Circumcision: When, How, Who, What, Why?

JOHN ASKS:When did circumcision start and how was God involved? How did its use evolve to today's practice?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:In the Jewish faith, ritual circumcision of males (bris) to remove the foreskin of the penis has been a requirement ever since God designated it as a "sign of the covenant" with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14). So God has been "involved" for some 4,000 years now.Anthropologists tell us that circumcision was practiced long before Abraham, across the globe … [Read More...]

Why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs?

TOM SAYS: I am confused when the Bible talks about God creating the world in 7 days but there is no evidence of humans living with dinosaurs.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This problem arises if "creationism" controls Bible interpretation. That term has come to identify those Protestants whose strictly literal reading of the Bible's Book of Genesis requires a "young earth." That is, if God created the cosmos and all species 10,000 years ago at most, then humanity and dinosaurs must have lived … [Read More...]

How can this searcher find “the right church”?

KEVIN ASKS:I have been struggling for some time now searching for the right church for myself and family. . . . Please help me sort my understanding of truth and find a place to congregate and worship. I feel as though I have been absent too long.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This request characterizes the church-shopping by many would-be returnees and is worth some attention. Kevin says family members share his ideas as discussed below. The Religion Guy e-mailed for further information … [Read More...]

What is Buddhism’s appeal for Americans?

DANIEL ASKS:What aspects attract the many religious Americans that convert to Buddhism?THE RELIGION GUY RESPONDS:Before discussing what "attracts" let's consider how "many" Americans have adopted this venerable faith. The over-all U.S. context is a deep divide between native-born converts (presumably Daniel's interest) and Asian immigrants, also American Buddhists but not new "converts." Richard Hughes Seager of Hamilton College calls this split "the most prominent feature of … [Read More...]

Was Christian Communion celebrated on the moon?

DAVID ASKS:Do you know if it's true Christian Communion was celebrated during the first moon landing?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Yes. And that Apollo 11 Communion followed a related event on Christmas Eve of 1968 during Apollo 8's first manned flight to the moon. The earlier flight didn't attempt a lunar landing but the astronauts transmitted a breathtaking live telecast of moon photographs while in orbit.Then William Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman took turns reading the … [Read More...]

Bible puzzler: Why did God spurn Cain’s offering?

JANE ASKS:Why did God spurn Cain's offering?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Some weeks ago our blog treated the classic Bible question of where Cain, Adam and Eve's first son, found his wife. In response, The Guy received this about another Cain puzzler from the Book of Genesis, chapter 4.Here's the story from  "Genesis: Translation and Commentary" (Norton, 1996), a euphonious (look it up) rendition by Robert Alter. Cain was "a tiller of the soil" who "brought from the fruit of the soil … [Read More...]

Who makes what claims to Jerusalem’s Temple site?

IRA ASKS:Both Jews and Muslims lay religious claim to Jerusalem's Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary, which has long been at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is the basis of their competing claims?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This uniquely and deeply revered religious site in the eastern sector of Jerusalem's Old City is called the Temple Mount by Jews and the Haram al-Sharif ("Noble Sanctuary") by Muslims. Smithsonian magazine says this tract "has seen more momentous … [Read More...]

What does the Bible teach about polygamy?

THE RELIGION GUY SAYS nobody has yet posted a question about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. "Mormon" or "LDS") acknowledging delicate details about founding Prophet Joseph Smith's polygamy, but The Guy decided he ought to examine the classic matter of how the Bible views polygamy.Smith declared that God was simply using him to restore "plural marriage" (the church prefers that term to "polygamy") that was divinely inspired in the Old Testament. A major interpretive … [Read More...]

Why does the creed say Jesus “descended into hell”?

LISA ASKS:What do Christians say happened during [Jesus'] "descent into hell," and do most denominations believe this happened?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This week, as every week, uncountable millions of Christians attending church will profess that Jesus Christ "was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead..."  So states the venerable Apostles' Creed, which includes a cryptic "descent" phrase about the period between Good … [Read More...]

What explains Hollywood’s “holy movie” picks?

KIRSTEN ASKS:I wonder why I cannot think of any movies with stories from the Torah, Quran, or other holy texts. Are there any in the works?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:There's considerable mystery about Hollywood and "holy movies." Why are they often amateurish or offer ham-handed derision toward beliefs and believers? Why do few high-quality movies respect religion despite the large potential audience? Showbiz wised up a bit when Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (2004) scored … [Read More...]