Why Vermont is not Godless
Only 22% of Vermonters polled called themselves "very religious." But Jay Parini says many in his state are still spiritual seekers.
March 19th, 2014
08:31 AM ET

Why Vermont is not Godless

Editor's note: Jay Parini, a poet and novelist, teaches at Middlebury College. He has just published "Jesus: the Human Face of God," a biography of Jesus.

(CNN) - Once again a new Gallup Poll has reported that Vermont is the least religious state in the country, with only 22% of the people willing to call themselves "very religious." On the other side of the poll, there is Mississippi, where a whopping 61% of citizens lay claim to that self-description. But what does it really mean to be "very religious" and not just spiritual?

I've been living in Vermont for much of my adult life, adding up to nearly four decades. And I've been keenly interested in the question of religion, having written a biography of Jesus and practiced Christianity as best I can for much of my life. I've also traveled in the South quite often, and understand where that 61% comes from: Not long ago I drove across Mississippi, and I couldn't find a secular radio station on the dial. It was all preachers, all sounding alike. Repent, repent, repent. Billboards everywhere shouted religious slogans. It seemed there was a church on every street corner in every town I passed through.

So what's going on here? Do Mississippians have a direct line to the divine? Don't the majority of people of Vermont also have an interest in religion or belief in God? Is this why Vermont was the first state in the union to allow for civil unions? And does secularism run rampant here?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Opinion • United States

soundoff (403 Responses)
  1. new-man

    fintronics: "God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, yet islands are still forming in the Pacific?"

    5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

    Something to note here: this could not be the creation of day & night as we know it, since the sun was not created until the fourth (4th) day. In the Bible, after each period of God creating order out of chaos, it says “and the evening and the morning were the 1st, 2nd , 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th day.” The Hebrew words for “evening” and “morning” are:

    1.evening (ereb #6153) – chaos or disorder
    2.morning (boqer #1242) – order

    No where is it found “and the evening and the morning were the 7th day.” This is because God had finished creating order out of disorder/chaos. The Bible tells us in (Gen 1:31& Gen 2:1-3):

    One cannot suppose that these were 24 hour-days or periods of time. They were not. The limits of time did not exist until Adam & Eve were evicted from the Garden realm.

    Are these islands a new creation or are they formed from that which was already created?

    March 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
    • observer


      "The limits of time did not exist until Adam & Eve were evicted from the Garden realm."

      Nonsense. A DAY is defined to be the period it takes the earth to rotate ONE TIME. Nothing to do with Adam and Eve.

      March 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
      • new-man

        are you this foolish to argue without even knowing what the Bible says.

        you define a day... I know what a day is.
        The OT was written in Hebrew, I gave the Hebrew words that were translated as "evening" and morning" as used in the Bible, and the actual meanings of those words.

        what's there to debate.

        March 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
        • observer


          "The limits of time did not exist until Adam & Eve were evicted from the Garden realm."

          A day was LIMITED to the equivalent of 24 hours before Adam and Eve. Get serious.

          March 25, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
        • hotairace

          There is nothing to debate. The Babble is a crock of sh!t without any evidence for any supernatural claim.

          March 25, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
        • new-man

          observer: "A day was LIMITED to the equivalent of 24 hours before Adam and Eve. Get serious."

          ok observer, how was it limited to 24 hours when the sun was not made to rule the day and the moon made to rule the night until day 4.

          March 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
        • observer


          Sun and moon "rule"? lol.

          Which came first? Sun and moon or mankind? Check your Bible.

          March 25, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      So taken literally, when God said, "Let there be light.", who as He talking to?

      March 27, 2014 at 11:42 am |
  2. new-man

    fintronics: "Genesis – God created the heavens and the earth, but there was no one there to witness and record the event, god doesn't personally write about things he does, remember?? He only inspires to humans what he wants them to write, like dictation, or outsourcing his comments."

    =there were witnesses to creation.
    21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? (Is 40:21)
    Who was it here that existed before the foundations/creation of the earth?

    Another witness:
    23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. (Jer 4:23)
    Who was observing the earth to notice that it was without form and void- as described in Gen 1:2?

    Yet another witness:
    4 ¶ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
    5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
    6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
    7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)

    who are these morning stars [daughters] and sons of God who were shouting for joy at creation?

    Note that Genesis is "A" Beginning... not "THE" Beginning.

    March 25, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
    • observer

      Yep. More contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible.

      March 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
      • new-man

        have you given thought that perhaps the contradictions and inconsistencies are in your own life. The Word is there to judge you, not for you to stand in judgment over it because you don't understand it, yet lack the humility to ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding it. The Holy Spirit narrated the Book, so it's only "logical" that a reasoned man would seek the author for guidance in understanding the work of the Holy Spirit.

        March 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm |
        • fintronics

          And have YOU given any thought to the fact that the bible is nothing more than mythology, written by man, maybe someday you'll give up your caveman mentality...

          March 26, 2014 at 9:30 am |
        • new-man

          as a matter of fact, I am convinced more each day that the Bible IS the Word of God because more and more I can see the manifestation of the WORD in my life and in the lives of some that I share the gospel of the kingdom with and pray for.

          this will sound like foolishness to you, but perhaps later in your life when your mind has been renewed you'll think back to this.
          Currently, you are living a Babylonian system – one in which you are trying to meet your needs without God. One can NEVER achieve success in such a system.
          Every man is looking for basically the same thing... safety, peace, joy, happiness, over-abundance in every good thing. I can tell you, these things cannot be had in Babylon; why? because they can only be obtained through the kingdom of God, and one can only enter the kingdom by being born into it (the same way in which one is born into a country and is automatically a citizen of that country).

          Take a look around, the whole creation is crying out for the sons of God to be manifested, to bring about an end to the death and destruction brought to the earth by the god of this world- the devil.

          when a person knows they are a son of God and an heir to the Kingdom of God
          I can tell you right now the saints are growing up into their ident.ity and inheritance. Daily they're growing in the supernatural because we're finally coming into the revelation that son-ship opens the door to the supernatural. we are supernatural beings living in a natural body.

          The kingdom of God does not come by observation but by revelation. To have a revelation you cultivate a relationship with the giver of said revelation. When you understand exactly what the kingdom of God is, your whole paradigm begins to shift/change... you no longer see life the way you once did.
          until then, all that I'm saying to you is nonsense to you.

          I just want to Bless your day greatly with over-abundance in every good thing including an even better job.
          Blessings friend! God Bless.

          March 27, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Actually the strictly materialistic understanding of life is more of a cave-man mentality than living by the spirit. IMO.

          March 27, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • hotairace

          Cave men made up sh!t to explain the unknown and wield power. Christianity and its ilk are just more nicely packaged sh!t. Unless of course someone can provide a factual foundation for the crap they believe.

          March 27, 2014 at 11:27 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Uh, you really need to focus on providing a factual foundation for the crap you believe. You are just posting insults and opinions. You are the one making up sh!t to explain the unknown and wield power, and trying to shift the blame on others. Even cave men! That is funny, how do you know what cave men did to explain the unknown and wield power?

          March 27, 2014 at 11:30 am |
  3. new-man


    March 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
    • fintronics

      If the Bible is true, then these conditions are real and verifiable outside of the Bible:

      The universe is only six thousand years old, dinosaurs never existed, the world is flat and the earth is in the center of the universe, the Sun goes around the earth, demons, invisible spirits, ghosts, holy ghosts, demons, angels, snakes, bushes, and donkeys, can talk, virgin birth is possible, god and jesus live in the clouds above, prayer has secret powers over this god, miracles and blessing do occur, invisible souls can either be saved or unsaved, depending on what a person decides to believe in their heart, the heart is the center of all thought and emotion, people can talk to god and jesus with their heart, there is no such thing as a brain, people can be raised from the dead, people can walk on water, water can be turned into wine, 5000 people can easily be fed with two loaves and two fishes, only invisible jesus can save invisible souls, diseases are caused by demons, science is of the devil, a person can live in the belly of a whale for three days and nights, a whales'stomach acid has no effect upon humans.

      March 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • new-man

        normally questions that include so much falsehoods with a few truths mixed in, I ignore. However, I will just point out some of the glaring falsehoods you've included and say this: if this is truly what you believe the Bible says, you need to get a new Bible and begin reading immediately. If you do not understand what the Bible says (which is normal, no shame in that)- then just say "Holy Spirit, grant me wisdom and knowledge that I may understand your words the way they were meant to be understood"

        fintronics: "If the Bible is true, then these conditions are real and verifiable outside of the Bible:
        (The universe is only six thousand years old, dinosaurs never existed, the world is flat and the earth is in the center of the universe, the Sun goes around the earth, god and jesus live in the clouds above, prayer has secret powers over this god)"

        These are just some of the many falsehoods that you've written and they are nowhere to be found in the Bible.

        listen, even in todays society a virgin can become a mother via AI (artificial insemination) or surrogacy.

        March 27, 2014 at 11:29 am |
        • observer


          Please read a Bible.

          (Eccl. 1:5) “The sun rises. Then it sets. And then it hurries back to where it rises.”

          March 27, 2014 at 11:37 am |
        • new-man

          can a natural man cause the sun to stand still? of course not.

          natural man – has other gods or would try to convince others they have no god(s) at all.

          carnal man – believers- living a life of only the 5 senses because their minds are not yet renewed to the word of God. they lack ident.ity because they do not see themselves as the righteous beings Father see them as.

          spiritual man – believer who knows his ident.ity in Christ. he knows he's a supernatural being because it's no longer him that lives but Christ that lives in him and through him. He is continuously growing into Christ, and knows his destiny is as co-creator with Christ, and thus by the voice of the word of God there is power to achieve that which he sends the word forth to achieve.

          March 27, 2014 at 11:52 am |
  4. annemarie

    Spirituality without religion is very nice, but how do I know that I am not just worshiping myself, or some idol that I created for my own reassurance? G. K. Chesterton said that he became a Roman Catholic "because I wanted reasons for my intuition."

    March 23, 2014 at 7:33 am |
  5. new-man

    1. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. It was the subject of most of His parables.
    2. The kingdom of God is a literal (one world ruling) government- consisting of a King; Territory; Subjects; Laws.
    3. Jesus was born to be a King and the kingdom is our inheritance. It is Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom.
    4. When you are born-again, you are born into the kingdom. (b/c flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom)
    5. The gospel is not just for mankind; it is for the entire creation (even at this moment, creation is groaning for
    the manifestation of the sons of God, otherwise referred to as the man-child company. These are the saints who will take the kingdom)
    6. Only when we know our true identi.ty as joint heirs with Christ Jesus will we come into our inheritance of being one with Him and into our destiny to reign.
    7. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out "Abba! Father! [Daddy!]
    The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if we are children of God, then we are heirs with Christ!


    March 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
    • otoh2

      Are. You. Serious.?

      March 22, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
      • new-man

        it's okay to say you don't understand...to pretend otherwise is just that – pretense.

        March 22, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • sam stone

          You are full of pretension, new-man

          March 24, 2014 at 6:20 am |
        • new-man

          good morning sam stone.
          I pray you woke up very happy this morning and that it extends throughout your day.
          I want to Bless your day greatly with shalom peace, wholeness, joy, laughter, and over abundance in every good thing.

          Blessings friend! Have a great day. God Bless you.

          March 24, 2014 at 10:16 am |
        • fintronics

          New man.... it's ok to post your personal delusions.....

          March 26, 2014 at 11:41 am |
    • fintronics

      1. God being the creator of all things, created Satan and evil, Isaiah 45:7.

      2. It repented the Lord that he created a man and a woman. Gen. ch. 6 Vs: 6 So this statement shows that God himself made a great mistake. Although, it is not written that it repented God to have made Satan and allowed evil to exist in the first place.

      3. God rested on the 7th day of creation, damn good thing too, what else was he about to screw up?

      4. The all knowing God had to ask Adam and Eve where were they, when he was looking for them.

      5. The 3rd or 4th person to arrive was a murderer, Cain slew Abel and the all knowing God had to ask Cain where was his brother?

      March 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
  6. joeyy1


    March 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
  7. Salero21

    Evidence for the Total stupidity of atheism is all over here, there anywhere and everywhere.

    March 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
    • kudlak

      Don't you have a bridge to get back to?

      March 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
    • hellodollyllama

      So...everybody who disagrees with you is stupid.
      See "delusions of grandeur".

      March 22, 2014 at 1:47 am |
    • fintronics

      A post from salero is always good for a chuckle at ignorance!

      March 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
  8. Bootyfunk

    the whole world is godless - some of us just haven't figured that out yet...

    March 20, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
    • fintronics


      March 25, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
  9. new-man

    Madtown: "So, God isn't powerful enough to reveal himself in such a way as there's no doubt it's him?"

    Oh absolutely! It says it right there in the Bible. EVERY knee will bow, and EVERY tongue will say Jesus Christ is Lord.
    The Book of Revelation is all about the revealing of Jesus. Give it a read, you might be surprised at what you find.
    ... Did John almost bring "time" to an end?

    March 20, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • new-man

      *sigh*... hey, I posted this below...

      March 20, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • igaftr

      Gawsh..the often wrong bible says it is so...that's good enough for you, but since we know the bible is at least inaccurate, and much proven wrong, and at best unverfied and invalidated, you might accept it, but others are looking for evidence, not just the words men put in a book.

      March 20, 2014 at 11:24 am |
      • new-man

        what are you using to discredit the Bible – the words of men... godless men, nonetheless.

        The person who wrote the manual for the car you're driving, was it their thoughts being written in the manual or was it that of the manufacturer?

        March 20, 2014 at 11:33 am |
        • In Santa We Trust

          All you have is what is in the bible – which is wrong on creation and many other things – so how do you know that a god actually dictated something quite different?

          March 20, 2014 at 11:36 am |
        • ausphor

          How are you newman?
          Why do you suppose that the early Gods, lets say the Greek Gods, are now considered myths? I'll help you. Because the stories were unbelievable full of the impossible. That is what will eventually happen to all religions, you cannot and never will be able to prove the supernatural claims made in your book of silly.

          March 20, 2014 at 11:45 am |
        • new-man

          All I have is what's in the Bible and the Holy Spirit.... all you have chosen are the words of godless men.

          Where were you when Father created the heavens and the earth? Did He seek your opinion?
          It is Father who made you with a mind to think, to be creative, to devise plans, to reason, to observe, and to experiment. You are not your own, you were made by Him and for Him with great purpose.
          Seek that purpose – Hint: Your destiny is to reign with Christ.

          March 20, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          There is no reason to think that the Bible is not just the "words of men".

          March 20, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • In Santa We Trust

          new-man. You have no evidence of any god and no evidence that a god created anything.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • new-man

          Blessings to you.

          These gods may have been "considered to be myths" but were they really? One thing to understand is that when reference is made to a particular god or idol, most know that there is no power in that god or idol per se ; however they are referencing the spirits behind that idol or god.
          What does this mean ausphor? – "The spirit of the giants shall be like clouds, which shall oppress, corrupt, fall, content, and bruise upon earth."

          Why did the Master Himself tell us " and these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues"

          Do you know more than God ausphor?

          Even those who do not believe in the supernatural are attacked by demonic spirits – look around you ausphor.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
        • ausphor

          How are you newman?
          You must have been a hoot at bible camp, a thumper of renown. Demons around every corner. scary stuff. How old are you both physically and mentally?

          March 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
        • new-man

          re: our conversation some days ago.
          I said we were called to disciple the nations by demonstrating the kingdom of God.
          you said, I made a lot of claims but demonstrated nothing.
          to which I said: the claims you can demonstrate for yourself to prove to yourself, because I'm not here to convince you.

          This is the point – when a nation/person is discipled, that nation/person will have a demonstration of God's power to solve a problem that they themselves could not solve.
          Think Joseph – he healed the broken economy of Egypt, providing the solution to a problem the nation had but were incapable of solving.
          Now, whether the nation/person chooses to trust and serve Joseph's God, because He has proven He's the healer of nations/people in any sphere or whether they choose not to, that's up to them.

          Fred already spoke to you about the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
          The tree of life is for the healing of nations. (this is much more profound than it sounds)

          March 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • igaftr

          "what are you using to discredit the Bible "
          Science which shows reality, much I have checked or confirmed myself.

          What do you have verifying the validity of the bible? For all you know, and considering the violent and destructive history that follows belief in the bible, it was written/inspired by satan and you follow his word.
          Just the base immorality of allowing someone else to accept your just punishment, an immoral act< should make you question the whole of christianity. It seems far more likely it was written by satan.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


          And I responed and said that the line

          "I said we were called to disciple the nations by demonstrating the kingdom of God."

          is not consistent with your next statement

          "the claims you can demonstrate for yourself to prove to yourself, because I'm not here to convince you."

          But regardless, it is not you that does not convince me. It is the Bible that is claimed to be from your god that does not convince me. There is no reason to think the story of Joseph that you referred to actually happened. There is no reason to think the Bible in any way, shape, or form is of divine origin.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • Doris

      lol – every time I see new-man's posts I think of Newman of Seinfeld.

      March 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
      • ausphor

        Me also, but I think if this new-man were to go postal, it would not be in a good way.

        March 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


        "Hellooo Newwwman".

        March 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
        • fintronics

          "Hellooo Jerry..."

          March 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
  10. Akira

    Happy first day of Spring.
    It's snowing out.

    March 20, 2014 at 9:50 am |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      14" down my way with more coming this weekend... so done with winter at this point.

      March 20, 2014 at 10:35 am |
    • igaftr

      spring arrives at 12:57 PM ...almost there

      March 20, 2014 at 11:07 am |
    • doobzz

      75 and sunny here, just like yesterday and the day before...:wink:

      March 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
      • Akira


        March 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • doobzz

          Yeah, that was pretty mean. I grew up near Chicago, so I know how long those last weeks of winter can be.

          March 20, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • Akira

          This one seems everlasting. Snow predicted again Tuesday. I'd love to escape to a warmer clime.

          March 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
  11. Robert Brown

    I like the picture.

    March 20, 2014 at 8:44 am |
    • igaftr

      I knew we'd find common ground at some point.

      March 20, 2014 at 9:13 am |
      • Doris

        It is a very nice photo.

        March 20, 2014 at 9:42 am |
  12. Reality

    Summarizing in three words:

    DO NO HARM!!!! Now go do something more interesting than worrying about whether there is a god or not. Or whether there is heaven or not as those three words will get you to wherever you are going.

    March 20, 2014 at 7:21 am |
    • Dalahäst

      Have you taken this test?: http://slaveryfootprint.org/

      It is not so easy to do no harm. Especially when others harm us first. And others may continue to harm us until we put a stop to their actions, usually by means that involves causing them and others harm.

      March 20, 2014 at 9:53 am |
      • joey3467

        As a Christian are you not commanded to turn the other cheek?

        March 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
        • Dalahäst


          March 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
        • kudlak

          Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: `And he was numbered with the transgressors' ; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied. Luke 22:35-38

          Is this a case of Jesus advocating violence, or creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? Go, get some swords so that we appear to be "transgressors"?

          March 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No. What is going on when Jesus says this. What did he say before. What did he say after. How would 2 swords be enough to protect 13+ people?

          March 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • kudlak

          I don't know. Back then any Jew with a sword would have been considered an insurgent by the Romans, right? Two guys with swords would be seen as two potential assassins, and whomever they were travelling with would be just as suspect. This wasn't like 2nd Amendment USA with the right to bear arms. The Romans didn't cotton to private carry of weapons, especially in Jerusalem during the festival or rebellion that was Passover. So, no, I really do think that two swords amongst a group of men with a charismatic leader really would have cast them as being up to no good and probable "transgressors".

          March 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • Reality

          Luke 22: 35-38 is single attestation i.e. found no where else in the scriptures and so it fails rigorous historic testing and is historically nil. For example, see http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb478.html and Professor Gerd Ludemann's studies in his book Jesus After 2000 Years.

          March 20, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
        • Reality

          Luke 22: 35-38 is single attestation i.e. found no where else in the scriptures and so it fails rigorous historic testing and is therefore historically nil. For example, see http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/jdb478.html and Professor Gerd Ludemann's studies in his book Jesus After 2000 Years.

          March 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
        • ssq41

          It's funny how my group of Christians use this verse to justify their stockpiling of a.ssault rifles and plety-o ammunition. And they are quite proud to "die by the sword" should someone try to pry their property or rifle from their cold, dead fingers.

          March 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm |
        • hellodollyllama

          Christians should feel free to buy all the swords they want. But clearly most of them are too stupid to be trusted with guns.

          March 22, 2014 at 1:51 am |
  13. Vic

    Why Vermont us not Godless?

    Because 'not very religious,' 'non-religious' or 'spiritual but not religious—SBNR' does not necessarily mean 'non-believer.'

    Early on:

    March 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
    • Vic

      "Why Vermont is not Godless?"

      March 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
    • observer

      "Not very religious" is also an answer for people who don't believe, but are surrounded by believers they don't want to disappoint or to nag them.

      March 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
      • kudlak

        Or people who only go to churches for weddings, funerals, and christenings, but that could include loads of people who consider themselves fairly average Christians.

        March 19, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
      • ausphor

        From the Gallup report..."Twenty nine percent of Americans were nonreligious, saying religion is not an important part of their lives and they seldom or never attend religious services."
        Vic, like a good Christian apologist, loves to interpret the words to suit his own purpose. No mention of SBNR's in the survey. He also assumes that SBNR's would believe in his brand of spirit, lots of different spiritual beliefs out there not just the one he likes.

        March 20, 2014 at 8:21 am |
    • Vic

      If I had a dime for every typo, I would be..

      March 19, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
      • Akira

        Deliberately making typos?

        March 20, 2014 at 9:51 am |
    • Vic

      I myself view a non-Law observant Christian as a non-religious believer. That's all about the "Salvation," and "Dispensation of Grace."

      March 20, 2014 at 10:10 am |
      • ausphor

        Another va.gue answer. Please define a non-Law observant Christian? Is that someone that does not follow the teachings found in the bible, more so the NT than the OT?

        March 20, 2014 at 10:25 am |
        • ausphor

          My favorite definition of religious...
          Having or showing belief in and reverence for a God or deity.
          The Free Dictionary
          Which is you favorite of the many choices? Under the above example you can hardly believe in Jesus and not call yourself religious.

          March 20, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • Vic


          March 20, 2014 at 10:49 am |
      • Vic

        A non-Law observant Christian is one who believes we are saved by the Grace of God through Faith ALONE in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and apart from the works of the Law. That's what Salvation is all about.

        March 20, 2014 at 10:37 am |
        • Bob

          Vic, this whole Jesus-sacrifice-salvation thing that you keep trying to sell others on is complete nonsense. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers?

          Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there. It's shocking that you won't look more critically at your crazy beliefs.

          Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
          Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

          March 20, 2014 at 10:44 am |
        • ausphor

          Obtuse, you keep saying the faith in JC, apart from the works of the Law. What Law are you talking about? How do you arrive at salvation and grace with out the teachings found in the Christian religions tome, the bible?

          March 20, 2014 at 10:46 am |
        • Vic


          March 20, 2014 at 10:50 am |
        • ausphor

          Trying to understand, You obviously learned about JC from the Christian religions book, the bible. You believed what you learned, developed faith in JC, accepted JC as your saviour and are now in a state of grace. But now that you got there you can throw of the term religious because you can? You believe in JC but do not see this as religious, again apart from what LAW? Try.

          March 20, 2014 at 11:07 am |
        • Vic

          The Old Testament (Mosaic) Law.

          Apparently, you are not aware of what has been going on within the Christian community for decades now. It used to be a clear cut between religious and non-religious, hence believer and non-believer. That has drastically changed over the years. It's all blurry lines anymore. The term 'religious' incurred heavy negative connotation over the years, it has to do with people's emphases on 'organized religions' instead of "believing in God" in using that term anymore. The term speaks of denominations more than it speaks of believing in God anymore. That's why more people are shying away from that term.

          I am a born again Christian Protestant, and I don't call myself religious, rather, I call myself faithful and spiritual.

          March 20, 2014 at 11:23 am |
        • ausphor

          OK, I get it, although you belong to what most people would consider to be a religion, Christian Protestant, you do not consider yourself religious because you can. So what do you do when you have to fill out a form, for whatever reason, that asks what if any religious affiliation you have. Your answer would be none, meanwhile trying to push a religious tract in their hand, "have you heard the good news"; I get it.

          March 20, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • hellodollyllama

          Since the tale of the Garden of Eden is clearly a myth, complete with a talking animal and magical fruit, accordingly the concept of original sin is also a myth, and consequently the concept of salvation is also a myth. This is reaffirmed by the Biblical depiction of the final salvation of the believers in Revelation, which is not only a myth but a myth crafted by an author on a really bad acid trip.

          March 22, 2014 at 1:56 am |
  14. guidedans

    I was an atheist/agnostic all throughout high school and college. I could not believe in a God that was seemingly so stringent with His rules. My biggest opposition to Christianity was that, in Christianity, God punishes people eternally in Hell. I did not like that. I also did not like the fact that I had to be forgiven through Jesus and that God wouldn't just forgive me for all my transgressions.

    I realized however, that all of those issues were issues I had with God, who is the creator of the universe. He can do whatever He wants to do and if we get in His way, it is His right to extinguish us. That should be a terrifying thought for me, but I also realized that God is a loving God who knows what is best for me and only imposes rules on me that will better my life.

    With Hell and forgiveness of sins, I kept thinking God should just let me into Heaven and no one should get punished. That was an arrogant thought. I am a sinner. I make mistakes. There is no way for me to right past wrongs unless I go back in time and prevent the wrongs from occurring. There is no way I should be allowed into a perfect place like heaven with how I am. I am very happy that God has provided a way to reach Heaven through His son, Jesus.

    My hang up on why God could not just forgive all our sins was really answered by the fact that Jesus did die to forgive all our sins. Your sins, my sins, everyone's sins are all forgiven. You just have to accept the gift and follow Him as your Lord.

    The main reason I switched to Christianity however, was that, aside from it making my wife happy, I realized that, without God and Heaven, this life is all there is. The world is just a rock that eventually sparked life that eventually made us and will eventually be engulfed by the sun. If it is all just random, then there is no sense in saying that this random reality in which we live is any better or worse that the random reality that may exist where no life exists or the random reality that may exist where Hitler won WWII and whatever played out after that. When you take God out of the equation, you realize there is no purpose to this. I don't want to live like that and I am happy that there is an alternative.

    I just wanted to share my story with you.

    March 19, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
    • Madtown

      The main reason I switched to Christianity.....
      One of the biggest reasons you likely took on christianity, is simply that is was available to you. Don't forget, many humans live in regions of the world where christianity doesn't exist, and they have no knowledge of it. They have no option to "switch to christianity". Christianity isn't ultimate truth for everyone, it's not even available to everyone.

      March 19, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "this life is all there is.

      Agreed. So why not simply make the best of it? Why is it necessary to imagine God and heaven to have meaning?

      March 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      " The main reason I switched to Christianity however, was that, aside from making my wife happy, I realized that, without God and heaven, this life is all there is."

      Mine is a much less pragmatic reason for belief. The primal drive of my faith is the recognition that it is true. When I consider the singularly uniqueness of Christianity, and how it portrays human nature, the human condition, and the state of the planet, it brings me to the conclusion that it is truth. If I did not fully believe in the veracity of my faith, I would be more than content with the notion " this life is all there is.

      March 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
      • ssq41

        The only unique quality that can be attributed to Jesus, (there is nothing unique about Christianity), is Luke 6:27ff (if he actually said that).

        And Christians fail so completely at this command. (The blood of Christ clearly not being all that effacacious).

        And if you want a religion that does an exceptional job at explaining the "human condition," Buddhism's 4 noble truths cover it quite well without all the nonsense.

        March 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          " Uniqueness" – Please do tell me of another faith system that is not based upon human striving to rectify the divide between God and man.

          " failure of Christians" Yep, we fail miserably and often, a fact which is completely irrelevant to the claims of Christianity. Somebody once said, " I did not come to heal those who are not in need of a physician, but the sick. I did not come for the righteous, but for sinners." His name was Jesus.

          If there is one thing that Buddhism does NOT explain, it's the human condition. My opinion.

          March 19, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
        • ssq41


          interesting interpretation of scripture by Luther (why it took 1500+ years to come up with it?)

          ...but you might want to pay attention in your church service tonight during bible study or next Sunday and look at all the striving to win God's favor and forgiveness (despite the claims that the blood has cleansed) and the Body of Christ's inability to overcome even the simplest of "sins."

          Lots of "working out your salvation" going on despite the belief that it is sola scriptura and sola fide...

          And, what a lazy bunch of worthless souls Christians have become because they don't have to do anything to win salvation...One need only look around at the world and its condition and ask why it's not any better after 2000 years of your supposed saltiness and light-iness (Matt 15:12, 14)

          And, yes, devvv...I know you have an answer to the condition the world is in...it's not Christianity's fault...I know

          Which leads to the fact that yes, devvv...your lives are responsible for the relevance of the Christian message...the fact that you claim otherwise sells volumes (yes..."sells") about you and the Body. If i read in Consumer Reports that a toaster doesn't work well, but the company claims it is the most superior, I'm not going to buy it.

          Nice try.

          And Buddhism completely covers the human condition...there is suffering, it can be alleviated.

          That you can't see that speaks volumes ("speaks" this time) about how little you've considered other's beliefs...but, that is completely relevant to one such as yourself.

          March 19, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        If I did not fully believe in the veracity of my faith ...

        If I'm not mistaken, that's why it's called "faith".

        March 19, 2014 at 9:35 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          Yes, but the context of that statement was in response to the OP's seemingly implied intent for belief was that it made him feel good about life. ( No disrespect intended here for the OP).

          March 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
      • Madtown

        The primal drive of my faith is the recognition that it is true
        True....for you. Which of course is just fine. It may not represent truth for others, which is also just fine. It can't represent universal truth, because it isn't universally accessible.

        March 19, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          " True .. for you" Yes, of course. I have no interest in dictating what others believe is truth, but that fact in and of itself does not negate the possibility that my version of truth is universal.

          March 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
        • Madtown

          I'd agree with you, if indeed it was universally accessible, which we know it's not. No religion is. Kinda defeats the purpose of labeling it "truth". In this context, when the topic is God and salvation, calling your preferred philosophy truth, is the same as saying all other philosophies are not the truth, not correct. Better to express it in purely personal terms, as a personal preference, that doesn't invalidate other world views.

          March 19, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          " Better to express it ... as a personal preference." But that would make the individual who actually believed their position was universally true, disingenuous.

          March 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • fintronics

          To my way of thinking, "truth" requires factual evidence..... some feeling I get, or a thought in my head about some imaginary being is not evidence, not "truth"

          March 26, 2014 at 9:44 am |
      • kudlak

        Don't all religions have their own uniqueness? Really, it's like cuisine, isn't it? Different people prefer Italian, French, Thai, Chinese, and so on. Some because they were born into that culture, and others because they found that food later in life, or were convinced that it's more healthy, or something. Like religions, they all are unique.

        March 20, 2014 at 12:18 am |
        • ssq41

          Which makes me ponder....if we as humans are used to enjoying variety and difference (as a factor of our evolution), does the presence of differing religions and differing denominations within those religions show a consistency with evolution?


          March 20, 2014 at 12:26 am |
        • kudlak

          Different religions appear to be more consistent with free market enterprise. There's a huge market for "religious truth" out there, and the extremely wide variety of faiths and denominations within faiths is just a response to that market.

          Any entrepreneur with a slightly different spin on a religion can establish themselves as a well-paid guru with apparently little effort. You can get ordained as a minister off of the Internet. Even entirely new faiths can be crafted out of whole cloth by science fiction writers and known con men, and still succeed. It's almost completely unregulated by the government. It's a capitalist dream!

          March 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • ddeevviinn


          Perhaps I should have been more specific in the " uniqueness" to which I was referring. My thoughts were focused on this issue of soteriology, whereby an individual is "made right" with God. Apart from Christianity, every other major world religion promotes this idea that the onus is on the individual to accomplish certain good deeds or to maintain a particular standard of lifestyle in order to maintain God's favor and obtain eternal life. Christianity is the opposite, it basically states that human sinfulness has rendered the individual incapable of appeasing God with our moral and ethical capabilities.

          March 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • kudlak

          Like I said, all religions are unique. Some forms of Taoism actually emphasize not doing anything. Other religions emphasize ridding ourselves of the things that cause us pain, and so on. Why assume that the unique part of your faith is the chief and most important distinction?

          It's also questionable whether Christianity actually is about not pleasing God through deeds. Isn't accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour not something that you first do in order to receive this "free" redemption? Isn't it fair to characterize that as just as much a sacrifice to a deity as any other? Any person who does not act in accepting God this way does displease God enough for him to separate us from his "wheat", correct? It is, as we like to say here, the "same difference".

          March 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • ssq41


          Interesting analogy with a Market Economy. Some MBA should write a master's thesis on how early the "Free Market" concept was developed within the context of the differing Christianities, when one considers how many there were just in the 1st -3rd Century CE (confirmed by the number of "heresies" and starting with the purported Peter-Paul split).

          Certainly, when one considers what comes from today's pulpit here in the US and from the televangelists, the analogy is very strong..

          March 20, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
        • ddeevviinn


          I think you are misunderstanding the intent of the term " singularly unique." Of course every religion has it own uniqueness, that is a given. What I focused on was the uniqueness of Christianity in its teachings on salvation and eternal life, the ultimate and most significant issues. Taoism has virtually no similarities with the Christian doctrines o redemption and justification.

          " It is also questionable whether Christianity is actually about not pleasing God through deeds" No, there is absolutely no question here. The biblical literature is exceedingly clear that faith is a gift from God, and that the gift is given completely independent from the actions, character or abilities of the individual. Any inward or outward display of "acceptance" or " receiving" of this gift is a result of the work of regeneration that has already taken place in the human heart.

          March 21, 2014 at 1:16 am |
      • guidedans

        Hi ddeevviinn,

        I totally agree with you that Christianity is the truth and the one way to God. I was merely trying to explain the reasons why I became a Christian. I know a lot of people find God in different ways. Once I made the switch, I felt filled with the Holy Spirit and the truth began to reveal itself to me. It was not all at once and my doubts were not all extinguished at once, but as a process I began to grow in my walk with the Lord. God bless.

        March 20, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • ddeevviinn


          Yes, I understand, that is why I put the little disclaimer " no disrespect to the OP" in one of my replies. I do not really appreciate it when others misconstrue what I have written by either LIMITING or enhancing the intent of my words. If I did this with your original post, I do apologize.


          March 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      "I also realized that God is a loving God who knows what is best for me and only imposes rules on me that will better my life."

      -- Tell that to the millions of babies he let starve last year, and the thousands of parents who lost children in the last tsunami. There is no "hell" in the Bible. The Hebrews believed in "Sheol" where ALL the dead went. Too bad you got no religious education in college.

      March 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      what makes you think that god is anything more than a concept invented by man?

      March 19, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
    • doobzz

      "The main reason I switched to Christianity however, was that, aside from it making my wife happy, I realized that, without God and Heaven, this life is all there is."

      So you became a Christian because you wanted to get your wife off your back and you don't want to die.

      March 19, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
      • rogerthat2014

        That pretty much sums it up. After enough badgering from the wife, he finally found Jesus. Now his Sundays belong to the imagination club.

        March 19, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
    • Doris

      I don't understand why people adopt or switch to a religion as if they are trading in a car.

      March 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
      • guidedans

        Hi Doris,

        It was a very long process for me to find the truth, a good portion of my life in fact. It did not happen overnight. It is a big commitment to become a Christian. You are basically committing your life to follow Jesus. You have to humble yourself, admit that you are a sinner and accept Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.

        I apologize if my testimony sounded flippant or not thought through. It is a big commitment to become a Christian. You have to die to yourself to live in Jesus.

        March 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • igaftr

          "It was a very long process for me to find the truth"
          Still a long way to go, since you do not have truth, you have what you have accepted, and call it truth....that shows you have far yet to go.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Your post is so full of straw men and fallacies as to be ridiculous. Not once did I see you say you were actually convinced Christianity is true by the evidence. It was purely an emotional decision had nothing to do with accepting what is actually true.

      March 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
      • guidedans

        Yep Cheesemaker. It was just an emotional decision to start. The truth came after.

        Here's the logic for Science:
        We all agree that we exist
        We all agree that this reality exists
        We all agree that this reality is true
        We all agree that our senses and our devices give us an accurate view of this reality
        If we study this reality, we will find truth
        We studied this reality
        We found truth.

        The first four premises of this science arguments are not founded and are just based on an agreement we made with one another.

        If you are going to claim that science is an accurate way to view the universe and then attack me for not using logic, then you had best get ready for a very long and ultimately futile logical exercise that you will have to put together to prove that we exist.


        March 20, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • Alias

          I think you are taking your intro to philosophy book out of context.
          If we didn't exist, then we couldn't have a debate.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • igaftr

          You were doing fine until you hit an incorrect assertion Your fifth line...our perception does not give us a valid view of reality, since our minds can often be tricked into perceiving things incorrectly
          Then you said we examined this reality and found truth, which we have found some truth, and still have a long way to go. Still nothing showing any gods.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Thanks for sharing. Peace be with you and all who read this.

      March 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        Why do you people "do" that ? "Peace be with you". What exactly are you saying, and are you claiming that doing that is effective in some way ... if so what is the mechanism ? Are you trying to make someone think you're somehow "superior" and able to *grant* that somehow by saying that, or that a deity which supposedly already knows what she was going to do, changes her mind if you say that ?

        March 20, 2014 at 1:21 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm taught to seek peace and share it with others. I want you to have peace in your life. It is just a friendly salutation.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:54 am |
        • kudlak

          Think of it as the Christian cultural way of saying "Have a nice day!"

          March 20, 2014 at 10:16 am |
      • guidedans

        Thanks Dala

        March 20, 2014 at 11:51 am |
      • Alias

        Weren't you posting about how we have to hurt other peopl eto keep them from hurting us???

        March 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          That is how our justice system works. How do you stop someone from harming others? What works?

          March 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • kudlak

          Do you really think that belief in a god actually makes people less likely to be criminals?

          March 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No, in reference to the guy who says just simply "do no harm".

          What do you do when someone harms you? What does our society do? Our justice system? We inflict some kind of harm, like imprisonment. And thus "do no harm" doesn't seem to work well.

          March 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • kudlak

          By some people's understanding, imprisonment isn't meant to be "harmful", but rather corrective, or even preventative of future harms.

          Hell, on the other hand, is purely meant to be harmful, right? You can't take what you learn from that experience into living a better third life, and it's not meant to protect the heavenly from the wicked. Does that sound like a great justice system to you?

          March 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
    • kudlak

      My experience was just the opposite: I started with realizing that I really didn't have any good reason to believe that God was actually real, and then I realized just how horrible the character of God actually is. It seems that the love I was taught to feel for God completely blinded me to what he was actually like but, I guess, anyones' faults can be invisible to their loved ones. Maybe that's why Christians are taught to love Jesus more than anyone else in their lives?

      March 19, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
    • LinCA

      That doesn't sound at all that you were ever an atheist, or even agnostic. It sounds like you always believed there to be a (christian) god, but didn't like the bullshit fairy tale around it.

      Instead of questioning why the fairy tale is such nonsense, you seem to have surrendered and accepted it. You didn't accept it because it was convincing in any way, but merely to allay your ignorant fears of the unknown and to appease a nagging spouse. Pathetic.

      March 20, 2014 at 10:17 am |
      • guidedans


        I am going to pray for you. From the sounds of your posts, you seem to have a lot of anger/hatred inside you. I really think you should look to God to find the peace that you seem not to have currently.

        God Bless.

        March 20, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • LinCA


          Not a word of protest against my assessment of your claims, I see. Does that mean I had you correctly pegged as nothing more than a believer who had issues with his imaginary friend? If so, it shows how thoroughly indoctrinated you are and how little you understand about atheism.

          You said, "I am going to pray for you."
          Don't you think you could do something useful with your time? Wasting it on your knees isn't going to do anyone any good. You can mumble to the voices in your head all you want, but if you recycle a single sheet of paper you'll have accomplished infinitely more for mankind than all prayer combined ever will.

          You said, "From the sounds of your posts, you seem to have a lot of anger/hatred inside you."
          Pity maybe, but no hate or anger.

          I just have a hard time understanding that otherwise rational adults can be so deluded that they still cling to imaginary friends. It boggles the mind that in 2014 there are still any adults that believe the Bronze Age superstitions are real. It is astounding that so many are either incapable, or unwilling to open their eyes and rationally evaluate the bullshit that they are fed and believe.

          You said, "I really think you should look to God to find the peace that you seem not to have currently."
          Don't you worry your pretty little head about me. I have no need for the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or any other imaginary creatures in my life. I prefer reality over fantasy.

          You said, "God Bless."
          May the Easter Bunny brighten your day with many colorful eggs. Same nonsense, different fictional creature.

          March 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • kudlak

          To the religious who bless me passive aggressively I sometimes respond with something like "And may you one day find the light of reason."

          March 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
        • LinCA


          I figured that given that Easter is right around the corner, a seasonal greeting was appropriate. I sometimes respond with: "You can pray for me and I'll think for you".

          March 20, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
        • kudlak

          Actually, wouldn't the opposite of prayer be doing something useful for someone?

          March 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
    • believerfred

      Thank you for your excellent post !
      You said "When you take God out of the equation, you realize there is no purpose"
      =>That is typically the bottom of my slide back into non belief when doubt overcomes for various reasons.
      Up to this point in time science has proven that purpose for existence is beyond the scope and grasp of accepted scientific method. The scientific community makes no bones about this qualifying as scientific law. At that point I can pretend or claim "I don't know" why I exist but, since everyone actually has a conclusion, such a position is not possible. I say this because a person either proceeds through life as if their is God or they exist as if there is no God. If I exist as if there is no God I do so absent any evidence or knowledge supporting such position.
      Knowing there is something rather than nothing I have never heard of a better purpose for existence than a purpose onto God.

      March 20, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
    • hellodollyllama

      This life IS all there is. Sane adults accept reality.

      March 22, 2014 at 1:57 am |
  15. Reality

    A wake-up call for Jay Parini:

    To all the misguided "believers" out there, your salvation is at hand:

    Tis mind boggling that your religions can be brought down to earth in less than ten seconds. With this in mind should not the moderators of this blog and their buddy Stevie P be looking for new jobs?

    Again for the new members:

    To wit:

    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.

    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 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
  16. bostontola

    It's interesting to see the Christian fundamentalist commenters on the blog dismiss the spiritual but not religious people as not Christians. That is a questionable strategy for winning more souls for Jesus.

    March 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Many people who identify as 'spiritual but not religious' do not identify as Christians but the groups are not mutually exclusive.

      It would be interesting to see study data that asked the right questions to identify how much overlap there is.

      March 19, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
      • bostontola

        I don't know either, but I think it is a poor strategy to ridicule someone if you're trying to recruit souls for your God.

        March 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Boston, question, who kicked the singularity into the big bang? Or do you think it had a critical mass?

          March 19, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          longterm, What evidence do you have that it was a god and what evidence that it was your god?

          March 19, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
        • kudlak

          What's wrong with just saying "I don't know?"

          Isn't that better than putting your money and reputation behind a guess?

          March 19, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
        • bostontola

          Ignoring the fact that your question has nothing to do with this comment thread, your assumption of a "who", is loaded.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:03 am |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Boston, it was just a thought game, not a trap .

          March 20, 2014 at 10:42 am |
  17. Dalahäst

    "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is within you." – Jesus

    March 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
    • colin31714

      So, still looking forward to Dalahast explaining;

      (i) how God listens to his prayers but doesn't read his mind
      (ii) how God answers his prayers but does not intervene to alter what would otherwise be the course of history; and
      (iii) how he will go to heaven after he dies and be happily there forever, but he is not immortal.

      What he is no doubt struggling with is confronting the sheer implausibility of his beliefs in simple language. Once you strip Christianity of all its flowery nomenclature and describe its beliefs in common parlance, they reveal themselves to be little more than childish nonsense, no more sophisticated that the idle wishes of crayon drawing infants.

      Take the very common belief that the Judeo-Christian god answers prayers. So, I pray, for example, that my wife will recover from cancer. First, the Judeo-Christian god must know of my prayer. Unless he is reading my mind, how can he? Then, he has to decide whether or not to answer it. Assuming he decides to do so, he then has to alter my wife's fundamental cell biochemistry to make her cancer go away. He thereby alters what would otherwise be the course of human history (i.e. she would otherwise die).

      Now, if I said, "God answers my prayers," nobody would bat an eyelid. But, if I said "The creator of the Universe reads my mind and, if he is so minded, will intervene to alter what would otherwise be the course of human history to meet my wishes" people would think I was a childish fool. But, that is exactly what must happen for prayers to be answered.

      The usual cop out for Dalahast and other Christians is to retreat to mysticism and say things like, "I don't know how prayer works, but I know it does." Which is tantamount to saying, "I believe in the three sided polygon that results from joining three dots with straight lines, but don't try to tell me I believe in triangles."

      March 19, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        (i) God does hear our prayers. I can't imagine why he can't read our minds.
        (ii) I pray not for God to do my will, but for I to do His will. God is part of our history
        (iii) I don't know what the afterlife entails. I live for today.

        March 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • kudlak

          How do you know that God hears prayers, or reads minds?

          March 20, 2014 at 12:07 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I tested it. It works for me. I know others that it works for them. I continue to test and question.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:13 am |
        • kudlak

          There are loads of people who are just as confident about their belief in homeopathic cures, faith healing, astrology, healing crystals, reincarnation, and loads of other things including every other religion and god on Earth. They've all "tested" the effectiveness of what they believe in too. Am I wrong in being skeptical about things that are best proven by personal testimonials?

          March 20, 2014 at 9:56 am |
        • Dalahäst

          No, I don't think you are wrong about that. I would never say you were wrong for doing what works personally best for you. I'm sharing what works for me. I'm a very skeptical person.

          March 20, 2014 at 10:16 am |
        • kudlak

          You do know that there are loads of other skeptical people who would challenge your claim of skepticism, right? You never know; you might just meet a few of there here.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yes. I'm skeptical of skeptics, too.

          March 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • kudlak

          We're all skeptical to some degree, but the real question is whether we apply our skepticism equally and fairly. I know a lot of religious people who don't apply the same skepticism that they apply to other religions to their own. Does that sound reasonable to you?

          March 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No. Not reasonable.

          I know some non-religious people who don't apply to their own beliefs the same skepticism they apply to others.

          I see some anti-theists that demonstrate double standards. They scrutinize all religious behavior, yet ignore fellow anti-theists poor behavior.

          I don't find them reasonable either. I should ignore them!

          March 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
        • kudlak

          What "poor behaviour" do you see ignore anti-theists exhibiting hypocritically? And who are you calling "anti-theists"? Not all atheists, I hope.

          March 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No, not all atheists. Of course not.

          I have some anti-theists rally against me for posting quotes or something not related to the topic.

          Yet other people on the same page are posting quotes or things not related to the topic and they ignore them.

          I've had some go so far as claim I'm "trolling" (1 anti-thiest got busted for posting under different names after doing that, whoops). And I point out the people posting in the exact same manner as me and they ignore that fact.

          Luckily most atheists do not do such things. But unfortunately a few on this blog do.

          March 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • kudlak

          Alas, there are trolls on both sides, and we atheists may just be focusing on the many theist-flavoured trolls here.

          March 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, Dala..a quote! Very impressive indeed

      March 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
    • kudlak

      So, not a fan of the rapture, eh?

      So, this kingdom occurred around when Jesus died, like he predicted?

      March 19, 2014 at 11:44 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I believe in the rapture of the saints but not in the "Secret Rapture" as taught by dispensationalists, which is what I believe you are referencing. I'm not a fan of the "End Times" pop-fiction if that is what you also might entail.

        The kingdom is here.

        “My kingship is not of this world…” John 18:36 -> His rule is not of this world, but in the world in the human heart.

        March 20, 2014 at 12:07 am |
        • ssq41

          What denomination/church do you go to...just general, not specific (for your privacy)?

          March 20, 2014 at 12:10 am |
        • Dalahäst

          I go to a Lutheran and also a non-denominational church.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:17 am |
        • ssq41

          Thanks for your response, D.

          In my old haunts...Pentecostal/Charismatic...you'd be eyed with great suspi.cion! :0) Glad to see you believe differently.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:22 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Did they speak in tongues in your old haunts?

          March 20, 2014 at 12:34 am |
        • ssq41

          Oh yea! I was filled with the HS "with evidence in speaking in tongues" at the entirely too young age of 10...strange how I was certain that my walk with the Lord was "superior" to my brothers and sister's in other denominations because I had the "gifts" of the spirit.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:40 am |
        • colin31714

          I have always found it ironic that the only part of the only gospel that talks about "speaking in tongues" – the last 12 verses of Mark, are forged scripture, added to the original text of Mark a few hundred years after Mark was written.

          These forged passages are also where the Appalachian tradition of snake handling and the Christian Science tradition of eschewing modern medicine in favor of healing through the mere “laying of hands” come from. There is an undeniable irony in the fact that these practices are based largely on forged scripture.

          Then again, would it make what these idiots who think the "speak in tongues" do any less ludicrous if they based their practices on something written by one person we know absolutely nothing about (the author of Mark) rather than the later interloper who we know absolutely nothing about?

          Mental illness and deeply committed religious beliefs are very, very closely related.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:34 am |
        • ssq41


          Even the verses in Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1Cor. 14:1ff) is a scrambled mess.

          I concur with your controversial comparison...the personalities of those who seek a "relationship" with Jesus are suspect...very addictive personalities looking for "answers" and living in an enormous amount of fear. This is especially true of those who fall into the ranks of Pentecostal/Charismatic experience.

          That is why there is such an impassioned response from so many here...if you "take my faith, I am nothing..."

          March 20, 2014 at 1:48 am |
        • kudlak

          So, you still believe in a Second Coming? Do you have any reason to believe that it will happen in your lifetime, or even in the next 25,000 years?

          Human hearts are in this world, are they not? How people feel determines what they do, which all helps form "this world", both good and evil. I really don't see how you can separate the two.

          March 20, 2014 at 10:13 am |
        • Dalahäst

          + So, you still believe in a Second Coming?

          No, I don't still believe in a "Second Coming".

          + Do you have any reason to believe that it will happen in your lifetime, or even in the next 25,000 years?

          I believe at the end of time, Jesus resurrects the dead. I really don't know when the world will end.

          + Human hearts are in this world, are they not? How people feel determines what they do, which all helps form "this world", both good and evil. I really don't see how you can separate the two.

          I believe Jesus was talking about the difference between our limited, material world we dwell in and the eternal, spiritual world God dwells in. Of course are hearts are in this world. I live in a part of town with high crime and around people who do some horrible things. I don't let that world define who I am. I resist it, take a stand against it and work with others to make it better.

          March 20, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • kudlak

          What if the human race either becomes extinct, or evolves into another species before some galactic disaster destroys the world? The End could come any day at the hand of some rouge astroid, or the zombie apocalypse could render us all too mindless to have consciousnesses (souls) enough to care about salvation anymore. It's also possible that everyone will have given up believing in Jesus long before the next huge disaster, right? I'm not sure if your bet is a particularly good one, then.

          By resisting it you are helping to push the shape of the world the other way, which was my point. We are all of this world, and our actions are what defines it. That's why any talk of separating oneself from "this/the world" just seems silly to me.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I have not said I am separating myself from this world. I'm called to go into it and not separate or isolate. But I do take a stand against evil. That is what I resist. I witness corruption and hypocrisy in our leaders. I don't want to follow them. I'm sure you don't either.

          If I wanted to separate myself from this world I would move to a gated community in the suburbs and not visit impoverished areas. But I'm not doing that.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • kudlak

          I know people who would say that some of the biggest cr00ks in the world live in gated communities. Oscar Pistorius lives in a gated community, right?

          March 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
  18. Vic

    Fun fact:

    Vermont was not one of the First Thirteen States of Union although in New England.

    March 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Nor was Maine.

      March 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
      • Vic

        Maine was part of Massachusetts when Independence took place. Vermont was the only state in New England who didn't join at first.

        March 19, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Vermont didn't really exist as a separate ent.ity in any official context before the revolution. Unlike the 13 colonies it was never a crown colony. A big chunk of it was west of the Proclamation Line of 1763 and off-limits to white settlement.

        From wikipedia:

        France ceded the territory to the Kingdom of Great Britain after being defeated in 1763 in the Seven Years' War. For many years, the nearby colonies, especially New Hampshire and New York, disputed control of the area (then called the New Hampshire Grants).

        Settlers who held land ti.tles granted by these colonies were opposed by the Green Mountain Boys militia, which eventually prevailed in creating an independent state, the Vermont Republic. Founded in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, the republic lasted for fourteen years.

        March 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      Maine is the only one syllable state.

      The largest one syllable city in the country is Flint

      March 19, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
      • Doris

        I'm assuming that's Flint, Michigan. I think I read somewhere that Flint has the highest per capita crime rate in the U.S.?

        March 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
        • Doris

          I can't remember – it might have been some specific like murders.

          March 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm |
        • sam stone

          i would not doubt it. it's up there, if not #1

          March 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
        • Alias

          Statistics like that change year to year, and local politicians don't like to advertise them.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    why won't your god just show himself and then we will all believe he is real. Why the childish games?

    March 19, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
    • workingcopy12

      Maybe you will and maybe you won't. He did after all reveal himself to a society already prone to believe and still they crucified him.

      March 19, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
      • colin31714

        Well, assuming Greco-Roman Jewish mythology is to be believed, he did. But that's a pretty big "if."

        March 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
        • workingcopy12

          Big "if" or not, the point stands. God revealing himself (in whatever fashion Mr. doG proposes) will not always result in belief–that would take free will out of the calculation and it wouldn't be belief.

          March 19, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
        • otoh2


          We have "free will" to deny gravity and jump from a tall building with no mechanical aids, don't we? We would still have "free will" about accepting this guy if he did a better job of providing evidence of his existence. A real smart god would know precisely how to do this for *everyone*. A real smart god would know that ancient hearsay is not convincing.

          March 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • new-man

          otoh2: "A real smart god would know precisely how to do this for *everyone*..."

          Which is why YHWH does it HIS way.

          March 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • observer


          If God wanted to unquestionably reveal himself, he could do it in less than 5 seconds. He either can't, or chooses not to, or doesn't exist.

          March 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
        • sam stone

          workingcopy....if god is omniscient, there is no free will

          March 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
        • new-man

          you just wrote the above of your own free will.

          March 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
        • new-man

          you'd be one of the first to ASK "is it really God ?".... so there goes the unquestionable approach, I guess.

          March 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm |
        • workingcopy12

          Sam-there is free will if God chooses to allow for it. He want us to Love him–that necessarily requires choice (free will).

          Observer–one other option–he has chosen to reveal himself, and you've chosen to reject it. As far as the the "unquestionable" aspect–rather subjective wouldn't you agree. What would make it "unquestionable" in your eyes?

          March 19, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
        • observer


          It wouldn't take much. For instance, if God shut the sun down for 5 seconds and then announced to the entire world simultaneously "This is God. Follow my Bible.".

          Very simple. FIVE SECONDS. Billions of souls saved. But that's asking for TOO MUCH from God.

          March 19, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
        • Madtown

          you'd be one of the first to ASK "is it really God ?
          So, God isn't powerful enough to reveal himself in such a way as there's no doubt it's him?

          March 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
        • sam stone

          new-man: not if god knew i was going to do it before i did it

          March 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
        • kudlak

          Satan would have known absolutely that God existed when he was supposedly condemned because he exercised his free will in rebelling him. So, believing that God exists doesn't take away free will, right?

          March 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
        • sam stone

          "He want us to Love him–that necessarily requires choice (free will)."

          And if we use that "free will"

          Answer this, if you please.....If I APPARENTLY have a choice between A or B, and god (being omniscient and all) KNOWS I am going to choose B, what are the chances that I will choose A and god will be wrong?

          I am not necessarily denying free will, but I am stating that I believe free willl and an omniscient god to be mutually exclusive.

          What say you?

          March 20, 2014 at 5:33 am |
        • kudlak

          In this age of high-tech holographics and magical illusions, could you ever be absolutely sure that a "sign" was genuine?

          How many more people would have reported seeing miracles had a David Copperfield, or a Criss Angel lived in first century Palestine? Then again, how do we know that one didn't?

          March 20, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • new-man

          I believe that was workingcopy12's point... that signs are subjective. Yet, those who willfully choose to ignore all the obvious signs that are around them, keep asking for a sign.

          March 20, 2014 at 10:56 am |
        • igaftr

          "willfully choose to ignore all the obvious signs that are around them"

          Not accurate. It is believers that ignore cause/effect relationships and attribute an experience to a "god" without investigating all of the other possibilities.
          When you experienced "god", how do you know it was a god, how do you know it was YOUR god and not satan deceiving you, and how did you exclude all other possibilities.

          Believers blindly attribute things to god because they want it to be true. They do not want truth, they want their belief to be true.

          March 20, 2014 at 11:02 am |
        • kudlak

          Aren't you subjectively choosing supernatural explanations for "signs" where mundane causes are actually the more obvious option?

          It might be a reflection of today's high levels of technology and movie fantasy, but if a giant head appeared in the sky above New York City wouldn't it be almost natural to question whether some new holographic projector were being tested out? Even if the head spoke, and bolts of lightening came out of its nostrils, wouldn't some people still suspect an illusion? Even if actual food materialized on everyone's dining room tables wouldn't some people speculate about aliens with transporters?

          Even if the head looked like what most people think of Jesus, some would disagree and suspect a trick. If the Jesus-like head started talking, anything that it said would be accepted by some and dismissed by others, right?

          Isn't it reasonable to assume that, even if the real Jesus came back, the many sections of Christendom would either accept, or reject him depending on whether he conformed to their expectations of how he ought to be?

          March 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
        • Alias

          Just for the record – god did not reveal himself to the whole world.
          Unless you think Adam and Eve or the Noah story actually happened.
          jesus only showed himself to a very small part of the population.

          March 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
        • joey3467

          With the Christian god there is no free will.

          March 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • kudlak

          The Christian god could allow true free will if he didn't mischievously mess with people's perceptions by not revealing himself to everyone equally. If he's real then he's exposing himself to only some of us, giving these people more reason to believe in him and thus messing with our free will.

          March 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  20. neverbeenhappieratheist

    Is this like saying Washington State is not Bigfootless?

    March 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      That begs the question.

      For whom is there more evidence, God, or bigfoot / sasquatch / yeti / etc?

      Or the Lake Ness Monster, Ogopogo or Champ, the Lake Champlain monster for that matter?

      There's even a photograph of Nessie.

      March 19, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
    • kudlak

      We have many examples of new species surfacing, even legendary ones like the Giant Squid. Bigfeet are supposed to be like giant apes, or hominids, but that isn't a ridiculous concept, like mermaids or werwolves. Many people would be surprised, but not at all shocked to learn that a Bigfoot was discovered.

      March 20, 2014 at 12:03 am |
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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.