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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 • Faith Now • Politics • Polls

soundoff (7,763 Responses)
  1. bencoates57

    The problem with organized religion is that it breeds atheism by clinging to outdated conceptions of spirituality (i.e., Higher Power, hidden infrastructure of experience, etc.). My view, inspired by a number of dreams which appear to be symbolic blueprints for events that came true years later, suggest how little we know about life and experience and how much physics will eventually help us carve out a modern conception of God.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • snowboarder

      dreams?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      That knock on your door that you receive shortly will be some men in white coats. Please go with them politely and they will make sure that you are comfortable and happy.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Amniculi

      The same thing happens to me when I eat pizza too close to bedtime.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • ME II

      "...physics will eventually help us carve out a modern conception of God."

      Great! Get back to us when it does.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Everything in your brain is dependent on molecular activity, and damaged by brain damage. It proves nothing about gods. Physics is not now, nor ever will be about gods.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      All your dreams are going to come true, including the one where you are naked at school and the one where the walls close in and crush you.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • nojinx

      Athiesm is not bred. Atheism is the natural state of all living things. People have to be taught to believe in things that are not apparent. If they cannot be inferred, those same people must now be indoctrinated.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  2. bencoates57

    Fundamentalists are stupid for embracing an old bearded man in the sky. Atheists are stupid for rejecting an old bearded man in the sky.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      One problem. Atheists don't reject the old man in the sky. Give me ONE valid definition, and we can talk.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Amniculi

      And you're stupid for writing this post. I guess we're all stupid, huh?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Veritas

      Exactly how is someone who rejects an unproven superanatural being stupid?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • bencoates57

      @Veritas. Because an old man in the sky does not represent a psychologically sophisticated conception of all that is real but is not available to our five senses or accessible directly given the limits of our consciousness (a product of just 3-5% of our brain at any point in time).

      October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Dave Ryan

      Not to worry, there's plenty of room in hell. Ans satan is building on for the muslim dogs.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • ME II

      I'm sorry, how is this logical?
      Both the acceptance and rejection of a thing is stupid.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Veritas

      Your explanation rejects an old bearded man in the sky. None of what you say means we should accept supernatural causes where we have no knowledge.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "the muslim dogs" As a Christian, you are required and commanded to love those Muslim dogs. The idea of them burning should bring tears to your eyes; you fail as a Christian. Sorry, no heaven for you!

      October 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Wraith

      Any fool who states, "we only use X% of our brains," is a simpleton and deserves to be ignored. We use 100% of our brains, all the time. There's a lot of work the brain does other than think. And in some cases, judging from the nature of the posts these last couple days, even the, "think," part is questionable.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  3. David L.

    Why is it that in every "religion vs. atheism" debate, people on both sides have to point out that the other side had various religious, or non-religious, affiliations.

    Yes, Stalin was not religiously affiliated. Yes, Hitler identified as a Christian. We all know that Osama Bin Laden was a Muslim. How do you guys not see this, and recognize that there are just evil people out there. They don't have to identify with a religion, and if they do, it doesn't matter which one they identify with.

    If Hitler wasn't a Christian, that wouldn't have made him any less evil. If Osama was Jewish, he would have found another excuse to kill thousands.

    Please stop using these arguments. They are fallacious, and they don't advance the discussion at all. They are annoying interruptions.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • David L.

      *EDIT First Paragraph*

      Why is it that in every "religion vs. atheism" debate, people on both sides have to point out that the other side had evil people with various religious, or non-religious, affiliations.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Because they forget correlation is not causation.
      People who were said to be non-believers did not overtly stae their beliefs caused their acyions.
      Most evil perpetrated by religion is done by people who STATE their motives ARE religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • JohnQuest

      “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”

      Weinberg

      October 9, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Veritas

      Some of the religiously affiliated did some pretty nasty stuff in the name of their god; Stalin etc. did nasty stuff to retain power and to enforce misguided social policy.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • ko

      well put

      October 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • ko

      well put david l- as far as the religiously affiliated hurting people- get over it- leave the 1500s where they belong- the religiously affiliated are carrying the workload of helping the poor and needy

      October 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • David L.

      Veritas, that is exactly my point. Bad people will just find an excuse to do bad things. If it is a misguided social policy, or a misguided dogmatic principle. It doesn't matter, so the argument is moot.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • correctlycenter

      Really? A true follower of Jesus Christ is humble, loving, obedient to the LORD, caring. Christian mission workers go to the local homeless shelters, prisons, hospitals to help those in need and share the Gospel. Hitler was demon possessed, bent on power, death, destruction... Please get real and at least sound credible in your debating. God bless...

      October 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Considering the amount of people murdered in Holocausts, Inquisitions, Cleansings, and Crusades, I think religious violence will always be a topic worth discussing. When people are raised since birth to believe in fiction, they are less equipped to escape the lies as adults, which makes a very dangerous populace for anyone that wants to shape an army.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • David L.

      ko, I try to make it a point not to argue with people who agree with me, but your argument about religiously affiliated people carrying the burden of helping the poor and hungry is as fallacious as the inverse argument I already discussed.

      There are plenty of non-religiously affiliated charitable organizations, who are doing great work. Just as bad people will find an excuse to do bad things, good people will find an excuse to do good things. Some do it in the name of their god, some will do it for other reasons.

      People are no more/less good/evil because of their affiliations. People are who they are.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Please stop using these arguments." They can't; the Book of Diddly-Whack or whatever forces them to compare every atheist to Hitler, and therefore Hitler must have been an atheist. You don't understand the Revealed Truth of God very well, do you? In any discussion, they must say 1. Hitler and Stalin were atheists like you, 2. Mao was an atheist like you, and 3. science doesn't work and this email sent over a satellite proves it. It's like birdcalls; there's no thought behind it. They just say it over and over . . .

      October 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • David L.

      correctlycenter, please be careful of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. Yes, Christians across history have done great things. They have also done horrific things. My argument is that they do these things not BECAUSE of their religion, but despite them.

      And please do not attack my credibility when you don't know anything about me, or my education. I have reviewed my argument, and I believe it to be well thought out. I welcome arguments and criticisms, but baseless claims against my credibility only weaken yours.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Angele

      Exactly David L, exactly.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  4. EdNv

    Praise Jesus

    October 9, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  5. lamb of dog

    On my way to work today I saw a new billboard. "ETERNITY IS FOREVER, CHOOSE WISELY". I love all the fear mongering from organized religions that preach love and forgiveness. Hopefully the god delusion isn't forever.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • bencoates57

      It's built into our psyche. Yours too. You maintain certain beliefs you don't even know you have or you don't know rest on a premise of some kind of Higher Power.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Maybe. Built into you psyche by evolution. It's survival.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • correctlycenter

      Does evil exist?
      How was everything created?
      Can life form from nothing?
      Who are the atheists/humanists in recent history? What did they do?
      Are you going to chance eternity and be wrong? Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God and the road to destruction. They are real and so is Jesus Christ...

      October 9, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • BU2B

      Jesus Christ was real perhaps, 2,000 years ago. He is dead now and will always be dead. Common sense.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Does evil exist? ... No
      How was everything created? ... God of the gaps, we don't have all the answers yet
      Can life form from nothing? life emerges from non-life. Many labs are well on the way to doing it. We can create viruses, and beating hearts.
      Who are the atheists/humanists in recent history? What did they do? Irrelevant. Who are all the evil tyrants who used religion ?
      Are you going to chance eternity and be wrong? Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God and the road to destruction. .... Pascal's Wager. Look it up.
      They are real and so is Jesus Christ... No they are not. The moon is made of green cheese. You asserting something, just as thousands of men before you, proves nothing. They were all wrong, you have no proof, and you are wrong.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Does evil exist?

      >>Of course it does!!! Such is human nature!

      How was everything created?

      >>No direct answer but easier and more honest to say 'I don't know' than to plug in a god

      Can life form from nothing?

      >>YES

      Who are the atheists/humanists in recent history? What did they do?

      >>Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sean M. Carroll (American cosmologist specializing in dark energy and general relativity) ....a little research goes a long way

      Are you going to chance eternity and be wrong?

      >>This is better known as Pascals Wager. I'll take my chances because you can't be any more sure than I am.

      Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God and the road to destruction. They are real and so is Jesus Christ...

      >>No, it was man that wrote those words and there is no validating evidence to state otherwise.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Veritas

      CC. We don't know where the universe came from but if the universe needs a creator, who created the creator? If the creator doesn't need a creator, why does the universe?
      There are many descriptions of how life formed 4 billions years ago,
      Pascal's wager is not valid as it does not offer other plausible choices: you pray to the wrong god who sends you to hell, you pray to the correct god who knows you weren't sincere and sends you to hell; you don't pray to the correct god and is benevolent and lets you into heaven anyway.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "You maintain certain beliefs you don't even know you have" I do? Really? You worship dirt. I can make up stuff about you as well as you can make up stuff about me.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Steve D

    If it serves the same function in your world view that religion serves for others, it's a religion. Whether it involves a deity or not.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • midwest rail

      Um, no.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • EdNv

      um, athiests don't meet weekly (or at all) to reinforce their delusions nor do they pool their money to force their thoughts on others.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • JohnQuest

      No, "Atheism" does not serve the same purpose as Theism, how could it?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Religion requires belief in the supernatural, therefore atheism cannot be described in any way as religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  7. correctlycenter

    The concept of atheism/humanism didn't work out too well for the millions of victims murdered by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other godless dictators in recent history. When you void God in your life, you are the god! Very sad. I will pray for all of you...

    October 9, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • ME II

      @correctlycenter,
      atheism does not equal humanism

      http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III

      October 9, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • tboddy

      Please, go read a history book (that isn't the bible). Please.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      You forgot Hitler was a Catholic. Conveniently.
      Correlation is not causation. Fail.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Reg

      Great logic. Stalin and Hitler both had mustaches therefore mustaches are evil right? Hitler may or may not have been an atheist, but I am willing to go along with you on the Stalin thing because either way we have a point of agreement here! Commanding genocide is immoral – are you willing to condemn the God of the Old Testament for commanding it? Or perhaps you want to say that genocide is only 'sometimes' wrong?

      By the way it's beyond ridiculous that you would assume that all atheists lack a moral center. Less than 1% of our prison population identifies as atheist or agnostic. Some of our greatest philanthropists including Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates and Andrew Carnegie are agnostic. At best many of the founding fathers were deists including Jefferson and Franklin. Paine was even more skeptical. Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Noam Chomsky, Brad Pitt, Rafael Nadal, Jack Nicholson, Frank Zappa, the guys from Mythbusters, approximately 90% of the members of the scientific community (you know...doctors and physicists and such), Steve Jobs...the list goes on. I guess all these people including myself lack a moral center eh? Christopher Hitchens was right, religion poisons everything.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      When will you blockheads learn that Hitler was a Christian, doing God's work by wiping out the evil Jews. The others worshiped Communism, which is a religion by any standard.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  8. Plumbline

    Matthew 5:3
    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • NoTheism

      The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites." —Thomas Jefferson

      October 9, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Of course it's not meant to be taken literally.
      It refers to any manufacturer of dairy products.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:39 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 11:59 am |
  9. Mikey_Oak_Park

    Carl Sagan (RIP) said it best:

    It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

    Faith is for the foolish.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • niknak

      Or for the scammers who profit from it.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  10. Bill D.

    If you tell me you believe in God, then good for you. Please don't ask me to believe until you can offer physical proof. I won't condemn you for your beliefs, just don't go pushing them on me.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • local

      And do not go pushing your godless beliefs on me.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • ME II

      @local,
      "And do not go pushing your godless beliefs on me."
      Just curious, but how does this happen?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Eric

      I challenge you to prove the Big Bang. Both the Big Bang and God are a hypothesis. Faith in the after-life is the nothing more than a desire to feel that there is more to life than 100 years of corporeal existence. If you "believe" in the Big Bang you are no different than a religious person; you believe in something you can't prove.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Ayegba

      While i am in no way interested in responding on hollow comments on God, i wish to ask this very simple question; What is then the meaning/purpose of life?

      Since the average man lives for say 70years and probably die, what if this God and hell actually exist? As for me, i would rather live this short life pleasing this God of Grace than spending eternity in Hell without this God. The take is yours.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Pay me or God and I and my gang will burn your house and kill you. Believe NOW?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "I challenge you to prove the Big Bang." How about we just assume you haven't got the brains to understand it, and let it go at that. You can easily understand "God done it" with no training, so stick to that.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  11. thomasmc1957

    And for probably half of all Americans, their religion is just an excuse to justify their bigotry and hate.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • niknak

      I will give that a big AMEN!
      It is kind of like a get out of jail free card.
      Go and do all the things your religion suposedly says are sins, and then get your conscience "cleansed."

      October 9, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • local

      And for the atheist, soulless fools to attempt to push their non beliefs on me. The non believers should buy their own island and move there. See all their lawless moral less society works for them. More than likely would be worse than the middle east.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • staplehawk

      I see far more bigotry and hate from Libs and dems lately than any other group, honestly. At least Christians donate more to the needy far more than ANY other group in the world. I guess I fail to see how that is bigotry and hate.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • David L.

      local, you assume that religion is the source of morality, and therefore, to not have religion is to not have morality. This could not be further from the truth, and if you have any desire to be taken seriously in these conversations, it would be wise of you to work on expelling these ignorant assumptions from your mind.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """More than likely would be worse than the middle east."""

      You mean, where all those pious Muslims live?

      October 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "See all their lawless moral less society works for them. " I grew up in the South in the Fifties. It was like being on an island owned by the KKK. Watch a movie called TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD if you want to see Christianity unopposed and victorious.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  12. John three sixteen

    God is the same yesterday today and forever more. He loves every one and gave us a time of grace to repent and believe on Jesus the Christ for forgiveness of sins.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • lamb of dog

      True. Because he is make believe. So yes he's the same today, tomorrow, and forever just like the easter bunny.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      The same huh? So then you cant use that worn out excuse of "That's in the Old Testament so it doesn't count." Your whole system is flawed.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • opus

      Time to repent? You pray to some illusion in the sky and you think we need to repent. Repent this moron.........

      October 9, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Mikey_Oak_Park

      Prove he exists and we'll talk.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • kyphi

      God doesn't care about man made religions and organized churches. Man does, and it's a pretty sweet deal for churches to be tax exempt and donations to churches also tax exempt.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • waitasec

      "time of grace"
      now that's funny....
      grace has nothing to do with time....apparently your god has no idea what "grace" means...figures

      October 9, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • NoTheism

      He created me a sinner so that I can ask for his forgiveness....
      That's grand... he's a fking genius.
      Keep his love to yourself, please; I don't need love from a sadistic imaginary figure.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • niknak

      Hey John, I just got a message from god.
      He said he does not love you, never has.
      Sorry, but it is from god, so it must be true.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Madtown

      ...and believe on Jesus the Christ for forgiveness of sins
      -----
      Dang it, I must be out of luck then. I'm a human being born into a primitive tribe in the Australian Outback. I've never heard of Jesus Christ, and never will. My sins are not forgiven.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      If god is the same yesterday today and tomorrow, then he still wants his son to die. If that were true, he could not have accepted the sacrifice of his son, or actually acted, to created something. You loose. Can't have things both ways.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  13. Follix

    How can religion be faire if free will doesn't exist?

    October 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  14. niknak

    I suspect the number is much higher for the non religious peeps, as many don't believe, but are too afraid of the hate and other repercussions from their fundie family and freinds.
    You religious people only believe out of fear and conformity.
    A mind is a terrible thing to lose, to religion.......

    October 9, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      If I were an open atheist in my home town, I'd be killed and buried in a tobacco field somewhere.

      October 11, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  15. Jordan

    I want to apologize to each and every one of you who feels like churches have become a place of hatred and fear. Clearly that is not the intention of the true church. I'm not asking you to believe what I believe. I ask you to be patient with churches. Churches are led by human beings. Human beings sin and do things wrong DAILY. My wife will be the first to tell you that I am a screwed up mess. But through God I have been forgiven. Not by anything that I have done, but what he did. If you have been hurt by a church or just notice it from how the church acts in the community, then I sincerely apologize on behalf of all Christians. The church is not perfect and never will be. But she is the bride of Christ and he loves her. God isn't looking for mindless followers. He is looking for people who will love him for who he is and not what makes sense or what he can do for us. There are churches who are not in line with what God intends for church to be; Imperfect people actively seeking a perfect God. Not a club, a hate group, or mindless followers. I don't expect you to believe what I believe or agree with what I believe because even the Bible states that what we as Christians believe is foolish to others. Count me as a fool. But just know that even though I don't know you and will probably never see you in my life, I love you, but more importantly God loves you. Have a great day.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • ME II

      @Jordan,
      I guess all that depends on your opinion of what a "true church" is.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • NoTheism

      How do you know what YOUR god wants?
      One should not be patient with churches, one should be skeptical of anything they say and of their motives.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • lamb of dog

      Wouldn't you be better off then without organized religion? Can't you find god better on your own without other sinners to confuse and mislead you?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Damocles

      @Jordan

      So you forgave yourself in your head and everything is ok now? Seems a bit shifty to me.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • niknak

      What proof do you have Jordan that you have been forgiven?
      And forgiven of what exactly?
      Of being born?
      Your imaginary friend is just that, all imagined in your head.
      Your supposedly "loving" god and "loving" religion is exactly the opposite. It is based on fear, not love, violence, no peace, conforminty not critical thinking.
      You are no different then the religious a holes that just shot that 14 year old girl in Afgnstn who dared to speak up against their silly magic man and his supposed love for his followers.
      F god, f church and f religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • benK

      I'll be patient when the "true church" starts paying taxes on all of those donations.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Madtown

      Churches are led by human beings. Human beings sin and do things wrong DAILY
      --------
      Hey Jordan, what about the bible? As you said in regard to the church, it is led by imperfect humans and their imperfections taint the mission of the church. Can't you also say the same about the bible? It was written by imperfect humans. Shouldn't you also say that it retains those imperfections?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • myweightinwords

      What about the hurt that comes from believing what you're holding up as your belief? The idea that you are nothing without being forgiven for being exactly what you were made to be? The idea that forgiveness is even a requirement? Ot the equally disgusting notion that blood is required for that forgiveness?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • TR6

      “the Bible states that what we as Christians believe is foolish to others”

      Well it got that one right

      October 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • mrtremere

      What if your Buddhist, like my GF is. There no need to apologize... cause no one really cares.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • opus

      puke, cough and more puke!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      No true Scotsman Fallacy. The people perpetrating the evil thought they were just as "true" as Jordan.

      There is no such thing as "sin" Offensive acts are culturally relative, and change all the time. Even murder is situationally relative, (war, capital punishment). "Sin" is better explained by Evolution, Probability, and Neuro-science. Every thing is the Bible, which is named as "sin" came into the Bible from it's existent culture. The Bible gave culture nothing. The is NOT ONE thing in the Bible which "gave" anything to culture. It "received" every single concept there from the culture of the day, of it's writers. "Sin" and "evil" are ancient concept, which is no longer useful, actually were not the intent of the author of Genesis. The authors of Genesis took the Chaos myths from Sumeria, and assumed their audience would understand them as they existed in the culture of the day. Unless you know about the origins, and context of Sumerian cosmology, you cannot possibly understand the Bible.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • niknak

      Isn't it so predictable that Jordan is nowhere to be found when people debunk his myth.
      Fundies like to preach to the choir, but can't stand when someone quesions them and askes for proof or pokes huge holes in their "ark."
      And yes Jordan, I count you as a fool.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • snowboarder

      jordan – the entire theological doctrine of original sin, messianic sacrifice and eternity is ludicrous.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • nojinx

      That's a good way to put it:

      Love the believer, hate the beliefs.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Antonio

      II love you too Jordan, but why does your wife think you're a "screwed up mess"? Sounds to me like you're a pretty decent guy trying to do his best to make it in this world. What if I were to tell you that you were already "forgiven" before you were even born? No not by Jesus, but by nothing at all! That is, even though you may have grown up with a certain tradition, a lot of it is, arguably, made up.

      I know this post on CNN is not going to change your beliefs, but at least consider the idea that you have value simply because you try to be a good person. You don't need to pray to anyone or try to follow any magic rules, all you have to do is get up everyday and try and do your best at whatever it is you do and be whatever you think "good" is.

      At least keep that in your mind. You're not a screwed up mess. At least, no more than the rest of us!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      The Doctrine of Original sin developed in Christianity over many years. Jesus never ONCE said anything about it. Augustine of Hippo put the final touches on it, and the church of his day fought him, but eventually gave in. The very idea that a newborn infant is somehow evil, is utterly preposterous, as anyone who has actually had a baby in their arms knows.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "I want to apologize to each and every one of you who feels like churches have become a place of hatred and fear. " You are just trying to get me off guard so you can stab me and enslave my family. Not buying it, sorry. You also said ARBEIT MACHT FREI.

      October 11, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  16. HM8432

    Further evidence that this country has lost it's way, and is on a continuing moral decline. Materialism and instant gratification isn't everything...sadly, many televangelists and mega-church pastors also believe it is, and have forgotten about what IS important...God.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • mk

      "sadly, many televangelists and mega-church pastors also believe it is..."

      And the millions of followers and donors believe this too.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • ME II

      One man's moral decline is another's enlightenment.

      Be a light!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • lamb of dog

      My Dog is more important than god. Because my Dog is real.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • waitasec

      funny....
      it's the religious that are in the majority

      lame

      October 9, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • opus

      What is important is being nice to your neighbor not worshiping some illusion in the sky. Why does god need so much
      money? If I had the stupid followers as Joel Osteen has I would be smiling too. He is the perfect example of greed!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Antonio

      Lol God is not important. Anymore important than Santa Clause. Anyway, just keep on going to church and the rest of us will keep on trying to find actual solutions for this country, ones that work because they come from empirical data and not from magical wishes.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  17. sumday

    The problem I have with atheist is they actually believe life surveyed billions of yrs by pure random chance and evolved all by it’s self with no intelligence or design involved. Just look at life- it’s a complicated reproducing machine and machines don’t just self form! DNA itself is a code similar in function to a computer program. We don’t assume computer programs wrote themselves, but assume the DNA “code” expanded and wrote it self by chance and accident? Atheist don’t believe that a G-d could have no beginning and no end, but accept energy always existed and can neither be created or destroyed- well if energy always existed why can’t an intelligence have always existed?! The only observations of significant evolution/mutation we have ever observed is from humans (intelligent being) doing it. We manipulate DNA in food and animals and then have the arrogance to think no other intelligent being could have done that to us in the past. We say there are trillions of planets and billions of yrs worth of existence and then think we are only intelligent beings to exist or poses this type of knowledge. We have created computers/robots but then think no other life form could have created or manipulated biological life? I can either believe in trillions of random chances to get here or believe in a creator- seeing how I have never observed random chance event produce a self replicating anything, but I have “observed” a 3.5lb brain create a new microbe, manipulate plants and animals, and create near artificial intelligent computers I’d say the observatory evidence leans much heavier to being created than being a random chance.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • nooby

      As long as evidence backs up science it will always be more believable then some "have faith, believe" religion with nothing going for it other then a book from hundreds of years ago.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Acolyte of Sagan

      Just the one question; if you believe that anything complex has to have had a creator, and since that creator has to be more complex than that which it creates, who created your creator?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Damocles

      @sum

      I'm all for flights of fancy that lead to the possibilities that our DNA was tweaked or that we were a slave race that escaped or rebelled or any number of other possibilities, but that doesn't make any of them true, it's just an interesting way to pass time.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • niknak

      Not only does evidence back up science, but science is sooooooo much more interesting then 2000 year old goat herder fables.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • benK

      Ha well since we can edit the DNA code so easily what makes you think it could not self evolve to change itself? Open your mind, if we can do it, it is safe to say that in millions of years it is possible for DNA to self code.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • OldSchool

      Of course we haven't observed evolution on the grand scale that you seem to imply, like mammalian speciation. This is simply because modern science as we know it, by definition, has only been practiced for a relatively short period of time. However, there is a litany of evidence that has led us to the currently accepted theory of evolution. Things like transitional fossils, observable mutations in species that have short life cycles like fruit flies, etc. It is not at all unreasonable, in my view, to imagine life sprouting from this process over the course of billions of years. Simply based on statistical chance.

      Additionally, nobody of any intellect that I have heard from would make the claim that we are unique in being the only "life" in the universe. Such a claim simply does not hold water based on the same statistical probability that gave rise to life on our planet.

      As for time and infinity, a current proposition is that since time is merely a dimension, it did not exist before the big bang... There simply is no need for a "god" to explain any of this, suggesting it just adds a further layer of complication. If you require an "intelligent god" for creation, then who created that intelligent god? On it's surface it is a silly and absurd infinite loop that is unnecessary...

      October 9, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Eric

      There is no evidence to support single-cell evolution. The "scientific facts" you are referring to are nothing more than hypothesis. Carbon dating is a terribly inaccurate science; which sadly is taken as fact by many "atheists". I do believe in evolution, but not that humans came from Apes or any other species. We evolved ALONG or own branch of the evolutionary tree, which mirrors Apes very closely. In the same way that cats and dogs are similar, but you never talk about dogs coming from cats (or vice-versa). It is funny to hear people try to explain our beginnings. Unless someone actually travels back in time to see the creation we will never have anything more than a theory. Science and religion co-exist in the minds of most religious leaders. It is the quacks and their followers that give us religious believers a bad name.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Acolyte of Sagan

      No Eric, it's religious believers like you, the ones that dismiss scientific evidence that you obviously do not understand, that give you religious believers a bad name.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  18. James

    Two things people must eventually realize – There are over 300 recognized religions on the Earth, so tell me which one is the real/ religion, and secondly, the entire universe as we know it, is but one bead of perspiration under the armpit of a giant frog.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • ME II

      You, of course, mean toad, not frog, correct?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Russell

      Lets start with Universe. Uni = One. Verse = Sentence.
      God said; Let there be.
      And there was.
      Creation itself speaks of a creator, not that hard to understand.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Follix

      And who created your creator beside silly human mind?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • NoTheism

      @Russell, you're FULL of it!

      "The word universe derives from the Old French word Univers, which in turn derives from the Latin word universum.[14] The Latin word was used by Cicero and later Latin authors in many of the same senses as the modern English word is used.[15] The Latin word derives from the poetic contraction Unvorsum — first used by Lucretius in Book IV (line 262) of his De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) — which connects un, uni (the combining form of unus, or "one") with vorsum, versum (a noun made from the perfect passive participle of vertere, meaning "something rotated, rolled, changed").[15]"
      –Wikipedia

      October 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • ME II

      @Russell,

      universe (n.)
      1580s, "the whole world, cosmos," from O.Fr. univers (12c.), from L. universum "the universe," noun use of neuter of adj. universus "all together," lit. "turned into one," from unus "one" (see one) + versus, pp. of vertere "to turn" (see versus). Properly a loan-translation of Gk. to holon "the universe," noun use of neuter of adj. holos "whole" (see safe (adj.)).

      October 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • niknak

      If you believe that Russel, then you are either a fool or you are somehow profiting from preaching that.
      You have absolutely ZERO evidence of a creator.
      In fact, the more we discover the working of the universe, the more we find there is no evidence of a creator(s).
      At one point, fools and scammers like you said the same about lighting, solar eclipses, earth quates etc, yet we found, thru SCIENCE, that all those things had no relationship to any creator.
      Same with your intelligent design hypothesis.
      You religious people keep drawing your line in the sand as to some the mythical creator, and each time science proves you wrong.
      Open you mind, and a science book Russel, and free yourself from religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • kyphi

      the back of a turtle.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • ME II

      Just like every image speaks of its artist?

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-050419virgin-photogallery,0,6458639.photogallery

      October 9, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  19. Kathleen

    The Great Apostasy has begun.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Madtown

      Your post makes me think of a Cornish Pasty, preferrably with beef. Man, those are yummy!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • niknak

      Then why not get the process over quicker by drowning yourself in the toilet Kathleen.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Amniculi

      Preferably one with a big floater in it.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • snowboarder

      kath – we can only hope so.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  20. Perrochato

    Religion is a business and promulgated by shamans that can't hardly do anything else for a living. Their best talent is the gift of gab, soliciting material or monetary donations in exchange for spiritual redemption with rarely if at all any skills to make living. They are masters at human psychology and thereby armed with the knowledge that there are those who are weak minded and need some assurance that everything will be ok when they pass. Religion is also used as a moral compass and guide, but it is also used a throttle for free thinking. Being born into a religion is also ridiculous too, a person has no choice how they are going to be religously indoctrinated into this world. When my kids were born, I decided it would be there choice when they would begin to look into and start understanding or have a need for some sort of spirituality. They are adults now and I am happy with the results, they have no need for religion, they are happy moral peoplebwith a penchant for charity, a respect for all life, a respect for the earth we live in and no need for supersticious rituals. Religion has been the major vehicle that has setback the human race with the need to be considered by its followers as the one and only truth. With the exception of the diseases the Spanish explorers brought to the new world, think of what the human race could have learned from Meso American culture instead of killing off as many as possible and forcibly converting to Christianity those that were left. Think of what we could be doing now with stem cells if religion had not slowed down the research. So many scientific setbacks, it just a travesty of immense proportions. Glad to see religion is being shed as a crutch for humans. Eventually it will be minimized to just a few in the human population. We must work to minimize the number of poor and uneducated in the world. When we succeed in doing so, the shamans of the world will find fewer and fewer followers or converts.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • lamb of dog

      I thought about becoming a preacher. Free room and board. And all I would have to do is read a repeat stories from some silly fairytale book. And if I was really good I could even become filthy rich.
      But unfortunately I just can't sell BS.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man. But it is a lovely work if you can stomach it.
      – Robert Heinlein

      October 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • sumday

      You speak of scientific set backs, so I ask what is the very first things humans have always done with scientific knowledge? Sure E=MC^2 has great purposes but the first thing we did with it was to wipe out 100,000 lives in a second- by the way religion had nothing to do with that event. It has always amazed me at such naïve claims that people like you make. Yes religion has lead to conquered people, the big problem with that statement is most religions never told their followers to do such things. You speak of Christians so I’ll put the bible in front of you and simply ask you point out where in that book does it say to do such things? It was not the religion that caused people to commit murder it was the ambitions of evil men who twisted it to justify their human desire for greed and conquest. Many of wars were not fought over religion, but instead fought over greed, or desire to control. Alexander the great conquered much of the known without the use of religion- now I wonder what he would have done with all that scientific knowledge if he had had it? Hitler sought to conquer and create a “pure” race through science. It is quite possible that religion is what has kept mankind alive by preventing these scientific discoveries from being discovered. It’s been roughly 60-70yrs since the first bomb (a blink in the eye of human civilization) and we have countries arming themselves with these bombs and threatening to wipe out another country with them. N Korea is not religious at all yet makes threats to the world about their nuclear capabilities. A nuclear war is and has always been a very real threat- tell me how good will those scientific discoveries seem should a nuclear war take place? I lock up my guns for the safety of my kids not bc I don’t want them to know about guns. In some sense I think knowledge has been locked up from humanity for the exact same reasons.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • ME II

      @sumday,
      First, science does not equal atheism.
      Second, science is just a tool for investigating the physical world. How that information is used is the result of human thinking and motivations.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Russell

      Your children where never free thinkers, nobody freely thinks as if they conjured their own knowledge or based their opinions and so. Your children's thoughts were still guided by your condescending thoughts that were spoken as well as other things as to what you watched and/ wrote spoke etc. Your children didn't want as many do, lose the love of their father. But, what is love, I guess that takes something else than free thought there. I grew up in a perfect scenario in my opinion to give a great deal of ammo to the hatred of religion as many view it today. I found myself ignorant of religion and quested on my own to "enlighten" myself, but only towards the war I had against the self righteous bigots that tried to tell me how to live and who I was. I found RELIGION to encompass everything from FREEDOM people say that today's soldiers die for to LUCIFERIC worship. Studying vast beliefs and practices I came to a conclusion and though so simple it's widely misunderstood. Everything you have seen touched aware, eaten and breathed and so on has an end aside from one thing. Forgive me for trying to keep it simple but everything is basically on the plain with dirt, except for an energy of thought and conscience. I have three Masters ( Bio,Chem,Phys) and witness all of it's harmony. Conscience- Con = 'with' and Science = 'Knowledge'. Having this in a energy form upon death does not end but returns to a different field I can not explain nor understand as to why. I guess what I am trying to say that upon death you and many like you will have your answer as will I. It was my understanding that I could shed the ignorance and vain argument that faith attributes to society more so than atheistic absence of knowledge. Is there a God, I would assuredly say yes. Are all Christians or religions lead to the same God, on the contrary. Love is the ultimate answer and the Bible is the closest I found the employs it in such a way it surpasses many in comprehension. Today lust is love and gods are material things or ideals. Love requires faith, faith to an absolute. I came to a point where all my knowledge become foolishness but I found understanding and nothing can shake it, I wish that all would come to it. Whats really hard is to try and draw a concise image to people but the parameters of intellect has soooo many variables. Vanity vanity, all is vanity. The Bible states; ask for wisdom, it's freely given. I would start there, in faith or just challenge, I'm sure God can handle the answer devised to whom asks. Anyway, may God reveal himself to you and all that read without removing the fact that it still will require faith to complete.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Wraith

      Russell, you are a lying sack, you know that? I call serious BS on these so called degrees of yours after watching you attempt to explain the word, "universe," in a previous post. If, by some slim chance you do hold he degrees you mentioned, then that terrifies me. With your dogmatic, brainwashed nonsense you spew (again, I'm still shaking at the audacity you exhibited when, of all things, tried to say the word, "universe," alone proves your god exists) shows that you cannot be neutral, and that any sort of study or experiment you've ever undertaken should be disregarded as questionable, as the possibility *strongly* exists that you had an outcome in mind and manipulated the data to fit it. You and people like Kirk Cameron are an affront to science, to the truth (the actual truth, not the, "truth," you fundies like to carry on about that has absolutely zero empirical evidence), and to humanity as a whole. You obviously think (Some nonsense about worshipping Lucifer you mentioned in this thread) that anyone who is not Christian is evil, but let me tell you something, as a pagan, there are *many* who brand those who practice your type of faith (not Christianity as a whole, just the dark ages dwelling, anti science, anti equality, hateful, bigoted brand of Christianity you obviously practice) evil, as has been proven by the hate you and your kind vomits all over everyone who doesnt believe as you do. *Those* are some of the most wicked to walk this earth, and if anything, it will be your kind that brings about the ruin of Christianity. There are many who are growing very weary of putting up with bible bashing zealots like you.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:09 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.