June 10th, 2014
02:40 PM ET

Meet the atheist ... who believes in God

Opinion by Frank Schaeffer, special to CNN

(CNN) - All the public debates between celebrity atheists and evangelical pastors are as meaningless as literary awards and Oscar night.

They are meaningless because participants lack the objectivity to admit that our beliefs have less to do with facts than with our personal needs and cultural backgrounds.

The words we use to label ourselves are just as empty.

What exactly is a “believer?” And for that matter what is an “atheist?” Who is the objective observer to define these terms?

Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account.

Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Let me explain.

I believe that life evolved by natural selection. I believe that evolutionary psychology explains away altruism and debunks love, and that brain chemistry undermines the illusion of free will and personhood.

I also believe that a spiritual reality hovering over, in and through me calls me to love, trust and hear the voice of my creator.

It seems to me that there is an offstage and an onstage quality to my existence. I live onstage, but I sense another crew working offstage. Sometimes I hear their voices “singing” in a way that’s as eerily beautiful as the offstage chorus in an opera.

My youngest grandchildren Lucy (5) and Jack (3) are still comfortable with this paradoxical way of seeing reality.

Most grownups don’t have the transparent humility to deal with the fact that unknowing is OK. But Lucy and Jack seem to accept that something may never have happened but can still be true.

For instance they take Bible stories we read at face value, and yet I see a flicker in their eyes that tells me that they already know the stories are not true in the same way boiling water is true and can be tested—it’s hot!

It's like that mind-bending discovery from quantum mechanics that tiny objects like electrons can actually be in two places at once and act simultaneously like a particle and a wave.

Maybe my grandchildren will embrace quantum theory, and won't look for ways to make the irrational rational by hiding behind words like “mystery” in order to sustain their faith in science or God.

Or maybe they'll embrace apophatic theology, the theology of not knowing.

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide

But it's not the easiest thing to do.

Our brains are not highly evolved enough to reconcile our hunger for both absolute certainty and transcendent, inexplicable experiences.

Nor can I reconcile these ideas: “I know that the only thing that exists is this material universe,” and “I know that my redeemer liveth.”

Depending on the day you ask me, both statements seem true. And I don't think I'm alone in that.

Behold, the six types of atheists

We’re all in the closet, so to speak. We barely come out to ourselves and never completely to others. I have met people who claim a label - evangelical or atheist - until you really get to know them.

Then, things get more complicated.

Many of us, even the devout, have many more questions than answers about God and religion.

In other words, people just like me: atheists who pray and eloquent preachers who secretly harbor doubts.

I believe that we’re all of at least two minds. We play a role and define that role as “me” because labels and membership in a tribe make the world feel a little safer.

When I was raising my children, I pretended to be grownup daddy. But alone with my thoughts, I was still just me. I’m older now, and some younger people may think I know something.

I do: I know how much I can never know.

Many Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Christians inherited their faith because of where they were born. If you are an atheist, you hold those beliefs because of a book or two you read, or who your parents were and the century in which you were born.

Don’t delude yourself: There are no ultimate reasons for anything, just circumstances.

If you want to be sure you have "the truth" about yourself and our universe, then prepare to go mad. Or prepare to turn off your brain and cling to some form or other of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular.

You will always be more than one person. You will always embody contradiction.

You—like some sort of quantum mechanicals physics experiment—will always be in two places at once.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book is "Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to give love, create beauty and find peace." The views expressed in this column belong to Schaeffer. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Culture & Science • Faith • God • Nones • Opinion

soundoff (2,372 Responses)
  1. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    You might as well believe this too:

    When you wish upon a star
    Makes no difference who you are
    Anything your heart desires
    Will come to you

    If your heart is in your dream
    No request is too extreme
    When you wish upon a star
    As dreamers do

    Faith is kind
    She brings to those she loves
    The sweet fulfillment of
    Their secret longing

    Like a bolt out of the blue
    Fate steps in and sees you through
    When you wish upon a star
    Your dreams come true

    June 12, 2014 at 2:14 am |
  2. colin31714

    Pretty nauseating rationale. Come end of the day, there are a couple of pretty fundamental facts that are pretty hard to get around.

    1. There is no evidence that a god exists. None.
    2. The Judeo-Christian god is a figure of literature. His entire existence comes from a book. A book, the vast majority of who's claims have been demonstrated to be false.

    However one wants to dance around these facts, perform mental gymnastics or redefine god as "all love" or "all things unknown" in order to shoehorn this silly being into something believable, those two cold, hard facts remain.

    June 12, 2014 at 1:38 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Their God is something hoped for and unseen. They can't remain suspended in the "hoped for " state. They go on to imagine there is something and rework their grasp on reality to make it seem so.

      June 12, 2014 at 1:56 am |
    • Vic

      1. This existence, the universe and life in it.
      2. First part: History speaks volumes, Second part: Not true.

      Nothing is more shoehorning a silly idea than 'Abiogenesis' and 'Speciation.'

      June 12, 2014 at 1:56 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Explain your answer to 1 without begging.

        June 12, 2014 at 2:26 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        1) Wrong...those things do not prove a god of any form.
        2) Wrong again. We know that man wrote the bible-no divine intervention has been shown for this. We know that Noahs Ark didn't happen (no scientific evidence to support it, the creationist stories count for zilch in the world). We know that resurrection didn't happen (no other case has been reported-at least not after 3 days of being dead). We know the creation story is fallacious-Evolution proves this and out direct EVIDENCED based DNA. We know the bible is contradictory. We know that being LGBT is natural and not a horrible choice that people make.

        No matter how you may perceive this, you're wrong. You want so bad for your god to be real that you will deny all evidence to the contrary and use special pleading to meet you delusional standards. You have closed your mind to all other possibilities and are truly wasting this life. People like you are a blemish on society and should consider taking your leave before causing further damage to our world.

        June 12, 2014 at 6:26 am |
        • Dyslexic doG


          June 12, 2014 at 8:21 am |
        • dvdrichards1115

          I'm sorry, but you said there is "proof" that God is not real? Where? The lack of proof that God exist is not proof he doesn't. The writer of this article is correct. No one KNOWS with certainty. Both sides have faith.

          June 12, 2014 at 10:03 am |
        • mkrusoe

          I do not have faith. Faith is belief without any evidence. What is my faith then, that I trust what I can test in the physical world? Atheists cannot disprove the existence of gods, but we can prove that the holy books of the world (most especially the Bible) are loaded with inaccuracies and falsehoods. If an "inerrant" book can be proven to be wrong about many things contained within, why should we then believe the god it describes actually exists?

          June 12, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • kudlak

          You're right, God could be real, but the typical idea of God held by Bible-literalists is just too full of contradictions and paradoxes to logically exist. It takes a whole lot of faith to believe that this character actually does exist. All it takes to not accept the claims that he exists is sound judgment.

          June 12, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Kudlak....not to mention that even if the god of the bible does exist, he is a p-rick, completely undeserving of worship

          June 12, 2014 at 11:28 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          dvd: I see reading comprehension is not your strong suit. I said the things that Vic claimed are NOT proof. Before acting superior to someone make sure you're able to properly understand what they have said, otherwise it makes you look like an ass.

          June 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • dvdrichards1115

          Truth, you said:
          No matter how you may perceive this, you're wrong. You want so bad for your god to be real that you will deny all evidence to the contrary
          "evidence to the contrary" of Gods existence, did I comprehend that wrong? What evidence?
          You also said:
          "People like you are a blemish on society"
          I am not sure where I acted superior to anyone, it was not my intent. But as I reread your entry, the only person who sounds like they think they are superior to anyone in this conversation....is you.

          June 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Dvd: Wow! I said his god because there isn't evidence, unless of course you have some you'd like to present.
          As for my comment that he is a blemish on society-so what??? He would rather deny equal rights than look at facts-that is a blemish; he would rather the creationist crap be taught in schools, instead of teaching evidence backed stuff-that it is a blemish. I'm not being superior...superior is someone like Vic who thinks he has all the answers.
          As for evidence: Evolution proves the creation story wrong; we know a virgin birth is impossible; we know a resurrection is impossible; we know that Noahs Ark was impossible.
          Obviously, you're taking far too much of this than there really is...stop looking for a fight, it's immature on your behalf-Grow up.

          June 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • dvdrichards1115

          Okay, so you have no evidence.

          June 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          dvd: You mean evidence that would meet your standards b/c you are incapable of accepting that the things I listed as being false are, to do so would ruin your delusion of this god. Do you seriously believe that man kind comes from Adam and Eve when there is no evidence for it but yet plenty for evolution? Are you truly inept to think a virgin birth is possible? Are you seriously stupid enough to fall for the resurrection story when no other place in recorded history has it happened, at least not outside of religion? Do you seriously not comprehend that what the writers of the bible might have seen as a global flood was probably very likely a local flood and due to their lack of ability to explore further, they wrote it in and added the fear factor of 'be good or else'? It takes a true idiot to believe those stories.
          This site will ease your small mind with facts: http://www.freethoughtdebater.org/2011/12/30/bible-errors-and-contradictions/

          June 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • dvdrichards1115

          you are a sad person who hurles insults at somone you have never met. sad indeed. I have great sympathy for you. Evidence I am an inerrantist? None. I am not. There are many very intelligent people who believe in God. Right or wrong. Are you suggesting anyone who believes in God is stupid? If so, how can you say in your previous post that you don't claim to be superior? Sure, you think you are the smartest person you know. You can deny it, it is very obvious what an arrogant ass you are.
          You listed things that are not proven, improbable maybe, impossible...prove it.
          The ressurection story, the point is that it has never happened at any other point in history, so, that doesn't mean you have proof it didn't happen. It means it is improbable, not impossible.
          I think it was a local flood. so what.
          An diot is someone with an IQ of less than 25. It would be hard for an idiot to read or type, I am doing both, so no I am not an idiot.
          You are as arogant as it gets...

          June 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          dvd: So an armchair psychologist! You're seriously flawed in your assessment of me, many would disagree with you but then again you have no clue as to who I am-just a few lines on an anonymous blog....kudos for judging a person based on that and that alone. I'm quite happy.
          I provided you a link but yet you apparently didn't go to it...I'm sorry if it isn't what you're looking for but no-one has personal evidence that would count for anything.
          If you believe it was a local flood, then please explain how it is that you apparently accept the flood story in the bible.
          Yes a belief in the god of the bible is idiotic. There is a reason many people believe in that god-they've been brainwashed to and walking away or admitting to disbelief isn't always easy. The vast majority of the USA believes in that god but majority doesn't make something fact...almost every child believes in Santa at some point-does that mean Santa is real?

          June 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • LinCA


          You said, "The lack of proof that God exist is not proof he doesn't."
          The lack of evidence for your god makes the case for it exactly as strong as the case for the Easter Bunny. Do you believe in the Easter Bunny with the same verve as in the god of your choice?

          You said, "The writer of this article is correct."
          Agreed. He still makes an argument from ignorance.

          You said, "No one KNOWS with certainty."
          True, but that doesn't make both sides equal. Not by a long shot.

          It is believers that make a claim of the existence of a creature for which they have no evidence. None whatsoever. It isn't up to those that don't buy into such claims to provide evidence to debunk that notion. The burden rests entirely on those that make the claim. Until some evidence is produced to support the existence of any god, the only reasonable course is to reject the claim.

          Without evidence for your god, it is unreasonable to believe it exists.

          Now, if you venture beyond the generic, non-specific gods into the realm of specific gods, such as the christian god, you can know with certainty that such a god can't exists. If a god is said to have mutually exclusive traits it logically can't exist. An all-knowing and all-powerful god that gets angry or frustrated with its creation, for instance can't exist (anger and frustration flow from lack of control and failure to achieve the desired outcome). The god, as depicted in the OT, is without question not real.

          You said, "Both sides have faith."
          Nope. Most atheists will readily acknowledge that there is a non-zero chance that there are creatures that resemble gods but will withhold judgment until evidence is provided. No faith is required to hold the position that without evidence there is no reason to believe. The position that gods that are impossible to exist are not real, likewise requires no faith.

          June 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
  3. Vic

    What we know about God is what is revealed in Nature, hence "Natural Revelation," and Scripture, hence "Special Revelation." The how of the "Supernatural" and the Divine Realm is not revealed to us, plain and simple. If God wanted us to know the how of the "Supernatural," He would've revealed it.

    June 12, 2014 at 12:56 am |
    • Vic

      Meant as a reply, please see below.

      June 12, 2014 at 1:23 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's easy (and wrong) to conclude that when nothing is revealed then there is nothing to be revealed. Still, it's right to conclude that people who insist that God is plainly revealed have probably deluded themselves.

      June 12, 2014 at 1:42 am |
    • tallulah131

      The problem, or course, with looking for revelation in nature is that there is nothing in nature that requires a god. You are simply adding a god to an equation that does not need one.

      June 12, 2014 at 1:43 am |
    • kudlak

      What would be the point of keeping the How a secret?

      June 12, 2014 at 11:27 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Nope,. Chaos Theory has demonstrated the Mandelbrot Set arises spontaneously, thus nature provides no such evidence.

      June 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    If God is powerful enough to design and create the universe, don't you think he'd have a more foolproof way of getting his EXACT message across to future generations than this endlessly translated, edited, confused, modified, twisted, corrupted book of stories that is changed by religious power brokers to suit each generation?

    Wouldn't god's word be carved on the moon, unchangeable and for all to see? Wouldn't it be spoken unchanged by a species of animal? Wouldn't it be written microscopically on every stone or every tree? Wouldn't there be some space age material that had god's voice recorded, uncorrupted over the centuries and there for everyone to hear.

    Wouldn't there be parts of God's word that reflect computers or artificial intelligence or DNA or modern medicine or future medicine or electricity or space travel to other parts of this amazing universe he created? Wouldn't there be talk of gender and race equality? Wouldn't there be talk of Asia and Australia and the Americas and Europe and Africa?

    Instead the bible is limited to horses and carts and herbs and grain and swords and shields and misogyny and racism and slavery all set in the deserts of the middle east. The Bible is so obviously a product of bronze age man, you must be in denial to even argue that it is the word of god. There may or may not be a god or gods, but this book of bronze age voodoo and oppression has nothing to do with him, her or them.

    And stop it with this "not the word of god but words inspired by god" cop out. That just means it was written by greedy, evil men who got their way by claiming that god told them to do something. That's a self serving scam that should be scorned, especially by anyone claiming to love an omnipotent god. That scam is an abomination and an insult to your god ... as is the bible!

    June 12, 2014 at 12:28 am |
  5. realbuckyball

    You let us know when YOU get YOUR PhD in Biology. K ?


    June 11, 2014 at 11:50 pm |
  6. awanderingscot

    i know the difference between adaptation and the theory of evolution, obviously you don't.

    June 11, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
  7. realbuckyball

    So you actually think YOU know more than EVERY university Genetics and Biology Dept in the entire world, Heh heh. That;s pretty near to mental illness.

    June 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
  8. awanderingscot

    another one them tried to make a case for evolution using principles of adaptation and then claimed that even though it did not fit into the evolutionary timescale it was the methods used that proved the validity of the experiment. it just proves to me they'll believe any old fairy tale if it fits their godless delusions.

    June 11, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  9. awanderingscot

    i asked a couple of them today how is it the 'Cambrian Explosion' manifested itself with the sudden appearance of hundreds and hundreds of animals all within a blink of an eye on the 'evolutionary' timescale without any antecedents at all in the fossil record. the best they could do is post a link to a 'scientific' paper. so yes, they are extremely delusional..

    June 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
  10. awanderingscot

    they try to make science their security blanket but when that fails them they revert to misquoting the bible saying that could not happen. most of them haven't matured beyond schoolboy logic and without a doubt have not developed the critical thinking skills of a man. they're a pitiful lot for sure.

    June 11, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
  11. awanderingscot

    it's just like they can't explain the Cambrian Explosion, or world population growth, or anything else that contradicts the fairy tale of evolution conjured up by their finite little minds.

    June 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    as opposed to just spouting off passages from the bible, which means 2k year old dead men are doing your thinking.

    June 11, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
  13. truthfollower01

    I found William Lane Craig's latest Question of the Week enti-tled "Gospel Authorship-Who Cares?" interesting. Below is an excerpt:

    "Was the author reliable in getting the facts straight? The book of Acts enables us to answer that question decisively. For Acts overlaps significantly with the secular history of the ancient world, and the historical accuracy of Acts is indisputable. This has been demonstrated anew by Co-lin Hemer, a classical scholar who turned to New Tes-tament studies, in his book The Book of Acts in the Setting of He-llenistic History (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1989). Hemer goes through the book of Acts with a fine-toothed comb, pulling out a wealth of historical detail, ranging from what would have been common knowledge down to details which only a local person would know. Again and again Luke’s accuracy is demonstrated: from the sailings of the Alexandrian corn fleet to the coastal terrain of the islands to the peculiar and shifting ti-tles of local officials, Luke gets it right.

    According to the classical historian A. N. Sherwin-White, “For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd.”1 The judgement of Sir William Ramsay, a world-famous archaeologist, still stands: “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”2 Given this author’s care and demonstrated reliability, as well as his contact with eyewitnesses within the first generation after the events, this man can be trusted when it comes to matters in the life of Jesus for which we do not enjoy independent confirmation.

    This last point demonstrates that having some knowledge of the Gospels’ authors can, indeed, be helpful. But the point remains: it’s not crucial."

    June 11, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
    • truthfollower01

      It's not a few historical facts. Reread the above post.

      June 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        Why can Luke not be trusted?

        June 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        No written testimony...first hand or otherwise is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of the supernatural...none. Getting historic people or places correct is one thing...people and places exist. Supernatural occurrences do not.

        June 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher


        It's just atheistic excuse-making. Historical facts in a text is exactly the reason we trust the works of Caesar, Plato, Tacitus. And any historian will tell you that the level of accurate historical facts in the Bible surpasses all other works of antiquity. Yet, when it comes to the Bible, all you get from the atheists is "so what?"

        June 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        "Supernatural occurrences do not."

        How do you know this to be the case?

        June 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        Because none have ever been verified. All you have are stories. If supernatural events were happening we would have evidence. We have none. In fact a $1000000 prize awaits anyone who can demonstrate any type of inexplicable power or ability. The money remains unclaimed. Nobody is rising from the dead, no one is walking on water, reading minds or moving objects telekinetically. If it could happen in the past it could happen today...but we don't see that now do we? So why believe the stories?

        June 11, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
      • truthfollower01


        It's good to hear from you.

        June 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm |
      • Vic

        Something escapes the mind of non-believers is that the Holy Spirit works in the Christian believers individually, of which is revealing truths in the Scripture.

        June 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
      • truthfollower01


        Would you consider the creation of the universe a supernatural event?

        June 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
      • Doris

        tf: "Would you consider the creation of the universe a supernatural event?"

        I wouldn't. I also wouldn't claim to know for certain that it is not.

        June 11, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
      • truthfollower01


        You believe it's possible for something to pop into existence uncaused out of nothing that it doesn't surprise me that you wouldn't.

        June 11, 2014 at 11:25 pm |
      • truthfollower01


        Typo above. Should have said: "so it doesn't surprise me that you wouldn't."

        June 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
      • Akira

        TF, not to put to fine a point on it, but you yourself believe something popped out of nothing.

        June 11, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


        I asked you a question the other night. You say your god is immaterial and made "material" (the universe). What is the mechanism that was used that something immaterial made material?

        June 11, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
      • Doris

        Almost, tf. I don't think it's been proven that something cannot come from nothing. I find the notion highly unlikely, but I don't think we know enough to say that it is impossible for something to come from nothing. That's a bit different from your representation of my position. Also, because I don't see any reasonably demonstrated evidence of such, I find adding the attribute "uncaused", too defining – too limiting of possibilities.

        June 11, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
      • Vic

        How God created the universe and life in it is a matter of the Divine Realm.

        God is outside the beginning, relam, and time of this existence, and is not subject to it.

        June 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Vic, that explained nothing about how it was done, that was a definition of characteristics. Characteristics that could be used to define any other god, and has.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:00 am |
      • realbuckyball

        Why can Luke not be trusted?

        Because it's a literary form called a "gospel". The "good news". They are not history. They were created to be read in church to believers to remind them what they already believed. No scholar thinks they are "history", (except for the fundies). That is an essentially biased docu'ment. They were propaganda. Period.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:02 am |
      • realbuckyball

        "God is outside the beginning, relam, and time of this existence, and is not subject to it."

        Because you say so ? Nice Special Pleading you got going there. It's also meaningless. "OUTSIDE" requires spacetime already and concurrently. Say anything you want, but "outside" and "before" spacetime are teo utterly meaningless phrases. They BOTH reference spacetime in defining the exclusion. It's drvil.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:05 am |
      • Vic

        We are not required to know the how to believe in God, that is not the purpose for us. Also, not believing in God on the part of the non-believer does not obligate explaining the how of creation, especially that it is "Supernatural." That is the characteristic we believe in.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:12 am |
      • Vic

        "Also, not believing in God on the part of the non-believer does not obligate explaining the how of creation on the part of the believer,..."

        June 12, 2014 at 12:18 am |
      • Vic

        The realm of this existence is a created and fa inished product by the Divine Realm, so the argument of spacetime, which is part of this realm, is invalid.

        And, don't get me started on spacetime.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:27 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        You are not required to know how its done Vic. But you and TF claim to "know" an awful lot about god, stuff you are not required to know either. And since you claim to "know" god is an "immaterial, spaceless, timeless being" I would think explaining how something immaterial makes "material" would be pretty simple.

        Unless you are just talking out your butt....then it would make perfect sense.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:35 am |
      • realbuckyball

        All assertions with not a shred of support.
        "And don't get me started " ?
        Really ? So you admit you are unable to discuss it.

        June 12, 2014 at 12:57 am |
      • realbuckyball

        BTW YOU used the word "outside". YOU used a spatial reference. Now you try to weasel out of YOUR OWN use of language. Either YOu meant a spatial reference, or you disingenuously were spouting nonsense. Which is it ?

        June 12, 2014 at 12:59 am |
      • Vic

        @June 12, 2014 at 12:35 am |

        What we know about God is what is revealed in Nature, hence "Natural Revelation," and Scripture, hence "Special Revelation." The how of the "Supernatural" and the Divine Realm is not revealed to us, plain and simple. If God wanted us to know the how of the "Supernatural," He would've revealed it.

        Posted the above as a root comment by accident, my machine is all over the place for some reason.

        @June 12, 2014 at 12:59 am |

        Outside the realm of this existence.

        June 12, 2014 at 1:21 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Special revelation is special BS.

        June 12, 2014 at 2:13 am |
      • G to the T

        ""Supernatural occurrences do not."

        How do you know this to be the case?"

        Because historians (are supposed) to deal in probabilities. And a non-supernatural explanation is just about always going to be the more probable than a supernatural one.

        June 12, 2014 at 7:19 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Craig is no Biblical scholar. The fact that that a few known historical facts and places are known to be true, in no way makes either Acts or the gospels true. It's like saying we know Zeus and the myth are true as they referenced few known real people and places. Fail. Craig had admitted he would believe no matter what the evidence showed. He's a lying fraud. A charlatan who charges huge sums to show up for debates, Look at he feeble attempt in the debate he lost with Sean Carroll, the physicist. He was totally shown up. As for your scriptures, lets look at some real scholars.

      In 1952, a team was set in place by the world-famous, preeminent scholar, archaeologist and pioneer discoverer of Holy Land historical sites and docu'ments, Dr. William Foxwell Albright, the professor of Semitic languages at the Johns Hopkins University. Their job was to write criticisms and scholarly work concerning all biblical texts. The team was composed of the most respected biblical scholars in the US and Europe, including Dr. John W. Bailey, Professor Emeritus, New Testament, Berkley Baptist Divinity School, Dr Albert E. Barnett, Professor Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Dr. Walter Russell Bowel, Professor, The Protestant Episcopal Seminary, Virginia, Dr. John Bright, Professor, Union Seminary and many others.

      The team of 124 clergymen and scholars came mostly from conservative, mainline universities and churches for the most part, the likes of whom will never be seen again in one place, whose names evoke the utmost and deepest respect, even if one completely disagrees with their religious views. They wrote the huge 13 volume set, now considered a valuable rare book, called "The Interpreters Bible". Today it is usually kept under lock and key in seminaries and libraries. This set includes an introduction to scholarship and looks at every single verse and word in the Bible, discusses their origins and possible meanings from various points of view. It has been updated in the 1990's, but the original scholarship is still the central fundamental summary of knowledge, which summarized scholarship from the Medieval period (1850's -1950's) and is therefore considered to be an interesting historical snapshot. It is also an assurance that these absolutely respected leading intellectuals from the 20th Century scholarship, of whom most were religious, have agreed to have each other's names associated with their own and that they felt comfortable with what each other were saying in an academic setting and commanded world-wide respect as conservative, careful, and sincere, life-long teachers, academics and scholars.

      On page 15 of "The Interpreters Bible", Dr. Herbert F. Farmer, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University wrote about the indispensability of the texts, their importance and how the "truth" of them should be approached, after an exposition of the traditional conservative Christian view of person-hood, sin and the salvific actions of Jesus (aka Yeshua ben Josef), known as "the Christ" in human history.

      "The reason has to do with the evidence afforded by the texts themselves, and calls for fuller treatment. Scholarly research into the texts themselves, HAS CONVINCINGLY SHOWN THAT THEY CANNOT BE ACCEPTED IN DETAIL AS THEY STAND".

      June 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        Which parts can't be accepted and why?

        June 11, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Read the damn book, and find out.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Actually, there are several sites devoted to discussing all the contradictions within the bible. That is one of the reasons why religion is losing traction with the youth.

          June 12, 2014 at 8:40 am |
        • truthfollower01

          I'm asking you why the Bible can't be accepted as factual and trustworthy.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          How do you explain the following data?

          In a debate between Bart Ehrman and Michael Licona, 3 facts are given pertaining to Jesus's fate and what occurred afterward that nearly 100% of all scholars studying this subject at the time of the debate accepted. This includes Christians, Jews, agnostics and atheists.

          1. Jesus' death by crucifixion.

          "One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate." – Bart Ehrman quote shown in his debate with Michael Liconia ("Ehrman vs. Licona (2009)") on YouTube.

          2. Appearances to the Disciples

          This is short for saying that shortly after Jesus's death, a number of Jesus's followers had experiences both individually and in group settings that they perceived were of the risen Jesus who appeared to them.

          "Why, then, did some of the disciples claim to see Jesus alive after his resurrection? I don't doubt at all that some disciples claimed this. We don't have any of their written testimony, but Paul, writing about twenty-five years later, indicates that this is what they claimed, and I don't think he is making it up. And he knew at least a couple of them, whom he met just three years after the event Galatians 1:18-19)." – from Bart Ehrman's book, Jesus Interrupted

          3. Appearance to Paul

          Short for saying that Paul had an experience that he perceived was of the risen Jesus appearing to him.

          ""there is no doubt that [Paul] believed that he saw Jesus' real but glorified body raised from the dead."
          – Bart Ehrman quote shown in his debate with Michael Liconia ("Ehrman vs. Licona (2009)") on YouTube.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Bart Ehrman was an evangelical CHristian and his scholarship led to him rejecting Christian dogma.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Seriously ?

          1. Jesus' death by crucifixion.

          "One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate." – Bart Ehrman quote shown in his debate with Michael Liconia ("Ehrman vs. Licona (2009)") on YouTube.

          I don't care what Ehrman says, (and CERTAINLY not what the fool Licona says). Ehrman does not represent anyone but himself, and many scholars disagree with him. IF, (and I mean IF) Jesus exists, he was executed by standing order of the Pax Romana. It required no intervention by a Roman. He (as a troublemaker) needed no trial. There was no trial. The gospels all conflict about the times and what he said duing them. Some say he was silent. One says he gave a speech. One changed the day and time he died on. and conflicts with the others. The Jewish Sanhedrin was NEVER ONCE in all of history, called into session on Passover weekend. Matthew says the temple curtain spontaneously ripped. NOT ONE Jewish hostorian, even those known to be IN Jerusalem at the time, record that (supposedly ) monumental event. It never happened. It was a lie. What about all the other zombies in Matthew that rose ? WHat happened to them ? Not one other person mentions the zombie invasion of Jerusalem.

          2. Appearances to the Disciples

          Don't be ridiculous. They CLAIMED he "appeared" to them. 1. They didn't recognize him. Dr, Bernard Brandon Scott of the Tulsa Seminary's "The Trouble With Resurrection" has addtressed this in his book. The Greek language in Paul is PASSIVE. The "experienced" what they interpreted to be a resurrection event. The did not "see" a physical body. Even at the end of Matthew, it says "they doubted but they worshiped". If they were REALLY seeing a risen body, there would be no doubts.

          "Why, then, did some of the disciples claim to see Jesus alive after his resurrection? I don't doubt at all that some disciples claimed this. We don't have any of their written testimony, but Paul, writing about twenty-five years later, indicates that this is what they claimed, and I don't think he is making it up.

          I do think they made it up. They were all known liars. And they admitted doing anything to promote the new cult was ok with them. Romans 3:7 "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner ?"

          Deception was the norm in the early church.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Anyone who thinks the gospels "gets the facts straight" has to explain the different days and times of the death, the countless contradictions and historical mistakes.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        name just one contradiction or mistake loudmouth.

        June 11, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          All the synoptics say Jebus was silent in the trial. John has him giving a LONG speech. Oops.
          The day and time of the death are different in John. Oops.
          None of them agree about the resurrection. Oops.

          June 12, 2014 at 12:07 am |
        • realbuckyball

          Calm down. I do realize having your idiot beliefs challenged makes me a "loudmouth". Thanks for the compliment.

          June 12, 2014 at 12:08 am |
    • kudlak

      Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gets a lot of historical facts correct to. Historical Fiction is a well-established genre.

      June 12, 2014 at 11:31 am |
  14. Vic

    I would like to suggest doing something different, just like what Frank Schaeffer is basically doing here, if you haven't already done so. Think out of the box, and open up to yourself. Leave out preconceived notions, and be honest about what you feel regarding this existence. Make it a mock interview. See where that leads you. When you are done, compare what you come up with against what you had before the experiment and against what's out there by others. No one needs to know about it, just between you and yourself, unless of course you choose otherwise.

    June 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Well isn't Vic just the little cruise director ?
      Like there's a snowball's chance in hell he would even consider non-belief.

      Actually, Tricky-Vic, YOU may not be nornally totally honset with yourself, but don't slap your Presuppositions on others.

      June 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
      • Vic

        I have already done what I suggested, rigorously, in my quest for the truth, in a time when I rejected and denounced ALL religions.

        June 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
        • evolveddna

          Vic you renounced all religions but you still believed in GOD perhaps//??

          June 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
        • Vic

          Yes, that is correct.

          It has always been evident to me that there is [a] God, this universe and life in it.

          June 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          So you never really thought out of the box then. Te universe has been proven to be non-intuitive. "Self-evident" is nothing to rely on. Was Relativity "Self-evident". Were Uncertainty and Quantum Mechanics self -evident ? Were the tensors of Dirac self evident ? Nope. You're on shaky ground Tricky Vic. Thanks for being a deceiver. You propose a game, them refuse to play.. How honest you you.

          June 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
        • Vic

          While it has always been evident to me that there is [a] God, by the testimony of this wondrous universe and life in it, I never believed in [a] Personal God before going through what I described. I played by what I suggested a serious deal.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          "Personal" god is incoherent. By definition a "person" has a "personality" A person with a personality is linited and not another "personality". Oops That is no "infinite" anything. It's self-limiting by definition. It's meaningless. A person MUST participate in the Reality of "person's as long it existed. It can't then have created Reality if it MUST participate in it, by definition.

          June 11, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
        • Vic

          Well, that's a separate issue, it is for the lack of better term the word "Personal" is used. "Hypostasis" describes the Divine better than "Person."

          June 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          "Hypostasis" is meaningless. It's a self-contradictory term Why do you think it took so long to fight and argue about it in the councils when humans cooked up that nonsense.

          So again, you use a word, then back away form YOUR own use. Ar you always this slimy and dishonest ?

          June 12, 2014 at 1:02 am |
      • dvdrichards1115

        You seem very angry.

        Your Biblical knowledge is very agenda driven and inaccurate. Much like many of the Christians you lecture in your rants.
        I have gone from belief to non belief and ...back to belief. I didn't investigate, or dabble I dove head first into my rejection of God. Read the books recommended by some of my friends who are atheist. I returned to belief.

        I am not an inerrantist, nor am I a young earther. I am not a literalist in terms of the Bible. BUT I do beleive. I cannot prove God's existence, but I believe. Unlike you however I am not angry at or frustrated by those who disagree with me, because, like you I cannot prove you are wrong and I am not going to waste my time trying, nor am I going to call you names and say you are closed minded in your conviction that science can answer all questions, in time. Something you cannot prove, but you seem adamant about.
        I will not dismiss you as an idiot because you have some things inaccurate. You and I don't know each other, nor will we ever, so I cannot speak to your intelligence. Your responses however seem aggresive and filled with vitriol. This is a sight for opinions, perhaps you should take your own admonishment of others to calm down.

        June 12, 2014 at 11:42 am |
    • kudlak

      A lot of people, including myself, have done just that, which is why we are now atheists.

      June 12, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  15. aicram62

    @noahsdadtopher you said Google it. well this is what came up: HOW OLD IS THE EARTH? 4.54 billion years
    By dating the rocks in the ever-changing crust, as well as neighbors such as the moon and visiting meteorites, scientists have calculated that Earth is 4.54 billion years old, with an error range of 50 million years.

    June 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
  16. doobzz

    You're funny.

    June 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
  17. Reality

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, biology, biochemistry, archeology, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode cataclysmically at any time ending life on Earth.

    8. Many of us are part Neanderthal and/or Denisovan.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

     http://www.universetoday.com/18847/life-of-the-sun/



    Search for Paul, book by Professor JD Crossan

    Rabbi Paul, book by Professor Bruce Chilton




    June 11, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
    • Reality

      Yes indeed how life started is still a mystery but the search continues. In the meantime, we do know how we evolved from that beginning. Interested in the learning more? See http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/

      And the human species and when we first evolved? That has been found via DNA a-nalyses. See the studies published by the National Genographic Project sponsored by National Geographic.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
  18. AtheistSteve

    "Without using current scientific theories (or past theories) how do you atheists explain our existence?"

    We're here...Nuff said. The hows and whys don't matter if we have no information to provide useful answers. "I don't know" is as complete and honest an answer as possible...or necessary. Of course we could just make up some shit if we wanted to act like you.

    June 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      You don't get to tell me what I mean by what I say. I tell you...that's how it works dumbass.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      And secondly my heart pumps blood...it doesn't tell me anything...ever. If yours speaks to you seek medical help...or not preferably.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      That's what you people need to keep telling yourselves as you just don't get how anyone could think for themselves.
      The FACT is, if you had been born in Iran, YOU would be a Muslim. You have never studied religion, (or science for that matter), have you ?

      June 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      I see. You (try to) practice evasion.
      If you did have an education, you would know there are atheist countries, and no one there is asking for Jebus to come and save them.

      June 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      you know and i know only fools profess to be wise. man there sure are some weeds in here, we should start a fire.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      "there are atheist countries..."
      name one that doesn't have a Christian church.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      "The FACT is, if you had been born in Iran, YOU would be a Muslim"
      that's not a fact and you're ignorant if you really believe it.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      You don't get to tell me what I mean by what I say. I tell you...that's how it works dumbas.s.
      so why don't you say what you mean so he doesn't need to tell you ... learn how to communicate effectively.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      "Hot Air"
      i would engage you on that but since i'm a mental giant and you are a mental midget, it just wouldn't be fair.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:49 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      "i would engage you on that but since i'm a mental giant and you are a mental midget, it just wouldn't be fair."

      And such a humble kind follower of Jebus to boot, if you don't say so yourself.
      Fail. Coward.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:58 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      It would seem that 'insane' is a reincarnate of thefinisher....same old blathering hate and idiocy.

      Tot: Your delusions are getting worse. Steve was extremely clear when he made his comment. It is your inability to read with using proper definitions that is making it hard for you to comprehend. Admitting to not knowing something would mean you'd have to stop being an arrogant ass and given how you are on here, it is obvious you would never see that happen. No worries though, I had warned him about you before he came to this page last night...he was well prepared to deal with your 5 year old mind...in fact you've provided much humor the last few weeks for us-we find it hard to believe people like you still exist in this world.

      June 12, 2014 at 4:04 am |
  19. AtheistSteve

    insane...yup that pretty much sums it up.

    June 11, 2014 at 9:32 pm |
  20. realbuckyball

    Thanks for admitting your deity is a "place holder" *explanation* for a better explanation.
    Your question is meaningless. A deity that "exists" MUST participate in Reality. A deity that is REQUIRED to participate in anything for it's existence can't be the creator of that same Reality. "Gawd" really answers nothing.
    Not everyone *NEEDS* an explanation today. You're like the two-year old who keeps repeating "but why, but why". Religion is really about psychology, trying to keep cognitive dissonances at bay, ambiguity (in)tolerance, and the need for cognitive closure.

    June 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Nice try. Fail again. First of all, you don't actually know any atheists, do you. Jebus told you not to judge. Yet here you are doing just that. Atheists have nothing in common except one thing. They lack something. They don't all think the same about anything. I see you problem though. YOU have started to struggle. And YOU want an explanation. You're so transparent.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      It;'s a very ignorant question. So you know no science, and that's why you want an explanation without it. WHat if the ONLY explanation there is, involves science ? I see you're also afraid of your own ignorance.

      There need be no "expanation" The total energy of the universe could be zero. Gravity can have a negative value.
      1 + (-1) = 0.
      That (ie nothing) requires no explanation.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:29 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      I see critical thinking is not one of your strong suits. And you know no atheists, yet pretend you know what they think, (speaking of liars).

      Here's an explanation for you dear : "Jebus done it".
      Feel better now >
      Now put on your jammies. It's past your bed-time.

      June 11, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
    • Akira

      You're not an expert yet you claim "not to know".

      If he's not an expert, it makes perfect sense for him to claim "not to know."

      June 11, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Wrong again grasshopper. YOU said you needed an explanation without using science. What did you expect ?
      Shall we read you The Cat in The Hat for your bedtime story ?

      June 11, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      you really should quit while you're ahead. the total energy of anything can only be zero when it's reached thermodynamic equilibrium, and this is a function of entropy. this is also highly unlikely to occur outside a closed system. you obviously haven't taken any physics classes have you?

      June 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      And I see you missed the point, and never read "A Universe From Nothing" (Kraus) You would really like it if I quit. Not gonna happen. The sum of the TOTAL energy is the total energy no matter the state it's in. I see you can't do Third Grade math, or Junior High Physics.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      actually you've taken what the Lord said out of context which I've come to expect from Godless unregenerates. Our Lord told us to "judge rightly" and since you have already proclaimed your unbelief here on this blog, it's not a trespass to say you are an unregenerate child of the devil.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      what he has said might be true if the universe were only comprised of gravitational energy, but it's not. he's definitely fallen into deep water with this one. it will be thoroughly debunked soon. but go ahead with your god-denying delusions, lace it up and wear it boy.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:13 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      in other words "Bucky' the universe still contains a vast amount of heat and matter that cannot be wished away just because the total gravitation energy might be zero or near zero. try to think more rationally instead of like a schoolboy.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm |
    • Doris

      "it will be thoroughly debunked soon"

      lol – ah yes our resident armchair cosmologist is here I see to set us all straight on what we know about the state of things before the big bang.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
    • Doris

      "you are an unregenerate child of the devil"

      in other words, bucky, a wandering dolt here seems to think you might be a pop tart being birthed from satan's latest lair:


      June 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      And YOUR Physics degree is from ?
      You actually think someone who in 2014 is STILL talking about "devils" (and never read the "Origins of Satan" by DR. Elaine Pagels), is going to be believable as an expert in ANYTHING, much less Physics.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:53 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      "in other words "Bucky' the universe still contains a vast amount of heat and matter that cannot be wished away just because the total gravitation energy might be zero or near zero. try to think more rationally instead of like a schoolboy."

      I realize "total energy" (and gravity having negative energy) does not make sense to Third Graders. When you get all big, and start school, these difficult concepts will be explained to you.

      June 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
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About this blog

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