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10 things the Belief Blog learned in its first year
June 8th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

10 things the Belief Blog learned in its first year

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - In case you were wondering about all the balloons and cake: CNN’s Belief Blog has just marked its first birthday.

After publishing 1,840 posts and sifting through 452,603 comments (OK, we may have missed one or two) the Belief Blog feels older than its 12 months would suggest. But it also feels wiser, having followed the faith angles of big news stories, commissioned lots of commentary and, yes, paid attention to all those reader comments for a solid year.

10 things we've learned:

1. Every big news story has a faith angle. Even the ordeal of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months. Even the attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Even March Madness. Even - well, you get the point.

2. Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious. This became apparent immediately after the Belief Blog's first official post last May, which quickly drew such comments as:

acerider
Can we have a fairy tale blog too?

Sunil
This is nothing but America moving away from its wondrous spirit of Apollo 11 into a mindset of the perpetually intellectually challenged.
I think there was some news today about scientists having created the first artificial cell. That should have been a HUGE story. And yet, what do we get? A faith blog. Pathetic.

Rachel
This blog is terrifying. It's amazing how much power the radical religious right is amassing in our country right now. If I can't have some legislation, can I at least have some news that does not cater to zealots?

Those early comments presaged an avalanche of alternately humorous and outraged atheist responses on virtually everything the Belief Blog publishes. They're more evidence that atheists are coming out of the closet to trumpet their disbelief, argue with the faithful and evangelize their godlessness. (It's worth noting that the Belief Blog does plenty of atheism stories.)

3. People are still intensely curious about the Bible, its meaning and its origins.

It's an ancient tome, but more than any other book in the Western tradition (with the Quran being the lone exception), the Bible still fascinates us. And it still feeds our most heated debates. In February, a guest post here arguing that the Bible is more ambiguous on homosexuality than traditionally thought elicited more than 4,000 comments. A response post insisting that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality brought in an equal number of comments - and was the most popular story on CNN.com on the day it was published.

Other Belief Blog pieces about biblical scholarship - including a recent offering about biblical misquotations - have also caught fire. More of us may be reading it on iPhones these days, but the Good Book still matters a lot more than the popular culture lets on.

4.   Most Americans are religiously illiterate. Despite the appetite for stories and commentary about the Bible, most Americans know little about it. A huge Pew survey released in September found that most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life. Ironically, atheists and agnostics scored best. How did you do on the quiz?

5. It's impossible to understand much of the news without knowing something about religion. Why did the Egyptian revolution happen on a Friday? Why was Osama bin Laden's body buried so quickly after he was killed? Why did Afghan rioters kill seven United Nations workers in April? You simply can't answer those questions without bringing in religion.

6.  Regardless of where they fit on the spectrum, people want others to understand what they believe. That goes for pagans, fundamentalist Mormons, Native Americans, atheists - everyone.

7. Americans still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. Nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks provoked many Americans to pay attention to Islam for the first time, much of the country is still somewhat uncomfortable about the religion, which counts 1.5 billion followers worldwide.

The biggest domestic religion story in the Belief Blog's young life was probably last year's opposition to a proposed Islamic Center and mosque near New York's ground zero. And with the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaching, domestic tensions around Islam may flare again. The Arab Spring, meanwhile is raising weighty questions about Islam's role in post-autocratic regimes, guaranteeing the religion - and its relationship with the U.S. - will be one of the world's big stories for years to come.

8. God may not prevent natural disasters, but religion is always a big part of the response. We see it play out every time Mother Nature delivers a punishing blow, from March's Japan earthquake and tsunami to the recent tornado that flattened much of Joplin, Missouri.

9. Apocalyptic movements come and go. The May 21st doomsdayers drew loads of interest, largely thanks to a massive ad campaign, but they're hardly original.

10. Most Americans don't know that President Barack Obama is a Christian. It's ironic, since church-based community organizing led him to politics and since his close relationship with a pastor almost sunk his presidential campaign, but that's what a Pew poll found last year.

Only about a third of Americans correctly identified Obama's religion, while nearly one in five said he's a Muslim. Another irony: The longer Obama's been in office, the smaller the proportion of Americans who can correctly name his faith. As the 2012 presidential race approaches, this story bears watching, since views of candidates' religion influence voting patterns.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Comments • Technology • Trends

soundoff (1,520 Responses)
  1. jtr

    "5. It's impossible to understand much of the news without knowing something about religion. Why did the Egyptian revolution happen on a Friday? Why was Osama bin Laden's body buried so quickly after he was killed? Why did Afghan rioters kill seven United Nations workers in April? You simply can't answer those questions without bringing in religion."

    That's exactly why religion poisons everything. Case(s) in point.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      On friday my church had a food drive. Other week we joined with another church at a event at a local school.

      Saying Religion poisons everything as a point falls apart with folks of Faith and their good acts.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Karen

      "Saying Religion poisons everything as a point falls apart with folks of Faith and their good acts."

      I hope you realize there are many people who don't believe as you that do great acts for their communities. It doesn't take religion for that.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Karen, yes I do, but does that take away from those in the Religion good acts?

      Sorta like if there was a flood coming and the National Guard came out and then regular folks came out to both fill sand bags. Do we look down or negativily at the guardsmen? Do dismiss them saying... "you don't have to be a solider to fill a sand bag and save a town so your actions we just dismiss"

      June 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Karen

      "Hi Karen, yes I do, but does that take away from those in the Religion good acts? "

      Does it take away from the atheist who does good acts? Why bring up religion at all why not just talk about the good act.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Karen- If a group of Girl and Boy scouts do a good act in the community we normally recognize them as the group they belong to. When NFL teams have their players in the community helping children and old folks, normally its; “members of the New York Giants are here to help out in the community.” Same with senior groups and even when I went to a breast cancer run/walk pledge folks walked together in groups. Such as the local law enforcement, the local fire department..etc

      When a church or a such does the same should they not get the same group recognition as other secular groups?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  2. Dallas Dave

    Happy Birthday!
    Wide is the road to destruction; and many walk/comment/waste time on it....narrow is the road to life, and only a few find it.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  3. Monica

    Maybe the longer Obama is in office, the less people care what his religion is since we have a couple of other issues to worry about in this country...

    June 8, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  4. brad

    I'd rather believe in something with faith and nothing be there , then when I die, no harm no foul your loss & gain are equal.. but to not believe in something, and it end up being true, and you die, your gain is zero, your loss is infinite. we are going to spend FAR MORE time on the OTHER side of eternity then this one.. are you willing to bet your soul where you'll end up? how you'll end up? (notice i never mentioned religion, i mentioned "faith" and "belief") religion by definition is MANS way of getting to God, while Jesus Christ is God's way of getting to man.. you may believe in whatever you want, or not believe, and you can be equally sincere in your beliefs or lack thereof, but you could also be sincerely WRONG..

    June 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Chris H

      Brad,

      What a patheitc and cowardly way to view this subject. Don't make an educated decision on the issue, try and fool a potential God by betting safe!

      Moreover, it doesn't get you anywhere. Which God do you believe in? The Christian God? The Muslim God? Perhaps there is a God that only allows people who don't believe in him into Heaven and send the rest to hell. How does your safe bet pan out there?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • jtr

      or on the other hand, you're wasting your time living as if you need to appease some non-existent god, then when you die, you think, damn, all those sundays I wasted...could've been fishing.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      “or on the other hand, you're wasting your time living as if you need to appease some non-existent god, then when you die, you think, damn, all those Sundays I wasted...could've been fishing.”

      Wait..if you die and there is no afterlife.... jtr , where are you planning to do all of this moaning and crying of wasted Sundays.

      Also, I have fished on Sundays. Churches do have multiple services. 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Karen

      "Churches do have multiple services"

      Just thinking of all the good uses the money wasted building churches could do for the world is a great example of hypocrisy at it's finest. LOL!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ahh.. you know, I have heard that said about many organizations. From Planned Parenthood to the Pro sports stadiums.

      All of those making those comments are normally just bitter because they have no interest in the buildings of the groups that use them. Since they are not interested then they must not be important. 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • summer

      bRAD,

      It seems that you are playing it pretty safely....Actually you do lose something you have based your life on some faith without ever living the way YOU truly wanted too..I do not need any faith or belief to guide me on to whats "right" or "wrong". I find it rather interesting that you are confident that "we" will spend far more time on the "other side" of eternity than this one <-(had to quote you) I never will make an assumption ff where my soul may "end up" if anywhere....When I die I can with absolutely say I have no clue....Can you say the same thing? What if there is no "OTHER SIDE"?

      My foundation of life is based upon my own experiences and perhaps through the lens of others experiences as well....I do not knock religion or a faith based belief....Everything revolves around perception...I would trust mine before I trust anyone elses belief...unless of course "they" want to pay the consequences if I was guided wrong...(that would be my :safety" card") Dont get me wrong I am not knocking religion or anyone beliefs to each its own...Religion has kept society in order just as it has divided many as well......Double edge sword......THERE IS ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO EVERYTHING....

      June 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Karen

      Pro sports don't have phrases like "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." It's funny how people boasting their religion don't even follow it. LOL!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Karen;

      >> Pro sports don't have phrases like "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;

      Umm.. ok, sounds like something that we all should do both inside and outside of the faiths.

      Tell me Karen, our church is a pretty simple middle of the road church. My mothers church in the South is very very poor. Karen, do you believe churches to all be very rich?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • jayman419

      That's not grace, that's being bullied. 2 Corinthians 5:7 makes it pretty clear that reason alone is not enough. Belief is mental assent, faith is certainty in the Word of God. James 1:6 explains what the fate of people like you, who are only in it for the potential reward, will ultimately be.

      Really, it's all right there in the manual. If you cracked that book once in a while, you'd know this already.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • butterfly

      Mark, I can tell you one thing that baffles my mind about churches is why so many. So where your mom lives how many churches are their in her community? I know I live in a small town and there are 15 churches. You are equating everything to your specific religion, now include all denominations and faiths. How many churches are in your town? Do you even know?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yeah Jayman but that is for us and those that follow our belief. If they are not of the same and do good works what we believe is not important to them.

      The greatest thing is that the job gets done 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Butterfly.. That is something I want to hammer into many Atheists minds when they say that Christians are going to take over the country. Do they not know how when it comes to Doctrine and Scripture just like every other human on the planet, we all do not see things the same way. Its the same as with any grouping. I have seen churches built across the street from each other and both churches are packed on Sundays.

      The Scriptures can be interpreted to mean many things. It all depends on who is reading it. Some would read such and preach against Gays and Lesbians. Others will attend another church that has a openly Gay or Lesbian pastor.

      Not sure if this will help. Folks take the Bible and see things one way. A secular example would something such as the Consiti'tution. If that docu'ment were viewed the same by everyone here in the states, then we would not need high paid judges and higher paid lawyers to tell us what the laws mean. It is the same with the Faiths. Let alone different denominations, try debates of doctrine within the same denomination.

      So, when some Atheist starts to babble on about all Christians are going to do this or that, I laugh because we are totally not that lockstep.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • jake

      what you're referring to is known as Pascal's Wager. basically saying that to believe in god/afterlife and living your life accordingly has no consequences, aside from a life slightly limited on what you would want to do without repercussion if you're wrong in your beliefs. the problem is that without reason, this wager is no better than betting on any other god/afterlife of similar stature. you should pick the most extreme, crazy violent, demanding, etc., religion to follow that has the WORST effects of not believing. this way if you're "right" then you're in the clear, based on the rest of us who are being tormented by demon clowns that tear us apart just to sew us back together wrong over and over.

      also, that whole "faith based on a logical bet" vs "faith based on belief, repentance, and love" doesn't really fly.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  5. Republican party christianity

    The problem with religion and politics is the basis that it is controlled by fear. Fear thy neighbor for they are black, muslim, gay, mexican, but always support the rich since they give your jobs at McDonald's. Why has most of the bible and other religious instruments been proven to date back to prior dynasties, rise of the dead, etc. Old folk-lore is like hear-say always unproven, but the level of education of the recipient always affects its continuation and abuse.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Your problem will always be those that are of Faith and part of a religion who are African American, Gay and Hispanic. Also your statement will always have you at odds with those churches that go out to help the poor.... heck, the churches that are poor themselves but still organize to help.

      Your argument sounds like a re-hashed “I hate Republicans” statement except you replaced Republican with the word Religion.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Monica

      I know you think you're incredibly intelligent, but your post is just an incoherent mumble. " Fear thy neighbor for they are black, muslim, gay, mexican, but always support the rich since they give your jobs at McDonald's." – which religion exactly says that, or political platform? Religions spell out quite clearly to love all without judgment, to cloth and feed the poor, etc. So i'm not sure what religion or political movement you're speaking of that scares people so much they are afraid of their neighbors and love the rich, but I'm quite sure you don't know much of anything about religion or spirituality and you're confusing people's private choice in behavior with political platforms....

      June 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      For all the peeps that say religion is necessary to do good works (socially), go to Kiva's website and see who the biggest lending group is. Oh, gee. The atheists. Oh my, how can they possibly be the most generous?!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  6. jake

    In response to #4 – Most Americans are religiously illiterate, which ends with "Ironically, atheists and agnostics scored best". This is just adding momentum to the ignorance which causes things like "Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious". As an atheist I know that my religious choice and beliefs are based on research, thought, and personal reflection, NOT a blind assumption like this writer may believe. It is the blissfully ignorant christians in this country that won't question a doctrine, dogma, or force-fed sermon long enough to create that independent thought, leading back to the aforementioned "religiously illiterate Americans." Know your enemy, and I know mine; it's the blind drug addicts hooked on the opiate of the masses.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Eric K

      Yup. It is not at all ironic that atheists know more about the Bible.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      Exactly! We're the ones who ask questions, and don't settle for what other people tell us. We LIKE to figure things out for ourselves. We LIKE to argue and debate. And we LIKE to learn things (and atheists tend to be in the top 10% IQ-wise). Of course we're going to know more about religion than religious people.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  7. Lettuce Prey

    Mr. Gilgof finds irony in both #4 and #10.

    Regarding #4, he says "Ironically, atheists and agnostics scored best." That's not ironic; that's logical. The more you study religion in general, and the Christian bible in particular, the less you tend to believe.

    Regarding #10, he says "Another irony: The longer Obama's been in office, the smaller the proportion of Americans who can correctly name his faith." That's not ironic either, just an indication of how many people won't be bothered to look anything up themselves, preferring to simply believe whatever their religious leaders tell them. The fright-wingers in the Republican party and the Tea party won't let the matter rest, regardless of proof.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  8. touchtheriot

    Most people consider themselves a member of a given religion but most are not fundamentalist or even devout in the practice of their faith. Most intelligent individuals can believe in their religion and believe in the sciences as well. When atheists denounce religion and the believers in religion, they sound just as intolerant and bigoted as the religious zealots. I think dealing with belief systems and how they play a part in everything is appropriate and, frankly, rather tolerant. It's not as if CNN is going to start proselytizing, for pity's sake.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Chris H

      So by criticizing religion, an atheist makes himself an intolerant bigot?

      That's a good defense mechanism religion has created for itself. I'd imagine that anything under the sun could be accepted as moral, or true, or good for society if criticism of that idea or item wasn't allowed?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Eric K

      So when believers denounce atheists-perhaps by calling them intolerant bigots-are they also intolerant bigots?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      I think you're overestimating the intelligence of individuals.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  9. Rob

    I am sorry for the general statement of indoctirnated people have treated you, making you feel the need to help raise an army.
    Its pretty said really.
    Weather you are a believer or not. What was deemed to be to religious: Don't lie, cheat, steal, treat your parents with respect, treat your elders with respect, were all removed. Since no secular replacement was made, each generation is getting worse. If Atheist want anything that would be remotely concidered religious removed, an American Code of conduct should be constructed, and taught. Since we have so many single parents and overworked parents that no longer raise children.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Why have crime rates been dropping since the 70's then. That fact seems to disprove your entire point.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Rob, this is what is wrong with religion. The casual flinging of accusations, totally heedless of facts. Atheists, agnostics and other not committed to the sort of religion you espouse typically have strong moral codes.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Rob: don't lie, cheat, steal etc are not religious in and of themselves. They may be included in religions but are not the sole property of the religious. This is a common misconception about atheists and other non-believers. The truth is our moral code is probably quite similar to yours with the sole exception that we do not adhere to any gods.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Eric K

      Interestingly, Atheists are estimated to be 10 to 15 percent of the population, yet only about 1-2% of the prison population. I think this is a fairly strong indicator that atheists have a strong moral code, as they are severely underrepresented in the convict community.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      @Bobinator The drop in crime rates has been associated with the legalization of abortion. When women are given a choice, they're more likely to have children when they can afford and love them. Well-cared for children are less likely to grow up to be criminals (of course religious people like to totally ignore this fact).

      June 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  10. Nurse Lisa

    I think the atheists are so fervent in their comentary because they believe in logic and science, etc – but since they rely on natural observation to confirm truth and since there are many things unobservable to man today, they are stuck having faith in things they cannot prove. For example, (by faith) I believe God created the world and some challenge my faith with their belief in the unwitnessed and as yet unproven big bang THEORY (although, one can imagine that God's voice calling the whole universe into existence, could have been quite loud). They may gloat and post that Christians believe fairy stories and act holier than thou, but they are often self-righteous and simply relying on faith that their beliefs are true too. Basically I think though they'd be loathe to admit it, that they're searching for meaning when they visit a blog regarding the spiritual faith they purportedly disdain and that is why they bolster their tenuous arguments and flawed logic by trying to belittle the faithful as stupid.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • scoobers

      well put and you are exactly correct! LOL when they compare God to santa clause or unicorns, any intelligent person knows that isn't comparable, childish argument for a childish way of thinking.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • John Richardson

      The Big Bang theory explains quite a bit about the observed universe. God calling the universe into being explains nothing. Lots of scientists have worked hard at both the empirical and theoretical ends of science to build a theory that makes sense of reams and reams of closely observed date. And in clumps the arrogant religionist declaring all this work unnecessary, indeed "flawed", because, hey, God did it! Modern astrophysicists galaxy galaxy formation with extremely minute but observable inequalities in the background radiation. What's your theory, Nurse Lisa?

      June 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > I think the atheists are so fervent in their comentary because they believe in logic and science, etc – but since they rely on natural observation to confirm truth and since there are many things unobservable to man today, they are stuck having faith in things they cannot prove.

      Name something I believe that I don't have evidence for, I'll stop believing it. That's the nature of a rational mind.

      > For example, (by faith) I believe God created the world and some challenge my faith with their belief in the unwitnessed and as yet unproven big bang THEORY (although, one can imagine that God's voice calling the whole universe into existence, could have been quite loud).

      Umm, the big bang has made predictions that have been shown to be correct. Your ignorance of the subject doesn't mean it's not valid. The big bang is our current best explanation for how the universe began. When we recieve new information, the concept will change, be modified or scrapped. This may come as a shock to you, but science doesn't prove things. It makes claims based on observation. That's all.

      > They may gloat and post that Christians believe fairy stories and act holier than thou, but they are often self-righteous and simply relying on faith that their beliefs are true too.

      Nope. You do believe in fairy tales. Noah's Ark did not occur. The Garden of Eden did not exist. The world is not 6k-10k years old. These are fairy tales. These are stories made up by people who didn't know any better.

      > Basically I think though they'd be loathe to admit it, that they're searching for meaning when they visit a blog regarding the spiritual faith they purportedly disdain and that is why they bolster their tenuous arguments and flawed logic by trying to belittle the faithful as stupid.

      No, I come here because it's the faithful who seek to limit my choices in my life. For example, it used to be that you couldn't buy booze on a Sunday. Why is that? Because it's God's day. You can't get married if you're gay. Is there any evidence to show that this is a horrible act? Of course not, but the bible says it's bad. We had to stop stem cell research, something that could save lives because people were saying that the embryo's have souls. More religious nonsense.

      I don't care if you want to believe in hocus pocus or incantations of protection (praying), but don't enforce your beliefs on me. That's why I come here and that's why I fight against this primitive nonsense.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Scoobers Once again, you aren't even understanding the arguments. You guys go crying to mama about the big bad atheists demeaning your intelligence and then post drivel like this. Santa Claus and unicorns are typically brought into the argument when theists ask atheists and other non-believers to disprove the existence of god. The non-believers respond with "disprove the existence of unicorns" or something like that to show that it is logically impossible to disprove the existence of things that rational people overwhelming agree don't exist. You can shut down your mind or, if you are of sufficiently limited intellect, your mind may shut down on its own, but the point goes through whether you like it or not.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Nurse Lisa

      to John Richardson – Scientific reams of paper and the building of theories do not equal proof. Re: the start of the universe – every belief we have, whether spiritual or scientific cannot unequivocally prove to the satisfaction of all, the source of the creation of the universe – they all require faith to believe them.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      The big bang theory isn't entirely unwitnessed. People don't have to be present at an event to know it happened. For instance if you have kid who holds a raging party at your house while you're away, you wouldn't witness it, but you could probably tell it happened (hungover kid, trash everywhere, missing silverware). Similarly, scientists can infer that events happened from the evidence they leave behind. In the case of the big bang, the smoking gun so to speak is the background radiation that the COBE mission uncovered (and has been corroborated in other ways). Just because you don't understand something or know all the details, doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

      As for atheists secretly craving faith–COME ON! I can't speak for anyone else, but I pay attention because religious dogma scares the crap out of me. I can't believe what incredible dreck naive people are willing to swallow as 'faith'. Really, the whole future of human civilization depends on adherence to religion becoming a minority activity. None of the big western religions really address issues like planetary resource management, climate change, bioethics, or even harnessing technology ethically (other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are better adapted for this stuff, but not are not perfect). Humanity would be screwed without us atheists making a stink anytime someone brings religion into an argument.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • scoobers

      theres plenty of evidence to believe in God without being irrational.....Is Francis Collins stupid? I do believe he created the first genome project, oh and he's Christian, guess we should throw all that out the window and call it "junk" science since a Christian did it.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Nurse Lisa

      the reason Christians have faith in God is because they have evidence to believe in Him. Every scientific theory – big bang, evolution, relativity – they are not laws because they cannot be proven. Rather than denying Him, the bible says, seek and you will find. That's why I think atheists come to the belief blog – they're seeking.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      @Nurse Lisa, you're missing the point again when you talk about "reams of scientific papers" (and that also hints that you have disdain for the rigorous intellectual process that is science). It's not about proof, it's about evidence and probability. If it smells like a horse and whinnies like a horse, it's probably a horse–down the road we might find that it's a zebra (if it has stripes), but it's pretty close to the original hypothesis. We're not going to suddenly find out it's a octopus. That's science!

      With religion (not all mind you, this would not apply to say zen buddhism), there is often an absoluteness (and even that is arguable if you actually read religious texts critically). Don't make the mistake of applying that to science. It's a totally naive way of looking at the universe.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Karen

      "That's why I think atheists come to the belief blog – they're seeking."

      No, many times the articles are on the home page of CNN which then leads people to this part of the site. It's religious fanatics keep trying to infringe their beliefs on others that don't believe as they do. There is a reason for the separation of church and state. I don't need some nut job trying to dictate what I can and can't do with my body. I don't need a nut job telling my lesbian friends they aren't ent_itled to civil rights and marriage. Etc...etc...etc...

      June 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      @Nurse Lisa, You've got a mangled notion of what a scientific law is. Go google "Theory vs. Law. vs. Hypothesis". Click on the third link down. I wrote that a couple of years back to explain the differences in these sometimes confusing terms. Eradicate your ignorance!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Nurse Lisa – Please do try to know something about what you choose to pontificate on. The only fields of study that have actual PROOFS are mathematics and metamathematics and logic and metalogic.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Scoobers, I never said all Christians are stupid or irrational. But the appallingly high number who rail against arguments they don't understand doesn't make for a very good impression, eh? And why did you drop our discussion of the unicorn argument?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Science, meanwhile, is about the acc-umulation of evidence and the creation of testable hypotheses. And it's a lot of hard work. You disrespect these workers egregiously with your facile armchair assertions.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Eric K

      "every belief we have, whether spiritual or scientific cannot unequivocally prove to the satisfaction of all, the source of the creation of the universe – they all require faith to believe them."

      Horsefeathers. A belief that is supported by no evidence and cannot be used to make useful predictions is not equivalent to a belief that is based on evidence and accurately predicts results.

      If you are, in fact, a nurse, then you experience this when you treat a patient with medications and therapies instead of simply praying over them.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • FLOYD THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME

      I've seen tons of replies for Nurse Lisa but there was none, even an ounce that I see for scoober's "Francis Collins" comment. Oh I see....Atheists are greater (than me) when it comes it comes to CHERRY PICKING.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Bucky's First Laws of Time Maximization

      1. All posts which begin with the phrase : "you atheists" and "all atheists" are to be scrolled past.
      2. Any sentence in which the word atheist is the second word is to be scrolled past.
      3. Most sentences where the word atheist is the fourth word is likely not worth reading.
      4. Any sentence that contains the phrase "all atheists", and not in quotes, can be ignored.
      5. Any post that contains the word "atheist" in quotes may be worth reading.
      6 Any post that contains the name "Adelina" should be avoided.
      (Respectfully submitted for peer review, and additions).
      😈

      June 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Bucky's First Laws of Time Maximization First Revision

      7. Any post which contains the phrase "all atheists" can be ignored.
      8. Any post which contains the phrase " atheists are" and/or the phrase "why are atheists may be safely passed up.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • SAM@REY

      In other words, Atheists are ignorant, thus, should be ignored.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bucky's First Laws of Time Maximization First Revision.

      Don't forget the posts that spell atheist as "athiest"

      June 8, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • I_get _it

      Yes, LinCA, and the ones who don't know that the plural is atheists (same for scientists, posts, and everything else that ends in _st).

      June 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  11. stupid

    Any atheist saying they aren't basing theyre belief on faith is jus plain stupid....remind me of liberals with all the hypocrisy.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Andrew

      So you have faith unicorns don't exist? I base my beliefs on what can be demonstrated to be true, so my 'faith' requires two things. The universe has some inherent order to it, and my senses can partially accurately reflect the nature of the universe. In other words, I'm assuming I'm not a "Brain in a Vat", or that the universe will suddenly stop behaving as it has in the past. That's all the faith I need to construct my working understanding of the universe, which does not require a god as a god has not been demonstrated to be true. It is on par with unicorns, unless someone can give me a strong reason why it shouldn't be.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • stupid

      @ Randy – ummm no a unicorn is not on par with a God existing. Unicorns are demonstratably not true, the same does not apply to whether a God does or doesn't exist. Silly fool, trix are for kids!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Anderson Cooper's Herioc Life-Long Struggle with Hemaroids

      Andrew, why are you wasting your time debating with a guy who named himself "stupid"?

      June 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • stupid

      @Anderson – was actually implying the ppl i was talking about were stupid.....guess you just proved my point 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      How on earth are unicorns demonstrably not true? Have you searched the universe and catalogued every organism to make that determination? How can you be so confident unicorns cannot exist?

      Or how's this, what about a teapot orbiting Jupiter. It could have been placed there by aliens, or god, but it's too small for any instruments to pick up. How can you be so confident it doesn't exist?

      The point is that the burden of proof always exists on those making the positive claim. Otherwise we would have to consider absurd propositions on the chance that 'we cannot prove them false', such as that teapot or unicorns.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Doubtful1

      @stupid – The fact that you filled in a field Named "Name" and thought it implied someone else just shows how you are, in fact, correct in naming yourself "stupid"

      June 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Anderson Cooper's Herioc Life-Long Struggle with Hemaroids

      Well stupid, the box you typed "stupid" into is for your online name, not the name of others.

      As Eric Idle once said of religious looneys, "When you're stupid, there is nothing that can be done."

      June 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Andrew

      BTW, AC, I'm not, I needed a few minutes to kill as a bagel was toasting, need to get on the road soon or else I might end up missing the start of the canucks game today, got lots to do. Go canucks! Do better than... that game we won't talk about. (Vancouverite)

      June 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • stupid

      @ Andrew – Thanks, I knew what your point was and here's mine: There's plenty of evidence to believe in God, just because he doesn't come down from the clouds and talk to you doesn't automatically mean it doesn't exist. Do you think your car just popped out of nowhere with no intelligent design? Well if the manufacturer didn't specifically approach you and explicitly tell you that he made it then you have some crazy delusional faith to belief it to be true.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Electric Larry

      Mr. Stupid, please list all of the "plenty of evidence to believe in God," because nobody else sees any. Even theologians will tell you that if there were any evidence, then there would be no faith or free choice, and thus negates much of what Christianity bases itself upon.

      Your car analogy is, well, stupid. It only works for manufactured items, but not for dirt or trees. You are basically saying that there is no possible way that things just happen and the universe operates according to a set of physical and chemical laws that, over time, combine in various ways to make things as they are.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • BG

      @ Anderson Cooper's Herioc Life-Long Struggle with Hemaroids

      OK, I stopped laughing. Actually, it was Ron White who said "You just can't fix stupid." Which is spot-on when it comes to someone like you... Hilarious. "Herioc Hemaroids" You being critical of anyone else is simply priceless, it just adds to your... what exactly do you call that? An aura? Yeah, that'll do.

      Please don't stop. Please keep posting – at least until your 14th birthday. I need the lulz!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Freddie Mercury

      @BG...Typical Atheists live in a glass door. They tend to undermine religions and religious as illiterates and the cause of havoc and violence while claiming dominance of intelligence and morals but their words and actions speak and prove otherwise.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Freddie Mercury

      That's made them the Greatest "in" one of my hit songs.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Bucky the Insufferabe Know-it-all Winner of the Spelling Bee

      hemorrhoids

      June 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Just an observation of sorts

      I think "stupid" is actually "Joe" – the only commenter I have ever seen with a crush on Adelina and who appears to view her as some sort of hero.
      Not the sort of person worth debating, to put it mildly....

      June 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  12. roboman

    I'm a cybornetic robot, I eat 1's and 0's for breakfast

    June 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • KK Denver

      I love those!!! binaryo's!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  13. Rob

    William Demuth
    "Be it the Muslims, the Jews or the Christians, you followers of Abraham are at the core of almost every ill in this world."

    Really! All the time, money and supplies these groups send to the poor and hungry are at the core of almost every ill.
    I would say that lake of displine, honor, and respect for the current generation is direclty reflective of the pressure by Atheist to remove anything that remotely could be connected with religion. This maybe the begining of a the beginning of a Militant Atheist movement, but it will awake what will feel like a sleeping Giant.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Andrew

      Militant atheist? You mean people like Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers who write on blogs? I never get this 'militant atheist' stuff, the most influential and vocal atheists out there are pretty damn tame compared to true militant fundamentalists. Militant Christians have formed militias (have you ever seen jesus camp?) Militant muslims have flown planes into buildings. Militant jews have bombed Palestinians. Miltiant atheists tend to write books and write on web forums. The two are a bit different.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Andrew: Yes, I'm not quite certain what a militant atheist is either. My guess is that term came about the same way "militant feminist" did – as a put down for those who cannot be discredited because they express their position well and don't revert to the silent stereotype they wish us to be.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      @Rob, again I would like to point out the example of Kiva. The biggest lending group is made up of atheists (and it's in no danger of losing it's number one spot). Religion is not required to know that doing good helps the greater good. That's just logical!

      You seem to think all atheists are followers of Ayn Rand or something.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • William Demuth

      What a militant athiest is, is someone who encourages indoctrinated people to kill each other.

      It is working quite well!

      Give to the Likkud AND Hammas. Give to the IRA and the Loyalists.

      Encourage our Christian soldiers to go and fight, while sleeping with their wives and stealing their jobs.

      You see, dead indoctrinated people are a good thing.

      June 9, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • William Demuth

      Rob

      You steal a mans loaf of bread and return him a slice, and that makes you a moral man?

      If you are that indoctrinated you are beyond hope.

      June 9, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  14. Tim

    lolathiests

    June 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • DTHS

      LOLilliterates.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  15. libby

    http://everyoneesther.blogspot.com/

    June 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  16. libby

    Here's a great blog to learn something new http://everyoneesther.blogspot.com/

    June 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  17. oh

    interesting as an agnostic i have always found it important to know as much as possible about all religions. Only then could i truly argue my point of view or have a true thought about it. I say bring it on Religious Blog love hearing all the different points of views.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  18. Randy

    ""The longer Obama's been in office, the smaller the proportion of Americans who can correctly name his faith. As the 2012 presidential race approaches, this story bears watching, since views of candidates' religion influence voting patterns."

    Duh! The first part of the statement only illustrates how uninformed Americans are. The second , "candidate's religion... and voting", only tells how viciously narrow minded, yet determined fundamentalist believers are to twist the facts and impose their value systems on this supposedly free society. Agnostics and atheists are fed up with the lies and false claims. We used to think "if you leave us alone , we leave you alone (christians, believers). But with creationists, family value warriors, anti gay, anti liberal, anti women haters trying to get into politics and the schools, the response is predictable. We will not be silent when those hypocrits in pin striped suits and false teeth go into the mainstream and try to impose their values on society at large.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Well said indeed!

      Thats why I have become a Jihadist for the Infidels!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      Obama is neither a Muslim nor a Biblical Christian. He will be or say anything that will keep him in office.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • blf83

      Beautifully stated!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • FrankinNJ

      Actually I would say it is more Atheists trying to impose their views on society. For the small percent they make of American population, they seem to wield an extraordinary amount of clout. What is the percentage by the way, most polls put it around 6%. And yet they feel the need to tell a much larger majority what can and can not be seen, read, etc at their schools, government buildings, little league games.

      As for someone laughing at the term militant atheists and how there is no such thing, try going to a code Pink Rally, a G20 meeting, you will be surrounded by them.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Amused

      What on earth is "biblical christian" ? I know very few christians who have actually read the bible. They listen to their pastor quote various passages of scripture and then claim that they know "all about the bible", having read none of it themselves. I would guess that Barack most likely HAS READ the bible! Have you ?

      June 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • John Richardson

      What Fidei of course means is that although Obama espouses a Christian faith, it's the wrong version of Christianity and is going to go to hell anyway.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Frogist

      @FranklinNJ: Your post isn't making much sense. What I do glean from it is yo useem to be making the mistake of equating those who respect and support the separation of church and state with atheists. Many believers, Christian and otherwise also overwhelmingly support keeping our public and govt buildings secular. But even if the number of supporters were small, they would not be wrong simply because there are less of them. Might never makes right.
      As for the rest of your post, I don't see how any of that has anything to do with atheism ('militant' or otherwise), or religion for that matter.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Fin

      Well put Randy!!!

      August 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  19. kevin

    Translation: The CNN Belief Blog writes stories and headlines to fire up atheists

    June 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • CNN Bloggers

      Yes! Kevin you hit it..And so far it's quite a success. That's how predictable Atheists are, they're like uncir-c-u-m-c-ized toddlers.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  20. T3chsupport

    lol, so the moral of the story is that most religious people are zealous, but not very bright or informed, and atheists are just looking for someone to listen to them ramble about why they're angry.

    Sums it up pretty well!

    June 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      That got a chuckle!

      But for what it is worth, being a non believer, I can honestly say my primary motivation is fear.

      Indoctrinated people scare the BeJesus out of me, literally!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • JP0

      I have to agree with William DeMuth. If we are complacent they will sneak up on us. Fortunately I believe they will remain a minority as long as their views are exposed for scrutiny. The average American may claim to be religious but he's not going to let someone else's religion be shoved down his throat. I hope.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:29 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.