

        I don't know who Paul O'brien is, but if he doesn't have the stones, he needn't participate.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          You are generalizing and stereotyping. If you want me to believe that ALL Christians tell you you are going to hell everyday.... sorry, not buying it. Some? Yes. And some atheists do horrible things, too.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • igaftr

          I did not generalize nor stereotype...just noted some of the comments that you get everyday from some/many believers.

          Get lost....no one needs the blog tact police either.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          Oh, poor guy, you have to read comments on a message board that says you are going to hell. Can you show me 1 post where someone told you you are going to hell?

          December 9, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • igaftr

          Your false pity is not required.
          There is page after page after page ...pick a topic and look...do your own work.

          Again...get lost

          December 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          I haven't seen anyone personally attack you and say you are going to hell.
          No evidence.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • igaftr

          You did not look close enough...evidence is right where I told you it is.

          I don't care enough to bother looking back, but you are welcome to.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          I've seen evidence of you being hostile, just like the Christians. But, still, nobody saying you are going to hell. No evidence.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
        • igaftr

          And it is not hostile to tell me I'm going to hell, and I am a sinner who needs to be saved?

          Yes, occasionally I am hostile, but it generally is with those whom I have dealt with before.
          I don't see hostility being a flag on the play either.
          I think it was hostile for the christians to hijack the Pledge of allegience, to take over the national motto with a lie, making MY country less than it was. I think it is hostile for the bible to call me a fool and swine bacause I don't believe the ridiculous stories.
          so again...get lost.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          2 wrongs don't make a right.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @igaftr : And it is not hostile to tell me I'm going to hell, and I am a sinner who needs to be saved?

          As has been pointed out, there don't appear to be any posting to such. Is it possibile that you're projecting your feelings/fears here?

          December 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • igaftr

          two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do...

          I don't see the wrong. Challenging ones beliefs will bring harsh re-action....is it really hostility ro the appearance of hostility...tell you what...you police yourself, and I'll ignore you, since you seem to see yourself as the Emily Post of blogging...that'll work out best.
          WHy did you break your own etiquette above anyway...pretty condescending...

          December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          I'm doing the same thing you are. You just don't like the taste of your own medicine.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • igaftr

          No lie4him....it has been said many times in the past, and I'm sure it will be said many times henceforth. I'm not going looking for examples since it is moot to me. I know there are many examples...you just didn't look deep enough...you know, like you do with any science.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • igaftr

          incorrect...that's you projecting... no offense taken...you do not know me well enough to elicit that kind of reaction.

          Just wondering why someone who is trying to champion their version of etiquette would stoop to be so condescending in the first place...oh right...because you are a hypocrit....get stuffed.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @igaftr : it has been said many times in the past

          I haven't seen it, but I could have missed it since I'm not on the forums all the time. However, if it has been 'said many times in the past', then it shouldn't be a problem to provide a reference – since the many posts should be easy to find.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Gentle Godlessness

          I am hypocritical at times. So are you. So is Live4Him. It happens to the best of us at times.
          Just because somebody tells you that the decisions you make in this life may have consequences that will effect you negatively in the after life doesn't mean you have permission to act hateful toward them. You are just rationalizing your bad behavior.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • igaftr

          lie4him
          Considering the fact that your information and references are clear misrepresentations of science and extrenely flawed premises and logic, you have proven unworthy of the effort...as far as Emily Post, also not worth the effort.

          The info is there if you want it enough...I certainly am not going to waste my time on you.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Just released

      Owner is a creationists.

      Atheist billboard ads rejected in Vancouver
      Pattison Outdoor says changes to the ad were requested to reflect company guidelines – but said company could not provide any.

      CBC News Posted: Dec 07, 2013 12:00 PM PT

      December 9, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      2 + 2 ≠ 5

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

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

      Ya know what? 2 + 2 ≠ 5

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

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

      2 + 2 ≠ 5

      December 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • Ctrl C - Ctrl V

        2 + 2 ≠ Dyslexic doG's OPINION is right.

        2+ 2 = 4.

        2 + 2 = permission for us to act like jerks.

        December 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Haha

        You can use that same logic to argue against anything.

        Try again.

        December 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Dyslexic doG : 2 + 2 ≠ 5

        1) What caused the creation of matter, energy and time? we don't know
        2) How did life begin? we don't know
        3) How did dino soft tissue survive 65 million years? we don't know
        4) How many species did evolution create? we don't know
        5) Which species are the ancestor of modern man? we don't know
        6) What was the first specie to evolve? we don't know

        Thus, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = We know evolution is a fact.

        December 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • Madtown

          "We don't know"
          -–
          Excellent. You're admitting that you're agnostic. This is good progress for you!

          December 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          '4) How many species did evolution create? we don't know
          5) Which species are the ancestor of modern man? we don't know
          6) What was the first specie to evolve? we don't know'

          Out of interest, what would the answers to those questions have to do with the validity or not of evolution?

          December 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Dandintac

          They are trying to make yet another argument from ignorance. Since we don't know EVERYTHING about evolution, therefore it's false and also proof that God did it all with his magic.

          December 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
      • Nice Try

        have you ever been in love? in my opinion, falling in love is 2+2=a gazillion...its all encompassing...its beyond logic but by no means is it pointless... if it was logical, then it could be decoded, it wouldn't be magical or pure or beautiful. Its a hue, its a vision, its felt. and God has to be felt to be believed. unfortunately, there is no formula to set up a situation where a person is guaranteed to fall in love, just like there is no formula to make someone believe, it just kinda happens.

        December 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Certainly I have been in love. A number of times. It is indeed a marvelous feeling and changed my world when it happened. I'll never forget the first time.

          But the reality is–love is a subjective emotion. It is specific only to the person who is feeling it. It is claimed of God that he is objectively real, and that he is all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing. That he listens to and answer prayers. That he intervenes in our lives on a daily basis. That if one does not believe in him, they will go to Hell to burn forever and ever. That there are specific things that are "sins"–crimes against God. Believers make numerous sweeping claims. God does this. God never does that. God knows this. God will give you such and such. God this–God that. Sweeping claim, after sweeping claim. And never once, so much as a shred of hard evidence.

          I may claim to be in love. But I will never try to tell you that you will go to Hell to burn forever for all eternity if you do not believe me. I will never tell you that because of my love, it is required of you that you must be in love also. I will never try to tell you that this love must mean certain things about the world–what can be taught in school. That we must disbelieve scientific evidence, that certain people, such as Gays, are condemned, or that your whole life must change, and your whole view of the world must change.

          Can you see how the two claims "I'm in love" and "God exists" are entirely different animals altogether?

          December 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  4. Justice

    Blah blah blah. Same old story, faith for the faithless.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  5. devin

    I can, on some level, empathize and have meaningful dialogue with the agnostic. The atheist (strong atheist) on the other hand, is simply embracing an ideology that at its core is nonsensical and void of meaningful discussion.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Magdala

      Militant/extreme atheists and militant/extreme Christians have A LOT in common.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:18 am |
      • devin

        Yes, I would agree..

        December 9, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Only close-minded christian retards think that atheists are "nonsensical and void of meaningful discussion"... put down your intelligence suppression book and read something else... maybe try "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan

      December 9, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • devin

        Ah the ad hominems, that didn't take long.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • Magdala

        No, there are actually atheists that think other atheists are "nonsensical and void of meaningful discussion"...

        December 9, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • SkepticAl

        Read about The Big Bang Theory which we have thanks to a... Catholic priest... wait... never mind.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          What part of his Catholic faith did he use to confirm the Big Bang?

          December 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • SkepticAl

          The part where he saw God as the author of the Big Bang.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          That did not "confirm" the big bang any more than it would have "confirmed" that Odin was actually responsible. Your response is a non-sequitor.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • SkepticAl

          Some atheists on this blog try to convince you people who believe in God reject science, logic and reason.
          Lucifer's Evil Twin seems to be one of those. So, I am pointing out to him that there are people who believe in God that have fathered important scientific discoveries and advancements. There are people who believe in God who actually demonstrate a better understanding of science, logic and reason than Lucifer's Evil Twin.
          That's a fact.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • devin

          That was very big of you Al.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Sol Invictus

          You attempt misdirection – To claim to believe in a God(s), is in essence rejecting science. Your attempt to discredit by referencing Monsignor Lemaître is disingenuous, who was a devoted Roman Catholic but he was against mixing science with religion... One must wonder why the Monsignor could not reconcile the two...

          December 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • igaftr

      devin
      " ideology that at its core is nonsensical and void of meaningful discussion"

      Please explain that. How is NOT believing in gods an ideology? How is it nonsensicle?

      Also , are you aware that you can be both atheist AND agnostic?

      December 9, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • devin

        ideology- " a set of beliefs, principles or ideas."

        Strong atheism, to which I was referring, is an pro active ideology that in a nutshell rejects the possibility of the existence of God based on the presupposition that belief in such a being is logically contradictory. From my perspective this is simply nonsensical.

        Yes, of course, I am aware.

        Hope this helps.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Few if any reject the idea of a god outright; there is no evidence of a god, the creation myths (the foundation of all religions) are not correct. The only "evidence" for any god is in religious texts of the respective religions. Hindus don't believe in your god and you don't believe in their gods for the same reason atheists believe in neither – there is no compelling evidence.
          If there were a god it is not the personal god of religions.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • devin

          " there is no compelling evidence" And on this we will simply disagree.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Skeptic Al

          Since you cannot know all evidence, it is possible that evidence exists that proves God's existence, or at least supports His existence. Therefore, it is possible that God exists.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Devin, So provide compelling evidence that your god exists to the exclusion of other gods and all doubt. The creation myths are shown to be incorrect by evolution, big bang, etc. so religious texts are not evidence.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • SkepticAl

          Is it possible that your criteria for evidence is not reasonable? We all know you say it is... but is it? You aren't as reasonable as you simply claim you are.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • igaftr

          Al
          It is not the criteria for evidence used is unreasonable....the criteria used by believers is not sufficient. None can say why THEIR god as apposed to any of the other creator godsis the correct one true god (there are many one true gods). There are an infinite number of other possibilities, yet they are all rejected by believers....they do not have evidence to support ANY god hypothesis at all, so accepting their one god shows that there is no reasoning behind the belief...no logical path that can be chosen to conclude ANYTHING let alone that THEIR god is the right answer, discarding the infinite other possibilities. Add in the fatc that the bible is worng in many places, you compound willful ignorance with unreasonable belief.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • Madtown

          Therefore, it is possible that God exists.
          ---–
          Most certainly. But, why religion? I see religions as the current end result of mankind's attempts to answer these questions. And, they don't provide the defininitive answers they suggest they do.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      In fact atheists don't have an ideology – they see no evidence for the claims upon which your ideology is built. The fact that gods have been accepted for centuries has made them central to society, but with no evidence of a god there isn't a firm foundation for any theist position.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • SkepticAl

        False.

        Atheism can be used as an ideology. And there is evidence that you use it in such a manner.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Example?

          December 9, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • SkepticAl

          Sorry, I got you mixed up with Dyslexic Dog. I haven't seen you use ideological motives like him.
          But, there are atheists that treat atheism like a religion. They have churches. The have an us vs them mentality. They say things like "we are better, because..."

          December 9, 2013 at 11:59 am |
        • Science Works

          And what do you call this Al ? Nasty maybe ?

          Child abuse victims walk out of hearing after lawyer quotes Bible

          http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/09/child-abuse-protesters-walk-out

          December 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • SkepticAl

          What? I can find examples of atheists behaving badly, too. What is your point? That you are just as horrible as me?

          December 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'The atheist (strong atheist) on the other hand, is simply embracing an ideology that at its core is nonsensical and void of meaningful discussion.'

      Is your rejection of other gods that you do not believe in also 'nonsensical and void of meaningful discussion'? If not then what do you claim is the difference?

      December 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • devin

        Nonsensical, no. Misguided, yes. World of difference.

        December 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  6. Ted

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    3

    December 9, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

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

      December 9, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        I win!

        December 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    why doesn't your god ... or any god for that matter ... show themselves to the world and then they would have 100% adoration. It would be effortless! they used to do it! Why not now?

    I can't wait to hear the pitiful explanations about belief and faith ...

    December 9, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • lol??

      Poochie, ya musta been out on yer scheduled walk in the park and missed it.

      December 9, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • devin

      There was this man named Jesus who...., oh, never mind, even if he came down to your house riding on a lightning bolt claiming to be God, you would still wallow in your unbelief.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:02 am |
      • K-switch

        "He"

        December 9, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • devin

          typo

          December 9, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        Devin, Did you think that addressed the original post? It didn't. If there were evidence of a god then there would be no atheists and all people would unite in one religion.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • devin

          But of course you already realize there is evidence, I said evidence not proof, you just choose to reject it.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Yep, just like you choose the reject the evidence of the revelation of Mohammed...

          December 9, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • devin

          Cheese

          Yes, of course, in exactly the same way.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:48 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Devin, So by your standard all religions are correct as their religious texts are evidence of their god?

          December 9, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • devin

          No, that is not my "standard" or belief.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Devin, So what is your standard – all the posts I've seen from you only refer to the bible as evidence and we know that is not correct.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          devin,

          So are you admitting then it is completely rational to reject both?

          December 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • devin

          Santa

          Two misconceptions and I'll address the latter first.

          " we know that is not correct" Actually, you don't KNOW this at all. You may think this, you may believe this, you may espouse this, but you absolutely don't KNOW this. Let's use a little more precision in our thoughts.

          "... all the posts I've seen from you". Obviously you haven't seen all of them. On more than one occasion I've stated that the entire universe SCREAMS of evidence for a creator being, infinitely superior in intellect to our own. The complexity of life on this earth, both micro and macro, the marvel that is the human body, the extremely narrow tolerances upon which our earth depends, all are evidence for a creator. As I've stated before, this is why 98% of the world's population sides with my view while the other 2% , well, share your position.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
        • devin

          cheese

          No

          December 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          devin,

          Then you are biased and not rational in your position. There is no more reason to think Christianity is true then there is to think Islam is true, or any other religion. And your submission to Divine Command Theory proves this to be the case.

          "On more than one occasion I've stated that the entire universe SCREAMS of evidence for a creator being, infinitely superior in intellect to our own."

          No it doesn't, not for your "uncauses cause" conclusions. That logic is full of fallacious arguments.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Devin,
          There is no evidence for the creation story in the bible and there is a vast amount of contrary evidence showing that it is incorrect (evolution, big bang, etc.). While there is a possbility that there is a god laying false trails and the best guesses of ignorant Bronze Age goatherders is actually correct I think that is so unlikely to be impossible.

          "... the entire universe SCREAMS of evidence for a creator being ..."
          Such as? As I said evolution, big bang, etc. cover the creation myths of all religions.

          "... 98% of the world's population sides with my view ..."
          A majority share your view that there is a god, the majority do not believe in your god – that alone should be a warning sign that your religion is not correct. As I said improved knowledge shows that these ancient myths are not correct. The definition of delusion is holding a belief in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – the fact that a majority is deluded does not make them right.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • devin

          Santa

          I personally believe God probably used the mechanism of evolution in His design process, so you first point is moot.

          I will agree that an argument from majority is not always valid, but in this case I think it would be analogous to the fact that there is a small percentage of individuals who don't believe we went to the moon.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Devin,
          You have no evidence that a god used the mechanism of evolution, so my first point is not moot.

          Not really analogous; there is evidence to support the fact that we went to the moon – there is no evidence to support any religion. Believers cannot provide evidence of a god and christians cannot prove that their god is the one as opposed to the shinto or hindu or whatever gods.

          December 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'As I've stated before, this is why 98% of the world's population sides with my view while the other 2% , well, share your position.'

          But the vast majority of them do not agree with your position so you can hardly claim a cohesive 98%.
          Its like claiming that being a redhead must be wrong and being a blonde is correct, because 98% of the world are not redheads. Its a meaningless claim.

          December 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • devin

          Cedar

          No, they do agree with my position in that they believe in a designer. Specificity was not the issue.

          December 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        There is no definitive proof that your Jesus existed beyond the fairy-tales in your silly book

        December 9, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • Magdala

          People like Nelson Mandela believe in Jesus Christ.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          So? No one is perfect...

          December 9, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • devin

          Yes, I would concur, there is no "definitive proof". I for one have never made the claim there was. If you seek "definitive" proof you would do well to remain in your unbelief.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Madtown

          People like Nelson Mandela believe
          ----
          I've tried to research this a bit, I haven't found anything yet that states Mandela was an ardent christian. I wonder if he's in heaven?

          December 9, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Magdala

          Read "The Long Walk to Freedom" by Nelson Mandela.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • Madtown

        There was this man named Jesus who
        ----
        "Who is Jesus?"

        – signed, a human being that God placed by birth in a region of this world where christianity doesn't exist

        December 9, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • Fan2C

        devin,
        "even if he came down to your house riding on a lightning bolt claiming to be God, you would still wallow in your unbelief."

        - An omniscient god would know *precisely* what would convince each and every one of us individually and equally.

        - An omnipotent god would be able to do so.

        - An all-loving, all-just god would do so.

        December 9, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • devin

          This will be hard on your ears, but God, although able, is not out to "convince" EVERYONE. As for what a loving and just God should do, that is not your call. Sorry, I know that's tough, it's tough for me too.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          devin,

          You are arguing for 'Divine Command Theory' here. That is not a "moral" position it is an "amoral" postion and I would argue is actually immoral in practice.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • devin

          Cheese

          Yes, you are correct, that is what I'm arguing, pretty much in the same vein as Augustine. I would unequivocally disagree with your claim that it is immoral ( of course I would when you understand the intent of Divine Command Theory).

          In actuality, what I'm really arguing for is the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
        • Fan2C

          devin,

          Your original premise was that this "God" is pretty well stymied for a method of definitively showing 'his' existence to unbelievers. I was only countering that.

          It's good that these anomalies and contradictions in the characteristics which are assigned to this "God" bother you. I would have a hard time too trying to love, respect, worship and fervently desire to spend *eternity* with such a nasty being.

          Somehow you have convinced yourself that it's all hunky-dory in the end and you trust this ancient ethnocentric god of the Israelites and what they claimed 'he' "said" and wants.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I really don't care wht type you argue for, there is no real justification for it except as a way to claim your god (and therefore you) are correct in everything. It is not logical or moral. It is an awful concept that allows good people to justify bad behavior, not that they necessarily do....but you can't argue that they are wrong. It is absolute non-sense and is dangerous theology.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • devin

          Fan

          That was not my original premise at all.

          It has absolutely nothing to do with" convincing myself that it will be hunky...." It's about what I believe is truth. It's as simple as that.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • devin

          Well cheese, you must "care" to some degree otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation.

          No, it is not a dangerous theology, it is a true theology. Between you and I, from my sinful human perspective I abhor the doctrine. It goes against my pride and my preconceived ideas of how God should act and carry out both love and justice. There is even a sense, and I won't get into this now, in which it is irrational. I fully understand your vehemence to my position but my only real philosophical goal in this life is to believe what is true.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "Well cheese, you must "care" to some degree otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation."

          devin,

          Wow, It is this type of dishonesty in conversing with believers that drove me to question the foundation of Christianity. Of course I "care" about this conversation and the discussion. I DON'T care what type of "divine command theory" you espouse as they are all immoral. As to the fact that you have completely submitted your rational, morality and self worth to said god...all I can say is that is really sad. You sound like an abused spouse in a relationship justifying your partners behavior and at the same time justifying your support of him.

          If you truly cared about what is "true" you would be able to demonstrate the truth of your belief and not just assert it. What you are really concerned about is the feeling that you are ultimately right, it is an emotional argument not a logical one.

          December 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • devin

          Cheese

          "Wow. it is this type of dishonesty..... " Easy there my friend, you took that line entirely wrong. It was only a casual attempt at humor. Nothing more, nothing less.

          I find it interesting that we both express the same adjective (sad) in reference to each others ideology. I find it sad that you consider your own rational thought to be your barometer for morality.

          " you would be able to demonstrate the truth of your belief". If your honest with yourself you will acknowledge the fact that you are not interested in demonstration, what you want is 100% proof. I cannot provide that for you, the element of faith comes into play for me, obviously not for you. As I mentioned to a previous poster, you would do well to remain in your unbelief.

          The thingy about abused spouse, well that's just plain silly and I won't play along.

          " What you are concerned about is the feeling you are ultimately right." Not knowing me personally or the philosophical path I've traveled down to reach my views, I will give you benefit of the doubt and chalk that comment up to ignorance( not saying this in the mean spirited sense) .

          P.S. If you really happen to be a fromagere by trade, I'm envious.

          December 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          devin,

          My point with the dishonesty thing is that your quip had nothing to do with what I was saying....even in a humorous way. It sounded more like a dodge.

          "I find it sad that you consider your own rational thought to be your barometer for morality."

          I don't know what choice I have but to use my own rational thought...is there some other way to determine what is moral than to use my intellect? If you want me to follow someone or something elses (your god's) morality I would still have to

          1. Agree that your god exists...and

          2. Agree the things he requires and demands are actually moral...which brings me back to using my rational thought. If I just agree to follow his command I am not acting morally...I am just being obedient, which is a suspension of morality...it is "amoral" and is itself "immoral".

          December 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
        • devin

          Cheese

          I won't belabor the point any longer, except to say that the line was in no sense a "dodge". Total miscommunication. Do with it what you will.

          " Is there some other way to determine what is moral than to use my intellect?" Usage of intellect is not the issue. We both use our intellect, although I'm guessing you would not subscribe that to me, in developing our morality. My contention is that human nature and rational ability is not the compass by which we establish our moral course. I embrace the idea that there is a creator who has revealed to us information about Himself and His morality and it is independent of human consideration. History has been littered with the consequences of human rationalization of morality..

          But, as you said, this would all be contingent upon your acceptance of those two criteria. I'm guessing a BIG hurdle for you.

          December 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "P.S. If you really happen to be a fromagere by trade, I'm envious."

          It's not really meant to be taken literally...it means "Blessed are all makers of dairy products".

          I did used to work in the Dairy Dept. in a grocery store.

          December 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "My contention is that human nature and rational ability is not the compass by which we establish our moral course."

          I use my rational ability to determine what is moral behavior and what isn't. You by your own admission set it aside and go with what YOU THINK your god wants which you can no more demonstrate is the correct path than any other believer who does the same but does not agree with your moral conclusions.

          "History has been littered with the consequences of human rationalization of morality.."

          History is also littered with the consequeces of religious peoples rationalizations of acting according to the whims of personal gods. And unlike you I will not let said "god" off the hook. If the believers misunderstand their god, and that god really exists, the fault is ultimately with the god.

          The benefit of using rationality to come to moral conclusions is that human rationality can be used to come to better moral conclusions. Bur religious teachings are not based on empirical knowledge. but ARE claimed to be absolute...so when they are wrong, people assert things like "god's sovereignty" to continue and justify their immoral behavior.

          December 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • Dandintac

        "riding a lightning bolt"?

        Well, I might be persuaded. Let's see some actual miracles. Grow back an amputee's limb, for example. Make it happen so that prayer really DOES work. So far in every controlled experiment, intercessory prayer has been shown to not work.

        Devin–here's the thing. If God is all-knowing. He KNOWS what would persuade everyone. Don't you agree? Otherwise God is not all-knowing. If God is all-powerful, he could persuade everyone. Persuasion is not a violation of free will. People persuade each other all the time. It's not the same as coercion. Coercion is when you burn people to death for not believing. So God COULD persuade us, if he existed, right? All he needs is evidence. This should be child's play for a God. Even a mere mortal can prove their existence.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Magdala

      After I read the last line of your statement, it doesn't sound like you are asking a honest question.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  8. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    A story about nothing... An atheist who likes to take pictures of religious buildings... this could be a Seinfeld episode...

    December 9, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • lol??

      A gay photog beat him to it, anyway. AA at its best.

      December 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • midwest rail

        Calm down, Sgt Maj Dickerson.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  9. Robert Brown

    Is it any more difficult to believe in the resurrection and virgin birth, than to believe in creation and the flood? I sympathize with those who have accepted all scientific ideas as fact or who try to conform the word of God to the scientific thinking of the day. If viewing these accounts in the bible as allegory helps you come to faith, then I know God can straighten out your thinking from there. The biggest problem I see with liberal theology in general is determining where to stop.
    At some point, you will have to acknowledge the power and authority of God, if you become a one of his. When he knocks at your hearts door, you will have to decide whether to believe on him and trust him to do what he promised. Do you see the problem in questioning the power of God? If he can make you a child of God, is there really anything he can’t do?

    December 9, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • igaftr

      I do not have to accept your "word of god" any more than you have to accept quetxlcoatl of nogomain, also creator gods.

      The thing is, NO ONE knows if there are any gods, none have shown to exist.
      Men create gods...it is most puzzling to me that you accept YOUR god, yet reject all the others ( I count at least 110 creator gods).
      The likely hood you are right is so infinitessimally small as to make the belief or worship incalculably insignificant.

      Believe what you wnat, but don't try to project your belief on others in an attempt to justify YOUR belief to your self.

      I DO see the proble in questioning the power of god...the problem is, it is very unlikey there is a god, and even less likely it is YOUR god.

      December 9, 2013 at 9:27 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Igaftr,

        The God that I believe in is the one that I have experienced, so there is really no need for me to consider any other.

        As far as you accepting the word of God, I did qualify that with a little “If.”

        In my faith, we are called to spread the good news, my projection, as you called it, has nothing to do with me.

        Peace.

        December 9, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Depends on what you consider 'good news.' Winning the lottery and not having to work anymore, or not having to pay taxes this year, or winning a new Porsche 911 or maybe a Lotus Exige... no THAT would be good news!

          December 9, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • igaftr

          RB
          "The God that I believe in is the one that I have experienced"

          How do you know it wasn't one of the other gods? How do you know what you claim to have experienced was a god at all?
          How do you know it wasn't just YOU attributing an experience that you could not readily explain, and you allowed yourself to attribute the experience to god, even though there is no evidence that it WAS any god intervening?

          Short answer is, you don't.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • Robert Brown

          “How do you know?”

          Know is a strong word. I am persuaded that the God I believe in, is the very one described in the bible. My experiences with God conform to the God described in the bible, in my opinion. There are several reasons for this; the most important is my own personal salvation experience. This is followed by answered prayer and intense spiritual blessings, over many years. All these things have affirmed and reaffirmed my faith. On any occasion of doubt, these are the things that God has brought to my mind by the power of his Holy Spirit. So, while you can make a claim that we can never know anything, we can be persuaded and have faith.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:24 am |
        • igaftr

          RB
          Having studied enough human psychology for many years...what you describe is a delusion...one that you readily feed and nurture...it is faith from wanting to believe. You have no more information or experience than anyone else, you just take the short route and call it a god, when there are many other possible, even more probable explainations.
          So your god is a god in your mind. You will never accept reality because you cling so much to belief.
          It is exactly that very thing that I find most troubleing about believers...they have convinced themselves they have an explaination of things they can not explain, and it is a god.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • lol??

          Wasted study, igaftr. Freud had a wet nurse. Your house built on sand got washed away.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Thank you taking time to diagnose me. If you are correct, do you think I’ll be alright? If someone gives you a hug, chemicals are released that make you feel empathy toward the hugger. If someone smacks you in the face, chemicals are released that prepare you for battle. Science has yet to discover a chemical that would cause you to turn the other cheek.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • igaftr

          RB
          Funny...it doesn't require a diagnosis to see you fit the definition of delusion....your steadfast belief in spite of either lack of actual information, or incredible amounts of information showing without doubt the bible has too many things wrong to believe it...no diagnosis needed...people delude themselves all the time....mostly harmless.

          One of the biggest problems created by believers is they do not accept the fact that they are very probably very wrong.
          With too many other possibilities, many with higher probablities...the likely hood you are wrong is near 100%

          December 9, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          RB, I doubt that you have made comparative studies of all the other religions, so you can't say that your experience only matches the god of the bible. As with most religious statements, you start with what you know and make your thoughts and life fit that model – self-reinforcing.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • sam stone

          robert: your experiences have been defined by your upbringing. if you were born in a muslim dominated country, you would be shilling for allah.

          and, personal experiences are not effective in conveying the existence or the nature of god. if you think it is, let a hindu preach to you

          December 9, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • sam stone

          "Science has yet to discover a chemical that would cause you to turn the other cheek."

          Not exactly correct, Robert. Your doing what you believe god would want would release chemicals to your brain.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Ridiculousness: See above post...

      December 9, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think it would be less difficult to defend one-off miracles that involved one person than broad claims that contradict everything we see and can determine about the Universe, Robert.

      December 9, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Good point Tom, I had never considered that.

        December 9, 2013 at 9:57 am |
      • Robert Brown

        I’ll admit that I didn’t consider these Old Testament accounts before I was saved. I hope you will focus on the savior rather than problems you have with events recorded in the bible. I believe God is the creator and by faith I accept his written word as literal truth. I have read and studied the word of God for years and there are many things that I do not understand, but by the spirit I constantly learn things about the nature of God from his word. The Holy Spirit reveals spiritual truth to believers, so if you read the bible from a position of unbelief, at best it will lead you to faith by showing you that you are a sinner in need of savior.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • G to the T

          I've studied the bible from both sides (believer and non-believer) so I totally understand what you are saying, but it takes a lot more faith to believe in the bible (to me) thna it does to believe in any "god" in general. Everything I've studied has shown me that the bible is a very human collection of books (most with uncertain authorship) and that monotheism was not a radical departure, it was a gradual evolution from polytheism to monolatry to monotheism. You seem to have decided it was the god of the bible first, and then went to the bible to confirm this (and use it to provide context to your expierences since).

          December 9, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's like Bob lives in another reality. I get that you are emotionally dependent on your belief, Bob, but not all of us are that needy.

      People who don't need the emotional crutch of a god have no reason to believe in a god. Therefore, evidence is required. Old books, hearsay and personal feelings and anecdotes just don't cut it.

      December 9, 2013 at 10:10 am |
      • Robert Brown

        tallulah13,

        I believe you are correct in that a person has to approach God in need. If you ever become “needy” remember him, he will help you.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:28 am |
        • Ted

          Yeah, like he helped all those millions of people dying of cancer, some of whom sincerely reached out and asked for help, as did their families in their time of need.

          Either your god doesn't exist, or he's an utter jerk and doesn't care. Take your pick.Personally, I think your delusion and your defense of it is disgusting.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Ted,

          You mean healing, when you say help. It was their time to cross from time to eternity. He helped them cross over and welcomed them home. The families were also comforted with this and knowing they will meet again, in eternity.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "The families were also comforted with this and knowing they will meet again, in eternity."

          Unless they didn't repent and become "saved" then it is the same difference.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And conversely

      The biggest problem I see with literal theology in general is determining where to stop.
      At some point you have to admit the book is terribly wrong and you either end up realizing it is hog wash or you end up believing that the earth is 6000 years old and have the morals of the Phelps family.

      At the real heart of the issue there is no way to assertain which theology is correct because it is all a matter of opinion and they are all equally valid with no empirical basis for any of them.

      December 9, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Blessed are the Cheesemakers,

        From a position of unbelief, the accounts in the bible are impossible to reconcile with what we perceive as reality. While all these things can be reasons for unbelief to some, the hope is to adjust focus to the most important thing, Christ.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:33 am |
        • Ted

          Quite the confirmation bias you are putting on there, Robert, to try to sustain your crazy god delusion.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • lol??

          Jesus affirms the scriptures so they are shut out. They should move to a psycho section.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "From a position of unbelief, the accounts in the bible are impossible to reconcile with what we perceive as reality."

          Exactly, because if they had any actual connection to reality they could be shown to be true and unbelievers would then become believers. But they don't.

          And focusing on Christ isn't the answer either. If the OT is hog wash that makes the NT non-sensical. Then one focuses on the philosophy of Jesus and while some of it is positive, some of it is decidedly not. Some of it is just bad advice. None of it points to him being divine in any sense.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • lol??

          Day after day claiming no understanding and they won't move on to a science section?? That's kwazy.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Blessed are the Cheesemakers,
          “Exactly, because if they had any actual connection to reality they could be shown to be true and unbelievers would then become believers. But they don't.”

          People are saved every day.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "People are saved every day"

          Scientologists can generally argue the same thing, I don't find that impressive in the least.

          And specifially specifically speaking to Christian "salvation" I don't find that to be an ethical of moral position anyway.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Ted

          Robert, re "People are saved every day.", that can only be true if you redefine "saved" to mean "nothing in their lives was bettered significantly and there was no detectable influence of a deity on them nor on their well-being."

          Seriously, it would be good of you to acknowledge openly and honestly that you have no evidence for your crazy beliefs instead of doing more of your waffling and bafflegab. It is clear that you have no evidence whatsoever.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Is it any more difficult to believe in the resurrection and virgin birth, than to believe in creation and the flood? '

      Seeing as they all claim divine intervention at the heart of them, then yes.

      December 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  10. Reality # 2

    And providing the daily Moment of Truth for the new members:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    December 9, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Tristan

      If there was no Easter then you are right 😦

      Because of the Resurrection there is Easter and you're wrong!!! 🙂

      December 9, 2013 at 8:33 am |
      • igaftr

        Because of the pagan spring fertility rituals, there is an easter...symbols of fertility including rabbits, eggs, flowers, chicks...another pagan holiday hijacked by the chirstians.

        December 9, 2013 at 8:44 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Anyone who believes in the resurrection when there is no other place in recorded history of such a thing happening is simply not worthy of debating with. Time to grow up Tristan...imaginary friends are for schizophrenics and children.

        December 9, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Adults who use emoticons should be flogged...

        December 9, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • Sam Yaza

          ahh whats a matter bro i love my emoticons ♥ their just so evil >;)

          December 9, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          @Sam – 😦

          December 9, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • Youtube video - "Context!!!!!!"

        What I think you mean is that with the attacks by the early Christians in Rome on existing pagan religious sites, a further eradication of paganism was to make irrelevant pagan days of worship with Christian ones, thus we have Jesus' incorrect birth on December 25th, near the winter solstice.

        December 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        And once again:

        Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

        From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

        Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

        To wit;

        From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

        "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
        Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

        Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

        Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

        The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

        Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

        The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

        "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
        http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

        The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

        With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

        An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

        p.4

        "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

        p.168. by Ted Peters:

        Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

        So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

        December 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Live4Him

      You've given some excellent examples of the logic fallacy of non sequitur. Well Done!

      December 9, 2013 at 9:28 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        fancy phrases that you use to defend the fact that you laughably believe in an imaginary father figure in the sky. I don't care how fancy your phrases are or how educated you think you are, you are just using double speak to try and obscure the fact that you have ZERO evidence or proof of your god. keep chatting away if it pleases your infantile slave mind!

        December 9, 2013 at 9:56 am |
      • Ted

        L4H, your accusation of non sequitur is questionable at best. While the blog post is about photography (of religious sites), the general thrust of this blog and the comments in it is re religion (or lack of it).

        In more plain language, your post is BULLSHIT wrapped in an attempt at a pretty but very porous mesh. It still stinks just the same, and you still suck.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • K-switch

        All formal fallacies are special cases of non sequitur. Could you be more specific?

        December 9, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Live4Him

          Reality # 2 : As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
          @K-switch : All formal fallacies are special cases of non sequitur. Could you be more specific?

          'Reality' posit presumed that since 'no one can tell if Abraham existed' there is no foundation to Christianty / Judaism.

          First, 'Reality' has assumed that the Bible is invalid and thus any stories in it are also false, so that he/she can conclude that Christianity is without foundation. This is known as the fallacy of petitio principii (begging the question / circular logic).

          Second, this commits the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam (or argument from ignorance). Regardless of whether Abraham existed or not, the foundations of Christianty / Judaism are not impacted.

          Third, he/she posts this repeatedly, committing the fallacy of argumentum ad nauseam ( i.e. argument to the point of disgust / by repitition).

          So, at the end, his/her argument doesn't follow the evidence (i.e. non sequitur), but it is easier to call out the non sequitur than to detail it like I've done here.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:59 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Lie4Him, The creation story in the bible is incorrect, and that leaves your religion without foundation. The assumption was on the part of the religious that what we do not understand must be the work of a god – except that over the last few centuries we understand more about creation – big bang, evolution, etc. which shows those creation stories to be incorrect.

          December 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      As noted many times:

      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."

      December 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  11. lol??

    The "Wegodians" do have established doctrines like any religion. They are way above the mere commoners in there feelings of nosism and are quite the royal PIA's.

    December 9, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • danny

      lol??: "They are way above the mere commoners in there feelings of nosism and...."

      What an imbecile.

      December 9, 2013 at 9:31 am |
      • lol??

        way, way above.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  12. how true

    There are a great many resources on the multiple subjects Dorothy attempts to cover in her books and other self-published writings (yes, she owns the only publisher that prints her work). There are whole disciplines of academic study on Greek, Asian, African, Mesoamerican, and Egyptian culture and mythology, and her work consistently ignores key aspects of each and every realm of study her work tries to touch. As Rook said, the scholarly community distances themselves from her not because she's a woman (there are several contemporary Egyptologists from Europe who are women who equally have nothing to do with her) but because her arguments are untenable.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • egypt

      It wasn't a sui generis invention by some "godking" for "control purposes." In their profoundly shallow and reductive view of world history–such as their complete and uncritical acceptance of the asinine assertions of pseudohistorian D.M. Murdock, also known as Acharya S.–Zeitgeisters presume that everything they see as bad in the world, principally money and religion, was designed by a single person or group of people and then implemented whole and complete, the way automobiles go from the drawing board to the factory floor in Detroit. Of course no one who has even the slightest understanding of ancient, pre-modern or modern history could countenance this laughable idea.

      December 9, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  13. but I do not think she is in it for the facts

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

    I don't think they have to distance themselves from her, she seems to distance herself from scholarship pretty quickly. That whole part about Horus was a huge stretch. Huge. I thought the astrology bit was cute, but again, more along the lines of comedy than serious scholarly work.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • ad ho men den

      Excellent post. Although I disagree with you about Acharya S and the film Zeitgeist. Acharya S isn’t really a legitimate scholar and her astrotheology theory of the origin of Christianity isn’t supported by any evidence. As far as the movie Zeitgeist does, it is 95% disinformation and misinformation. Keep in mind that the maker of Zeitgeist is a Sephardic Jew named Peter Merola who promotes the ideas of another Sephardic Jew, a futurist named Jacques Fresco.

      December 9, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  14. hearties

    The most valuable posession someone can have are words from Jesus, in their mind and heart. The book trumps the building.

    December 9, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Anyone with words in their heart would need an angioplasty, you dolt.
      Jebus never existed.
      The words of Harry Potter mean just as much.
      Harry's magic is as good as Jebus' magic words.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:25 am |
      • oo oo

        let's all get educated. let us discuss the highly acclaimed work of the famous scholar dm murdock. whad da ya say? observer akira meredith bootyface sammy truth, boswanna no religion jeremy tuliptree? u already repeat every word she writes.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:58 am |
    • igaftr

      And the words of Jesus that you like the most, were spoken by Budhha 400 years earlier...why not study Buddha so you can be closer to the source?

      December 9, 2013 at 8:47 am |
      • oo oo

        Post his words here.

        December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  15. Oo oO

    i love the stories these boobs create. they r always condescending and patronizing, simplistic and stupid. They include them every day and never suspect how transparent and retarded they r

    December 9, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • You are a fOo oOl

      i love the posts you boob create. they r always condescending and patronizing, simplistic and stupid. You write them every day and never suspect how transparent and retarded you r

      December 9, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  16. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Why is God hard to photograph? Aren't these houses of worship the places where God is to be found? If not, where can it be found for a little photo shoot and maybe a few questions? I know it has time.

    December 9, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Nope. She sits on the 2 winged (say the "g" like you're from New Yawk now), sphinxes on the top of the arc of the cubanant, ...er something. That's what I learned in Sundee school.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:17 am |
    • saggyroy

      Now that millions of people around the world are armed with cell phone cameras, you'd think we would get at least one picture of the tooth fairy, a unicorn, a UFO, or an angel by now.

      December 9, 2013 at 5:38 am |
      • nclaw441

        Can you take a picture of love? But it does exist, or do you deny that, too?

        December 9, 2013 at 8:38 am |
        • Science Works

          nclaw441

          Can it take a selfie like the pope did ?

          December 9, 2013 at 8:48 am |
        • G to the T

          "Love" is a description, and as such, is a subjective concept. It has no objective reality beyond how it affects your brain chemistry. That being said, the way love affects each of us mentally is much more complicated.

          December 9, 2013 at 9:50 am |
        • cedar rapids

          well we can take an image of the effect it has on our brain chemistry, yes.

          December 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Semi-well known fact – vampires cannot be photographed...

      December 9, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • oo oo

      photograph electricity and love

      December 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Dandintac

        We CAN photograph electricity. Lightning. And certainly the effects of electricity are detectable and measurable in many ways. Something many theists don't understand. We often say "see", but what we really mean is whether something is objectively detectable. Anything that is claimed to be "objective" should be detectable or measurable in some way. That is what we mean when we say it's objective.

        As far as love, that is SUBJECTIVE reality. Are you willing to say that God is not objectively real, but a subjective emotion instead? And therefore relevant only to the people who "feel" him? If so, I'm willing to grant you that such a god could exist.

        Even emotions though, may be measurable in the brain. Neuroscience has made great strides in understanding emotions in the brain.

        December 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  17. tallulah13

    Here's some interesting news that the belief blog missed:

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/08/21820518-satanists-want-statue-beside-ten-commandments-monument-at-oklahoma-legislature?lite=

    December 8, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, the OK Legislators opened the door to this quagmire. I hope they'll be happy with what walks in.

      December 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Reminds me of the story out of Louisiana when the State legislature authorized school vouchers for religious schools and were very proud of that accomplishment...until someone realized they could be used for Muslim schools....oops.

      December 9, 2013 at 12:19 am |
      • Rodents for Romney

        I think Arizona did that too. Fools.

        December 9, 2013 at 4:18 am |
      • malcolm x

        problem with Islam?

        December 9, 2013 at 5:10 am |
      • nclaw441

        I am Christian, but I have no problem with those who wish to attend Islamic schools.

        December 9, 2013 at 8:40 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I don't either, I just don't want to subsidize religious schools. My point was there were quite a few politicians who didn't understand that the law could be used to help religions THEY don't like.

          December 9, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • saggyroy

      The "Ancient Aliens" series did a program on how Satan was actually the good guy trying to help mankind by providing knowledge aka the talking serpent tempting Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Those nut jobs actually made sense in one of their otherwise joke of a series.

      December 9, 2013 at 5:54 am |
  18. hearties

    Jesus taught in a boat, where are the pictures of boats?

    December 8, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • hearties

      Take pictures of what Jesus said.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  19. Paul

    This is supposed to prove God doesn't exist? Pictures? No, try again.

    December 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That's not the point of the article, Paul. You would know that had you actually read the article instead of simply attacking the word "atheist".

      December 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      First they have to figure out what to take pictures of ?
      You can't even define what a god is to look for.

      December 9, 2013 at 4:19 am |
      • saggyroy

        Look for something in our image maybe(?).

        December 9, 2013 at 5:42 am |
    • nclaw441

      Any pictures of Galileo, Caesar, or even George Washington?

      December 9, 2013 at 8:41 am |
      • Street Epistemologist In Training

        Numerous pictures of George Washington exist.

        December 9, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • cedar rapids

      no, its not supposed to do that at all paul. you need to stop playing the victim, it makes you look foolish.

      December 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  20. maky1278

    henna, feelings are a basic human defense instinct. However, we also have the power to rationalize our thoughts. Millions fall under the "spell" of religion. It is as JJ mentioned a cully, a practice to control what we feel and how we go about it. Just think for a second even with the fear of a g-d believers kill and go to war... What kind of contradicting bull crap is that? Governments even get "blessings" from their religious leaders so that g-d is with them during massacres and bloody battles. This is not new. We have lived under this "spell" for 4,000 yrs or so. So while the vision of an eternal life among the fairy and Jesus might sound great, we know it doesn't exist. We see it everyday of our lives, we do this to ourselves and we choose what to believe in or not.

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

      LOL

      December 9, 2013 at 12:10 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Advertisement
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.