home
RSS
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. aj

    It's great that in this country we have the 1st amendment, where religious and non religious beliefs are tolerated and nobody tramples on eachothers' beliefs.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Seriously

    "What is the purpose of coming out? How does the government offend atheist?"

    Consider these quotes, and how you might feel if you lived in a country where these sentiments were mainstream:

    “Our leader was not elected…he was appointed by Allah.”
    “Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of Allah…must be denied citizenship."
    “I, your Provincial Governor, do hereby proclaim… a day of prayer and fasting for our country.”
    “Allah called me to this government position…my family fasted for three days to make sure it was true.”
    "I would not put a Christian among my advisors, or in my government."
    “(our founding doc.uments) are quite clear that we would create law based on Allah of the Qur’an and Sharia Law, it’s pretty simple.”
    “I hope I will live to see the day when…we won't have any public schools. The Mosques will have taken them over again and Imams will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
    “There will never be world peace until Allah's house and Allah's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world."

    These statements should rightfully alarm you. Now consider this, YOU DO live in that country, and these are not Taliban quotes. In the above quotes the religious references have been changed. They are quotes from prominent, politically powerful Americans who would establish religious control over America’s government. Here are the actual quotes:

    “George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States, he was appointed by God.” –Lt. General William Boykin, US Army
    “Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship." –Gary North, Inst.itute for Christian Economics
    “I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim August 6, 2011, to be A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation.” –Rick Perry, Texas Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate
    “God called me to run for this office, and my husband fasted for 3 days to make sure it was true.” –Michelle Bachman, US Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate
    “"I would not put a Muslim in my cabinet, or in my administration." –Herman Cain, Republican Presidential Candidate
    “(Our founding doc.uments) are quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple.” –Sarah Palin
    I hope I will live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken over them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" – Jerry Falwell
    There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world." –Pat Robertson

    These statements should be no more frightening in an Islamic or a Christian context – this kind of rhetoric is a serious threat no matter who it comes from. Theocracy is dangerous no matter whose God is invoked. We hear these things from pious politicians every day and are likely desensitized to them, but even momentary consideration reveals them to be un-American to the core. Religious fundamentalists make no secret of their goal of controlling our government and establishing their narrow beliefs as law. We must not let that happen – not here, not in our country.

    It happens in small steps – the Ten Commandments in courthouses, prayer and creationism (“Intelligent Design”) in schools, revising science, history, and civics textbooks in Texas, State-endorsed prayer rallies, faith-based initiatives, and on and on – and because these steps may individually seem harmless, many people underestimate their consequences. That is why we must stay alert and fight to keep church and state separate. We should shudder whenever a politician or policymaker alludes to his or her religious beliefs as a justification for public policy. We should be deeply susp.icious of anyone who claims to be chosen by God to lead us. We should aggressively defend our free society against any religious group who would hope to gain control over it.

    Do not underestimate the importance of defending the separation of church and state. Stand up for it at every opportunity with your voice and your vote.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      I find it funny that during your tirade you mention the seperation of church and state...apparently you are unaware that the people (our forefathers) who made it that way, did so not to keep their faith from influencing or corrupting their politics, but to keep their politics from corrupting their faith...you should remember that the next time you mention the seperation of church and state...the country of the United States was founded on the principles of the Bible...this is where many of the laws that we currently abide by are derived from...to dismiss that is to be ignorant of history...

      March 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Duh

      "he country of the United States was founded on the principles of the Bible...this is where many of the laws that we currently abide by are derived from...to dismiss that is to be ignorant of history..."

      LMAO – yeah that's why we had to come up with the bill of rights and do away from slavery. Now the gays are fighting for their civil rights. It shows why we shouldn't use the bible!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @Duh

      You said, "LMAO – yeah that's why we had to come up with the bill of rights and do away from slavery. Now the g.ays are fighting for their civil rights. It shows why we shouldn't use the bible!"

      Nowhere in the Bible does it say that slavery is right, or does it endorse it in any way...the Bible actually says that if you own a slave you should treat him as you would treat a brother...now I'll explain this for you so you are sure to understand: if you truly treated him like a brother you would not keep him as a slave now would you? So you see the BIble made it pretty clear how God felt about slavery, it just took us a long time to realize it...we are a s.inful people after all...
      And as for g.ay rights, what rights exactly are they fighting for? To go into a church of a God they don't believe in so they can perform a ceremony that was not intended for them? Is that the right your referring to? Understand that God does not hate ho.m.o.s.e.x.uals, he hates s.in...God loves everyone...

      March 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • mandarax

      Wow, Doesn't Matter, your quote would fit right in with those above. You are the un-American being described. Totally don't get it, do you?

      March 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @mandarax

      Well, first off dude, I am not American at all...second, you say I don't get it...well why don't you try to explain it to me...if you can...

      March 30, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  3. Joe

    First off, intelligence does not necessarily lead to atheism.
    That said, Atheism has become a new religion in it's own right, stating with as much certainty as people of "faith", THERE IS NO GOD. Well, deity is a spiritual concept and can neither be proven, or disproven, by science. Can't we just understand that faith in God or faith in No God is a matter of personal belief based on personal life experiences and quit arguing amoungst ourselves on "Who is right".
    Furthermore, religion should never be a litmus test of a politician, I agree with Dawkins there. However, people of faith proclaiming it in the public sector (i.e. George W Bush) should not be demonized for it either.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Peter T

      But here's the big question: why would you believe in ANYTHING for which there is no to evidence? Aren't you concerned about whether or not the things you believe in are true?

      As for the religious beliefs of politicians, it should only matter if the politician uses his or her particular beliefs to impose moral guidelines onto others who may not share those beliefs. Government should be kept completely secular because it has to serve people of all religions (and of none). But alas, people still prejudicially ascribe certain moral qualities to others based on their belief system, so this is not going away any time soon.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @Peter T

      Peter, you asked in your post, "why would you believe in ANYTHING for which there is no to evidence? Aren't you concerned about whether or not the things you believe in are true?"

      There is ample evidence for the existence of God, what you decide to do with this evidence is ultimately up to you, but do not claim that there is none...and I would submit to you that many people believe many things without evidence every single day...but do not lump all people of faith into one basket...I have personal proof that God exists, but proof for me may not be proof for you, some people can see something with their own eyes and still deny it, that is why I said it is ultimately up to you to decide what you believe...there is much evidence both for and against the existence of God, you need to decide which evidence you choose to believe...

      Next you said, "As for the religious beliefs of politicians, it should only matter if the politician uses his or her particular beliefs to impose moral guidelines onto others who may not share those beliefs. Government should be kept completely secular because it has to serve people of all religions (and of none)."

      Exactly what moral guidelines are okay to impose on someone? I only ask because currently it is against the law to r.ape and murder, although some people find these activities to be enjoyable...by not allowing them to do them aren't we imposing our morality on them? I'm over-simplifying to make a point...what you are really saying is, " as long as you agree with the morality of said politician whatever he or she says is okay with you." How exactly can everyone share the same morals? The answer is we can't, this is why the people who founded the United States used the Bible to base the rules that they would follow as an absolute with regard to morality...it's only as society has begun to drift from these standards that we are getting worse...

      Finally you said, "But alas, people still prejudicially ascribe certain moral qualities to others based on their belief system, so this is not going away any time soon."

      Again, everyone imposes their morality on everyone else every day...what is right for you is not right for everyone...isn't that the new motto of the day? My point again is that without a standard that is set, who can say whose morality is right and whose is wrong?

      March 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • TMoney

      Actually Doesnt Matter–Proof, Facts, and Evidence are not subjective. You don't have proof. You have a personal opinion. Don't confuse the two.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @TMoney

      You said, "Proof, Facts, and Evidence are not subjective. You don't have proof. You have a personal opinion. Don't confuse the two."

      Okay T, let me ask you a question: if at one time it was a "fact" that the world was flat...then how did it change? My point is that many times "facts" turn out to be not true...most of what you would call "fact" or "proof" or "evidence" is subjective whether or not you are willing to admit it to yourself or not...there are very few things that we as humans can say without a doubt are "facts" so don't use semantics to argue your point unless you are prepared to have semantics used in response...

      March 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  4. Pastor Evans

    Psalm 14:1-3 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • mandarax

      Wow, that's some pretty blatant prejudice there. Ignorance and prejudice walk hand-in-hand.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      So the bible, which tells the story of your god, also says you are a fool for not believing what it says? How in the world is that kind of circular logic anything but self-serving propaganda? A fool is someone who accepts what they are told at face value, without searching for evidence or fact. If you search for evidence or fact, you will find that there is nothing to support the existence of your god, or any god.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Mr. Good

      So as an atheist, when I give money to mother, who is a Christian, so she can buy groceries...I'm not doing any good? Or the money I donate to St. Judes? Or the time I spent at the Boys and Girls Club tutoring kids and helping them with their homework? Atheist or Christian...there is no one better than the other.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • The Master

      Only a fool spouts mindless drivel created by people who used arrows to hunt and made their home from mud! Woe to those who do not learn the lessons of SCIENCE!

      March 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Get Real

      Pastor Evans,

      A quite old and sometimes effective tactic - declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @mandarax

      You said, "Wow, that's some pretty blatant prejudice there. Ignorance and prejudice walk hand-in-hand."

      Keep in mind that that is a quote from the Bible, not from Pastor Evans...so he is not the one saying it, he's merely quoting what the Bible says of those who don't believe, and to further amplify the quote, it is speaking of people who have denied God in their hearts...the very place where ultimately most people know in fact that there is a God, they just don't want to admit it.

      @Tallulah13

      You said, "So the bible, which tells the story of your god, also says you are a fool for not believing what it says? How in the world is that kind of circular logic anything but self-serving propaganda? A fool is someone who accepts what they are told at face value, without searching for evidence or fact. If you search for evidence or fact, you will find that there is nothing to support the existence of your god, or any god."

      You speak as if you have done so yourself...or have you accepted at face value what Dawkins and many others claim: that there is no evidence of God? Have you actually done any research at all on the matter? Or are you doing exactly what you accused Pastor Evans of doing yourself? I submit to you that if you actually search with an open mind, you might be surprised by what you find.

      @Mr. Good

      You said, "So as an atheist, when I give money to mother, who is a Christian, so she can buy groceries...I'm not doing any good? Or the money I donate to St. Judes? Or the time I spent at the Boys and Girls Club tutoring kids and helping them with their homework? Atheist or Christian...there is no one better than the other."

      Your anger does not reflect your deeds...why did you do these things? For the people you did them for, or to make you feel good about yourself? The Bible also says that God judges our hearts and the motives for why we do what we do. Because Pastor Evans made no such claim about your acts of kindness...so why react as you did, unless you feel the need to either defend yourself, or trumpet your own goodness?

      @The Master

      You said, "Only a fool spouts mindless drivel created by people who used arrows to hunt and made their home from mud! Woe to those who do not learn the lessons of SCIENCE!"

      I don't really know how to respond to your post without inadvertantly insulting you, so understand that I am not attempting to make fun of you when I say, you did in your post what you say only fools themselves do...

      @Get Real

      You said, "A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.
      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them."

      While this is true, I direct you to my comment above to mandarax...

      March 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • mandarax

      I understand that is a bible quote. That doesn't rule out the fact that it's ignorant and prejudiced. The Bible is brimming over with ignorance and prejudice.

      Being a believer absolves one from having to take responsibility for their prejudices. "Hey don't blame me – I didn't say it, God did!"

      March 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Doesn't Matter, quit f'ing around! If you have evidence for any god bring it out into the open. I don't think you or anyone else has a shred of factual, verifiable, objective or independent evidence. Until you prove your case, you are delusional or a liar!

      March 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Get Real

      Doesn't Matter,

      My point was that the ancient primitive Hebrews who came up with the Bible were heavily into manipulative mind-games.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      Doesn't Matter:
      I have looked, others have looked, but the evidence isn't there. If you have proof, real verifiable proof, then bring it forward. The world has been waiting for that proof for thousands of years.

      March 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Tallulah13

      One more thing, DM:

      I was an atheist before I read anything by Dawkins, or any other pro atheist author. This may sound strange to you, but some people can think for themselves.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @mandarax

      You said, "I understand that is a bible quote. That doesn't rule out the fact that it's ignorant and prejudiced. The Bible is brimming over with ignorance and prejudice."

      Is it ignorant and prejudiced because you say so, or is there an actual reason that you feel this way? Many people over the years have had opinions about things that later on recanted when faced with contrary viewpoints, perhaps you have just not realized that if there is a God and He commisioned the Bible then whatever He said could not possibly be either ignorant or prejudiced since He would be the ultimate authority...

      Then you said, "Being a believer absolves one from having to take responsibility for their prejudices. "Hey don't blame me – I didn't say it, God did!""

      Once again, stating something as your opinion is a right that is afforded to everyone on this earth because our governments allow it...if you do not share someones opinion, that is fine, but to call it prejudice is another matter...how is it that you get to decide what is prejudiced and what is not?

      @HotAirAce

      You said, "quit f'ing around! If you have evidence for any god bring it out into the open. I don't think you or anyone else has a shred of factual, verifiable, objective or independent evidence. Until you prove your case, you are delusional or a liar!"

      Why the hostility? I have stated to you and others numerous times that there is ample evidence of God, what you choose to do with that evidence is up to you; it's called free will and you have the ability to exercise it in whatever way you choose, but don't deny that there is any, because then you only show that you refuse to see what is all around you...

      @Get Real

      You said, "My point was that the ancient primitive Hebrews who came up with the Bible were heavily into manipulative mind-games."

      This statement is just a little off for three reasons...firstly I would ask where you are getting this opinion? And secondly, you say they are primitive when history shows us that the Hebrews were anything but primitive; in regards to both medicine and many other things the Hebrew society was highly advanced for their time...Perhaps before you make foolish statements you should research your subject a bit more thoroughly. Thirdly...sounds like you are just parroting something you either read in a book or heard someone else say when you mention that they were into mind-manipulation...exactly what lead you to that conclusion? I'd be interested to know where you came by that information...

      @Tallulah13

      You said, "I have looked, others have looked, but the evidence isn't there. If you have proof, real verifiable proof, then bring it forward. The world has been waiting for that proof for thousands of years."

      I said it to hotair already, but I will expand it a bit for you: what is evidence for some is not accepted by everyone; just as in a court case, some jurors are convinced with very little evidence while some people cannot be convinced of something no matter how much evidence there is...much of this comes from how you were raised and your own personal world view, for many people God does not fit into their world view so whatever evidence there is they close their eyes and say, "No, I don't believe that!" It is very similar to what evolutionists say about creationists, they say they are blind to the truth...it works both ways for there is evidence of both, but you must choose what you will believe, because ultimately you are responsible for whatever choice you make...

      @Tallulah13

      Then you said, "I was an atheist before I read anything by Dawkins, or any other pro atheist author. This may sound strange to you, but some people can think for themselves."

      It doens't sound strange to me at all, I too can think for myself...because I was a believer in God long before I read His book, the difference is I acknowledge that I am not in control of this life, I can choose to either be a slave to sin or a slave to God, either way I am a slave just as you are, but I choose to be a slave to my God who created me, who or what do you choose to be a slave to? Because that is what will ultimately decide your fate.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Get Real

      Doesn't Matter:

      "in regards to both medicine and many other things the Hebrew society was highly advanced for their time..."

      ** Really? Like this treatment for leprosy in Leviticus?:

      Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird's blood. Wipe some blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times. That's all there is to it.

      Sure, they followed some practical, common-sense health measures, like washing their hands; and since they observed many people get sick and die after eating pork, and didn't know what to do about it, they simply banned eating it altogether. Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians and others who came before the Hebrews had lots of medical treatments and scientific observations which the Hebrews undoubtedly drew from; but those cultures also were given to many superst'itious beliefs.
      –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_medicine
      –http://www.indiana.edu/~ancmed/meso.HTM

      -and-

      "sounds like you are just parroting something you either read in a book or heard someone else say when you mention that they were into mind-manipulation..."

      ** No, it is simply glaringly obvious.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  5. The Master

    The simple truth is there is no god. People who believe are weak minded and cannot accept the fact there is not reason for anything, no loving omnipotent being who cares or anything after death. I feel sorry for those people. They will be SOOOOO disappointed.. no actually.... they'll just be dead like everyone else.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  6. ElectricLion

    The real problem here is that no one truly believes this stuff. People like to stand up and one-up their neighbors: "I believe more." "No, I do." And so on. Devout believers will tell you that there are angels, there are demons, and they can interact with people. God hears the prayers of the smallest child. God is with us. Jesus is my copilot. God saved those trapped miners. Yet, when it comes down to it, they don't truly believe.

    For example: Remember that woman (in Texas, if I remember correctly) who drowned her five children and said that an angel appeared and told her that demons threatened the souls of her children? She said she killed them to protect their souls. As an atheist, my first thought is that the woman was nuts (diagnosed as post-partum depression). The problem is that that was also the first thought of the "true believers." If you truly believe in angels and demons, then you must consider the possibility that she was telling the truth, that the souls of her children WERE INDEED threatened, and that an angel DID tell her to kill the children. But in reality no one, not even the most devout religious leaders in the land believed that for a second.

    Because, we don't really believe any of it. We want to, and we need to. We need to believe that our suffering will be rewarded. We need to believe that there's more to life. But needing a god in one's life doesn't mean that a god is there.

    Think of all the "crazies" who claim to be Jesus returned. What if one of them is truly Jesus? What if they all are? Maybe God decided that there are so many people on the planet that he needed more than one to get His message out this time. So, what if every nut or oddball who stands up and says, "I'm Jesus" truly is? No? That was fast. You've been preparing for his return for how many centuries, but when someone stands and announces that he (or she, for that matter) is Jesus returned, do you rejoice? Do you sit at His feet to receive His holy word and grow from His new teachings? No, you dismiss him and go back to "preparing for His return" deep down knowing that he's never coming back because no one can really come back from the dead.

    So what's the difference? Some insignificant stonecutter ("carpenter" is a mistranslation) from BFE stood up 2000 years ago and said he was the son of God, and he's worshipped as a god himself. Today, some insignificant stonecutter (or carpenter) from BFE stands up and says he's the son of God, and we all walk away very quickly. What makes one a god and the other crazy? Are they both crazy? Are they both gods? Are they both crazy gods? Who makes that decision, and why is his decision the one we accept?

    March 28, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Irv

      Two part response: (1) Regarding the return of Christ: the traditional Revelations-based view of the return of Christ has certain characteristics which are inconsistent with an average guy standing up and saying he is Jesus... thief in the night, rapture, then every eye will see Him, etc. Hence the rejection. (2) Regarding the Texas woman: killing your children because their souls are in danger is inconsistent with any Christian doctrine of which I am aware. Again, the rejection is due to the inconsistency with beliefs.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ Irv... Whatever helps keep your belief alive, buddy. Normally, a lot of christians would pile on this one to try to refute. Either there's really not much they can say in response OR it's a bit too long of a read for most believers. Keep in mind, they like to be told what to believe and save the "thinking part" for other people.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      @ElectricLion

      You said, "The real problem here is that no one truly believes this stuff. People like to stand up and one-up their neighbors: "I believe more." "No, I do." And so on. Devout believers will tell you that there are angels, there are demons, and they can interact with people. God hears the prayers of the smallest child. God is with us. Jesus is my copilot. God saved those trapped miners. Yet, when it comes down to it, they don't truly believe."

      Your comment kind of puts all believers in the same basket, and while I agree that there are some who say they do but don't I would submit to you, that if this has been what you've seen you have really not seen the whole story at all.

      Then you said, "For example: Remember that woman (in Texas, if I remember correctly) who drowned her five children and said that an angel appeared and told her that demons threatened the souls of her children? She said she killed them to protect their souls. As an atheist, my first thought is that the woman was nuts (diagnosed as post-partum depression). The problem is that that was also the first thought of the "true believers." If you truly believe in angels and demons, then you must consider the possibility that she was telling the truth, that the souls of her children WERE INDEED threatened, and that an angel DID tell her to kill the children. But in reality no one, not even the most devout religious leaders in the land believed that for a second."

      You seem to believe that you are aware of what everyone is thinking, as this is the second time you have made a sweeping blanket statement...but to answer your question: I can assure you if that woman did see an angel telling her to kill her children, it certainly would have been a fallen angel, or demon if you prefer and not from God...If you had even a basic understanding of angels and fallen angels and the protection of God, this would be a moot point...but it appears that you want to play the game of how ridiculous can I be...

      Then you said, "Because, we don't really believe any of it. We want to, and we need to. We need to believe that our suffering will be rewarded. We need to believe that there's more to life. But needing a god in one's life doesn't mean that a god is there."

      I agree that most people will acknowledge that we do need God, however acknowledging that we need Him and actually acknowledging Him are not the same thing...if you know that you need Him though, that's a start...And I have a questions for you: why do you think we have this need? Where did it come from?

      And then you said, "Think of all the "crazies" who claim to be Jesus returned. What if one of them is truly Jesus? What if they all are? Maybe God decided that there are so many people on the planet that he needed more than one to get His message out this time. So, what if every nut or oddball who stands up and says, "I'm Jesus" truly is? No? That was fast. You've been preparing for his return for how many centuries, but when someone stands and announces that he (or she, for that matter) is Jesus returned, do you rejoice? Do you sit at His feet to receive His holy word and grow from His new teachings? No, you dismiss him and go back to "preparing for His return" deep down knowing that he's never coming back because no one can really come back from the dead."

      This part almost made me not want to respond at all, when you so clearly are not actually asking a question but instead trying to antagonize people...If someone says, "I am God!" you're saying they just might be...do you understand that is was common at the time of Jesus for people to make the claim of being the Messiah? There were many prophecies about the coming Messiah so that when he came he would be recognized...Jesus fufilled them all, and many people still didn't recognize Him for who He was...and many today don't either...the short answer of course is that when Jesus does come back again there will be no doubt that He is who He is...

      Then you said, "So what's the difference? Some insignificant stonecutter ("carpenter" is a mistranslation) from BFE stood up 2000 years ago and said he was the son of God, and he's worshipped as a god himself. Today, some insignificant stonecutter (or carpenter) from BFE stands up and says he's the son of God, and we all walk away very quickly. What makes one a god and the other crazy? Are they both crazy? Are they both gods? Are they both crazy gods? Who makes that decision, and why is his decision the one we accept?"

      Again, your attempt at humour is not lost on me, but I generally try to avoid conversations with people who refuse to talk of this subject seriously...but again...as I stated above, when Jesus does come back there will be no doubt of whether or not He is the real deal...and another question for you: are you, or do you read Aramaic? Because I was curious how you are able to say that carpenter is a mis-translation...or are you just quoting someone else?

      @closet atheist

      You said to Irv, "Whatever helps keep your belief alive, buddy. Normally, a lot of christians would pile on this one to try to refute. Either there's really not much they can say in response OR it's a bit too long of a read for most believers. Keep in mind, they like to be told what to believe and save the "thinking part" for other people."

      Actually, I would say that most believers who read electriclion's post probably had the same response I initially did: Not wanting to talk, only to argue...But far be it from me to not be willing to throw down the gauntlet and respond to your challenge...so I can assure you that nothing he said, was very difficult to respond to, when all he essentially was doing was thumbing his nose at both believers and God, in much the same way you yourself were...I have a question for you as well: you said at the end that believers like to be told what to believe and leave the thinking to someone else, so let me ask you, have you researched the subject of the existence of God yourself, or are you taking someone elses opinion, and leaving the thinking and research for someone else?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  7. think again

    So if we believe we are not educated?
    What is the purpose of coming out? How does the government offend atheist?
    As a mother I find this man lacks love in his life, he seems bitter.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Primewonk

      It depends on what and how you believe. If you are a fundamentalist, believing in a literal genesis, then it is painfully obvious that you have chosen to be igno.rant about science.

      How does the government offend me? Why do we continue to have ignor.ant fundiot (fundamentalist ldiots) legislators in numerous states try each year to get creationism taught as science in schools?

      Since we have founding doc.uments that say we are not a christian nation, why do we have your god in our pledge and on our money? We don't have Ra in our pledge. We don't have Amma on our money. Your version of a god is no more, nor no less special or real than any of the other 10,000 gods we have invented, so why does he get special privileges other gods don't get?

      March 28, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Seriously

      think again, please see my post above.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  8. truth

    Ecclesiastes 2 >>
    New International Version 1984

    --------------------------–

    Pleasures Are Meaningless

    1I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2“Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

    4I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harema as well—the delights of the heart of man. 9I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

    10I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;

    I refused my heart no pleasure.

    My heart took delight in all my work,

    and this was the reward for all my labor.

    11Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done

    and what I had toiled to achieve,

    everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;

    nothing was gained under the sun.

    Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

    12Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,

    and also madness and folly.

    What more can the king’s successor do

    than what has already been done?

    13I saw that wisdom is better than folly,

    just as light is better than darkness.

    14The wise man has eyes in his head,

    while the fool walks in the darkness;

    but I came to realize

    that the same fate overtakes them both.

    15Then I thought in my heart,

    “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.

    What then do I gain by being wise?”

    I said in my heart,

    “This too is meaningless.”

    16For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;

    in days to come both will be forgotten.

    Like the fool, the wise man too must die!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • The Master

      F*!&@(&*!@#&!*@K OFF!

      March 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • ICanDoThatToo

      I can quote fiction too.

      Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

      Mark Twain

      March 28, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  9. polycarp pio

    I want to see Mr Dawkins lips flap on the judgement day. I would rather he receive Godly sarrow unto repentence and be saved and forgiven. You can hear the athestic snobbery in his demenor, like we are to intelligent for God. Satan just loves a intelligent fool. The fool has said in his heart there is no God, so there is no devil either. Just my 2 cents. PP

    March 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where, oh, where is that Idiot Translator Ring?

      March 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • plucky

      If there is a God and he comes on judgement day, we atheists will say "now here is some evidence!"
      We will suddenly be compelled to believe, and this jealous God will then be happy and open the pearly gates for us. He will then look at you and say.. "at least the atheist was honest with himself, whee-ras you were only pretending to believe just to hedge yor bets."
      Until this happens, I will be honest with myself and say I don't believe.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • 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 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • plucky

      Brett,
      Convince me. What did you "experience" from Jesus.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • fred

      Plucky
      Jesus agrees with you and said I would rather you were hot or cold because if you are lukewarm I spit you out. In short an atheist is on better footing than someone who is a half hearted chrisian.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • The Master

      You're an a$$! There is no god and you are a child for believing in that. Do you still believe in santa claus as well?

      March 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  10. mrdifficult

    Not ALL religious people are stupid, but all stupid people are religious.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • mandarax

      There may be some truth to that...

      March 28, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  11. mrdifficult

    Atheism is ALMOST as stupid as christianity et al. The fact is, I don't know and neither do any of you.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Gokubi

      Please expand

      Are you saying you don't know which religion is right, or are you saying that you don't know if god exists? If the former, then I can answer that for you, none of them. If it's the matter of god, then you're dealing with something other than atheism considering atheism focuses on religion, not the matter of whether god exists or not. Most atheists are also agnostics but it's very possible to be an atheist and still believe in a type of spirit or god existing, it's more of a deism though than anything else.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  12. CEW

    I'm an atheist, and I found the God Delusion obnoxious (if informative). Throughout the book he pats himself on his wonderfully brilliant back for being so much smarter than those idiots who believe in God. Annoying to say the least.

    I too think a belief in God is silly. But that doesn't make believers stupid (just a bit blind in one area – and really, don't we all have our little idiocies?). As far as I can tell, both theists and atheists come in both brilliant and stupid varieties, with all manner in between. And arrogance is rarely an attractive quality.

    Personally, I wish a person's faith or lack of it were none of anyone's business. It should be a private non-issue.

    March 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • quiet

      I'd have to agree. lately I've read and watched a fair amount of athiest literature and while I agree with the basic idea I would like to think the same things without the smug condescending hubris.

      That said, I would really like it if the mood of the country would change. I'm tired of feeling hemmed in and hounded by the dogmatists on all sides.

      March 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ CEW.... Mention that you are an atheist in a group conversation the next time the topic of religion comes up. Do it with no smugness or condescention, but just slip it into the conversation. You'll see that a lot of people look at you funny.... like, a.) you're somehow an amoral person, b.) pity for your soul, c.) curiosity how one can not believe in a god. This, in my opinion, is a form of discrimination. Unfortunately, the only way to try to change it is by being a bit more vocal as a group. Believers need to be educated as to what atheism/agnosticism really means.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  13. J.W

    I think God should be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most existent being.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I fixed your post for you:

      "I think gods should be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most non-existent beings."

      March 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • fred

      Number one selling book according to Guinness is the Bible ! 6 billion sold
      Number of Mcdonalds hamburgers 268 billion sold
      A little food for thought

      March 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • The Master

      Don't you mean the most persistent NON-existing being/

      March 28, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  14. Carol from New Orleans

    Aristotle (believed in a Prime Mover) Albert Einstein,(Deist) C.S. Lewis,(a former atheist) Martin Luther King, Gandhi, T.S. Elliott, Tolkien, Flannery O' Connor..... just a few intellectual "light weights" were all believers, Mr. Dawkins.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Aristotle's "Unmoved mover" was a matter of physics. There was no other interaction with life. It was Thomas Aquinas' linkage with theology that dragged Aristotle into that debate.

      As far as Einstein, no one said it better than the man, himself: "The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery even if mixed with fear – that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms – it is this knowledge and this emotion that const.itute the truly religious att.itude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

      Lewis, it seemed, didn't work hard at anything in life, other than his writing. He fell away from Christianity due to laziness, and only returned due to the urgings from his wife, and Tolkien. WOW! There's a reason to believe in something! Tolkien himself was devout. Whether he used religion as a crutch is debatable.

      King was a preacher, what do we expect? Gandhi was murdered, shot like King. He was killed by another Hindu who felt he was being soft on Muslims. However, I do have to agree with him in that he noted how unlike Christ his followers really are.

      Eliot commented that he was "a Catholic cast of mind, a Calvinist heritage, and a Puritanical temperament", which sounds much more like a mental illness than a belief system.

      Who? Oh, the author of "The Artificial Ni**er". Need I say anything more?

      March 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • mrdifficult

      What that guy said. Idiot.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  15. Michael

    truth?????

    2 Timothy 3 >>
    New International Version 1984

    WOW! now THAT is an oxymoron! TRUTH!! - not in the Bible son.

    TRUTH is available – I suggest you start here:

    http://godisimaginary.com/video10.htm – I challeng any INTELLIGENT christian (Mormon, jew, Muslim etc)- I do believe they can exist – I just don't believe they have intelligently examined WHY they believe.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  16. Michael

    An excellent explaination of why we don't believe is fairytales – 10 questions that every intelligent Christian must answer

    http://godisimaginary.com/video10.htm

    – I challeng any INTELLIGENT being – Realist or christian (Mormon, jew, Muslim etc)- I do believe they can exist – I just don't believe they have intelligently examined WHY they believe.

    Listen to the short video – READ the full contents. If you CAN turn of your prejudice and apply rational thinking skills, I think you will learn something.

    DON'T BE AFRAID OF KNOWLEDGE!

    March 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  17. truth

    2 Timothy 3 >>
    New International Version 1984

    --------------------------–

    Godlessness in the Last Days

    1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

    6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • JCizzle

      Thanks for this, I'm going to print it and use it as toilet paper.

      March 27, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • huh?

      "2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,"

      Funny how many Christians today fall into that category so this has NOTHING to do with atheism.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • AGuest9

      So, which Last Days were they? These last days at the "end of the age"? They're long gone. Better yet, perhaps they were long gone, long before that era. Since Aristotle and Plato wrote extensively on ethics in the 4th century BCE during an era of "godlessness" in Ancient Greece, why weren't THOSE the Last Days? The truth us, that everyone has their own, personal Last Days. After that, you are no more. There IS no "man" behind the curtain.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  18. Pipe-Dreamer

    Freedoms as in the cradles of socialisms' Republic of the U.S.A. are but liberalizing issues to be given and taken away by the controlling government at a moments notice pending backroom antics. Yes, atheism has as much a right to be acknowledged just like any religious movement has. The laws of one's nation as in the U.S.A. gives its' people the right to choose their socialists' whatever motion whichever way they so choose to wander about as long as their communal movements do fall in line of lawfulness. As a God-fearing soul-filled person, I see no reason to bargain with atheists or their idiotic vestiges of palpable dogma they spew forth by their desicrating religious faiths of abundant measures Teach your children well you parents of Atheistic dissention. May your children look at your rants and ravings about the religious prove to be to the child's benefit. The same can be said regarding any religious family. Practice that which you believe in and do not dawdle your bantering just to serve your own motives. Think of the next generations' you leave hanging from a limb.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • LinCA

      ... says the adult still believing in fairy tales.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • HotAirAce

      At least our "limb" is visible, measurable, tangible, predictable, . . . long list of similar attributes that adult myths cannot match.

      Of course, if you have a proof of your god, we are all ears...

      March 27, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • captain america

      There is no "we" you are a F'n canadian and have no relevance to US at all. Go screw up your own country. There's your sign

      March 27, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • tallulah13

      I do wonder why Pipe-Dreamer is trying to tie socialism to atheism. They are not the same thing. The single thing that connects atheists is a lack of belief in god. For the majority of us, at least in this country, the only agenda is to keep religion out of our deliberately secular government.

      Pipe-Dreamer is also inventing dire consequences for not teaching children religion. His/her predictions have no actual basis in reality. What Pipe-Dreamer is doing is what many christians do: Lie to protect their beliefs. It is neither honorable nor honest, nor, as the bible forbids lying, terribly christian.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • tallulah13

      Oh, for pete's sake, captain america. Just ask Hot Air Ace out. Stop pulling pigtails. Your crush is creepy and stalkery.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I don't have pigtails, I don't date anyone other than my wife, and I wouldn't date Captain Asshole in any event.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  19. Jojo

    Collegeadmissionsguru: Is that name supposed to make you sound intelligent? How about all the Christians who have been killed for the simple fact that they were Christians and refused to denounce their faith? Maybe YOU should spend more time studying history. Additionally, that fact that religious groups have killed in the name of their religion does not translate into that religion's doctrine. Did it ever once occur to your limited mental processes that those who kill in the name of their relgion are not following their religion, and therefore are quite possibly not truly followers of said religion? Why don't you learn what the various religions actually teach instead of drawing your conclusions from the misguided "professed followers" who simply use their religious beliefs to make their actions acceptable to the dumb masses.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  20. anonygrazer

    Stiefel Freethought Foundation: get it?

    March 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
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.