Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God.' But watch out for the trolls
Pope Francis addressed digital technology and social communications on Thursday.
January 23rd, 2014
10:40 AM ET

Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God.' But watch out for the trolls

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) Careerist clergy. The super rich. And now we can add another pelt to Pope Francis' collection: Internet trolls.

In statement released on Thursday, the Pope said the Internet and social media are making people across the world "increasingly interdependent."

"The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity," Francis said. "This is something truly good, a gift from God."

At the same time, though, all those tweets and texts and comment streams can cause people to "lose our bearings," said the 77-year-old pontiff.

"The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression," Francis said.

"The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful," he continued, "but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests."

There's a tinge of irony to the Pope's comments, considering that his own soaring popularity can be partially traced to the Internet and social media. According to a study released in November, Francis was the most talked about person online last year.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis won the Internet. Literally.

Whether consciously or not, the Pope has become an unlikely poster boy for how stories spread in the modern world.

Photos and videos of him washing the feet of Muslim inmates, embracing a severely disfigured man and giving his pal a lift on the Popemobile have gone viral, with hundreds of thousands sharing the images.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis' greatest hits of 2013

"Goodness always tends to spread," Francis said in his apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," a line that could have been uttered in the boardrooms of savvy online outlets like Upworthy and BuzzFeed.

But the Pope's theory of communication seems to derive from a more ancient source: his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

"Preach the Gospel all the time. Use words when necessary," the 13th century friar is often quoted as saying. (Some call the quote apocryphal.)

Rather than "bombarding people with religious messages," the Pope urged Catholics on Thursday to listen patiently and engage their interlocutors' doubts and questions.

"Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts," Francis said.

The Pope also warned against spending too much time online, saying  the "desire for digital connectivity" can sometimes isolate people from their friends, family and neighbors.

“It is not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply 'connected'; connections need to grow into true encounters," he said.

"We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication."

Drawbacks aside, the Pope did not argue that people should reject social media, which he said can foster unity and "help us feel closer to each other."

Instead he argued that advances in bits and bytes shouldn't distract from the fact that digital communication is, at root, about people connecting with each other.

"What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding?" the Pope asked.

"We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us."

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Internet • Pope Francis

soundoff (2,371 Responses)
  1. Science Works

    UN panel confronts Vatican on child se-x abuse by clergy


    And people think the church has/provides morals .

    January 24, 2014 at 6:14 am |
  2. Dandintac

    There they go again! Once again religion tries to take credit for something they had no involvement in. Of course, they couch it as saying it's a "gift from God"–but really, it is a gift from Science. One of many tangible, real gifts that have a substantive, measurably positive impact on people's lives.

    January 24, 2014 at 2:08 am |
    • Mopery

      But...but...my 1600 year old book!

      January 24, 2014 at 3:40 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      It's official, the honeymoon is over - the pope is delusional
      OK Mr Pope-man
      IF the internet is a gift from god ... Why did it take him 6000 – 10,000 years ( according to your good book ) to GIVE it to us?
      And a free bit of advice –
      You did a good job with your humanitarian ideals ... but SHUT UP now ... cuz you're starting to look stupid
      "Better to keep your mouth shut and let people think your stupid than to open it and remove all doubt"

      January 24, 2014 at 9:43 am |
    • doobzz

      Yesterday somebody posted that god waited until mankind had developed the proper tools for it to be able to disseminate it's Jesus story to the world.

      I wonder why he didn't just wait another couple of millennia and just blast his resurrection across YouTube?

      January 24, 2014 at 11:33 am |
      • doobzz

        "its" not "it's". Still waking up.

        January 24, 2014 at 11:36 am |
  3. portend

    those who believe in an imaginary man in the sky are delusional and should be strictly prohibited from voting, serving on a jury, serving in any public office, purchasing/owning firearms or teaching public school.

    it is impossible for the adherents of any monotheistic religion to be nice. they are divided, and their religions are predicate on ignorance, hate, bigotry, and racism.

    tolerance of religious idiocy has to end.

    enough is enough."

    1. this is hate speech.

    2. copy and send this page to your u.s. senators and the president.

    3. she's made these kinds of statements before on these forums. copy those as well, and forward them to authorities and local and national media.

    4. she is not the only one to make violent, hateful comments about Christians. every time you find one, forward it to those same people and media outlets.

    5. she is inciting others to take action now. "enough is enough"

    January 24, 2014 at 12:07 am |
    • Observer


      Yes, this is hate speech.

      Copy and send this page to your u.s. senators and the president? Get serious. Should we also do that every time Christians tell atheists they deserve to go to hell?

      January 24, 2014 at 12:29 am |
    • BorgX

      "The Internet is a gift from God"
      So that's who keeps sending me all of this awesome po-rn.....
      Thanks Big Guy....
      Have you got anything with 7 midgets doing a chick in a snow white outfit?

      January 24, 2014 at 1:39 am |
      • WASP

        XD thanks for the laugh.

        oh and i've seen that one already. XD

        January 24, 2014 at 7:57 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Studies show that 6 out of 7 dwarves aren't Happy.

        January 24, 2014 at 9:57 am |
    • Mr. Peaceful

      Isn't it a little childish to say "imaginary man in the sky"? Aren't we all past that? If you aren't looking for a rational debate and just want to troll with people, don't say anything at all.

      January 24, 2014 at 7:57 am |
      • sam stone

        often, rational discussion with the faithful is very difficult.

        one can present rational arguments and the faithful simply say "i reject that" without giving rational reasons for doing so. they often counter reason by appeals to authority (i.e. the bible)

        January 24, 2014 at 10:36 am |
      • OTOH

        Mr. Peaceful,

        " Sometimes ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” - Thomas Jefferson

        January 24, 2014 at 11:35 am |
      • doobzz

        Isn't it childish to call people who disagree with you "angry" and "hateful"?

        January 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    by giving credit to the invisible sky fairy, the pope discredits the people who actually did the hard work of creating the internet. the internet is a gift from humanity, not god.

    the internet and fact-checking are killing religion. the pope is hoping to stem the tide by involving god. give credit to the ingenuity of humanity, not myth.

    January 24, 2014 at 12:00 am |
    • kdogtrinity

      you can tell dark energy exists even though it is invisible. how?

      January 24, 2014 at 12:21 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        by applying the scientific method.
        how do you know god exists?
        scientific method?

        January 24, 2014 at 12:28 am |
        • trackzone

          he was god
          let it rest

          have a taste
          he doesn't bite
          dine with him
          enjoy a meal

          be his guest
          talk and drink
          have a laugh
          stay a while

          inside and out
          if you care
          beauty beyond

          January 24, 2014 at 1:01 am |
        • tyre

          scientific method? like what, specifically?

          January 24, 2014 at 1:11 am |
  5. Reality # 2

    Dear Francis, Part III

    Saving Christians like yourself 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."

    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,


    "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.

    January 23, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
    • Observer

      Reality #2,

      "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."

      Of course. All of his disciples and followers left the bones of God's son to be eaten by wild dogs.

      January 24, 2014 at 1:17 am |
      • Reality # 2

        From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

        "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

        “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

        “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

        “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. THOSE CLOSEST TO HIM RAN AWAY FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY.

        I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

        January 24, 2014 at 8:25 am |
    • putin pood

      observer, dodo, alqeada, reality 2, dm, divine insight, b4 u delete this painful proof, leave it b 4 a week 2 ensure true seekers get a chance to c truth.

      almighty god's observable and measurable effects on people proves, according to their rules of of logic, he exists.

      love isn't important to pharisees. in fact, it doesn't exist. c, it can't be seen. if something is invisible, it isn't real, well, except dark matter. they concede dark matter's effects can b observed and measured.

      January 24, 2014 at 1:30 am |
      • Reality # 2

        So maybe your god is dark matter or dark energy or radio waves or gamma rays or whatever else cannot be seen by the human eye? Give us a break and consider the limits of our eyes !!! We have instruments to detect the invisible and will develop instruments some day to detect dark matter and dark energy although we do that already indirectly.

        January 24, 2014 at 8:31 am |
  6. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I have around 30,000 genes – maybe more, or maybe less, than my Yorkshire terrier. Unlike him, I can imagine, but don't, that I am a special creation of an invisible being of an unknowable kind. My dog is wonderfully and fearfully made – assuming he was made at all. No more or less so than I am. An Observer wouldn't know if he was made in my image or me in his, but would never think that either one of us was made to be like a God.

    January 23, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
    • doobzz

      Like the old joke goes, if an alien saw a human and a dog, they'd conclude the dog was the superior being since it had a human picking up its poop after it. Or something like that.

      January 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
    • JW

      E=mc2.... How did E, energy come to be?

      January 23, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Why are there things?

        January 23, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
        • JW

          Because they are created.

          January 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          By something that's not a thing?

          January 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
        • JW

          The bible quotes that God is the "source of dynamic energy".

          January 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Spinoza thought that God is substance.

          January 23, 2014 at 10:52 pm |
        • JW

          God is a spirit... That lives in the spiritual realm. Everything we see In the universe is physical.

          January 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
        • puleeze

          So where's the evidence of a spiritual realm?

          January 23, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Are there rules in that spiritual realm? Is there order?

          January 23, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
        • JW

          Pulzee-We cannot see the spiritual realm, but all things seen by our eyes have the mark of the creator.

          January 23, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          JW, Except that we have natural explanations back to the big bang. No evidence of a god since.

          January 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • JW

          Tom- the bible talks of the heaven as where Gods kingdom is located. There are different ranks of angels, and they are assigned different responsibilities. Jesus is seen sited at Gods right hand... On the book of Job God is gathering hiss angels for a meeting.

          By looking at the physical universe we can learn much about Gods qualities. For example, think about how our planet moves in a timely and orderly manner, giving us the seasons and the right time, every single day...that teaches us a lot about the order God has.

          January 23, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
        • JW

          Santa- ok. But the energy that created the "Big Bang" had to come from somewhere....

          January 23, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Some people feel that order in the world is something that may, in a way, have a supernatural origin. Roger Penrose suggested that the reality of scientific realists (I guess I'm one) is embedded in or intimately associated with another reality that provides the rules – a way for there to be rules. You make it sound like your God is subject to that just like we are.

          January 23, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
        • JW

          Tom- God himself is not subject to rules, he dictates the rules within his heavenly organization, just as he set the rules for how the universe should work.

          January 23, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
        • puleeze

          JW: "Pulzee-We cannot see the spiritual realm, but all things seen by our eyes have the mark of the creator"

          OK, you just did one circle in the hamster wheel.

          JW: "bible talks of [..] By looking at the physical universe we can learn much about Gods qualities."

          Why would I want to look at the physical universe through the eyes of people who roamed the desert millennia ago?

          JW: "Santa- ok. But the energy that created the "Big Bang" had to come from somewhere...."

          Sounds reasonable. We just don't know much about that. It seems scientists do believe this universe had a beginning. But they are careful to say that doesn't mean a very beginning – just the beginning of the universe we know, that we, in some ways, can detect.

          January 23, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
        • JW

          Puzlee- the speaks of God being the "source of dynamic energy". I fully believe that God use his power to create the universe.
          If many scientists would believe in this, many mysteries of the origin of many things would be resolved... But the problem is that many just don't want to subject themselves to the ruler of the universe...they just want to do what they want without thinking that they will give an account to God for their actions.
          Though God gave humanity freedom, it's clearly seen that humans cannot rule by themselves...we are destroying other humans and our planet...

          January 23, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
        • Observer


          "we are destroying other humans and our planet..."

          Errrr . . . When God got done killing will his killing spree, MILLIONS and MILLIONS of animals were dead and there were only 8 PEOPLE left on the planet.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:03 am |
        • Bootyfunk

          'God being the "source of dynamic energy". I fully believe that God use his power to create the universe.If many scientists would believe in this, many mysteries of the origin of many things would be resolved...'

          +++ that's exactly wrong. religion teaches people NOT to ask questions - why should you? the answers are right there in the bible, a book written by people that thought the earth was flat - which is what the bible says. religion teaches people to be intellectually lazy. the scientific method is far superior to saying "goddidit." religion has always impeded science, not helped it. ask bruno or galileo. if not for religion, science would be much farther advanced. take stem cell research for example. sadly, religion tells us to turn off our curiosity and to believe blindly, without proof - science supports investigating the world around us and finding evidence through logical research.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:06 am |
        • JW

          Observer- why was there a killing? Think about how where people acting during that time...must likely the same as today.

          Did God leave the people of that time without a warning?

          The pattern of God’s past actions establishes that God lovingly warns people before executing judgment. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, but most people ignored him. The Bible says: “They took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matthew 24:39.

          What about the animals?

          Our planet today is full of animals, unfortunately being extinct by men's activities....

          January 24, 2014 at 12:11 am |
        • puleeze

          OK, JW, I can take a hint – you win. –the award for the Fundy Method of Inquiry & Verification, that is! Congratulations!

          For those who don't understand how the Fundy Method of Inquiry & Verification works, behold this graphical representation:


          January 24, 2014 at 12:15 am |
        • JW

          Booty- unfortunately what Christendom has preached for century's do not reflect Gods point of view...


          Did the bible say the world was flat?
          Isa. 40:22: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.”

          Does the bible approve being intellectually lazy, and reject evidence?
          Rom 12:1 "... and acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason"

          Though the bible does not condemns scientific research, all of us have to be careful that even scientific research is legitimate.

          We should use our power of reason not only to know God, but as well to see if what is said in the scientific world is actually true or not.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:30 am |
        • Obvi

          What kind of research did you do into the validity of the basis for the beliefs of Isaiah and Paul, JW?

          January 24, 2014 at 12:33 am |
        • Observer


          "Did God leave the people of that time without a warning?"

          YES. Please become the FIRST Christian to EVER tell us what SINS every fetus in the world COMMITTED to make "murdering" them justified? Did God tell the embryos?

          January 24, 2014 at 12:34 am |
        • doobzz

          @ JW

          Circles are flat. The earth is not a circle. It is a sphere. You'd think a deity would know the difference.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:35 am |
        • Observer


          Yes, the Bible supports a flat earth. A circle is FLAT. The reference sounds like the world is a disk.

          The Bible also says you can see everywhere on the earth from a high point. ONLY possible with a flat earth.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:37 am |
        • JW

          Dooz- The Hebrew word chugh here translated “circle” may be rendered “sphere.”

          January 24, 2014 at 12:42 am |
        • Observer


          There was a Hebrew word for "orb" or "sphere".

          January 24, 2014 at 12:46 am |
        • doobzz

          Sure it can, by Christian apologists. Just like "evil" means "natural disaster" when it suits the narrative, as in Isaiah 45:7.

          The Hebrew word duwr means "ball" and is used in Isaiah 22:18, so it was in use at the time Isaiah 40:22 was written as well. A ball is a sphere, never a circle, so the Hebrews of the time had and used a word that meant exclusively "spherical". But it's not used in Isaiah 40:22, the word for circle is used.

          January 24, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

        January 23, 2014 at 11:50 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        JW, you say God warned people before he sent his great flood, so it's okay? it's not evil to drown millions of people? were the babies that were drowned warned too? were the unborn inside their mother's wombs warned? only a monster could fill a child's lungs with water and call it divine justice. there is no justification for drowning babies.

        January 24, 2014 at 12:23 am |
        • JW

          Booty- Noah preached for 120 years...still only 8 were saved.... How many children were born during that time, and that eventually became adults? What does that tell you about the influence parents have on children?

          January 24, 2014 at 12:45 am |
        • Observer


          People have been preaching that the end of the world was IMMINENT for THOUSANDS of YEARS.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:49 am |
        • Bootyfunk

          tells me more about the cruel nature of the christian god that he would punish children for the crimes of their fathers. it also says your god is impossibly strict as a one month old baby cannot be good or evil, but is completely innocent. a baby cannot reason or understand the laws of god and at any rate has NOT sinned. thus you worship a god capable of infanticide. your god murders babies.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:54 am |
        • doobzz

          "Noah preached for 120 years."


          January 24, 2014 at 12:55 am |
        • JW

          Booty- again... 120... Yet, no change!

          January 24, 2014 at 12:55 am |
        • JW

          Observer- indications show that the end of the wicked ones is very near.... Though, don't worry much about that, worry more on building a strong relationship with God. If the judgment day would arrive, it not worth of nothing of tone wanting the end to come but doesn't even have a relationship with God....

          January 24, 2014 at 12:58 am |
        • Observer


          Yep. Only TWO people in the entire world listened outside of his family – the women his sons married. Sadly, EVERY SINGLE family member for them did not listen. They produced women worth saving, but NONE of them were. They were evil like everyone else.


          January 24, 2014 at 12:59 am |
        • Observer

          – 1 John 2:18 ”Children,it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour."

          Yep. The LAST HOUR has LASTED TWO THOUSAND YEARS so far.

          January 24, 2014 at 1:02 am |
        • JW

          Awesome chat time guys... But will have to resume it another time. Much info can be found at jw.org. Goodnight to everyone!

          January 24, 2014 at 1:08 am |
        • Observer


          What REALLY should matter here is that Christians make an effort to follow the Golden Rule preached by Jesus. It's something almost everyone could agree on. (yes, it should apply to EVERYONE)

          January 24, 2014 at 1:10 am |
        • JW

          Observer- I agree that if everyone applied the golden rule the world would be a better place, but the bible says as well that God will establish his kingdom on earth. In order to establish his kingdom, God will have to eliminate the elements and people that oppose his kingdom...in order for you to live in a different country, you need to adapt to the laws of that country, in order for all of us to live under Gods kingdom we need to learn what God requires if us and apply, showing him that we can be citizens of that kingdom to come.
          The many blessing that Gods Kindom will bring to earth are worth the effort!

          January 24, 2014 at 9:03 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Your sect has an interesting history.
          Back in the 1870's, early JoHos set specific dates for the End Times – namely 1914. Of course, nothing really happened – but thanks largely to the writingsof Chas. T. Russell, the Church was able to rationalize the failed prophecy as actually having come to pass, but in a more magical and ethereal way. Oh Christ is back all right – ruling the Kingdom of Heaven with a select few JoHos (well, 144,000 of them).
          Then came the leadership of Judge Rutherford who transformed what was a mere publishing house into a "theocratic organization".
          He built up a more corporatist, top down structure in which locally elected elders were replaced by centrally chosen nominees (service directors) and made himself the dictatorial voice of Jehovah God.
          Throughout the history of the Church, Christ's Magic Kingdom has been expected to show up several times – as recently as the mid 1970's... and yet, nothing ever happens.
          But does that discourage the door to door prosthelytizing? Absolutely not!
          One has to admire that level of dedication despite repeated failure of core prophecies to come to pass....

          January 24, 2014 at 9:29 am |
        • JW

          Doc- the prophecy about 1914, did happen, 1st world war came to be in that year. Accomplishing Rev 12:9-12, regarding the consiquences to earth because of satan being thrown down to earth.

          When the end comes no one know... The apostols of the first century thought that the end was coming during their time, but that didn't disappoint them, because they knew that the end would eventually come... Today JW keep on doing Gods will until the time comes. The most important is to cultivate a good relationship with God... The end will come when God decides!

          January 24, 2014 at 10:28 am |
  7. Colin

    My admiration to my atheist friends who argue evolution with the creationists, but unfortunately it is an exercise in futility. In order to believe in creationism, one must be either jaw-droppingly ignorant of biology, geology, astronomy, cosmology and natural history or so drunk on the Jesus-juice that overwhelming evidence is simply ignored.

    Either way, you won't get anywhere with the poor simpletons. You might as well debate rocket science with a corgi.

    January 23, 2014 at 9:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's just a hobby, you know?

      January 23, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    The editorial choices in this piece are very interesting and quite curious.

    Now missing from the article is the following quote, which was included this morning:

    "The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests."

    This spurs two lines of thinking.

    First the headline to the article is very disingenuous.
    "Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God.' But watch out for the trolls"

    This part: "Pope: The internet is a 'gift from God' is reasonably accurate reporting.

    This part: "Pope: ... watch out for the trolls" is pure invention on the part of Daniel Burke, particularly after he chose to remove the only quote that in anyway underscores this inference from the article. Where does the Pope actually speak about internet trolls?

    Secondly the original quote is of course highly ironic when coming from a figurehead of organized religion. After all, organized religion is the first in line to "barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests"

    January 23, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
    • Austin

      if the pope said that the internet is a "gift from God"-then he is clearly a heritic.

      go do a study on "men who worship the works of their own hands" cars, guns, ect. these are not gifts from God.

      knowledge increased, wisdom decreased. That is the biblical model.

      By the way , the pope has so many blaringly obvious problems, along with his church, that i propose that all this attention to the pope is ALL A DEMONIC DISTRACTION, from the "Christ".

      We are having an idol served to our attention.

      January 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Hardly relevant to my point, don't you think?

        January 23, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
      • Free post-holiday nuts

        "knowledge increased, wisdom decreased. That is the biblical model."

        Yes, the marketers of early theology are still trying to convince people to ignore the wizard behind the curtain, that he will think for them. At least you're honest about it.

        January 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
        • Austin

          food shelter and spirit.

          Promises from God.
          John the baptist wore camel hair and ate locusts. he is rich

          January 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
        • Free post-holiday nuts

          Yes, snake-oil salesmen have been known to trade, Austin. That's not news.

          January 23, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          o Hmmm, the story aka legend has JB eating locusts topped with wild honey, a real delicacy no doubt in the first century CE.

          Another variation: "his food consisted of raw honey that tasted like manna, like a pancake cooked with oil."

          The "skinny" of said legend:

          "The idea of eating locusts or grasshoppers is repulsive to many, but keep in mind that most think nothing of eating a cow or a chicken’s flesh. It’s really a matter of mind-set. In ancient Greece and Rome, fried locusts, cicadas, and grasshoppers were considered a delicacy superior to the best meat or fish. These insects have enormous nutritional value.

          Grasshoppers, for example, are 60% protein versus chicken or beef with about 20%. According to author Christopher Nyerges, “When hordes of locusts destroy acres of crops, farmers should be counting their blessings and rapidly collecting locusts. After all, the locusts are a much higher protein source than the grains they’re devouring.”

          John the Baptist ate locusts just as many Asians also did then and still do today. Locusts are prepared by many by being slightly roasted, dried in the sun, and then salted. When eaten, the wings, legs, and head are removed; when the head is removed, the intestines come out with it. The part left is the fleshy portion. Locusts are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Brother John ate locusts and the gold standard of food – wild honey." Yum!!!! – answers.com

          And it sure beats those tasteless, flesh and blood communion wafers still served every Sunday!!!

          January 23, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
    • Austin

      I agree that this is crap.

      January 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
    • Maddy Gascar

      Mr. Burke has taken umbrage when questioned about the addition of the word troll, which is clearly his extrapolation. Multiple people brought up many of the points you did, Imnotta.

      January 23, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Yes, I saw some of them long after the fact.

        The arrangement of "Pope:" followed by two clauses, only one containing a quote is very misleading. I missed it earlier today when I first saw the article.

        January 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
        • Maddy Gascar

          It's curious he would get so defensive when it seems he deliberately set out to elicit this reaction.

          January 23, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
  9. PaulB

    Pat Robertson was walking in his neighbourhood one day and came upon a little girl with a basket of kittens.

    "My, those sure are nice! What kind of kittens are those?" Pat asked the girl.

    "Christian kittens" She said, and this brought a smile to Pat's face.

    A couple of weeks later, Pat was walking the same path with Rush Limbaugh, and they came upon the same girl, with the same basket of kittens. "Ask her what kind of kittens they are." Pat told Rush.

    So, Rush asks the girl what kind of kittens they are, but this time she says "Atheist kittens."

    Pat gets angry and asks the girl what happened to them since he asked her that question, and the little girl said

    "Their eyes are open now!"


    January 23, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
    • :(

      And you can easily have Richard Dawkins walking and Christian cats opening their eyes.

      January 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
      • PaulB

        Dawkins isn't even a fraction as funny as Robertson, though.

        January 23, 2014 at 7:31 pm |
        • :(

          Dawkins is as embarassing to atheists and Roberts is to Christians.

          January 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
      • Anthony Crispino

        Why would Rush Limbaugh be out walking with the ghost of the Family Feud guy? Gimme a break, already.

        January 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Why would Rush Limbaugh be out walking?

          January 23, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
        • Anthony Crispino

          You gotta a point there. From what my wife's groin doctor tells me, Rush's walks come in the form of a little pill and 32 oz Big Gulp, if ya know what I mean.

          January 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
  10. steve

    Tim Berners-Lee will be pleased to hear he's god

    January 23, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
  11. Science Works

    By the way the internet is NOT a gift from the god thing.

    TCP/IP communications standard not created by the god thing .

    January 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
    • Science Works

      OH forgot you would think the PR department would know this before the pope says it is a gift from the god thingy !

      January 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
  12. bostontola

    U = the set of all there is to know in the universe.
    H = the set of all human knowledge validated by objective evidence.
    U-H = all we don't know by objective evidence.

    Two statements
    S1: The Abrahamic God exists.
    S2: The Abrahamic God does not exist.

    S2 is fully consistent with and supported by H.

    S1 is supported by subjective experience that has been proven to be very unreliable, and is in conflict with the subjective experience of people from other religions. S1 has numerous conflicts with H (as we've discussed many times).

    People who believe S1 point to U-M and say there is so much in there that it will support S1.

    I fully expect that H is much smaller than U and U-M. But that doesn't have any impact on the relative validity of S1 and S2. S1 is only supported by unreliable subjective experience and speculated contents of U-M, but it is in conflict with much of H and the subjective experience of people from other religions. S2 is totally consistent with H which is quite substantial even if it is much smaller than U-M.

    For S1 to be true and S2 to be false, H would have to be flawed throughout. That is extremely unlikely given how reliable most of it has been. Our society is built on H, bridges, airplanes, internet, medicine, telescopes, microscopes, spectrometers, satellites, etc. Since the Renaissance, H has been the primary fuel of human advancement.

    Ironically, most of the people that developed and used that fuel believed in S1, but it was H and it's growth that made that human advancement possible. S1 may have been temporary scaffolding, but at this point, human advancement doesn't need it any more.

    January 23, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
    • steve

      i was hoping this would come down to a definitive mathematical proof of the probably of the existence (or non existence) of S1

      January 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
      • bostontola

        Not yet, but stay tuned.

        January 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What is M?

      January 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
      • Anthony Crispino

        I think it's a mantra.

        January 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
      • bostontola

        Oops, should have been H (thinking mam instead of human).

        January 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
  13. Ah

    pope continues the crimes against children, the cover ups.

    vatican uses PR to promote this f!lth

    January 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
  14. Science Works

    Looks like the red horned thingy is back the JW got su-cked into a blackhole !

    January 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
  15. tony

    If creation was over after the 6th day. then all the spiritual souls of the yet unborn must have been created back then too.

    Which kinda knocks a hole in free will. Since the outcome of all murders and accidents that prevented future expected conceptions must have been known in advance.

    January 23, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
    • SlothLovesChunk

      God is a creator. He is still creating things.

      January 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • PaulB

        What did he create lately?

        January 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • doobzz

          Apparently, the internet.

          January 23, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • PaulB

          I thought that was people.

          Besides, isn't the internet the best means of circulating knowledge ever invented? Why would any god want to give humans their best means of discovering that they probably aren't real?

          January 23, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
        • SlothLovesChunk

          1. We can't know the mind of God, because His ways are so far above our ways even if He explained them I doubt we could comprehend.

          2. If He was the 'once and then done' type deity, why would He:
          a. Choose the Jews as His chosen people?
          b. Keep constantly appearing to, making prophets out of, lead into battle, bless, curse, smite the foes of, the Jews? If we use your line of logic, just poof them into the promised land as its lords with all people subject to them as slaves and be done.
          c. Send His only begotten Son to save all people when He could just 'poof' free will or sinful desires out of the human condition and we'd just never sin?
          d. Inspire men to write the Bible?

          3. We know from the Bible that God considers His creation good (why it is repeated so often in Genesis 1) and that good things please God (various points throughout the Bible). So if it pleases Him why WOULDN"T He keep doing it?

          January 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
        • OTOH


          a. Did 'he'?
          b. Did 'he'?
          c. Did 'he'?
          d. Did 'he'?

          You have only the words of heavily biased Middle Eastern men.

          January 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
        • SlothLovesChunk

          I didn't realize I only have the words of heavily biased Middle Eastern men. I'm sure you know everything there is to know. Thanks for sharing your infinite wisdom with us, oh Great Sage of the Internet.

          January 23, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
        • PaulB

          "1. We can't know the mind of God, because His ways are so far above our ways even if He explained them I doubt we could comprehend."
          How do you know that God is actually "good" then? I mean, if he's so alien and too difficult to comprehend, then he really could be evil and nobody, including all Christians, would know, correct?

          2. If He was the 'once and then done' type deity, why would He:
          a. Choose the Jews as His chosen people? __ A lot of good that's done them. They're maybe the most persecuted people to have ever been on the planet.

          b. Keep constantly appearing to, making prophets out of, lead into battle, bless, curse, smite the foes of, the Jews? If we use your line of logic, just poof them into the promised land as its lords with all people subject to them as slaves and be done.
          ___ Again, where is the proof that these people have any divine blessing?

          c. Send His only begotten Son to save all people when He could just 'poof' free will or sinful desires out of the human condition and we'd just never sin?___"Save" them from what? Himself? Why did he need to sacrifice himself, to himself, to forgive us of sins committed by someone else?

          d. Inspire men to write the Bible?___ Not the best literature ever written, by a long shot.

          3. We know from the Bible that God considers His creation good (why it is repeated so often in Genesis 1) and that good things please God (various points throughout the Bible). So if it pleases Him why WOULDN"T He keep doing it?___ "Good", yet he has killed most people in the past, and will again in the future, according to the Bible.

          January 23, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • SlothLovesChunk

          Everyone dies. Well, except for Enoch. And the people who God chooses usually have persecution, like the Jews.

          January 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
        • doobzz

          "I thought that was people."

          I was being facetious, PaulB.

          January 24, 2014 at 12:44 am |
  16. Frank

    Science is not Atheism. Atheism does not have faith in Science or deities. Atheism is simply a non belief in any Gods, Godesses, Demons or any other supernatural beings conceived by men.

    January 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
    • bostontola

      I have an friend who is an artist. He is an atheist and has a total aversion to science and mathematics.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
      • ME II

        Well then he is not a "True" Atheist!


        January 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
      • Frank

        Art is illogical and unreasonable.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • PaulB

      Technically, you should have stopped before mentioning "demons or any other supernatural beings", right? Atheism is just about the one thing, gods (and goddesses). There would be separate labels to describe people who don't believe in elves, giants, and ghosts if belief in such things were as popular as belief in gods.

      January 23, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
  17. CommonSensed

    @ Daniel Burke: Using a fur-trapping metaphor for the Pope "collecting" targets of his speeches is a bit in poor taste given you're a) talking about a religious figure that most likely doesn't condone hunting for sport and b) trolls don't have pelts.

    January 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
  18. Mr. Peaceful

    Let me ask just atheists, in all your months or years of being here, how many believers have given evidence? You put an impossible task for humans to prove a being like God exists when they don't know everything. In all your effort and time to convince them they are wrong, what has it achieved? Nothing. None of us can prove we're right. Let us continue to search together and end our bickering or hate towards each other.

    January 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • Pete

      Sure, when every Christian votes for gay marriage.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
      • Mr. Peaceful

        You know, it's not only Christians that disapprove gay marriage. Other groups including some atheists, don't agree with gay marriage. Why blame on Christians? Priding yourself leads to ignorance.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • Pete

          because they are the main impediment, and I can't honestly think of a reason to be against gay marriage unless your reason is the bible.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
        • Mr. Peaceful

          I've heard reasons that aren't bible based.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
        • Observer

          Mr. Peaceful,

          Christians are worse than the others when it comes to picking on gays because they use the Bible as an EXCUSE for their HYPOCRISY.

          January 23, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • tony

      The question is actually asked of the religious, not the atheists.:

      Why jump the gun worship a single "super" something, but made in your image, you hope exists, before seeing any evidence that it might.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
      • Mr. Peaceful

        I have no version of God.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          Rev 6.8 is the current one running, I think.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
    • sly

      During my 11 months on earth, I've observed that most non-godsters really don't care that others have an opinion that there is a God. Aside from being a bit annoying with all that "hari hari jesus" stuff at airports, I'm happy to live and let live.

      Some King once said one of the wisest sayings ever: "Why can't we all just get along?", so in all seriousness, your point is a good one.

      But ... it's so fun to come on here and pretend to argue about people's personal opinions.

      "The Yankees are the greatest team"
      "No, it's the Red Sox"
      "No it isn't, it's the Yankees"
      "Nope. Red Sox. I'm right"

      (of course we all know it sure ain't either of those 2 teams)

      January 23, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
      • tony

        I wanna know if creation was single, 7day event, or is still continuing?

        January 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          Six, dude. He rested on the 7th.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
    • doobzz

      Fine. As soon as religious groups stop trying to encode their beliefs into secular law.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
      • Mr. Peaceful

        Are you still an atheist? What you said is irrelevant.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
        • doobzz

          Really, Mr. Peaceful? Do you not get that the First Amendment goes both ways?

          January 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
        • Mr. Peaceful

          I understand perfectly. You still are an atheist correct? Even with this "America is a Christian nation", many cultures and religions reside here as well from all over the world. I'm not going to stand in someone's way and deny them what I have. For others, well, they aren't like people like me. They just hate or fear differences even though we all have them. If what you're saying is true, all those other religions would be denied the right to even live here. Gay marriage has also been debated for decades. It's not up to the people. It's up to the person in charge like lawmakers and such. Convincing Christians won't do anything. Convince the people who hold power whether in congress or elsewhere for creating or banning laws.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • Pete

          all the lawmakers are Christians, or at least pretend to be.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
        • Mmmmmmm

          America is a secular nation with a Christian majority. The distinction needs to be made.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
        • doobzz

          No, Mr. Peaceful, you do not understand. While I am free to believe or not believe in deities, I am still not able to hold public office under the law in a number of states, and likely wouldn't be a viable candidate for office in most states unless I profess to be a Christian.

          If you think that there is true religious freedom here, why do people still care what religion the POTUS is? Those Muslim rumors just won't go away, why is that?

          January 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
    • yellownumber5

      And what has your santimonious concern trolling achieved?

      January 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • Mr. Peaceful

        "Trolling"? What?

        January 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • yellownumber5

          Concern Trolling – A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of "concern," to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don't really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.


          January 23, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
      • doobzz


        Kind of like this whole article. The pope says something generic about people spending too much time on the internet and the author turns it into a warning from the pope about internet trolls.

        January 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
    • TheBBT

      The amount of time and energy that some atheists spend on here is great evidence of something. It is a great irony that everyone but them seem to see.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
      • Pete

        It is evidence that they have free time, or waste a lot of time at work.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        Evidence that atheists don't want unsupported delusions pushed into society.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • TheBBT

        Most atheists don't talk about religion as much as the handful of atheists on here do. Probably only 1% of atheists do things like post religiously on message boards like this. .00009% do it using a derogatory name.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          @TheBBT – 67% of all statistics are made up.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        Don't you find it interesting there are plenty of what you consider atheists here, plenty of what consider themselves christians here, but you rarely and I mean RARELY hear from a muslim, buddhist, hindu, wiccan, pagan or otherwise.

        Food for thought.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
        • G to the T

          I'm an atheist buddhist. I just don't wear it on my sleave like many people do. I also don't see it as a religion so much as a philosophy.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          That's one!


          What I find interesting is that most christians on here assume anyone posting anything questioning their religion or is anti- is an atheist. I know it's happened to me. The never bother to ask, just *plop* into the pigeon hole.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
      • doobzz

        If I find an article interesting, I make comments and respond to others. I might come back to the site a few times a day to follow up. Sometimes I don't. I'm retired and my time is my own. I spend it how I choose.

        What concern is it of yours how much time anyone spends here? Whether I'm here five minutes or five hours, it proves nothing.

        January 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So don't you feel it more logical when we don't know everything and see no evidence of a god, to not believe in a god.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      I am not attempting to convince christians they are wrong. I am asking christians to give evidence that they are right

      January 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • Alias

        You are absolutely trying to prove they are wrong.
        We all know there is no proof of god beyond "personal experiences" – and those could easily be explained by skeptics.

        January 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • G to the T

          Then they should stop saying they KNOW there is a god. They don't.

          January 23, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
        • sam stone

          nonsense. how am i trying to prove them wrong?

          January 23, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • Alias

      Actually I was a hardened atheist when I got here, and nothing has changed that.
      I have, however, realized just how badly many people need to get out of their cults and start leading happy, productive lives.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
    • ME II

      @Mr. Peaceful,
      Actually, even here there are several that insist that they have evidence of the supernatural and sometimes specifically God.

      As a non-believer, most of the time I am simply trying to correct misunderstandings about science that at times seem rampant in religious communities.

      Regardless of the existence of God, science is real and useful, and everyone would be better off if they understood it better.

      January 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • God

      Are you kidding?? Debunking the tenets in religion is a pet peeve of science. To prove glaring errors In religious belief has changed the world drastically over the past 50 years. We have moved exponentially from religious gibberish to scientific breakthroughs and democratic social reform.

      January 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
    • PaulB

      Mr. Peaceful
      "You put an impossible task for humans to prove a being like God exists when they don't know everything."

      I was a Christian up until I was exposed to the atheist arguments that I was sheltered from since I was a kid. I think I'm pretty typical. A lot, if not most, Christians just don't hear the reasons why their faith makes no sense. Talking about atheism does a lot of good, then.

      January 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
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About this blog

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