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April 21st, 2014
11:00 AM ET

What Hollywood gets wrong about heaven

Opinion by Drew Dyck, special to CNN 

(CNN) - The 4-year-old boy sees angels floating toward him. They start out as stars, then slowly become more visible, wings flapping behind orbs of white light.

As they approach, they sing a melodious song. The boy cocks his head, squints into the sky, and makes a strange request. “Can you sing ‘We Will Rock You’?”

The angels giggle.

So do people in the theater.

The scene is from “Heaven is for Real,” the latest in a string of religious movies soaring at the box office. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the real-life story of Colton Burpo, a 4-year-old boy who awakens from surgery with eye-popping tales of the great beyond. The film took in an estimated $21.5 million in opening on Easter weekend.

Even Colton’s religious parents (his dad, Todd, is a pastor) struggle to accept the celestial encounters their son describes: seeing Jesus and his rainbow-colored horse, meeting his sister who died in utero, and talking to his deceased great-grandfather, “Pop,” who, Colton exclaims, has “huge wings.”

The book and film are part of a larger trend. Depictions of journeys to heaven have never been more numerous or more popular. There’s “90 Minutes in Heaven,” “To Heaven and Back,” “Proof of Heaven,” and “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” just to name a few.

Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

So what should we make of such accounts? And what does their popularity say about us?

Some may be surprised that the Bible contains not one story of a person going to heaven and coming back. In fact Jesus’ own words seem to preclude the possibility: “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

Scripture does contain several visions of heaven or encounters with celestial beings, but they’re a far cry from the feel-good fare of the to-heaven-and-back genre.

In Scripture, when mortals catch a premature glimpse of God’s glory, they react in remarkably similar ways. They tremble. They cower. They go mute. The ones who can manage speech express despair (or “woe” to use the King James English) and become convinced they are about to die. Fainters abound.

Take the prophet Daniel, for instance. He could stare down lions, but when the heavens opened before him, he swooned. Ezekiel, too, was overwhelmed by his vision of God. After witnessing Yahweh’s throne chariot fly into the air with the sound of a jet engine, he fell face-first to the ground.

Perhaps the most harrowing vision belongs to Isaiah. He sees the Almighty “high and exalted,” surrounded by angels who use their wings to shield their faces and feet from the glory of God. Faced with this awesome spectacle, Isaiah loses it. “Woe to me!” he cries, “I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5)

New Testament figures fare no better.

John’s famous revelations of heaven left him lying on the ground “as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). The disciples dropped when they saw Jesus transfigured. Even the intrepid Saul marching to Damascus collapsed before the open heavens - and walked away blind.

How different from our popular depictions. And it isn’t just “Heaven is for Real.” In most movies angels are warm, approachable - teddy bears with wings. God is Morgan Freeman or some other avuncular presence.

Scripture, however, knows nothing of such portrayals. Heavenly encounters are terrifying, leaving even the most stout and spiritual vibrating with fear - or lying facedown, unconscious.

When God plays the villain

Yes, the Bible teaches that heaven is a place of ultimate comfort, with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

But it is also a place where the reality of God’s unbridled majesty reigns supreme - and that’s scary.

Did a 4-year-old boy from Nebraska really visit heaven? I don’t know. My hunch is that the popularity of such stories tells us more about our view of God than the place in which he dwells.

Ultimately I believe we flock to gauzy, feel-good depictions of heaven and tiptoe around the biblical passages mentioned above because we’ve lost sight of God’s holiness.

I fear we’ve sentimentalized heaven and by extension its primary occupant. I worry the modern understanding of God owes more to Colton Burpo than the prophet Isaiah. And I think this one-sided portrayal diminishes our experience of God.

We can’t truly appreciate God’s grace until we glimpse his greatness. We won’t be lifted by his love until we’re humbled by his holiness.

The affection of a cosmic buddy is one thing. But the love of the Lord of heaven and earth, the one who Isaiah says “dwells in unapproachable light,” means something else entirely.

Of course it means nothing if you think it’s all hokum. If for you the material reality is all the reality there is, any talk of God is white noise. But if you’re like me, and you think heaven is for real, well, it makes all the difference in the world.

Drew Dyck is managing editor of Leadership Journal and author of “Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying.” The views expressed in this column belong to Dyck.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Heaven • Media • Movies • Opinion

soundoff (2,107 Responses)
  1. magicpanties

    It is so sad that in this day and age there are so many people still clinging to ancient fairy tales.

    Think about why you believe in the Christian myths.
    Or think about why most in the middle east believe in the Islamic myths.

    It's all about being indoctrinated in childhood with the same crap the parents were taught when they were kids.
    You stopped believing in Santa, right? Same thing.

    Oh wait, I almost forgot, "you" (and your country, your community, your church...) are special and somehow chosen.
    Kee-rist Ah-mighty, get a clue.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
  2. glades2

    I agree with the writer – is God our life-long companion and friend and protector if we allow Him – yes – but God is also God-creator, and when we die our soul, like it or not, is then in His presence – though whether we remain in His presence has a LOT to do with whether we rejected or accepted Him in this life. So many souls exist today in our society who reject Him, is it any surprise that many speak of encounters with ghosts or other supernatural forces, and is why Scripture says we should pray constantly for God to be with us. As for the book, at one point I did buy it but interestingly enough I returned it, more because the book is written from a parental point of view (trips in the family van, etc.) and living a single life that is a topic as unfamilar to me as single life is to a mother or father, though as a Christian of many years I did find it interesting that God did not give me the peace to keep the book – a peace I've had with other books that I've purchased over the years, so not sure why that happened but later it came to me that this child was only 3 at the time, and was presented with a view of Heaven suitable for a human mind of his very young age to comprehend, and when I think of it that way his encounter as he explained it does make sense. Now, Ryan White (AIDS patient of the 1980s) did say that when 13 he encountered God during his time in a coma at the start of his illness, and was told that God would take care of him (something he found to be true over the next 6 years), but Ryan said the experience was that of being threatened by the forces of darkness until he came into God's blindingly bright presence, so his encounter with God was one more akin with the Biblical experiences described in the above article, and perhaps this comparison is God's answer to my own question – that God will reveal Himself to a soul in a way that will be the most useful to the person, and others as well, in keeping with God's plan for the person's life and in the lives of others.

    April 21, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "God our life-long companion and friend and protector"
      +++ when he's not drowning and killing people? if your god is real, he is a monster. the bible demonstrates exactly how disgusting he is in numerous stories. telling abraham to murder his only child. sending bears to tear apart 42 children because they made fun of one of god's prophets. drowning millions, including babies, in his great flood. your god character, if he was real, is the worst mass murderer in history and not worth worshiping. only a megalomaniac monster could fill a baby's lungs with water and call it divine justice.

      April 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        tsk tsk, now Booty,

        You should know by know that anything God does is intrinsically good. (William Lane Craig)

        When you create something you can torture, kill and maim to your heart's content, but I believe there is a reason behind it all.

        His creation is just a massive demonstration of what a Double Standard is......One of his fellow omniscients wasn't quite getting the picture so here we are.

        a god wouldn't really be burdened with emotional instability, a technical IQ barely capable of grasping the mechanics of a wheel ...no there had to be specific parameters that could only be achieved by **simulated** gross ignorance.

        April 22, 2014 at 1:13 am |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          and you could even know by now if you so choose-either way:)

          April 22, 2014 at 1:19 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Nice story bro. Needs some dragons and zombies tho.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
    • midmomood

      You're a really smart person, glades2. You know the commenters who try to upset you are just communicating the best they can. Doing what one has to do isn't always the same as making sense. Anyway, I know the peace you speak of that has nothing to do with the silliness of the world.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        No one is trying to upset anyone. The emotional state you describe is not unique to religionists. It's replicable by various methods, including in the lab. His premises are completely false. One does not "reject" something that is preposterous nonsense. That would be the height of dishonesty. What you both are suggesting is that deity is so profoundly stupid, it wouldn't know if someone said "I believe" even though they really didn't. Jesus said "No one shall come to me unless the Father draw him". You deity is capricious, and "draws" only some. ("For many are called but FEW asre chosen"). Your self-righteous Church-Lady superiority makes you two look REALLY insensitive. You have no clue why various people reject the gods. In fact there is no coherent definition of what that word even means. What it IS, is a "meme" that exists ONLY in your brain cells. Every believer's idea of it is different. Jesus told you "Judge not, lest ye be judged". I see you both feel you need not listen to him.

        April 21, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
        • sam stone

          i prefer a pre-rolled purple kush

          April 22, 2014 at 5:47 am |
    • sam stone

      show that a soul is anything more than your belief

      April 22, 2014 at 5:40 am |
  3. Reality

    A defining question: Where is this heaven that Jesus and Mary reside in since their living, physical bodies went somewhere?? (And then there is their mode of travel? Rockets? Airplanes? Wings? And how far could each take them in 2000 years? Are they still on-board? Has the Hubble T or any other telescope detected anything remotely analogous to a place called heaven?)

    Carl Sagan addressed this issue. He noted that we have looked out 10 billion light years and still have not found heaven.

    But again maybe the Egyptians had it right all along:

    "

    In Ancient Egyptian faith, belief in an afterlife is much more stressed than in ancient Judaism. Heaven was a physical place far above the Earth in a "dark area" of space where there were no stars, basically beyond the Universe. According to the Book of the Dead, departed souls would undergo a literal journey to reach Heaven, along the way to which there could exist hazards and other enti-ties attempting to deny the reaching of Heaven.[Their heart would finally be weighed with the feather of truth, and if the sins weighed it down their heart was devoured."

    The Egyptian Book of the Dead, by the way, also has an earlier, more detailed version, of the Ten Commandments. Got to hand it to those early Jewish scribes when it came to copying/borrowing the writings of the Greeks, Babylonians and Egyptians.

    April 21, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • mickinmd

      I have to agree with you about all the copying. "Eden" is a Sumerian word the Jews picked up during the Babylonian Captivity. It means "garden." And, no surprise, the Tigris and Euphrates from Babylonia/Sumeria flowed through it.

      Then there's the story of the guy who built a boat and, with his family, survived a flood and and sent a bird out who returned with a twig and then the boat settled down on the side of a mountain. Of course, I'm taking about a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story over 1,000 older than Abraham.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
  4. faithfulwatcher

    God tells us that He will pour out some of His Holy Spirit upon people in the last days, via dreams and visions, so that they can prophesy truth, not falsehood. Acts 2:17-21. He also warns about false dreamers, at Jeremiah 23:22-32. At the “Heaven is Real” website, and the movie trailer, they claim the 3 year old boy told them he went to heaven and saw and spoke with his dead sister (miscarried by his mother) his great grandfather, and a dead soldier. This claim is in direct opposition to God and Jesus’ word on the resurrection of the dead at the return of Jesus Christ on Judgment Day. Matthew 10:15. Please see Ephesians 6:12.

    Please also see Jesus' teaching on the general resurrection of the dead at the LAST day, when he returns at John 5:28&29. Reference 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18.

    John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the LAST day.”

    April 21, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      ah, the famous "last days".....they have been coming for what, the last 2,000 years or so?

      April 21, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
      • bostontola

        Didn't Jesus promise to return within the generation of his living followers? There are verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke making that promise.

        April 21, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          boston....of course he said that, but I am willing to bet that if you even get a response from one of the believers, they will just tell you that you are taking the actual verbiage out of context. Only they know what the words from the bible meant. You have to ignore the actual words and use hyperbole instead.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible says the earth flat.
      not really a book to be taken seriously, is it?

      April 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      NEWSFLASH: No evidence that your god said anything! We do know what humans claim it said, nothing more!

      April 21, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
  5. californiarestinpeace

    Drew (author) if you wanna self-seduce, more power to ya! I wonder why nobody thought to update god's status: not too many people roll around in chariots these days, how about a Ferrari 458 Italia, and those old school togas....not cuttin' it, god would be wearing Versace or on her casual days, something like Forever 21, since that would be accurate for the ol' gal. Since I know you're becoming incensed by 'she', lemme know does god have a penis? Or is it a man with no genitaliz? Yeah.

    April 21, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
  6. Vic

    ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

    As Christians, while we believe in Heaven and eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot necessarily know or imagine every aspect of it for we are told so little about it other than the New Heaven and Earth, our resurrection in Jesus Christ's Resurrection, and our transformation to immortals.

    Isaiah 65:17
    "17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
    And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.”"

    John 10:28
    "28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."

    1 Corinthians 2:9
    "9 but just as it is written,

    “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
    And which have not entered the heart of man,
    All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”"

    1 Corinthians 15:50-54
    "50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”"

    Please refer to "1 Corinthians 15" in total for Christ’s Resurrection, Order of Resurrection and Mystery of Resurrection.

    2 Corinthians 5
    "5 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens..."

    2 Peter 3:13
    "13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."

    Revelation 21:1
    "21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea."

    Revelation 21:4,5
    "4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”"

    Please refer to "Revelation 21 & 22" in total for more details.

    All Scripture Is From:

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

    http://www.biblegateway.com/

    April 21, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      ^^^ religious gibberish ^^^

      April 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Jebus is Lard.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
    • primatica

      Why concern yourself with this world since in your words you believe you will soon be turned into demi-gods yourselves....If your faith is that secure then you should let us heathens run this "wicked" world while you can wait for death and your treasures in heaven?

      April 22, 2014 at 7:32 am |
      • Vic

        Well, it's God's Sovereign Divine Will, Wisdom and Command that decides what and when. This life realm is inevitable. Since the fall of Adam & Eve, God relegated human to mortality and this life realm that he/she needs to endure and pass the test of faith until the end of time.

        April 22, 2014 at 9:12 am |
  7. Bootyfunk

    http://www.livescience.com/11010-death-experiences-linked-oxygen-deprivation.html

    "People who report near-death experiences have elevated levels of carbon dioxide in their blood and may be suffering oxygen deprivations, according to a new study published in the medical journal Critical Care. "

    lack of oxygen seems like a much more reasonable explanation for near death experiences.

    April 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
    • Blender4life

      Your explanation although accurate in some cases cannot even begin to explain why many have hovered over their bodies only to tell people everything that went on during their surgeries. Things if you have ever had surgery your well aware you would never ever be able to know. Couple that with this kid knowing things about his grandfather he was never told and these are only a few things that went on.

      Anyone that would believe we are here by mere chance doesn't understand physics what so ever. Mathematical equations are beautiful and perfect and this idea that we are here and gone in the end would make our equations not so perfect nor beautiful.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        I agree, where in the world would a 4 year old get ideas like heaven, angels with wings, and Jesus? I mean he must have seen them because he couldn't have come up with those concepts himself.

        Oh wait, his father is a pastor???......nevermind.

        April 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        The stories of his surgery, his grandpa, etc. – it depends on if you take them at their word. They could be lying, they could be mistaken, they could be embellishing, they could be misremembering.. I think it is reasonable to be skeptical of personal experiences. Also, there have been experiments performed where a number was surrepti.tiously written on top of hospital equipment; some patients reported an out of body experience of looking down on the surgical team, but none reported seeing the number, even though it would've been in view. More than likely these kinds of experiences are just tricks of the brain.

        April 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • tallulah131

          I think the kid experienced something weird, confused it with things he overheard before and after, and with amazing kid logic, decided that he saw grandpa and Jesus in heaven. Once he was rewarded with attention for making that claim, he very innocently kept embellishing, because that's what kids do. I think the kid probably believes he experienced everything he claimed because it's been positively reinforced for years. I think the parents believed him because they want to believe him, and because his story is profitable.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        "Your explanation although accurate in some cases cannot even begin to explain why many have hovered over their bodies only to tell people everything that went on during their surgeries."
        +++ actually, it explains that very nicely. they didn't hover over any bodies. IF they told someone something that happened during their surgery, it's because the person's subconscious absorbed the conversation, even if they weren't coherent. most likely though, the stories you are retelling are simply untrue. see how that is much more believable than your magical explanation?

        April 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
  8. gumbythecat

    What religion gets wrong about heaven: Insisting that it exists.

    April 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
    • cyruskirkpatrick

      This article is terribly misguided.

      This isn't "Hollywood" getting heaven wrong. It's people having legitimate experiences, and then the stories of those accounts being translated into film format.

      Near death experiences are a real phenomenon. According to a Lancet study, 13% of all cardiac arrest patients see the pearly gates. Like it or not, they're here to stay, and likely explain the entire phenomenon on spirituality and religion (people close to death have visions, they interpret those visions into scripture, and religions are then born).

      This phenomenon makes the religious fundamentalist nervous because it's real reports, not based on faith, that seem to call into question certain religious dogma; namely a terrifying God of judgment and death (a premise many religious people cling to, like this author. I think it's more a reflection of one's personal, negative view of the world and society then anything).

      Near death experiences are largely determined by the personal belief of the experiencer. This is why a Muslim will see Mohammed, a Hindu may see Shiva, and so forth.

      Atheists encounter "the universal intelligence" the light. Eben Alexander, a complete atheist, entered another realm with his deceased little sister. No less fantastic.

      This also creates a terrifying possibility: there is no one religion better than the other. The negative, hellish NDEs are seemingly the result of people with dark, negative predispositions toward the world–"sinners" are people who do bad to others, then reap the karmic consequences, falling into a much darker domain then the high astral.

      Whether you believe NDEs are a legitimate glimpse of some alternate plane of consciousness, or it's just in your mind–one thing remains certain, this blogger got it wrong–it's not heaven being made up by Hollywood, it's Hollywood interpreting real people's real experiences.

      April 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        these people's 'real' experiences are most likely caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, nothing more.
        these experiences show the power of the human brain - not that god exists.

        April 21, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Thank you. My sentiments exactly.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
        • primatica

          They don't talk about the greater percentage of near death survivors that don't see jack when they where down...

          April 21, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
    • janetmermaid

      Thank you. My sentiments exactly.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
  9. bostontola

    Creationists like to distinguish macro and micro evolution. Let's just stick with the notion of micro evolution for now. Humans are adapting to environmental changes. We have different skin colors. Lactose tolerance has evolved in just the last 10's of thousands of years. That may seem trivial, but we are not as we were purported to be created. We have changed.

    Those adaptations may be sloughed off as minor by some, but why would a perfect God create us and allow changes like that? It gets worse. Our brains are changing, the nerves themselves are changing. The actual structure of the nerves, the amount of myelin around the axons is getting optimized in different nerves for better performance. Our brains are changing is not minor or trivial.

    Call it macro or micro eveloution, it doesn't change the big questions at all. Nature is modifying God's creations. If so, an omnipotent God must be OK with that, if so, then God is using evolution for his purposes, if so, there is no distinction between micro and macro evolution.

    April 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • jknbt

      why don't you try to stay on topic for once, bostonola? this is about heaven: is it real or not, not evolution...

      April 21, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
      • bostontola

        1. for once? Look on this and the last page for plenty of comments on the articles topic.
        2. No, I don't have to be constrained by the immediate topic to please you.

        April 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
    • truthfollower01

      Bostontola,

      Christians accept micro-evolutuon. Christians accept adaptation (I.e. The finches beak changes on the Gallapagos). Can you give evidence for Darwinian evolution, a change in kinds (like from feline to canine, something of that sort).

      April 21, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
      • bostontola

        Truth,
        1. Read the last paragraph of the post. It argues that if you buy micro evolution, then you have to take the whole enchilada.

        2. There is libraries full of observed evidence for evolution of species. You can directly observe the fossil record, you can directly observe the genetic records of existing and some extinct animals. The evidence in them is direct confirmation of long term evolution of species. To add to that, there are ring species, snapshots of speciation in action, there are laboratory experiments of speciation.

        April 21, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          1. Incorrect. Even UC Berkley distinguishes between the two.

          2. Can you give a couple examples of transitional fossils? How many transitional fossils would you think there should be if Darwinian evolution were true?

          April 21, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
        • bostontola

          Truth,
          1. What UC Berkley recognizes or not is irrelevant. I made an argument, you should refute the argument. Saying smart people agree with you is not an argument.

          2. Every fossil is a transitional form. How many needed? just 1.

          April 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          1. How do you arrive at there is no difference between micro and macro? Do you understand what each is? Are you saying that adaptation is proof of macroevolution?!?!

          2. There should be thousands of transitional fossils. It should be no problem if Darwinian evolution were true.

          April 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @truthfollower,
          1. As used by Berkeley, macro/micro is just a matter of degree. In other words enough micro evolutionary changes have occurred to present a distinct difference between two species.

          2. There are transitional fossils: tiktaalik, ambulocetus, etc. etc. However, transistions do not happen between "kinds" but within or between species, with enough accu.mulation.

          * Most Christians, I think, accept evolution. It's the evangelicals in the US that don't, for the most part.

          April 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • bostontola

          Truth,
          1. There is an argument that the distinction doesn't matter because if God allows his creation to change, why not change species (a human definition).

          2. There are thousands of transitional fossils. Don't forget, there is a difference between the existence of a fossil and humans having found it. New fossils are being found every day. As I said, almost every fossil is a transitional form.

          3. Why do we find lots of extinct animals and plants, and we never find a fossil of a modern animal? Because all the fossils are transitional.

          April 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
        • tallulah131

          "truthy" is a troll.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Or not. I was mistaking him/her with someone else. Apologies.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Ken,

          Not to be rude, but that you list ambulocetus second is scary. There's a good article at macroevolution.net in the biology dictionary of the site on ambulocetus that is insightful.

          Also, I would say that most Christians accept micro evolution.

          April 21, 2014 at 10:31 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          1. "why not change species"

          The question is does the evidence support this?

          2. "Don’t forget, there is a difference between the existence of a fossil and humans having found it."

          What exactly do you mean by this?

          What I'm looking for is fossil evidence showing a change in kind, Darwinian Evolution. There should be thousands of intermediary fossils showing this if Darwinian evolution were true.

          3. How does this show Darwinian evolution? Please cite an example or two to show this.

          April 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          macroevolution.net is the work of a single person who proposes that humans are hybrids of chimpanzees and pigs. Probably not the best source to bring into an evolution debate, from either side.

          April 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
        • bostontola

          Truth,
          1. The evidence is not the point in the argument I posed, it was the hypothetical motive of God, evidence comes into points 2 and 3. If God is ok with and used micro evolution, I pose that God wouldn't make the human distinction of micro/macro, and would use evolution in a macro sense.

          2,3. I said before, almost every fossil is a transitional form fossil. The fact that not one fossil represents a living species proves that.

          April 22, 2014 at 8:31 am |
        • igaftr

          belief follower.
          There is evolution. micro and macro is the creationists attempting to poke holes in valid science. The only thing is the amount of time.
          Stop using those terms, it makes you sound extremely ignorant, the rest of your posts prove you truly are.

          April 22, 2014 at 8:33 am |
        • joey3467

          Claiming that micro evolution can occur but not macro evolution is the same as claiming that inches can't add up to a mile.

          April 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • igaftr

          belief follower
          "2. There should be thousands of transitional fossils."

          There aren't. There are many millions. ALL fossils showsome life from, and since all life forms are in transition, all are transitional fossils.
          Look at Tiktaalik.
          You claim that a dog cannot become a cat. Yet 65 million years ago, That is exacty what happened. The felides and canides started to split from a common ancestror, and the result is the difference we see today, and in another 65 million years, who know what will happen. Maybe fluffy the cat will regress in it's own DNA and a strain will mutate with the ability to breathe water...who knows. What we know is it has happened, is continuing to happen.

          The evidence is in the DNA of every life form on the planet, including you.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I thought this was a cogent argument.

      As to micro versus macro evolution, we defer to Yoda.

      Luke: I can't. It's too big.
      Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not.

      April 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        It's really just a matter of scale.

        We could go Shawshank:

        "... pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time."

        Change pressure to environment and you have evolution.

        April 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
  10. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Now that we're in the post-Easter season, and talking about heaven, where did Jesus go after he disappeared into a cloud during the ascension?

    According to the Gospel he levitated. The Christian tradition is that his resurrected body was material and he 'ascended into heaven'. So where did all those atoms go? Did he go into orbit? Did he pop into a wormhole?

    If after we die and our soul leaves us do we get new atoms to form ourselves or are we all just 'spirit'? Or intelligent shades of light refracted into a prism? Our old atoms certainly get to dissipate in the ground – this is even borne out scriptually – 'unto dust' etc. (And we are but stardust after all.)

    How do we appear in heaven, like how old are we in heaven? The same age as when we died, or all perpetually 25? Including all the babies and children who die. Do they get to be suddenly 25 too?

    I've heard believers say that in heaven you are perfectly formed. The amputees get their limbs back and no one is sick – even those who were chronically ill in this life.

    Then of course there is all that stuff about seeing your loved ones again. In an answer to the "do you hang out with your wife (wives) in heaven" I was 'corrected' here once (with scripture) that you don't. You just get to be happy hanging out wiht the big guy(s).

    Really the idea of heaven is so preposterous. I have to confess that I don't really see the point of hanging around the awesomeness of God with nothing to do for eternity as just one more of the (presumably billions) of saved identically perfect spirits. It sounds kind of dull.

    April 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
    • bostontola

      I agree, heaven is not my idea of utopia.

      April 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
    • believerfred

      I don't really see the point of hanging around the awesomeness of God with nothing to do for eternity as just one more of the (presumably billions) of saved identically perfect spirits. It sounds kind of dull.

      =>You do not believe so I would not worry about perfect spirits

      April 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        *believerdodgeforthewin*

        April 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        No Fred, I don't believe. Please tell me what is so great about heaven that I would want to go there or is your motivation simply avoiding the alternative?

        April 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • believerfred

          "blessed are the poor in spirit (broken hearted who need God) for theirs is the kingdom of God."
          That is the first Beatitude. Jesus made things simple. Take note that theirs is the kingdom of God. Heaven is not something that begins after death since you have life, life eternal, the moment you are in Christ. That for me happened at conversion and for others at different times. Take the criminal on the cross next to Jesus who simply said remember me. Jesus said today you will be with me in paradise. So, at that moment we look up Jesus and see the love of God ours is the kingdom of God. Heaven is being in the kingdom of God. That would be where God is your King and all else is secondary. If you have seen or simply touched the wonder of God it is beyond anything imaginable absent of God (i.e. what ever emotive you have is considered worldly as you do not have the presence of God)
          When you are outside the kingdom you attempt to apply worldly thoughts and visions, based on your character, onto the concept of heaven.
          It makes me wonder why someone would find perfect spirits boring. Does your idea of good require a touch of Taboo?

          You also inquired what our bodies would be like and Jesus said we would see Christ because we would be like Christ. What did Christ look like? Jesus was fully man and fully God yet the overall description was that Jesus was the full radiance of the Glory of God. That is what we would like, the radiance of God. Why, because we would be in Christ as that is the only way we could have as you say perfect spirits. Although fun to speculate there was a reason Jesus did not bother to draw a picture of what GOPer would like or what I would look like eternally. That allows us to reveal how we see ourselves. We do not like we do now before God as our perspective is very distorted. Some may vision themselves with great crowns but those who receive crowns will lay them at the feet of Christ.
          The atmosphere in heaven will be like a wedding banquet and there is much symbolism there which is why there is no marrying going on in heaven. There will be no tears and every historic tear will be wiped away. The lion will lay next to the lamb.
          Seriously, what exactly can you not see about heaven. I suggest you pick up the Bible again and read it with an open perspective.

          April 21, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Does your idea of good require a touch of Taboo?"

          Quite the opposite in fact. But the metaphorical idea of 'sitting around on a cloud' with a harp seems pretty tedious.

          April 21, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Really Fred the whole point is that nothing is known – even scriptually about the nature of heaven besides an eternity of hanging out with the awesomeness of God.

          Eternity is a really long time. Unbound by time the concept is no different to an unchanging instant, but really no one can say what it might look like. All the metaphors fail. Our finite existence is defined by time more than any other concept. An infinite existence is truly inconceivable.

          Plus even as this article says, believers disagree with that near death experiences have any relevance to it.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
        • Vic

          For what it's worth, here is how I addressed the same argument two days ago on a previous Blog entry:

          With eternal life, we are made immortals with glorified bodies, the mortal constraints we account for now would be gone then.

          You are viewing the next eternal life realm of an immortal with transformed body and perspective, which is superior, from the perspective of this mortal life realm, which is inferior.

          As Christians, while we believe in eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot necessarily know or imagine every aspect of it. This is a matter of the Divine Realm. As I believe in God and trust Him in saving my life, I don't worry about the how.

          April 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
        • fintronics

          And again here we have Christians posting their imaginations which they confuse with reality.

          April 22, 2014 at 10:34 am |
        • believerfred

          GOPer
          "But the metaphorical idea of 'sitting around on a cloud' with a harp seems pretty tedious"
          =>correct as is any thought that heaven would be tedious.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
        • believerfred

          GOPer
          "Really Fred the whole point is that nothing is known – even scriptually about the nature of heaven "
          =>I thought I just explained what is known about the nature of heaven. You seem to want specifics and there I would agree because the Bible explains the unexplainable in terms we can comprehend in our time and space (wedding feast, walls of Jasper, no tears, tree of life at the center, living waters, lion and lamb side by side).
          =>there are no specifics such as your exact spiritual form, matter or energy composition because just as we cannot visualize the substance of God without anthropomorphic bias we cannot visualize Gods kingdom. Heaven is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a wonder beyond our full view however we have a taste of it when in the presence of God today while alive. One need not die to experience God.
          The experience of God is euphoric yet is only a taste of what we do not have capacity to take in until we are like Christ in Heaven.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • believerfred

          fintronics
          "And again here we have Christians posting their imaginations which they confuse with reality."
          =>you are greatly deceived. Your first deception is that you believe your perception of reality is reality. It cannot be as no two people have the same perception. Your perception of reality is not my perception of reality in an extreme measure because you cannot even seem to comprehend the relationship between measurable physical and known inferred forces that shape reality (assuming reality is that which actually exists absent our perception at any given point in time). The effect of mans awareness of presence greater than self resulted in worship thousands of years ago and continues to play a large part in our reality, like it or not.
          =>imagination on the other hand by itself changes nothing and is without substance and affect.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • fintronics

          Reality = "Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined."

          ..but feel free to change word definitions to suit your personal delusion.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • fintronics

          "imagination on the other hand by itself changes nothing and is without substance and affect."

          Just like belief in god. Thanks for making my point.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • believerfred

          fintronics
          No, you have missed the point as reality has been effected and affected by God (real or perceived does not change the reality you exist in)

          April 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Fred....real or perceived reality doesn't prove it was affected by god either

          April 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • fintronics

          "..... reality has been effected and affected by God "

          More baseless claims Fred... you have no evidence to substantiate your claim. You are speaking about your imagination.

          April 22, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
        • believerfred

          fintronics
          What? You want evidence that God (real or imagined) is part of reality....Get out a dollar bill and read it "in God we trust"....now go buy yourself a dollar meal at McDonalds.
          Ever notice all the various churches that dot the landscape............go hit your head on the door to see if it is real.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Fred....ridiculous argument. The majority is not always right. In the 1800s, people believed that it was ok to own other people. In god we trust was put on money a long time after money was actually used. The pledge of allegiance didn't mention god until some bible thumpers thought it a good idea in the 1900's.

          April 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • believerfred

          gulliblenomore
          Stalin was an atheist and atheists claim he did not kill millions of Christians because of his godlessness but because of some other possibility. He followed the position that religion was an opiate that needed to be removed in order to construct the ideal communist society.
          He displayed the effect of belief in God by believers and suffered from the affect of God on his character. That is evidence that God real or imagined is a powerful force to be addressed. Simply because you choose not to see reality as it is does not change reality.
          Now, you want to change what you consider acceptable evidence regarding what can only be seen by faith to be that which can be seen by you or by some other standard you feel acceptable. There is no shortage of evidence only shortage of type of evidence.

          April 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
        • fintronics

          @fred... "What? You want evidence that God (real or imagined) is part of reality....Get out a dollar bill and read it "in God we trust"....now go buy yourself a dollar meal at McDonalds.
          Ever notice all the various churches that dot the landscape............go hit your head on the door to see if it is real."

          More ridiculousness from fred. Let me explain in simple terms....

          People BELIEVE in god = reality
          Children BELIEVE in Santa Clause = reality

          For good or bad, peoples belief in god has an effect on reality. Where you fail is when you claim gods existence is reality for which you have ZERO evidence.

          April 23, 2014 at 8:24 am |
        • believerfred

          fintronics
          "For good or bad, peoples belief in god has an effect on reality."
          =>cultures, norms and mankind itself incorporates the historical collective effect of God, gods and various forms of supernatural awareness from the days of Neanderthal. That is reality with its statues, Bibles, laws, temples etc. that dot our physical world and belief which populates the non physical. Stripped of theological and anthropomorphic attributes you find what looks a lot like the "God" of Spinoza. This reality cannot be denied reasonably or logically nor can it be escaped as "God" simply is. This is one of the reasons Einstein rejects atheism in addition to fact the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven.

          "Where you fail is when you claim gods existence is reality for which you have ZERO evidence."
          =>I have just explained gods existence as reality. Do you not understand my explanation?
          =>Let me assume you mean that I have ZERO evidence for the God of Abraham. I will defer to Einstein and accept his conclusion of no scientific proof. This leaves us with belief and it indeed was belief in God that brought Israel into the promised land. The other nations were not afraid of God but they feared the Nation of Israel because God was with them.
          Their God they and others believe is with them to this day.
          =>Evidence concerning the object of belief in say Christ is based on faith and is by way of personal experience with God. It is best described as a gift of wonder from God that transforms from the inside out. This transformation opens a view into the kingdom of God that was not present before. On an objective basis it happens millions of time per year with consistent pattern and effect. Those who do not or cannot believe can see the outward effect but cannot see the inward workings of the Spirit.

          =>Personal awareness demands justification of core belief at all times and the mind will fill the gaps as necessary. The unbeliever will justify non belief as will the believer justify belief. I don't know is not an answer as everyone conducts their existence as if God or their sense of supernatural exists or does not exist.

          April 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      Christianity has never developed a compelling heaven. For some people it is an eternity of worship. What they are saying is heaven is North Korea.

      April 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
      • bostontola

        There is a difference. If there were a God it may, repeat may, deserve worship.

        April 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • Vic

      Well, happy Egg Rolling Day then.

      As Christians, while we believe in Heaven and eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot necessarily know or imagine every aspect of it, we are told so little about it , other than our resurrection in Jesus Christ's Resurrection, and our transformation to immortals; however, we don't worry about the how of it.

      April 21, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
    • MadeFromDirt

      When you view from a man-centered and earthly perspective, bound in space and time, and without an understanding of the nature and power and love of God, then Heaven will not be attractive to you.

      God exists outside of this universe so He is not bound by space or cosmic time. God promises to eliminate the current universe in an instant and to create a new Earth (dwelling place) and provide us with a new indestructible and incorruptible body for our eternal spirits. So in the New Creation, we will not be limited by the current laws of physics or time or decay. But while we are free now to contemplate the wonders that await us, Scripture says no mind of man is capable of imagining fully what is being prepared.

      God created us to enjoy Him forever, and also to serve Him forever, but that does not mean that His people in Heaven will kneel idly in constant amazement, song, and worship. We can look at our current universe and see the elegant design of it as a temporary place for the exquisite design of man's physical life and spiritual benefit (including the lessons of grace and the controlled impact of evil). We can look to Adam before the fall and see that God delighted in giving Adam work to do in the Garden and with the creatures there. That is, God did not create man to lounge around. In a similar way, Heaven will be a place perfectly designed for God's purposes for His saved people, and we will be given duties and responsibilities in Heaven that upon performance bring praise and glory to God, and our new bodies will be exquisitely designed for that purpose and reward, including relationships with others who we choose. Scripture says that according to our gifts by the grace of God we will serve as teachers and judges and kings for the angels and whatever other creatures God decides to create and in whatever situations God decides to place under our eternal stewardship.

      April 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        "then Heaven will not be attractive to you"

        Yes, I agree with that part.

        April 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Isn't oblivion equally freed from the constraints of time, space and the cares of the world?

        April 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Scripture's descriptions of hell are also mysterious, but Jesus spoke of it more often than Heaven, and certainly it is not described as a pleasant destination. What you call oblivion is also "freed" from God's love, and filled with God's wrath. Which turns it into a different kind of place no mind can imagine, because our existence here is surrounded by the benefits of God's love, whether you admit it or not.

          April 22, 2014 at 3:07 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Dirt....just what are these great benefits of gods love we are surrounded with? Is it Ebola, or cancer maybe? Is it the constant fear that a terrorist driven by their god might blow us up? Wondrous....

          April 22, 2014 at 10:47 am |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Gulliblenomore, yes there is temporary disease and suffering brought by sin into this temporary world, but do you or a loved one have Ebola, have you been bombed by a terrorist, are you blind, are you deaf, does the sun not warm you and the moon not calm the tides, can you find no air to breathe, no water to drink, no food to eat, no clothes to wear, is there no roof over your head, is there no beauty or order or satisfaction or happiness in your life? God is still providing all those things and more to you despite your sin and hatred against Him, because He loves you and is patient for this time, and what is your response to Him? Foolish fist-shaking and prideful back-turning. Scripture says that attetude ends badly for you.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Dirt....I don't believe anything in your musty 2000 year old book, so I am not concerned at all. There is absolutely no proof your god has provided anything at all for you. It is just what you believe, nothing more

          April 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    I have always wondered how the bible explains this:

    – Where are all our souls before we are born? Do they exist somewhere?
    – Or are they born with us and develop with us throughout our lives? If so, who or what creates them?

    thanks to any believers who can help me with an answer.

    April 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
    • bostontola

      Are our biological bodies merely vessels for the souls God puts in them?

      If so, then our souls are independent of our parents in origin.

      This extends the fictional parallels discussed today. We had Zombies and Vampires, now we have Invasion of the Body Sna.tchers.

      April 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
    • venessajourney

      My Child,

      You may not know me, but I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1) I know when you sit down and when you rise up. (Psalm 139:2) I am familiar with all your ways. (Psalm 139:3) Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. (Matthew 10:29-31) For you were made in my image. (Genesis 1:27) In me you live and move and have your being. (Acts 17:28) For you are my offspring. (Acts 17:28) I knew you even before you were conceived. (Jeremiah 1:4-5) I chose you when I planned creation. (Ephesians 1:11-12) You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. (Psalm 139:15-16) I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. (Acts 17:26) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) I knit you together in your mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13) And brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6) I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. (John 8:41-44) I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. (1 John 4:16) And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. (1 John 3:1) Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1) I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. (Matthew 7:11) For I am the perfect father. (Matthew 5:48) Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. (James 1:17) For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matthew 6:31-33) My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. (Psalm 139:17-18) And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) I will never stop doing good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40) For you are my treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5) I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:41) And I want to show you great and marvelous things. (Jeremiah 33:3) If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. (Deuteronomy 4:29) Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) For it is I who gave you those desires. (Philippians 2:13) I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) For I am your greatest encourager. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18) As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. (Isaiah 40:11) One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. (Revelation 21:3-4) And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. (Revelation 21:3-4) I am your Father, and I love you
      even as I love my son, Jesus. (John 17:23) For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. (John 17:26) He is the exact representation of my being. (Hebrews 1:3) He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. (Romans 8:31) And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. (1 John 4:10) I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. (Romans 8:31-32) If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
      you receive me. (1 John 2:23) And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. (Romans 8:38-39) Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. (Luke 15:7) I have always been Father, and will always be Father. (Ephesians 3:14-15)
      My question is…Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)
      I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)

      Love, Your Dad
      Almighty God
      Father's Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications
      © 1999-2013 http://www.FathersLoveLetter.com

      April 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
      • obidonkenobi

        Whoa! Too long. Let me help you out, here. "Magic, magic, magic...multiple unsubstantiated claims...believe or be tortured forever, the end." Oh, and, "Love ya! -The Grand Poobah"

        April 21, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
      • midmomood

        Beautiful!

        April 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
        • primatica

          If you like goat herder poetry...

          April 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
      • jsw082668

        To all who believe, if your God knows everything about everyone and it has your life and destiny already planned including the moment of your death... I ask you this...Do you look both ways before crossing the street? If you do then you question your God's plan for you is how I see it. As a nonbeliever I say to each his own, believe what you want as long as you don't try to make laws that are based upon those beliefs.

        April 21, 2014 at 11:53 pm |
        • saleeflang

          I'm not sure where people get this popular notion of "destiny" – my opinion is that its rooted in a desire to believe one is better than someone else. Its certainly not supported by scripture and leads to the confusion you describe (whether your question is sincere or not). Scriptures that support Agency (freedom of choice) are everywhere... some explicit some more implicit. An all knowing God knows what his children will do (hence he knows the end from the beginning), but that has no diminutive effect on the validity of their complete agency to chose their own path. So what is the point you might ask? God doesn't want a bunch of robots to keep him company for eternity, he wants us to BECOME like him – that is his work and glory (an honest and loving parent can readily see this in themselves). This process is only possible with complete agency – anything else voids the whole point. Agency means screw-ups... hence there is much more to God's plan...but it all starts with freedom to choose

          April 22, 2014 at 12:57 am |
        • G to the T

          "destiny... my opinion is that its rooted in a desire to believe one is better than someone else."

          I could see how it could be taken that way in some instances but I think the point trying to be conveyed is the idea of destiny/fate. I.e. that the evetual outcome/events of your life were in some way predetermined before you were born. I believe there are seveal scriptural references that could be used bolster the idea and was part of the basis for Calvinist theology of pre-destination.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • cavepainter

      Throughout Christianity there are many ideas on this running a large spectrum. Genesis 2:7 says-

      "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

      Notice two things- 1. man did not receive a soul, he "became" a living soul, and 2. this followed "the breath of life" passing from God into the body that God had formed. In other words, what we have here is the equation Body + Breath = Soul.

      Concepts such as an "immortal soul" do not exist in the Bible. Ezekiel 18:20 says-

      "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

      Notice that the verse starts by declaring that a soul can die. How does a soul die? Psalm 104:29 says about God-

      "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust."

      and Ecclesiastes 3:20 says- "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

      So, going back to the previous equation, if Body + Breath = Soul then Body – Breath = Death, and in death dust returns to dust "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19).

      April 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
      • fintronics

        "God smites women, children and often animals with equal gusto, he seems to equal evil and wrong doing by association, rather than by being guilty of the personal, individual act: "Behold with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day." (II Chronicles 21:14-15)

        April 22, 2014 at 10:36 am |
        • cavepainter

          Well, this is clearly an attempt to troll, but okay, let's see what the bible says.

          Ezekiel 18:14-17
          "(14) Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, (15) That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour's wife, (16) Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, (17) That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live."

          In your quoted commentary that presents God smiting women and children there is a an attempt to misrepresent. Although the word "children" is used in English it in no way implies them to be very young. An old man can call his 50 year old offspring his "children." We can assume that those punished were also partakers in the sin because, as it is written in God's law (Deuteronomy 24:16), "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

          April 22, 2014 at 11:10 am |
        • fintronics

          That's not my "commentary", that's a direct quote from your bible. Of course with the great book of "this means that", you twist what is directly stated. What a laugh.

          April 22, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • fintronics

          God himself will kill tens of thousands if it pleases him: 1st Samuel 6:19 in the King James Version: “And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men (50,070)”. Kill 50 000 men for looking at something?

          You can kill a woman if she seizes a man's private parts without his permission: Deuteronomy 25:11-1: If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

          Perversity and human trafficking condoned: "Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse." (1 Peter 2:18)

          S*X slavery condoned: "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again."
          Exodus 21: 7-8

          April 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • saleeflang

      The scriptures teach that all things were created spiritually before they were created physically. "Spiritually" does not mean made of something immaterial. A prophet of God taught that "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter," When we existed solely as spirits (spiritual children of God) prior to the organization of the earth we lived with God in a more primitive state. God presented a plan to further our progress. One of may favorite scriptures that touches this subject is found in Abraham chapter 3.

      Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the aintelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the bnoble and great ones;

      23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast achosen before thou wast born.

      24 And there stood aone among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and bwe will make an earth whereon these may cdwell;

      25 And we will aprove them herewith, to see if they will bdo all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

      26 And they who akeep their first bestate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second cestate shall have dglory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

      I believe your sincere desire to understand an important part of God's plan will lead you to truth, I hope this helps you.

      April 22, 2014 at 12:34 am |
      • fintronics

        "And when she had presented him the meat, he took hold of her, and said: Come lie with me, my sister. She answered him: Do not so, my brother, do not force me: for no such thing must be done in Israel. Do not thou this folly. [II Kings 13:8-12] But he would not hearken to her prayers, but being stronger overpowered her and lay with her. [II Kings 13:14]

        "And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also." (Genesis 38:7-10)

        April 22, 2014 at 10:39 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      thanks to all who tried.

      looks like nobody knows.

      April 22, 2014 at 9:34 am |
  12. alanread1

    ALL supernatural religions are totally human-created fantasies – so who better to depict fantasies than HOLLYWOOD! There is just as much objective reproducible evidence for the existence of heaven as there is for LEPRACHAUNS: 1) millions of words have been written about leprachauns 2) the stories about leprachauns appear in OLD BOOKS (so they must be true, right?) 3) many children have claimed to have seen them, etc. etc. Show me your evidence for heaven and I'll be happy to test it in the laboratory. After all, if scientists have been able to detect evidence of gravity waves from the first trillioneth-trillioneth of a second after the big bang, then I would think these Evangelicals and Fundies should be able to come up with something!

    April 21, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
  13. JohnRJohnson

    Heaven may be real, but there's little point in speculating about it because nobody has ever been there and come back. That said, what is odd about this 4-year-olds' stories about Heaven during his surgery is that you don't dream when you're anesthetized. Maybe, as he was emerging from anesthesia, his mind conjured up the fantasies, but it wasn't during his procedure.

    April 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • tallulah131

      The brain does all sorts of wacky things when it's stressed. Add to that the natural tendency of children to extrapolate the oddest things from conversations that they overhear, and Voila! Instant story about seeing grampa and Jesus in heaven. Once you reward a child for a behavior (such as claiming that he was in heaven) that kid is going to start innocently adding all sorts of details in order to keep receiving those rewards.

      I suspect that this is an honest misunderstanding that inflated to become into a moneymaking enterprise. I hope the kid at least gets a college fund out of it.

      April 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
  14. bostontola

    OK, it's kind of cool that the bible says there will be animals in the afterlife (Isaiah 65: 25, NIV) :

    "The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD."

    It's a sweet notion that predators will change their ways. When I think of it though, they aren't the same animal anymore. What good is an afterlife if you get transformed into something different. It's actually creepy to me, like passive lions are better than predator lions. If so, why did God create lions that way to begin with? What kind of changes does God make to humans to make them "better".

    No, once again the stuff in the bible is a childish first draft at utopia. It hadn't been fact checked or consistency checked.

    April 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      Lions would be a pretty sad lot in heaven.....hours spent on one mouthful followed by massive gastric disturbance

      Ox would probably develop a superiority complex – get kicked down to the flaming pit and become bbq
      Lions would lead a rebellion...get kicked down to the pit – feast on bbq = life somewhat normal again – if a bit hot.

      April 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
      • bostontola

        Are you allowed to fart in heaven?

        Why do animals need to eat in heaven?

        April 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          "Are you allowed to fart in heaven?"

          no -don't think so

          and things go form terrible to much worse for the lions....

          April 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
        • bostontola

          Throw those lions into the people den!

          April 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
  15. gregglyoung

    After witnessing Yahweh’s throne chariot fly into the air with the sound of a jet engine, he fell face-first to the ground

    So, how many jet engines were around back then?

    The reason only these people in the Bible went to or saw God's Grace was because the guys who wrote the Bible to control the populace made it up... myths and Fables written by man to control man... Easter and Christmas were other Pagan holidays until too many of the pagans would not ocnvert, so the religious leaders of the day shifted stuff to fit these festivals.... shameless.

    April 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
  16. jbhollen

    Drew Dyck quotes John 3:13 “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man” Very reliably a different verse says just the opposite – 2 Kings 2:11 "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven". Contradictions in scripture are so commonplace it's trite. The entertainment value comes in the apologetic refutations. The mental acrobatics are always impressive. And then of course there are the ones that are just disingenuous, usually stating that the apologist just happens to "know" what the scripture really "meant" to say. But back on topic, I would like to throw out there that the concept of Heaven (other than in context to the sky) and Hell (other than the context of "in the ground" or "in flames") are not mentioned in the entirety of the old testament. Given that one is the home address of god and the other is the eternal payoff for those of us who won't drink the cool-aid, I find it one of the biggest holes in the entire christian mythos. Where did all those people go when they died before the new testament letter-writers thought it up?

    April 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      A big waiting room – with a REALLY big number machine ala DMV

      April 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        that was how hell was designed, after a dmv waiting room!

        April 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
    • workingcopy12

      JB–it appears that you are not familiar with the original text (i.e. OT in Hebrew and NT in Greek). Different meanings for "heaven" are used in these texts and therefore there is no contradiction. Try a little research next time.

      April 21, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        ok so it needs to be retranslated more accurately then?

        April 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        The results of my research: The Hebrew word "shamiyim" means one of three different "heavens" – earth's atmosphere, outer space, the dwelling place of god.

        What I cannot find is an explanation for why "shamiyim" is interpreted as either earth's atmosphere or outer space and not the dwelling of god in 2 Kings 2:11. For interpretation is all it is, as with the case of a lot of responses along the lines of "go back and read the original Hebrew". At best, it is unclear and rather silly that Elijah rode a chariot into outer space. At worse, there is a contradiction.

        April 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
        • jbhollen

          Still disagree. I agree that Heaven was used in the OT quite a few times but not as gods address or eternal reward. Hell however is pretty cut and dried. It is not referenced in the OT as the place of eternal punishment at all. Sounds like you are getting a little testy. Arguing your side of this debate tends to have that affect.

          April 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          jbhollen,

          Are you responding to me or workingcopy12?

          April 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
  17. thefinisher1

    It's funny, atheists created the "zombie Jesus" for childish reasons, yet nowhere in the entire bible does it ever claim Jesus ate the flesh and brains of people. Atheists today are like spoiled brats who demand attention for childish reasons. grow up atheist community!

    April 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      Please don't feed the trolls!

      April 21, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
    • Alias

      I just told you!
      Not zombie – LICH!

      April 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
      • jbhollen

        John 6:54 – Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.. So the catholics do this symbolically but it sounds like pretty straight forward instructions to me. This combined to coming back from the dead pretty much meets the current day description of zombie.

        April 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
        • Alias

          Good point.
          Now that you brought blood into it, can we completely discard the possibility of vampire?
          It still doesn't say anything aboiut eating the brain after all. Unless THAT is what was growing on the tree of knowledge .....

          April 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
        • jbhollen

          Well, I've been this nonsense suck the life out of people so you may have a point.

          April 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • joey3467

      Can you prove that he didn't eat the flesh and brains of people?

      April 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
    • tommyjcaps

      The zombie Jesus is about rising from the dead NOT eating brains. I'm not surprised that this was lost on you.

      April 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Rising from the dead is very common even in today's world. Only idiots like yourself act like spoiled brats who demand attention. Awww! Poor baby!!!

        April 21, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Wow, finish....you are quite the azzhole! I guess you missed the Christian class where they said you should turn the other cheek and treat your neighbor as yourself. Oh well, we've seen your posts and don't expect any intelligent statement to ever come from your ignorant posts. Talk about needing to grow up! Pot, meet kettle....

          April 21, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
        • Alias

          we now have proof that something ate Thefinisher1's brain.
          I still don't know if it was jesus or a zombie

          April 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
  18. Alias

    This keeps coming up and even thought it does not relate directly to the article I think we need to get it straight.
    Jesus was not a zombie. He was never bitten by a zombie, so he cannot have turned into one. Also, he never ate brains.
    He's a lich.

    April 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Alias,

      You watch to many movies. Affects of media to corrupt the weak.

      April 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
      • Alias

        Maybe so, but i'm partial to comedies.

        April 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          We may have differences but we also have something in common.

          April 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
      • flightfromfrostmtn

        you wont find liches in movies.......

        April 21, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
        • Alias

          After consulting with my colleagues, there was a lich in a Dungeons and Dragons movie once;
          but let's not mix a religious discussion with nonsense written in a book.

          April 21, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          lol!

          April 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Video games.

          April 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
      • bostontola

        Liches come from fantasy fiction, many old texts are in that genre, some from thousands of years ago.

        April 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Zombie works according to the dictionary definition of "the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose. "

      April 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
  19. Theo Phileo

    Some may be surprised that the Bible contains not one story of a person going to heaven and coming back.
    ------------
    Interesting... So the author has never read 2 Corinthians 12 then?

    April 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      Not a trip to Heaven.

      April 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        Really? Then how do you read that passage?

        April 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          It's a vision. They are all visions. The article gets this correct.

          “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man” (John 3:13)."

          April 21, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
        • G to the T

          Topher – what about Elijah?

          April 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          G to the T

          "Topher – what about Elijah?"

          What about him?

          April 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • G to the T

          Topher – "What about him?"

          My understanding was that he was taken bodily up to heaven. Isn't that contrary to the idea that no one has seen it?

          April 22, 2014 at 10:13 am |
      • Theo Phileo

        Incidentally, the same word that Paul uses for "Paradise" as the "Third heaven" that he was called up to is the same one that Jesus used to the thief on the cross "today, you will be with me in Paradise."

        April 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • G to the T

          So Luke (the Paul fanboy) used the same terminology as Paul? What a shocker!

          April 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
    • Akira

      Isn't this a story told to Paul by someone else?

      April 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher

        Paul is talking about himself.

        April 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
      • Akira

        I see. What a weird thing to do, talk about oneself in the third person....

        April 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
    • gregglyoung

      Well, considering it is all made up and a bunch of myths and fables, does it really matter?

      April 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
      • fintronics

        Not one bit..

        April 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Theo,

      How come durian is awful to those who have not eaten it?

      Try it you may like it.

      April 21, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
  20. Theo Phileo

    “Fanatics subst.itute ‘revelations’ for Scripture. Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness…

    These men, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the “dead and deadly letter.” I wish they would tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as mean and childish…

    Indeed, the Holy Spirit is recognized in His agreement with Scripture, since by the Spirit was the Scripture written. Any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood.”
    – John Calvin

    April 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
    • Alias

      So your point is that Calvin got it wrong?
      We agree.

      April 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • G to the T

      "Fanatics subst.itute ‘revelations’ for Scripture"

      And yet the last book of the Bible is called what?

      April 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        The point G to the T is that the only source of revelation are the prophets, apostles, and Jesus. And if any claimant to revelation does not square with what they say, then it is not of God, but is demonic. (numerous scriptures available upon request) There is no new revelation. No more prophets, and no more apostles. Revelation has ceased. Do not add to, nor take away from what has been written.

        April 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Why is it that there are no more prophets or revelations?

          April 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • kudlak

          The ending of slavery must have been one of those things, because the Bible fully endorses the owning of people as property.

          April 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
        • jbhollen

          You are right. And Exodus 21:20-21 gives instruction on beating them.

          April 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Sungrazer

          "Why is it that there are no more prophets or revelations?"

          Because the canon is closed. We have all we need to know God and how to be saved in the Bible.

          April 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
        • jbhollen

          The cannon closed in 397CE. Why were there no prophets or Revelations from 30-397CE?

          April 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • observer

          noahsdadtopher,

          Everything but PROOF.

          April 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          jbhollen

          "The cannon closed in 397CE."

          It closed a long time before that.

          "Why were there no prophets or Revelations from 30-397CE?"

          See above answer.

          April 21, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • jbhollen

          Ok. Follow-on question. The gospels were written a full generation or more after jesus died by unknown authors. No first hand accounts available. Only word of mouth. At the council of Nicea convened by the Pagan Emperor Constantine (recently converted) in 325CE 300+ religious leaders were paid to sift through hundreds of letters, accounts, myths, etc. and then by popular vote determine which ones were going to be part of the definitive christian cannon. At this late date they did not even agree if jesus was divine or not. Then began 1000+ years of hand written transcription and translations, each iteration different from the last. Entire stories such as the tale of the adulteress in John were added at someones whim. Then different versions emerged. Wikipedia lists 142 different english translations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_Bible_translations). How can you pick up a bible today and claim "We have all we need to know God and how to be saved in the Bible" knowing that the book you are holding likely has little to do with what transpired over 2,000 years ago and is the product of men for men purposes?

          April 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
        • Akira

          So because the canon is closed, God has no more need to speak?

          Huh.

          April 21, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          So god closed the books near 2000 years ago, slapped his knees, and said, "That's that." His concern for humanity's salvation doesn't seem to be very pressing.

          April 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          jbhollen

          Not trying to offend you and I certainly don't know where you fall on Christ, but MOST of what you just mentioned is wrong and only spread around by those who have an axe to grind.

          April 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • jbhollen

          Which post are you referring to? I made several.

          April 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Sungrazer

          "His concern for humanity's salvation doesn't seem to be very pressing."

          Wow. Just ... wow. Do you have any idea what He went through so that you can escape the punishment you deserve? So that you can go to Heaven?

          April 21, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          jbhollen

          "Which post are you referring to? I made several."

          Sorry. The one just above ... starts with asking a "follow-up question" about how the Bible came about, etc.

          April 21, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Topher,

          "Wow. Just ... wow. Do you have any idea what He went through so that you can escape the punishment you deserve? So that you can go to Heaven?"

          You mean the bad day Jesus had a couple thousand years ago? I didn't ask for him to go through that. I find it immoral of him to expect me to be held hostage to it when I wasn't alive at the time to try to stop it.

          I have come to what I believe is a rational conclusion that the Christian god doesn't exist. At any time he could quite easily persuade me that he does. That he chooses not to tells me my salvation is not his #1 priority.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:39 am |
        • flightfromfrostmtn

          Topher,

          God set the stage – every piece, every player, every rule in the game – his design.

          along the way he has made some pretty off the wall rules and requirements:

          commanding Adam and Eve to procreate- but making the 'knowledge' to do so contingent on eating from a tree he commanded them to not eat from.

          demanding his 'chosen' mutilate the most sensitive part of their anatomy as part of a sacred ritual.

          the sacrifice of specific animals on specific days as a sign of 'thanks' he didn't kill their kids in his roundabout way of delivering them from bondage.

          on and on ...

          culminating in the requirement that we all funnel through his approved mortal agents for our eternal salvation or the whole deal is off.

          April 22, 2014 at 1:57 am |
    • Sungrazer

      "Any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood."

      Translated: "I possess the one true doctrine. There is no vanity in that. Your doctrine, on the other hand, is false, and it is vain of you to hold it."

      April 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
      • fintronics

        This book says that this book is truth.

        April 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • Doris

      John Calvin's description of witches in the Institutes of the Christian Religion even more transparently revealed his true motives of combating dissension from his version of Protestantism. Calvin draws, from his passage on witchcraft, the conclusion that "we have to wage war against an infinite number of enemies." Calvin might have included under this category anyone who did not conform to the dicta of his strict church government in Geneva.

      Calvin's policy was to stringently oversee people's private lives, church attendance, and intellectual expression, and ensure that nothing they said or did would displease God. It should therefore come as no surprise that Geneva experienced a far larger number of witch hunts than most other major European cities. H.C. Erik Midelfort's statistics show Geneva as having experienced 95 cases of witch persecution over 125 years, almost two and a half times more than had occurred in the entire Department of the Nord in France during 137 years.

      Calvin was frank about his use of the witch craze to enforce the power of his own theocratic order, stating in the Institutes that he had brought up the entire issue "in order that we may be aroused and exhorted," i.e., rallied behind Calvin's religious movement.

      April 21, 2014 at 4:21 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.