By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – This convention season has not been good for atheists.
The word "God" was reinserted in the Democratic platform after it had been removed. A plan to raise atheist billboards in the convention cities was stymied by opponents. And though there were preachers and rabbis and other religious leaders opening and closing each day of each convention, there wasn’t an avowed atheist talking up unbelief on either convention’s speaking list.
The political lockout has left many nonbelievers asking, “What political party represents me?”
“We are deeply saddened by the exclusion of a large number of Americans by both parties,” said Teresa MacBain, a spokeswoman for the group American Atheists, in an interview on Thursday. “It amazes me that in modern-day America, so much prejudice still exists.”
After word spread Wednesday that Democrats left God out of their platform, atheists rejoiced. “Truly amazing news,” wrote Loren Miller on Atheist Nexus, a popular atheist blog. “The Republicans remain in the firm grasp of right-wing Christian religiosity, and I really don't know what it's going to take to free them from it.”
But the convention committee immediately received huge pressure get God back in the platform. Even President Obama, according to CNN reporting, said, “Why on earth would that have been taken out?” when he first heard of the omission.
In an awkward session that required three voice votes on the convention floor, the Democrats opted to add “God” back to the platform.
For atheists, the Democrats were seen to be taking away a hard-fought victory. “We had 24 hours of joy as we felt (that) finally our government values all people,” said MacBain. “But that was short-lived. The vote last night angered many atheists and left them feeling excluded once again.”
Online, atheist websites and Facebook pages went from upbeat to downcast as news spread of the platform revision.
“Obama was the first president to acknowledge non believers,” Mark Musante wrote on the American Atheists’ Facebook page. “I wish he would stick to his guns.”
Musante was referring to Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech, when the president said, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.”
Beverly Sitherwood, on the Friendly Atheist blog Facebook page, accused the Democrats of “Pandering for power.”
Some atheist leaders used the platform defeat as a rallying call.
“I guess a tiny step was too much to ask for,” David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, told CNN. “This was a clear message to the 16% of the voting population – we don’t count. Well, guess what, Dems – we do. And we vote.”
Silverman says that 16% of the voting public identify as nonbelievers. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 12% of the electorate in 2008 was made up of people with no religious affiliation, though experts say the number of avowed atheists is much smaller.
While acknowledging atheists, Obama has given platforms to high-profile religious leaders, including Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor who prayed at his inauguration, and Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is giving the final prayer of the convention on Thursday night.
American Atheists’ plans to raise billboards ridiculing the presidential candidates’ faith ended in failure. After the group put up billboards in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention, last month, it quickly removed them due to “physical threats to not only our staff, but the billboard company as well.”
American Atheists had also planned on a billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with the Republican National Convention there. But American Atheists said that all the billboard companies in Tampa rejected a sign taking aim at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.
Perhaps because of the Republican Party’s ties to conservative Christianity, atheists tend to be Democrats. According to a 2012 Pew study, 71% of Americans who identified as atheist were Democrats.
“The Republicans who spoke at the RNC seemed more like televangelists than politicians,” MacBain said. “The message was clear from the RNC: Get God, or get out.”
The Republican’s 2012 platform mentions God 12 times, many of which describe the “God-given” rights that the Republican Party says are inherent to the American idea.
Though most atheist groups claim that there are closeted atheists serving as representatives and senators, only one has come out as such.
In September 2007, Rep. Pete Stark, Democrat of California, affirmed his atheism in a speech at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.
Make no mistake from the platform vote ( the real vote), atheists feel right at home in the Democrat Party
Oolon Colluphid was right!
Complete and total BS article. Atheists don't care about any religion. They simply see it as your fantasy book, and that's that.
It's amazing that in 2012 we still pay attention to these silly sky fairy stories from the Bronze Age. Theism is so naive it's laughable. I cannot fathom that a smart man like Obama actually believes in that crap.
If it wasn't for the people who lived in the Bronze ages, you would not even exist. So, give me a break with that BS line of "I cannot believe in our times so advanced...." because we are an evolving species, and we depend on who came before us to be who we are. Even a retard knows that. Maybe that's why you are here critizicing actually smart people.
I would agree that much of religion is silly, but to be an atheist, you need to put your faith in a dogmatic belief system that really doesn't hold up under close scrutiny any better than religion.
I have an idea he's probably more like you than you realize.
Just One. Really? That's like saying that disbelief in Leprechauns really doesn't hold up under close scrutiny any better than belief in Leprechauns.
Atheism is not a belief system, but I don't know why I'm bothering to point this out. It's not like people actually care what the word actually means, instead of what people have wanted it to mean.
You really couldn't be any more wrong. Atheists place their trust (not faith) in science. And the beauty of science is that it is self correcting. If a problem is found and inconsistencies arise, the solutions will be discovered and the inconsistencies will be smoothed out. And it is this constant self-correction that leads science closer to what people would call the truth.
Religion seems to do the opposite. It claims to know the truth and works backward.
No, Gadfly. I will give you a simple one. Why is the balance of matter and anti matter off? Why is the ratio of strong and weak atomic forces just right to allow for star formation?
The odds of the universe existing in a way that supports life is many billions to one. Maybe there are billions of universes. But to believe there are without empirical evidence is a thing we call faith.
And where is your dataset to accurately determine the probability? Oh you don't have one? I think the technical term is "pulling numbers out of your ass".
Jack, the problem is that science is not a belief system. It is a method for uncovering reality. When you make statements of belief, without a shred of data, it is a statement of faith, no different than religion.
There is no known natural process that could ever lead to the initiation of self replicating life. Yet, I am sure you believe that it happened. This is faith, not science.
Just One, actually the odds are very simple. 1 out of 1. Ask any statistician to explain. You are using what I call creationist math, it's only convincing to someone that doesn't realize that determining the odds of something in the past is not a valid statistical exercise.
Hawaii, have you ever taken a course of read a book on cosmology? Even hard core atheist cosmologists admit to what I am saying regarding the odds of the universe being as it is. This isn't even a debate anymore, and your attack on me just shows you lack of knowledge, and reenforces my point that you believe without knowledge.
Just one, and your argument against science and the beginning of life is nothing but a logical fallacy. It's known as an argumentum ad ignorantiam. Look it up, it might help relieve some of your own ignorance.
Gadfly, this isn't creationist, and your smarmy answer just shows you basic lack of knowledge on the subject. The only theoretical answer to the problem of the anthropoid principle is either the multiverse proposed by string theory, or a cyclic universe. Neither one has any supportive data. At least had you mentioned them, I would have a tiny bit of respect for your knowledge base, base.
And I will gladly say that they are pulling numbers out of their ass as well. How can anyone even begin to determine probability based on a single point of data, namely our own universe.
Just One, it never was a debate. Your point relies on a total ignorance of statistics. I'll give you an example. Imagine the odds of a specific sperm cell from your father meeting a specific egg from your mother. It's about 16 trillion to one. Now, multiply that number by itself twice to get the odds of you coming from your grandparents then parents. Now, four more times for the next generation. Now 8 more times for the next. Then sixteen. In very few generations, you have a number MUCH greater than the creationist odds of the universe coming into being. Yet, there you are. Impossible by your argument. But, statistically the exact same odds as the universe existing as it does. One to one.
Just one, are you truly that ignorant of math? The odds of life existing in this universe that fits the conditions of this universe are one out of one. It does. See my previous post for a fine example of why your argument is just, well, ignorant.
Hawaii, at least you ask the question. To be clear, I am an agnostic. But there are several crucial factors that have to be just exactly perfect for the universe to exist as it does. There are a dwindling number of cosmologists that say basically what you are. That maybe the universe just is how it is because that is the only way it could be. They are a very tiny minority of the cosmological community. Most are digging the string theory notion of many universes. But there is no evidence for this, just some theories without support. Again, to believe such is faith, plain and simple.
@Jay in Florida: I didn't criticize those people that lived in the Bronze Age. Science was not well develop back then. But for people today to still believe there is any shred of connection to reality in those silly fairy in the bible, torah, and quran is pathetic. We need to evolve beyond theism.
Gadflie, please learn some cosmology and astronomy and get back to me. I understand what you are trying to say. It just isn't factually accurate, and is a complete perversion of statistics. What. Are the odds that a purple plush Jesus doll were to fly through your window, just as you are reading this post about just such an event? In your perversion of statistics, because it happened the odds are one to one. It's just silly.
Just One, which part of my explanation why your "statistics" argument is bogus are you having trouble understanding? If you can point it out, I'll try to explain using smaller words.
@Just One: This is of course deja vu a billion times over, but believing in an old bearded ghost guy in a white robe, or whatever, doesn't really help answer any questions regarding the origins of the Universe. It's just a lame cop out. Science is constantly looking for new answers, and proving or disproving them. Theists aren't looking, they are already convinced that their fairy tale is the answer.
Gadflie, the sad part is you actually think you are intelligent, and years of evidence to the contrary hasn't cured your unfounded faith in your intellect. A few minutes of pointless debate won't change that. You have absolutely zero knowledge of cosmology, yet like some moronic creationist arguing evolution, you just keep going and going.
Do yourself a favor, learn a little. Read a book sometime. If that is too much to ask, go on wiki and read a little about cosmology, string theory and the big bang. You will sound a little less ignorant next time you get into a debate.
Just One, My minor was astronomy. And I have two degrees. Geology and Math. Want to try again? It's pretty obvious that I'm not the ignorant one here. But, if you actually believe what you are saying, then tell me, why don't those odds apply to your own birth? If the universe is statistically impossible, you are also.
Just One, that was funny. I asked you a simple question and you replied with an ad-hominem attack. Gee, I wonder why. Kid, learn some statistics. It's damned clear that you have never studied it.
Veritas, there are two kinds of people that I find beneath contempt. Creationists that twist facts and ignore science and atheists like Gadflie, who have no knowledge, yet say they don't believe in anything that isn't proven, so they believe there is no god.
I don't believe in a bearded dude in the sky, but nor do I believe there is nothing behind the universe. I just don't know.
Gadflie, that was not an ad hominid attack. It was a statement of fact concerning your knowledge base on cosmology. You might know a lot about another subject, but I suggest that you learn more about cosmology before debating it. Otherwise you just look silly.
Gadflie, if you have a minor in astronomy, you have just supported the argument that our education system is crap. Funny that I your twenty postings you used not one peice of knowledge from astronomy to support your argument that flies in the face of all modern astronomical and cosmological data and generally accepted evidence. Almost like you are full of bovine exriment.
Just One, sorry kid, Cosmology classes were an integral part of my astronomy degree. But, it's clear that you have never taken any.
Ok, let me give you a challenge. Give me ANY event from the past that actually happened and I will show you, using creationist math, why it is statistically so improbable as to be impossible. This should demonstrate to even you why that type of "statistics" is laughably bogus.
I mistyped in the last post, my astronomy minor I meant to type.
Just One, your argument isn't about astronomy, it's about statistics. The misuse thereof actually. And, I have easily demonstrated why.
Really Gadflie, when you were getting your degree in math, astronomy, geology did you ever study Fred Hoyl's work?
Really Gadflie, when you were getting your degree in math, astronomy, geology did you ever study Fred Hoylel's work?
Just One, come on, take me up on my challenge. I will produce statistics just as valid as yours showing that whatever you choose is just as statistically unlikely as the universe. Give it a shot, this will be fun.
1. It might be fantastically remote, but the odds dont matter now anyway because after all it happened. (the classic "begging the question" fallacy, as sumes that a purely naturalistic process is the ONLY way that "it happened"; completely ignoring the other possible reasons that "it happened")
2. There is no point talking about "infinitesimally small probabilities" since we cant possibly know all of the possible outcomes and therefor cant calculate it, so lets just call it possible as the default (self evidently nonsense).
3. The infinitesimally small probabilities doesnt matter, if we have infinite time, every possible thing that could happen will happen, so there you go, it's possible. (this is a new form of nonsense from my good friend Really-O.. and of course is nonsense since we dont have infinite time, and the "every possible thing that could happen will happen" only works with infinite time, any amount of time smaller than infinite, no matter how large, will not work – ie produce every possible outcome.)
4. infinitesimally small probabilities dont matter because improbable things, even fantastically improbable things, happen all the time, and that at no level of improbability (even 0) is an event impossible (this is an utterly fallacious argument as illustrated by the following simple example: suppose I deal 2 cards from a standard deck, the resulting hand has a probability of 1/52 x 1/51 = 0.000377074. Very small probability!! that proves it, just imagine if I deal 10 cards, how wildly improbable would that be.
well, the distinction is between any hand, and a specific hand.
the probability of any hand is 1
the probability of a specific hand is remote.
that's the problem with this fourth type of fallacious reasoning, one cant merely say "well, the remote probability is irrelevant because wildly improbable things happen every day, it is a gross missapplication.
My question about Fred Hoyle, one of the most famous astrophysics in history, whom I am sure you are Googling right now. Are you familiar with his work on stellar neucleogenesis? What are the odds of the stellar cycle being in perfect balance to create carbon
Just One, I know quite a bit about Sir Fred's work actually. Now, if you want to make a point about it, I offer you a challenge. Make one that doesn't involve a logical fallacy or the misuse of statistics that I have already explained. This should be fun. :)
One out of one. It does. See how simple that is? :)
To be clear Gadflie, my reference to Hoyle was in answer to your request. Carbon being integral to everything that is life, is relevant to me. What are the odds of it even existing? With degrees in math, geology and astronomy this should be an easy question.
So, Chad you believe in God? If there is a possibility of his existence.....
Already answered it kid. It exists so the odds are obviously one out of one.
Why haven't you taken me up on my little challenge yet? Afraid that it will show your how silly your argument is?
Gadflie, I can't say it has been interesting, but I must be going. Have an enjoyable evening.
BTW, Just One, if you are actually interested in learning something about the subject, I highly recommend Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis by Donald Clayton.
Just One, yep, I suspected you would not have the nerve to take me up on my challenge.
Oh, and calling people kid, just makes you seem like an ass when you have so little actual knowledge. And claiming degrees you either clearly don't have, or bought online, just makes it worse.
Look, kid. I gave you an exapmple. You decided not to give a real answer. Hoyle couldn't come up with one either, but to say it is a logical fallacy shows you are just full of crap. Not knowing that Hoyle threw his hands up at the question shows you have no familiarity with the subject and are just some poorly educated kid in his moms basement.
Kid, the specific logical fallacy is an "argumentum ad ignorantiam". Look it up. Alleviate your ignorance. And, the challenge was "Ok, let me give you a challenge. Give me ANY event from the past that actually happened and I will show you, using creationist math, why it is statistically so improbable as to be impossible. This should demonstrate to even you why that type of "statistics" is laughably bogus.". I notice you STILL haven't answered it.
hawaiiguest or anyone Atheist believe God doesn't exist. Christians believe they have experienced this God. Your comment confuses my simple brain why is it not a believe system> atheist go about life comforted that no God exist, because they believe he doesn't to my mind that is a believe system yet you say it isn't. If not I would like to be corrected so I will better understand.
Hitler may have been 'devout' in labeling himself as a Christian, but his actions spoke to something else so malevolent and evil it can't really be characterized.
Kind of like the pope?
So, you're saying, he was a typical christian? :D
Hitler was the ruler of a Christian population, so much like many of our leaders, he gave lip service to Christianity. To say he was Christian looks only at public speeches and ignores his private writings. It is just dishonest.
Just one: So you're saying that it was millions of Christains that willingly followed his genocidal doctrine...not exactly making the case for Christianity.
I'm not Catholic, so if you're trying to get a rise out of me, it just fell flat.
Well, we could talk about the only officially atheist nations in history, Stalins USSR, Maos China, Pol Pots Cambodia and Robspierres France. But of course they are four of the bloodiest regimes in history. Not great for the atheism team.
No Dick I interpreted that as saying he was the typical religious person. Not a Christ follower.
If you love the liberty to be what you want to be, Vote for the Libertarians. You can be a theist or an atheist or anything in between and be welcome in our party. The commitment to living your life as you choose is what the Libertarian party is all about. (Disclaimer – I'm not a representative of the party. I'm just a guy who is fed up with the big government main-stream party's)
Yeah, vote third party! They have a real chance at winning this year :D
Atheism is not a religion, but dogmatic materialism is. Most atheists who feel the need to post on news sites are members of this cult.
Or we just believe in science and wish that our fellow human beings would quit living in the past with folklore telling them stories that are apparently more superior than actual scientific discoveries.
I would like an atheist to explain to me how a cloud of cosmic dust was able to become a planet, with an atmosphere capable of supporting 'life', to become beings capable of growth and reproduction, to become intelligent, social beings, capable of independent thought, problem solving, high level design, communication, WITHOUT some intelligent design force. The sophistication of the life on our planet could not have simply 'evolved'. A bunch of random events involving subatomic particles simply cannot explain what exists on our planet. For every convergent event there would be some divergent event if this glob of particles simply interacted at random. There must be an intelligent force controlling it. I choose to call this force "God".
Maybe read a book?
Gravity and evolution. You're welcome.
But, just for the record, God is MUCH harder to explain.
Based on your name, I really hope that you aren't responsible for teaching anyone. If you want the answer to your questions, high school level classes in biology, chemistry, and physics will provide you with ample answers.
That's find and dandy for YOU! But, many of us don't want YOUR idea being the law of the land! Why should a secular government even concern itself with which god is better than yours? Also, as an aspiring science teacher, I hope you park your belief at the school house door!
You would do well to read Ooon Colluphid's Trilogy about God!
There is a very simple answer to all of those questions you just asked, and it's something every single one of us is intimately familiar with.
That answer is GRAVITY. It is responsible for the largest things in the universe, like stars and galaxies, as well as the very smallest, like holding together the atom.
If I may make some suggestions for additional reading, I would recommend Stephen Hawkings "A Brief History of Time." Not only does it tackle many of the fundamental problems you raised, but it does so in a relatively accessible manner. In fact, it was written specifically for lay people who may not have a complete grasp of the underlying science.
I hope you enjoy your path to knowledge. You will find that the universe is a very intriguing and exciting place!
Just because science can't explain everything it seems a stretch to believe in a god to fill in the blanks. Science cannot offer the proof you need but can you provide the proof that god exists?
You realize, of course, that "intelligent design" doesn't necessarily mean that your Bronze Age rabbi is in charge, right? That particular line of inverse reasoning validates EVERY god ever created, from Apollo to Zeus. :D
Read some science books. Educate yourself.
"intelligent design force"? What are you talking about, maybe the words you are saying don't actually make any sense at all, just think about what you are saying for a little bit.
Atheistism sounds a bit like yet another in your face religion to me. The difference with it is that that there is no god to worship but the right to call everyone else's belief system wrong or a fantasy is common.
Yup. A true atheist wouldn't care whether God was inserted or not. Caring enough and wanting people to take their view make them religious in their own right. The religion of Anti-religion.
Atheists will never know what it means to be chosen by God because they refuse to humble their hearts.
Or, more likely, because there is no god.
Christians will never know the joy of sleeping in on Sundays as they have been conditioned to waste their time waking up early in the morning, dressing up and spending an hour or more in the most boring place on Earth.
I don't WANT to know what it means to be chosen by god any more than you want to know what it feels like to be chosen by Zeus. I'll fight for your right to believe what you want to, but I'll also fight for MY right to be free from your beliefs.
My understanding is that people were chosen by God literally before the foundation of the world. What does having a humble heart now have to do with it?
Blane, neither will you. But, you are very familiar with self deception.
Thinking you have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe is not humble....delusional maybe...
You have no idea what you are talking about. Just self-righteous, condescending claptrap and pablum!
Blane, how "humble" did you have to make your heart to convince yourself that you are chosen by God, he listens to your every prayer, and that you are immortal?
This is the same weak ploy that I read earlier today, although much stronger here. In regards to separation of church and state, someone said that "The separation doesn't provide for the influence of certain values from religion . .".
I replied asking what values the poster was talking about. And then I asserted that however they answered I felt confident that whatever value they had in mind was attainable outside of religion and even without religion altogether, thereby making their point moot. The same applies here, but to an obviously more ignorant poster (regarding the attribute of humbleness).
How do you know you are some chosen being. Stop putting yourself above everybody, you child.
What is humble about thinking that a supreme being chose you and will smite the others?
yes Putty and even tho I don't agree with your "world view I would fight for your right to believe it as long as it doesn't demand I abandon mine.
For religious people saying atheists are not true americans, I ask as a small example, why then aren't religious organisations required to pay taxes but veterans' affairs centres are? Being "true" doesn't equate to believing the same things you do. Faith is often used to occupy the place where sanity once resided.
Actually Nazis played for team Satan. Nothing they did remotely resembled any likeness to Christ. God didn't really factor in except to use as a shield to allow them to get away with atrocities they committed.
Hitler was a devout Christian and stamped a maltese cross (a christian symbol) on ever piece of nazi equipment. learn2history
Dick – wrong. Hitlers parents were devout catholics. That doesn't mean hitler was. He was a devout atheist. Learn your history.
We are the joyous Hitler youth,
We do not need any Christian virtue
Our leader is our savior
The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone
We want to be pagans once again.”
– Song sung by Hitler youth
"God didn't really factor in except to use as a shield to allow them to get away with atrocities they committed."
That's essentially how I experience all major religions. I know there is supposed to be a good message and a guide for life aspect, but this is the overwhelming outcome.
He mentions Christ repeatedly in "Mein Kampf". You people really need to crack a book once in awhile.
Aw, GeezUs! It will all be OKay?
I'm pretty sure most democrats are just pretending to be religious to get votes. Or if they are religious, it's not in an intense way.
Regardless, I don't feel like I need a political party with which I share every single belief.
Honestly, who cares what they think. Moving on.
Honestly, who cares. LOL.
Rational people care.
I am tired of the importance given to religion – any of them. Lets allow politics to concern itself with the important issues of the day. An unprovable diety should not shape policy. Believe if you want but do so in your homes and houses of worship.
Stephen.. Yes..so much time given to myth, while the effort to solve real problems is sidelined for the love of an alien.
am done with both party.....who's ever third is what am voting
Hence forth all voters will be defined as Democrats. Demo-meaning people refers to all people. All non-person voters can be called Republicans if they choose.
Agnostics are not atheists, no matter how hard you try to redefine and manipulate words.
Marriage has been redefined and manipulated too.
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.