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Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists
Minister-turned-atheist Jerry DeWitt speaks at ReasonFest in Kansas earlier this year.
June 13th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his preacher job. “If you don’t believe, then you will be like me - you’ll suddenly find yourself where you only have two choices,” DeWitt told a group in Johnson County, Kansas, earlier this year.

“You can either be honest that you don’t believe ... or you can pretend that you do,” he said. “Which is what so many people are doing and that is called faith.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The transition from preacher to outspoken atheist has not been easy, and DeWitt is trying to smooth the way for other former believers. He is executive director of Recovering from Religion, an organization founded in 2009. Its slogan: “Thousands of organizations will help you get INTO religion, but we’re the only one helping you OUT.”

But a relatively new effort goes a step further than his own group by focusing on helping clergy in particular. In March 2011, a coalition that includes national groups such as American Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation helped launch the Clergy Project, which is aimed at giving doubting and atheist preachers a community in which they can talk about their disbelief.

The program's ultimate goal: to help unbelieving preachers to “come out” in real life.

A safe online community

The Clergy Project’s key component is a private online community of active and former pastors discussing their conversions to lives of active disbelief. It lets congregational leaders come out anonymously, using an alias.

“It is important to focus on any group of people who are in a lot of pain,” said Linda LaScola, a co-founder of the Clergy Project. “That is why the Clergy Project exists, and it wouldn’t be growing if there wasn’t a need for it.”

When it launched last year, 52 clergy signed up for the online community, according to LaScola. A little more than a year later, 270 members are contributing to the message boards and connecting anonymously with one another.

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According to LaScola, the community includes some rabbis, imams and Catholic priests, but the majority are Protestants.

Members are barred from disclosing what is discussed on the boards, but DeWitt said it’s a blend of humor, advice and encouragement. DeWitt, who left his congregation just over a year ago, is considered the group’s first graduate.

“It gave me confidence to come out,” DeWitt said of the Clergy Project. “Knowing that I was not alone, that I was not a fluke, that I was not a freak of religious nature, but that this is a process; it most definitely gave me confidence and a purpose.”

Jerry DeWitt, far right, in his days as a minister.

DeWitt said that after connecting with people on the message boards, he realized he faced fewer obstacles than some others who are trying to leave the ministry. For example, DeWitt's wife and son already knew about his disbelief, while other questioning preachers had not yet told their families.

“I think it is important when you are struggling that you talk it out, that you write about it, that you find support,” said Teresa MacBain, acting executive director of the Clergy Project. “I still try to reach out to people who are questioning, who are doubting, clergy people and laypeople alike, and let them know they are not alone, that there are people who care.”

How does he feed his family?

For 44 years, MacBain was involved in some sort of ministry, from organizing worship music to being a senior pastor at a Methodist church in Florida.

At a recent American Atheists convention in North Bethesda, Maryland, MacBain first publicly announced her atheism, inspiring a roaring round of applause. American Atheists President David Silverman walked onstage and hugged her as MacBain began to cry.

"I was the one on the right track, and you were the ones that were going to burn in hell," MacBain told the crowd. "And I'm happy to say as I stand before you right now, I'm going to burn with you."

She said she sees plenty of growth potential in the Clergy Project. In the near future, she said she hopes to incorporate it as a nonprofit and begin raising funds for clergy who have decided to leave ministry jobs. She also wants to compile a group of employment recruiters to help former clergy find new jobs.

DeWitt, for his part, is struggling financially and said his house could be foreclosed on in the next few months.

For former preachers in search of work, their old skills can be hard to translate into new fields. What references do former ministers use if they have disappointed their congregants by leaving the pulpit?

MacBain said that some “formers,” as she calls ex-clergy, have left their hometowns for new jobs in fields ranging from radio to counseling.

To aid those transitions, Recovering from Religion has started the Clergy Professional Relief Fund, dedicated to “helping ex-ministers have a soft landing after coming out of the ministry.” Though little money has been collected so far, the hope is to help former ministers with job training and relocation expenses.

“Even if you have a degree in divinity, that doesn’t really mean anything,” DeWitt said. “That is the biggest fear that a nonbelieving clergy member has. How does he feed his family?”

Losing faith, losing friends

As a young fresh-faced minister, DeWitt was first confronted with his disbelief when he “became the person who got the burden of preaching about hell,” he said. “I really loved the people I preached to, I loved them like family. So imagine preaching that if you don’t do this, you are going to burn in hell. That wasn’t easy for me.”

After doubt about hell, DeWitt began to research other schools of thought about God and belief. He began to develop other doubts, about certain biblical translations and about healing.

“The next big issue was the failure of prayer,” DeWitt said. “People are passing away, whenever we pray for them to live. People aren’t getting jobs, whenever we pray for them to have jobs.

“The harder we tried to alleviate suffering within our church, it seemed like the worse things got,” he said. “It didn’t seem like prayer made any difference. It just continually crushed my heart.”

When DeWitt decided to come out as an atheist, some in his congregation appeared shocked.

“I was very heartbroken actually because his family means so much to me; they are actually like family,” said Natosha Davis, 30, who attended DeWitt’s church for four years. “I was very heartbroken for him that he had to go through that and struggle.”

Many congregants were less charitable. “Some people where he lives just totally turned their backs on him,” Davis said. “He was ostracized, excommunicated. It is like he has a disease, but he doesn’t.”

When DeWitt runs into people he used to preach to, he still averts his eyes. Going to the post office and to Walmart, he said, can be stressful because of the possibility of running into a former congregant.

“It is because places in which you were once admired now you are suddenly scorned or pitied,” DeWitt said, who admits not having many friends anymore. “It makes for an extremely uncomfortable life.”

And yet DeWitt said his atheist life mirrors his old religious one in some key respects. In some ways, he said, he’s still a minister.

“The origin of the symmetry is me, is my personality, my love for people, my love for ministering,” DeWitt said. “What I have always tried to do is to minster from where I personally am at.

“When I was 17, I preached what I believed was best for people at the time; when I was 20, it was a little different; at 25 it was different, too,” he said. “And now at 42, I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity

soundoff (5,298 Responses)
  1. Evangelical

    So some of his former congregants were less than charitable? Guess they feel like they were played like fools. Also, nobody wants to be associated with someone who is throwing himself in hell. He should not be surprised at the reaction. I'm surprised that he has the nerve to show himself in public after this.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • peter

      he preached to them what they believed–They weren't 'fooled"

      June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "Guess they feel like they were played like fools."

      Kinda like how us ex-christians feel when we figure out that your religion we were told was true has no basis in fact.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Bet

      Evangen.italia,

      You sure do love to gloat about all the people you've decided are going to hell. Not very christian of you. Why don't you just come out of the closet and stop hating yourself so much?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • mandarax

      How were they played like fools? When he realized he didn't believe, he admitted it and left. How could he have been more honest or sincere?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Evangelical is right. He will perish in the end. You fools mock me and my wisdom and in the end I know I am right and speak from the authority of God.

      Amen.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • FR33thinker

      @ Heavensent

      "He will perish in the end". You're right. So will you, and so will everyone else who lives. Wr will all die. Our matter will be reused however. All of the energy in our bodies will be recycled by other life forms. The circle of life. There is no real evidence or proof that we live after death. At least not in the sense that we understand life. If you think that you will get ot live after death then because you believe some words in a book and mumble to yourself at night, then you're really deluded by the fear of death.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Cq

      HeavenSent
      A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
      William Shakespeare

      June 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  2. Reality

    “I believe the Bible is inspired.” “Why?” “Because it says so.” Would anyone let that logic pass if it came from the followers of any other book or person? “I believe x is inspired because x says so.” Fill in the blanks:

    x=Pat Robertson
    x=the ayatollah Sistani
    x=David Koresh
    x=the Koran”

    more “logic”?

    “I believe there is One God Jehovah because He is revealed in the infallible
    Bible. I believe the Bible is infallible because it is the Word of the One God Jehovah.”

    June 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • HappyMadison

      But humans are fallible right? And the bible was written by humans. You don't think it fell from heaven do you?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiousity Law #3 – If you habitually spout off verses from your "holy" book to make whatever inane point you're trying to make, and not once does it occur to you to question whether your book is accurate in the first place, then you are definitely mentally retarded.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  3. Blane

    It is unfortunate that this preacher turned his back on God. As Christians, we must pray for him and atheists that God will shine light into their wretched lives.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • hippypoet

      chaos is true freedom – do you want to be free or be part of the tyranny?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • preacherman

      Wretched lives? How loving and non-judgmental of you. sheesh. Self-righteous much?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      I would rather live a 'wretched' truth than a comfortable fantasy.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Wretched lives? What was it that god said about judging? Maybe you should return to your bible.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Happy, Blane is projecting again. He thinks it's okay to slap kids around.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • sam

      Funny, I don't feel wretched...

      June 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • FR33thinker

      You are the Shrek of trolls. Your delusion has become an intillectual hazard. What a waste of the human mind.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bet

      Blane, either take the crucifix out of your ass or shove it all the way in. You won't feel so wretched then.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Bob

      Blane, you pray for us. We'll think for you.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  4. Reality

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD GIVING RISE (said stupidity makes it easy for rational thinkers like the topic preacher to become agnostics and atheists)

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Some added references to "tink-erbells".

    newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    For added information see the review at:

    June 14, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • peter

      the religion of mormonism is a cult and the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God–shouldn't even be in the conversation

      June 14, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • WASP

      @peter: prove mormons are a cult and prove god didn't inspire the book of mormon the same as the koran and bibles were? i'm atheist and i saw your statement as vile and condesending.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • peter

      wasp–im not talking about christendom or islam–I was refering to joesepg smith who wrote the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ which he wrote in the 1830s–The fact is the cursed prophet is a liar as is the cursed christ he preached about and wrote about in the book of mormon.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • WASP

      @peter: how do you know joseph smith was cursed? he had trouble with becoming a preacher of other christian faiths until god sent an angel to help teah him the "new" way. so what makes his inspired book any less inspired by god than your book? you had quite a few men claiming in the bible to be inspired by god to do things, god sent two angels to lot( a pediphile mind you) to save him and his family. so now that i have clarified please prove to me the book of mormon is any less credible than the bible or the koran and torah.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  5. heavensent

    Thank god for prolapsed .net, spreading the word and truth of our lord

    June 14, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • greylander

      The Rev,

      You are just creating a twisted rationalization - making up stuff that the bible doesn't ever say - just so you can feel OK about things in the bible that are obviously evil - things the God says, does, and commands.

      The Old Testament is just a bunch of myths and stories created by primitive humans, the ancient Hebrews, to explain their world and justify why their tribe is better than other tribes, why their tribe deserve to go to war to kill and enslave other tribes and take their land. This is exactly what religious myths have always done - no different from Greek myths about Zeus, Athena, and all the rest, for example.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • hippypoet

      thank which god?

      so sry for my confusion – there are a great many gods in this world, i often get lost when silly folks use the GENERAL term "god" for anything.

      in the belief of abraham and the beliefs that follow the other gods exist but as pagan gods, lesser, not as (insert adverb here) powerful, knowing, caring, whatever!

      the truth is, if you believe as AB did then you accecpt the existence of all other gods, but as not the one true god – god of all things! to most people, this nuance escapes them. then again, most people are morons – willingly too!

      WE LIVE IN THE INFORMATION AGE!!!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  6. The Rev

    An interesting read on the topic of the Old vs. New Testaments from Matt Slick:

    http://carm.org/why-do-christians-not-obey-old-testaments-commands-to-kill-hom.ose.xuals

    Remove the dots in the last word for the link to work properly.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • peter

      lol–matt slick the jew? yea sure–how many listeners does he have on his internet show,9? he goes on paltalk to recruit listeners–the guy is retarted

      June 14, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Claw

      The Rev, honestly, why do you think that all those violent acts in the OT were done by god or asked for by god?

      You at least seem to know that they're in there, which is a good start.

      (in your own words, no links please)

      June 14, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • The Rev

      peter – This issue has come up multiple times today. Mr. Slick does a good job of answering this question in the link I referenced. I am not advocating for his teaching or suggesting anyone listen to his show.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Claw

      In your own words, please. No spammy links.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • peter

      rev–that guy is a fraud–unlike dewitt who really believed what he preached for 25 years

      June 14, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • greylander

      Claw, perhaps you should actually read the Old Testament (all of it, word for word)... God does *command* and *do* many many atrocities and evil vile acts. He even punishes the Jews for failing to murder every man, woman, child, and beast in a city, as He commanded.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • The Rev

      Claw – Fair enough.

      It is my contentionthat the Old Testament was so brutal because perfection was impossible. God cannot exist next to sin, therefore sin separates us from God. To illustrate this and to ultimately point us to Christ, we see the blood sacrifices made in the Old Testament. With the introduction of Christ, the new covenant with man was created. No longer do we need to adhere to the sacrificial laws of the Old Testament when we have the ultimate sacrifice in Christ. Additionally, the Old Testament was a tough time. The depravity in the world along with the spiritual warfare left God no choice but to command laws we would consider harsh today. Taking into account the culture and what would have been considered necessary for the survival of God's people, we see action that many be considered ungodly. One non-religious illustration of this s the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How could such orders be given and then carried out? For the good of the world, those bombings ended World War II. Compare that with the Bible and you'll see what I'm talking about when I say those laws and acts were necessary.

      I don't know that you would agree with me, but I hope that answers your question!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • WOOF

      Rev, "...left God no choice"

      A perfect, omnipotent being with "no choice"?!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • greylander

      [oops put reply in wrong thread above]
      The Rev,

      You are just creating a twisted rationalization – making up stuff that the bible doesn't ever say – just so you can feel OK about things in the bible that are obviously evil – things the God says, does, and commands.

      The Old Testament is just a bunch of myths and stories created by primitive humans, the ancient Hebrews, to explain their world and justify why their tribe is better than other tribes, why their tribe deserve to go to war to kill and enslave other tribes and take their land. This is exactly what religious myths have always done – no different from Greek myths about Zeus, Athena, and all the rest, for example.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • The Rev

      WOOF – Yes, with sinful man running the show on earth, God needed to act.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • The Rev

      graylander – I understand the comparison, but disagree that the Old Testament was written by primitive man. I do contend it to be the Word of God, recorded by man.

      Though I disagree with you, I appreciate your post and your point was articulated well.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • WOOF

      Rev,

      "God" could have just wiggled his nose and thousands would not have had to suffer and die. Donald Duck could have thought up tons of more creative solutions.

      No, the ethnocentric Hebrews used this "God" as a rallying point to overcome and rule.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • greylander

      The Rev,

      By why, what evidence, do you have that the bible was not written by primitive man, just like all other myths and religious texts? (or were they all written by God, who has multiple personality disorder?)

      I assume you take it as "the word of God".

      Is that because your parents taught you that? Because priest in your church say so? Why does that make it so? Who told them? And who told them? and so on and so on... and really why should you trust that very *human* source of information about whether the Bible is "true" or "the word of God"? If you believe the bible because of the people who tell you it is true, then you are putting your *faith* in humans... not "God".

      but the again, perhaps...

      Or is it because you have, for lack of a better phrase, a "gut feeling"? You read, you pray, you worship with your congregation... and you have this deep emotional "spritiual" feeling that it is right and good and true?

      But how is y our emotional/spiritual feeling any different from the same kinds of feelings felt by people of any other religion, or cult? The followers of Joseph Smith, of David Koresh, of Rev. Jim Jones all had (and have) the same kind of deep spiritual feelings. How about Sai Baba in India? They all know in their heart of hearts that their [version of] God is true, that their prophet/priest/teacher is the one that has the truth. How is a voodoo believer writhing on the ground "possessed by spirits" any different from a christian who faints, writhes on the ground, or babbles "in tongues" because he or she was "overcome by the hold ghost"?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • The Rev

      greylander – Evidence for the Bible is overwhelming. The validity of its text has been attacked time and time again, yet it remains. The joy that people would take if they could discount the Bible would be national headlines!

      Additionally, I do have a "gut-feeling" about God. That's what faith is! You do bring up other individuals that had "gut-feelings" too. Man is corrupt and desires power. The individuals you refer to certainly fall into that category. I suppose the difference is the intention of the person. Are they doing something to get noticed, or is it more than that? I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about that. For me, my intention is nothing more than to let people know that there is a God that loves them right where they are. In the middle of a divorce, unhealthy relationship, pain, suffering, joy, doubt, fear, or anything else on earth that they could be going through, God is there. My intentions go no further. What someone does with the knowledge of Christ is up to them.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Hugging on stage when someone "comes out?" The content may have changed, but the activity sure sounds like a religious event. It seems to me that people who really, truly don't believe, wouldn't bother to make such a big deal of it. Sounds like a bunch of very insecure people in search of mutual affirmation. I'm not sure what they actually believe, but there's certainly some "belief system" going on here. "Atheism" means only that they don't believe in a deity. Religion does not necessarily require belief in a deity.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • *facepalm*

      How in the heck would you define religion then? Seems like you think a cancer survivor group would qualify as a religion to you.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Bet

      I met a friend for coffee yesterday and we hugged when we saw each other. Apparently we started a new religion without even knowing it.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Cq

      I have no problem with calling atheism a "belief system", except there isn't much of a "system" needed when everything just follows rational thinking. It's definitely not a religion because there isn't any magical thinking required. People have "support groups" for all kinds of reasons. If it helps you, think of this group as more like a support group for people who've all kicked the bad habit of lying about their beliefs and, really, lying about who they are.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  8. Jack

    All are invited to... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  9. The Rev

    I inadvertently posted this as a response to a post below. I apologize for the re-post, but I did want to make sure this was seen by those that raised the question about a global flood:

    Many of you have questioned the world wide flood in the Bible as proof that the Bible is not archeologically accurate. I have a link I would like you to take a look at:

    http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html

    I understand that any link with "creation" in the name is going to immediately put some of you on guard. My point is nothing more than the amount of flood stories we find throughout history. This is not a Bible specific event. This event is recorded by civilizations around the world! I would invite you all to at least consider the possibility that Noah's flood did in fact take place.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • peter

      the rev-you want me to believe the flood account and that jesus christ himself-God–is wondering who will accept his free-gift as if he doesn't know.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Ticker

      Floods have occurred in various places and at various times throughout the 4 billion year history of the earth. I'm sure some of the early meteor events could have caused cataclismic flooding events.
      To lable any of these as "Noahs" flood brings with it the extra baggage of the fairy tale that he put two of everything on a boat and the world was repopulated by this.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • The Rev

      Ticker – The link I provided goes into the similarities of the flood account from quite a few civilizations throughout the world. To bear such striking similarities, at least to me, seems more than coincidental.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • peter

      the rev–If you believe that christ created the universe–which is biblical and christendom 101–you have to believe or think that christ already knows who is chosen and who is not.Hence you could be a christian that believes it all but still going to hell. In other words, stop offering people the free-gift–If christ chosose them it really doesn't matter what religion they are but chritendom is a good sign

      June 14, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • YeahRight

      "This is not a Bible specific event. This event is recorded by civilizations around the world! I would invite you all to at least consider the possibility that Noah's flood did in fact take place."

      LMAO – Dude if order for it to be true, Noah would have had to collect over 200,000 million different species of animals from all around the world then collect every type of food they would need in order to survive the time on the boat, it's IMPOSSIBLE! Duh! Your cult is only based on other cults that happened during that time period doesn't mean it's true. We see writing all the time that are based off of historical events then are embellished for our entertainment. Doesn't mean it's true. Duh!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • mandarax

      hmmm, cultures that live near bodies of water (which means almost all of them) have stories of floods in their histories. Well, I guess that can only be explained through magic!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Anon

      "I would invite you all to at least consider the possibility that Noah's flood did in fact take place."

      1. There is no geological evidence to support such a claim

      2. There is a strong scholarly consensus that the story of Noah was plagiarized from a Sumerian text (the Epic of Gilgamesh). It's a myth, and a stolen one at that. As a Christian, don't you think that is a bit dishonest?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • The Rev

      You guys don't like links to some religious sites...here's one to the Smithsonian Magazine from 2000 talking about the evidence for a flood:

      http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/phenom_apr00.html

      June 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      There was a rather large flood that occurred thousands of years ago in the Middle East. It is the origin of the flood myth.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • WOOF

      Rev, "amount of flood stories we find throughout history."

      All dated to the same 40-day period? Nope.

      When you think that the "whole world" is only as far as you can see, and the land as far as you can see is flooded, you think that the "whole world" is flooded.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Two points, Rev:
      1. It's more than possible (probable really) that the flood legends have all these common elements because they were plagiarized from each other. Show me a dozen legends of a great flood from the *same* time period originating on different continents and you might have something. It's like that post that shows up on here every now and then about the birth of Christ which was plagiarized almost word-for-word from the Egyptian story of Horus. Flooding is a very common metaphor.

      2. When an ancient scribe says "the whole world", what he means is the whole KNOWN world. To the Babylonians, Sumerians, etc. that would be the Fertile Crescent (present day Iran and Iraq) which has indeed flooded a number of times over the course of history. That's what makes it 'fertile'. To a Bronze age scholar, it would have been his entire world, but it's obviously not the entire planet Earth.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Trumpy

      Dude, this is just sad.

      First, see my other reply below. I'll try not to repeat those points here.

      Second, that site conveniently tweaks and edits many of these stories to fit .its own agenda. For example, it says that Zeus instructed Deucalion and Pyrrha to re-populate the Earth, yet it neglects to say they did so by throwing stones over their shoulders to become the bones of new people. And that's just one example. There are tons of little edits and purposeful omissions designed to purposefully word things to sound more in line with the Bible's account than they actually are.

      Besides which, how do you know the Bible's version is the true one? You've just presented us with a site that lists 38 OTHER possibilities, all with different names, gods, and locations. YOU have chosen to believe these are all corruptions of the Bible's story, but what's to say the Bible's isn't a corruption of one of THESE stories? Maybe the truth is that Zeus flooded the world, not god, and only Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha survived on Mt. Parnas.sus, NOT Noah on Mt. Ararat? There is equally little evidence for either, so what's to say YOUR version is the "real" one other than YOUR supposition that it is?

      The site openly cites the Gilgamesh flood story which dates back to 2000-2500 BCE. The first written accounts of the Noah stories only occur in 200-500 BCE, well after the Babylonian version and shortly after, susp.iciously shortly after, the Persian conquest of Babylon and the freeing of the Jews from Babylonian rule. It sounds far more likely, that the Jews were conquered by Babylon, came across their myths and stories, then appropriated and altered those stories to fit their own needs than that the Babylonians copied the Jews 2000 years BEFORE the Jews ever wrote the story down for the first time...
      (This is especially true seeing how many other Biblical stories only appeared AFTER contact with cultures containing similar stories...like one of the Canaanite mother goddesses who's symbol was a tree of wisdom and is said to have had a talking snake she used to communicate with her priests...then AFTER contact with Canaan, the Jews have a story about a woman eating from a forbidden tree of knowledge after listening to a talking snake...Hmmmmm... You talk archaeology, yet ignore such obvious cultural cross-pollination as this.)

      June 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • The Rev

      Shadowflash – Those are two well written points. I'll do my best to answer!

      1 – How did those flood legends extend so quickly world wide to be plagiarized? There was no good way to share stories and legends, so the idea that there was some ancient database these writers accessed does not make sense. Your point to the birth of Christ and the story of Horus makes sense due to the proximity of those people. Those stories would have been known.

      2 – I agree with you. A scribe saying the "whole world" would mean his known world. The Sumerian and Babylonian texts could be discounted perhaps, but what about the legends from North and South America and other parts of the globe? I cannot ignore those texts and I do believe that they have a significant impact on whether or not this was a global flood.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Rev.

      How do you explain that geologists, palentologists, archeologists, ect. all agree that there is no evidence for a global flood? The scientist that is able to prove a gobal flood happened would be famous, if it is true they have more than enough motivation.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      The Rev, "what about the legends from North and South America and other parts of the globe?"

      What about them? A great flood will sort of ruin your day... and will be talked about for a long time. There is NO evidence that all civilizations on Earth had a flood at the same time.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • The Rev

      Just Claims – I don't suppose I can take the evolutionist point on your question and say that I think science will eventually prove it can I? LOL!

      In all seriousness, I don't know what to say. Whether the flood was global or not is a legitimate question. Did you read that article I linked to on the Smithsonian Magazine's website? Gathering the information the best I can, I come to the conclusion that the Biblical account of the flood is plausible.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Trumpy

      @The Rev:
      "How did those flood legends extend so quickly world wide to be plagiarized? There was no good way to share stories and legends, so the idea that there was some ancient database these writers accessed does not make sense."

      First, there was nothing quick about it. The Gilgamesh flood story traces back, at least in part, to texts from 2000-2500BCE. The Biblical flood story first appears in written form in 200-500BCE. That's a difference of 1500-2300 YEARS! And the Biblical account only appeared in writing AFTER confirmed Jewish contact with Babylon. The Zeus story doesn't appear in written form until like 8 CE, another 200-500 years later. So the idea that these ideas are "quickly" being plagiarized is just wrong.

      Second, there actually WERE repositories of ancient knowledge and trading towns where people of dozens of different nations and cultures would come to trade, study, and otherwise inter-mingle. It is true that MOST people didn't travel far from home, but many political leaders, soldiers, scholars, etc did. Rome alone had soldiers stationed from the Straight of Gibraltar to Scotland to Cairo to Azerbaijan to Kuwait...all at the same time and all interacting with central Rome. And all making contact with cultures beyond their borders like the Hindu, the Celts, the Germanic tribes, and the Huns. Some cultures even set out to build central repositories of knowledge, like the Library of Alexandria which is said to have half a million scrolls from among the entire known world and welcomed scholars from scores of cultures.

      "The Sumerian and Babylonian texts could be discounted perhaps, but what about the legends from North and South America and other parts of the globe? I cannot ignore those texts and I do believe that they have a significant impact on whether or not this was a global flood."

      You can ignore it since:
      a) they take place at vastly different times from one another (again, separated by hundreds, if not thousands of years),
      b) would by definition have to be false if the Biblical account were true else who survived to write about them (if god flooded the world and killed all buy Noah, who in Aztec culture was around to describe the before and after effects of a flood on Aztec culture?), and
      c) they merely describe common events in nature (not a singular event) and need no shared source. I can show you myths built up around the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the Roman attribution of that to an angry god within the mountain to a VERY similar Hawaiian myth about a volcanic eruption and their attribution of that event to an angry god within the mountain. The fact is that these cultures were all technologically primitive and attributed virtually every natural event–and ESPECIALLY catastrophic ones–to gods. That two cultures a world apart who never had contact underwent a similarly traumatic and devastating natural event (be it a flood or volcano) and then in an effort to understand it and learn from it attributed it to the work of angry gods...well, it simply isn't that mind-boggling or hard to understand. They didn't need to plagiarize one another, just both have a limited understanding of nature and a belief system base on unseen supernatural forces and voila! Nine times out of ten they'll arrive at similar conclusions after similar events. As I said, you see the SAME pattern among entirely disparate cultures with regards to wildfires, volcanoes, tropical storms, droughts, swarms, blizzards, and other natural disasters in the cultures that routinely experienced those natural disasters. It doesn't mean that every volcano story is thus based on the same eruption event.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • The Rev

      Trumpy – You have posted some very compelling information! Will you please cite your source/s for me to peruse when I can really take the time to study it further?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Trumpy

      "Will you please cite your source/s for me to peruse when I can really take the time to study it further?"

      Sure.
      Byzantine writer Tzetzes (who also wrote about the original translation of Hebrew scriptures into Greek at that same library) wrote about the estimated number of scrolls in Alexandria in an essay enti.tled On Comedy (rough translation below), though others have cited similar numbers throughout history. I'm sure any Google search on the library at Alexandria would confirm:
      " With the help of Demetrius of Phalerum and other distinguished men, he used the royal funds to buy books from all over the world, and gathered them in two libraries in Alexandria. The outer library had 42,800 volumes; the library inside the palace complex had 400,000 mixed volumes, and 90,000 unmixed single volumes. Callimachus later compiled a catalogue of these books."

      The Roman empire reached it's peak around 100-120CE under Trajan with borders extending to the locations I cited. Again, CNN is finicky about posting links, but a simple google search for "Roman Empire Trajan" will bring up numerous sources (the PBS one is particularly nice).

      Much of the dating of Genesis is based on the J, E, P, and D docu.mentary hypothesis (which some do date as early as 900-950 BCE, though the latest additions come between 500-600 BCE with continual edits still occurring for several hundred more years until 200BCE or so), perhaps best put forth by Julius Wellhausen in the 19th century . Even giving the benefit of the earliest possible date, though, the Biblical account still falls some 1000-1500 after the earliest versions of the Gilgamesh story which do reference the flood story. The Gilgamesh flood event was fleshed out and given more prominence in later versions dating to around 1300-1500 BCE, but that's still some 400 years prior to the earliest estimated writing of any part of the Book of Genesis). Just google the Gilgamesh flood story for scholarly dating of the work (which even ICR.org–the Inst.itute for Creation Research acknowledge as dating back to at least 2000 BCE).

      June 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Trumpy

      @The Rev: "Just Claims – I don't suppose I can take the evolutionist point on your question and say that I think science will eventually prove it can I? LOL!"

      The problem with taking the stance in relation to the flood is that that the situation is not simply one of "we don't know yet," but that the geological and biological evidence DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS the notion of a singular global flood.

      Yes there are parts of other scientific theories, like evolution, that have gaps and so they are waiting to find the data still, but the difference there is that those are gaps and there is little directly contradictory evidence for the claim. We may not have found the "most direct" link (and I use that in the most colloquial sense of the term) between humans and other great apes, but there is nothing directly contradicting its existence–nothing we have to disprove in order to slot it in when we do find it. There is only a gap in knowledge and evidence where such a thing is assumed to be.

      However, with the flood, there is evidence directly counter to such an event. We aren't just waiting for more data and it's possibility exists in a gap. We have distinct lines of evidence showing no global (or even truly significant) catastrophic disruptions to geologic columns, biological lineages, OR social structures dating back thousands, even tens or hundreds of thousands of years. You'd not only have to find evidence FOR such a flood event, but then explain why all the other directly contradicting evidence is wrong, mus-interpretted, or otherwise in error.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  10. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    For you people who say that the Bible is historically accurate, I point you to an account in the Bible. I believe you know it as the exodus. Guess what? It never happened. There is absolutely ZERO proof that any man named Moses ever existed. There is ZERO proof of a series of plagues that occurred in Egypt. There is ZERO proof that the Egyptian army was killed in the Red Sea. There is ZERO proof that the Egyptians ever enslaved an entire nation. There is ZERO proof of an economic and social collapse upon the exodus of all of their supposed workforce. This is with the Egyptians keeping some of the best records of all of the ancient civilizations. There is ZERO proof that hundreds of thousands of people walked through the desert. You would think with that many people walking through the desert, there would be at least one piece of archaeological evidence. Not only that but there was never any reference by the surrounding nations noting a humungous tribe of nomads walking through the desert. If the amount of Israelites/Egyptians/livestock that walked through the desert walked in a line that was 10 people/carts wide, the line would have stretched for well over 100 miles. And this is the story that Judaism bases their faith on. Since Christianity is based off of Judaism... that tells me all I need to know.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • The Rev

      Credit for this to Richard Deem:

      Is there any physical evidence for the Exodus described in the Bible? If you were to read the popular press, you would come to the conclusion that not only was there no evidence, but the evidence actually contradicted known archaeology. One such article recently appeared in Time Magazine. The usual complaints surround the lack of archaeological evidence of the Hebrews' wanderings through the desert. However, nomadic people seldom, if ever, leave any evidence of their presence. The Bible tells us that throughout the Exodus, the people never planted crops, built cities or did anything that would be expected to be found in thousands of square miles of desert. The Bible says that even their clothing did not wear out. The chances of finding any physical evidence of the Exodus itself seems extremely unlikely. However, the events surrounding the Exodus (both before and after) are testable and datable.

      Unfortunately, extremely strong evidence for the validity of the Exodus has been published only in the scientific journals and never made it to the popular press. These studies examined one of the Egyptian plagues (before the Exodus) and demise of Jericho (after the Exodus). Drs. Hendrik J. Bruins and Johannes van der Plicht reported in the prestigious British journal, Nature,1 that the destruction of Jericho was dated to 1580 (" 13 years) B.C. (using 14C dating). This date is significant, since several archeologists have insisted that Jericho was destroyed by the Egyptians between 1550 and 1300 B.C. The recent study discredits the Egyptian theory, since the date is much too old.

      What is even more interesting is that scientists, using 14C dating and tree rings, have found evidence of a volcanic eruption from the Aegean island of Thera, which has been dated to 1628 B.C.2 This would place the eruption at 45 years prior to the destruction of Jericho, at a time which coincidentally corresponds to the time of the plagues the Lord unleashed upon Egypt. Check out Exodus 10:

      Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. (Exodus 10:21-22)

      Even the researchers commented that the 45 years difference in events was "rather striking

      June 14, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Once again you offer ZERO proof. Nothing but "god of the gaps". There was a volcanic eruption. God must have done it. That makes no sense. Why would God need to create a volcanic eruption to make it dark? So their clothes didn't wear out, are you telling me they left not one piece of evidence behind? They didn't leave any pots or anything behind? All of them? What about when animals that were pulling carts would die during the trek. Who would be pulling the carts? They never left one cart behind in all the 40 years they walked through the desert? The account doesn't make any sense. Why was there no economic/social collapse when the Egyptians workforce left? Please provide an answer besides "Uhhhhh, god did it."

      On another note, why is there ZERO evidence of a worldwide flood? How did the kangaroos get to Australia? How did lemurs get to Madagascar? Did they all go for a nice long swim?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • ..

      If anyone is interested "The Rev" is using this site. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/thera.html

      June 14, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • mandarax

      Rev, I will assume that the information you posted is true (although volcanic eruptions cannot be dated with 14C, perhaps organic materials stratigraphically associated?), however I have two comments:

      First, hunter-gatherers (wanderers who never planted crops or built cities) are evident throughout the archaeological record, as a matter of fact the majority of the archaeological record represents mobile hunter-gatherers. So, we shouldn't expect a group to be invisible to archaeology just because they wander.

      Second, these events and places may indeed be real, but that doesn't mean that the mythology associated with them is real. A group of Native Americans trace their origins back to the eruption of a volcano that can be verified – does that prove that the story that they emerged from the underworld with the help of a magical coyote is true? Of course not. As i mentioned below, Tokyo is real but that doesn't prove the existence of Godzilla.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • The Rev

      To the individual that posted the link I was answering this question from - I did cite Mr. Deem at the beginning of my post.

      Mandarax – Your comments are thought out. I simply was providing an explanation for the Exodus to have potentially occurred as was asked by Jacques.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Hysterical. He can't even think for himself.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Rev, the whole point is you have been unable to provide any substantial proof that the exodus even occurred. All you do is use the "god of the gaps" to fill in blanks. Please answer why there was no economic/social collapse when the Egyptians workforce left? Why is there no proof that the Egyptians ever enslaved an entire nation of Jewish people? The Egyptians were some of the best record keepers and yet no mention of a large contingent of Jewish slaves. There is, however, lots of proof that the monuments that the Egyptians built were constructed by hired Egyptican civilians who were not treated like slaves, paid well, and even given honorable burials.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Reality

      The conclusions of 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      prob•a•bly

      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • TR6

      @The Rev: “However, nomadic people seldom, if ever, leave any evidence of their presence… The chances of finding any physical evidence of the Exodus itself seems extremely unlikely”

      Please provide references to pear reviewed anthropological journals that support your fantasy that “nomadic people seldom, if ever, leave any evidence of their presence”.

      The usual size of the Israeli group us usually put at about 1 million, that is not the average size of a nomadic group. The effects of the excrement alone from 1,000,000 people over a period of 40 years on a pristine dessert environment should still be easily detectable

      June 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  11. prester

    Why is atheism any less religious than theism? Why is the imposition of the exclusion of any mention of a god not as much an establishment of religion as imposition of inclusion of mention of any specific god?

    June 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • peter

      prester–whats you opinion on the atheist church?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Ticker

      Atheism is the lack of belief in a God. It is therefore not a religion.
      We don't have names for people that don't believe in the tooth fairy, or Santa Clause. That's just because it hasn't been necessary to classify those people. They are considered in the norm. However, the lack of belief in any god is still considered out of the norm, and therefore requires a lable to enable discussions about it.

      B.T.W – You are atheist w.r.t. all the gods, present and past, that you don't believe in, like Zeus for example.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • mandarax

      Because it is not based on faith, has no required beliefs, has no rules or rites, and has no religious leaders. It only means that someone doesn't buy into any religion – that itself is not a religion. As the saying goes atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color, or like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Ting

      If I choose to not believe that there are invisible flying elephants hovering over Chicago, that makes me religious?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • LinCA

      @prester

      You said, "Why is atheism any less religious than theism?"
      Atheism is based on disbelief. It is the absence of believe.

      You said, "Why is the imposition of the exclusion of any mention of a god not as much an establishment of religion as imposition of inclusion of mention of any specific god?"
      Nobody is imposing anything on you. You are free to believe whatever nonsense you want. You just don't get to impose any of that bullshit on the rest of us.

      You are free to believe there are gods. You are free to pray to those gods. You are free to live your life according to the rules set out for your religion. You are even free to impose that nonsense on your children.

      But nobody else is beholden to your delusion. Your gods ave no authority over anyone else. Your religion has to stay out of the lives of everyone else. By having gods mentioned on our currency, having them mentioned in our pledge, by having religious references on our buildings, those that don't share your delusion are discriminated against.

      I'm going out on a limb here and guess that you consider yourself a christian, but please correct me if I'm wrong. How would you feel if from now on all currency read "In Zeus we trust"? Or our pledge of allegiance included "One nation under Ra"? If children in public schools, including yours, were required to pray to Allah 5 times a day?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Russ

      @ Ticker & mandarax: on the contrary, atheism *is* very much based on belief.

      Atheism makes a claim about the Infinite without having infinite knowledge. (we don't even know what's beyond quasars, yet someone would claim to know definitively that there is no greater Being/Force/Power/etc. And that's only thinking spatially.) That's not based on facts, but faith.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      Me thinks Bubba DeWitt should do both atheists and theists a favor and refrain from any form of preaching regardless of his position.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • greylander

      Why is "Not Stamp Collecting" any less a hobby than "stamp collecting"?

      No one is stopping you, or anyone else, as private citizens, from mentioning god or having or talking about any religious belief you want to talk about.

      Separation of church&state means that government employees, when doing their job - when acting as agents of the government - cannot advocate or practice religion. A public school teacher can preach the gospel until her lungs fall out - at home, on the street corner, or in church. Just not in the classroom where she is a representative of the government.

      If you pay attention, you will see that few people defend freedom of religion more than atheists.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Christian

      But when atheists gather together in groups, hold meetings and protests and whatnot based on their belief (atheism is the belief there is no god whereas agnosticism is the lack of belief in any god, if you lack belief you are therefore agnostic). Anyhow atheists hold ceremonies and such for people of the same belief and mindset (faith if you will) you have similar values and you all follow the same leaders. I think that atheism is therefore a religion (you don't need a god to have a religion).

      June 14, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • mandarax

      But Christian, innumerable groups do that. Civil rights groups hold meetings and protests, does that make civil rights a religious belief? What about economic meetings and protests? Is economics a religion?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Ticker

      Look,
      Regardless of weather you call athiesm a religion or not (and I think it is not) it doesn't matter one iota. There almost certainly is no god. The chances are equal to the flying invisable elephant mentioned earlier.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • mandarax

      "faith if you will." I won't. Not believing in something because of a lack of evidence is not faith. It doesn't require faith to not believe that my coffee table can fly.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "Anyhow atheists hold ceremonies and such for people of the same belief and mindset" We do? Since when? Are you using the redneck "atheist" featured in this article as a basis to make stupid generalizations about the rest of us? Because, I will not be silent with that comparison.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • LinCA

      @Christian

      You said, "But when atheists gather together in groups, hold meetings and protests and whatnot based on their belief "
      I'm guessing you were trying to claim that because some atheists organize and get together they must be a religious community. Atheists don't get together to worship. They don't get together to teach about the non-existence of gods. If they get together it tends to be to gain societal progress. So a more fitting comparison would be to political parties than to religious congregations.

      Also, at the Theoretical Advanced Study Institute in Elementary Particle Physics: Searching for New Physics at Small and Large Scales, currently being held in Boulder, Colorado, the atheists probably far outnumber the believers (I consider it likely that the percentage of believers at this conference is less than the percentage of atheists in church on Sunday). That doesn't make this an atheists gathering.

      You said, "atheism is the belief there is no god whereas agnosticism is the lack of belief in any god, if you lack belief you are therefore agnostic"
      Theism is about belief in gods, or the lack thereof (atheism). Gnosticism is about knowledge, or the lack thereof (agnosticism). Being atheist and agnostic aren't mutually exclusive. I happen to be both.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Russ

      @ LinCA: you said "Being atheist and agnostic aren't mutually exclusive. I happen to be both."

      atheism: there is no God. literally "no God."
      agnosticism: i don't know if there's a God. literally "don't know."

      these *are* mutually exclusive positions by definition. One claims to know. the other does not.
      one makes a claim about the Infinite without having infinite knowledge. the other admits lack of knowledge.
      so which is it? do you claim to know or not?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • T-Max73

      I think you WANT it to be considered another religion so you and your cohorts won't appear so foolish-kind of a "safety in numbers" thing. You can call atheism a religion all you want. For that matter, being a Republican or Democrat would be a religion. Sound silly? That's because it IS silly. You know full well that any thinking person considers a religion to be a belief system in which the supernatural occurs, in which there is most likely a Supreme Being (take your pick of gods), and that they worship or revere the Supreme Being and are (usually) promised immortality in exchange for belief or good deeds in this life. How on earth does non belief qualify? It simply does not and cannot. You are being shifty and deceptive to even make the suggestion. Peace.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • HappyMadison

      @prester – I say that tiny invisible dolphins live in your shower. Now, instead of me proving this to be true, I put the burden upon you to prove that this is not true. How does it feel?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Russ: why do you have this obsession with whether atheism is a "religion"? What is it you think will occur if you manage to get agreement that it is? It seems to be terribly important to you. Why?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TomTom: the atheist's delusion is that he/she has no faith. it requires as much (if not more) faith to be an atheist.
      (most organized religions are claiming an existential encounter with the Infinite. in other words, the Infinite has revealed him/her/itself. atheists are self-admittedly finite, yet make Infinite claims. that's not based on facts. that is faith-based.)

      the lack of that realization leads to constant, misguided arguments that 'people of faith' are weak-minded, out of touch with reality, etc. all the while, the atheist IS a person of faith. it's a self-refuting argument.

      and more importantly, as Penn Jillette (an outspoken atheist) put it: if I actually believe this stuff (which I do), how big of an insult is it not to care enough to speak it?

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZc3Xq8obk&w=640&h=360]

      June 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You think that if you "prove" somehow that atheism is a religion, it will make atheists ridicule believers less? Read some of the fundy posts on here. The people who post them ARE stupid. They'd BE stupid whether they were believers or not.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TomTom: no, my goal is not to end the ridicule. It's inherent to the conversation.

      My goal is to further the conversation (because false arguments & straw men don't further real dialogue) – and of course, because I'm a Christian, the goal of the conversation is Christ.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And how many on here do you dream you've converted to belief?

      June 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bob

      Russ, how come your feeble god needs you to be its marketing department (and nuisance mouthpiece) for it?

      That's a pretty pathetic 'god' that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Trumpy

      @Russ: "the atheist's delusion is that he/she has no faith. it requires as much (if not more) faith to be an atheist."

      Sorry, but as an atheist I'm pretty sure that is not my "delusion" at all. I merely reject your (and all other) claims of gods without empirical evidence to support the claim. And it takes NO "faith" to reject a claim for which no empirical evidence is presented. None.
      (In fact, rejecting unsupported claims is entirely rational.)

      It takes NO more "faith" to reject your claim of a god-being than it does to reject the claims of unicorns, ghosts, magical fairies living in my desk drawer, invisible intangible people walking amongst us, that a green M&M I dropped last week and couldn't find is currently orbiting Betelgeuse, or that JFK secretly had the power of unaided flight, super-healing, and prophecy. And no matter how many times–or how loudly–you claim it does take faith to reject unsupported claims...it simply doesn't.

      I reject ALL claims without empirical evidence and yours is merely one more on the pile, requiring no more special steps, faith, or leaps in logic to reject than to reject claims of Zeus, Ra, Thor, or Quetzlcoatl. It's just another baseless claim of yet another god being.

      Present empirical evidence and I'll review and accept it. Until then, I won't and my not accepting it requires absolutely no "faith" at all.

      You say you want to further the discussion? Then don't make false claims about my position merely because doing so fits in with your worldview or plays into the way you want the discussion to unfold.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TomTom: I'm not here to put notches in my belt. There's no scorecard. The goal is simply to pass on what I've received. Which – as a Christian – we believe to be the greatest news in history.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bob: you're projecting yourself onto God. if there is a supreme, infinite being of ultimate majesty & power, would he/she/it be someone whose motivations & actions you would fully comprehend? if so, at what point did you cease to be finite – or did that Being cease to be infinite?

      it's not a cop out. it's a philosophical underpinning. you're finite. He's infinite. it's amazing he condescends to reveal himself in a manner we can understand – and then shows himself to be incredibly benevolent.

      and that has everything to do with Marshall Brain's objections to God (the website to which you refer). he seems only able to conceive of a god who follows his own mandates & expectations. is it so farfetched to consider a being so omniscient, omnipotent & benevolent as to actually *include* our actions & motivations in his plans? practically: yes, it's too wonderful to hope for; news that seems too good to be true. philosophically: there is no basis for precluding that possibility.

      such objections normally amount to appeals to suffering (amputees, etc.), and yet no other religion conceives of the Ultimate doing what Christ claimed to do as the Totally Other become man: suffer in our place.

      what you call a feeble marketing plan (using broken people like me) is actually yet another sign of how God's power is most evident through weakness – which is a major theme in Christianity. if Christ was willing to take the greatest suffering upon himself, then my suffering (however painful) may not have an immediate answer – but it does have an ultimate one (Rom.8:31-32).

      in sum:
      your major presuppositions (God won't act this way / God would of course answer prayer in the manner I want and dictate to Him) all assume equality with God and/or self-projections upon God. From the outset, that is not an accurate depiction of the beliefs of those you are criticizing. so, if your goal is actually to engage those with whom you disagree (rather than misrepresent), you should criticize their beliefs from WITHIN their presuppositions, not according to your own.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Russ

      @ trumpy: your argument fails in at least two major points.

      1) you are finite. i assume you admit you are finite. yet you are making an Infinite (NOT fact-based claim).

      just spatially speaking, we don't even know how "big" the universe is. we call this thing "space." we might as well call it "the matrix." how far does it go? what is out there? could a higher power be "out there"? it's openly the question the movie "Prometheus" is entertaining. and most *rational* people are willing to admit they don't have infinite knowledge.

      so, if you don't know the entirety of existence even just *spatially* speaking (and that's not even to begin to engage philosophically, metaphysically, etc.), upon what grounds can an atheist claim definitively that there is no Infinite? only by faith.

      as one of the most famous atheists of all time, Nietzsche said: "it is still a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science" (the Gay Science).

      either you are claiming to have infinite knowledge, or you must admit that atheism is a faith-based enterprise.

      2) you claim you only accept the empirically verifiable.

      I think I made this point above already. but here are two approaches on this point:

      a) practical: you do not function this way in life. is your mother's love empirically verifiable? though you may quibble over definitions, it is not (unless you are a pure materialist & really believe your mother's love is only the result of synapses firing in her brain – in which case, you have much greater difficulties). and yet you believe in it?

      b) philosophical (and more pointedly speaking): the scientific method itself is not empirically verifiable. it is presupposed by science! the foundational assumption of your position itself is faith-based.

      SUM: atheism is rife with faith. arguing that "faith" is the main problem with theism fails to see that atheism has the same problem.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Trumpy

      @Russ:
      "you are finite. i as.sume you admit you are finite. yet you are making an Infinite (NOT fact-based claim)."

      No, no I'm not. The only "claim" I'm making is that I reject your claim without empirical evidence for it. I am NOT substi.tuting in a claim of my own (i.e., that there is no god). "Finiteness" and "the matrix" or whatever it was that you were blathering on about doesn't even come into it. I never claimed there is no infinite or anything else you mentioned. The ONLY claim I made is that I reject YOUR claim. That's it.

      "you claim you only accept the empirically verifiable...practical: you do not function this way in life. is your mother's love empirically verifiable?"

      Touche. I'll agree that in interpersonal relationships with actual, physical, empirically existing ent.ities, I do often accept their claims at face value based on a track record of acting on those claims. Short of putting my mom in an MRI and scanning her whilst she makes such professions of personal affection for me (and yes, I do think emotions can be empirically detected as they are a physical process of the human mind), I do use the basis of her past actions and her personal testimony to accept her claims of current love. If she beat me everyday with a wire hanger while saying I love you, then I would indeed doubt her claim, but based on past actions which are typical of positive emotional bonding, I do put some modicu.m of faith in the fact that she isn't secretly holding on to some masterful, deceptive agenda for the last 30-odd years. You got me!

      "the scientific method itself is not empirically verifiable. it is presupposed by science! the foundational as.sumption of your position itself is faith-based."

      Empirical merely means that a thing is physical, measurable, and independently confirmable. Since we can physically measure and independently confirm many things, there is no rational reason to doubt the existence of empiricism. And if a thing is not empirical, it can, by definition, have no effect on the things that are. And if it can affect things that are physical and empirical, then the thing itself must also be empirical. It either is or it isn't and if it isn't if has no effect on me and if it is, then evidence to that effect should be presentable for it.

      Besides if you are going for some "what if nothing is real anyway and we're all brains floating in jars!" got'cha moment, it still doesn't apply. I am not embracing empiricism on the grounds that I have "faith" in it, but that there is no rational, superior option in what is by all known measurements an entirely physical universe. And if the counter-claim is "what if" something else (like the fact that the universe is not actually physical and that it is is merely an illusion), then, like all other claims, present the evidence for that claim or I reject it.

      We can "what if" anything, and to any degree. What if god is a man names Steve who invented everything 5 minutes ago, complete with fake memories and evidences just to confuse us! What if, what if, what if. But without evidence, no "faith" is required to reject those what ifs.

      "arguing that "faith" is the main problem with theism fails to see that atheism has the same problem."

      Never argued that faith was the "main problem" with theism. You really like to read a lot into what people say, don't you?
      I merely said that I reject your claim until you can provide empirical evidence for it and that the rejection of an unsupported claim does not require "faith."

      And while you did succeed in using a lot of big words and unnecessary pop-culture references in doing so, you could have saved us all a lot of time by just admitting that you have no empirical evidence to present.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Russ

      @ trumpy: you are claiming to hold to a pure empiricism, not based on faith.
      the problem for you: empiricism requires faith (that was Nietzsche's point, as well as most of what I said above). it is a philosophy of science, not science itself. you are putting faith in science. that is not the same thing as science. science is merely observing. you have made the *leap* to assume that only what you can see exists. that is an enormous leap... and science does not ask or require that.

      see, you are an empiricist. empiricism is not science, it is a philosophy of science, faith in science, etc.
      your objection to religion is that it requires a leap of faith – but you fail to recognize you have made one of your own.
      now, I've used no big words that you didn't use yourself. do you understand what I am saying?

      now, to go further with your own comments about your mom's love: so it sounds like you are a pure materialist (you believe love is merely a function of synapses firing, etc.). do you regard love as an illusion or construct? merely a function of optimization of the DNA pool for propagation of the species? if so, do you celebrate Valentine's Day – or just call it a charade, a construct whose existence is only in service of evolutionary development? do you "love" your family, or is it just an affinity instinctually built into your evolutionary biology?

      most people aren't willing to do down that path. but you seem to be. i'm curious: do you tell your mom that you love her? or are you honest with her that you believe love is just a foil for the evolutionary process?

      June 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Russ

      You said, "atheism: there is no God. literally "no God.""
      That represents only one form of atheism. You are referring to strong atheism. That is not surprising as it is the form that most believers take for all gods other than their own. But there is a fundamental difference between:
      a) Believing there are no gods, and
      b) Not believing there are any gods.
      Version a is a belief without evidence to back it up, while version b is simply a disbelief.

      You said, "these *are* mutually exclusive positions by definition. One claims to know. the other does not."
      That just means that to be a true believer, you can't be agnostic. I never claim to be a believer.

      You said, "one makes a claim about the Infinite without having infinite knowledge. the other admits lack of knowledge."
      That's why religion is so outrageously irrational. It makes claims about the infinite without having knowledge. Atheists of version b don't.

      Most atheists I know, and a large portion of the ones posting here will fall into category b, as it is the only rational position to take.

      You said, "so which is it? do you claim to know or not?"
      As I mentioned above, and whether you can grasp it or not, I am both an atheist and an agnostic. I don't know about any evidence, ever produced for any god (I have no knowledge of any gods, so I'm agnostic), therefor I find it completely moronic to believe in them (hence I'm an atheist).

      I don't believe any gods exist, but I don't exclude the possibility, however remote.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ LinCA:
      my point was the actual meaning of the words. atheism precludes the possibility of God/gods. agnosticism admits that "I just don't know." You can't actually hold both positions simultaneously. it sounds like you are are saying: "i don't know, so I'm an agnostic; but functionally & practically, I'm an atheist." And my point in light of that was: that is a feigned humility. Either you don't know and are awaiting the Divine to potentially reveal him/her/itself (which looks & sounds VERY different from what I hear from virtually any atheists – regardless of so-called positive or negative) OR live as though there is nothing out there. Functionally, those positions are *very* different lived out.

      The whole positive/negative atheism terminology appears to have been coined by Anthony Flew (who notably & publicly later became a theist) and does not admit the reality of one's functional convi.ctions. It is entirely possible to *say* & do different things, but you will functionally *be* one or the other. You can't both live as "I don't know" and "there is no God." The former will ince.ssantly be humbly seeking the main purpose of life – always wondering if rounding the next corner will reveal the Ultim.ate, even in as unexpected a way as reconsidering something disregarded before (even including religion). The latter is cynically closed ("I *know* better than that").

      Again, you can't have it both ways. Adding strong & weak as t.itles to atheism does not change its root convi.ctions (as inherent in the word's meaning) or functional reality. Either you don't know or you do. Truly not knowing & being aware of that lack of knowledge is a position of humility. Declaring "I don't know" & then living as if you do know is a self-contradi.ction.

      And finally – contrary to your as.sertion that religion does the same thing as so-called strong atheism (the finite making an infinite claim): it is not the contention (of most religions) that the *finite* is making an authoritative claim based upon one's inward deductions. the claim of most religions is *an encounter* with the Divine. in other words, that the Objective/Infinite/Divine has self-revealed. that's an exceedingly important distinction. there is no way for the finite to cross the gulf to the Infinite, but the Infinite certainly has the capacity to reach across to the finite.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Travis

      @Russ: Once again a long-winded way of saying you have no empirical evidence to present, I see.

      Besides, even if there is an error in my logic, it doesn't make your logic any better, stronger or more accurate. I do not accept that faith is required to reject entirely unsupported claims. You seem to think it is (so I guess you take it on "faith" that there isn't a giant polka-dotted dragon tap dancing on the keys to make these messages? Or you have "faith" that chemical reactions like the formation of water molecules are not the work of invisible fairies pushing atoms together at super-high speeds so that they can eat the resulting particle and energy output for sustenance?).
      But its moot anyway because EVEN IF I am wrong and it does require "faith" to reject unsupported claims...THAT IN NO WAY MAKES YOUR CLAIM OF A GOD BEING ANY MORE VALID. Even if I said right now "fine, it does take faith to reject claims based on an utter lack of empirical information" it still would not give ANY more credence to the possibility of your god being real.

      "now, I've used no big words that you didn't use yourself. do you understand what I am saying?"
      Yes, you are saying that you cannot present a single shred of empirical evidence for the existence of a god being so you'd rather split hairs about why I'm asking and attack the idea of whether empiricism also requires some colloquial definition of faith or not than simply admit you have none.

      "so it sounds like you are a pure materialist (you believe love is merely a function of synapses firing, etc.). do you regard love as an illusion or construct? merely a function of optimization of the DNA pool for propagation of the species? if so, do you celebrate Valentine's Day – or just call it a charade, a construct whose existence is only in service of evolutionary development? do you "love" your family, or is it just an affinity instinctually built into your evolutionary biology?"

      Yes, I believe love is a chemical reaction in the brain resulting in the feeling we deem to be an emotion, one that is based on a variety of previous experiences, stimuli, and environmental factors. How this somehow means in your warped perception that that emotional feeling is therefore unworthy of any sort of recognition is beyond me. It has a real, tangible process AND effect on the world. Some people celebrate it, some people misuse it, some people shun it. So what? The fact that it is a natural process in no way degrades the social or interpersonal value it has or whether it is deserving of being "celebrated" or not.

      I tell my mom and wife and child that I love them because I DO love them (they instigate in my brain that chemical process that results in the physiological feeling that we have deemed to be labeled "love"). It doesn't make it an illusion or construct or anything inherently negative or somehow false or not real.

      Is it really so scary to you that love might be an electro-chemical process just like any other emotion or form of thought? Does its origin really matter compared to its effect? Does it cheapen anything you feel or experience if shown that love is a physical process in the brain as opposed to a metaphysical one? Would you stop using the word or leave your wife if that was the case?

      June 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Russ

      @ Travis: am i to assume that you are also Trumpy? or is this a new person? I don't recall ever having interacted with anyone bearing that handle. I'm going to go forward assuming (from the way you've written) that this is Trumpy.

      long-winded: yes. dialogue is not just soundbites. I'm unapologetic about that.

      empirical evidence: i never claimed there was insurmountable empirical evidence for God (though it could be inferred from existence itself). my entire point was this: atheists (such as yourself) seem to think an appeal to the empirical eliminates faith, and therefore seem to believe they have the high ground to criticize all people of faith. that is not the case. they also are people whose beliefs & functional daily existence are based upon faith. therefore, that argument is self-refuting. i was not attempting to *prove* God by that argument – rather to help you see that your argument against people of faith was one against yourself as well.

      per your thoughts on love as merely a function of neuro-chemical processes: if you believe love is simply an instinctual affinity (& nothing greater) that serves our evolutionary biology, then why not act accordingly? by that reckoning, love is not the primary purpose of life – survival of your DNA is. love is merely a construct of our species to ensure your genes survive in the pool and optimize our species' DNA. according to your enlightened understanding, all that other fluff is just evolutionary instinct extrapolated. and your enlightened knowledge should now allow you to transcend "love." it's really just about taking care of your DNA... even though the universe is headed toward an eventual heat death & that's ultimately a losing proposition. so why even bother? according to your position, there's no other purpose except fabricated ones that help ensure evolution. the best you can hope for is that your genes survive a few million years before the species fails.

      if that is what you believe (love is just neurochemical), then why not dare to live in light of it? according to your understanding, your "love" for family is really nothing other than instinctual survival. why not peel back the lie & tell your children "my love for you is really just about species survival; it's only an instinct created in me by genetic evolution"? Next Valentine's, tell your wife: "this holiday is just a charade. let's be honest. love is merely a construct that serves our evolutionary biology. i don't *love* you in any sense of the origins of the word. i just use you for species propagation. and because of my instincts, i feel a really, really, really strong need to be connected to you – but it's no different than any other animal's similar need, except for being slightly more complex. let's actually dare to live in light of this higher knowledge we have. I'll stop saying *I love you* & say 'I really want my genes to survive through my reproductive use of you.'" That would be bald honesty, right?

      now, you might object: "no! i have REAL love – it's just that love has never really been anything more than that. it's always been just a construct." but why feel the need to embrace old ideologies? why, if you are so quick to jettison religion, would you cling to old constructs like "love"? why would it bother you to live fully in light of what you claim to believe? isn't that the very thing Christians are criticized for failing to do?

      if you really believe love is just an instinctual tool for species propagation, what would keep you from honestly embracing a life lived in light of that reality? why keep up the charade?

      June 15, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Russ

      my point was the actual meaning of the words. atheism precludes the possibility of God/gods.
      Definition:
      atheism
      noun
      1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
      2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

      You are free to remain ignorant, but that doesn't mean everyone is. A simple dictionary check or a internet search will show you that atheism includes a disbelief in gods and not merely an outright rejection.

      You said, "agnosticism admits that "I just don't know." You can't actually hold both positions simultaneously."
      But, as shown from the definition of atheism, you are wrong. You can hold both position simultaneously.

      You said, "it sounds like you are are saying: "i don't know, so I'm an agnostic; but functionally & practically, I'm an atheist."
      The difference between not believing there are gods, and believing there are no gods, is very small. It is the exact same thing as the difference between not believing in the Tooth Fairy, and believing there is no Tooth Fairy. I can't prove, with 100% certainty, that there is no Tooth Fairy, but the odds are so ridiculously small that there is absolutely no reason to do so. The exact same thing goes for a belief in gods. The complete lack of any evidence in thousands of years of searching, makes the believers stance quite ridiculous.

      You said, "And my point in light of that was: that is a feigned humility."
      I don't feign humility. I'm pretty confident that there are no gods and that a belief in them is infantile.

      You said, "Either you don't know and are awaiting the Divine to potentially reveal him/her/itself (which looks & sounds VERY different from what I hear from virtually any atheists – regardless of so-called positive or negative) OR live as though there is nothing out there. Functionally, those positions are *very* different lived out."
      The problem is entirely in your lack of understanding of a few simple terms.

      Someone who is agnostic isn't necessarily "awaiting the Divine to potentially reveal him/her/itself". The agnostic you describe is most likely simply a theist who has doubts.

      You said, "Truly not knowing & being aware of that lack of knowledge is a position of humility. Declaring "I don't know" & then living as if you do know is a self-contradi.ction."
      How do you live your life differently because you can't, with absolute certainty, know that Santa Claus isn't real? What about the Tooth Fairy? Do you check under your bed and in the closet before you go to bed? Do you acknowledge that the Flying Spaghetti Monster may have you in it's sight? Do you wear a tinfoil hat, just in case?

      The odds that there are gods is so infinitesimally small that there is absolutely no reason to live as if there are any. Even if you wanted to, how the fuck would you know which one is the real one? There have been thousands of gods invented over the years.

      You said, "the claim of most religions is *an encounter* with the Divine. in other words, that the Objective/Infinite/Divine has self-revealed."
      Most religions dogma denies all gods but their own. They do so on faith alone, without any substantiation. Hence they are strongly atheistic towards all gods except their own.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Russ

      @ LinCA: I am not missing your distinction. I disagree with it.

      a) in terms of definition
      Webster's is giving you the options of how the word has come to be used. I'm pressing the root out.
      Prefix: "a-" means no/not/anti/against
      root: "theos" means God
      it's not a leap. atheism literally means "no God."

      again with agnostic.
      Prefix: "a-" means no/not/against/anti
      root: "gnosis" means knowledge
      agnostic literally means "no knowledge."

      arguing that "i have no knowledge but i know..." is self-refuting. and it is a feigned humility. true agnosticism admits it doesn't know and welcomes knowledge – which is why i'm arguing that (by your own words) you are a functional atheist & NOT an agnostic. further clarified in (b).

      b) practical daily functioning
      You delineate between "no belief in the Tooth fairy" & "belief that there is no Tooth fairy". this is like Bill Clinton arguing over the definition of "is." both functionally are the same in practical life. you live as if there is no tooth fairy – not simply as if "i have no knowledge of the tooth fairy, though there might be ridiculously small odds that there are one."

      notably, the scientific data itself (merely from a spatial assessment) doesn't allow us to speak to odds. we don't even know how large the universe itself is. (and that's without even engaging the question of existence itself as evidence.) speaking of odds in a situation where we cannot begin to fathom the odds is itself a statement of faith.

      but even there, that is an appeal to the God of the gaps mentality – which ultimately is not my position. the reason i even bring that up is this: if we were merely speaking empirically about scientific facts, there should be more humility about what we DON'T know (which by all accounts is vastly more than what we do know). but that's not what we're talking about. you are making conjectures based on your own *presuppositions,* not the evidence itself. and again, that's my point. you are doing the very thing you criticize people of faith for doing. it is a leap of faith. you functionally presuppose there is no god when there is no rational basis upon which to do that. it is a leap of faith – and one that is AT LEAST commensurate with the faith you are criticizing.

      finally, and to get particular: Christianity does not base its claims on faith alone. The central claim of Christianity is an historic event. A fact. News. Not faith, but that God came to earth, lived as a man, died & rose from the dead. Now, I fully expect an incredulous response from you here – but I'm hoping you will recognize that it is (at least) a misrepresentation of the Christian faith to say it is on "faith alone" when Christians have always based their belief on an historical event – that the Infinite did come to the finite in time & space, in a particular way. As one theologian said it: "who can speak of God but God himself?"

      June 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Russ

      You said, "I am not missing your distinction. I disagree with it."
      I'm guessing you also disagree with science and facts that don't fit with your religion.

      You said, "a) in terms of definition
      Webster's is giving you the options of how the word has come to be used. I'm pressing the root out.
      Prefix: "a-" means no/not/anti/against
      root: "theos" means God
      it's not a leap. atheism literally means "no God."
      "

      OK, you want to go by Webster's definition? Let's take a look at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism. Here you'll find:
      1 archaic : UNGODLINESS, WICKEDNESS
      2 a : a disbelief in the existence of a deity
      b : the doctrine that there is no deity.

      So, according to your source, the definition of atheism is a disbelief in the existence of a deity. So according to your source, I am correct. When I say that I don't believe there are any gods, I don't exclude the possibility, however remote, but also that I'm an atheist. I sure hope you are not going to argue with your own source.

      You said, "again with agnostic. [...].""
      I don't think we disagree much on agnosticism. There is no evidence of any gods. We have no knowledge of them. We have fairy tales and myths, but no knowledge. We have knowledge about the beliefs in gods, but nothing of the gods themselves.

      You said, "arguing that "i have no knowledge but i know..." is self-refuting."
      Where did I say that?

      You said, "and it is a feigned humility."
      I don't feign humility.

      You said, "true agnosticism admits it doesn't know and welcomes knowledge"
      I welcome knowledge. If you have any evidence of gods, please share.

      You said, "which is why i'm arguing that (by your own words) you are a functional atheist & NOT an agnostic."
      I am an atheist, functional or otherwise. It is moronic to believe there are gods until there is at least a coherent story about them, supported by some evidence. I will not believe the nonsense that is being told about them until there is evidence.

      And, since I have but welcome knowledge about gods, I'm agnostic even by your definition.

      You said, "you live as if there is no tooth fairy – not simply as if "i have no knowledge of the tooth fairy, though there might be ridiculously small odds that there are one.""
      There is no difference.

      Please tell me, if there is a less than 1% chance that it will rain today, will you carry an umbrella? If there is a less than 0.1% chance you will get shot, will you stay indoors? If there is a less than 0.01% chance you'll get struck by a meteorite, will you wear a helmet? If there is less than 0.001% chance that aliens will try to control your mind, will you wear a tinfoil hat?

      Why on Earth would anyone change how he/she goes through daily life for something that has an absurdly low probability of being true?

      You said, "notably, the scientific data itself (merely from a spatial assessment) doesn't allow us to speak to odds. we don't even know how large the universe itself is."
      The size of the universe is irrelevant to the question of whether there are gods.

      You said, "and that's without even engaging the question of existence itself as evidence."
      It only is in the mind of believers, but for anyone capable of rational thought, it isn't.

      You said, "speaking of odds in a situation where we cannot begin to fathom the odds is itself a statement of faith."
      The lack of any verified interaction of any god with anyone in the recorded history of man is sufficient to place the odds of any having an interest in us at virtually zero.

      You said, "if we were merely speaking empirically about scientific facts, there should be more humility about what we DON'T know (which by all accounts is vastly more than what we do know)."
      I realize that there is probably vastly more that we don't know than what we do. But just because we don't know something, doesn't mean we make progress by just making shit up.

      You said, "but that's not what we're talking about. you are making conjectures based on your own *presuppositions,* not the evidence itself. and again, that's my point. you are doing the very thing you criticize people of faith for doing."
      I don't claim to know that there are no gods. Without any evidence it's just completely unreasonable to believe they do.

      You said, "it is a leap of faith."
      If I claimed to know that there are no gods, it would be, but since I don't, it isn't.

      You said, "you functionally presuppose there is no god when there is no rational basis upon which to do that."
      The lack of any evidence for gods DEMANDS that you presuppose there aren't any. Believers make this shit up. They get to provide the evidence.

      You said, "it is a leap of faith"
      It isn't (still).

      You said, "and one that is AT LEAST commensurate with the faith you are criticizing."
      You keep trying to bunch me in with the gullible, as if that somehow makes your belief more reasonable. It doesn't work, and your belief remains unreasonable.

      You said, "finally, and to get particular: Christianity does not base its claims on faith alone. The central claim of Christianity is an historic event. A fact. News. Not faith, but that God came to earth, lived as a man, died & rose from the dead."
      There you go, claiming that your myth is fact. That's part of what makes religion so hopelessly ridiculous. There is no evidence that, if your Jesus ever actually lived, that he was in any way special. There is no evidence that he was what he is claimed to have been, or that he did what is attributed to him. Hell, even his life story was stolen and cobbled together from older myths.

      You said, "Now, I fully expect an incredulous response from you here"
      I hope I didn't disappoint.

      You said, "but I'm hoping you will recognize that it is (at least) a misrepresentation of the Christian faith to say it is on "faith alone" when Christians have always based their belief on an historical event – that the Infinite did come to the finite in time & space, in a particular way."
      You've got to be smoking something. Your entire "historical event" is based on nothing more than faith. In no way does that fable lend any credence to your religion.

      It is not established fact, although generally acknowledge as likely, that your Jesus was an actual person. It is not, in any way, established that he did what is said he did. It is certainly not establish that he is somehow the spawn of some god.

      You said, "As one theologian said it: "who can speak of God but God himself?""
      Any moron can, and quite a few do.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Russ

      1) I don’t have a problem with science. I have a problem with scientism (putting metaphysical faith in science). The facts & data are not a problem. Assuming that an entirely subjective (philosophically speaking) discipline can answer objective questions is a failure to understand the inherent limitations of science as science.

      2) Go back & re-read your own entry. Webster’s was not my source, but yours. You cited it when you gave your definitions initially. I was pointing out that the etymological roots for your words are mutually exclusive. It’s the very heart of the meaning of the words.

      3) you did not verbatim say “I have no knowledge but I know…” – rather it’s what you are saying when you claim to be both an agnostic & an atheist.

      4) the fake humility to which I’m referring is not whether or not your are self-confident. You certainly are confident in yourself. The fake humility is in definitively claiming there is no evidence b/c you’re unaware of it (this is the false “I don’t know”) – and yet confidently making over-arching assessments about the nature of reality.

      5) your rain analogy demonstrates that you don’t get my point. I don’t think the universe is merely spatial, but just for the sake of conversation, let’s say it is. Your “odds” are based on some sense of the scope of the universe. We have no idea how large it is. Does the Hubble give us access to 53% of space or less than .000001%? we have absolutely no way to know by your standards. And that’s only speaking in terms of spatial possibilities.

      Now, recognizing that you appear to be a materialist (philosophically speaking, “only what I see is what is there”) and I am not, I’m attempting to engage you on your own paradigm. I do not think God is limited to space & time. But for the sake of your position, even if we only allow that – we have no idea of what percentage of physical reality we have access & knowledge. For you to say, “well, it’s just so remote a possibility” ignores a) our enormous ignorance & b) the fact that you exist & didn’t make yourself – and have no idea what started this infinite regress back thru evolutionary theory. Even Hawking admits this is a major problem: because it’s just not a very scientifically founded proposition to say we got something out of nothing.

      6) you said “I don’t claim to know that there are no gods. Without any evidence, it’s just completely unreasonable to believe that they do.”

      There is evidence:
      a) existence itself. you didn’t make yourself, yet you exist. To overlook the most foundational reality (that you exist) as evidence and still demand evidence is... well, let's be unvarnished... blindness. And an enormous leap of faith (away from the evidence).

      b) God has revealed himself – not just through written words, but by entering time & space himself. Which leads to your assessment of Christianity…

      7) This is a comprehensive conversation that opens up even lengthier topics. In an effort to be succinct, I’ll cite sources & main ideas.

      a) Christianity is not a myth. You can call it a lie, but it is not a myth. Myths develop hundreds of years after the events. The earliest sources are within 15 years of Christ’s death. Myths cannot arise in such a short time – especially when those making the claim cite eyewitnesses still alive for confirmation.

      CS Lewis’ “Fern Seed & Elephants” essay clearly lays out this case. As an expert on myth, no scholar has a basis to ever make the claim that Christianity is such. As he says, “the reader who thinks otherwise simply has failed to learn to read.”

      b) as I’ve already stated, Christianity is based on an event. And not one dreamed up hundreds of years later, but one relayed in eyewitness testimony (1 Cor.15:1-3; Luke 1:1-4; 1 Jn.1:1-3; etc.). Paul says Jesus appeared to as many as 500 people at once – and names several of them (1 Cor.15). 1 Corinthians was written AT THE LATEST 20 years after Christ’s death. Most of those 500 would still be alive. It’s an invitation to fact check.
      There are many more evidences for the eyewitness accounts. See Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus & the Eyewitnesses.”

      c) the Bible is the most heavily scrutinized book in history. And yet there is no other ancient doc.ument from that era with such a wealth of attestations so early on. Here’s a link to an overview of the evidence:
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

      d) there is no doubt that Jesus existed. Even Bart Ehrman (the far left of the spectrum) has a book out called “Did Jesus Exist?” in which he scoffs at the notion that persists in the online community that Jesus might not have existed & we just don’t know that much about him. Read his preface which is available online (and hear me: I’m not a fan of his). In his own words, no scholar with any in-depth study in this field believes to the contrary.
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/30/the-historical-evidence-of-the-existence-of-jesus-of-nazareth/

      June 16, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • LinCA

      @Russ

      You said, "Assuming that an entirely subjective (philosophically speaking) discipline can answer objective questions is a failure to understand the inherent limitations of science as science."
      Which objective question do you think science is claiming to have answered, but hasn't? I fear that the incorrect assumptions about science are yours.

      You said, "Webster’s was not my source, but yours. You cited it when you gave your definitions initially. I was pointing out that the etymological roots for your words are mutually exclusive. It’s the very heart of the meaning of the words."
      You assumed it was my source. It wasn't. You brought up Webster. I misread your part as quoting from it. But the dictionary isn't like the bible. You don't get to pick and choose what you like and discard the rest. My argument stands. I am both an atheist and agnostic.

      Even so, even if "atheism" means "no god", that doesn't change the fact that you can get there by either believe there aren't any or disbelieve there are any. I just disbelieve because I don't know.

      You said, "you did not verbatim say “I have no knowledge but I know…” – rather it’s what you are saying when you claim to be both an agnostic & an atheist."
      Your refusal to accept the dictionary definition of "atheism" doesn't mean you get to claim that I made statements of the sort. Your statement is disingenuous.

      You said, "the fake humility to which I’m referring is not whether or not your are self-confident. You certainly are confident in yourself. The fake humility is in definitively claiming there is no evidence b/c you’re unaware of it (this is the false “I don’t know”) – and yet confidently making over-arching assessments about the nature of reality."
      This goes back to your apparent failure to grasp basic rules of evidence. None of the "facts" for their gods, as claimed by believers rises to the level of evidence.

      You said, "I don’t think the universe is merely spatial, but just for the sake of conversation, let’s say it is. Your “odds” are based on some sense of the scope of the universe. We have no idea how large it is. Does the Hubble give us access to 53% of space or less than .000001%? we have absolutely no way to know by your standards. And that’s only speaking in terms of spatial possibilities."
      The size of the universe and whether it is merely spacial or not, is entirely irrelevant. We are talking about a god that supposedly has interacted, and according to believers still interacts, with humans. There is no evidence that holds up to any level of scrutiny to support that hypothesis. There is no merit to the claim.

      You said, "I do not think God is limited to space & time."
      Whether it is, if it exists, is also largely irrelevant. If we can't measure it, it might as well not be there. A god that doesn't interact with us is functionally the same as one that doesn't exist.

      You said, "But for the sake of your position, even if we only allow that"
      Not my position, as it is irrelevant.

      You said, "we have no idea of what percentage of physical reality we have access & knowledge."
      The knowledge we have about the universe currently doesn't include even one iota of any gods. How much we know about the universe is irrelevant.

      You said, "For you to say, “well, it’s just so remote a possibility” ignores a) our enormous ignorance & b) the fact that you exist & didn’t make yourself – and have no idea what started this infinite regress back thru evolutionary theory."
      I never claimed to know how the universe got its start. I just don't go an make shit up and invent an imaginary friend. I'm OK with not knowing.

      You said, "Even Hawking admits this is a major problem: because it’s just not a very scientifically founded proposition to say we got something out of nothing."
      Not having an alternate answer, doesn't imply that yours has any more merit. If you come upon a locked door, is claiming that there must be a red and yellow beach ball behind it, really a better answer than "I don't know"? Claiming that a god did it isn't intellectually honest. It also doesn't bring you any closer to an answer as the question then becomes "where did this god come from?".

      You said, "There is evidence:
      a) existence itself. you didn’t make yourself, yet you exist. To overlook the most foundational reality (that you exist) as evidence and still demand evidence is... well, let's be unvarnished... blindness. And an enormous leap of faith (away from the evidence).
      "
      You only fill in the blanks with your preferred "theory". Existence doesn't, in any way, prove there is a god. Same dishonesty as for the start of the universe, and the same problem about where that god came from.

      You said, "b) God has revealed himself – not just through written words, but by entering time & space himself. Which leads to your assessment of Christianity…"
      The revelations of your god are indistinguishable from mental illness. In no way do they provide any support for your imaginary friend.

      You said, "a) Christianity is not a myth."
      A fable then. Better?

      You said, "You can call it a lie, but it is not a myth."
      A mental illness, perhaps?

      You said, "Myths develop hundreds of years after the events."
      It took 300 years for your Jesus to even be considered divine. He was a mere mortal until the Nicene council.

      You said, "The earliest sources are within 15 years of Christ’s death. Myths cannot arise in such a short time – especially when those making the claim cite eyewitnesses still alive for confirmation."
      Embellishments and edits and additions make the story of your Jesus suspect at best, if he even existed.

      You said, "CS Lewis’ “Fern Seed & Elephants” essay clearly lays out this case."
      JK Rowling makes a clear case for the existence of horcruxes. That doesn't mean that they are real.

      You said, "As an expert on myth, no scholar has a basis to ever make the claim that Christianity is such. As he says, “the reader who thinks otherwise simply has failed to learn to read.”"
      In that same vain, adults that still believe in fairy tales simply suffer from mental retardation. The insults go both ways.

      You said, "Christianity is based on an event. And not one dreamed up hundreds of years later, but one relayed in eyewitness testimony"
      You'll pardon me if I entirely dismiss your propaganda. If there was that event that you speak of, the compilers of your holy book did so with an agenda. Your bible was compiled and edited to spread christianity. It has been used for its intended purpose with amazing success, but that doesn't mean any of it is true.

      You said, "c) the Bible is the most heavily scrutinized book in history."
      Yet very few historians accept it as historic. Those that do are believers first, historians second.

      You said, "d) there is no doubt that Jesus existed."
      Yes there is, maybe not much among christians, but there certainly is. But whether he did or not is still not very relevant. You still have no link between his existence and your imaginary friend.

      June 16, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  12. peter

    This dewitt guy who apparently was good at what he did should of just kept the ball running. He didn't have to preach about hell and brimstone,the end times. He could of been somewhat like that osteen guy. You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinagar. Maybe his hang up was the prayer deal.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      DeWitt obviously isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • WOOF

      *should "of"...
      *could "of"...

      peter is a dull tool also.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • peter

      woof–yea my english grammar sucks–alot of people who have great english grammar in high school and college can't hold a job for one day because they are weak–be a middle school teacher

      June 14, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      The point is he no longer believed in a god. Preaching about hell just started his questions. He could have preached the Osteen theology but if he no longer believed in a god he would still be preaching a lie.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • JOEL OSTEEN

      Amen brother! I learned a long time ago to be careful what you say. It's the Brimstone's or the Gemstones I always say! Give me the later!!! People are a lot less likely to write checks when you tell em they are going to hades.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  13. The Dog Delusion

    I just prayed for a Scrooge McDuck style money bin to appear instantly in my backyard. To my dismay, nothing happened.

    According to the brilliant atheist Jerry "Bubba" DeWitt, this is proof that God does not exist. Move over David Hume! There's a new sheriff in town!

    June 14, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Well Jesus did say that God will give you anything you ask for as long as you have faith and it can give god glory. Making a pile of money appear to his faithful followers would certainly give god glory so I'm not sure why he didn't... unless Jesus lied.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      I wonder if God knew that "making it rain" anytime someone asked would destroy any hopes for a functioning economic system?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • mandarax

      Did I mention misrepresentations and strawman arguments? Let me add to that denigration and mockery. Why so threatened?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      What strawman? This is a direct quote from Bubba DeWitt

      “The next big issue was the failure of prayer,” DeWitt said. “People are passing away, whenever we pray for them to live. People aren’t getting jobs, whenever we pray for them to have jobs."

      We aren't dealing with Bertrand Russell here. These are the types of arguments we literally expect to hear from children (or in this case ignorant hicks).

      June 14, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Cq

      Sometimes things work out the way you want them to, and sometimes not. Sometimes articulating a wish sets forth a process that sees it being fulfilled by human dealings, and sometimes people choose to pick out the one small part of a tragedy that didn't suck so much and call that a "miracle", like one person surviving a plane crash (99.5% tragedy instead of 100%. Whoopie!!) Point is, all of this is fully explainable without there actually being a god out there twisting reality to favor some.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • mandarax

      But that's not what you said, you said "I just prayed for a Scrooge McDuck style money bin to appear instantly in my backyard. To my dismay, nothing happened. According to the brilliant atheist Jerry "Bubba" DeWitt, this is proof that God does not exist."

      Not only is that a strawman (it reduces the original idea to an absurd simplification in order to more easily tear criticize it), but you indicate that this is the only thing he mentions, when in fact even the quote you supplied indicates it is one of many.

      The fact that you have to continually call him a hick, a hayseed, backwoods, etc. suggests that you have the same insecurities as a schoolkid who has to personally belittle someone who makes them feel threatened.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • WOOF

      cq,
      "all of this is fully explainable without there actually being a god out there twisting reality to favor some."

      Yes.

      We're on Our Own, Folks. Get over it.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • WOOF

      The Dog Delusion,

      Are you STILL perseverating on that one (prayer) comment?! OY!

      We're on Our Own, Folks. Get with it.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      It is clear that DeWitt is claiming unanswered prayer is an argument against the existence of God. It think we can all agree on that.

      My money bin analogy was used to show the absurdity of this claim.

      Admittedly, my "hick" comments are uncalled but it's rare that a backwoods hick is on the side of atheism instead of theism so I'm milking it for all it's worth.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • mandarax

      dog, then perhaps the message you should be considering is this: at this point even ignorant backwoods hicks are beginning to see through the delusion. Why are you so far behind even the ignorant backwoods hicks?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      Yowza. I'm in rough shape if I'm so far behind that the following logic is too complex for me to comprehend:

      'My buddy lost a job he prayed for. Therefore, God does not exist.'

      June 14, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • mandarax

      Straight back to the strawman....

      It appears you are indeed that far behind.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      what strawman? i'm attacking dewitt's assertion that unanswered prayer is evidence against the existence of god.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  14. FR33thinker

    The fact that there are literally thousands of of pastors out there that have lost their faith and realizes its all a lie is bittersweet. Its nice that they are waking up, but it sucks that their lives will get so tough once they come out about it. Why do you think Christians hate the ones that come out about their lack of belief? I think its because they don't want anyone to ruin their fantasy party. "What?! You don't believe anymore? I can't have you around here poisoning our minds with all this reality!!"

    June 14, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • mandarax

      I think we should venerate the honesty of those that come out when they cease believing. I suspect that many preachers and priests eventually realize it is all a farce, but are either afraid to come out or, worse yet, continue to just play the game and live off of their flock. The ones like Dewitt who, despite the personal consequences, are willing to be honest and unwilling to go on misleading people have shown true integrity.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      I suppose other "pastors" without basic logical reasoning capabilities (much less an education in theology or philosophy) might see their faith crumble like this hick DeWitt when faced with an unanswered prayer. Others will probably laugh (or cry) at such an immature intellect.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      As an ex-Jehovah's Witness I can tell you that is EXACTLY the reason they are told to shun those who leave the church. If these religions are teaching truth, why is it they cannot hold up to basic scrutiny? Truth stands the test of time. Truth is unwavering. Why are they so afraid of dissenting opinions, if they have the truth? It is because humans have a great ability to spot a fake. They tell the JW's not to go on the internet and read anything non JW-sanctioned. They also tell them to never even say hello to those who have left the church. This includes children and parents.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  15. jungleboo

    Finally! Never thought I'd see the day! Congratulations to all who step up to the plate and speak their rational minds. These few hundred years of freedom to question are gaining momentum, and the tide is changing. It is unfortunate that a man with 20 years experience in guiding others has few skills to fall back on, but it is a stroke of genius to set up counseling and public speaking to help others out of The Hell Hole. Young men and women will do well to steer clear of the "preaching the gospel". While the gospel has a few kernels of truth embedded in its dizzy scripture, it is quite like the T.tanic, having struck the iceberg of cold hard Logic and scientific Reasoning. The ship is without a doubt going down.

    Science has offered us worldwide instantaneous discourse via the Internet, as well as an acute awareness of our spectacular Blue Planet adrift in a stupendous cosmos. Why would anyone but a fable-spinning caveman think that the Ultimate Answer is knowable, describable? Come on! Let go of dogma, be kind to your neighbor as you would wish him to be kind to you, and the future will certainly take care of itself.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      Have you heard this hayseed speak? He believes an unanswered prayer is proof that God does not exist....hardly Epicurus.

      By the way, I'm guessing his lack of other career opportunities has less to do with his rejection of God and more to do with the fact that he has the intellect of a 5 year old.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • jungleboo

      @ Dog "I'm guessing his lack of other career opportunities has less to do with his rejection of God and more to do with the fact that he has the intellect of a 5 year old."

      Congratulations on your guess. When you decide to speak from a knowledgeable point of view, try again. The economy is tough. Working at Walmart etc may be this type's only option, which will not support a family. He is using his intellect, even if you disapprove of it. Nice try, o faithful one...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • mandarax

      @ the dog delusion – typical dishonest misrepresentation of the facts, typical strawman argument. These suggest to me that you are feeling pretty threatened.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      If I ever feel threated by an uneducated, backwoods hick from Louisiana then hell certainly exists.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  16. peter

    The rev-First off you are not even a rev,priest,pastor,or minister–Second, you don't donate 10 percent because you are too cheap. However, you do know everything about the bible and God–atleast you claim to know

    June 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • The Rev

      I do not understand the point of your post. Are you simply trying to insult me claiming I do not ti.the or that I am not a pastor? Nobody knows everything about the Bible. There are great debates among many Christian scholars as to what certain parts mean. Anyone claiming to know all there is to know is not being honest. To my recollection, I have made no such claim.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • peter

      yes, unlike this dewitt fellow you don't have a congregation–By the way, you said the other day free gift–Well there is a debate in christendom of predetination or freewill...You were slaming people as if they just have to accept the free-gift-It could be that you sir are on your way to hell no matter what you believe-chosen to suffer in hell forever and ever before you were born

      June 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  17. Bob

    For the mean person calling themselves "Atheist Hunter": your anti-atheist and bigoted posts are often nasty, and you keep referencing the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible. Looking through your book of horrors, it's pretty easy to see where you get your viciousness from, when the bible says god wants you to do horrid stuff like this:

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    June 14, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • The Rev

      I will not speak for "Atheist Hunter," but your desire to make the Bible look "nasty" is nothing more than a typical assault on the Old Testament.

      Through His death on the cross, Christ fulfilled the law of the Old Testament.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Primewonk

      Rev – Jesus said the OT remains in play until heaven and earth pass away.

      Is the earth still here?

      June 14, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • The Rev

      Primwork – You are no doubt quoting from Matthew 5:18. Have you considered John 19 : 28-30?

      8 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

      I think the answer to your question lies in those verses.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • sally

      So, god *used* to be an evil cruel killer, but now he feels bad about it? Not so perfect after all, is he?

      June 14, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I thought God was unchanging. Apparently he had a kid and realized he was a really miserable bas-tard. If the OT is of no value anymore, why do Christians quote from it to support their church policies? It makes no sense.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Bob

      Rev, again, read, and do try to understand, for a change:

      Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  18. mema

    All the reasons this former paster gives for losing his faith are mainly due to a missunderstanding of both scripture and God. Miracle healings and rising from the dead were to show what the future had in store. Prayers are not intended to cure your disease rather to give you the strenth to deal with your illness. And it is shown to help some actually overcome overwhelming odds to have faith and to believe they can get well. Prayer does not make a job just appear but those same people did not die from hunger either. God will end all suffering soon but until his 'appointed time' we should not expect manna from the heavens as in biblical times. Then theres the issue of h€ll. The original texts did not contain a word that translates to the word h€ll. The word were sheol, hades and gehenna. These all refer to mans common grave. The depiction of a fiery h€ll fire came from Dante. The bible says clearly the 'dead are conscious of nothing at all' and Jesus refered to death as sleep. Hense our graves are called memorial tombs because until Gods time to call them out of sleep we live in His memory. It is hard for me to grasp that one preaches for so many years and does not grasp most of the fundamental teaching in the bible. I have no issue with his lost faith but rather that he continued falsely teaching. That he continued to offer prayers for them which without faith were in vain. And that he continued living on their financial contrabutions. That is the worst hypocracy of all.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Bob

      mema: When you're dead, you're dead. Period. If you think otherwise, present real evidence, not 2,000 year old fairy tales from the bible, a book that isn't even self-consistent and has been modified and retranslated by many people into many conflicting versions.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Which God??

      I noticed that your praying hasn't cured you of your illness. You still believe in a fake god who never said a word to anyone, at any time. Then, or especially now.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • mema

      Bob that is exactly what I just said. When you die you are dead or asleep. You live only in Gods memory. It does not matter that a word here or there was misstranslated, mostly done intentionally to be honest. Because it just takes some research and y©ur own reading of the bible to find the truth. And there are tons of books old and new that have very inportant historical, medical and many others sunjects that we use today. If y©ur going to discredit one book for being 2000 years old and having few mistranslations then they should all be discredited!

      June 14, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • The Rev

      Ah, the real evidence demand from a non-believer. Can you provide me with "real evidence" that when you're dead, you're dead?

      June 14, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Rev, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We aren't the ones making outrageous claims. Your outrageous claims of "We leave our body and fly off into the clouds and play harps for all eternity" should require some proof, don't you think? Burden of proof is on you, my friend.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Bob

      Stupid Rev: present evidence or just stop trying to sell your god fraud and your nasty god bastard here please.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • HappyMadison

      @mema – Don't you find it odd that a perfect all-knowing God could write a book that is so easily misunderstood by so many people he created?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @Rev – you can sit in front of a corpse and watch it rot. All the cells and atomic structure of the body go right back into nature. You actually can see that happen with your own eyes. There is my proof. Now where is this 'soul' you speak of, where does it go? Can you show me? Can you at least show me the calculations of its existence?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  19. The Rev

    So the debate continues I see.

    To my atheist friends on this blog, please tell me why you have been unable to disprove the validity of the Bible to this point. I would love to hear you reason away the archeological consistencies science has unearthed that match up perfectly with the Bible.

    It is true that the Bible is the most attacked book in all of history. It is also true that the Bible is still standing. Try as you might, you can not ignore the validity of the Word of God.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Which God??

      Rev, the buy-bull may have some archeological and historic content, but it is NOT the fooking 'word of god.' God never spoke to anyone, then and most certainly not now, when this world is seemingly in worse shape then 2000yrs ago. Where is you god now, sport? Why the fook isn't he helping all those who are praying to him? One nutjob keeps posting that 'prayer changees thins. Fact.' Really? Come on Rev where is your god? Are you praying to the right one? Has he really delivered you from your so called sins, or you just delusional with the chemical secrtions in your brain the let you think you are communing with a sky daddy. You sir, are a delusional fake.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Primewonk

      Considering that your god got the very first verse, of the very first chapter, of the very first book, wrong – it doesn't bode well for the rest of it.

      Sorry.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • mema

      It is true. The archeological findings do in fact offer much more evidence in biblical accounts that in €volution. If we have a common ancestor and all living thing evolv€d then where are the billions of tr@nsitional fossils that prove it? They will never be found dig as they might because they do not exist. Amen.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Bob

      Rev Stupid:

      Oh that fine word of god, the nasty Christian bible. What a book of horrors, full of evil and self contradiction. Let's take a look at what the bible AKA the Christian book of horrors actually says your vicious, vindictive sky fairy wants you to do:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 14, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • mema

      Bob dont quote biblical texts you dont understand. Yes pagans were killed as were those chosen people who turned their backs on the God that freed them from bondage. But you neither understand nor care to that although they died it is not permanent. It served to protect and preserve the lineage of Christ. Once He arrived that preservation was no longer nessesary. Hence no such commands given after Christ birth by God. If y©u dont believe then fine. If y©ur going to use scriptures to make your point then at least understand them.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • The Rev

      mema – very well said! Often times we see an attack based on only a few select verses. Typically these verses come from the Old Testament. What non-believers do not want to do is acknowledge the rest of the Bible. As a result, their response is incomplete.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • jungleboo

      Hi Rev. I am reminded of the archeological testimony sandwiched between the Old T and New T of my sister's well-thumbed Bible. The author presented an old 1940's photo of some dizbang building called "Absolom's Temple", categorically stating that it was built by Absolom, David's son, in 1000 BC as a monument to his own ravishing beauty. The Greek Ionic columns flanking the door and Roman conical roof structure were presented by this scholar as having been designed in "pre-cognitive architectural stylings" which led to the Greek and Roman use of these forms. This pathetic type of scholarship is what makes Biblical claims so hilarious. The building in question dates from 100 CE, well after the Greeks had flourished and well within the Roman panoply of architectural giddiness. Enough with your expansive claims of history. The Book is full of cruelty, reflecting a cruel civilization and geographical area which has not made much progress in many thousands of years. Why deify that cr.p?

      June 14, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • mandarax

      As for "archaeological consistencies that match perfectly with the bible," about the strongest support you will find is that some of the cities mentioned in the bible actually existed, and some of the rulers. The actual existence of Tokyo and Japanese scientists proves the accuracy of the Godzilla movies to the same extent that those things prove the bible.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • ME II

      @The Rev,

      If taken literally, the Bible is inaccurate in many places. Gen 1:1 is wrong, a world-wide flood didn't happen, and Jesus probably wasn't born both before and after the end of Herod's reign, I don't think.

      @mema,
      There are thousands, if not millions, (billions?) of fossils as evidence of evolution. Some of the more dramatic are Ambulocetus (http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Ambulocetus)
      Tiktaalik (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/)
      Ho.mo Habilis (http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/hoREMOVEmo-habilis)

      June 14, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • 2ndserve

      This post is funny. Archaeological consistencies ~ like the flood account? Too Rich

      Polar Bears meandering across the desert. Kangaroos hopping BACK to Australia after the event. Seems reasonable.

      Jesus (if he existed) was a backwater, country bumpkin preacher too stupid to keep his mouth shut in the big city. My dog is more worthy of worship.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • mandarax

      @mema, "It is true. The archeological findings do in fact offer much more evidence in biblical accounts that in €volution. If we have a common ancestor and all living thing evolv€d then where are the billions of tr@nsitional fossils that prove it? They will never be found dig as they might because they do not exist. Amen."

      First, you are absolutely wrong that they don't exist. You are simply lying or have been lied to. Go to a museum or read a real book. They are there for you to see.

      Second, you are wrong about what archaeology is. Archaeology is the study of human material remains (tools, structures, etc). What you are pathetically trying to dismiss is paleontology and biological anthropology. The fact that you don't know what archaeology is speaks volumes on the credibility of your opinion on evolution.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • The Rev

      Many of you have questioned the world wide flood in the Bible as proof that the Bible is not archeologically accurate. I have a link I would like you to take a look at:

      http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html

      I understand that any link with "creation" in the name is going to immediately put some of you on guard. My point is nothing more than the amount of flood stories we find throughout history. This is not a Bible specific event. This event is recorded by civilizations around the world! I would invite you all to at least consider the possibility that Noah's flood did in fact take place.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Trumpy

      The Bible still hasn't been proven valid. It isn't on me to disprove it, the onus is on you making the positive claim that it is somehow valid.

      Many of the historical claims have merits, sure. There were cities by those names and some of the people and events...but followers of the Bible, despite 2,000 years and literally BILLIONS of adherents have yet to produce one single shred of empirical evidence for any of the divine claims contained within it.

      I no more need to "disprove" the Bible than I need to disprove the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie. Both make some claims based in reality (there really was an Abraham Lincoln and he really was president), but both also make unsupported supernatural claims (like vampires) and the fact that part of the story references real people and places does not give any credence to the other, supernatural part.

      Please provide me ONE SINGLE SHRED of empirical proof for any divine claim in the Bible and then we can worry about my need to disprove it.

      I'll be waiting...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Trumpy

      A The Rev: "Many of you have questioned the world wide flood in the Bible as proof that the Bible is not archeologically accurate...My point is nothing more than the amount of flood stories we find throughout history. This is not a Bible specific event. This event is recorded by civilizations around the world!"

      Sigh.

      1) There is not one single shred of geological evidence for a worldwide flood. In fact, ALL geographical evidence to date disputes it. Besides the fact there simply isn't enough water for such a thing anyway, there are many geographic formations that show zero signs of disturbance in sedimentation rates or other factors going back 10's of thousands of years.

      2) Many of these stories date to different time periods showing them not to be a single event. Yes, there may be flood stories in many of the world's myths, but the fact it entered that mythos 3,000 years ago in one place, 2,000 in another, and 800 years ago in another clearly show the events not to be globally linked. Also, if Noah was the only one to survive this event, who exactly was writing about it in all those other cultures after it occurred?

      3) These are stories by technologically primitive, geographically isolated people. they describe devastating local events. But, since it was 3000 years ago and most people never traveled more than 20 or 30 miles from the place they were born in, a massive flood wiping out all crops and homes as far as they could see might seem like a global catastrophe from their point of view.

      4) Even beyond the lack of geographic evidence, the biological evidence refutes the story. We know lineages of humans date back 10's of thousands of years in many locations around the globe. There simply was no mass extinction or wide-scale population disruption in the Australian Aborigine or South American Aztec populations. Or the Europeans, Africans, or Asians, either. We also know that we are more genetically diverse than all coming from a single old man and his kids. And this goes for non-human populations as well, many of which show not only genetic diversity far beyond any sort of recent common ancestry (like a few mating pairs a few thousand years ago) but a geographic specificity that simply cannot be accounted for via the ark story (such as monotremes, which only live and only ever have lived in Australia. So either Australia did not flood, or some non-swimming echidnas somehow found their way from Queensland to the Middle East and then BACK again).

      the whole story is ridiculous on its surface and that grown men and women can continue to believe it as absolute truth in this day and age is just sad in the extreme.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • wayne

      Rev all the flood legends in the world mean nothing when there is no physical evidence of a flood. Where is the physical evidence? The world's first geologists were christians looking for evidence of a flood. Know what they found? Nothing.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • HappyMadison

      Just because your lips are moving doesn't mean there is a debate going on.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  20. merecat

    Why don't these"Atheists" just go and get a job.. instead of trying to figure a way to get "funds" for their "ministry"??? What WORK??? they don't want to work they still want to leech of of some type of "flock" be they Christian or Atheists... GET A REAL JOB... Even the Apostle Paul worked as a Tentmaker to support himself.. he was no burden or leech on his congregations.. If you believe ok.. if you don't want to ok... why go around whining?!

    June 14, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • hoho

      merecat is a mereidiot.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Double standard. Go tell that to Christians who whine about not getting their way and are constantly trying to convert people to their belief. I don't really like this Jerry DeWitt guy. He isn't a Christian preacher anymore but he hasn't changed his style.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • 2ndserve

      Actually, merecat makes a valid point.

      Let's pull the financial plug on every preacher, pastor, priest, bishop and pope worldwide.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Which God??

      I will agree that there is nothing worse than a convert to any side. of the religious debate.This guy goes overboard. One extreme to the other. I don't like proselytizing of any form

      June 14, 2012 at 9:30 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.