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October 9th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Survey: One in five Americans has no religion

Editor's note: CNN recently won four first-place reporting awards from the Religion Newswriters Association. Read more about the awards here.

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans.

Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.

Pew found that those who are religiously unaffiliated are strikingly less religious than the public at large. They attend church infrequently, if at all, are largely not seeking out religion and say that the lack of it in their lives is of little importance.

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And yet Pew found that 68% of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in God, while 37% describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” One in five said that they even pray every day.

John Green, a senior research adviser at Pew, breaks the religiously unaffiliated into three groups. First, he says, are those who were raised totally outside organized religion.

Survey: Protestants no longer majority in U.S.

Second are groups of people who were unhappy with their religions and left.

The third group, Green says, comprises Americans who were never really engaged with religion in the first place, even though they were raised in religious households.

“In the past, we would describe those people as nominally affiliated. They might say, 'I am Catholic; I am a Baptist,' but they never went" to services, Green says of this last group. “Now, they feel a lot more comfortable just saying, ‘You know, I am really nothing.’ ”

According to the poll, 88% of religiously unaffiliated people are not looking for religion.

“There is much less of a stigma attached" to not being religious, Green said. “Part of what is fueling this growth is that a lot of people who were never very religious now feel comfortable saying that they don't have an affiliation.”

Demographically, the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.

According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated. Among “older millennials,” born between 1981 and 1989, 30% are religiously unaffiliated: 4 percentage points higher than in 2007.

Poll respondents 18-29 were also more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic. Nearly 42% religious unaffiliated people from that age group identified as atheist or agnostic, a number far greater than the number who identified as Christian (18%) of Catholic (18%).

Green says that these numbers are “part of a broader change in American society.”

“The unaffiliated have become a more distinct group,” he said.

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

Pew's numbers were met with elation among atheist and secular leaders. Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, said that the growth of the unaffiliated should translate into greater political representation for secular interests.

“We would love to see the political leaders lead on this issue, but we are perfectly content with them following these demographic trends, following the voters,” Galef said.

“As more of the voters are unaffiliated and identifying as atheist and agnostics, I think the politicians will follow that for votes.

“We won’t be dismissed or ignored anymore,” Galef said.

The Pew survey suggested that the Democratic Party would do well to recognize the growth of the unaffiliated, since 63% of them identify with or lean toward that political group. Only 26% of the unaffiliated do the same with the Republican Party.

"In the near future, if not this year, the unaffiliated voters will be as important as the traditionally religious are to the Republican Party collation,” Green predicted.

Green points to the 2008 exit polls as evidence for that prediction. That year, Republican presidential nominee John McCain beat President Barack Obama by 47 points among white evangelical voters, while Obama had a 52-point margin of victory over McCain among the religiously unaffiliated.

According to exit polls, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans who supported the Democratic presidential candidate grew 14 points from 2000 to 2008.

In announcing the survey’s findings at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Bethesda, Maryland, Green said the growing political power of the unaffiliated within the Democratic Party could become similar to the power the Religious Right acquired in the GOP in the 1980s.

“Given the growing numbers of the unaffiliated, there is the potential that that could be harnessed,” he said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Politics • Polls

soundoff (7,763 Responses)
  1. Linda

    It would be interesting to know what the "true numbers of non-religeous" are.
    I am 63 yrs. old, and have never believed. In my family of five, it turned out that the ONLT one who actually did believe, was my mother. But, everyone else went to church with her, in order to make her happy, and, as the little town that I lived in, tended to be very religeous, I was the only one of our family who ever admitted publicly to not being religeous, and I paid a high price for doing so. I was judged, and my children were as well, as being demonic.
    An article that I once read, and agreed completely with, was that, The non-religeous, right now, are very similar to the gays, in that their are many, many more of them, "in the closet" than out, because of the social price they would pay if they were to "come out". Based on my own life, in which it took a lot of courage for me to make the decision to "come out", and then after I had done so, I, and my chilldren were judged, and I was either told I was demonic, and an unfit mother, or that I had NO right to inflict my lack of faith onto my children, also avoided, but their were neighbors, who would not allow their children to come to my house, anymore, or play with my children.
    So, based on that just in my own family, four out of five people were NOT believers, but, only ONE publicly admitted to not being religeous, I firmly believe that the number of non-believers is actually much, much higher than, is now known, just as the number of gay individuals is much hugher.
    It would be really interesting, if it was ever possibly to know the true numbers.
    I believe that, if it were, we might outnumber the believers, just, as in my own family it was 4 nonbelievers to only 1 believer.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • William Demuth

      Where you been all my life!

      Been fighting these liars for half a century, I coulda used ya!

      Stay strong and carry on the good fight

      October 9, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • MCR

      Unfortunately because non-believers are generally better educated and better off they are less likely to want to answer telephone surveys. Even when attempting to get a representative sample based on education and income you end up with populations skewed to the bottom end of the pool you're trying to fill. End result is that fewer non-believers are represented in most national surveys.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • RFBJR

      The non-believers have always outnumbered the believers. Also, it sounds like you were part of some cult. I've been there. There are many who claim to be Christian who are not. They will be judged.

      One thing that I hold onto as a believer are the promises of God's Word. Here's one, "All things work together for the good to those that love the Lord." This gives me great comfort regardless of what underhandness or betrayal that his cut deep. It enables me to live a stress free life. And if my family doesn't like what I believe, I guess I'm not going to hang out with them.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • setnommarih

      Hang in there, right is right and in the end, when everyone realizes that there are no invisible sky gods, we will be vindicated. Although I have no guilt anyway. If we can get pass this period where people have to be deluding themselves to believe in gods, I hope then we will start realizing, it's us and only us here on planet Earth, it is up to us, not prayer.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Mitch

      You also have a hard time spelling and an overabundance of commas.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  2. Todd

    I suspect that there are actually a lot of religious people who are actually atheist at heart. However in todays time there is less of a problem with stating this to the public. I myself am not an atheist, and yes I listen to your arguments, and yes I do follow the scientific principle (more then most people). But there are a lot of phonies who pretend to be religious while they are just self serving their agenda. I much rather have the population follow their heart and say they are or are not an atheist without feeling that they no longer belong to civilization, vs. having them pretend they are what they are not.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • William Demuth

      In time you will feel safe enough to escape the cult.

      I have been watching your change.

      It's just a matter of time.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  3. Hate4none

    People are going from religion so called Christianity BECAUSE people don't find TRUE teachings of Jesus(peace be upon him) & there are several 100s versions of Bible , & those go against each others. AND it is main reason why Islam came with original message for that Juses & others prophets called for.
    So is there any PROOF?Yes Quran is only book you can find 100% same with each alphabet, no matter from where get it.
    Weather it is TRUE or NOT? It is very easy, CHECK it out with current science reality info, Compare with current knowledge with clear mind, you get your answer. TRY IT

    October 9, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  4. RFBJR

    The Bible has a prophecy regarding the falling away of many in "the latter days". Coincidence?

    October 9, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • William Demuth

      No, part of a con. Age old technique

      Keeps the suckers in line.

      Instills paranoia in the mentally weak.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • TJ

      The scribes obviously weren't stupid men. Even they realized that at some point people would stop buying their crap.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Brandon

      Falling away of man eh? I'm sure the corrupt and hypocritical churches and their followers have nothing to do with pushing people away from churches and organized religions.. I speak from experience as I was raised in a highly religious environment and attempted to maintain for 15 years.The reason people are leaving in droves is because churches and religion have nothing to offer that's true and meaningful.. Just corruption, closed mindedness, judgmental, hypocritical and disrespectful of any other belief other than their own. So yeah, sign of the times if you say so.. I say, sign of false religion losing their hold on the masses.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Steve

      Yes

      October 9, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • God

      yes

      October 9, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • setnommarih

      I feel alot of people didn't believe it then when the bible was written(?) Robert Heinlein wrote "Stranger in a Strange Land" and that was more prophetic than the bible.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Wally

      No, it's not a coincidence. It's a scare tactic.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • RFBJR

      I'm simply stating a teaching that has been in the Christian dogma for quite awhile. Because of that, William has categorized all Christian’s as suckers and mentally weak. TJ has stated that Christianity is crap. Brandon calls the church corrupt, hypocritical, close-minded, judgmental and disrespectful.
      Now, who is persecuting who? Who is being judgmental? Gentlemen, I respect that some don't believe in God. I also can relate to the hypocrisy of "Christian’s" that have turned you off in your life. Jesus himself called the religious leaders of his time hypocrites. But to categorize all Christians in that camp? That's just not fair and not true. I really can't think of anything that Jesus taught that was so horrible. How Christians act does a disservice, but ultimately, does not take away from who Jesus is, or at the very least, his amazing teachings that have impacted the world for two millennium.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • TheyNotHim

      RFBJR – Dont you see? Its all a fiction. Jesus was not a real person. He was created by a clever scam artist. There is no proof that he existed. The bible has been debunked long ago, so you cant use that book as proof. So, we continue to fight against this fiction and the horrors its proponents have wrought upon the world. Our tolerance is at an end. Good day.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      I grok set's post.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  5. rivertownstudio

    I am an atheist and therefore support individual liberty and freedom, for those who believe in god and those that don't. The one thing I would say to anyone who is athiest is don't be hateful towards those who are not. It immediately closes everyone's ears to the logic that you present when you are condescending in your tone. Present your logic in a calm and thoughtful manner, and realize that many people who refuse to see it still won't see it if you are rude about it.....it pushes them further from the truth. While many agree that religion is perhaps the basis of many of the world's problems, its basic tenants are still good.... treat others as you wish to be treated, be kind, love your neighbor. To follow these doesn't make you religious, it just makes you a good person.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • William Demuth

      You have never been persecuted by them.

      We shall present our findings with the point of a bayonet that is illuminated by torchlight.

      These bigots have some explaining to do.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      William Demuth – Atheist Inquisitor

      October 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • William Demuth

      Damn right.

      I believe some retaliatory burnings at the stake are in order.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • MCR

      The anger and militancy of many who consider themselves part of the atheist "movement" is one of the greatest dangers to secularism. People who use these tactics don't seem to realize they aren't doing the rest of us any favors, and they're just offering ammunition to the fundamentalists. If you can't keep your calm, both inside and out while talking to a religious person, while acknowledging good points of the opposite side, please keep quiet and find other ways to help. You can spend your time working so you can give money to organizations, parties and candidates who are able to hold their own. You can show up for a march, well dressed and without a sign. There's plenty you can do, but until you can reign in your emotions, until you aren't fighting from your own oppression, just keep quiet. If you have to, move for a while, so you know how large the non-believer community is, and you aren't always fighting. There are whole countries out there that are predominantly non-believers. Even in the US there are whole neighborhoods and universities.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Linda

      I agree with you completely.
      It saddens me when I will read things such as what the other individual wrote here.

      I also, have been persecuted by self righteous religeous people, and my young children were as well.
      It is even more painful to hear your grade school children told that they are "filthy little demons" and that some of their friends, are no longer allowed to play with them, than to be treated badly myself.
      And, that kind of treatment can cause you to want to say nasty things back to whomever does that to you, or your children.

      But, I believe, that, if we are being "painted" by some of our opponents, as being, "horrible, terrible people", and our children, as "Godless, and likely to grow up to be murderers and rapists", then, the best thing that we, and our children, can do, is to work hard to "prove them wrong".

      I, and my children, have always been very good people, who have always gone out of our way to help others, and we have always behaved that way toward others, simply because we ARE good, and nice people.

      NO one needs the fear of burning in "Hell" to cause them to be nice to others, and do good deeds.
      Most people do those kinds of things, because they enjoy doing nice things, care about other people, and it is just the way that they are.

      I feel that the more we, nonbelivers can, just live our lives, as good people, and gradually have other people find out, that the extremely nice person that they have known, liked and respected for years, is not religeous, the more acceptance of us will occur, and the easier it will become for the numerous people, who are still "in the closet" to "come out".

      Because, we are often protrayed by many religeous people, as being horrible, terrible people, is exactly why, I feel, that the worst thing that we can do, no matter how justified we might feel in doing it, may be, would be to behave badly toward religeous people, just because many of them have behaved that way toward us.

      That is exactly what they want us to do, so that they can then, point their fingers and say, "SEE! I TOLD you that those people were terrible, awful people."
      It plays right into their "plans".

      We, like the gays, I feel accomplish much more, by simply living our lives, as the caring, loving, people that we are, and making friends with ALL other people, and then, at some point, when some of the religeous people who have known us and liked us for years, find out that we aren't believers, it may result in them questioning, the idea that non-believers are "bad people", just as people who have been friends with gay individuals for years, and then find out that they are gay, can have their opinon of gays being "horrible"challenged.

      I believe that we will win over many more people, by working hard to prove to others, that the "Christian qualities", that so many people associate only with people who are religeous, exist just as abundently among the non-believers, as they do among the believers.
      TO behave badly toward them, when that is exactly what they want us to do, may feel justified and satisfying, but will only harm us as a group in the long run.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  6. mama kindless

    Senator John F Kennedy (Catholic) (35th POTUS):

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute

    –speech on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election

    October 9, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Izoto

      This is relevant, why?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  7. JW

    Chase, everyone is helpless without God. Even He knows at our "best" we cannot please Him. The Bible says that we are but filthy rags before His holy presence. God doesn't judge by using a moral stick as you refer to. If that were the case we'd all be in bad shape and at the bottom. That's where GOD"S GRACE come in. He displayed his grace on the cross as His Son died there for our sins and imperfections. So, it's not just about being GOOD, it's all about being HIS and receiving His plan of salvation by faith alone. God bless!

    October 9, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • William Demuth

      SO the Chinese are helpless? The Jews? The Shintoist?

      Your God is just a crutch for those who can't handle reality.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • sam stone

      your god is a vindictive, petty pr1ck. thanks for playing

      October 9, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • DR

      This is where you are wrong! Not everyone is helpless wiothout God!!! There are strong, smart,.productive people all over the world who don't believe in your fairy tales! They raise families, build companies, help people all over the world and yet are somehow ok wtthout needing to be told what to believe.

      Afterall, the bible and all the other books and writing you speak of were written by men a long time ago. Why do you believe them so much? What is they did this to gain power and control people??? Do you even ask these kinds of questions, or do you just blindly follow?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Voytek

      Wow. So glad I'm not a Christian and don't think like this poor guy. It just seems so debilitating.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Milky Pirate

      This is the type of baloney that is driving people away from religion. Not everyone needs to believe in magic and miracles just to get through the day.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • hahaha

      Since the beginning of humans recorded history there have been 2860 gods. But yours is the right one? Open your eyes. You're just a sheep.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Hate4none

      IIn our World we don't prosecute other than who commit the crime. HOW come on Day of Judgement Jesus (Peace be upon him )will carry every bodies' sin burden? that's make NO sense, EVERY one is responsible for their actions.

      People are going away from religion because they can't find real info, due to several versions of Bible, & these versions go against each other.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • setnommarih

      So it's all about god, the jealous one. Maybe it should be all about us, the responsible ones?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  8. Tuffcookie2

    Psalm14:1 The fool says in his heart, There is no God.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Knowledge_is_Power

      Please quote other religions for us? Show us how much knowledge you absorbed before choosing which religion was the right one for you. Clearly, you're not a Christian just because your parents were Christians.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • William Demuth

      Avengers #4, Page 2 Bubble 6 says "HULK WILL SMASH!!"

      Now I realize its stupid to base my life on a comic book, but what I don't understand is why haven't YOU figured that out yet?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Microsoft Office Excel

      Circular Reference Warning
      One or more formulas contain a circular reference and may not calculate correctly. Circular references are any references within a formula that depend upon the results of that same formula. For example, a cell that refers to its own value or a cell that refers to another cell which depends on the original cell's value both contain circular references.
      For more information about understanding, finding, and removing circular references, click OK. If you want to create a circular reference, click Cancel to continue.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Bill

      Good show - also Psalms comes from the Hebrew Bible - so at least we have two religions now. Let's see what Islam says!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • sam stone

      No, the fools are the inbred fvcks who think they speak for god

      October 9, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • DR

      Funny because there is a direct negative corrolation between education and religious beliefs! This means that the more educated you are, the less you are willing to buy into religious brainwashing, scare tactics etc. I trully believe that telling litlle kids that their soul will burn in eternal hell fire is a form of brainwashing and abuse.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Izoto

      Indeed.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • WASP

      @cookie: you ever bother to think WHY they put that in the bible? could it have anything to do with not wanting you questioning god, thus not questioning THEIR authority?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Funny because I know Dr's rely on the latest information before diagnosis

      For years, a commonly held belief has been that more educated Americans are less likely to embrace religion. But an article forthcoming in The Review of Religious Research suggests that the relationship between education and faith is more nuanced, and that more education has a negative impact only on certain religious questions, not on all of them, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • JW

      Good word !

      October 9, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  9. Zia

    by Dr. Zakir Naik

    CONGRATULATING AN ATHEIST

    Normally, when I meet an atheist, the first thing I like to do is to congratulate him and say, " My special congratulations to you", because most of the people who believe in God are doing blind belief – he is a Christian, because his father is a Christian; he is a Hindu, because his father is a Hindu; the majority of the people in the world are blindly following the religion of their fathers. An atheist, on the other hand, even though he may belong to a religious family, uses his intellect to deny the existence of God; what ever concept or qualities of God he may have learnt in his religion may not seem to be logical to him.

    My Muslim brothers may question me, "Zakir, why are you congratulating an atheist?" The reason that I am congratulating an atheist is because he agrees with the first part of the Shahada i.e. the Islamic Creed, ‘La ilaaha’ – meaning ‘there is no God’. So half my job is already done; now the only part left is ‘il lallah’ i.e. ‘BUT ALLAH’ which I shall do Insha Allah. With others (who are not atheists) I have to first remove from their minds the wrong concept of God they may have and then put the correct concept of one true God.

    LOGICAL CONCEPT OF GOD

    My first question to the atheist will be: "What is the definition of God?" For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that ‘this is a pen’, for the opposite person to say, ‘it is not a pen’, he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say ‘there is no God’, he should at least know the concept of God. His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives. The god that a large number of people worship has got human qualities – therefore he does not believe in such a god. Similarly a Muslim too does not and should not believe in such false gods.

    If a non-Muslim believes that Islam is a merciless religion with something to do with terrorism; a religion which does not give rights to women; a religion which contradicts science; in his limited sense that non-Muslim is correct to reject such Islam. The problem is he has a wrong picture of Islam. Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science; if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may Inshallah accept Islam.

    Similarly the atheist rejects the false gods and the duty of every Muslim is to present the correct concept of God which he shall Insha Allah not refuse.

    (You may refer to my article, ‘Concept of God in Islam’, for more details)

    QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE

    The methods of proving the existence of God with usage of the material provided in the ‘Concept of God in Islam’ to an atheist may satisfy some but not all.

    Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur’an is a revelation of God.

    If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, " Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, ‘the creator of that object.’ Some may say ‘the producer’ while others may say ‘the manufacturer.’ What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.

    SCIENTIFIC FACTS MENTIONED IN THE QUR’AN: for details on this subject please refer to my book, ‘THE QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE – COMPATIBLE OR INCOMPATIBLE?

    THEORY OF PROBABILITY

    In mathematics there is a theory known as ‘Theory of Probability’. If you have two options, out of which one is right, and one is wrong, the chances that you will chose the right one is half, i.e. one out of the two will be correct. You have 50% chances of being correct. Similarly if you toss a coin the chances that your guess will be correct is 50% (1 out of 2) i.e. 1/2. If you toss a coin the second time, the chances that you will be correct in the second toss is again 50% i.e. half. But the chances that you will be correct in both the tosses is half multiplied by half (1/2 x 1/2) which is equal to 1/4 i.e. 50% of 50% which is equal to 25%. If you toss a coin the third time, chances that you will be correct all three times is (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2) that is 1/8 or 50% of 50% of 50% that is 12½%.

    A dice has got six sides. If you throw a dice and guess any number between 1 to 6, the chances that your guess will be correct is 1/6. If you throw the dice the second time, the chances that your guess will be correct in both the throws is (1/6 x 1/6) which is equal to 1/36. If you throw the dice the third time, the chances that all your three guesses are correct is (1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6) is equal to 1/216 that is less than 0.5 %.

    Let us apply this theory of probability to the Qur’an, and assume that a person has guessed all the information that is mentioned in the Qur’an which was unknown at that time. Let us discuss the probability of all the guesses being simultaneously correct.

    At the time when the Qur’an was revealed, people thought the world was flat, there are several other options for the shape of the earth. It could be triangular, it could be quadrangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, spherical, etc. Lets assume there are about 30 different options for the shape of the earth. The Qur’an rightly says it is spherical, if it was a guess the chances of the guess being correct is 1/30.

    The light of the moon can be its own light or a reflected light. The Qur’an rightly says it is a reflected light. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/2 and the probability that both the guesses i.e the earth is spherical and the light of the moon is reflected light is 1/30 x 1/2 = 1/60.

    Further, the Qur’an also mentions every living thing is made of water. Every living thing can be made up of either wood, stone, copper, aluminum, steel, silver, gold, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, oil, water, cement, concrete, etc. The options are say about 10,000. The Qur’an rightly says that everything is made up of water. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/10,000 and the probability of all the three guesses i.e. the earth is spherical, light of moon is reflected light and everything is created from water being correct is 1/30 x 1/2 x 1/10,000 = 1/60,000 which is equal to about .0017%.

    The Qur’an speaks about hundreds of things that were not known to men at the time of its revelation. Only in three options the result is .0017%. I leave it upto you, to work out the probability if all the hundreds of the unknown facts were guesses, the chances of all of them being correct guesses simultaneously and there being not a single wrong guess. It is beyond human capacity to make all correct guesses without a single mistake, which itself is sufficient to prove to a logical person that the origin of the Qur’an is Divine.

    CREATOR IS THE AUTHOR OF THE QUR’AN

    The only logical answer to the question as to who could have mentioned all these scientific facts 1400 years ago before they were discovered, is exactly the same answer initially given by the atheist or any person, to the question who will be the first person who will be able to tell the mechanism of the unknown object. It is the ‘CREATOR’, the producer, the Manufacturer of the whole universe and its contents. In the English language He is ‘God’, or more appropriate in the Arabic language, ‘ALLAH’.

    QUR’AN IS A BOOK OF SIGNS AND NOT SCIENCE

    Let me remind you that the Qur’an is not a book of Science, ‘S-C-I-E-N-C-E’ but a book of Signs ‘S-I-G-N-S’ i.e. a book of ayaats. The Qur’an contains more than 6,000 ayaats, i.e. ‘signs’, out of which more than a thousand speak about Science. I am not trying to prove that the Qur’an is the word of God using scientific knowledge as a yard stick because any yardstick is supposed to be more superior than what is being checked or verified. For us Muslims the Qur’an is the Furqan i.e. criteria to judge right from wrong and the ultimate yardstick which is more superior to scientific knowledge.

    But for an educated man who is an atheist, scientific knowledge is the ultimate test which he believes in. We do know that science many a times takes ‘U’ turns, therefore I have restricted the examples only to scientific facts which have sufficient proof and evidence and not scientific theories based on assumptions. Using the ultimate yardstick of the atheist, I am trying to prove to him that the Qur’an is the word of God and it contains the scientific knowledge which is his yardstick which was discovered recently, while the Qur’an was revealed 1400 year ago. At the end of the discussion, we both come to the same conclusion that God though superior to science, is not incompatible with it.

    SCIENCE IS ELIMINATING MODELS OF GOD BUT NOT GOD

    Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God. Scientists today are eliminating models of God, but they are not eliminating God. If you translate this into Arabic, it is La illaha illal la, There is no god, (god with a small ‘g’ that is fake god) but God (with a capital ‘G’).

    Surah Fussilat:

    "Soon We will show them our signs in the (farthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?"

    [Al-Quran 41:53]

    Reference: http://www.irf.net/irf/comparativereligion/index.htm

    October 9, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Sideways

      There's not a single "prediction" or "sign" in the Qu'ran that's any better or more accurate than what you can get from reading Nostradamus or a horoscope. This stream-of-consciousness pontification about Islam is no different than any incoherent rant from a street corner preacher.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Really?

      H

      October 9, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • TheOriginalMe

      Give me a break!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • setnommarih

      So if Islam has no conflict with science, medicine, knowledge, etc., then there is no need of Islam.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  10. The Right Left

    Information is poison to religion. With the advent of the Information Age, the religious establsihment will have a harder time convincing people of the demons they claim, lurk behind every corner.

    Your moral compass should be your inner human, not a ghost, created in your mind by some establsihment.

    In about 200-years or less, humans will look back with amusement and horror, the pain, suffering and bloodshed inflicted by mankind in the name of God.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • MCR

      You just need to construct your religion more carefully, so as few as possible claims are falsifiable.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Rayal

      I too have been saying for the past year that some day in the children's history books they will call this the beginning of the end of 'The Dark Religious Ages'. These religions were the catalyst for hundreds of wars and the deaths of millions of innocent people over the centuries all in the name of a god or several gods. Religious books were fiction written by men...plain and simple.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Zia

      Mister "SIDEWAYS" Seems you didn't read right materials. Please use your brain not the emotion.

      thats my friendly advice.
      There is a GOD (Creator of every single things) with a unique rules and laws...if we look at the any creations of God (nature) you won't find any false/fault.
      By the way, The quraan doesn't predict anything ..The quraan shows us the laws of the creator, trugh about the creation and signs(warning) us. Signs don't mean prediction:)

      Thank you

      October 9, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  11. WASP

    to all religious:
    1) i believe humans need a little less belief in a god(s) and more belief in themselves and their fellow humans. if all people believed their father's were going to come into their lives and fix all their problems we wouldn't have gotten very far in life as a species.
    2)for christians the best song to describe atheists i would say is from "ALPHAS" " you don't understand people like me"

    October 9, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  12. enlightened_through_knowledge

    If it happens to work then it's his/her will but if it doesn't it just wasn't his/ her plan. Wow, what an easy explanation to all of the events in life! Ultimate cop-out!
    It's like putting money in an investment plan that continues to fail and the fund manager keeps telling you to put dump more cash in and keep beliving. Nothing wrong with wanting a results oriented life with some margin of return. If you don't agree I guess you can keep investing until you're broke, hoping and praying. For a bunch of creator beings that are supposed to be so awe inspiring and powerful they sure do a crappy job of taking care of een the most simple things that impact us the most.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  13. Dyslexic doG

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

    - Stephen Roberts

    October 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • MCR

      Great quote. In fairness though, while this would apply to most fundamentalist Christians, I think a thoughtful theist might argue that they do not in fact dismiss all gods, but believe that they others are less true interpretations than theirs. Hinduism would offer the best example of this line of thought, but many in other religions also hold a similar perspective.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  14. Dyslexic doG

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

    October 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Knowledge_is_Power

      That's a brilliant quote.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  15. MCR

    I am not affiliated and not spiritual, but I find the adamant atheists both sad and rather annoying. Sad because they almost always live in some backwater rural area where they felt oppressed by the surrounding Christians. Most often they come from very religious or fundamentalist families from whom they feel alienated, and you can feel the anger and pain just looking at them. You don't see these folks often in most of Europe, where a secular person can grow up happy and accepted. These same folks are annoying because you just want to shake them and say "Don't you know how pathetic this atheist militancy makes you look?! Don't you know how pathetic it makes the rest of us much more well-adjusted non-believers look." I see one of these people and I can guess where they come from and what kind of childhood they had with fairly good precision. Their parents were rarely secular physics professors or humanist anthropologists. These folks are also annoying, because the emotion they've wrapped their reactionary atheism in also blocks them from recognizing that there are things about which they may be wrong. I know it's a phase the country has to go through, and for many a phase they personally have to go through, but I think a little encouragement from those who live well-adjusted secular lives could tone down the irritating militancy of the atheist "movement".

    October 9, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • snarkjeg

      Gross generalizations and not accurate at all. I don't fit any of the points of your profile other than being atheist. Nor do any of the other atheists I know.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Really?

      This post shows clearly how much cultural prejudice exists against atheists. They are mostly from rural areas? Eh? Who have yoy met? They are mostly urban. And being called "militant"? Few other people get called that unless they physically take up arms and commit acta of violence.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • MCR

      To Really?

      True, most atheists (at least if you mean non-believers as a whole) are urban. What I'm referring to are the adamant and militant atheists (as referenced in my first sentence). Urban non-believers who grew up surrounded by other non-believers do not generally feel a need to be militant; they don't have anything against which to react.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Rayal

      Yes MCR they do exist...but that is such a small percentage of a percentage that it is a rarity rather than an issue.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • setnommarih

      No, city boy, raised in Tampa. Read a lot, studied science, looked for the logic, belief in a god made no sense, because god always had an excuse, "free will", "god willing", "god punishing", "no one knows the way of god", etc. sounds like blaming ourselves is the way to go because it is ourselves.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  16. Michael G.

    Athiest 4 LIfe.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  17. mama kindless

    Thomas Jefferson (Deist)(He became our 3rd President, he was the key author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

    –from a letter (as POTUS) to Virginia Baptists (1808)

    October 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.

    - Hitchens

    October 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Amen

      October 9, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  19. jim sheldon

    As an agnostic (for want of a better categorization), any charitable actions on my part are strictly for my knowing, wheras most religions attempt to make their good deeds as public as possible so that others think they're good people.... it's peer pressure, that's all.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Michael G.

      Amen brother... Oops :)

      October 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Knowledge_is_Power

      That reminds me of a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode I saw.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  20. Knowledge_is_Power

    How many Christians view their religion as the only legitimate religion?

    Proceed this question with caution.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Steve-O

      Most of the wars throughout history have been BECAUSE of religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:56 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.