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A rough decade for American congregations
A new survey shows a decline in worship service attendance in the United States.
September 20th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

A rough decade for American congregations

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - A new decade-long survey of American congregations shows religious health and vitality are weaker than they were 10 years ago.  While the survey showed that many congregations are adopting new technologies and innovative worship, there were steep drops in financial health and attendance at weekly worship services.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released the study's findings Saturday in a report titled "A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000 – 2010" authored by David A. Roozen.

In the measured decade, churches, temples and synagogues told surveyors that congregations that were innovative and contemporary showed the highest amount of "high spiritual vitality."

Forty-seven percent of congregations that said their worship experience was "innovative and contemporary" reported high spiritual vitality, versus 17% that said their congregations were "neither innovative nor contemporary."

The vast majority of congregations implemented electronic communications in the past decade.  Recently, many have turned to social networking as well, with 41% using Facebook to communicate with congregants.

Congregations are also having hard times financially, the survey found.  In 2000, 31% of survey participants reported excellent financial health.  In 2010, that number plummeted to just 14%.

The recession, Roozen writes in the report, "affected nearly every kind of congregation equally – large and small; north, south, east and west; financially healthy or struggling before the recession. One bit of good news was that one in 10 congregations reported that by the time of the survey, they had already begun to recover."

Roozen writes that a variety of factors led to the decline, but overall, there are fewer Americans in the pews, and "... more than 1 in 4 American congregations had fewer than 50 in worship in 2010, and just under half had fewer than 100. Overall, median weekend worship attendance of your typical congregation dropped from 130 to 108 during the decade, according to the FACT surveys."

FACT refers to Faith Communities Today, a multifaith coalition that researches congregational life.

While megachurches - congregations with more than 2,000 members - continued to grow in popularity, they still represent only a fraction of American congregations, at one-half of 1%.  "And while it appears to be true they are attracting an ever bigger slice of the religious attender pie, it is a bigger slice of a shrinking pie," Roozen wrote.

The decline hit across religious and denominational lines, sparing no one, Roozen wrote. He said that "no single category or kind of congregation ... was exempt from the decadal downsizing of worship attendance."

The data came from Faith Communities Today surveys and represents 11,077 congregations and 120 denominations of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, the institute said.  Most often, the surveys were completed by the congregation's leader, and the institute estimates the margin of error to be plus or minus 4 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church

soundoff (2,018 Responses)
  1. Content

    I guess I will always find it interesting that atheists even care about Christians enough to go on the attack. The typical statements go something like.. believers can't think for themselves, believers don't do their research on scientific topics, believers are idiots, etc. etc. If we are truly as ignorant as you say, then why are we a threat to you? I guess I could read through a few more of the comments on this article as well as others where such debates arise, and a popular argument is atheists don't want a Christian, or any religious person for that matter, to run this country. Ok, so what if that happens? Let's say our elected officials are devout Christians, they pray while in office, they follow the moral code as defined by God when making decisions about how to lead this country and just in general aspire to be a good Christian. Why is this a threat to an atheist? You aren't forced to go to Church services, you aren't forced to believe in God, so how does this affect you? You might be tempted to go to the stock answer of a belief in God = stupidity, but if you are as intelligent as you claim, you know this isn't an accurate statement. So, again I ask, why do you care? If you believe that after death there is nothing else, then why do you waste your time worrying about me and other believers? Wouldn't your time on earth be best spent furthering your own intelligence, maybe buy another book to feed your disbelief. If your reasoning is that you get enjoyment out of berating Christians while I find that pitiful, it mostly just makes me sad.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Duh

      It's because you believers try to force your beliefs on others through passing laws that we don't support. A great example is even though the entire scientific and psychological community has said being gay is normal people like you won't vote to allow them to have civil rights. Then there is the stem cell research, abortion, etc.... That's our issue with mindless people like you. You are not displaying critical thinking, not using your mind. You are also uneducated as to the world's cultures and history. It is not a sign of great intelligence to blindly believe what someone else has told you is true, especially when such beliefs basically condemn hundreds of millions of other people. Many of these blind believers are simply not very bright, yet they assume that their belief equalizes them with those who are smarter. "Jesus loves you just the way you are!" is the hypocritical hue and cry of those who feel inferior but who will not recognize it and admit it. Yet, according to these same cheerleaders, Jesus DOESN'T love you just the way you are–you must thoroughly change, surrendering your mind and soul to him. A bit of a psychotic extortion racket.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Chris

      @Content You people dont see a problem with what you do because it benefits your people. You dont think about others when you draw up laws....you dont think its a big deal...well it is. Theres no reason for the pledge, and money to be changed to add your god. You dont see it as a big deal, but when people think this country was made for christians....theres a problem.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Adam

      Beliefs have consequences. Beliefs MUST manifest themselves in our actions and behaviors insofar as one REALLY believes what they say they believe. Say the president believes in the efficacy of prayer. Seems innocent enough, right? But what if he REALLY believes it? If this is the case, then the president KNOWS that no action is necessary. We need to stop terrorists from attacking the country. Well he can just call upon the omnipotent agency of the Creator of the Universe to create a force-field. Done!

      If this seems unlikely to you, then that is only the sense that people don't ACTUALLY believe what they SAY they believe. And on that point, then I ask: Why are we electing people to the highest position in the land who believe it is acceptable, and indeed admirable, to PROFESS to believe things they do not actually believe? Why are we requiring our candidates to PRETEND to know things they CANNOT know?

      Beliefs really do matter, Content. They are not private. I have seen enough people hit the wall at 400mph to know this to be true.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • JOL

      It's funny/sad that christians are so clueless about the destruction, ignorance, bloodshed, and misery that they create in the world.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      A rabid hyena is even more ignorant than a Christian. Do you seriously wonder why we'd consider THEM a threat? It's not your ignorance we fear, it's your irrational violence and willingness to oppress, torture, and kill those who disagree with you.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • InFormed99

      Most religions have a component of fear and violence within them. Atheists don't fear religion, they fear what people become because of religion.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  2. the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

    By 2100 – when all of us in this forum die – we will know if God exists or not so take your side.

    I have take my side after reading God Delusion – Richard Dawkins, God is not great – Christopher Hitchens & There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind – Antony Flew.

    O by the way Christopher Hitchen is being treated by Dr. Francis Collins (and Craig Venter they are the first to decode all human genome) – well most likely Christopher will soon know for sure if God exists or not because he has cancer.

    I choose to BELIEVE. so take your bet – be nice to each other: Do to others as you would have them do to you Luke 6:31

    September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Adam

      "It is time we realized that to presume knowledge where one has only pious hope is a species of evil. Wherever conviction grows in inverse proportion to its justification, we have lost the very basis of human cooperation." ~Sam Harris

      We don't get to 2100 giving what billions of people believe about the metaphysics of the universe and given the ever increasing potential of a few humans to kill many humans.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Chris

      Your bet is hedged on fear though....you shouldn't have to choose yet your book says if you don't choose(its not a choice if you have to or else) you go to hell. I wouldn't send my worst enemy to hell....yet you people defend that statement. If your god exist(which he/she doesnt) then I want nothing to do with it.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • JOL

      Adam: Well said.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • J.W

      Christopher Hitchens has cancer. I think every Christian here should pray for him.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "be nice to each other: Do to others as you would have them do to you Luke 6:31"

      but as an atheist that apprently wont be enough to save me though right?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

      Hi Adam,

      Nice quote from Sam Harris, he is right. Human tend to destroy good thing (in religion term – which is you would argue that i'm stupid – we call it original sin) – there is no explanation why human tend to destroy good thing.

      Anyway – you seem nice – just don't do spiritual suicide (if some clergy do REALLY STUPID thing – they will be held more – even Judas saw Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead betrayed him) Luke 12:48 who has been given much, much will be demanded.

      When you die, you will die alone. so think hard for yourself – do you want to believe or not – it's your choice man. I have made one – and it wasn't an easy choice. (note I'm not stupid I have MBA and employed) hahahaha

      sincerely.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Pascal's Wager is the best you could come up with after 400 years?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

      Hi,
      Don't worry!!

      my God he is really nice. If he has to suffer again just for you he will do it!!!

      all of you just before you die – you will receive one last final grace to accept His forgiveness or to reject it. I hope I will accept the final grace. (I read this from "Diary of Divine Mercy").

      So atheist don't worry, you will receive final grace. If God do strict justice – NO ONE will be saved.

      Of course you can believe it or not. I would never try to attack atheist or convert you guys. It's useless – I do respect atheist – but please respect us. this is religion blog (well you would say a STUPID blog – note – i don't think I'm stupid i have MBA and employed hahaha)

      September 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      TAT, you don't need a bible verse to be nice to others. Many atheists have been doing it for years.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

      Jeremy-
      I think Pascal is much much smarter than you. He developed digital calculator when he was 18 years old, father of probability. You know probability right?

      In the next 100 years – Blaise Pascal will be remembered, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchen will not be remembered at all (his atheist is base on 1960 books) . and I don't think you have achieve anything in this life yet. am i right or wrong?

      So if you are as smart as Pascal, please let me know. I will read your book on atheist subject – hopefully better than Christopher Hitchens books.

      O by the way, there is a chance you will die today when you drive in your car – according to Pascal probability hahahaha
      sincerely

      September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Pascal was a product of his time and the "logic" he used reflected a very myopic view of religion.
      The problem is that logic is not compatible with superst.ition so when you make an attempt to apply it to belief you end up with an epic fail.
      Many religious people come up with excuses for believing even though it makes no sense to them.. Even Pascal's wager is suggesting that you CHOOSE to believe "just in case". Not exactly a real convincing belief. HOW can you even choose? You either do or do not believe. Can you Choose to believe in the Easter Bunny? Really?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

      By 2100 – when all of us in this forum die – we will know if God exists or not so take your side. – no more argument.

      If you are as smart as Pascal and you have published a book on atheist let me know – I will read it.

      But I think Pascal is much much smarter than you. He developed digital calculator when he was 18 years old, father of probability. You know probability right?

      In the next 100 years – Blaise Pascal will be remembered, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchen and you will not be remembered at all (his atheist is base on 1960 books) . and I don't think you have achieve anything in this life yet. am i right or wrong?

      So if you are as smart as Pascal, please let me know. I will read your book on atheist subject – hopefully better than Christopher Hitchens books.

      O by the way, there is a chance you will die today when you drive in your car – according to Pascal probability – and you might know God exists or just a fairy tale.
      sincerely

      September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Well yes, now that you repeated the exact same thing it makes much more sense now......

      whatever.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  3. Geezer

    This is the best news I've seen this week. The irony is that for all the fight the evangelical parasites are putting up to stop progress in science and medicine, they sure love its conveniences and benefits.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Chris

      I've always laughed about that myself. People denounce science yet enjoy its benefits on a daily basis.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  4. David Johnson

    Hey, believers! I was reading the bible to my daughter last night. We noticed the baby Jesus has two genealogies for Joseph. What's up with that?

    Curious in Arizona

    September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • JOL

      1) lack of proper outlining/character development
      2) story-development created by a committee (highly likely)
      3) assumption that the audience won't notice (also likely)
      4) low quality of workmanship, kind of like you see in hollywood sitcoms

      September 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Jesus was supposed to be descended from Kings, specifically King David and apparently joseph has that lineage, but you see the issue as well as most. If jesus was emmaculately conceived, does it matter what joseph's lineage is? So it was switch to Mary so it would make more sense and still align with the prophecies made about him.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Chuckles

      You are right. The Messiah must be descended on his father’s side from King David (see Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1).

      One Christian website claimed the genealogies were actually for Joseph and for Mary. But both claim to be for Joseph.

      And, who Mary was related to doesn't count.

      Jesus did not meet the requirements to be the Messiah. So why is there Christianity?

      My daughter will expect an answer, at reading time tonight...

      Cheers!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      The myth of Jesus was a blending of 2 pre-existing myths, a secular one about how the oppressed Israelites would be freed by the arrival of a new human king like those of their glory days (think King Arthur or Vince Lombardi), and a woo-woo spiritual one about how Yahweh would provide for his Chosen People. Elements of both fairy tales show up in the gospels, and the dueling genealogies reflect that — the human, kingly line requiring royal blood in the ancestry and the magical one requiring holy men.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • InFormed99

      I would just suggest to her it's a continuity error and leave it at that. If she persists, then just tell her that most movies have some sort of continuity error, because that's just the was it goes with fiction.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Reality Check

    It's coming soon to a town near you!!! The awakening of Man! The point in which we all realize how we have been duped and continue to be. The point where we finally get the answers that have been kept from us for a very long time. So open your eyes look around and you will see that there is more to this and you have already known it. You feel it inside, you know there is more yet you continue to ignore it. Wake up and look around this is not reality this is the version of reality that has been fed to us. So stop suckling and take a deep breath and realize that all we know is fake and it's time to face reality head on.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • JOL

      I like your optimism. I hope you are correct about the trajectory of human consciousness. It does appear that humans are waking up (in the Buddhist sense of the world). Primitive religion such as christianity and islam will still be around for long time, but it will likely become fringe (as it should be)...thought of the same way as we think of the flat earth society, divining for water, fortune-telling, alchemy, etc. That's where it rightfully belongs, and it certainly appears to be going that way.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  6. Bo

    @ Stephanie to Awesome–11:16 Remember these prophecies were given hundreds of years ago, and as obvious as the prophecies may seem, there was to be an increase of these calamities. But, this blog was about apostasy, this was prophecsied also, 1Tim 4:3–4 & 2Thes 2:3-4; Dan 12:4 told us that knowledge wolud increase and many would run to and fro. This has only happened in the last 100yrs. We are warned that there will be (unfulfilled as to yet) plagues simular to those of Egypt, and the Mark of the beast (it too is yet unfulfilled) and scoffers such as youself, 2Peter 3:3-5 These and other prophecies will be signs of the end of time. (By the way, the Mark of the beast will not be brought on by unbelievers, but apostate Christians) Anyway the end of time is close–5-10-20 years maybe, maybe even 100years, but I doubt it. Have a good day, God love you and me, He wants to save all of us, it's all a matter of choice.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Bo

      How come Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem? I thought no prophet could be?

      Cheers!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • JOL

      why do people think that quoting works of fiction is somehow convincing? Could I make an argument that anyone would take seriously based on my quotations of a Harry Potter novel? Of course not.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "He wants to save all of us"

      Then why set up this system of life in the first place? for what possible purpose would he create life and say ok now how you live this life will determine where I send you when you die? did he do it for jollies? was he bored? At least the Norse had a 'final battle' idea going to explain their afterlife.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  7. Dean

    Finally some good news...

    September 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  8. GullibeChristians

    If you are christian, then you are either a fool or a sham. Pick a box!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Major

      Your life must be so sad, to have only hate and bigotry to cling to. So sad.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • JOL

      OR, you 're a politician smart enough to appreciate the usefulness of religion.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • NONATHEIST

      I could say the same thing to you, Gully. Are you a fool or a sham? See, it all depends on your axiomatic premise.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Chris

      Not all of us hate religious people....alot of do because of what you people have done to this country. Not to mention the way you treat people that are different then you. If you cant handle some basic debate and discussion on why our beliefs then you shouldn't be allowed to worship...

      September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Adam

      Well, Major, the OP was worded churlishly, but it does conceal an important point: To be a Christian you must either accept upon insufficient evidence a myriad of preposterous claims (conception without congress, survival of the mind upon destruction of the brain, possibility of human flight without mechanical aid), or else you accept that it is in fact admirable to PRETEND to believe these things. Either way, I feel, we are eroding the basis of all human cooperation and endangering civilization.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • NONATHEIST

      @ Chris – "what you people have done to this country"? I'd like to know what is going on in your brain. What have "we" done to this country? Made it safe for you to believe as you wish and speak freely, for one thing. This person of faith has put his life on the line repeatedly to defend YOU, so knock off the disrespect.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Chris

      @NONATHEIST Logic....reason....WE isn't Christians...its the US as a whole. Its all the people that fought to defend freedom*(which we dont have in a true sense btw). Don't act like people owe you something, you owe it to your country to reverse the insane blue laws you people have created. I can not hold elected postilion in my state because I don't believe in god....there are 16 other states with laws like this. Theres also laws in my state that say you cant buy cars or liquor on Sundays. Freedom??? riiiiiiiight

      September 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Chris

      Do you at least see how silly your parents or parents parents were? All in the name of some morality the bible claims to have. I wouldn't send my worst enemy to hell, yet god does it for just not believing. Whos more moral....think about these things....please I beg you....continue to believe in god all you want, just be rational about it. The bible itself was written 200 years AFTER the death of Jesus by people that never met him. FACT...don't believe me ask a priest. Its learned in seminary school.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Chris

      Right so this non believer that defend you(not really because after my first tour I knew we shouldn't be there) cant have an opinion or say something thats on his mind? Give me a break...

      September 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Major

    A big part of it is the megachurches. One megachurch that draws 10,000 people effectively drains away the equivalent of the full congregations of 75 to 80 regular churches. Just one or two mega-churches in an average sized city will drain 25-30 people from every other church in town.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • JOL

      This is a very good point. I suspect this is true. I also suspect that if/when the suckers who attend these places wake up one day to a nasty scandal, they will afterward be unlikely to go back to a traditional church, and would be more likely to simply not go at all, or stay home and watch the Discovery Channel on sunday. So perhaps the mega-churches DO provide something of value. Their Wal-Mart spirituality eventually crushes the whole business model...not a bad thing.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  10. Adam

    Let us hope that this is a result of more and more people ceasing to presume knowledge where they have only pious hope and refusing to profess to know things they cannot know, and not merely because they are now lying to themselves and to their children from the comfort of their own easy-chairs.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • JOL

      I agree that this trend, taken in isolation, is a good thing. Perhaps it's a sign of the continued expansion of human consciousness. BUT then again, it's also possibly a sign of the break down of community structures due to the isolation and nihilism generated by a late-stage capitalist empire:-)

      September 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  11. GullibeChristians

    People are getting smarter, and they don't donate their money to churches and Pastor Long Dong any more.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  12. volks 1

    What drives Politicians and Churches ? Money, the root of all evil. God and faith is a matter of your heart. No man made temples needed or required. Your heart is your temple.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Hee HeeHee

      True, Volks1

      September 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  13. Chris

    "A new survey shows a decline in worship service attendance in the United States."

    Duh...people are becoming wise to the BS that religion is selling.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  14. Zeus

    God stole my thunder.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • God

      I stole your looks too, but hey, nobody seems to be paying attention.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Zeus

      Your son stole the Cult of Isis and the Cult of Mithras too! Your entire family is a bunch of thieves. And humans have the gall to call me “philanderer”. I made them, I can sleep with them! When did you ever make? You just stole stories! Oh, I’m so mad at you right now, I could send some winged demigods after you, if you hadn’t already stolen them and renamed them “Angels”! What kind of hokum is that anyway?! You don’t even try to rule with fear anymore! You let your son turn your cult into a bunch of hippies! You should at least have some self respect and let yourself be slain by a hero! You were undermined by your own son!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • God

      Laugh all you want, at least I know who my children are! Besides, I must be doing something right, my cult has raised more m oney than your cult!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Zeus

      Its no suprise that you are all about money! Look who your first followers were! I had this mountain top palace when you were still roaming around in the desert! At least I had the guts to kill my father, you just ran away from him!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ Zeus,,,,,,,,

      You mean GOD stole Thor, the God of Thunder don't you? Also Uranus was the first God of the sky,,,,,,,, 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • God

      Ra was not my real dad! I was immaculately conceived during the Amarna period, just like my son was! And as long as you want to bring race into this, you are a stupid Greek and I will never give you back your thunder! And if you don't do anything about this upstart named "Richard", I will!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • JOL

      But why all the praying to the god Amen? Or maybe the believers.just.don't.know.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  15. NONATHEIST

    So our first three comments are hateful toward religous persons. If I were an atheist, I would be ashamed at the antisocial antagonism exhibited by my compatriots.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Zeus

      Stop being a fool. If I were real, I would smack you with a bolt of lightening .

      September 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Chris

      First off...you cant be a non atheist...the word Atheist is the opposite of theist. Yes...most atheists that want to argue will be hurtful...but its tough love. You people need to grow up...you know deep down that theres 0 proof.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • NONATHEIST

      Well, Zeus, I have to admit that your over-the-top wacky response is much preferable to the bullying I have come to expect here. Congratulations – You're the first atheist to make me smile in a long time.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • NONATHEIST

      Hey, Chris, maybe it's Zeus that's got me thinking a little differently, but... Don't you think it's kind of funny to tell me "you cant be a non atheist"? I mean, your SO atheist that – Not only don't you believe in God – You don't believe in anyone who Does believe in God! Now THAT is an Atheist's Atheist!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  16. Russ

    In reality, what is happening is the younger generations have been brought up in a world of science and knowledge which has debunked most religions and their "out of this world" beliefs. They are waking up to the fact that religion is nothing more than a way to blame someone else (the magic man in the sky) for their problems instead of taking responsiblity for them. i.e. God must have wanted it that way. The younger generations realize that religion is a way the older generation justifies being nasty rotten beings all week long as long as you go to church and ask forgiveness on Sunday. We atheistist still have a lot of work to do but we're getting there.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Tom

      Your generalizations about religion, atheism, and older and younger generations are not convincing in the least.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Jan

      Russ, someday when you are standing before God face to face AND every knee will bow before Him, you will be sorry then you are an atheist. So sad. I am a sinner saved by the grace and proud of it. I know where I'm spending eternity when this old rotten world is no more or at death and it won't be just in the ground or anywhere else!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Jan

      You said: "I know where I'm spending eternity when this old rotten world is no more or at death and it won't be just in the ground or anywhere else!"

      No, Jan. You don't know.

      Christians believe in an immaterial soul. They believe this soul is our ident_ity or mind. It is essentially, "who we are". The essence of our personalities. The soul is "released" when we die.

      God decides if our soul will go to Heaven or Hell. Evidently, our souls are given a physical body, that we might enjoy eternal bliss or torment.

      There is no evidence for a soul. Our obviously material brains contain all that we are. All that we have experienced, all that we have learned, all of our perceptions. When we die, our brains cease to function. We no longer exist. All that we were, is no more.

      Evidence to support this argument, is that disease, drugs, and injuries affect our ability to think. Our personalities to change. Cerebral palsy occurs when babies' brains are deprived of oxygen. Consider an Alzheimer's victim. The disease destroys the brain. The victim loses the ability to recognize their loved ones. In the last stages, many even lose the ability to swallow.

      If our mind and personality was immaterial and separate from our physical bodies, our thinking and personalities would not be affected.

      Our brains are constantly generating thoughts. Brain chemistry determines our emotions. We can't really tell, that these thoughts and emotions originate in our brains. It's easy for Believers to perceive thoughts and feelings, generated by their brains, as coming from outside themselves. *sigh* Jesus? Is that you? LOL!

      Evolution, with its evidence of transitional fossils, geological column, DNA evidence, vestigial organs etc., is very damning to the biblical Creation Story.

      If god created all the organisms on the planet, then He must have created even the diseases that have caused and are causing so much death and misery for humans and animals. He would have had to fashion the tick and the flea. The mosquito and blood flukes. And worms that bore into a child's eye.

      How could an all good god do such a thing? Why would He spend His time creating gruesome things to cause human suffering? Yet, these horrors exist. And if god didn't create them, who did?

      Evolution explains the diversity of the planet's organisms, including the pathogens and the parasites that have caused so much human death and misery.

      If the Creation Story is a fable, then Adam and Eve did not exist.

      If Adam and Eve did not exist, then there was no original sin.

      If there was no original sin, then it cannot be the reason god allows so much suffering in the world. We can dump the guilt trip.
      If there was no original sin, then there was no need for a redeemer.

      If there was no redeemer, then Christianity is a based on a false premise.

      "If we cannot believe in the First Adam, why believe in the Last [Christ]?" 1 Corinthians15:45

      If the Creation story is a myth, then there is no reason to believe any of the bible.

      If we evolved, there is no soul –> no afterlife –> no need of a heaven or hell.

      LOL, which is why the Evangelicals fight so hard against evolution.

      The whole Christian religion is built on a house of cards.

      Cheers!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  17. SamIam

    So called Atheist love to rattle the saber of logic. Its a child's bluff, how could a "logical" person understand what we know about the big bang theory and not see Gods work, from nothing...everything, if that's isn't proof of God then no proof / miracle will build their faith. Atheism is nothing more proof of a persons prideful resistance to the truth.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Chris

      Your not using logic.....thats why your wrong...logic is logic you cant have a different kind of logic.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      The proof that you have to just believe in order for it to be true? Weeeeeeeak.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • mike

      big bang is a theory alright, based on a lot of smart peoples observations of the universe and such. god on the other hand is virtually the exact opposite. the universe can be directly observed and learned about by anyone willing to look. god however cant be known about, unless someone in a position of power(a parental figure, a gun, etc) tells a person about it, and depending on what continent they were born, which god they should believe in.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Tom

      Chris and Ahhh, so how do you think the universe came to exist, and what's your proof of that?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • mike

      @tom
      the idea is that religion offers no explanation other than tales of magic.
      science offers theories, based on direct observations.
      neither is proof, of course, but one is stronger than the other for the same reason you look both ways before you cross the street.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      There still isn't any proof how it came into existence. And there may never be, though science will always keep trying. But that's not what I was commenting on. I was commenting on how your "proof" is nothing more than a belief; simply saying something came from nothinig is in no way a proof of a god's existence.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • InFormed99

      Typical religious position. I don't know what it (Currently) is, therefore it MUST be god. Come on.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      This is not logic. Logic begins with axioms and uses a rigorous process to arrive at conclusions that are valid IF the opening assumptions are valid.

      What you're really working on is science, and the scientific method would start with the one known fact — the Universe exists — then ask how it came to be. It would examine competing hypotheses and either tentatively agree with the one that had the best explanation of the observations or at the realization that we don't have enuf information to pick and choose among the hypotheses.

      You have latched on to the 1st hypothesis that caut your fancy — a guess formulated 4000 years ago by ignorant, arrogant nomads who thot the universe literally revolved around them — and failed to consider any of the others, let alone the opinion that highly trained and educated cosmologists almost uniformly share: We don't know enuf to have an informed opinion on the subject.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • SamIam

      Science cant even explain why if you observe a photon it is a real particle but if you don't it is the possibility of a particle. Nor will they because until it includes our true nature. Interesting that the act of observation makes something real Hummmmm. But you logic thinkers go on an deny that there are truths that we cant comprehend that we are bigger than just some happenstance some meaningless existence, that we are divine and that we were created in the most true sense of the word by our Heavenly Father.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • SamIam

      @RichardSRussell Truth beats logic every time you big silly.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  18. rick perrytwit ... slack jawed bible thumper

    Us teabaggers love the baby jesus more than anybody. But then again, we also love to boink our cousins more than anybody.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  19. I'm The Best!

    In response to all the atheists aren't really atheists posts...

    Theists are not really theists. They're just Atheists who are too self centered and narcissistic to realize that the entirety of existence and the universe was not created specifically for them.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • hippypoet

      wow.. your a moron... that makes no sense at all unless your stating that the universe was created in the first place, see because atheists don't believe it was created at all... again, your a moron!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Stupid non-believer

      Well, I'm an athiest and I think the Universe was created. Just not by a God who conciously created it. The Big Bang works for me now. But maybe you're right. Maybe it has always been here. Perhaps we'll know one day.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • JOL

      "atheists don't believe it was created at all"

      Nice example of a straw man fallacy.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Tom

      Stupid nonbeliever, what do you think caused the Big Bang? Or if the universe was just always there, why couldn't God just have been always there? I doubt you have convincing answers to these questions.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      @Tom – If the universe was always there, how could it have been created?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Stupid non-believer

      Tom, it doesn't matter what I say. You clearly aren't open-minded enough to consider other possibilities other than your own beliefs. I've been on both sides of the fence, and I know there is no way to believe differently until you are ready to look at things logically. I KNOW that because it happened to me, as with most ot many who once believed but now do not.

      I'm open to the chance that their may be a God, or many. I just think it's highly unlikely based on my observations. Look, believe what you like. Maybe it is real. Maybe perception is what it's really about. Maybe in your personal reality God does exist. In mine, maybe he he really doesn't. Maybe we're BOTH right.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Chris

      @Tom What created god? You cant have nothing from nothing right? At least thats what you people say. Our theory is as close as we understand. Yours is a selling itself short and settling. Some of us aren't happy with your answers....they call us "A" "Theists"....and although pslams 14:1 may say were evil....we just want you people to think about things instead of just mindlessly believing.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I'm not saying the universe wasn't created, just that it wasn't created specifically for us. I do think it was created by the big bang. And this big bang could have been caused by anything. It could have been caused by something natural, the fact is, we don't know, but one thing I do know is that it didn't have to be a god that caused it to happen.

      Please try and understand a post before you comment on it.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Tom

      Exciting new theories are being developed. Science sees no need for a god. Check out this video from Prof. Krauus.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo&w=640&h=360]

      Cheers!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Stupid non-believer

      Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! Like "I'm the best" said, WE DON'T KNOW! The one thing we can all be sure of regarding God and the Universe is that we truely don't really know. None of this is fact, it's all speculation. And I have a feeling that when we finally DO know, whenever that may be, chances are that the answers will be very far from what we ALL believe to be true, both religious and Atheist.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  20. louie

    It's nice to see. Hopefully this country is finally growing up.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Ahhhhhh

      Doubtful; the remaining believers just double down.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
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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.