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How to really measure the 'Francis effect'
Pope Francis paying his hotel bill shortly after his election last year.
March 9th, 2014
09:40 AM ET

How to really measure the 'Francis effect'

Boston (CNN) - In some ways, the "Pope Francis effect" doesn't seem very effective at all.

Despite the immense popularity the aged Argentine has won since his election last year, not a jot of doctrine has changed, nor has the Catholic Church swelled with American converts.

But there's more than one way to measure a pontiff's influence on his far-flung flock.

Start asking around - here in Boston and beyond, Catholics and atheists alike - and it's easy to find people eager to share how one man, in just one year, has changed their lives.

There's the gay man who finally feels welcome in his church.

The woman who weeps when headlines deliver good news at last.

The former priest who no longer clenches his fist during Mass.

The Latinos who waited forever for a Pope who speaks their language.

"I'm telling you, brother, if you focus on the numbers, you're missing the story," says the Rev. John Unni, a Boston pastor with an accent as thick as clam chowda.

"There's an energy, a feeling, a spirit here. It's like a healing balm."

If anyplace needed healing, it's Boston - the country's most Catholic city.

READ MORE HERE 

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    I really think "Don't own other people as property" should be in the top 10

    March 9, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
  2. bostontola

    I noticed some comment strings are gone, how does that happen now?

    March 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Maybe somebody posted something that violated the 'terms of service'. A moderator deleted something mid-thread, leaving all the posts to scatter.

      March 9, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
      • derado8

        Partly my fault I think, sorry. I need to know when not to crack jokes.

        March 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Interesting that the post where AB admits to posting under multiple names is gone – while the rest of the thread is there.

      March 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
  3. bostontola

    All 3.

    March 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
    • bostontola

      Oops, was a reply.

      March 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
  4. derado8

    That's an awful mental picture, and now I have the song "Shock the Monkey" stuck in my head, except with different lyrics replacing the words shock and monkey.

    March 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
  5. TruthPrevails1

    We're at a balmy +25 F here on the beautiful East Coast of Your Friendly neighboring country. 🙂 Spring just may be in the air...bring on the beach and sunny days. 🙂

    March 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
    • otoh2

      Now is probably a good time for the beach there, Apple. Most of the summer it is foggy/overcast for much of the day. I remember getting out of school in June and wanting the sun so bad... marine layer rolled back for a couple of hours if we were lucky. It's the same in San Diego... in fact all the way down the Pacific Coast 'til you get to Cabo.

      March 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      I'll get to the beach about July. Right now we're covered in about 3.5 feet of snow.

      March 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
  6. abundantlife

    He is a false prophet, and Catholicism is a cult, plain and simple. They follow a different gospel than the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is birthed in paganism and the occult, leading souls away from GOD and into darkness. http://abundantlifeliving.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/the-third-eye-paganism-pine-cones-and-the-bible/

    March 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
    • igaftr

      "It is birthed in paganism and the occult,"

      So is the bible and ALL forms of christianity.

      March 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • abundantlife

        So you believe.

        The book, "Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible" by Edwin Lutzer is a great place to start.

        Buy it here:
        http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Reasons-Why-Trust-Bible-ebook/dp/B00371V85A/ref=sr_1_36?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394395506&sr=1-36&keywords=PROVING+THE+BIBLE

        March 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
      • Reality

        And expand that to include all religions.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "False prophet" is redundant.

      March 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
      • abundantlife

        Nope. Found in the Word of God, friend. Here is one example of many....

        2 Peter 2: 1-3

        But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
        • igaftr

          Ahhh yes, the self affirming words of MEN...no sign of any gods. You may claim that these words were inspired by god, but considering the history of belief in the bible, it would appear that if it was inspired by anything, it was satan.
          Just more of the self affirming propoganda that is the man-made bible.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • abundantlife

          16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16).

          May God bless you as you sort out your spiritual beliefs.

          11 For I know the plans that I [h]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

          March 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • observernow

          abundantlife,

          What did Jesus say about gays, for instance?

          March 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I have no reason to think that the verse you refer to is not itself written by a false prophet.

          March 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I have no reason NOT to think that the verse you refer to is itself written by a false prophet.

          March 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)."

          First rule of cult logic, assert that the only "true" path is through belief that only your cult shares.

          March 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
      • derado8

        16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)."

        It's weird when you pick it apart. It doesn't tell you what God is, it doesn't tell you why there weren't any other options, and it makes no provisions for the unconvinced.

        March 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
    • observernow

      abundantlife,

      It's understandable that many Christians are unhappy with the Pope because he seems to preach the Golden Rule.

      March 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
      • abundantlife

        The pope is heralding in the false christ, the anti-christ. He doesn't follow the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He follows a false christ, the new age christ.

        Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14: 6)

        "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12 )

        16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

        March 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
        • observernow

          abundantlife,

          In dealing with the gay issue, you can CHOOSE verses that put them down (which Jesus NEVER did) or you can CHOOSE the Golden Rule, which Jesus HIGHLY endorsed.

          Sure looks like the Pope is following the words of Jesus FAR MORE than many Christians.

          Which verses do YOU choose?

          March 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • abundantlife

          Righteousness, friend. I choose righteousness and the purity of God's Word. No matter what culture dictates or tries to normalize. Jesus loves you, friend, and died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. We are free, saved by grace alone once we accept Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior. Then His Holy Spirit does the rest. It's a mystery and wonder.

          God bless you.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
        • observernow

          abundantlife,

          Are you going to answer the question or not?

          Do you follow Jesus and the Golden Rule or do you follow less important negative verses?

          March 9, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • abundantlife

          Like I already said, I do not follow the pope. I follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth and His Word. Period. The pope is deceive and follows doctrines of demons.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • observernow

          abundantlife,

          Speaking of DECEIVING, why won't you answer this simple question? AFRAID?

          In dealing with the gay issue, you can CHOOSE verses that put them down (which Jesus NEVER did) or you can CHOOSE the Golden Rule, which Jesus HIGHLY endorsed.

          Which verses do YOU choose?

          March 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Far too many christians use their belief as little more than a permission slip that allows them to hate whomever they wish.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
        • abundantlife

          If they don't love, they know not Jesus. They are deceived and the truth is not in them. I hate sin. That I do. Bless you.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
        • observernow

          abundantlife,

          Wow! You are still COMPLETELY STUMPED.

          You don't even know if you support Jesus and the Golden Rule or negative verses. Amazing.

          Maybe you should actually read the Bible so you'll know what it says and then can figure out what you think about verses in it.

          Sure looks like just another case of Christian HYPOCRISY.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
  7. otoh2

    Ooooh, Apple, it's not nice to gloat!

    Years ago I had to live in the Midwest for 3 years and I would get really bummed even seeing a whopping hot 58 degrees or some such in my native California. Month upon month upon month of freezing - ack!

    March 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
    • igaftr

      She can gloat all she wants...I've been to LA, where the only point of blue in the sky was directly overhead, the rest was varying shades of orange and brown, and we NEVER have drought conditions. Our springs and summer are wonderful, the fqall harvest is both beautiful and tasty, but our winters do suck.
      I'll take tough winters over the smog, droughts and earthquakes.

      March 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
      • igaftr

        Didn't say you did AB, just my experiences in LA...this is 20 years ago, but I got out there frequently. Spent a lot of time around Orange county, Hollywood and downtown LA...had a lot of fun, but I wouldn't want to live there on a regular basis.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
      • igaftr

        I'll have to agree there. San Diego was beautiful. I had business around La Jolla area. What struck me, since we don't have any here was the immigrant crossing signs down on the coastal highway, like the ones we have for deer. I thought someone was joking with me until I saw them for myself.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
  8. igaftr

    It's 274 degrees out where I am...the Kelvin scale just makes it feel warmer.

    March 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
    • igaftr

      NY

      March 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
    • igaftr

      I'm certain it is, just not around here for once.

      March 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
  9. Alias

    Here's an idea AB,why don't we all pick character from old books written at a middle school mentality, and pretend we are those characters.
    That will at least be better trolling than you usually do.

    March 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
    • Alias

      Was that some other Appple Bush posting things he didn't truely believe under the name "Donald Shimoda"?
      Fuck you and your innocent act 🙂

      March 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
  10. igaftr

    People like to preach to the choir....

    March 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
  11. colin31714

    cold here (Dallas)

    March 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
  12. Heaven Sent

    Carnal atheists, believing in the lies of the talmud and turning your backside on Jesus, who is the Lord God. Your dusty bones will never be delivered to paradise. I ran out of flea and tick shampoo so I used gasoline today. Keep your back turned on Jesus and find out what message he sticks on your shirt.

    Amen.

    March 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
  13. ddeevviinn

    The one truth upon which we can all have unanimity, is the reality that within a few relatively short years our existence in this present form will come to an end. We will each find ourselves in that moment in space/time/history in which the last breath of life leaves our physical body. According to some of the prevailing thought on this forum, it will simply bring about cessation of life and a final step into nothingness. Or, perhaps it will be at that very moment we find ourselves in a new dimension, in the presence of the One who created us, to whom we are accountable for both our actions and belief.

    One thing is certain, at that moment all this rhetoric will be meaningless.

    Abschied

    March 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • bostontola

      Did we exist prior to this life in some other dimension or place of existence?

      March 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        Boston, If I told you we existed before we came to earth to enter our bodies, would you believe it? If I said we were eternal spirits created by God, would you believe it? If I said our memory was erased as we entered the time zone of earth so we have no memory of our previous existence , would you scoff? Of course you would, so I won't.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Amen. The rhetoric will die, and by God's grace our love lives on.

      March 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        How do you know that nothing lives on? Is that what you have faith in? How do you know we will never know? How can you be so certain that nobody else has that knowledge? Just because you personally don't have that knowledge? You know there are no Gods? I have never met an atheist that would make such a bold claim, without admitting they are taking a huge leap of faith in making such a statement.

        I, like billions of others, disagree with your opinion. But that is ok. Thanks for sharing yours, this is the opinion section of the CNN world. I have to remind myself of that constantly. We are not rocket scientists nor are we discussing brain surgery. We are sharing our experiences and opinions with each other. Most of which will never be read by more than 5 people or so.

        March 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Dala, Why do you think life "goes on". There is no evidence that it does. No evidence of the various supernatural creatures that supposedly enable an after-life. What makes more sense – not believing in something for which there is no evidence or believing in something for which there is no evidence?

        March 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        @Santa

        For you there is no evidence. That is your experience.

        I have evidence that God does exist. And that there is more to life than what you imagine. That makes sense to me.

        Trying to live up to the standards of some dude on the internet that posts as "In Santa We Trust" who seems to insist his opinions are facts does not make sense to me.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • Doris

        "How can you be so certain"

        Being too certain is obviously a problem any of us can succumb to, believer or not.

        Another example of zealous certainty would be: "The rhetoric will die, and by God's grace our love lives on."

        [where I have to assume "God" is implied to mean the active Abrahamic God, not even close to the God that Jefferson, Madison, Adams were likely to have believed in, for example; but you never can tell when Christian belief is a moving target from one person/sect to another, providing a lot of cover to any alleged argument of the moment ]

        March 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Dala
        What evidence? You acknowledge that the bible is not literally correct and that is the only evidence presented for your god. As usual you did not answer the question about the more logical choice.

        Why post your opinions as facts if you have nothing to support them? I've explained to you countless times why there is no convincing case for a god.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        @Doris

        Right. I responded to zealous certainty from a non-believer with my own zealous certainty.

        And then you added your own zealous certainty. Welcome to the club.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Dala, There are people that believe they'd been abducted by aliens – do you believe them without evidence? What's more likely without evidence – they they were or were not? What evidence would convince you that they were abducted by aliens? You'd need to provide evidence to that standard of your god if you want to convince others.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
      • tallulah131

        There is no evidence of any life beyond our deaths. There is only wishful thinking.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • derado8

          I've looked everywhere to try and prove otherwise, and I'm sure I'd have found something by now.

          March 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        @mIn Santa We Trust

        + Dala, There are people that believe they'd been abducted by aliens – do you believe them without evidence?

        No.

        + What's more likely without evidence – they they were or were not? What evidence would convince you that they were abducted by aliens? You'd need to provide evidence to that standard of your god if you want to convince others.

        I don't know. I'm agnostic about it.

        I attempt to share with others my experience with God. Not everyone accepts them. But some people do. Some people that know more about such things as logic, reason and science than a few of those that philosophize to me about such concepts on this blog.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
      • Alias

        According to your bible there will be far many more people cursed by an afterlife than blessed in it.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Not really. Some theologians have expressed that hell will be empty. That Jesus saves God's whole creation, not just a few lucky ones who happen to believe the right thing.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • observernow

          Hell is probably going to be jam-packed with Christian HYPOCRITES.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Sure. And than I'll be there. Probably other hypocrites will be there, too.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Why would an omniscient god build hell if it knew it would be empty?

          March 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • derado8

          So far as I know all I am aware of is based on my brain, once my brain is incinerated if I am in heaven or hell how would I know?

          March 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Perhaps God built hell to destroy evil. Once it is destroyed, it will be gone. Those who refuse to let go of their own evil are destroyed along with it.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          So an omnipotent god created evil then created hell to rid the world of evil? Not very convincing.
          btw if there is life elsewhere in the universe do you think they have a separate heaven (and non-existant hell).

          March 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          God created a world where people can choose between good and evil. Without evil, how can one really know what is good?

          I don't know if alien life forms have souls or are created in God's image like us. Are they free like humans? Or more like robots who can only process logic and do what they are commanded to do? Do they have no imagination or true understanding of things greater than themselves?

          March 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Christians claim that there is a heaven for people deemed to be good and a hell for people deened to be evil. A distinction supposedly created by your god as entry criteria for either place. You said that maybe nobody goes to hell after all. For many christians, not believing in Jesus is enough to be deemed hell-worthy. That aside, an omnipotent god would not need to create evil to allow comprehension of good. Presumably evil will not exist in heaven, so humans presumably will be able to live without it.

          March 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Some Christians do claim that. Some don't. I know a lot of Christians claim to be sinners, but are saved by God's grace. And that nobody is saved because they are deemed to be good.

          I never said nobody goes to hell after all. I said some people have suggested that hell might be empty. Also, some say Jesus' saving power extends into death. During the 3 days he was dead he conquered hell and saved more souls.

          March 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        How do you know nothing lives on? How is that not a statement of faith?

        March 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
      • Doris

        Dala: "Right. I responded to zealous certainty from a non-believer with my own zealous certainty. And then you added your own zealous certainty. Welcome to the club."

        Oh no, you may categorize me into some club (theists just can't help but try to "bucketize"), but it's not your club, Dala.
        Austin and Rainer are in your club. You should know that.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Austin and Rainer are in my club. And you are in my club, too.

        But I can't control what any of you 3 do. I'm not guilty of your actions. Nor would I suggest you are to blame for what your other club members do. That outlook is too simplistic to be sufficient.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
      • Doris

        As well-intentioned as your response may be, Dala, I do find it is times like this when the many Christians who participate on this blog chooses to ignore the distinction of the tie that binds them (in contrast to non-believers). But I'm at least glad you didn't adopt what Russ said the other day in response by just declaring that you and Austin and Rainer "agree on all the majors", as it is clearly evident on this blog that it's frequently not the "majors" (common basis for Christian belief) that cause suffering at the hands of some Christians in the world.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
      • Doris

        choose to ignore

        March 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
      • Doris

        The question I still see unanswered after millennia is: what greater evidence is there for the "majors" than there is for the "minors"?

        March 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        How can you be agnostic (sic) if you don't believe that they were abducted? Even though you avoid answering these questions you did indirectly answer – if you don't believe that they were abducted then you agree that without evidence – they were. So we have established that the evidence did not support their claim. So you have an understanding of the evidence required for your claims to be believed or to convince others.

        You don't provide evidence of a god so how could anyone apply logic and reasoning? Until you do god is really in the same status as the alien abductors.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        ... that without evidence – they were not.

        March 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I am agnostic (*) about alien abduction.

        If I experienced when, I would probably believe. If I met a credible person that provides a compelling argument were abducted, I might believe.

        I have experienced and obtained knowledge of God, and logic and reason compell me to believe.

        Some people have shared or seen the evidence I have. There are 5 to 7 people on this blog that don't see it or do not accept it. Some have interesting experiences and understandings they share. Some just seem to want to badger me and insist I have to prove it to them. But I don't have to prove it to them. Or you. I respect your views, but I don't accept or follow them. Most people don't.

        * http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agnostic

        March 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Come on, Dev. There are more possibilities than that. We may be reborn as insects. We may just repeat the same life over and over again. We may discover that this was all a dream and Bobby isn't dead. But the one thing that is for certain is that when our bodies are no longer compatible with life this existence ends for us. There is no evidence that anything comes after. There is only religious wishful thinking.

      March 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
      • igaftr

        SPOILER ALERT....come on...don't give away the ending !

        March 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
  14. derado8

    Multiverse? Extra dimensions? Aliens?

    Proof, none, but fun to think about.

    March 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • bostontola

      And they are at least consistent with validated science, i.e. they are plausible.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • Alias

      Plausible? Really?
      Which ones?

      March 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
  15. bostontola

    Question everything, and research answers with an open mind. I am skeptical by nature and I have an extreme curiosity. 30 years ago I studied Biology, then Physics in college before I later went into engineering in grad school. I questioned everything the professors were teaching (I think they felt tested). I was able to find many points that they couldn't answer. Sometimes they came back the next lecture with answers, other times the answers were not yet known. The amazing part was that most of the time, no matter how obtuse the angle was, there was already an experiment that produced a validated answer. Most were corroborated by other tests in adjacent sciences like Chemistry, Thermodynamics, etc.

    In the last 30 years, I have stayed close to the advancements in science. My mathematics background has allowed me to fully appreciate the advancements and independently assess the quality of experiments and the results. I don't accept some of the results based on experiment design, but scientists seem to have gotten extremely careful as some results have gotten discredited, ruining careers. Bottom line – the answers keep coming, the complex tapestry of science gets more detailed with interconnected experimental validations that check and cross check. The depth of the questions and answers is staggering.

    What about religions? Much like philosophies there is depth, but the depth is all in mind experiments. All the evidence is subjective. There is no objective depth at all. Questions are all answered by dogma. You can't probe any deeper because the answers all defined. Religions and God based explanations are completely unsatisfying to my curiosity and skeptical nature. If a being did create the universe and hence life, it couldn't possibly expect me to believe in it. It would have to know that every clue in the creation would drive me away from a supernatural explanation.

    Either this being would not care about what I think and is not interested in being worshiped, or it purposefully created me to be deceived, or there is some other explanation. The simplest explanation is there is no being, one of the lest likely possibilities, there is a God with emotions like ours, loves us, creates a world with a rich mountain of clues all interconnected that points away from an engaged supernatural God, then enforces an infinite penalty for not believing. I can understand that some people are more compliant by nature, have less curiosity. These type of people have no problem with this thesis, good for them. But at least try to understand there are people with different natures that can't accept their religious stories. It doesn't make these people evil or Satan's puppets.

    March 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • derado8

      I think that was very well written. But are you curious at all about psychology, neurotheology and near death studies? Physics and Biology will answer some questions that were filled in by religion once but those two fields alone won't fill in all the blanks.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
      • bostontola

        derado,
        There is lots of science that is outside my knowledge. I do read up on Psycology, but I am more interested in the brain research at the functional level. I see a lot of value in things that are not real, fictional literature and religion among others. I can learn important and useful lessons from them, and they can be entertaining. But I know that they are not real and are only for educational or entertainment purposes.

        March 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • derado8

          Our brains are all we have to tell us what is real.

          March 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I am extremely skeptical and don't easily accept things on blind faith.

      I used to hate religion and religious people. Especially Christians. I loved to point out their flaws and hypocrisies. I would tell them I could be good without God. I could help the poor without God. I could be kind to others without God. I knew they were just brainwashed into believing fairy tales. They rejected science and had no appreciation for the advancements and knowledge that science brought.

      Religion was the cause of all evil. I knew this at the age of 15 and rejected all religion. I studied some of the world's religions. But had no reason to participate in it personally. Those that did I either publicly or privately mocked them.

      A few years ago I realized I was the closed-minded and hypocritical one. And that hate I felt toward others was harming me. I spent so much time hating and thinking about religion – it pointed to one thing: I was obsessed.

      Today I strive not to be so judgmental and to live differently. I am a follower of Jesus. And that is leading me to new depths of understanding about my life and purpose. Science is great. I find people today that blow my old thinking out of the water: like deeply devout Christians that contribute to and support science in ways that made me look completely silly to suggest that Christians reject science.

      Thanks for sharing your ways. Mine are different, but really my ideals and motivations are similar.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
      • bostontola

        Dalahast,
        Glad to hear that you released that hate, it eats you from the inside.

        March 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          'Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.' Nelson Mandela

          I see some suffering from that phenomenon on here. I still fall into the trap sometimes.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • bostontola

          Interesting quote. He was one smart person, we'll miss him.

          I never hated religion. I am fascinated by them. I personally believe they have contributed to some of the finishing touches of humans as a species (yes I know we are not actually finished). We are probably a self-domesticating species and religions have been a strong forcing function. What could be more important than that? I don't give much credit to any particular religion in that context. Obviously, I do have issue with members of various religions that are so obsessed that they feel compelled to impress their beliefs on others.

          March 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I appreciate your outlook on religion. I really don't rally for religion in general, but do offer defense against the voices that say religion only causes war and produces ignorance. I pursue a relationship with Jesus and am actually encouraged not to be so religious by my church. Yea, I have a problem with people that try to push their views on other people, too. Religious people are notorious for that. And now I have experienced that some non-religious people are just as bad.

          March 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
      • colin31714

        Dalahast, how you can say, "I am extremely skeptical and don't easily accept things on blind faith" and then accept the existence of God and the idea of Jesus being a god eludes me. Believing in either of these requires blind faith or something very close to it.

        March 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Good. I'm sure all kinds of things elude you, like advanced scientific knowledge and current technological advances.

          I'm a skeptic who did not believe in God for many of the same reasons you claim as your own personal opinions. But, that has changed.

          Basically, it is a good thing in my life. There are a few atheists that post on religious blogs that have serious problems with it. But there is evidence things aren't so great in their lives. So maybe they are looking for something more?

          In general, most people don't react like these few anti-Christian... uh, crusaders.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Dala, As an atheist you did not see evidence of a god. What evidence did you subsequently see? How were you convinced that it was the christian god?

        March 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I was very self-centered and completely self-reliant. I rarely needed anyone's help. I had a good education and a successful career. There was no need for a God. I was in control. At the same time, I was really obsessed with other people and their beliefs. I could spot their phoniness and hypocrisy. I could be just a giving and caring as religious people (I never really did carry that out, but in theory I could.

          Eventually, do to my own actions, I was forced to take an honest look at myself. What I often criticized others about, I was in possession of.

          Long story short, God is in search of my heart. That is what Jesus and the Bible teaches me. We learn to love and hate. I'm learning to love and not hate. God is showing me the way.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
  16. Doris

    "Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give him it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever." –Sam Harris

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3mX0YRrjM

    March 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I'm a devout Christian. If Sam Harris imagines I believe in an invisible deity who will punish me with fire for eternity if I fail to accept every incredible claim about the universe – good for him and his imagination. I'll remain skeptical of Sam Harris as most people are.

      “The more I listened to Dawkins and his colleagues, the more the nature of what has gone wrong with their argument seemed clear. Religion was portrayed as a force of unremitting awfulness, a poisoned root from which no good fruit could grow. It seems to me the work not of a thinker but of any balanced observer to notice that this is not the case. A new … dogma has emerged. And the argument has stalled.”

      – Douglas Murray (atheist writer)

      March 9, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
      • Doris

        Dalahäst: "I'm a devout Christian. If Sam Harris imagines I believe in an invisible deity who will punish me with fire for eternity"

        There are certainly some, evident on these boards, who have professed a belief in a such a deity should they not obey ideas not shared by other Christians. And so goes the disagreement over many issues regarding how one should or should not live their lives as a good Christian. The conflict and hypocrisy is as ever more evident today among the over 40,000 sects of insanity as it was 200 years ago:

        "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." –Thomas Jefferson

        March 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right, but there is evidence of conflict and hypocrisy outside of Christianity, too. How many different types of deists, atheists and humanist secularists are there? I'm aware of such defects as human problems. Not exclusive Christian problems.

          Thomas Jefferson, while identifying himself as a Christian, criticisized the actions of Christian leaders. And I agree, they deserve to be criticisized.

          Thomas Jefferson fought for my right to believe in and worship God. I am grateful for him. Like many Christians were in his time.

          "I must ever believe that religion substantially good which produces an honest life, and we have been authorized by One whom you and I equally respect, to judge of the tree by its fruit. Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our God alone. I inquire after no man's, and trouble none with mine; nor is it given to us in this life ti know whether your or mine, our friends or our foes, are exactly the right."

          Thomas Jefferson

          March 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Doris

          Well please don't let me stop you from your merry journey among the loonies of Christendom, Dala. I do wish you the best in sucking up whatever parts of Christian love you can from the likes of Rainer B. for the sake of wallowing in your own idea of Christian righteousness whatever that may be; that you are not alone, but rather, in a sense, in a grand club where you and Rainy can be true pals in Christ. 🙄

          March 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm responsible for my actions. Not the actions of other Christians. I belong to a club that involves many different kinds of people of different faiths and even with people of no faith.

          You don't seem to be offering me a better alternative. I don't want to be a member of your grand club where you point out the flaws of others and seem to pretend you don't have any.

          March 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • Doris

          Dala: "You don't seem to be offering me a better alternative. I don't want to be a member of your grand club where you point out the flaws of others and seem to pretend you don't have any."

          I have plenty of flaws. But unless you view my calling out on people spreading misinformation a flaw, unless you view my calling out the obvious conflict for those proselytizing a flaw, then I would certainly like to know how you know my flaws. It's not my intention to provide any club as an alternative. You don't seem to understand the expression "lack of belief" as well as you claim to. If one doesn't like a particular disease and can help reduce its prevalence in the body, does one need to provide an alternate disease to take up the slack?

          March 9, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You have many beliefs. And you are expressing them. In some ways you are acting a lot like religious fundamentalists act. For example, demonizing other people and hypocritically criticizing actions you are guilty of.

          I do understand the expression "lack of belief." It is an expression. Just like my belief is an expression.

          Just because you are religion free, doesn't mean you are free of all the negative aspects you view in religious people. It doesn't work that way. Anybody can express "lack of belief", it doesn't mean you are better or more worthy than others. It just means you don't have that belief. But you certainly hold many other beliefs.

          'The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.'
          Albert Einstein

          March 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Doris

          Dala: "You have many beliefs. And you are expressing them. In some ways you are acting a lot like religious fundamentalists act."

          Of course I have beliefs. I just don't base my beliefs on fear instilled from ancient folklore for promises for an alleged afterlife. But if want to call my expression of such similar to that of a fundamentalist, that's fair. I think you'll find, though, I'm not the one calling for real actions in the world that disenfranchise one group or another to the extent that someone like Austin or Rainer do here so frequently. I think you'll find that in this day and age, those who disenfranchise are frequently those who proselytize.

          "For example, demonizing other people and hypocritically criticizing actions you are guilty of."

          Demonizing? Really – is illuminating misinformation demonizing? Is illuminating those who would kill gay people for who they are demonizing? Interesting. Very interesting company you keep "communion" with, Dala.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Ok, good luck with Rainy and Austin. You sure do think and talk about them a lot.

          I just don't base my beliefs on fear instilled from ancient folklore for promises for an alleged afterlife, either.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
  17. observernow

    Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "The gay man feels welcome because no member of the church requires him to repent."

    HYPOCRISY TEST:

    How many times has your church leader told women who have divorced and remarried that they must DIVORCE and repent?

    NUMBER PLEASE and try not to run away.

    March 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • observernow

      Looks like he ran away AGAIN.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
  18. Doris

    Why is it that many Christians ignore science?

    Why do some of them tell two different stories at the same time (even selling them) about science?

    Why do they travel to other places and incite violence against other people?

    Why do they promote the jailing of people or remain complacent about their fellow Christians who do the same?

    Why does the Anglican Communion demote the one person who tried to quell the violence against people in Uganda?

    Why are they not listening to people from the National Institutes of Health?

    Why do they ignore biologists?

    === for instance =====================================

    Biology

    The following is from the article:

    Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find (12/11/2012 – LiveScience)

    [ The search for a "gay gene" may be off-target, new research finds. Another process called epigenetics that switches genes on and off may explain why homosexuality runs in families.

    Epigenetics are heritable changes caused by factors other than DNA. Instead of traits getting passed down through the genes, epigenetic change happens because of the way genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

    These genetic regulators may be the reason homosexuality persists in nature despite the fact that gay people are less likely to reproduce, suggests the new study published in the [Dec, 2012] journal The Quarterly Review of Biology.

    "These things have evolved because they're good for the parents, but they sometimes, not [with] high frequency, but sometimes carry over" into offspring, study researcher William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told LiveScience. In a male fetus, Rice and his colleagues write, an epigenetic change that benefited the mother may lead to "feminization" of sexual preference — homo- or bisexuality. The same may be true for epigenetic changes passed down by dad to a female fetus. (The terms feminization and masculinization of sexual preference refer to sexual orientation only — not to physical or personality traits of the offspring.)

    The findings add to past research suggesting gay men haven't died out, because female relatives of gay men tend to have more children on average than other females. The study researchers specifically found that two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.

    Hormones, epigenetics and orientation

    Rice and his colleagues focused on epi-marks, which are molecular changes that act like temporary "switches" to turn genes on and off. If a gene is a blueprint, the epi-mark is the construction foreman who makes sure the product gets built. An epi-mark also determines when, where and how much a gene is expressed, according to the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

    These molecular switches are usually erased very early in the developmental process, but they can be passed down from generation to generation, too, Rice said.

    Some epi-marks are particularly important during fetal development, when they promote normal physical development in the sexes despite natural variations in testosterone during pregnancy. Researchers know that fetal exposure to too much testosterone can masculinize the genitals, brain or behavior of a genetically female fetus. Likewise, too little testosterone can make a genetically male fetus more feminized.

    But here's the catch: There's lots of overlap between the levels of testosterone male and female fetuses get exposed to. That means there must be another side to the story, Rice and his colleagues wrote.

    That side appears to be epigenetics, Rice said.

    "Early in development, we think these epi-marks are laid down so that girl fetuses will be relatively insensitive to testosterone and male fetuses will be relatively sensitive to testosterone," Rice said.

    Biological behavior

    Thus, if an epi-mark that kept a mother from getting exposed to high testosterone in development gets passed on to her son — the opposite sex — it could desensitize him to testosterone, contributing to his sexual preference for men. Similarly, if a male-specific epi-mark from dad gets passed to a daughter, it could "masculinize" her sexual preference, making her more interested in women.

    These findings could explain why twin studies show that homosexuality runs in families, but no "gay gene" can be found, Rice said. In identical twins, there's about a 20 percent chance that if one twin is gay, the other will be too. If genetic change were responsible for homosexuality, you'd expect a much higher match, Rice said. Epigenetics, however, can explain the heritability without the need for a specific genetic change.

    The hypothesis could be tested by examining epigenetic marks in parents of kids with gay versus straight offspring, Rice said. There are, of course, concerns that this knowledge could be used by parents who want to avoid gay offspring, Rice said, but that concern already exists around certain hormonal conditions in utero, which are known to contribute to an increased chance of offspring being lesbians.

    "That cat's already out of the bag," Rice said. He added that an understanding of the biological underpinnings of homosexuality could help emphasize that same-sex behavior is not "unnatural."

    "In fact, it's a major part of the natural world," Rice said. Fourteen percent of Western gulls raise chicks in female-female pairs, he pointed out. And 8 percent of male sheep show zero interest in fertile ewes, but get sexually excited by other rams. ]

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Psychology

    The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age. Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing."

    Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:

    "Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice."

    =================================

    "Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science.

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." –Thomas Jefferson

    –Thomas Jefferson

    March 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
  19. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    Passage from the "Full Story":

    "He (pope Francis) made the cover of Time, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone and The Advocate, a gay and lesbian magazine that makes no secret of its problems with previous Popes.

    He said it's immoral when the media reports every move of the market but ignores the death of a homeless person.

    He told his church to be big-hearted and bruised, open and merciful; to forget its finery and make a mess in the streets; to be a field hospital for this sin-sick world."

    Unquote.

    Brief summary of that passage: THE POPE JUSTIFIES THE SIN (love the sinner together with his sin).

    The justification or legalization of the sin is the mystery of pope Francis' success. That is what human kind has always longed for: "Religious fellowship" without repentance.

    "There's the gay man who finally feels welcome in his church."

    Why does he feel welcome? He feels welcome because no member of the church requires him to repent. He is told that he could get into heaven as a gay man.

    Ain't I right that Jesus Christ would at first kill the pope, if he would return right now?

    The pope is the worst spiritual criminal living on earth at the moment. He doesn't give the soul's health towards the people but the soul's death. I curse him in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is excluded from the legitimate Christian Church.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    March 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
    • observernow

      Rainer,

      Skip all your HYPOCRISY. If you ACTUALLY cared about sin and sinners, you'd be spending your time trying to convert all of your FELLOW CHRISTIANS who commit ADULTERY through divorce and remarriage.

      There are FAR FAR MORE of them than there are gays. OOOOPS.

      March 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        No persistant adulterer will get into heaven.

        No persistantly gay person will get into heaven.

        March 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Says the common thief, hateful bigot, and pompous ass. Yeah, there's an opinion I'll listen to.

          March 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Where clothes ? There clothes.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          I am only an opponent of gays within in the church. Outside the church I don't want them to become too many, and I don't want the legalization of gay life-style.

          Gays should not get the feeling that their behaviour would be legal in any way. There must remain a feeling of obscurity.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
        • observernow

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          "Gays should not get the feeling that their behaviour would be legal in any way. "

          ADULTERY through divorce and remarriage is LEGAL everywhere in the U.S.

          Just more HYPOCRISY.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Adultery is not legal in the sight of God.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
        • observernow

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

          So how much effort does your church make to tell your fellow Christian ADULTERERS that they need to DIVORCE?

          March 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
        • Doris

          The idiocy of the fundamentalist: "I don't want them to become too many, "

          Gee, Rainy, do you feel the same about left-handed people? That you don't want them to become too many?

          March 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          "They are born with it" is right, if we regard gayness as part of the sinful nature of man. Even St. Paul says that our sinful nature forces us to sin.

          We are natural born sinners, that is right. However, we are nevertheless responsible for every evil deed we commit. Every evil deed and word increases our guilt.

          In his infinite great mercy God takes in account our intrinsic sinfulness, that we are forced to sin in a way:

          God, the Father, has sent God, the Son, Jesus. Jesus has borne our sinful flesh or sinful nature when he died for us on the cross. Through faith and baptism we die for the sin, and enter Christ.

          Crucial: Through faith and baptism the sin in us gets dethroned. A Christian is no longer forced to sin but can overcome his sinful nature through faith in the following promises: died for the sin (died together with Jesus), resurrected together with Jesus.

          In Jesus we can love God and our neighbour. Through Love (Jesus is our Love) we fulfill the law of the Torah.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • observernow

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

          Why don't you answer any questions about HYPOCRISY?

          March 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • Doris

          @Rainy – that's YOUR concept of "sin", of "evil". That's YOUR concept of "baptism". You have done nothing to provide good evidence that your view is any more "correct" than the next Christian's view which is usually quite different. It's too conflicted, and you're too self-assured to take seriously.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Rainer: Too many?? What?? I've tried to explain this to you...being gay is not a choice!!! Your absurd belief in god and your bigotry are choices. How hard is it for you to look outside of the bible at the scientific evidence or does that not matter to you??
          You may not wish for them to be legally recognized as your equal but it's quickly coming to terms that you're on the losing end here. They are doing no harm, so mind your own damn business. When you start paying the way of other people, you can have a say in their lives and about who they love but until that point shut up and keep your ignorance to yourself!
          People like you are who bury your belief system and make it unappealing.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Ranier,, You don't get to make the rules, you don't get to set the boundaries of heaven. You are not in charge ,nor are you equipt or worthy to deny anyone anything.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • sam stone

          Ah, Rainy speaking for god again. How fvcking charming.

          March 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  20. colin31714

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Catholicism that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, an “angry atheist”, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections.

    If you have a disagreement with a point I make, post it. However, if you only object to the fact that I said it, please understand that I do not buy into the whole “it is immoral to be skeptical of the Catholic religion” nonsense.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the approximate age of the current iteration of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point in our evolution from Hom.o Erectus, gave us eternal life and a soul, and about 180,000 years later, sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East, including Australia, North and South America, Europe, Asia, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies. One would have thought that a visitor from the creator of the Universe would visit (or at least mention) the millions upon millions of Chinese and other Asians, all the people spread throughout North, Central and South America, the Australian Aboriginals, the ancient Europeans or the Sub-Saharan Africans. Instead, his entire visit and his entire Holy Book, the Bible, is 100% concentrated on the Jews. It seems obvious to any thinking person that the Jews made God in their image and not vice-versa.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and observing the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages. I mean, let me ask a believer this. Do you even have the slightest damn idea who any of the 100+ authors of the Bible were? Do you have any idea who complied it? Who decided what Bronze Age Jewish writings to include and what to exclude and the criteria they used? I bet you don’t.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Catholicism does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Catholicism. To the extent we reject Catholic morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Catholic. We just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Catholicism admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. This is probably the mother of all understatements. In any event, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Catholic based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    The entire Catholic faith is not a belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, or, even more accurately, a simple wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    March 9, 2014 at 10:18 am |
    • Reality

      Well researched and well said.

      To be fair and also succinct for those who are reading challenged:

      (only for the new members of this blog)

      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. "

      March 9, 2014 at 10:43 am |
      • Alias

        Colin & Reality
        Until you try to understand how nad why poeple hold their faith you are wasting your posts.
        Unless you try to see how people reach these conclusions that you offhandely dismiss you are not going to change anyone's mind.

        March 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • colin31714

          Alias, that's bvllsh.it For every Dalahast or Austin, there is an open and enquiring mind. A lot of young people read these things and reaching just one makes it worthwhile.

          Thanks AB

          March 9, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Colin, you are one of the most closed minded individuals I have encountered on this blog. You just to absurd conclusions and feel that you are superior to everyone just because you learned a few things on some anti-religious atheist websites. You just rewrite and spout out the same packaged answers over and over.

          You have an old bigot mind. My young mind doesn't want to be like yours: holding on to the same old ideas.

          March 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          *you jump to absurd...

          March 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • doobzz

          "You have an old bigot mind. My young mind doesn't want to be like yours: holding on to the same old ideas."

          LOL! That's one of the most ridiculous things you've ever posted. Even more than when you compared paying your bills to slavery.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Dala, If they are absurd, your young mind must be able to explain the flaws in the logic and reasoning. Please do.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Ok, I was talking to someone about the 10 Commandments, and Colin c/p a statement and said I was so ignorant because I didn't know there were 2 sets of the 10 Commandments mentioned in the Bible.

          Uh, dude, I knew that already and it wasn't relevant to the topic of the post. He had copied and pasted that same comment (minus the calling me ignorant) many times.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          That doesn't appear to answer any of the 9 points in this post; although I didn't seriously expect you to actually answer.

          March 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I responded to all 9 points, last year. I think it was after the 250th time he posted it. You want me to keep c/ping it 300 more times?

          March 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          I've never seen you answer this type of question, but I'm not on here enough to say you've never answered. Do you think this is just a one-way street – that you can make your claims but not support them?

          March 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You make claims, but don't support them all the time.

          I'm sharing my experiences and opinions. I'm not on trial here. And you are not the judge of what is acceptable or believable. I'm not sure why you seem to suggest I have to have your approval to believe something. Thank God most people don't behave like you do. I know a lot of atheists and non-believers – none but just a few that I see on this board act so arrogant and insist others have to prove things to them.

          Anyway, thanks for sharing your views. Please don't insist you know what is best or that you have objectively proved my beliefs are wrong. You haven't. You have just shared your personal opinions.

          March 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Ctrl V

        March 9, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • doobzz

          What a hypocrite. You c/p frequently.

          March 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Not the same thing over and over. Google a phrase from that posting.

          That poster is guilty of spam. It appears they have posted that exact same thing hundreds of times.

          So, I don't mind c/p. But to the extent these 2 do it?

          Spammers.

          March 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • doobzz

          If it's relevant to the issue, what's the problem with it? It's easy enough to skip over if you don't like it.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • colin31714

          There is a difference. This is my own original work. Don't believe me? Ask any person whose been on the blog for a while. I post it often for the simple and obvious reason that the people who read this blog changes day to day. You tend to copy/past saying of OTHERS ad nauseum – Gandhi, Einstein, Mandella over and over. We've all see them a thousand times.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right, you rewrote common atheist criticisms and theories. You really don't offer anything that original. But why copy and paste them over and over? It is like spam.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • colin31714

          I just told you, the readers change daily.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          If the readers want to read it, they can just google common internet atheist arguments.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
    • lngtrmthnkr

      Colin, Other than showing a lack of understanding of eternal time and that it is meaningless to an eternal being, you take liberty in many places and show a lack of depth in the meaning of God and his attributes. He may have waited ten billion years for earth to form, or most likely he had other planets to attend to before we showed up. To think we are the only inhabited planet out of the billions that are able to support life is short sighted. . Maybe God is elusive to us to allow us to seek him out of the need we have inside to seek goodness and love. Those who reject him are using their right given to them by free will.

      March 9, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
      • colin31714

        Ingtrmthnkr – you said "Colin, Other than showing a lack of understanding of eternal time and that it is meaningless to an eternal being, you take liberty in many places and show a lack of depth in the meaning of God and his attributes. He may have waited ten billion years for earth to form, or most likely he had other planets to attend to before we showed up."

        And maybe God's a magic pixie in my garden. Believers like to have it both ways. Whenever they are backed into a corner, they resort to mysticism and claim God is "unknowable"or "outside our Universe" but then turn around and claim they know what he wants and claim he has human emotions like love and anger, and most silly of all, is obsessed with Bronze Age Jews.

        You said, "To think we are the only inhabited planet out of the billions that are able to support life is short sighted"

        I never said that.

        You said, "Maybe God is elusive to us to allow us to seek him out of the need we have inside to seek goodness and love. Those who reject him are using their right given to them by free will."

        Yes, and maybe he's "elusive" because he doesn't exist.

        March 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Colin clearly for you God dosn't exist , and thats fine , It's your choice and your call. But You miss much of the picture without him. Still, you end up with what you want or don't want.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • colin31714

          And I'm sure a Hindu will tell me I miss much by not believing in Lord Bramah and Buddhist that I miss much by not following the four truths. Taoists will be amazed at how I can live in the absence of equilibrium and my native American friends will marvel at how shallow my life is with out my ancestors watching over me.

          Give me the cold, hard beauty of truth any day over the warm falsity of supernatural beings.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Colin ,,I also love the cold hard beauty of truth, but for me, God is involved in the equation.

          March 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
      • igaftr

        You claim "those who reject", but from my point of view it is those who accept that which no one has ever been able to show the existance of.
        I do not reject god, I simply do not believe any exist.

        you say "maybe god" and then make a wild guess...What about "maybe god does not exist?" or "maybe god is not what I thought it is at all" or maybe god is not the god I thought, and is completely different.

        March 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Ctrl V

      March 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
      • doobzz

        LOL, again with the hypocrisy.

        March 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I am a hypocrite. But I also noticed the poster has simply copied and pasted that same things numerous times.

          Packaged answered spam.

          March 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • doobzz

          So? You post the same quotes more than once. Don't read it, it's that simple.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
        • colin31714

          Answered, answered? Rubbish. I don't think I have gotten a coherent answer once. Just comments like I am a sinner, I am evil, I "don't understand the finer points of Christianity" etc. Rarely will a believer take on one of the points. I once debated with you and you ended up misrepresenting what you believed – because you had to stare into the face of how silly it is to think your thoughts are read and answered by the creator of the Universe.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No, Colin, that is just what you imagined happened.

          You told me the same old thing a few atheists say to me.

          "you had to stare into the face of how silly it is to think your thoughts are read and answered by the creator of the Universe."

          See, that is just your imagination at work. I actually, thought, not this sh.t again. Another arrogant man who is going to try and convince me he know why and what I believe.

          Thank God most atheists aren't like that. There is a reason that so many theists and non-theists joke about atheists that act like fundamentalist religious zealots; they are a lot alike.

          March 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Dala, I've not seen anyone telling you what to think – I have seen many unsuccessful attempts to get you to explain why you believe in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. It's not as though you were born into this – you converted and are unable to explain why.

          March 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Nobody is telling me what to think.

          But a few tell me what they imagine I think. Colin demonstrated that above.

          I haven't been presented overwhelming contradictory evidence in regards to my belief in God. Basically I've been presented rehashed internet atheist theories: and nothing new. Some were beliefs I once held but don't today.

          March 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Dala, The bible is not correct when it states its creation myth and you accept that it should not be taken literally. However those creation myths are presented as god's credentials – look at how powerful our god is to create the universe and all in it in 6 days including animals and humans fully formed. As we know that the creation myths are not correct that removes the god's credentials. What other evidence is there? Of any god or specifically your god?

          March 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • doobzz

          Well, I look forward to seeing you post Ctrl V under every single bible quote in the future, since they have been Ctrl V'd here thousands of times, and I'm sure that you want to be fair about pointing out repetitive and/or spammy posts.

          March 9, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          @ Santa

          I never said that origin story is God's credentials. I also would not say the point of the story is to demonstrate how powerful our God is because he created it all in 6 days.

          No, the Bible doesn't state its creation myth has to be accepted and taken literally. It just presents a story that helps some understanding the relationship between Creator and creature.

          @doobz

          Ctrl V

          March 9, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.