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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. believerfred

    There are some who say the Bible shows a cycle where God created the heaven and the earth, it was destroyed by evil (battle in the principalities) leaving creation in a dark void. Then God began the process of redemption as we read beginning in Genesis:
    "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,”

    The current creation with Adam and Eve in a perfect garden fall to the same desire and when the last possible soul that can be redeemed is ready this heaven and earth will end followed by a new Heaven and Earth where there are no more tears. Evil will be eternally separated from the new creation in Christ.

    The story of Noah repeats the same warning where all wickedness is cleansed from the creation and those who find favor in the eyes of the Lord are lifted in an ark onto high ground where there is no evil. Jesus says in the End of Days it will be the same story.

    God is the source of all that is good. Jesus was a picture of this goodness, this glory of God was upon him. What man does to this perfect image is clearly revealed in the story often called the passion of Christ. We see every imaginable sin committed on Jesus in betrayal, mocking, disbelief, physical abuse beyond comprehension displaying the consequence of sin being death to the image of God in man as originally created. Gods response is to bring about life everlasting through the resurrection of Christ and for any that truly want life everlasting. That is accomplished for us by putting us "in Christ" just as Noah was placed in the Ark. Why, because we have proven ourselves incapable of handling the knowledge of good and evil not to mention incapable of following simple instructions not to eat of that tree.

    April 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      "And God said, “Let there be light,”

      ~~~~~~~~~

      Only one problem. God forgot to make the sun first. (or any stars for that matter)

      oops.

      April 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • believerfred

        Concert
        Let there be light has deep meaning with regard to regeneration and renewal. The light was to separate the creation from the darkness as in rebirth of life eternal which is in Christ alone. As to cosmological argument there was light before the earth was formed so if you attempting to imply Genesis account is in error at this point you would be better off to find an easier verse to attack..

        April 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          How could there be light with no sun? I am just reading the bible here. That is what it says.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • believerfred

          The initial source of light in the Genesis account does not necessarily need to be our sun, as the light from our sun is brought up at a later point in the creation account. There are several theories as to what science believes as to background light in the forming universe however there is no consensus as to what this light was as mentioned in Genesis. Not that science does not have favored theories but science does not address this genesis account.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          fred, You believe that the ancients were not referring to the sun they could see when they invented the creation myth, but rather to some pre-Solar System light? Doesn't seem too likely.

          April 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
        • believerfred

          In Santa We Trust
          Good point. If Moses or earlier oral tradition was not inspired by God it is all most likely just a good old tale.

          April 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      what sort of asinine fool spends so much time and effort and goodness to create from nothing a perfect universe and a perfect existence with all of its intricacy ... and then tricks Eve into eating an apple so that he can then undo his master work that he put so much time and effort into and turn it into the barely holding together chaos that we see today that he has to constantly micromanage? Seriously? Seriously?!?!

      April 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
      • believerfred

        No trick, just presentation of the plan as designed. Perhaps you need to keep in mind that the eternal nature of God (even the Spinoza and Einstein conceptualization of "God") does not operate in the manner you suggest since time is but a spot on an eternal landscape. That is to say there was no take over so to speak from Gods perspective. The take over is our perspective as we are the ones on a linear time line comprised of past, present and future. This is why the loop of redemption was revealed before it happened (genesis 3:15)

        April 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Perhaps you need to keep in mind that the eternal nature of God (even the Spinoza and Einstein conceptualization of "God") does not operate in the manner you suggest since time is but a spot on an eternal landscape"

          As I understand it, Spinoza and Einstein believed in the possiblity of a "god" that was responsible for the and/or identical to the laws that govern the natural world. Neither believed in a god that interacted directly (i.e. miracles) with the world. This is a defendable position (theism) because at no time does the "god" interact with the physical world (so there would be no way to prove either way). "God" however implies Yahweh. Yahweh acts under very different parameters than the god described by either.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • believerfred

          G to the T
          Yes, sorry for the confusion. I put "quotes" around the "God" of Spinoza intentionally and no quotes around the Hebrew God.
          They did not however think "God" was or could be limited by naturalism. I actually sometimes think Einstein thought of "God" as an eternal constant because he was fascinated with one aspect of God (calling himself "I AM") that made him proclaim he (Einstein) could never be an atheist. Einstein also couched his agnosticism in terms of specific representations of God made by religions not agnostic as to God and certainly not agnostic as to Spinoza's "God"

          April 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • believerfred

        Dyslexic
        "what sort of asinine fool spends so much time and effort"
        =>6 days is not so much time or effort. Besides if there is God it would not be time or effort to begin with.

        "then tricks Eve into eating an apple"
        =>according to the story it was not a trick since she was warned not to eat of it or even touch.

        =>You do realize you have created your own story that seems to suit you. Problem is that not too many people have heard your story.

        =>back to the story as presented you will note there was no micromanaging going on. God said don't at some prior point in time but was not involved until after they filled their desire rather than Gods.

        April 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • sealchan

      Explain how it is that God is responsible for everything He has created...or not. Make it make sense so that someone who sees the pain and evil in the world will understand God's burden of responsibility for setting this whole thing in motion.

      April 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        J.I. Packer defines the gospel in three words: “Adoption through propitiation…”

        God is holy, and good, and everything He does is for the glory of God. (Isaiah 40:17, Daniel 4:35, Isaiah 42:1, Matthew 3:17, 17:5, Ephesians 5:2) And in order that He might demonstrate His love, and to bring glory and honor, and praise to Himself, and in order to demonstrate His relative attributes of mercy, grace, justice, and loving-kindness, He devised a plan in eternity past to create a universe where His creation would rebel against Him, and He would send forth His Son to the world to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect and sinless life, and to die a subst.itutionary death on a cross, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of sins. Man committed sin, but Jesus paid the fine. He would then rise from the dead, defeating death, and ascend into heaven, and if a man or woman will repent, and put their trust in the redeeming work of Christ, God will demonstrate His loving-kindness, grace, and mercy towards them by forgiving all of their sins and granting them everlasting life. To all of those who refuse His free gift of grace, they will suffer an eternity in hell, thereby bringing glory to God by demonstrating His divine justice. All of this so that for all of eternity, all of creation will say what a wonderful God He is; that He would save wretched sinners like us, and because we are so grateful to Him, we love Him. And in the greatest gift of love, God the Father gives to God the Son the gift of a redeemed humanity.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          Comedy Gold!!! LOLOLOLOLOL

          April 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Comedy Gold is saying "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle!" and your world view actually forces you to believe it...

          April 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • G to the T

          So all of creation and humanity was created to stroke the ego of Yahweh? That's a pretty extreme view in my opinion.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • sam stone

          so, this was all done for god's ego mas-t-u-b-a-t-i-o-n?

          April 24, 2014 at 5:47 am |
      • sealchan

        That makes it sound like a protection racket...basically you pay (worship) me for making your life hard or else I will make it harder.

        I think this answer lacks a sense of understanding that God is not intelligible so such simple intelligible answers are always full of holes unless you contextualize your response appropriately. There is no correct single answer to any of the apparently cruel and capricious features of the Biblical story unless you provide a context for reading this story that explains its applications and limitations.

        April 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • believerfred

        sealchan
        "God's burden of responsibility for setting this whole thing in motion."
        =>The act of creation puts the burden of responsibility on God.
        =>I assume you have read the Bible observing that Adam blamed God for making Eve in the first place and Job's friends blamed God as well. To Adam God did not reply but simply allowed them to live out their lives under the deception of good and evil. To Job God did not reply to his friends who blamed God but did spare their lives at Job's request and also lived out their lives under the deception of good and evil. The commonality with Adam and Job's friends is that they were looking for an answer to blame not the answer based on love and redemption which is the plan of creation. Those opposed to God will not or can not hear Gods reply even if God were to give one.

        April 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    Romans 6

    What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    St. Paul talks about sacramental baptism.

    April 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Dude, seriously what is the deal with these ridiculously long copy and paste posts???

      April 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      posting vast tracts from your story book may give you pleasure but they really mean nothing. They are words written by men in a religious cult to further their deluded and self serving cause.

      I would be interested in anything that you, as a 21st century member of the religious cult, might have to say, but am not interested in anything written so long ago by bronze age or iron age cult members because they really knew nothing about the world and believed in gods the same way any primitive man did ... through scientific ignorance.

      April 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
      • sam stone

        doG...you know that it makes rainy feel all godly and such, don't you?

        April 24, 2014 at 5:49 am |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      Even believers read Rainers posts the same way they do the bible...

      "What shall we say then? , yada yada, Jesus Christ is Lord amen..."

      April 23, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
  3. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    John 3

    There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    Note that Jesus said: "born of WATER and Spirit"

    Obviously Jesus talks about sacramental baptism.

    April 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      Without getting too off topic, no, Jesus wasn't talking about water baptism...

      In John 3, Jesus here was figuratively referring to the need for cleansing, not from literal water – obviously, literal water has no ability to spiritually cleanse. (1 Peter 3:21) He refers to the spiritual washing or purification of the soul accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at the moment of salvation. Jesus meant a believer is purified in spirit, and this becomes evident through a purified life of repentance. This is backed up by the following scriptures:

      Ezekiel 36:25-27 – Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

      Ephesians 5:26 – so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word

      T.itus 3:5 – He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…

      See also: Numbers 19:17-19, Psalm 51:9-10, Isaiah 32:15, Isaiah 44:3-5, Isaiah 55:1-3, Jeremiah 2:13, Joel 2:28-29

      April 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
    • Doris

      No one knows who authored John of course. And the only thing needed for Ephesians is a good antihistamine.

      April 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
  4. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    There is a simple reason why we make so little supernatural experiences: We adhere too much to the visible world. Our sinful nature (Greek: sarx; English: flesh) is extremly bound in the visible world, and remote from the invisible world.

    The first step of getting released from our captivity in the visible world is the death of our flesh (our old man of sin; we as natural born sinners). Should we commit suicide? That is not necessary. There is another way to get rid of the flesh: The rebirth or sacramental baptism where we die and resurrect together with Jesus. As we die and resurrect at the same moment, we don't perceive baptism as a kind of death (actually our life as sinners gets abolished).

    John 3: 5-7

    5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh (our natural birth by our mother); and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (our supernatural birth by the triune God). 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    Sacramental baptism or rebirth is the very first but necessary step to experience miracles.

    After the rebirth our flesh (we as sinners) is declared dead but still there. Our body still wants to live according to its old habits though we have been baptized. At baptism we also received the Holy Spirit. We have to struggle daily that the Spirit gets control of our body or limbs more and more so that our body less and less acts according to its old habits.

    God has actually abolished our life in the sin through baptism, but he has not abolished us (as personality with full human dignity), of course. We are set free, but it is our task and responsibility to grasp the new life daily more and more. God will never violate our free will; he respects our human dignity. God has set us on a new way, and it is up to us to go on this flat way.

    Today even people having received sacramental baptism nurture their flesh through materialism, se-xual greed and too much eating (that is a great pity and neglect of the holy gift).

    Our saramental baptism will only be of any benefit for us if we spare enough time for contemplation about divine things(we should not offer every minute of our life for the job and consumption). We should be chaste, and eat less or fast.

    (Contemplation includes daily prayer)

    Colossians 3: 1-5

    If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

    It is a great pity that today very many people having received sacramental baptism, don't make supernatural experiences. Simple reason: They don't fight against their old habits though they would be on the winner side because their flesh (old life as sinner) has been declared dead through baptism.

    I claim that the worst calamity of our current time is the neglect of sacramental baptism, the holy gift. The whole world including the churches has returned to the "sarx". That is the reason for depression, misfortune, diseases, catastrophes, death, wars, plagues, etc.

    Modern Christian leaders are actually spiritual criminals because they don't explain us the connection between Jesus' sacrifice, sacramental baptism and our real life. These criminals are on the born-again-side and the ecclesiastical side.

    Through his sacrifice (his death on the cross) Jesus laid the basis for sacramental baptism: He has borne our sinful flesh, and resurrected in order to be our new life. We have died together with Jesus, and resurrected together with him. We get connected with Jesus death and resurrection through baptism where our old man of sin dies, and we resurrect together with Jesus. Requirements for baptism are repentance and faith (accepting the gospel as true).

    We get saved through faith alone, of course. Baptism makes us able to believe unboundedly.

    How many sick people would like to get cured. Yet, they know nothing about the connection between living according to the sinful flesh and diseases. Sin causes depression, diseases, death, doom, etc. We need to get rid of the sin. We make us sick when we nurture our flesh.

    Sorry for posting my comment again: I really want to find somebody sharing my opinion therefore my comment must be easily to discover.

    April 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
    • rosenj72

      The concept of Atonement is another point of disagreement between Christianity and Judaism. Christians believe that only the shed blood of the perfect Lamb of God [Jesus] is capable of washing away sin. Besides the logical problems with this concept, such as God creating a world with sin and having everyone go to Hell until after the death of Jesus some 4,000 years after creation, the Hebrew Bible never required human sacrifices for atonement. It is incomprehensible how one can believe that a loving and merciful God would create a world containing sin, yet would not give mankind a way to atone for it until a 4,000 year waiting period was completed for the death of his son. This is tantamount to creating an office building and not putting fire exits in the structure until an actual fire broke out, by then it would be too late. The means [repentance] was built into the very fabric of creation. The fire exits were built, before the office building opened for business. In Judaism, repentance has always been a necessary and accessible means of atonement since the very moment of creation.

      Judaism has always held belief in the biblical concept of Teshuvah, which means “return to God”. When someone is penitent and feels remorse and regret for the sins they have committed, they are immediately returned to favor with God and all their sins are forgiven. To a Jew, the most important question is not “how are we saved?” which is what Christians ask, but how can I best serve my God? As such, God gave the Jewish people 613 commandments to help us improve our lives and build a stronger connection to him. The more we strive to follow the commandments, the closer we come to understanding God and his role in our lives. Let us look at how the Torah instructs both Jews and Gentiles on the proper way to get saved.

      Isaiah 1:16 – Wash, cleanse yourselves, remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes, cease to do evil. Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the robbed, perform justice for the orphan, and plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us debate, says the Lord. If your sins prove to be like crimson, they will become white as snow; if they prove to be as red as crimson dye, they shall become as white wool.

      God requires more than just faith; he also requires that we stop doing evil and perform acts of kindness. In fact, Isaiah 3:10 says “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds”. As Jews, we believe that what we do in this world, directly impacts us in the next which is why God is so concerned with how we live. A Gentile who lives a life of kindness and love for his fellow man is guaranteed a place in Heaven.

      Hosea 14:2 “Take words with you and return [Teshuvah] to the Lord. Say to him: Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the bulls [sacrifices] of our lips”. Here, Hosea shows us that words enable us to return to the Lord If we ask him to forgive our sins, he will; this is the concept of repentance.

      Psalms 51:16 & 17 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”. King David shows us that sacrifices are not needed or wanted; God requires only a broken heart. If one is truly repentant, God always forgives. We do not need anyone’s shed blood to atone for us.

      Hosea 6:6 “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings”. Once again, no sacrifice needed or wanted. God just wants our acknowledgement.

      Jonah 2:1 & 9 “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord”. Again we see that Jonah’s song of thanks to the Lord was considered a sacrifice. God heard his call and saved him.

      Psalms 50:14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me”. God desires the “sacrifices” of prayer and thank offerings for salvation. He does not desire the blood of goats or of men.

      Psalms 40:6 “You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I understand you do not require burnt offerings or sin offerings.” It doesn’t get clearer than this.

      1 Samuel 15:22 “But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams”. Here, Samuel clearly shows that “faith” is only part of the equation. Obeying the voice of the Lord is better than sacrifice.

      The Hebrew word for sacrifice is ‘Korban’ which is a derivative of the word ‘Karov’ meaning to ‘come close’. The concept of sacrifice is not that the blood itself atones for you; the concept of a sacrifice is that you feel remorse that it should have been you that is punished to die, but instead, an innocent animal is being killed because of you. The blood provides a way to help you atone and ‘come closer’ to God. The purpose of the sacrifice was that when you participate in slaughtering an animal, you commit yourself to try and sin-less because you don't want to take another creature’s life. The sacrificial process was designed to develop compassion, remorse and sensitivity in the offender; however, since the intentional sinner is unapologetic and lacks these necessary characteristics, the sacrifice cannot absolve him of guilt. This is why the Bible specifically states that the sacrifices were only for unintentional sins [Leviticus 4:2, 4:13, 4:22, 4:27, 5:15 and 5:18]. This is extremely logical because if someone sins intentionally, knowing full well that they would need to slaughter an animal, they really don’t care that another living creature must die and therefore the sacrifice itself will not expiate the sin.

      The only way to completely atone for intentional sin is through repentance and this is the concept of the sacrifice. Now, blood was the best way for atonement because it required the sinner to play an active role in the sacrificial process by giving up and slaughtering his own animal, however not everyone owned animals which is why God arranged alternate processes to give flour and money as atonement offerings. Exodus 30:15 states “The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel, with which to give the offering to the Lord, to atone for your souls. You shall take the silver of the atonements from the children of Israel and use it for the work of the Tent of Meeting; it shall be a remembrance for the children of Israel before the Lord, to atone for your souls." The fact that the Bible says that the money was atonement for your souls, shows that blood alone was not needed. In addition to money, when people were unable to give an animal they were permitted to use fine flour for the sin expiation process. Leviticus 5:11 “But if he cannot afford two turtle doves or two young doves, then he shall bring as his sacrifice for his sin one tenth of an ephah [measurement] of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall not put oil over it, nor shall he place frankincense upon it, for it is a sin offering. However, the flour and money also only worked when repentance was part of the process. In fact, money is still used as an offering today in conjunction with other forms of repentance. God provided Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, [Leviticus 16:30] once a year to atone for our sins. We are to afflict our souls by fasting, which is abstinence from eating or drinking for a 25 hour period. The Torah says in the passage that the day itself atones for our sins, once again, only if we are penitent.

      Using this logic, it now becomes crystal clear why all the prophets above said God doesn't need sacrifices. It was because the whole purpose of the sacrifice was only to make you repent, if someone repents than that is truly what God wants. Active participation in the sacrificial process was the means through which the person was able to ‘come close’ to God in order to feel remorse. The concept that Jesus died for the sins of the world, and that the sinner had no part in the atonement process completely contradicts the entire point of the Korban Sacrifice. If however, we actively repent and feel remorse for our transgressions we come close to God through our own actions and do not require an animal sacrifice. Human sacrifice and specifically the sacrifice of the Messiah was never part of the Jewish atonement or salvation process. This concept was born from the integration of other cultures and beliefs into the Christian faith. This has never been part of the Jewish belief system and runs contrary to its very foundation.

      From 300Times0 on Amazon –

      April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        *face palm*

        ever get the feeling like you're trying to nail jello to a wall?

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

          I remember a cartoon once:

          Martin Luther nailing his 95 feces to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg.

          I like Jello better.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Whatever works Theo, though making food into a s e xual partner can be dangerous... just be careful, and make sure and sand the wall with a very fine grit paper...

          April 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
  5. bostontola

    The whole premise of the Abrahamic religions makes no sense to me, especially in light of Christianity.

    Why would the Creator side with a tiny tribe against all others? The Israelites were probably 1-2 % of the human population. God sided with them and helped kill others in battles. Because they believed in other Gods? But God only revealed himself to Abraham and didn't ask him to get the others to join (like in Christianity).

    April 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      If what happened to the Jews was a result of being God's "chosen people" then I'm glad I wasn't "chosen".

      April 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      A passage tucked away in Ezekiel explains why God chose Israel.
      Ezekiel 16 – here, in a passage that is often not even taught in modern Synagogues due to its graphic depiction of Israel, God explains His love for His own. Israel was unlovable, unwanted, hated, and despised, but for no other reason other than simply because God chose to love them, He loved them, and lavished them with His divine blessings. Then Israel became proud and worshipped idols. Verses 46-47 say that Israel had acted worse than Sodom. So God gave them over to their enemies and punished them. BUT, because God chose to love them, He establishes an everlasting covenant with them so that they shall know that He is the LORD, and God will forgive them, for they are His. (See: Zechariah 12-13)

      April 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • bostontola

        Theo,
        I get that, it makes no sense, especially given the precepts of Christianity. God could give special attention to the underdogs, while still loving all people. It makes no sense at all.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "I get that, it makes no sense, especially given the precepts of Christianity. God could give special attention to the underdogs, while still loving all people. It makes no sense at all."
          -------------
          I certainly can't explain why God does some of the things that He does, but the best analogy that I can think of is if a couple wants to adopt a child, and they choose an infant... Why did they choose THAT one and not any other child? Most likely, just because they love them. Why? Don't know, they just love them.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          your analogies fail more than anyone I have ever met!

          April 23, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Dog,
          Just because you do not agree with them, that doesn't mean they are invalid.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • kudlak

          Theo Phileo
          Most adoptive parents that I know are just thankful to have any child to adopt.

          The love comes later.

          April 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
  6. Concert in an Egg

    I believe it is quite possible that, while what we experience seems real and tangible enough, it might very well be that how we perceive reality evolved right alongside us (and all living things on all inhabited planets).

    Since we only understand approximately 4% of what we experience, who is to say there are not extra dimensions we cannot experience. I sincerely hope that, before mankind becomes extinct, some lucky humans find extra dimensions in the universe.

    Additionally, I hope I live to see the day when we understand dark matter and energy. That would be very exciting.

    If there were a god of the nature described by bible, it would have been polite to discuss black holes and dark matter at least a little in the bible. Kind of a key deal there you know?

    April 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Since we only understand approximately 4% of what we experience"
      +++ where did you get that number?

      April 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing the amount of dark matter and energy we don't understand versus the balance of matter that we do understand thus far.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      Nice theory. Just one problem ... no such thing as Darwinian evolution.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        wha?

        April 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Topher, evolution is a proven fact.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          No. And science rejects it.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          You are incorrect Topher, but believe what you will.

          How is the baby and mom (and you?)

          April 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Please tell me how something that happened billions of years ago is testable, repeatable and demonstrable? That's the scientific method.

          You also have zero evidence of a change in kinds.

          Then there's also the problem of how it would be genetically impossible.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          DNA

          April 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • joey3467

          Why would anyone want to discuss evolution with Topher? I find it to be about as productive as repeatedly banging my head into a brick wall.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Nope. Any changes are natural selection.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          "Please tell me how something that happened billions of years ago is testable, repeatable and demonstrable?"

          You need to stop listening to Ken Ham. Conclusions can still be drawn from historical events. Perhaps you want to abolish any kind of criminal investigations where there are no eyewitnesses. If I am ever a defendant in a murder trial, I hope you are on the jury.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Topher, natural selection is a key mechanism of evolution.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Sungrazer

          "Perhaps you want to abolish any kind of criminal investigations where there are no eyewitnesses."

          Ask any cop, the chances of solving an investigation drastically decreases after 48 hours. We still don't know if Oswald acted alone, yet I'm supposed to trust we know what happened billions of years ago.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          No. Natural selection has limitations. It can only change to something already present in the genetics of that animal. Thus a cow will never develop a whale's blowhole.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          topher, the case for evolution has been presented many times – briefly the evidence is in the fossils and DNA. For much more detail: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

          April 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          All a fossil proves is something died. And you can't even prove from that fossil that that creature is the ancestor of anyone or anything.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • ausphor

          Topher
          You fit al three of the following...
          1. Blindly ignorant out of fear.
          2. Blindly ignorant out of sheer arrogance.
          3. Blindly declare that you are right and all others by default are wrong.
          There is a vast store of knowledge outside of the bible and apologist sites that you simply reject. But you are entertaining in a pathetic sort of way.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          What we are witnessing here is "devolution", the rewinding of the evolutionary process that gave us brains that can think logically. Topher shows us how easy it is to slip back into old patterns of illogic, though he will quite likely demonstrate how no longer useful traits get weeded out of the gene pool as those few like him fade into the past. Within fifty years our grandkids will be laughing about the religious like we do now about flat earthers.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        Sure there is! They read it in an old book! *wink, wink*

        April 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • fintronics

          Wuthering Heights?

          April 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        You are denying one of the most basic, overarching facts. It is truly astounding that someone could do so. You could deny that Earth orbits the sun or spins on its axis and you would be less wrong.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        When I was a 10 year old kid programming in BASIC on a Commodore 64, I constantly used IF THEN statements.
        This is the scientific mindset – if A is true, then B must follow. Scientists then meticulously lay out every step of their logic in getting from A to B so that other scientists can replicate the process and either verify the IF THEN statements validity, or prove it wrong and send the hypothesizer back to the drawing board.

        For example:
        If 1 apple plus 1 apple equals 2 apples, 1 million apples plus 1 millions apples must equal 2 million apples.
        It is not necessary to have a room full of millions of apples and count each one – all that is needed is to follow the chain of logic. 1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 and so on.

        The scientific method allows us to make predictions based on this IF THEN logic.
        IF life evolved in a graduating scale of complexity, THEN we should find fossils arranged in geological strata in a linear way (Ie: the deeper the strata, the simpler the life forms). This prediction turned out to be true.

        Just like in those childhood programs I wrote, IF the logic applied is sound, THEN the program will run continuously and without error. If the chain of logic is faulty, the program will fail.

        The Young Earth program spits out a SYNTAX ERROR at numerous stages.
        IF there was a global flood, THEN there would've been no fresh water 4,000 years ago.
        Terrestrial life existed, therefore there was fresh water. Program fails. Start again and re-evaluate your chain of logic.

        Unfortunately, the standard fundamentalist chain of logic, translated into BASIC 2.0, is:
        10 PRINT "THE BIBLE IS TRUE BECAUSE..."
        20 GOTO 10

        April 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Except the strata isn't in the correct order ANYWHERE.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Virtually every geologist in the world disagrees with you, Topher.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Topher,

          I have not once heard you make a statement concerning evolution that truthfully represented it. Not once. It's one thing to reject evolution because you don't think it's proven. But you first have to know something about it so you know what you are rejecting.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          You mean besides the fact science rejects it? And that it's genetically impossible? And that there's zero evidence?

          April 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • joey3467

          Exactly, Topher, nothing you just said is true.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Nearly every scientific society, representing hundreds of thousands of scientists, have issued statements rejecting intelligent design and a peti.tion supporting the teaching of evolutionary biology was endorsed by 72 US Nobel Prize winners.
          The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society with more than 130,000 members and over 262 affiliated societies and academies of science including over 10 million individuals, has made several statements and issued several press releases in support of evolution.

          According to the The International Federation of Biologists, there are more than 3 million biolgical scientists globally who rely on the 5 laws of Darwinian evolution for their jobs every single day.

          DNA is a quadrinary code, just as computers use a binary code for their programming.
          It isn't so much about how much information there is, but rather how it is arranged.
          Slight re-arrangements or alterations in the base code may or may not yield demonstrable differences, but the difference will still be there – and changes become cu.mulative and exponential as time goes on.

          What really bothers your Creationist mind, Topher, is that the theory of evolution – practiced and practically applied by thousands of people in hundreds of different disciplines every single day for more than 150 years, is predicated on the understanding that that the world is not constant, nor recently created, nor cycling, but is changing; and that the types of enti.ties that live on it also change.

          In order to keep from being tarred and feathered, Evolutionary scientists are strongly motivated to ameliorate conflict between evolution and religion. Sociobiology offers them an apparent conciliatory path to the compatibility of religion and evolution, avoiding all language of inescapable conflict. Sociobiological evolution is the means to understand religion, whereas religion as a 'way of knowing' has nothing to teach us about evolution.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          And which of those disciplines REQUIRES evolution to be true?

          April 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Well, none of those are true, but you are not addressing my point. My challenge is for to you to say a few things that evolution actually says. Let's say we are talking about chemistry. I could say chemistry is the study of the properties of matter, that atoms form bonds to create compounds, that chemical reactions can transform one substance into another, etc. I might reject these things (I don't) but I could at least talk about what chemistry is/says. You have not shown you can do that with evolution. What you think you "know" are lies, distortions, misconceptions, and the like. No wonder you reject it. At least have the integrity to learn about it from a non apologetic source before you reject it.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          To be clear, when I said "none of those were true", I am talking about what Topher said at 2:43 Eastern.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Darwinian evolution say that with a whole lot of time a creature will eventually change into another kind of creature. Not only do we not see this happen (thus not meeting the scientific standard), but science tells us that it is genetically impossible. Do we see changes? Yes. But they are natural selection and thus have limitations. For instance: no hair, short hair, medium hair and long hair. Cows have utters, horses don't and don't have the genetics to ever get them. A horse will only ever have a horse, though it might look slightly different than its parents (see the hair examples.) But it will always still be a horse.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Topher
          The American Association for the Advancement of Science represents ALL scientific fields of study – not just evolutionary biology.
          But if you would like to reject the many tangible, practical scientific advances that continue to develop as a result of application of Darwinian principles, you're free to do so.
          Of course, that means you'll need to avoid all modern pharmaceuticals.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          I will give you partial credit on the first sentence. There's no law that creatures HAVE to change into another type of creature. But evolution is change over time, yes. The rest of your statements are all failures. You are rejecting something you can't even speak intelligently about.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Topher
          While you may understand the dictionary definitions of "cu/mulative" and "exponential", because you believe the Universe is only a few thousand years old you cannot fathom the time frames involved in what you term "macro-evolution".
          That's why those who aren't Young Earth Creationists don't make the dubious distinction of "micro" and "macro" evolution.
          It is akin to calling a raindrop "micro moisture" and an ocean "macro moisture".
          Matters of degree, not principle.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Topher expounds on evolution...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GAbc5uQXJo

          April 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Pharmaceuticals do not require evolution to be true.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Sungrazer

          Please provide me an example of one creature becoming a completely different creature.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          My family is full of medical practi.tioners including my father who ran a medical school and my aunt who is a pharmaceutical bio-chemist, currently in charge of a large laboratory in North Carolina.

          Pharmaceutical bio-chemistry is absolutely predicated on a solid understand of evolutionary principles (as is epidemiology and various other branches of medicine).

          April 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Natural selection.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Yes, Topher.
          Natural selection is one of the 5 laws of evolution.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Topher,

          The evolution of whales is one of the best supported. Take a look at Pakicetus and at a blue whale. Do you count those as different creatures?

          Or take a look at an early mammal like synapsid and then look at yourself. You have a synapsid for an ancestor.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Sungrazer

          Topher,

          "The evolution of whales is one of the best supported. Take a look at Pakicetus and at a blue whale. Do you count those as different creatures?"

          Are you and I looking at the same pictures? They don't even KIND OF look alike. I absolutely do count these as different creatures.

          "Or take a look at an early mammal like synapsid and then look at yourself. You have a synapsid for an ancestor."

          Ridiculous. I only have humans as ancestors.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Topher,

          We are probably looking at similar pictures. Either Pakicetus or something like it evolved into a modern whale. I know you will reject that statement, but you asked for an example, and I gave you one. I also knew you'd reject having a synapsid for an ancestor, but you do.

          April 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Sungrazer

          Topher,

          "We are probably looking at similar pictures. Either Pakicetus or something like it evolved into a modern whale."

          So a knee-high-to-a-human animal with 4 legs became a giant creature with no legs and moved to the ocean (or vice versa) and I'm supposed to believe it?

          "I know you will reject that statement, but you asked for an example, and I gave you one."

          One, why should I believe that? Two, where the scientific evidence?

          April 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Topher,

          "So a knee-high-to-a-human animal with 4 legs became a giant creature with no legs and moved to the ocean (or vice versa) and I'm supposed to believe it?"

          That is what happened, through intermediates and over millions of years. Along the way, whales lost their hind legs (they remain as vestiges) and their front legs became flippers. The nostrils moved back and are now the blowhole.

          Regarding the evidence, read up on it. Here's a good place to start:

          http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evograms_03

          April 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
        • sam stone

          "So a knee-high-to-a-human animal with 4 legs became a giant creature with no legs and moved to the ocean (or vice versa) and I'm supposed to believe it?"

          From the person who beieve that a spirit knocked up a virgin?

          April 24, 2014 at 5:57 am |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Still got your head in the sand I see.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
      • sealchan

        Ummm...I'm a believer but I believe that evolution is as solid a theory as any. It may need some help from theories from complexity science, but it is solid nonetheless. Nothing in the Bible should be held against it, in my opinion.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
    • Vic

      The observable universe is only 4% of the total universe, and we do not know nor understand everything of that 4%.

      Dark Matter & Energy are only names, for the lack of a better term, used to describe the unknown that causes the universe to continually expand and what powers that expansion, and make up the vast majority of the total universe. While Dark Matter is believed to be made of WIPMs—Weak Interacting Massive Particles, they have never been detected by any existing experiments, e.g. LUX—Large Underground Xenon. It is a huge mystery. Black Holes are also constantly debated and hardly understood, it is a constant battle between the General Theory of Relativity & Quantum Physics/Mechanics regarding them, especially the destruction of the data encrypted in the "Wave Function" beyond the "Event Horizon" where even light cannot escape.

      When I look at this staggering universe and life in it, and the great mysteries of it, I cannot help but see that there is a Supreme Being behind it all.

      I do believe that Colton had an unusual experience, especially given the astonishing details he communicated, but I think that his experience was metaphorical rather than literal, in the sense that God might have been comforting him as a child during his plight.

      April 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Vic, you lost me when you started getting mystical.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    One quick look around you at all the misery and desperate struggle for existence in most of the world is proof that there is no god who designed and created this existence.

    Or if there is a god who designed it then he is utterly inept because it could hardly be more poorly designed.

    Or if this is all his design and his plan to his exact specifications, then he is an evil and nasty and vain and insecure and inept and utterly capricious creature who designed it to cause us pain and to derive his own amusement from our torture.

    You pick. Any argument you make for religion is so flimsy it collapses at the slightest examination and requires a retreat into mysticism which is the first refuge of the cornered fool.

    April 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Or they run to the "good deeds" argument.

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

      Of all the valid srguments against a god, why do you keep whining because people suffer?
      This is a flawed and useless logic. You begin with te premise that god is somehow obligated to keep people happy all the time.
      That is not what the bible says.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        The bible doesn't say a lot more than it bothers to say.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        actually, his argument is spot on.
        god may not promise to keep everyone happy, but he is supposed to be 'good' and 'compassionate' and 'loving'.
        how could a 'good' god drown babies and call it divine justice? (his great flood)
        how could a 'compassionate' god hold all humanity accountable for what adam and eve did? that's holding the son accountable for the sins of the father.
        how could a 'loving' god send bears to maul 42 children because they made fun of one of his prophet's for being bald?

        those acts alone show the christian/hebrew god is not good, compassionate or loving.
        his argument is sound.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • Alias

          Your argument is valid.
          His argument is "people suffer, so there cannot be a god".
          If, and note I am saying if, the bible is close to right and there is an afterlife that goes on for ever – Then the pain and suffering in this life really does not matter. If the only purpose of this life is to determine where we spend an eternity, suffering here is absolutely meaningless.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Suffering is nowhere near meaningless no matter what. This is incomprensible to me. What difference does an afterlife make? Why would anything be meaningful then? What happens now matters now whatever the future holds.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Alias

          @sungrazer
          Do you think it is abuse to immunize children? Parents intentionally allow strangers to push sharp pieces of metal into their bodies. Is their suffering so important then?

          April 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Alias,

          I'm speaking of unnecessary suffering.

          April 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        It's basically the Argument from Evil, perhaps the strongest argument there is. It's valid against an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent god. This is a god who is aware of unnecessary suffering, wants to do something about it, and can do something about it. Relax one of those conditions and the argument fails, but no Christian I know ever wants to do so.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        I'm not whining about suffering at all. I am saying that if your god is the loving, giving god you say he is, then he would have designed a universe without all of the pain and suffering and misery. His design is either inept or sadistic.

        Or ... the simpler option ... he just doesn't exist.

        But you go on believing he is either inept or sadistic. Your choice.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • sealchan

      You make it sound like God is supposed to have created a kiddie playground for us feeble humans. Are we human beings not the primary creators of this misery.

      Not believing in God you see a universe full of misery. Supposing a God, you imagine that He is responsible for it. If you are going to imagine a God and blame Him for the world as you perceive it, perhaps, it is your imagination that needs a little "saving".

      April 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        "Not believing in God you see a universe full of misery"
        +++ wrong. we see misery in the bible.

        "You make it sound like God is supposed to have created a kiddie playground for us feeble humans."
        +++ he could make children bullet proof. he could make cancer not exist. he could provide food for all his creations.
        but it's the things he has done even more than the things he hasn't that shows what a vicious deity he is. drowning millions in his great flood, every human, animal and plant on earth except the ones in noah's boat? mass murder. he drowned babies that were only days old. think about that. really imagine it. how can you worship a god that drowns babies?

        April 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • sealchan

          Start with the world then contemplate God. If you don't see babies drowning, then there is no one to take the credit or blame...if you do then God becomes, at least, an imaginal being to whom you can ask these questions. Why dialog with an apparently imaginal being? Psychologically it works for millions of people.

          But, yes, God is responsible for everything that happens, good and bad. But getting lost in blaming God is ridiculous, or at least, insincere, since you don't believe. For you the problem should not be that people believe in God but that this evil and misery exists. This is the same problem for believers and non-believers. You might ask believers what value, then, does believing in God have?

          We are all of us swimming in a sea of misery and evil, but I ask you, are you happy? Are you finding a way to contribute to making the world a better place? And if so, from where do you derive your inspiration, your motivation, your perseverance? You can ask these questions of a believer too and determine if they are using their faith to shield themselves from reality or using it to cope while they engage with reality.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • sam stone

          "yes, God is responsible for everything that happens, good and bad. But (getting lost in) blaming God is ridiculous"

          who do you blame BUT the responsible parties?

          "did we give up when the germans bombed pearl harbor?" – bluto blutarsky

          April 24, 2014 at 6:40 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        oh sealchan. You really should be embarrassed by that response.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      If only that rib-clone hadn't listened to the talking snake, there would be no sadness or misfortune.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        yes, if only we hadn't eaten from the tree of wisdom.
        we could have remained ignorant slaves in paradise...

        "[God] puts an apple tree in the middle of [the Garden of Eden] and says, do what you like guys, oh, but don't eat the apple. Surprise surprise, they eat it and he leaps out from behind a bush shouting "Gotcha." It wouldn't have made any difference if they hadn't eaten it...Because if you're dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they won't give up. They'll get you in the end."
        - Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

        April 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • lunchbreaker

          Or perhaps if God had put that tree there in the first place.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • Akira

          That tree was unnecessary. Period.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • fintronics

          "The whole foundation of Christianity is based on the idea that intellectualism is the work of the Devil. Remember the apple on the tree? Okay, it was the Tree of Knowledge. "You eat this apple, you're going to be as smart as God. We can't have that."
          - Frank Zappa

          April 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        what sort of asinine fool spends so much time and effort and goodness to create from nothing a perfect universe and a perfect existence with all of its intricacy ... and then tricks Eve into eating an apple so that he can then undo his master work that he put so much time and effort into and turn it into the barely holding together chaos that we see today that he has to constantly micromanage? Seriously?

        April 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • sealchan

          Now that is a beautiful question and I would encourage you, in all sincerity, to raise that question in any serious discussion of the meaning of the Garden of Eden story. It is that question which the story begs to be asked. However, so many simple-minded Christians fear to ask it, and in their fear, they make their faith look like ignorance.

          Also, how are we to become responsible for knowing something we don't know? Why should we follow rules we can't possibly understand? Was God being less than omniscient here? If you don't think these are questions being asked within the faith, and for many they may not be, then you may have a right to be incredulous at these stories and their seeming lack of common moral sense.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      The misery and struggle IS proof.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        so your god IS a sadist. All this pain and misery is by design.

        what a sad belief.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Not even close.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • fintronics

          Spot on.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • sam stone

          "not even close"?

          it is a direct hit

          but gopher is too much of a toady to admit it

          if god knows what we are going to do before we do it, there is no free will

          if god punishes people who lack free will, he is a vindictive pr1ck

          thanks for playing, gopher

          now, slither away

          April 24, 2014 at 6:19 am |
    • kodiakmk

      I agree with you that seeing suffering in the world leads to the question, "If God exists, why doesn't he do something to stop it." I wondered that question for a while so I decided to find an answer. The majority of religions today teach that for one, God is the ruler of this world and that he "works in mysterious ways" and therefore the problems we see today are simply by-product.
      That answer didn't make sense to me. After all, the bible at James 1:13 says: "When under trial, let no one say: 'I am being tried by God.' For with evil thing God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone." If that's the case, than how could he be the cause of what we see around us? Granted, he does allow bad things to happen, but there is a big difference between allowing something to happen and causing it, wouldn't you agree? But still, the question of why God would allow suffering lingered in my mind.
      Then I found 1 John 4:8 which says: "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." Now this caught my attention. Contrary to what I'd heard from Christendom, God is not ruling this world at this time. In truth, that makes sense. The qualities that God possess as recorded in the bible at verses's such as 1 John 4:8 which says: "God is love." and shows us in Revelation 12:9 that the rogue angel "Satan" is "misleading the entire inhabited earth.
      Which makes sense. Satan is hateful, deceptive, and cruel. So the world, under his influence, is full of hatred, deceit, and cruelty. That is one reason why there is so much suffering.
      Also the bible talks about imperfect humans tendency to struggle for dominance, and this results in wars, oppression, and suffering. At Ecclesiastes 4:1; 8:9 it says: "Again I turned my attention to all the acts of oppression that go on under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, and there was no one to comfort them. And their oppressors had the power, and there was no one to comfort them." then in verse nine: "man has dominated man to his harm."
      And too, Ecclesiastes 9:11 it says: "I have seen something further under the sun, that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all." Time and unforeseen occurrences do befall us all.
      So the question of why does God allow these things to occur still remained. I found an answer in the first book of the bible. Most of us are familiar with the Genesis account. Of how an angel felt that he should be worshiped as opposed to God. Calling God a liar and challenging his right to rule, he managed to deceive Eve into eating from the tree of knowledge. Adam followed, and now we have imperfection and death. Now, why didn't God just destroy them all then and there and start over?
      There's an illustration I once heard that really helped me to grasp it. Imagine that a teacher is telling his students how to solve a difficult problem. A clever but rebellious student claims that the teacher’s way of solving the problem is wrong. Implying that the teacher is not capable, this rebel insists that he knows a much better way to solve the problem. Some students think that he is right, and they also become rebellious. What should the teacher do? If he throws the rebels out of the class, what will be the effect on the other students? Will they not believe that their fellow student and those who joined him are right? All the other students in the class might lose respect for the teacher, thinking that he is afraid of being proved wrong. But suppose that the teacher allows the rebel to show the class how he would solve the problem.
      God has done something similar to what that teacher does. Remember that the rebels in Eden were not the only ones involved. Millions of angels were watching. (Daniel 7:10) How God handled the rebellion would greatly affect all those angels and eventually all intelligent creation. So, what has God done? He has allowed Satan to show how he would rule mankind. God has also allowed humans to govern themselves under Satan’s guidance.
      The teacher in our illustration knows that the rebel and the students on his side are wrong. But he also knows that allowing them the opportunity to try to prove their point will benefit the whole class. When the rebels fail, all honest students will see that the teacher is the only one qualified to lead the class. They will understand why the teacher thereafter removes any rebels from the class. Similarly, Jehovah knows that all honesthearted humans and angels will benefit from seeing that Satan and his fellow rebels have failed and that humans cannot govern themselves. Like Jeremiah of old, they will learn this vital truth: “I well know, O God, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” – Jeremiah 10:23.
      But then why have things continued on as they have for so long? And is there a hope for mankind in the future? Well, that's another post for another day. For now I hope that I was able to to show you a little bit of what I've found concerning that question of why God allows suffering. I hope you have a great day.

      April 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • kudlak

        Yet, there are students who are more clever than their teachers, and it's entirely possible for a student to show another way to solve a problem. A good teacher would congratulate the student for being able to think for herself, but God in your analogy actually did punish his "students" for going another way. He didn't teach his students to use their own intellect, but simply to follow rote directions unquestioningly, right? In this sense, Christianity doesn't have a moral system, one that can prepare individuals to determine what the moral choice is for themselves. All it has is a set of moral pronouncements that have to be "interpreted", with wide-ranging results.

        April 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    there is no god.

    all the rest that we argue about is just noise.

    the noise enables christians to duck and weave and dodge and obfuscate and lie and pout and whine and threaten and flee

    when all we need to know is that there is NO evidence for any god. not one iota. never has been, never will be. zero. nada. nothing!

    all the rest of the arguing about the stories in the Christian story book is just noise.

    April 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
    • bostontola

      I personally can't state there is no God as a fact. I believe that.

      I am much more certain that every religion is false and doesn't represent any God. E.g. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, etc., are all hogwash.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        I don't mind peaceful religions as long as they bathe.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • bostontola

          No disagreement there, I don't mind any religion that doesn't try to impress their beliefs on others.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          The problem with our logic though, is that they do. They have to indoctrinate their children into the cult. Perhaps our reasoning is flawed. Cleanliness is not the only important thing.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          what religion is peaceful?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Buddhism comes to mind....

          April 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          the religion does teach nonviolence, though the history of it's adherent often commit violence. "Zen at War" comes to mind.
          but buddhism has other issues, like not treating women, promoting social inequality, that s.ex is bad, that life is suffering, that we shouldn't love or have any attachments to this world, and much more.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Bhuddists?

          Tell that to Muslims in Myanmar:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Muslims_in_Burma

          April 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • fintronics

        "I personally can't state there is no God as a fact. I believe that."

        But can't you make that same statement about the thousands of other mythical characters?

        April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      DOGGIE MADE A POWERFUL CLAIM WITHOUT OFFERING PROOF!!!!!

      In this case, doggie made atheism into a religion that requires faith.

      Watch the atheist community deny this! LOL!!!!

      April 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        asinine.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Wrong. Truth. I know you have a brain of a dog, but the facts still remain true. Grow up or go back to your cage!

          April 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Troll, you are loved despite your disabilities.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Saying that doggie made his atheism into a religion is not troll, ignorant child. Grow some logic balls and finally admit you're wrong.

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

          There is more to a religion than a common disbelief.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • fintronics

          Finisher, I'd like to thank you for showing us just how intelligent believers can be.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • sealchan

      To argue there is no God seems like complete disregard for facts. The majority of people and cultures throughout time have posited a spiritual, non-provable reality as an important dimension of their personal and cultural understanding. Whether that God is scientifically provable or even consistently defined is not as relevant as the fact of God existing in that social context. The student of anthropology, mythology or culture may believe that God is only as a communally supported fiction, but that still supports that God is real. It is simple-minded to overlook this basic fact of our human cultural lives.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        "To argue there is no God seems like complete disregard for facts."
        +++ you need to look up the word 'fact'.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • mk

        If everyone else jumped off a bridge...

        April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        And before Pasteur, virtually every culture throughout all of human history thought that malevolent, supernatural enti'ties caused illness.
        Simply because an idea is pervasive, that doesn't mean it is true.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
      • fintronics

        " non-provable reality" = an oxymoron

        April 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  9. Concert in an Egg

    We are each one of us, guilty of bigotry and intolerance. But many of us work very hard indeed to be fair, honest and patient. The blog offers both a forum for debate and, sadly, hate. Perhaps choose debate and restrain yourself from insults and prejudice. The experience will be rewarding and the blog will be enjoyable. There is no place for bigots and trolls, although we can humor them without deliberating over their shortcomings for we all have holes in our personalities and thought processes that limit the potential of our intelligence. Each ignorant statement by a believer is a positive statement in favor of atheism. Love the human, not the believe system.

    You see, the blog is to Rainer and thefinisher1 as mother’s milk is to a child. Without a forum for bigotry and ignorance, these people would be out on the street among people and we most likely don’t need to see that. This is their home and we are their care givers. Love them despite the shortcomings. Remember: Religion; Together we can find a cure.

    April 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • bostontola

      I second the motion!

      April 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • Alias

      Interesting post from somone who has posted (and trolled) under other names.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Some might agree with you, but I do not. It is true I have burned through a few names, but I am always forthcoming about them. I did get tired of using the same name all the time and I have occasionally fancied myself a decent POE, but I am sticking with the Egg for the foreseeable future. I can't promise HeavenSent won't pop up once in a while though...

        April 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
    • fintronics

      " Each ignorant statement by a believer is a positive statement in favor of atheism. Love the human, not the believe system. "

      Well said!

      April 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  10. observer

    Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

    Tell us EVERYTHING that Jesus said about gays, which is SO IMPORTANT to you.

    You have read a Bible, haven't you?

    What did he say?

    April 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      I can answer that one.

      Matthew 19:4-6 – And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

      Here Jesus clearly referred to Adam and Eve and affirmed God’s intended design for marriage and se.xuality. For those who follow Jesus, se.xual practices are limited. Rather than take a permissive view of se.xual immorality and divorce, Jesus affirmed that people are either to be single and celibate or married and faithful to one spouse of the opposite gender. Jesus considered any other expression of se.xuality sinful. This would include same-se.x activity.

      Matthew 15:19-20 – For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications (se.xual immorality), thefts, false witness, slanders. (see also Romans 1:24–31).

      And se.xual immorality is ANY se.xual act outside that of the prescribed order in Genesis – 1 man with 1 woman in holy matrimony for life. See also Hebrews 13:4 – the marriage bed is undefiled – everything outside of this is fornication.

      April 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      • Akira

        Yes. What did he specifically say about gays?

        We're not talking about marriage. That has not been brought up.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Yeah, read Matthew 15:19. The word "fornication" meaning "se.xual immorality" is any se.xual act outside of the Genesis order for marriage. Anything outside of that is sin. Rather than speaking to only one or two specific acts, and thereby run the chance of missing some twisted act by not mentioning it specifically, he speaks generally and calls sinful EVERY act that is not in accordance to the dictates of marriage in Genesis.

          It's like identifying counterfeit $20 bills. You don't look at every counterfeit $20 bill, because there are an infinite variety. Instead, study the REAL bill (the Genesis order) and then you will be able to identify that which is wrong.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
        • Akira

          Of course you can read anything you'd care to into the verse. That's the beauty of interpretation.

          Of course fornication describes an act between two people not married to each other. I don't see the genders named in Mathew.

          The beauty of interpretation.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "The beauty of interpretation."
          -----------
          Wrong, and I'll prove it to you. Do a word search in the Bible and then tell me all of the "acts" attributed to the words "fornication" and "se.xual immorality." While you're at it, also look to the related word "abomination." Now, Jesus was God, and the Apostles affirmed that over and over again, and the Apostles writings were "theopheustos" that is, literally, God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) meaning that their words in scripture WERE the very words of God. So, their writings were God's writings, and Jesus was God, so any teaching on ho.mose.xuality wriiten by the Apostles came directly from God.

          This is why it's a red herring to ask "What did Jesus say specifically about ho.mose.xuality" because one can indeed cite any passage of scripture in the Bible to be citing Jesus, since Jesus is God, and God breathed out the Bible through the means of it's human authors just as a man writes a letter through the means of a pen.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • Alias

          I will always find amusement in the way christians focus on gays and ignore that divorce is also also a sin, as is any se.x they have afterwards.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • joey3467

          Theo, when you guys attempt to ban divorce, or at least ban divorced people from getting remarried since that is adultery according to the bible, I might take you seriously. As it stands now it just looks like many Christians hate gay people.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          I didn't even bring up Sodomite, OR Divorce, YOU did! And that's not even the topic of the main article.
          How can you possibly say that Christians don't say anything about divorce? Do you go to my church? Do you know what my pastor has to say about divorce? Do you know what we do in our local community to do what we can to end divorce? Do you know how I counsel others on divorce? Do you know how my pastor counsels on divorce? If you can't answer all of these questions, then drop it.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo,

          Does your preacher tell all the Christians who are ADULTERERS through divorce and remarriage to divorce again and repent?

          Does your preacher lecture all the Christian hetero SODOMITES in your church?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • Akira

          That doesn't prove anything, Theo, except that you believe your interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. The only one. And everyone else is wrong.

          Except you.

          Ah, the beauty of interpretation.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • joey3467

          When I see groups of Christians ban together like they do to ban gay marriage I won't consider them to be hypocrites anymore. Do you know of any groups trying to get a vote to ban divorced people from getting remarried on the ballot anywhere? If not why are there so many trying to stop gay people from getting married and none to try and ban any of the other sins mentioned in the bible?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • joey3467

          Until I see you actively pushing for laws to make divorce illegal like you do with gay marriage I can't take anything you say seriously.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Does your preacher tell all the Christians who are ADULTERERS through divorce and remarriage to divorce again and repent?"
          --------------
          No, because that is not repentance. Repentance does not demand the commission of one sin in order to cover up another. That's demonic.

          Does your preacher lecture all the Christian hetero SODOMITES in your church?
          --------------–
          We're using the Biblical definition here, not the secular one. Actually, I don't care at all how a sinful world defines the word "sodomite." And my pastor teaches expositionally, not topically. That means that when he gets to the difficult passages, whether it be about the sin or divorce, the sin of sodomy, or the sin of unbelief, he will teach on all of it.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Ah, the beauty of interpretation."
          ------------
          I'm trying to show you the steps of proper hermeneutics – how the Bible interprets the Bible. We don't have the authority to apply meaning to scripture, the Bible itself does that. Our job is to extract the meaning from it, this is called exegesis, and like most things, it is a process with rules. One of those rules is that we cannot apply our own meaning to the text.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo,

          People who are flaunting their ADULTERY by being divorced and remarried, can only get away from their CONSTANT ADULTERY by divorce. Try again. Check what Jesus said about ADULTERY.

          Sodomites were people who lived in Sodom. There are NONE ALIVE today. Both heteros and gays are sodomites today. It's likely that MILLIONS of Christians are sodomites.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Until I see you actively pushing for laws to make divorce illegal like you do with gay marriage I can't take anything you say seriously."
          ---------------
          If Christians banned together to make every sin outlined in the Bible illegal, I'd be really happy, but it's just not going to happen. And because we don't live in a perfect world, some people have chosen certain abominations to go after. Certain abominations that the Bible calls out as being especially vile. All sin is equally sinful in God's eyes, but nowhere was a city destroyed in scripture because there were too many divorces. The point is, in an imperfect world, you pick your battles.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • joey3467

          If you are not willing to try and ban all sins, then the other route you could take iis to stop trying to ban only one. Namely just let gay marriage happen and you won't look like a hypocrite anymore. Just picking one sin out of the bible to try and ban makes just makes it look like you don't like gay people.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • Akira

          Even heumetics is interpretive.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • fintronics

          @theo "If Christians banned together to make every sin outlined in the Bible illegal, I'd be really happy"

          and here was have a perfect example of why religion is dangerous. That would be a theocracy.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "If you are not willing to try and ban all sins..."
          -----------
          But we DO try to ban all sins. It's called evangelism. It works by changing the conscience, not the law.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • joey3467

          NO, as it stands right now I only see Christians picking on gay people. Or did you find the name of a Christian group pushing for a law to ban divorce since it is against the bible?

          April 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Why did god create homosexuals? Just to have the pleasure of punishing them?

        April 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          read Romans 1:18-32. Ho.mose.xuality is one of the reults of a man dishonoring God.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          God has a very sick and immoral sense of humor apparently. Would you at least agree that, in your opinion, god created all manner of things on Earth?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "in your opinion, god created all manner of things on Earth?"
          --------------
          I know where you're going with this... "Did God create sin/wickedness?" The answer? No. God ordained that sin exist because He had a purpose for it, but that by no means makes God the author of sin.

          I have no opinion on the matter, but instead I will tell you what the Bible says.

          James 1:13-15 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

          Jonathan Edwards wrote in regards to sin:
          “If by ‘the author of sin,’ be meant the sinner, the agent, or the actor of sin, or the doer of a wicked thing . . . it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God to be the author of sin. In this sense, I utterly deny God to be the author of sin. But, willing that sin exist in the world is not the same as sinning. God does not commit sin in willing that there be sin. God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his “positive agency.”

          April 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          So Theo, god did not "author" sin. Therefore god did not create everything. Why then does god have dominion over sinners if they are not of his making?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Concert in an Egg,
          What are you talking about? That makes no sense whatsoever... Does a father not have any authority over his child when his child disobeys him?

          Jonathan Edwards uses the analogy of the way the sun brings about light and warmth by its essential nature, but brings about dark and cold by dropping below the horizon. “If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness,” he says, “it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat: and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun.” In other words, “sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and under certain circu.mstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence.”

          April 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Theo, I don't believe in sin.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Theo, I don't believe in sin."
          -----------
          I don't believe in eggs.
          OK, seriously, if you don't like the word "sin" then call it a chicken. The idea is that we have all knowingly and willfully done that which violates our own conscience, and known it to be wrong.

          The Bible tells us that by definition, a sin is anything that violates the moral character or law of God. We read in Jeremiah that God's law is on our hearts, so we instinctively know that it is wrong to lie, wrong to steal, wrong to commit adultery... But we all still do these things. Although we can sear our consciences against these things, there is at least one time that we have committed them that we knew them to be wrong.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Theo, I don't believe in the bible.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "Theo, I don't believe in the bible."
          ----------------–
          I hope you like hot weather.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Why?

          April 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • sam stone

          "I hope you like hot weather."

          I don't mind hot weather

          That being said, fvck you and your empty proxy threats, corn pone

          April 24, 2014 at 6:44 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        and please bear in mind that these words are at best hearsay written down decades or centuries after jesus was said to have existed and written by people who had never seen or heard jesus. That's AT BEST! At worst, these words are fiction written by men.

        Rainer or Theo. How can you explain attributing these as Jesus' words?

        April 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Easy. If you don't take the Bible at face value, then look to men like Polycarp, Clement, and Ignatius who were taught by the Apostles, and read as much as you can about these men as well as what they themselves wrote. In a time when the Apostles' words COULD be tested by interviewing for themselves, they did, and it was not found wanting. It's not unlike researching any historical doc.ument. Start with what we have available to us and begin to work backwards as far as we can. It's the process of textual criticism.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
      • observer

        Theo Phileo,

        Yes. Jesus NEVER MENTIONED gays. He did have a lot to say about the s3xual practices of heteros, and much of it was BAD.

        Gays do not engage in ADULTERY like heteros do since it involves a MARRIED person. Please use a dictionary.

        There is virtually NO CHANCE that you support all of God's wacky ideas about marriage, so why not skip the HYPOCRISY?

        April 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • transframer

          Why is hypocrisy mentioned here? This was a technical question about Bible and gays, if you think the answer is not correct just say so. Also the bible doesn't say only about adultery but ANY s-exual encounter outside marriage ( as defined by the Bible)

          April 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • observer

          transframer,

          The HYPOCRISY here is that people use the Bible as an EXCUSE when they don't actually believe all of what it says about marriage.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • joey3467

          Then you should try to make any s.ex outside of marriage a crime so that you won't look like a hypocrite for picking only on gay folks.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • transframer

          Observer: how do you know what they really believe? How is this related to the question of what the Bible says about gays?
          joey3467: who and where is picking only on gays?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • joey3467

          Every Christian who wants to ban gay marriage but doesn't also push to ban divorce and all of the other sins in the bible are picking on gay people.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • observer

          transframer,

          His statements in the past in support of the Bible show hypocrisy. As stated, there's virtually no chance he supports all of God's wacky ideas on marriage.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • transframer

          joey3467: divorce and other sins were banned not too long ago or are already punished. It's not Christians who legalized them. Regardless, they can be repented. If you are gay, can you repent?

          April 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • joey3467

          I'm sure you could repent, but I see no reason for a gay person to repent for being exactly the way god made them. My main point, however, is that if you are pushing to ban gay marriage then you better be pushing to ban everything the bible says is a sin, or in my opinion you are a hypocrite.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • transframer

          joey3467: socially and legally, that's the only thing Christians can do. It doesn't mean they don't think or talk about the other sins and disapprove them. If they don't, they are indeed hypocrites.
          Myself was also made by god, sinful. I feel the desire to sin many times. That's the reason I have to repent and it's true for every man

          April 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • joey3467

          Christians keep saying all sins are equal, but then only try to make a law regarding one sin. To me this is what makes many of them a hypocrite, and when I see people do that I have a hard time believing that it has anything to do with their belief in the bible because if it was about what the bible said they would be pushing for laws to outlaw all things the bible says is a sin. For me it is not enough to say that you are against them, in order to be consistent you need to push for laws to ban all of them. Or they could take the other route and not try to ban any of them. Those are the two options to avoid being a hypocrite.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
        • transframer

          Not all sins are equal, I don't know where you saw this. Also, I just said this is about the public space, not what they think about all sins, and other laws existed but were abolished. Also still, they are not trying to push new laws, just preserve existing laws. The gay community is the one trying to push new laws

          April 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • observer

          transframer,

          Yes. Equality for all is a new law.

          April 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        "And se.xual immorality is ANY se.xual act outside that of the prescribed order in Genesis"

        Following the orders listed in the bible is not practicing morality, it is practicing obedience... you can't argue something is "immoral" based purely that your book or your god "says so".

        April 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • transframer

          So what is the morality here then?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          So what is the morality where?

          April 23, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
      • Alias

        The fact that YOU applied EMPHASIS to the psrts that you wanted to be IMPORTANT menas that you are not interpreting the bible from an unbiased perspective.
        You already have an isea as to what it means, and then you apply you bias to the reading.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Actually, no. The NASB uses all caps when it quotes Old Testament passages.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        Hi Theo Phileo,

        I appreciate your love for the Bible.

        It is only that rebaptizing churches don't have the sacral Jesus but only an image of him. You know everything of the Bible, but lack the releasing power of the real Jesus. That is the reason why Christianity is mocked boundlessly today.

        Please keep on minding about the subject of sacramental baptism. We need to get born of the Spirit. Are you sure that you yet have left the state of being flesh? You only can become spiritual through sacramental baptism.

        I really pray for you, and may God lead you on the way of truth.

        I also went astray for a long time, but God got me out of my errors.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • Alias

          So of all the people living on the planet today, what percentage do you think will make it into heaven?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Nearly zero.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • Akira

          What is the Biblical basis for your idea of rounding gays up and putting them in concentration camps, Rainier? Chapter and verse, please?

          And you telling Theo that he is lost is one of the funniest sentences I've ever read...right up there with Vic being an Anabaptist.

          Apparently, nobody can be in your religion of one.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          I adhere to the general religion of the civilized world.

          It is apocalyptic that today I get blamed for being a sectarist though I keep the faith of the Early Church.

          Yes, it is outrageous, but Vic and even Theo will face trouble. The doctrine is as strict as it is.

          No access without the rebirth through WATER and Spirit.

          You Americans have really gone astray.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Nearly zero? Wow, you are much closer to the correct answer than I expected. In fact, you nearly got it right.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          I am present on the Internet for many years, but I don't get to know people sharing my opinion.

          That is absolutely demonical.

          I myself perceive it as an absurd thought that there should be nearly no more Christians on earth, but regretably it seems to be reality.

          Maybe there are some bunches living in the wilderness having no access to the Internet.

          I should undertake an expedition.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • Akira

          Nope. You will face the trouble because of your bigotry. The fact that you don't recognize your own behavior doesn't negate that you are, and an unrepentant one at that.

          By your own standards, you wouldn't make it into Heaven, Rainier.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • fintronics

          "No access without the rebirth through WATER and Spirit."

          What a complete load of crap.

          April 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
      • QuestionsEverything

        What is mentioned in Matthew is a response to the question about divorce, not about gay people.

        April 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      there are a lot of things that the christian god really doesn't care about (preventing natural disasters, feeding the hungry, healing the sick) but the one thing he sure seems obsessed with is what people do while na.ked and who is having se.x with who.

      April 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
    • observer

      Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

      Still STUMPED?

      April 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
  11. bostontola

    "What Hollywood gets wrong about heaven" That is a trivial topic, Hollywood is in the entertainment business, not the 'getting it right' business.

    On the other hand, the bible is in the 'getting it right' business, in fact, many claim it is perfect truth. I think the bible is a book of myths and parables based on historical events, that was state of the art a few millennia ago. The bible is highly flawed by today's standards. The morality it proposes is behind the times. Sure, many of the basic tenets are still on target, like don't murder, steal, lie, etc., but even those are too simple by today's standards (recognition of many types of homicide). There is also the often cited examples of behavior condoned like slavery, subjugation, lack of general human rights (different standard for tribe members and outsiders). Many of these failings are found in Yahweh himself. So even in it's primary function, morality, the bible is not timeless perfection.

    Was the bible the word of God then? All objective evidence says no. In addition to the moral failings, it has errors that would never slip by any God worth his salt. The factual errors in Genesis, mis-classifying bats as birds, defining Pi to be 3, there are many more. The bible also has a number of creatures in it that no one has ever seen, Behemoth, Leviathans, Co.ckatrices, Unicorns, Dragons, Nephilim, etc.

    So the bible was not afraid to mention things that are unseen. What about mention of items that man can't see with the unaided eye that actually exist? Not one mention of those things. The fact that matter is composed of atoms, not earth, wind, fire and water, no mention. Micro-organisms would be good to know about, no mention. Ultra Violet radiation would be good to know about, no mention. 100's of billions of stars in our galaxy, 100's of billions of galaxies, God's creation would be even more staggering than man imagined, no mention. This list goes on, and on.

    So the bible makes errors of commission (includes false items, stale morality) and omission (leaves out anything unknown to man at the time that is actually true).

    In Star Trek V there was a being that could look like the deity from various planets' mythology. That is the bible. Everyone who believes in the bible, sees their truth in it. By cherry picking and strenuous interpretation, it looks perfect.

    April 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
    • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

      Secular gibberish!

      April 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
      • bostontola

        So you believe in Unicorns?

        April 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          And YOU believe in unicorns too!!!!

          The Hebrew word re'em is mentioned eight times in the Bible, and signifies some kind of horned animal that could possibly be the now extinct aurochs – a wild ox related to a cow. In the Latin Vulgate however, the translators used the words “unicornis, unicornium, rinocerota, rinocerotis, and rinoceros” whose English rendering in the KJV is “unicorn” for the name of this horned animal each time it occurred: Job 39:9-10, Numbers 23:22, 24:8, Psalm 22:22, 29:6, 92:10, Deuteronomy 33:17, and Isaiah 34:7. Depending upon the context of the passage however, the authors either use the word “rhinoceros” if the intent was to speak of two horns, or “unicornis” if the intent was to mean a singular horn. In Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word “unicorn” has this as its entry: “An animal with one horn: the monoceros. This name is often applied to the rhinoceros.” It goes on to say under the entry for “rhinoceros” that: “a genus of quadrupeds of two species, one of which, the unicorn, has a single horn growing almost erect from the nose. This animal when full grown, is said to be 12 feet in length. There is another species with two horns, the bicornis. They are natives of Asia and Africa.” Even today, the scientific name for the Asian one-horned rhinoceros is “Rhinoceros unicornis,” (the same word as mentioned in the Latin Vulgate) while the two-horned black rhinoceros is the “Diceros bicornis.”

          April 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
        • bostontola

          Thanks Theo, I forgot to mention the revisionist translations in recent versions of the bible to try to paper over these embarrassing creatures.

          What about all the other creatures? What about the errors in Genesis? What about the moral failures?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
        • Alias

          typical theo/christian response.
          You make several points, and they try to argue against one little part as if it somehow made the hard questions go away.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          "as if it somehow made the hard questions go away."
          ------------–
          It DOES make the hard questions go away. The problem that people have with words like "unicorn" in the Bible is that we just don't use that particular word today to describe a real animal. Because some joker superglued a horn between the eyes of a horse because he thought it looked good on camera, we imagine something totally different today. But to understand the Bible today, you have to get into its historical context, and unfortunately, most people will not do that. For whatever reason I don't know.

          It's always been amazing to me that people take the word of quacks like Bart Ehrman just because he has alphabet soup after his name, but they don't take the word of men like Polycarb, Ignatius, and Clement. Why? Well, probably the biggest reason is because they're dead, but also because Bart massages their worldview, and Polycarp sticks a pin in it.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • joey3467

          Can you prove that Polycarp actually met the apostles without just taking his word for it, or using the bible? If not I see no reason to believe it happened.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • bostontola

          Theo,
          What about all the other creatures? What about the errors in Genesis? What about the moral failures?

          April 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • transframer

      The Bible is not an Encyclopedia. Also there are quite a few translation errors. Some of the creatures it mentions may be dinosaurs or other extinct animals. OT is not a moral standard, maybe except for things that are generally accepted, such as interdiction of marrying close relatives. On the other hand, NT is the real moral standard

      April 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
      • bostontola

        translation errors = imperfect = not the word of God.

        Thanks for confirming my post.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
        • transframer

          Nothing is perfect except God

          April 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • bostontola

          Trans,
          We agree on the point of the post.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  12. thefinisher1

    What if there is evidence of God out there but atheists are like stubborn ignorant children who don't want to see it? They would refute evidence that disproves their atheism. Them wanting evidence is a dumb childish move. They don't want evidence.

    April 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
    • Doris

      What if there is no evidence of God out there but theists are like stubborn ignorant children who don't want to acknowledge such a lack of evidence? They would refute the lack of evidence that disproves their theism. Them avoiding the lack of evidence is a dumb childish move. They don't want to acknowledge any lack of evidence.

      See how easy trolling is?? LOL

      April 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Troll, good morning (where I am). Your posts are funny. Keep it up, you do a good job of helping the atheist cause.

      April 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
      • observer

        It's always interesting to see which name is chosen by the troll.

        Now it's thefinisher1. Later today it will be Salero21. Maybe later His Panic. Maybe later truthfollower.

        Why bother changing it all the time.

        April 23, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Yes. And strangely sometimes it is "thefinisher01" instead of thefinisher1.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
        • observer

          Concert in an Egg,

          Good point. Sometimes the troll can't even remember his own alias. lol.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
    • Alias

      If there were any evidence, we wouldn't be athiests.

      April 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        You're atheists becaus you're lazy and whine and cry when things don't to your way. Awww! Spoiled brats need to grow up.

        April 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
  13. Vic

    ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

    Early on:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/21/heaven-is-scary-for-real/comment-page-3/#comment-2994992

    April 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Vic Jesus represents everything that is wrong with all totalitarian governments. This model of governance is immoral. Why would you choose an immoral dictatorship over freedom?

      April 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  14. Concert in an Egg

    Heaven is a place in Hell; a place where Angels and Demons dwell.

    The bell rings, the Devil Swings and on God’s throne he begins to dwell.

    Looking through space and time, the duality of the immortals shine.

    The singing begins and the song is one of the infinite. Universes are sung, galaxies too;

    Star and planet, us.

    But we can hear the singing not;

    For we are here on this planet caught.

    The webs we weave; tears to deceive.

    Rob of us of our own immortal lot.

    April 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
  15. Concert in an Egg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=1-C3trU9ljw

    April 23, 2014 at 11:07 am |
  16. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    Somebody reading my post could conclude that I am Catholic, but that is not the case at all. I am more or less Protestant, yet adhering to the doctrine of the costly grace (regretably today most Protestants adhere to the cheap grace).

    It is true that the RCC also keeps sacramental baptism. Yet, they have established a kind of second baptism through which they try to please God: Good deeds.

    They assume after sinning their sacramental baptism had become invalid (this assumption is wrong). Their good deeds shall be a compensation of their sins after baptism. Yet, through that they make ineffective their sacramental baptism.

    How does a true Christian act when he or she has sinned after baptism? He or she envisions that through baptism we are connected with Jesus' sacrifice in a twofold manner: We have died and resurrected together with Jesus, and Jesus sacrifice is an atonement for our sins. We can simply repent, refer to Jesus sacrifice as an atonement for our sins, and live again as faithul Christians through the releasing power of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection.

    There is no need that we pray a rosary, make a pilgrimage to Rome, buy indulgence, etc. (these would be good deeds).

    It is just Christ who always forgives and releases us.

    Get the real thing!

    April 23, 2014 at 11:03 am |
    • SeaVik

      I conclude that you're bat sh!*& crazy.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:10 am |
    • Akira

      Anybody who is familiar with your posts knows you're anti-Catholic. Among other things.
      You just started off with that line as a segue to start bashing them again.

      Just say no to bigotry.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:30 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        I still bash the RCC too little.

        If I had the resources, I would cover the whole world with anti-RCC posts.

        She has shed plenty of innocent blood during the dark age, and still commits ineffable spiritual crimes.

        The pope and the Catholic clergy is responsible for the soul's death of millions of Catholics.

        Thank God, God has got me out of the RCC. Yet, I still suffer damage from the lack of true teaching through the RCC.

        April 23, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • midwest rail

          " Yet, I still suffer damage..."
          Painfully obvious to even the most casual observer.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:40 am |
        • Akira

          You are a bigot. Plain and simple.
          If I could, I'd use that simple statement on every single on of your posts worldwide, because you exhibit bigoted behavior in every single post.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          I would be bigoted, if I would hate ordinary Catholics, but I don't hate Catholics.

          I only refuse the Catholic clergy and the Catholic doctrine.

          I would not despise a Catholic workmate, but try to love him.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

          You could shorten your name to just Bigot Braendlein.

          Jesus must be SO PROUD of you!

          Have you read ANYTHING that Jesus said or is it just that you COMPLETELY IGNORE what he said?

          April 23, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          You don't understand Him.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • Akira

          You proclaim yourself not to be a bigot, yet your every post, no matter the topic, contains a bigoted statement somewhere.
          Walk like a duck, quacks like a duck...

          "You don't understand Him."

          Clearly, you don't, either.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          It appears to me that you hate me. Ain't I right?

          April 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

          Obviously you don't.

          Would Jesus advocate sending gays to the fringes of society?

          lol. lol. lol. lol. lol at YOU.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          If they will not repent until Judgement Day, Jesus will send them to the Lake of Fire.

          If they repent, they are welcome in the Church, and will get into heaven.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          I actually visited his blog. Interestingly, one post contained this:

          "All false religions are bigoted. The members of false religions, at least those of them which take seriously their religion, love only members of their own religion, or people which they want to convert.

          This nasty behaviour you find among Catholics, Muslims, Anabaptists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, false Protestants, etc."

          April 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          I maintain my opinion.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

          Tell us EVERYTHING that Jesus said about gays, which is SO IMPORTANT to you.

          You have read a Bible, haven't you.

          What did he say?

          April 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
        • Akira

          Of course I don't hate you. So no, that "ain't" right.
          That would be placing importance on you that simply isn't there.
          If you changed your name and came back here and wrote the same bigoted posts, I would answer in the same manner. It's your words.

          Sungrazer, that's interesting....since he just said that Vic was Anabaptist down thread....

          April 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • Akira

          You may have your opinion.

          I am under no obligation to agree with it, nor will I keep silent against the bigotry your opinion contains. Keep posting it. I'll keep speaking against it.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          I really wonder why I don't get to know somebody sharing my opinion.

          That is apocalyptical.

          It appears to me that we live in a pseudo-world where everything gets perverted. Outrageous!

          April 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          "It appears to me that we live in a pseudo-world where everything gets perverted. "

          Yes. Look at how you've PERVERTED Jesus message of love and the Golden Rule. You are the BEST example of what you are complaining about. Well done.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          You don't get Jesus right.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein,

          You don't seem to get Jesus AT ALL. You are clueless when asked what Jesus said the laws and the prophets are all about.

          Anyone with even a beginner's knowledge of the Bible should know something that important. Read one.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • Akira

          If people agreed with you, Rainier, they would post their support.
          That you are a judgemental person who thinks everyone except yourself is lost may have something to so with the lack of support.
          Your extreme views on the incarceration of gay people may have something to do with it.
          Your view that Jesus actually knows the time, but keeps it to Himself, (contrary to Scripture, and implying that Jesus lied) may have something to do with it.

          You're views are...yours. Own it.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Jesus will decide at Judgement Day, if I am worth of heaven.

          The true doctrine alone will not save me.

          I have the true doctrine, but it is not easy to live according to this doctrine in an apocalyptical world.

          I would need the assistance of some loveable brethren.

          I would not utter the statement that the whole mankind will get lost. I only say that I cannot imagine how they want to live a life of love and righteousness when they are still trapped in their sinful flesh. Very sad is that.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Akira

          trouble because of your bigotry. The fact that you don't recognize your own behavior doesn't negate that you are, and an unrepentant one at that.

          By your own standards, you wouldn't make it into Heaven.

          April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
    • G to the T

      "Somebody reading my post could conclude that I am Catholic,"

      Only if they've never read any of your other posts Rainy, I wouldn't worry too much.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:33 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        I hope that sometimes this blog gets visited by new people.

        April 23, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • Akira

          I hope that they see through your bigotry.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • ogamidiagoro

          Hi!

          April 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
    • Akira

      Although your brand sounds good for criminals. Get a sacramental bath, screw good deeds, act any way you please.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:34 am |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Rainer, I complement you on being boring which is better than being dead.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • Vic

      Numbers 21:6-9
      John 3:14-16

      April 23, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • mk

      "Somebody reading my post could conclude that I am Catholic..."

      Does it really matter which brand of silly you believe? So funny when some religious nut laments how ridiculous another religion is.
      I am not bigoted in any way, you see, for I believe that all religions are equally ridiculous.

      April 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
  17. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    There is a simple reason why we make so little supernatural experiences: We adhere too much to the visible world. Our sinful nature (Greek: sarx; English: flesh) is extremly bound in the visible world, and remote from the invisible world.

    The first step of getting released from our captivity in the visible world is the death of our flesh (our old man of sin; we as natural born sinners). Should we commit suicide? That is not necessary. There is another way to get rid of the flesh: The rebirth or sacramental baptism where we die and resurrect together with Jesus. As we die and resurrect at the same moment, we don't perceive baptism as a kind of death (actually our life as sinners gets abolished).

    John 3: 5-7

    5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh (our natural birth by our mother); and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (our supernatural birth by the triune God). 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    Sacramental baptism or rebirth is the very first but necessary step to experience miracles.

    After the rebirth our flesh (we as sinners) is declared dead but still there. Our body still wants to live according to its old habits though we have been baptized. At baptism we also received the Holy Spirit. We have to struggle daily that the Spirit gets control of our body or limbs more and more so that our body less and less acts according to its old habits.

    God has actually abolished our life in the sin through baptism, but he has not abolished us (as personality with full human dignity), of course. We are set free, but it is our task and responsibility to grasp the new life daily more and more. God will never violate our free will; he respects our human dignity. God has set us on a new way, and it is up to us to go on this flat way.

    Today even people having received sacramental baptism nurture their flesh through materialism, se-xual greed and too much eating (that is a great pity and neglect of the holy gift).

    Our saramental baptism will only be of any benefit for us if we spare enough time for contemplation about divine things(we should not offer every minute of our life for the job and consumption). We should be chaste, and eat less or fast.

    (Contemplation includes daily prayer)

    Colossians 3: 1-5

    If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

    It is a great pity that today very many people having received sacramental baptism, don't make supernatural experiences. Simple reason: They don't fight against their old habits though they would be on the winner side because their flesh (old life as sinner) has been declared dead through baptism.

    I claim that the worst calamity of our current time is the neglect of sacramental baptism, the holy gift. The whole world including the churches has returned to the "sarx". That is the reason for depression, misfortune, diseases, catastrophes, death, wars, plagues, etc.

    Modern Christian leaders are actually spiritual criminals because they don't explain us the connection between Jesus' sacrifice, sacramental baptism and our real life. These criminals are on the born-again-side and the ecclesiastical side.

    Through his sacrifice (his death on the cross) Jesus laid the basis for sacramental baptism: He has borne our sinful flesh, and resurrected in order to be our new life. We have died together with Jesus, and resurrected together with him. We get connected with Jesus death and resurrection through baptism where our old man of sin dies, and we resurrect together with Jesus. Requirements for baptism are repentance and faith (accepting the gospel as true).

    We get saved through faith alone, of course. Baptism makes us able to believe unboundedly.

    How many sick people would like to get cured. Yet, they know nothing about the connection between living according to the sinful flesh and diseases. Sin causes depression, diseases, death, doom, etc. We need to get rid of the sin. We make us sick when we nurture our flesh.

    April 23, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      It's amazing how much one can squeeze out of a simple story book. I applaud you Rainer for all the extrapolation and imagination and musing you have so energetically employed to get you to your final opinions.

      April 23, 2014 at 10:09 am |
    • observer

      "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and COVETOUSNESS, which is idolatry."

      (Deut. 5:9) “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God”

      Just another HYPOCRITICAL command from God.

      April 23, 2014 at 10:14 am |
    • Doris

      "We make us sick when we nurture our flesh."

      LOL – oh really?? Well then I guess I just better throw out this expensive juice that I bought at the store that is packed with vitamins and nutrients. It's just a giant bottle of SIN!!! LOL.

      Time for your self-flagellation, Rainy. You know you want it. You know it's the only way for you to get your jollies...

      April 23, 2014 at 10:19 am |
      • Doris

        (It's bad enough that Rainy here wants to wallow day and night in self-deprecation. This is one of my biggest complaints with many Christians – their constant need to dirty up the lives of others with this concept that to get the prize, we must think of ourselves as lowly and blemished as possible as much as we can.)

        April 23, 2014 at 10:27 am |
        • Doris

          (And of course so far, the evidence shows that the prize is as good as the person getting paid Tuesday for the hamburger that Wimpy got treated to on Monday.)

          April 23, 2014 at 10:31 am |
    • kudlak

      Rainer
      You don't have many lures in your tackle box, do you?

      April 23, 2014 at 10:19 am |
      • fintronics

        One bulb short of a chandelier..... make that two.

        April 23, 2014 at 11:35 am |
      • kudlak

        I was commenting on his habit of posting the exact same thing over and over, not on his mental capacity.

        April 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • fintronics

          and I was commenting on his mental capacity. (?)

          April 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Rainer, as we get older we begin to lose our vitality. Stress, money, age all conspire to limit our enjoyment of sex. Have you had your T (testosterone) number checked?

      April 23, 2014 at 10:25 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Thetans depression, diseases, death, doom, etc. We need to get rid of the Thetans .

      April 23, 2014 at 10:30 am |
      • G to the T

        [Clenches fists and shakes them at the sky] "D.AMN YOU XENU!"

        April 23, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • snuffleupagus

      Rabid Rainman's Helmet is loose, along with every screw. German fanaticism at it's finest.

      April 23, 2014 at 10:51 am |
    • SeaVik

      That is an impressive amount of BS for just one post.

      April 23, 2014 at 10:59 am |
      • snuffleupagus

        SaeVik said: "That is an impressive amount of BS for just one post."
        LMAO!

        April 23, 2014 at 11:40 am |
    • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

      Somebody reading my post could conclude that I am Catholic, but that is not the case at all. I am more or less Protestant, yet adhering to the doctrine of the costly grace (regretably today most Protestants adhere to the cheap grace).

      It is true that the RCC also keeps sacramental baptism. Yet, they have established a kind of second baptism through which they try to please God: Good deeds.

      They assume after sinning their sacramental baptism had become invalid (this assumption is wrong). Their good deeds shall be a compensation of their sins after baptism. Yet, through that they make ineffective their sacramental baptism.

      How does a true Christian act when he or she has sinned after baptism? He or she envisions that through baptism we are connected with Jesus' sacrifice in a twofold manner: We have died and resurrected together with Jesus, and Jesus sacrifice is an atonement for our sins. We can simply repent, refer to Jesus sacrifice as an atonement for our sins, and live again as faithul Christians through the releasing power of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection.

      There is no need that we pray a rosary, make a pilgrimage to Rome, buy indulgence, etc. (these would be good deeds).

      It is just Christ who always forgives and releases us.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:01 am |
      • kudlak

        Rainer Helmut Braendlein
        So, "real" Christians shouldn't worry about doing good things?

        Not much of a moral system you've got there, eh?

        April 23, 2014 at 11:33 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Good Catholic deeds: Praying a rosary, buying indulgence, Pilgrimage to Rome, keeping certain feastdays, etc.

          In contrast, a true Christian is supposed to practice unbiased love towards everybody, and to adore God in silence.

          Only if we have practiced love and righteousness through the releasing power of baptism and Jesus sacrifice, we will get into heaven.

          This is no worksrighteousness, but keeping the faith.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • Akira

          Rainer? Bigoted, Thise are a few of the myriad of good things Catholics do. What are some of yours? Coming onto a website and being as big of an jerk to every other faith other than the one you seemingly made up?

          April 23, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • kudlak

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein
          Who buys indulgences any more, and since when are Catholics required to make a pilgrimage to Rome?!? You're thinking of Muslims, maybe?

          I think you're confusing Catholic rituals with their "good deeds". Don't you have any rituals, like going to a regular Bible study, singing Christmas carols, or dressing in your Sunday Best for church?

          Weren't you taught the proper form of prayer for your sect? "God will either answer with a No, a Yes, or a Not Right Now", for instance? No advice on where to pray, or for what? If you were ever taught anything about how to pray, then how is that different from Catholics being taught the form of the rosary? Same thing, different form. That's all!

          April 23, 2014 at 11:54 am |
      • Vic

        A Christian believer is "justified" by the Grace of God ALONE, and NOT even by baptism, let alone the works of the flesh.

        Upon belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, one is a Christian, saved, and baptized and indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

        What happens when a Christian believer sins, just like Moses made a bronze serpent and set on a staff for one to look at it when he/she sinned to live, the Christian believer's sins are nailed to the cross by the "Precious Blood" of the Lord Jesus Christ and has eternal life. Numbers 21:6-9, John 3:14,15.

        April 23, 2014 at 11:33 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          You will only get into heaven, if you keep the faith.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Doris

          And of course no one knows who authored John.... one as well think of it as a summary in three layers created by a community of believers, reaching its final form in about 90-100 AD.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • Vic

          John 3:16

          April 23, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • Akira

          And golly gee, a Catholic believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is a Christian, saved, and baptized and indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

          So your constants rants are absurd.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
        • kudlak

          Vic
          But that's only half the promise. John 3:16 doesn't mention that anyone who declines God's "gift" will end up in hell, does it?

          April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • kudlak

          Vic
          Still, you still expect those who are "saved" to have deeds that are "good", correct? If getting "saved" doesn't improve one's behaviour or generosity any then it isn't very effective, is it?

          Wasn't Jesus telling people to do good deeds when he advised them to "Do onto others..."? He wouldn't have to do that if good deeds simply flowed from belief in him, right?

          April 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • kudlak

        Rainer Helmut Braendlein
        Also, are you expected to "do" anything as part of your church membership? Financially support your church, or it's charities in any way? Bring bake goods to your church picnics, visit the sick, or attend Bible study? How is your praying any different than saying a rosary? Aren't there still things that you're expected to do as a member of your church?

        April 23, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Very good. You agree with Benjamin Franklin.

          Indeed, also the Protestant churches have established a kind of good deeds: What you have recited.

          Yet, that will not please God. We please God when we keep the faith in Jesus. And when we keep the faith in Jesus we will always love God and our neighbour.

          Benjamin Franklin said nearly the same.

          Love your neighbour through Jesus' power!

          April 23, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          "And when we keep the faith in Jesus we will always love God and our neighbour."

          So says the guy who wants his neighbor sent to the fringes of society if they are gay.

          Your HYPOCRISY is just a laugh-out-loud riot.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • Akira

          The question is, how do you act, Rain? Is your idea of following in Christ's footsteps just bashing other religions? Because that isn't what Christ did. You seem to think that you can be as big of an azz to people, and because you write a few lengthy, blowhard pists, you're assured of a heavenly reward.

          Don't work that way.

          Love the ignorant red herring you threw in there with Ben Franklin.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:56 am |
        • kudlak

          Rainer
          Yet, the result is the same, isn't it?

          You still expect a Christian to do good deeds, but only as a by-product of being indwelled by the Spirit, or whatever, right? However, under your system, does the Christian ever actually decide to treat their neighbour well, or does it just happen? If it just happens, how is that any reflection on their morality? Under your system, a "saved" Christian wouldn't have any temptation to harm anyone. It'd be like they were infected by a body sna-tcher.

          TTFN

          April 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
      • fintronics

        "Somebody reading my post could conclude that I am Catholic"

        What I conclude after reading your posts is that you are a complete nut case.

        April 23, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • Akira

        People already know you're anti-catholic.

        April 23, 2014 at 11:40 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Better say anti-pope.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • Akira

          I call it as I see it. You are an anti-Catholic bigot.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
      • kudlak

        Rainer & Vic

        Would I be wrong in assuming that both of you "real" Christians are disagreeing on something that the Holy Spirit personally told each of you?

        Gee, how could that have happened?

        April 23, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          Vic is actually an Anabaptist.

          May God reveal to him the true faith of the Early Church.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • Akira

          Vic has stated many times he's a born again Protestant. You now presume to pidgeon hole people into a particular sect?

          Is yours the bigotry brigade Protestant? You made up your own religion, after all.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • Akira

          Although if I were to classify you as you seem to want to do to Vic, you're actually a Westboro Baptist.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
  18. Concert in an Egg

    The grave digs a while, deep enough for you and your pet dog. The grave leans on his shovel and thinks for a moment. Being older and more knowledgeable, the dirt guru decided to just fill in the hole and quit for the day. The sun burned bright and the pebbles in the grave’s dirt sparkled. He found some shade and quietly hoped no one would try to bury themselves.

    April 23, 2014 at 9:52 am |
  19. Doris

    Letting go of superst.i.tion

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yceHh5khkXo

    Speakers in order of appearance:

    1. Lawrence Krauss, World-Renowned Physicist
    2. Robert Coleman Richardson, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    3. Richard Feynman, World-Renowned Physicist, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    4. Simon Blackburn, Cambridge Professor of Philosophy
    5. Colin Blakemore, World-Renowned Oxford Professor of Neuroscience
    6. Steven Pinker, World-Renowned Harvard Professor of Psychology
    7. Alan Guth, World-Renowned MIT Professor of Physics
    8. Noam Chomsky, World-Renowned MIT Professor of Linguistics
    9. Nicolaas Bloembergen, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    10. Peter Atkins, World-Renowned Oxford Professor of Chemistry
    11. Oliver Sacks, World-Renowned Neurologist, Columbia University
    12. Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal
    13. Sir John Gurdon, Pioneering Developmental Biologist, Cambridge
    14. Sir Bertrand Russell, World-Renowned Philosopher, Nobel Laureate
    15. Stephen Hawking, World-Renowned Cambridge Theoretical Physicist
    16. Riccardo Giacconi, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    17. Ned Block, NYU Professor of Philosophy
    18. Gerard 't Hooft, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    19. Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford Professor of Mathematics
    20. James Watson, Co-discoverer of DNA, Nobel Laureate
    21. Colin McGinn, Professor of Philosophy, Miami University
    22. Sir Patrick Bateson, Cambridge Professor of Ethology
    23. Sir David Attenborough, World-Renowned Broadcaster and Naturalist
    24. Martinus Veltman, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    25. Pascal Boyer, Professor of Anthropology
    26. Partha Dasgupta, Cambridge Professor of Economics
    27. AC Grayling, Birkbeck Professor of Philosophy
    28. Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    29. John Searle, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
    30. Brian Cox, Particle Physicist (Large Hadron Collider, CERN)
    31. Herbert Kroemer, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    32. Rebecca Goldstein, Professor of Philosophy
    33. Michael Tooley, Professor of Philosophy, Colorado
    34. Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    35. Leonard Susskind, Stanford Professor of Theoretical Physics
    36. Quentin Skinner, Professor of History (Cambridge)
    37. Theodor W. Hänsch, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    38. Mark Balaguer, CSU Professor of Philosophy
    39. Richard Ernst, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    40. Alan Macfarlane, Cambridge Professor of Anthropology
    41. Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, Princeton Research Scientist
    42. Douglas Osheroff, Nobel Laureate in Physics
    43. Hubert Dreyfus, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
    44. Lord Colin Renfrew, World-Renowned Archaeologist, Cambridge
    45. Carl Sagan, World-Renowned Astronomer
    46. Peter Singer, World-Renowned Bioethicist, Princeton
    47. Rudolph Marcus, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
    48. Robert Foley, Cambridge Professor of Human Evolution
    49. Daniel Dennett, Tufts Professor of Philosophy
    50. Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics

    FEATURED MUSIC:

    Mozart – Requiem Mass In D Minor K 626 – 1. Introitus 00:03
    Massive Attack – Two Rocks And A Cup Of Water 02:28, 19:14
    Max Richter – Embers 05:13
    Ludovico Einaudi – Andare 09:27, 24:30, 26:31
    Ludovico Einaudi – Nuvole Bianche 13:13
    Max Richter – Vladimir's Blues 29:21
    Ludovico Einaudi – Eni 30 Percento (The Earth Prelude) 33:16
    .

    April 23, 2014 at 9:13 am |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Excellent way to start the day. Good morning Doris.

      April 23, 2014 at 9:45 am |
      • Doris

        And a good morning to you!

        April 23, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      thanks Doris!

      April 23, 2014 at 10:10 am |
    • Russ

      @ Doris:
      "If you read Carl Sagan’s last book, The Pale Blue Dot, or read Steven Pinker’s book, How the Mind Works, what scientists will tell you is this … in fact, I’ll give you a little quote from Steven Pinker out of How the Mind Works. Steven Pinker says when it comes to ethics, “… ethical theory requires idealizations like free, sentient, rational, equivalent agents *whose behavior is uncaused*, and its conclusions can be sound and useful even though the world, as seen by science, does not really have uncaused events.”

      You sly fox, Dr. Pinker. Do you know what he’s saying? Do you know what Carl Sagan is saying? If there is no God, you are utterly insignificant. Everything you do, every deed you do is insignificant. It’s programmed. You are a hunk of matter. There is absolutely no rational reason for saying that you’re more important than a rock, and yet we need to live as if we’re valuable.
      The secular worldview is unbelievably conflicted. It’s incredible. We’re almost obsessed with self-esteem. The schools are obsessed with self-esteem. “Tell the kid that he’s valuable, she’s valuable. Tell them.” And yet what Pinker and Sagan are saying is if there is no God, you have to live as if human beings are significant when they are not at all.

      Now listen, Christianity does not ever demand that kind of faith. If you’re a secular person today, Christianity will never demand that kind of intellectual schizophrenia. Never. You talk about a leap in the dark … If your origin is insignificant, and your destiny is insignificant, have the guts to admit that your life, and everyone else’s life, is insignificant. You cannot possibly live as if you are valuable and other people are valuable with that grid."

      -Tim Keller

      April 23, 2014 at 10:38 am |
      • snuffleupagus

        Now listen, Russ: you have tripped the Baloney Dectector. Xtianity is BALONEY.

        April 23, 2014 at 10:48 am |
        • Russ

          @ snuffleupagus:
          thanks there, snuffy. i'll check back later to see if big bird actually understands the critique... namely:

          if existence is insignificant, why the desperate need for significance?

          that should have tripped your bologna detector EVEN IF you reject Christianity.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • Doris

          Russ – why is it so difficult to think that we are insignificant for the most part with respect to the universe and all it encompasses, but significant to ourselves in the experience we find ourselves in? I should point out that even in the realm of "spooky physics" there are notions that allow us to be moral, significant beings whether the theistic notion of free will exists or not. I'm not saying that as some fact, but I find that often in the realm of "spooky physics", one idea is as good as the next.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          1) so you're basically saying: "hey, i know there's no ultimate meaning, but i'll fabricate one & that's ok."
          do you not see how that is fundamentally self-contradictory?
          why the need to fabricate? isn't that what secularists so greatly mock in their perception of religion?

          2) you've referenced this "spo.oky physics" before. what do you mean by the term?

          April 23, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • otoh2

          Russ,

          Your reference to Sesame Street philosophy reminded me of this little song from that program:

          "That's About the Size of It"
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGLKhP_32xA

          Each of us has a fairly narrow area of significance, but it's significance nonetheless - I'm sorry if that is not enough to satisfy your greed for more, yea, even an eternal, perfect MORE.

          (who knows the significance of our personal shedded skin cells, hair, sneeze droplets or other excretions on the overall workings of the cosmos - not saying that I take any particular pride or glory in any of those possible effects?)

          April 23, 2014 at 11:57 am |
        • Russ

          @ otoh2: again, i'd highlight this from the main quote above...

          "If you’re a secular person today, Christianity will never demand that kind of intellectual schizophrenia. Never. You talk about a leap in the dark … If your origin is insignificant, and your destiny is insignificant, have the guts to admit that your life, and everyone else’s life, is insignificant. You cannot possibly live as if you are valuable and other people are valuable with that grid."

          April 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ: "1) so you're basically saying: "hey, i know there's no ultimate meaning, but i'll fabricate one & that's ok."

          Actually, let me clarify – when I say insignificant in the universe, I only mean in relation to all there is, we seem insignificant. But being highly agnostic, I don't claim there is not grand insignificance as a fact. I do not accept what has been presented as evidence for the God of Abraham as good evidence to support that notion as being behind creation and giving significance to us in the way that you believe. I would say we presently do no know if there is any ultimate meaning regarding our existence, purpose, or fate. And when I say ultimate, I mean where some agent that we were cast in the image of is involved in our lives.

          And I'm not saying there needs to be any fabrication of significance. You just think your perception of your existence means and comes from one thing that is different from my perception. For me, during the time that we are here, we can be significant. We can make a difference for the experience of future generations without any gods being involved. Of course I find your rationale more rife with mental gymnastics, and more obviously a self-serving notion.

          Russ: "2) you've referenced this "spo.oky physics" before. what do you mean by the term?"

          metaphysics. I was reminded of the notion of semi-compatibilism when I considered your reply in a more philosophical way.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          1) it's not mental gymnastics. it's rather straightforward:
          do you (or do you not) believe that existence is ultimately purposeless / accidental / meaningless?

          the point here: if so (as many of your referenced speakers do above), it is logically inconsistent to claim the fundamental nature of existence is meaningless (lacking any significance) yet our personal lives are significant. it is – at the most basic level – self-contradictory.

          that's why Keller calls it intellectual schizophrenia. it's simply not admitting the implications of your foundational belief.

          2) it's not "spo.oky physics" – it's the factual admission that physics cannot stand alone.

          as Nietzsche put it:
          "Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as science “without any presuppositions”…a philosophy, a “faith,” must always be there first of all, so that science can acquire from it a direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist…It is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science."

          in short, whether you mock metaphysics or not, we ALL have such a basis.

          April 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ – with respect to the unknowns about the universe versus what we perceive in our lives, I draw a distinction between purpose/meaning with respect to our individual experience and those we come in contact with which can impact future generations, and purpose/meaning with respect to that stemming from some alleged deity or causal force of the universe. I think with your generalized use of "meaning", you may be referring to determinism (based how you referred to a Pinkder quote which I don't believe used "meaning"). If you want to talk about determinism (and semicompatibilism), I would recommend discussing it as such. I find your usage of "meaning" much too simplistic to be useful in a discussion contrasting basic theistic/atheistic characteristics.

          April 23, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: you're wanting to make a distinction which those to whom you appeal do not...

          "In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."
          —Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (Basic Books, 1995), 95.

          "Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home.
          That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving;
          that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms;
          that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave;
          that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system,
          and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—
          all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.
          Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built."
          —Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship” (1903)

          April 24, 2014 at 11:39 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        To gain some perspective on the impact humanity has on the Universe at large, sail out into the middle of the ocean.
        Now, put your hand in the water and remove it.
        See the difference you made to the depths of the water?

        Why do some people need to pretend that their lives have Cosmic significance in order for them to feel that it is worth living?

        April 23, 2014 at 11:07 am |
        • Russ

          @ Doc: see what you did there?
          your analogy was consistent right up until your last question – then you started arguing that life is actually *worth* living.

          again, if existence is insignificant (if not outright meaningless), why feel the need for life to be *worth* it?
          it's inconsistent with the fundamental claim being made here.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • midwest rail

          I disagree, Russ. There is a difference between life being insignificant on a cosmic scale, yet significant on a planet where we cohabit with 6 billion other people.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:27 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Should I give up playing guitar because my songs will never be noticed by anyone, let alone be hallmarks in the annals of music?

          When measured against the unfathomable vastness of the entirety of space and time, our lives are indeed insignificant.
          That doesn't mean that my existence is unimportant to me, my family, or my community.
          Must a life have a magical, eternal, grandiose Ultimate impact on the universe in order to be worthwhile to the one living it?

          April 23, 2014 at 11:29 am |
        • Alias

          Context Russ:
          Just because our hands are inadequate to raise the level of the ocean, does that mean we do not matter to our families and friends?
          Just because we have no cosmic significance, does anything we do matter? Yes, it does.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Russ

          @ midwest rail:
          sounds like you want to make a spatial distinction ('huge & far away' versus 'tiny & close up').
          that's not the distinction i'm making (though I could press you on the term "microcosm").
          transcendence (or even just underlying principles) represent so much more than that.

          philosophically, we are talking about the foundation & the walls.
          if your foundation says there's no meaning, why build walls that claim to have meaning?
          not only is it self-contradictory, but the building fails from the outset.

          April 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • Russ

          @ Doc:
          that doesn't answer the question.
          if existence is purposeless as a whole, why feel the need to fabricate meaning?

          even your analogies only support my point. what's the beauty in music? why feel the need to have artistry in the first place? what are you 'cultivating' (purposefully bringing order from chaos)? and doesn't that very concept run directly contrary to a random existence?

          April 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Alias: note my response to midwest rail above.

          April 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Doris

          Who says there must be purpose to have meaning? Maybe you need to tighten down your terms a bit, Russ. (I think if he tightens them down to where he wants them, he'll be left with just a theistic argument for which there is only a self-serving theistic answer.)

          April 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
        • midwest rail

          No, Russ, the spatial insistence is yours alone. Merely because I find significance in a life on earth with my family, friends, and fellow humans, you insist that I must logically then find cosmic significance. That's absurd.

          April 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          Miriam Webster on "meaningless":
          1: having no meaning; especially: lacking any significance
          2: having no assigned function in a language system

          SUM: lacking any significance... having no assigned function (purpose).
          No meaning, no significance, no purpose.

          you don't have to be a theist to see this. it's simply being logically consistent.
          if you claim existence itself – fundamentally – has no meaning, then that includes ALL of existence.
          you can fabricate contradictory notions, but that's what they are: self-contradictory.

          again, if existence is meaningless, why feel the need to fabricate meaning – even (if not especially) on a local scale? why not simply embrace the full implications of your grid's foundation?

          April 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
        • Russ

          @ midwest rail: i was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt by taking you spatially.
          philosophically, your position is openly self-contradictory & thus self-defeating.

          to be clear: it's the other way around (not b/c of your finite claims deciding your infinite, but the infinite, qualitative claims dictating what is logical finitely).
          if you claim the universe/existence is ultimately meaningless, that includes EVERY part of it. now, that does not preclude the possibility of fabricating some meaning/significance, but that would make one wonder: why do you feel the need to do something so contrary to the nature of existence? is nature broken or are you?

          April 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Russ, where did I make that claim ? I did not. My position is that my life on earth is significant because of my friends, family, and the billions that I share this planet with. You are insisting on the extrapolation, it is not me denying it.

          April 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • Russ

          @ midwest rail:
          1) you said: "There is a difference between life being insignificant on a cosmic scale, yet significant on a planet where we cohabit with 6 billion other people."

          spatially, yes. philosophically & ultimately, no.
          quant.itatively, yes. qualitatively, no.
          the former is relationally speaking; the latter is categorical.

          as Keller pointed out: if one claims to live in an existence that is – from inception – meaningless, then ALL of life is meaningless. attempting to fabricate meaning is like building walls on a chaotic foundation: no matter how sturdy those walls may be, the building will crumble.

          if life is ultimately meaningless – then that's what it is... always.
          and if one claims life is meaningless, but then feels the need to fabricate meaning... which is broken: existence or us?

          you seem to want to divide yourself from your cosmology – but you are & will be a *microcosm* of your cosmos... precisely because you live within it. you eat, sleep, breathe it whether or not you recognize it – because your entire existence is contingent upon it.

          the old analogy here:
          older fish swims past younger fish. "mornin', boys. how's the water?" "fine."
          they swim on a while, then one says to the other "what's water?"

          2) you said: "where did i claim that?"
          i was picking up your claim from context, so... for clarity's sake, i'll ask directly:
          do you or do you not believe the universe is meaningless, an accident, purposeless, etc.?

          April 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
    • Salero21

      Only 50, really!! Even if they were 500 or 5,000 it would not matter a bit, because they haven't proven the NON-EXISTENCE of God the Creator. This is nothing more than Doris being one little piece of Evidence of the Absolute, Complete, and Total Stupidity of atheism/evolutionism and idolatry.

      April 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
  20. alonsoquixote

    For anyone who enjoys Mark Twain's writings, as I do, he wrote "Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven", which first appeared in print in Harper's Magazine in December 1907 and which was later published in book form. The description of the movie reminded me of his work. Twain used his story to show that the common conception of heaven is ludicrous and to show the incongruities in commonly held beliefs about heaven. In Captain Stormfield's visit to heaven, he learns that the conventional image of angels as winged, white-robed figures bearing haloes, harps, and palm leaves is a mere illusion generated for the benefit of humans, who mistakenly take "figurative language" to be a realistic depiction. Twain also wrote "Eve's Diary, Complete" and "Extracts from Adam's Diary, translated from the original ms." as stories Adam and Eve might have told had they left diaries. Since the works are long out of copyright, they are freely available in various electronic formats, including ones suitable for ebook readers, or can be read online at the Project Gutenberg webste at Gutenberg.org.

    Project Gutenberg also offers "Legends of the Jews" by Rabbi Louis Ginzberg, which is a compilation of a vast amount of aggadah, i.e., exegetical texts in the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism, from the Mishnah, the two Talmuds and Midrash. The work spans five volumes, followed by two volumes of footnotes that give specific sources. There are many stories with more details on the lives of Adam and Eve and their immediate descendants in that work, including Enoch's visit to the 7th heaven. In ancient Jewish thought, there was a conception of not just one, but seven heavens with the seventh heaven being the highest one. The work is also freely available in MP3 format as an audiobook through Librivox, a volunteer project to make out-of-copyright works available in audio format, at Librivox.org.

    April 23, 2014 at 8:03 am |
    • bostontola

      It is impressive, the exquisite beauty and detail the human mind can create.

      April 23, 2014 at 9:13 am |
    • G to the T

      If not a reader, I'd recommend "The Adventures of Mark Twain" a 1985 claymation film based on these and several other of Twain's short stories. Don't be fooled by the presentation, the depictions of "The Mysterious Stranger" and "Captain Stormfield's visit to heaven" are EXTREMELY accurate in some places. I remember having nightmares as a kid after seeing the Mysterious Stranger segement.

      April 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
      • alonsoquixote

        Thanks! I found some videos for "The Adventures of Mark Twain" on YouTube last night; I didn't have time to view any then, but hope to be able to do so this weekend.

        April 24, 2014 at 8:20 am |
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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.