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June 12th, 2012
04:49 PM ET

Pew survey: Doubt of God growing quickly among millennials

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The percentage of Americans 30 and younger who harbor some doubts about God’s existence appears to be growing quickly, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. While most young Americans, 68%, told Pew they never doubt God’s existence, that’s a 15-point drop in just five years.

In 2007, 83% of American millennials said they never doubted God’s existence.

More young people are expressing doubts about God now than at any time since Pew started asking the question a decade ago. Thirty-one percent disagreed with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God,” double the number who disagreed with it in 2007.

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When asked about doubts of God, no other generation showed a change of more than 2% in the past five years.

The survey found that the percentage of millennials who identify with a religion is remaining constant, while most other generations have seen religious identification increase in the past 10 years.

The findings about millennials and religion were part of a 168-page report that Pew released June 4 but were largely overlooked.

“Notably, people younger than 30 are substantially less likely than older people to say prayer is an important part of their lives,” the report said.

“Research on generational patterns shows that this is not merely a lifecycle effect,” it continued. “The Millennial generation is far less religious than were other preceding generations when they were the same age years ago.”

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The findings are part of Pew’s 2012 American Values Survey, which touches on issues including political partisanship, gay marriage and abortion.

Despite the findings on millennials, the survey shows that the United States continues to be a highly religious nation, with most Americans identifying with a particular faith.

Seventy-six percent of all respondents said prayer is an important part of their lives and agreed that “we all will be called before god at the Judgment Day to answer for our sins.” About 80% said they have never doubted the existence of God.

The report points to a growing divide between the youngest and oldest Americans on belief, religion and social issues.

According to Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, the growth in “doubting” youths has led to a surge in secular student groups.

“For a lot of millennial atheists, they are expecting to find a group, they are coming to campus, and if they don’t find one, they are starting one,” Galef said. “This is completely different than what other generations grew up with.”

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The Secular Student Alliance has affiliates on 357 American campuses, Galef said, up from 81 such affiliates in 2007.

Galef says the Internet has created a place for young people to discuss religious doubts.

“It enables anybody to have open discussions without fearing if their parents would find out or what their communities would say,” he said. "The more safe places we create for young people to discuss their doubts, the more they can inspire questions in others."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Polls

soundoff (4,013 Responses)
  1. richunix

    Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    June 13, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Qev

      Impressive.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Bingo.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • whoryou

      A fallacy, if one believes in one fewer god, then one must assume there are multiple gods. Thus he suggests there is only one god as he discusses disagreement with multiple gods.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • whoryou

      Several patrons may disagree about abstract art .. some may hate it, some may disagree with it, some may love it. However, whatever the interpretation, does it deny its existence and validity?

      Thus by the same reasoning applied, if we negate all other possible opionins but our own, thus, we must deny the existence of abstract art since my opponent disagress with my opnion.

      Foolish!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Whoryou, Your fallacy claim has a fallacy. Not believing in any gods (1 or more) does not pre-suppose the existence of many or any. Quite the opposite.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Once again, total lack of logic or rational thought. No one is saying your opinion does not exist. Now replace your piece of art with one that no one has reported being seen for 2000 years and no reproduction or agreed upon description exists or even any direct evidence that said piece of art ever existed. Now argue opinions about its meaning. Who's is correct?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • mysterymak

      fewer means a part of a larger number. So an atheist believes in a smalle number of gods?

      thats silly

      June 13, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • mysterymak

      MarkinFL

      i think the lack of logic is on your part. You dont see the contradition in the statement above.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
      ~~ Stephen F Roberts -a smart@ss and a low-lifer

      Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and have
      given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond
      all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.
      ~~Nathaniel Hawthorne – a noble and virtuous man whose life impacted many people

      A question to ponder: whose words carry more weight? Decide for yourself!

      June 13, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • MarkinFL

      The rational words carry far more weight.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I see why certain people can believe in gods when their "logic" is completely divorced from reality. Zero is fewer than 1. Not believing in any gods does not imply belief in more than one god. You would have to be literally insane or just plain stupid to believe otherwise.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  2. Qev

    Well his supposed intermediaries down here have been doing a LOUSY job of representing the brand image.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      No one could deny that! Least of all a Christian!

      June 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  3. Roger

    That's people’s choice, Jesus tells us that if you don't believe in him when you are judged he will not speak for you, God wants people to choose him and be forced to. I will say this I KNOW IN MY HEART there is a god and he is great and loving, many people said if there is a god why does he let things happen, the simple truth is god let thing happen because it part of his plan, it’s not for us to understand his plan but walk in faith. Is walking in faith easy no not all the time you will face trials in your life. I struggle every day to put my past life behind me and walk the path god wants me to. Be I know if I continue down the path he lays before me my life will be much better than the life I had. many people don't want to believe because if they believe that means they will have to understand they are sinning against the one being that loved you so much that he sent his only son to die for you, Let me tell once you really except Jesus and realize what he did for you and in my case anyway is repay his love with sin after sin, it's a humbling experience and all I could do is cry and ask for forgiveness and thank him for washing my sins way. I will say this God will always love you and is standing at the door like the good father he is to let you in or let you back in if you so choose. Well I said me piece I really don't care what people think about me all I can tell you is the god loves you and he is real, and he want you to come home to him when you die and show his love to everyone while you’re on this earth do we all sin yes will he forgive us YES.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      My heart pumps blood through my body, just like a normal heart. You must have some kind of super heart as it not only knows there is a god, it also knows which god out of the thousands of deities is the correct god.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      You live in a fantasy world. You've been sucked into it so far you'll never break free. If you would use logic, reason and objectivity, you would see it's just ancient mythology, like thousands of others. But you've been brainwashed practically from birth to believe it so it's hard to overcome. If you'd been born in India, you'd be arguing just as strongly for Hinduism and you'd believe in Hinduism with all your heart. Where you were born dictates your religion for the most part. That should tell you right there that it's just ancient mythology and superst!tious nonsense.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • gianinatio

      blah blah biblical blah

      June 13, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • richunix

      Sadly Roger.

      We have out-grown the myths of old. It does not mean we treate those who still wish to believe ill. But we have out-grown our childhood fear. Reliegion served a purpose long ago and in some cases it offers hope to those who fear death. I’m very happy with my life and YES I know I’m going to die as it is very much a part of life. I’m not so vain or fearful about what will happen that I need stories to comfort my fears. I know I will live forever, I can see it every day with the next generation and I sigh with relief, that they will make the world a better place. Enjoy your life, do what you can to make it better, don’t live in fear of unknown.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • MarkinFL

      But what is your basis for belief? Mommy told you? Really, this god should have at least given some kind of evidence of its existence if it wants us to believe in it. A 2000 year old myth only has the power to persuade when it is sp.oon fed to you by your parents from an early age. What evidence is their for a rational, thinking person?
      Seriously, if you just FEEL you know their is a god and that the one you happen to believe in is the real one ( as opposed to the one billions of other people are equally convinced is the real one), how can you be so certain that you got it right?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • sam stone

      Bully for Jesus, Roger.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • mysterymak

      richunix
      sadly, people have been saying "we have outgrown myths" for millenia. God is not a myth. Belief has persisted beyond atheism and actual myths. It will persist in the future.

      It is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • crackedskull44

      Im sorry Markin, did daddy leave you you prayed and he never came back? I personally beleive in a higher power, now for a second in your limited intelligence, who do you think you are that you can call down an almighty creator and demand he sho himself? How are you different than the other 6 billion people on this planet?? Heck, the President probably wouldnt wipe his bum with a personal letter you wrote to him hand delivwered let alone call a supreme being down. IF you read the bible or any other source of information without ignorance, you would know that we were left as is with a set of rules after the human race compalined of being flooded out every time we screwed up. We have a set time on this earth, once the time is up we are judged on what we did on this earth.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  4. Joseph Mzutrnski

    atheism is nothing new. the bible itself tells us the fool has said in his heart there is no God.

    all the community college atheists are as funny as the bible beating idiots who think cave men rode dinosaurs

    God is real, and he requires us to learn life lessons while here.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Matt

      God is real, huh? Proof?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      An invisible, supernatural being in the sky is real? Wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • whoryou

      prove you are real! you are an illusion by an evil genius. Even your belief of your existence is this evil genius thought, not yours. You are the imagination of someone else and do not exist. Prove your own existence!

      So if you cant prove your own existence, how do you expect someone to prove the existence of GOD?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • whoryou

      Actually god doesnt live in the sky, you are dellusional!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • richunix

      As for the word GOD: The word GOD is of 6th century (German origins), so what was his name again, could it be RA, ZEUS maybe even HERA…since the Pharisees believed as the Greek/Romans did, in “after-life” and the Jewish Sadducees did not.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • whoryou

      Richunix

      actually the work "GOD" is much older than than. It was first used in the Germanic Gothic bible (4th century)

      June 13, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • sam stone

      wow, you quote the bible then call bible believers idiots. i think you just proved your own point

      June 13, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • crackedskull44

      Sure, Ill prove God is real once you prove the stars Billions miles away exist as drawn on the paper from an "artists interpretation" rather than him taking a drop of acid and drawing the galaxy.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  5. JAB62

    Ahh...the sound of human kind's collective head popping out of it's you know what.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  6. Ijiwaru Sensei

    I understand people doubting God's existence. What I don't understand are those who have no doubts about His non-existence and who feel compelled to shove their anti-gospel down others' throats.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • JAB62

      Really? You don't understand that? It's what religious people have been doing for centuries. You know...like convert or die infidel.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Ijiwaru Sensei

      JAB62, that's my point. Why do some atheists become the very thing they say they detest? They are fundamentalist atheists being as, if not more, obnoxious than confrontational fundamentalist Christians.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's hard not to come across obnoxious when you know you're right and you're faced with extreme idiocy.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Ijiwaru Sensei

      Which is exactly the mindset of fundamentalists. You become their mirror image.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      I think that atheists, agnostics, free thinkers, etc. feel the need to oppose ignorance and stupidity at every opportunity. It's not healthy for people to be sucked into the fairytale world of the supernatural. And yes, religious people try to force their ideas on everyone including other people's children. They want to pass legislation to bring back school prayer, force the teaching if creationism and intelligent design, outlaw birth control etc. etc. etc. That kind of thing must be opposed at every opportunity. Logic, reason, objectivity and science should be the dominant forces in this world, not ancient mythology.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • RG

      thats pretty funny... when was the last time an Athiest came knocking on your door at 8AM on the weekend?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I think that when we no longer have right-wing religious nuts trying to make our laws conform with their arcane beliefs THEN you will stop hearing from the growing atheist population. There is a battle between rational thought and superst.ition going on and the people that use superst.ition to create their power bases are upset that they are losing control. Keep your church out of our gov't and you'll see that no one cares what you believe.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      MarkinFl – exactly. You hit the nail squarely on the head.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • JAB62

      Unfortunately it's not the same. No atheist will ever force you to believe or not believe anything.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  7. unowhoitsme

    Man has destroyed God by all of his interpretations and misleading people into man's way of thinking. God isn't man. The two can't be compared. Religion is a cult, always misleading people, taking their money, and destroying families. God is love.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      God is love
      Chicken is autonomous
      Desk is radio
      Horse is platinum
      Paper is salacious

      I like absurdity.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Which God? Allah? Krishna? Jehova? Zoroaster? Rama? Isis? Zeus? Thor?

      All the gods that have been worshiped throughout history would fill 10 football stadiums, but of course YOURS is the only one that's real.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • MarkinFL

      God is love. More proof that god is made by people.
      Make god, not war!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • crackedskull44

      That is someones belief Joseph, Pagans/Hindus still worship multiple deities and it is there choice to beleive into whatever they want. Muslims get down and pray to a rock 5 times a day in "Mecca". Let them all beleive as they will, let them preach and do as they wish on the corners, it will only become a problem once they take out the guns like they do in there lands and say kneel or die when I will oppose the PERSON , not the religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      crackedskull – actually Hindus believe in one god. They just believe he's had many manifestations or incarnations. You should actually learn something about other religions.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  8. Russ

    Hurray! There is hope for our future!

    June 13, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  9. kebos

    And why shouldn't there be doubt followed soon thereafter with complete avoidance of any religion.

    Religion is where people who can't think for themselves go. Religion is as imaginary as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny although nowhere near as destructive towards humanity as the blight of religion is.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • crackedskull44

      Sooo...the scientific accomplishments made by muslims/Christians scholars, who were priests usually, were misled?? Holdign there faith until they died while advancing mathematics and biology? I think you are misled sir.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  10. Reality

    Why the doubt grows IN ALL AGE GROUPS:

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS OF THIS BLOG:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (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)
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    June 13, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • richunix

      Do you see your unicorn again....this morning. A lie is a lie (argumentum ad verecundiam) no matter how long it's lasted and how many people think it's true. Religion has been correctly label in history as "Myths". None (BAR -NONE) has ANYONE parted the red-sea, the sea of reeds or even a damn pond. Without outside help none HAVE ever come back from the dead after three days (let alone after 6 minutes). The world was not destroyed by floods. The only Reality you understand is the fantasy you’ve e created in your mind. I have a test for you : Go find a rock (anyone will do) and in the peace of your house. Place the rock upon a table ask whatever deity you believe in to move it. If it moves you have a convert. You cannot be the only one to see it move (witness required), the world has enough of Burning bushes.

      I hate attacking you but , but you keep trying to bait people into believing religious stores to be some sort of truth. No one discounts the possibility of if JESUS existed, but he is not the divine being people treat his as. (However the Counsel of Nicea circa 325CE voted 368 -365 to make him divine). For two thousand years we have redefined the story added it and in short it has taken a life of it owns, most now are unable to remove the truth from myth.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      June 13, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Alyssa

      @richunix, you should re-read Reality's post. S/He's agreeing with you.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Why should he read anything? His mind is made up.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  11. Rick

    Wow! Finally, some intelligent thinking is evidenced in these comments. I never thought I would see the day that these thoughts I have had since my parents first tried to indoctrinate me would be expressed by others so perfectly. Thank you!

    June 13, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  12. GHale

    The sooner humanity throws of the emotional security blanket of religion, the better off we'll all be.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  13. Me

    It's because so many people are like "doubting Thomas" who refused to believe unless he could see and touch. "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"...

    June 13, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • MarkinFL

      That's what my palm reader told me!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Reality

      John 20: 29 is a single NT attestation i.e. found only once in the NT making it historically unrealible. e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=386_Faith_against_Sight and from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, " The historical value of this narrative is nil".

      Then there is this:

      Actually, all of John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

      To wit:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html

      June 13, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • sam stone

      I went to a palm reader. She told me I was single

      June 13, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Me sez:
      "It's because so many people are like "doubting Thomas" who refused to believe unless he could see and touch. 'blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'..."

      Acutally Me the statement above is actually a great arguement for the non-believer. Let's break down what that story is about.
      All the apostles are hiding from the Romans ( Thomas is not with them )
      Jesus physically comes to the room and meets with them
      The apostles tell Thomas this story
      Thomas calls B.S.
      All the apostles are hiding from the Romans again ( Thomas is with them )
      Jesus phyiscally comes ot the room and meets with them
      Jesus says " Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe ... "

      First of all the apostles themselves did not believe until Jesus came ... so they themselves were doubting Thomas's before Thomas was.
      Second Thomas asks for empirical evidence of the exisitance of the Jesus ( sound familiar ? ... maybe what atheists are asking ) Thomas does NOT accept the hersay that he is getting from the apostles ( sound familiar ? ... maybe what the athiest is getting ).
      Third, the story is always pumping the "blessed are those that have NOT seen ... " statement, which is all well and good, except NOBODY in this story fits that desciption. EVERYONE recieved first hand evidence.
      Lastly the line itself "Blessed are those that have not ... " is not a curse to those that have NOT seen. Meaning that it is NOT wrong to ask for empirical evidence of god. Jesus does not say " Cursed is he who has not seen and yet still does not believe"

      June 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  14. Islamic Pork

    Well that's fine and dandy concerning the peaceful religions, but muslims under 30 are just as maniacal as ever. They are the ones we should be weary of.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I am weary of them

      June 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  15. One one

    God wants our worship and love it seems.
    But he only appears to us in our dreams.
    You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.
    For his plan for you is your inevitable death.
    They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.
    But a witness for this has never been found.
    No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.
    So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  16. yep

    Some christians claim they never evolved,I'd have to agree. Wish they would though,, and join civilized man.

    I'm not a religionist or atheists, I'm a Realist. (Realist is one who believes aguing the existance of a god or no god, is the same as arguing there is an easter bunny, A waste of good energy.)

    June 13, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  17. Kris

    You people are morons, especially the ones who aren't just general believers, but of a specific faith. The only reason you are Christian is you were born into it. If not, you chose it. If you get to choose, you will never know if you chose correctly. Stupid people.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • yep

      They have no choice, they are handicapped with fear. "without fear, religion couldn't exist. Deny it's fear and you could be a terrorist"

      June 13, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Joe Smoe

      Actually you are the one who is clueless, someone who is a real Christian already knows they chose correctly and that their relationship with God is genuine. We don't have to wait until we die to find out..

      June 13, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Joe Smoe: Can you provide evidence for your god? What does it look like? How was it created? Put actual attributes to it. Until you are able to do so, you are the one who is clueless.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Interested2

      That's why we have a choice. I choose to believe.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • os2tomac

      interested2.

      You are allowed to make that choice.

      But will you, and your religion, allow women to make a choice about a fetus growing inside them?

      If you had operable cancer, with a tumor growing inside of you, would you choose to tell the doctors to "Kill the cancer cells", or "Let the cancer live, as my "god" decided I should have it, even though it will kill me?"

      June 13, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      A baby is not a tumor. Thanks for revealing your mindset

      June 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  18. Colin

    A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;

    (b) Medicine;

    (c) Economics; or

    (d) Christianity

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:

    (a) historian;

    (b) geologist;

    (c) NASA astronomer; or

    (d) Christian

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist

    (d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Christian

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or

    (d) All of the above.

    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) A mafia boss

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) A Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister or Jewish Rabbi.

    What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:

    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;

    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;

    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or

    (d) All of the above.

    The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:

    (a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;

    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;

    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions to distribute condoms; or

    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • LT

      Colin, though you write a book here on this blog, this ONE verse of scripture is what will bring you eternal life if you receive it and I pray you don't reject it. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      Colin, it's just as simple and easy as that.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • Kris

      Real talk.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      LT: Did you happen to read that verse? It says that this ever so loving god creature had his own child killed-this is somehow right to you? You are wasting the only life you are guaranteed of by living according to that verse.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Rich

      @LT-You mean simple minded

      June 13, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • realityville

      LT, you' er just simple .....try to educate yourself on something other than bible regurgitations

      June 13, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Big deal, Christ is the least martyr ever. There have been many martyrs that have suffered far more with far less guarantee of heaven (God's son, you know?). He waltzes out of the grave a few days later anyway. Many people have suffered far more than he is supposed to have.
      Regurgitated mythology is hardly a basis for a normal life.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  19. realityville

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Kris

      Nice list, thanks for sharing this.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Very good. That about sums it up.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • crackedskull44

      Lol pretty funny really, half of these claims wouldnt be as advanced if Christians didnt find the germ theory.Ambroise Pare moved from cautering changing surgical procedures, ditoo for Johns Hopkins who st5arted introducing more sanitary procedures such as rubber gloves during surgery. Or Willaim Keen, a Baptist was the first to successfully operate on a brain Tumor. And this doesnt include Capernicus, Galileo, Da vinci etc, etc, etc. So while you go around bashing Christians and say how useless the religion is...let us pray in church while you think how truly the world might have been screwed without an organized collective of faithul individuals who refused to beleive there wasnt an answer.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  20. sickofit

    If you haven't watched The History Channels series about aliens in mans past, you should.

    There is just as much if not more 'proof' that mankind was actually a genetic mutation created by aliens, tahn their is proof of a 'God'.

    Some of the 'theorists' on the show are a little bent about the whole idea but no more so than any 'holy person' is about their faith.

    Still, the show is very intersting, much that can't be explained with 'religion'.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • Kris

      Yeah man, good ol' HC is where I get all my beliefs. Fun thought though. I would very much like to meet an alien, though not one from the Aliens movies.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:57 am |
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About this blog

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