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March 22nd, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Atheist rally billed as 'coming out' moment for nonbelievers

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A coalition of atheist and secular organizations are coming together on Saturday to hold what is being billed at the largest gathering of atheists in history.

David Silverman, chairman of the event committee and president of the American Atheists, said the rally is aimed at uniting atheist organizations and letting the religious know that there are nonbelievers among them.

“We need to stress to the theists that we are here,” Silverman said. “Atheism is growing in all 50 states. What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality.”

Silverman initially told CNN that the rally would draw anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people to the National Mall, and the National Park Service has planned for 30,000 people. With thunderstorms forecast for Saturday, however, Silverman told CNN on Thursday that he expects somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

The cost of the event is around $300,000, Silverman said, but philanthropist Todd Stiefel, Founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, is supplying half the money.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

The rally has been a catalyst for protests by the Westboro Baptist Church, a group well known for its picketing of funerals of American servicemen and servicewomen. Westboro Baptist has been granted a permit for the “grassy area between 14th and 15th” streets, according to Carol Johnson, a communications officer for the National Park Service.

Though a press release for the reason rally touts 17 groups planning to protest, only the Westboro Baptist Church has applied and obtained a permit. Johnson said rally organizers have notified the Park Service of other possible protest groups, but none of those have applied for a permit.

The rally's long list of speakers and presenters runs the gamut from intellectuals to celebrities to comedians. The event is headlined by Oxford professor and author Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins, who is widely regarded as the most respected figure in atheism, is lending his voice to this event because he says freedom for atheists is “constantly under threat from people who would like to turn this country into some sort of a theocracy.”

“The Reason Rally is part of an effort to combat the attack of the theocrats,” Dawkins told CNN. “There is in this country at the moment a great revival of atheism, and the number of atheists in the country is much larger than people realize.”

Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital

At a press conference for the event, Silverman was adamant that the rally won't be the last. He didn't say whether it will be become an annual tradition, but he intends a higher profile for atheists in the future.

“The next step after the rally is all eyes on the election,” Silverman said. “We want to post hard questions to the candidates.”

Dawkins, too, related the rally to politics.

“The nonbelieving constituency has not been vocal enough, and it therefore has been politic for them to be ignored by their congressmen, by their senators,” Dawkins said.

Directing his comments at Congress, Dawkins said, “You have been neglecting them, overlooking them and riding roughshod over them as though they didn’t exist. Well, they do exist and they outnumber some of the other lobbies that you have been so assiduously sucking up to all these years.”

The America Atheists also are holding their annual convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Secular Coalition for America has scheduled its “Lobby Day for Reason” on Friday.

The weekend is part of a larger blitz by a coalition of atheists to “win” equality in American culture, Silverman said.

“We are the last group against whom it is politically correct to be bigoted,” he said. “That is something that needs to change and I am very confident that we will within 20 years.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (3,073 Responses)
  1. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~-.You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!.

      March 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  3. reason

    Ok, but you first.

    Return all the things created by the gods you do not believe in.
    You could start by boxing up the Sun and returning it to Ra.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • reason

      * In response to Edward Seah below.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  4. Edward Seah

    If anyone who does not believe in God, please return everything that God created to Him. That;s include yourself.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Skeptic

      Do we have to return our presents to Santa Claus too?

      March 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • AGuest9

      My parents created me. All of the rest of this was manufactured by other humans, or formed through accretion and fusion.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  5. Maya

    If we got rid of all the Christians in the country, we would get rid of the vast majority of the prison population. If we got rid of all atheists, we'd lose the vast majority of our scientists. That kind of says it all.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      The point of the rally, however, has not so much to do with reason, but rather is another vain show of contempt for religion and religious values, and another opportunity for atheists, non-believers and other malcontents who otherwise disregard, hate and oppose religion, who find religion to be an obstacle to enlightenment, to further ridicule those who find comfort and value in religion.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • AGuest9

      However, by using logic and reason, it would become evident that there is little comfort or value in religion.

      March 25, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • layne arnold

      'If we got rid of all the Christians in the country, we would get rid of the vast majority of the prison population. If we got rid of all atheists, we'd lose the vast majority of our scientists. That kind of says it all."
      for the record, some of us atheists don't suggest the world would be a better place if we eradicated sections of the population.

      March 25, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  6. False Dichotomy

    For those of you interested, portions of the rally are being streamed by video at:

    http://www.ustream.tv/user/davesinger88

    March 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Commenter

      Thanks, FD... & dave singer.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Taylor

      The Bible says, "A fool says in his heart there is no God." This rally is nothing more than a group of fools identifying themselves publicly. Kinda of like a dunce taking off his dunce cap in front of others.

      March 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:22)

      March 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Maya

      Using the Bible as proof that God exists is like using a 6-year-old's drawing of a unicorn to prove that unicorns exist.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Jesus Loves You

      Unicorns don't exist? Then why does the Bible talk about them?

      March 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The King James (an offshoot of the Roman bible used in protestant churches) mentions unicorns. The American version (as well as the catholic bible) uses the term "wild ox."

      March 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      An event advertised for months and months and featuring the high priest of hate himself, Richard Dawkins, and only a smattering of a few thousand show up.
      A pathetic turnout for a pathetic cause.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  7. marc

    None of us athiests care for one second that you believe in a god. What we object to is that those of you that do believe try to enforce your morality and beliefs onto us by creating faith-based laws and regulations, christians being the worst offenders. This kind of behavior does not exist in the rest of the world with the exception of of islamist-based theocracies

    March 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • john issachar

      Actually, it's the other way around–call it reverse psychology. It is the atheists who keep on enforcing their beliefs and morality onto others, especially on us, Bible-believing Christians. You can do whatever you want as long as you do not deny us our rights to express and practice our beliefs. Your kind of behavior exists only in America because you are free and allowed to do it in the freest country in the world which was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs.

      March 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Maya

      Okay, when has an atheist ever passed a law which established a "National Day of Atheism" or set up proclamations of atheism before town hall meetings?

      Almost every legislator is a Christian, yet you claim persecution. Could you be more full of it?

      March 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      The reigns of secular reason have been taken hold of by people, like Barry Lynn and Americans United for Separation of Church and State; like American Atheists; like the ACLU; like the American Humanist Association, etc., who want to see America transformed into a society devoid of the kind morality and ethics Christians and other religious believers ascribe to and use as a basis for living their lives, and for which America was founded on.

      Well, none of these secular organizations have, or have ever had America’s best intentions, or that of the American people, in their hearts and minds. And all of these secular organizations have one common thread running deep through their veins – liberalism. And it is for liberalism, and those values and morals, (not reason or rationality) that Dawkins and other humanists, atheists and secularists are fighting to replace conservative morals and values with. How is that “reasonable”?

      March 25, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • AGuest9

      ciroc2323, Suddenly the Separation of Church and State is viewed as a BAD thing? I think you need to study American History I and re-read the Const.itution, including The Bill of Rights..

      March 25, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • TrueBeliever

      - If the code of morality is dictated by God, I'm OK with that. Suggest, OK. Engage in enlightened discourse/argument, OK. But I'm not OK with another person telling me that they somehow have it figured out for me or anyone else; as if they have sole ownership of the moral code, and the other side does not.
      – I have my own moral convictions, but it did not derive from any particular religion. I know right from wrong and I've spent my life trying to live by that code. But I frankly don't know where that understanding of right and wrong came from. My parents? Perhaps, but I also find my sense of honor is much fairer to others than theirs. I appreciate the fact that religions espouse morality - a group code, but morality nonetheless. At least it makes clear where the moral bar is set for their followers. For me, that is the key element which religions bring. It gives people a moral compass - particularly to those that need it–for those folks who perhaps cannot reason for themselves. I suppose it also gives them great solace to be able to rationalize their inner moral code. I myself admit I can't explain the source of mine; but I have no need nor the right to dictate to others, as if my moral code is the right one.

      March 25, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  8. DanB

    Sounds like no one showed up for the rally. Did Dawkins even make it?

    March 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • False Dichotomy

      Wow, you guys really do just shamelessly lie about things, huh?

      http://www.ustream.tv/user/davesinger88

      March 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • SWJ

      I suppose, if you call 20k people no one. LOL

      March 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      20K. Lol
      Glenn Beck had 500,000 for his rally for God and country.
      Maybe if you held a "reason rally" every Saturday for five months straight you might get what Glenn Beck got in one day.
      Oh, and how many more people showed up to the Tea Party rally and not the unreasonable rally?

      March 25, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • AGuest9

      Just goes to show how little reason there is in this country if that many people showed up to hear some blow-hard babble on because they forced him off the air.

      March 25, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • mandarax

      croc2323, your point is valid. That so many more people will listen to the likes of Glenn Beck is the problem. It makes it devastatingly clear how f-ed up this country is by religious fundamentalism. It is like a giant oozing sore that announces the extent of the infection.

      March 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Mandarax,

      You don't even know what religious fundamentalism is. It's just some buzz word that you can latch onto because you have nothing really useful to contribute. Last I checked, no Christian is going to behead for blasphemy for being an atheist like some radical Muslims practice in Islam.
      Go look it up.

      March 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  9. Brett

    Jesus changes lives for the better, heals diseases, sets people free from despair, fear, emotional trauma, etc. I've seen it with my own eyes, experienced it. Religion is man made, can't save you, destroys you. I've been there, done it. Only Jesus is the answer to all the worlds’ problems but unfortunately most people reject Jesus and that is why we have the problems in the world as we have.

    March 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Ann Ecdotal

      Brett: "I've seen it with my own eyes, experienced it."

      Pictures, video, verified peer-reviewed confirming evidence or it didn't happen.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, shut it, you moron. I've seen with MY own eyes how God treated someone who believe whole-heartedly, served selflessly, loved unconditionally, and DIED IN ABSOLUTE AGONY.

      You are a fraud, Brett. I hope YOU suffer the way my loved one did.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'll BET Brett the hypocrite won't DARE to respond to my post. And that will prove that you so-called "Christians" are nothing but phony jerks who can't manage to explain their own beliefs, their heroes, their God, or anything else.

      You are nothing but disgusting. Every single one of you.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  10. RockAndRollah

    2,648 comments in 2 days, no television coverage. Wake up CNN!

    March 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Sean

      Zero CNN TV Coverage...which is exactly the same TV Coverage CNN gives 400,000 every year who March for Life in DC – Rain or Shine...

      March 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • anarimus

      I'm sure even though CNN doesn't seem to be covering this as far as i can tell on TV the propaganda machine at Fox will be all over it and in the most negative way imaginable complete with "color commentary" by the choir preachers.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      wake up to what? A bunch of malcontents in the rain, ranting and raving against something they claim isn't there? Not very reasonable.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  11. reason

    Atheists are the most pursecuted minority in America.

    Read the article about the PA judge who dismissed an atheist's harassment case. Then read all the comments from violent, hate-filled Christians saying he got what he deserved.

    Of course not all Christians are like this, however I have never seen atheists, even to a fraction of the large numbers as you see the Christians on that article, so hateful to advocate violence and injustice towards those they disagree with. Sick.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  12. TrueBeliever

    We are all so insignificant in the grand scheme of this universe and time continuum. I cannot deny the existence of God any more than I can suggest God exists. What I do understand is that ALL religions as we know them are the works of man and are as good as man can interpret them. I offer a few simple questions:
    – How can we possibly believe the words written in a book 2000 years ago; or 200 hundred years ago; should be taken with so absolute faith as to be blind to the inconsistencies. What makes the new testament more believable than the old? What makes the Koran more or less so?
    – If someone's religion approximates that truth, then how is it that the rules of the church can change, if the grounding of religion is absolute?

    I would like to know the truth. In the meantime, please stop quoting from the book, it'll only serve to entrench those who will read from a different one.

    March 24, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  13. priestnking

    There is no "reason" in anything an athiest believes. They are simply "fools' Even nature itself declares the glory of God! Even physics tells us that all we see around is is simply condensed information! The world, as created by God, the author of all infomation, is 99.9999999999999 percent empty space, made solid by hypothetical, force-carrying massless particles. Be warned....God is not mocked....he is literally holding this entire creation together by Jesus Christ, the author of life. Colossians 1:16-17 "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." BELIEVE

    March 24, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I just can't "believe" in an invisible being who ignores pain and suffering and threatens all who don't kneel with eternal damnation.

      You and your ilk do nothing to indicate to me that believing in such a farce is beneficial or necessary in any way.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • WhatNow

      I said it before, but I must say it again. Your statements are the epitome of my problems with faith-pushing. Truly, you lack an understanding of fact and fiction.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • mattens

      Yeah! If only we had the RELIGIOUS POLICE like in Iran...they'd beat some sense into these atheists and teach them a thing or two about the god of love! LOL.

      Admit it, that's what you believe.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • SWJ

      How very loving and "Christian" of you, Mattens.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  14. priestnking

    That is pathetic! There are plenty of reasons to believe in God. How about the fact that you breathe in air into lungs? How about the miracle of child birth? How does the heart know to reverse the blood flow just as the child is being born, and just in time to suck that last bit of blood from the umbilicial cord before that happens? How is it that 2 million eggs and half of the dna for all future children are present in a baby girl upon birth? How did your body ever come to process energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) when ATP is required to make ATP? Since when do carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulful, phosphorus – the primary building blocks of biology- have ideas of their own, or any ideas at all? They are just atoms strung together to make molecules. Someone is being duped here, and it is the athiests, the biggest fools to ever live! The Bible declares, "The fool says in his heart there is no God." BELIEVE John 14:6

    March 24, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • momoya

      Look, you believe in big magic sky daddy who uses incantations to create the universe.. Atheists don't rely on magic and admit when they don't know how something happened.. You believe in beings you can't prove and magic words as the creative force in the universe.. Atheists just don't pretend like you do.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Alex`

      Actually, there are explanations for all the "miracles" you list here. Don't just put god wherever you have a gap in your knowledge.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why would you think that it requires some supreme critter to 'cause' anything?

      March 24, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • OpenEyes

      ...I look at this person's comments and keep thinking about a study I read recently that stated that "it is impossible to tell religious zelotism from parody in print, since both sound equally absurd". Thank you for providing such a great and clear example of what they were talking about. I would find your comments laughable if not for the fact I also find your ignorance of reality so disturbing, even if it only turned out to be a bad joke or internet troll...

      March 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      @priestnking

      Your personal ignorance about organic processes and your emotional response to those processes are not reasons for others to believe in god. Your ignorance and emotions are certainly not proof of anything.

      Life on this planet has been a very long time in the making. The processes that give and maintain life have evolved over hundreds of thousands of millenia, without any supernatural guiding hand. I suggest you read "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne. It's a well-written and well doc.umented. It will show you that if your god really did create us all, he is is a very slow and inefficient designer.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • reason

      The answer to all your questions is the same: evolution.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • AGuest9

      And that, what? He'd be the most incompetent designer I've seen! Where should be we start? Wisdom teeth, the appendix, the coccyx, tonsils, cancer, L-gulonolactone oxidase.

      March 25, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  15. Carol

    1 Corinthians 2:14
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    Psalm 10:4
    The wicked one in the pride of his countenance will not seek, inquire for, and yearn for God; all his thoughts are that there is no God [so He never punishes].

    March 24, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • AGuest9

      “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
      ― Isaac Asimov

      March 24, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      That Asimov comment was ahead of it's time. The American contempt for knowledge and intellect has only gotten worse...it may well be our downfall.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Thanks, Carol

      Wise and fitting words. Some people praise the garden, while others are able to praise the gardener.

      March 25, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • AGuest9

      FD, it's BECOME our downfall.

      March 25, 2012 at 1:55 am |
  16. AGuest9

    One positive thing that I might see coming out of this is a unified front to combat the intrusion of the religious into our classrooms.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Tim

      One problem I see is that some people blame an entire belief system for a few bad experiences in life. Where would this country be now if it weren't for our God believing founding forefathers? I know, you have heard that before. However, there WILL come a day when you will realize that you were wrong, and that there is a wonderful God that still loves you (even in your deepest unbelief). God does not send us to hell, we do that to ourselves. My prayer, as a pastor, is that you come to realize that God does exist and He is waiting for you.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      @Tim: And after we "come to god", then what? Do you expect us to all join YOUR church, listen to YOUR sermons, read YOUR version/interpretation of the "bible", and most importantly, give our money to YOUR little corner of the religious industry? No, thanks.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • OpenEyes

      My greatest objection to the presence of religion in schools is that public schools are supposed to be about providing education for everyone – not religious instruction. Public education is provided by our government, which was founded in 1776 is a SECULAR nation, and they are legally obliged to not show favoritism to any one religion, so that it can treat all religions equally, and we might enjoy true religious freedom – or in the Atheists' case, Freedom FROM Religion and religious oppression.
      The problem is that some groups of misguided theists wish to have their religion (which is a philosophy and not facts) taught in SCIENCE classes and represented as facts. The school's don't teach other unrelated subject together like that for a reason.
      I don't have any problem with religions (note the plural) being offered together as a Philosophy class elective – But, it would have to cover ALL religions equally from a neutral viewpoint with contexts and relevant histories to educate children on the many religious philosophies of the world. Maybe then, they could see how much they all have in common, or realize that they can believe more then what they were brainwashed to from birth. Maybe it would even encourage critical thinking, which is a necessary skill for tomorrow's leaders. Think about it ;-)

      March 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  17. Reality

    A money-making scheme by the Silvermans (the atheist version of the Graham family)?? Probably.

    Internet media networking is doing the same job at no cost and no trip to Washington and $1000 front row seats required.

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS–

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    And then augmented by the following:

    Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    March 24, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Felix Garnet-Simister

      Fine – but please Google "Immaculate Conception". I'm so tired of people abusing this turn of phrase. It is NOT the conception of Christ and has nothing to do with virgin birth. It is 19th century Catholic theology referring to Mary.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Bizarre

      Felix Garnet-Simister,

      Yeah, it's maddening, isn't it... so many folks are confused about Athena's birth too - they keep mistakenly saying that she sprang from Zeus's loins instead of from his forehead!

      March 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Reality

      The outdated Apostles' Creed still used by the RCC:

      "1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3. He was CONCEIVED by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. 4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. 5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. 6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 8. I believe in the Holy Spirit, 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, 10. the forgiveness of sins, 11. the resurrection of the body, 12. and life everlasting. Amen."

      And since there never was any original sin, there never was any Immaculate Conception of Mary or anybody else.

      Some added words about original sin and baptism from the white-board notes of a Catholic university theology professor:

      "The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic.

      Yes, this story was composed in the 900s BCE and functions as an etiology
      (explanatory myth) . In the 900s Israel was self ruling, under King David
      and Solomon. The people were no longer at war and the question" Why are we
      not happy?" may have risen. The short answer is sin. (Look at 1 Kings 11 for
      some clues into why the story depicts Eve sinning first and then tempting
      Adam [Solomon]).

      Original sin is therefore only symbolic of man's tendencies to sin.

      Yes, I teach Original Sin as symbolic of the sins of our origins - in our
      families and in the broader society, both of which affect each person
      profoundly. The "sins of our origins" approach helps to account for certain
      patters of sin in particular families and societies.

      Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist.

      Yes, the old "laundry of the soul," approach to Baptism is no longer
      accepted.

      Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and
      godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home.

      Yes, but, since baptism is now celebrated at Sunday Eucharist, all the
      members of the parish family are encouraged to pledge their support and care
      for the faith life of the newly baptized. (A manifestation of this is
      persons volunteering to teach other people's kids the basics of
      Catholicism.)"

      March 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  18. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • just sayin

      Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We all know "atheism is not healthy for children and other living things." For days now even atheists are using the phrase. A life Truth that can be relied on "atheism is not healthy for children and other living things." God bless

      March 24, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Danielle

      I was raised in a christian household, and was a very strong christian although depressed because it didn't feel real. I got education at a university, astronomy, biology, physical anthropology, started studying religions and people and over a couple years and painful process I am now atheist. And I am just as "good" a person, if not better than I ever was. Most christian comments I see make me feel sick to my stomach.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • AGuest9

      Danielle, I became tired of watching people ram their religion down other's throats. Now they are pushing to ram it into our science classrooms. They need to learn to keep their religion on Sunday, or Saturday, and leave the rest of us – MOST ESPECIALLY OUR CHILDREN – alone.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Haime52

      Danielle,
      You, at least, had a Christain background. You may be a better person or, perhaps, simply "feel" better about who you percieve yourself to be. So many people want desparately to understand God through logic, to comprehend through science. When that fails, and it always will, they toss the thought aside as irrelevant. Can a paramecium understand or comprehend man? We believe in the existence a parameciums, but do they believe man exists? They have no eyes to see, no mind to think, to them we are God. We are so outside of their existence that they, could they think, would understand nothing of us except in god like terms. David said it best, "The fool hath said in his heart,' There is no God'." And I believe you to be no fool.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder, dear, did God tell you a paramecium even existed? Or was it science that revealed such a thing?

      Really, YOU are the one that's "desparate" (sic).

      March 24, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • tallulah13

      So what you are trying to say, Haime, is that you believe in god because you have an emotional need to believe in god.

      Good for you. I don't have an emotional need to believe in something for which there is not a single shred of proof. Personally, I believe in things that are grounded in reality. I believe in truth. I guess that makes me an evil person.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Commenter

      Haime52,

      You know, sometimes I almost wish that your scenario were true. I am a pretty good rules-follower. I can easily give respect to my betters. To be rewarded with eternal bliss for things that I do anyway sounds kinda groovy. I simply see no evidence that it exists or will exist.

      (besides that, worshiping the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monster god is the last thing I would call "good")

      March 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Haime52

      Tom, Tom and Tallulah,
      I have actually observed paramecium with my naked eye, believe it or not, and a microscope helped to greatly enhance the view. Desparate? No. You fail to understand the difference between, observational science and theoretical science. The view of the lower life form is not one you like but to be realistic, must be taken into account when using the theoretical existence of a like form so far in advance of or outside one's own frame of reference. A life form that cannot be ruled out as impossible, as has been acknowledged by Dawkins, himself.
      Emotionally dependent? Hardly! Logical to a faulty, but also not arrogant enough to think EVERYTHING in the universe is of necessity currently observable and quantifiable. I believe there are laws and phenomenon beyond our ken, in the universe. If you think that man has all the answers then perhaps you are the foolish one. The one emotionally dependent on the belief that there is no higher being to possibly answer to.
      Whether or not there is a heaven, as reward, I would rather strive to a truly higher ideal, than live down to a common "social norm" that degrades us to mere animal status, living for our own pleasure and telling us that our more base desires are good, natural and should not be considered something to be overcome.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 24, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • mattens

      Yeah...what could make more sense than praying to the god of the mythology of an ignorant Bronze Age tribe?

      March 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      Did you actually use the lame phrase 'bronze age' in a response? Are you really that bad off ? You claim to think for yourself too i bet.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Just lyin doesn't like to read (anything other than his bible), or study, so we might have to educate him. The Bronze Age is a period that is part of three major eras in human development between the Stone Age and the Iron Age. It began with the rise of Sumer in the 4th millennium BCE, approximately 3300 BCE, and extended to approximately 1200 BCE. During this period of time, the chronology of Isreal begins with "the patriarchs" at approximately 1900 BCE, roughly during the end of the reign of Sargon I..

      March 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  20. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    March 24, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • AGuest9

      Sure it's healthy. As a matter of fact, I would like to thank Sister Catherine for rolling her eyes to the ceiling when we asked in 4th grade about how god made all the animals in one day and there were dinosaurs that were millions of years old while we studied fossils. I would also like to thank Sister Emerencia for her 7th and 8th grade biology classes, in which she so eloquently stated the mechanics of evolution, then followed it up with studies in plants, microorganisms, animals and genetics..

      March 24, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • AGuest9

      "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" Is not a healthy way to go through life. You are deluding yourself and lying to others. Lies are evil. So much for your "ethical" religion.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Funny. I just attended a high school production ( I know, I'm a glutton for punishment) of "The Wizard of Oz".

      The Chistards who post here are no better than the Munchkins. And only half as cute.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • be careful

      Second stand in for a munchkin?

      March 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • anarimus

      Atheists currently hold the overwhelming majority of the Noble Prizes, make up less that 0.5% of the US prison population, have less that 1% of the divorces in America and have given us many of the scientific and technological achievements you enjoy today....your argument has just been utterly destroyed.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      @ Tom

      You seem really angry?
      In thinking about it, the Reason Rally will showcase everything but reason itself. You would fit in perfectly.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:26 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.