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November 28th, 2012
05:49 AM ET

Rick Warren on gay marriage

American evangelical Christian pastor Rick Warren discusses homosexuality and gay marriage with CNN's Piers Morgan.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Gay marriage • Homosexuality

soundoff (945 Responses)
  1. jill

    We can't know for sure because he won't release his 609's. I'd say it's a reduction.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  2. myweightinwords

    Marriage is not about sex. Okay, it generally includes sex, but that is not what people, gay or straight, base their desire to get married on.

    Why is it the ONLY thing people object to?

    Probably because they can not find a way to argue against bill paying, house buying, little league coaching, dinner cooking and car pooling that doesn't make them look like they're trying to make other people into second class citizens.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • The Truth

      So there is your solution. All gay people agree not to ever have s.e.x. with their partners if and when all straight people agree to stop masturbating...

      November 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        You must mean all the straight, no partnered people. All the straight partnered people would likewise have to stop having sex with their partners in order for it to be equal.

        So, if sex were outlawed all together, anyone could get married?

        Well, it would curb the population problem at least.

        November 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  3. james

    piers wants us to believe it is natural "born that way" to encase your erection in excrement ? I just do not see anything normal or natural about that.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Erik

      "natural "born that way" "

      All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      There are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • james

      I guess you told me but i can not believe you took that comment so serious. Erik, i think you need more help than I have time for here. "christian gays and lesbians"? someone help me here.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      A) Hetero couples also engage in this activity. LOTS of hetero couples do. Both ways. (It's called a strap-on, in case you've never heard of it)

      B) You find it icky. Don't do it.

      C) There is the matter of the prostate, which can be stimulated from inside the anal cavity in men. This is a pleasurable experience as I have been give to understand.

      D) Not everyone interprets the bible the same way. Yes, I know many gay and lesbian Christians.

      E) Finding something icky is no reason to deny someone a basic civil right.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • james

      I am so sorry I even commented here because you people are so sick I will end my part in this discussion but will ask you to read a passage from first Corinthians chapter 6 verse 9-11. you do have hope.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      @james,

      I am so sorry I even commented here because you people are so sick I will end my part in this discussion but will ask you to read a passage from first Corinthians chapter 6 verse 9-11. you do have hope.

      Having read your passage I still stand by my earlier statements. I find no hope in biblical texts, but if you do, I'm happy for you.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • The Truth

      "encase your erection in excrement"

      "I am so sorry I even commented here because you people are so sick"

      ? We're the sick ones? Here's just a little knowledge for you james. Not all gay people are into anal. There are many gay men who have never and would never go there with their partners. So this is about you and the rorschach test image for what you believe must always be going on with those "gays" and I think you might have a predilection towards butt play and just wish you too could engage in it... Oh, wait! You don't have to be gay to "encase your erection in excrement" either! There are millions of straight persons who like a little butt fun too so you shouldn't feel so bad about wanting to be one of them...

      November 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      james: then do not do it. this is about equal rights

      December 4, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  4. Winston5

    religious cretin

    November 30, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  5. End Religion

    What this world needs is a full page devoted to Saraswati continuing the attempt to convince us his definition of atheism is better than the dictionary's.

    November 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Funny, my definition is right there in the OED (which includes several) so that would be pretty silly.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Saraswati

      Love your assumption, btw, that someone named Saraswati is a guy....right up there with Sue for guy names.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • End Religion

      It is perfectly natural when when guesses a possessive pronoun, which on an anonymous blog we often need to do, one will guess his own gender if it seems to be a toss up. It implies nothing.

      November 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  6. Rick Warren

    Hang on. I'm coming out soon.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  7. J.C.

    Every good Christian knows that the bible state that a man who lies with another man shall be put to death. Its in the same section that says we must execute anyone who works on the sabbath. Kill the gays and sabbath-workers! ...God loves you all!

    November 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Winston5

      lol :)

      November 30, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • james

      Jesus came to fulfill that law, see Matthew 5:17 and gave us 2 more important to obey, Matt.22:35-40. really covers everything.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      james: the bible is not the law of the land

      December 4, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  8. Billsf

    Rick uses the phrase, "the bible clearly states". Well, the bible clearly states to stone adulterers to death, to stone your children for talking back to you, that it's ok to own slaves, etc.
    The bible has no place in modern society.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  9. Jeffrmarks@gmail.com

    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    Rick and his millions might want to contemplate that for a while before he condemns anyone else.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  10. Smarter than U

    Gee, now that the election is over are Christians back to denying that Mormans are Christian? Is FRanklin Graham, heir to the Graham millions (how does that happen exactly), backpedaling on that just yet? Too soon, Frank?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  11. the AnViL

    there may be a cure for the religiosity disease!

    hopefully we'll pour more research into the "god gene" (VMAT2) – to get more data.... then we can work to find a way to switch this gene off...

    if we can – it will mean a much brighter future for humanity.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  12. joe

    cowards

    November 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  13. joe

    I expect Obama, Will any day now say hes coming out of the closet ! LOl

    November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Ben

      The Bush boys I could understand, but Michelle is just too hot to leave.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  14. johnfoursixteen

    Rick Warren on tolerance "The problem is that tolerant has changed its meaning. It used to mean 'I may disagree with you completely, but I will treat you with respect. Today, tolerant means – 'you must approve of everything I do.' There's a difference between tolerance and approval. Jesus accepted everyone no matter who they were. He doesn't approve of everything I do, or you do, or anybody else does either. You can be accepting without being approving." Still tolerance does not mean accepting.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • PaulB

      In the same spirit, aren't Christians telling everyone else 'you must approve of everything I do' when they ask for tolerance? I mean, the slightest criticism you make of things they do like working to enact laws against gay equality in marriage and you're labeled a "hater"! Sounds like they're also asking for complete acceptance of everything they do, right?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The difference is he, and apparently you, want the gov't to treat gay people differently than other people based on YOUR religious dogma. I don't expect you or anyone to approve or condon gays, or gay marriage. But under the law everyone is to be treated equally. It does not mean you or your church are required to recognize gay marriage, only the gov't.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  15. Gracenyc

    Christians – do not jump into the fray. Let those who believe differently speak their mind, no matter the vitriol and do not be afraid of their opinion. Because, the Scriptures say, 'As surely as I live,' says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God". Romans 14:11.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • OTOH

      Grace,
      "'As surely as I live,' says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God"

      That sounds like something that your "Satan" character would say...

      November 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Grace, that's all well and good. But here is the problem – you theists insist on forcing your religious beliefs on everyone else. You try forcing those beliefs into our laws and our constîtutions. You try forcing those beliefs into our public schools, our public squares, and our government buildings. You try forcing those beliefs into women's vàginas, and gay men's bûtts. You try forcing those beliefs between a person and their physician.

      You are free to believe whatever myths you want. But when you keep telling me I should have those beliefs too, we have a huge problem

      November 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Except the one MAJOR thing believers fail to accept is that the book was written and edited by many men. It is not the word of god.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Ben

      You're forgetting, Grace, that a lot of our comments concern genuine problems with Christian belief and legitimate criticism of some of your behavior. You are not always in the right, by a long shot, so don't speak as though we don't have a point saying some of the things we do.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Your god sound likea mob boss, why would I ever worship that?

      November 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      grace: quoting the bible is only convincing to those who accept the authority of the bible. to the rest, it is just so much "blah, blah, fvcking blah"

      December 4, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  16. Sam Yaza

    regardless not acting on love is wrong, if you fall in love with a man/woman then you should love him/her
    B!s3x4@l!t7 is the only moral choice

    November 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  17. Jenifer is a family name

    @ Saraswati if you are an atheist, then you sure are a judgmental one...passing judgement on every single person that made a comment that doesn't fit your "belief." Hypocrite.

    November 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'm not sure what you're talking about...most of my recent posts have been regarding how I think using the word Atheist causes conflict and should be avoided.

      November 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Akira

      Saraswati is one of the least judgmental people on here.
      I do not understand how one can arrive at that conclusion.
      Not agreeing with a person doesn't mean the person you don't agree with is judgemental.

      November 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Great point Akira,

      Too many people equate "disagreement" with "hate" or being judgmental. I think it has come from the idea that "all beliefs should be respected"......drivel.

      We should respect the person (until they show they don't deserve respect)....ideas and beliefs have to stand on their own merits.

      November 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Ben

      There is no atheist theology, much less one that says we shouldn't judge other people's behavior. You have atheism confused with being a religion.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • the AnViL

      there being no central tenets to atheism – other than the lack of belief in imaginary gods – it's perfectly reasonable – and permissible for atheists to be judgmental.

      xians on the other hand are mandated not to be judgmental. it even says so in your bibles.

      zing!

      November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • The Truth

      I think that there are a bunch of people on these boards with IQ's well under 80 like Jenifer here, and relying to their post is in some way validating their intelligence as valuable when in reality it merely waters down real discussions as we continue to attempt to get an unreasonable person to see reason. I have often wondered why I posted after the fact because regardless of how reasonable I may have been I likely lost those with limited IQ's after the first two words as their response invariably is "But the bible says" which proves they have no ability to think for themselves.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Jos. A. Mustich, Justice of the Peace, CT USA

    PS: It's called marriage. Period. Case Closed.

    Now lets focus on the war mongers and banksters who are causing us real problems.

    November 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I would be ok if the gov't stopped recognizing marriage alltogether....as long as it treated everyone equally.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      LOL do they not have dictionaries in CT?

      November 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Akira

      I think OP meant as opposed to calling it "gay marriage".

      November 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  19. Jos. A. Mustich

    Who? Just a distraction from full civil rights...
    Cheers, Jos. A. Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
    Washington, CT USA 06793

    November 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  20. Damocles

    Atheists believe in self-anhilation after death: There is nothing after this life.
    Atheists believe that there are no gods, goddess or higher powers.
    Atheists believe that everyone should believe the same way they do.
    Atheists have groups of people that actively engage in converting people to their way of believing.
    Atheism is a religion, just like any other religion. Atheism is as extreme as christian fundamentalism.
    If you'd like to be your own person, try being Agnostic. You can do as you please, believe as you please and be a good person without having to believe in what other people demand of you.

    November 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • nope

      Damocles must not be a Christian with all those lies.

      November 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Damocles

      Wow "nope" you're a genius! How did you guess I wasn't a christian? What lies? Would you like to elaborate?

      November 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Upstart Kitchen

      I'm an atheist. All it means is that I don't believe in the existence of god or gods. It doesn't mean anything more than that. I don't try to "convert" people, I don't believe in self-annihilation after death (what does that even mean?). I don't believe everyone needs to adopt atheism. I just don't believe, and that's all it is. Congratulations on being the first judgmental agnostic I've ever met.

      November 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Andtherearemoreofus

      @ upstart....you just bore your testimony. Thank you telling us exactly what you do and don't "believe." By the way, self-anhilation after death would mean that you cease to exist when you die. That's pretty much self explanatory isn't it? Don't you know your own beliefs?
      You try to prove to people that there is NOTHING to believe in as much as other religions try to prove that there is something to believe in. Ergo, you are a religious person. Even calling me judgmental, a common christian form of condemnation proves that you are still following in a "reward or punishment" belief. As an Agnostic myself, I have no qualms over judging people and being condemned for it like you just did as an atheist...I mean, religious person...

      November 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Andtherearemoreofus, While I understood the OP's meaning of self-annihilation from context, that is not what it actually means so insulting someone over it is uncalled for.

      From Merriam:
      annihilation of the self (as in mystical contemplation of God)

      From the OED:
      the annihilation or obliteration of self, especially as a process of mystical contemplation.

      It is something one does to onesself, not just a side effect of dying as used by Damocles. Not that I care, it was pretty easy to guess from context, but it was also wrong enough that it was fair for someone to question.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " By the way, self-anhilation after death would mean that you cease to exist when you die. That's pretty much self explanatory isn't it? Don't you know your own beliefs?"

      No. Self-anhilation after death would mean that after you die, you destroy your own dead body.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Jenifer is a family name

      Sweet evil Jesus people! As atheists, you sure are pretty darn wound up over someone "mistranslating" your beliefs! You sure are acting like religious people. Seriously
      So this self-anhilation...if it wasn't worded right...if you atheist think about it...you BELIEVE that after your life, you cease to exist. Semantics aside, that is a belief. In fact, it is a religious belief because it concerns a soul or the lack-thereof. RELIGION PEOPLE! Get a grip on your beliefs and admit you are a religion.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You can be agnostic and still be an atheist...it is not a middle ground.

      The protests come every day from the religious, and they go something like this:
      * "Why spend your time disproving God?"
      * "Why not just let people believe what they want to believe?"
      * "Why can't you leave religion alone?"

      Religion permeates our culture, shows up on our doorsteps with literature, scriptures and threats of eternal damnation, influences our science books, contaminates our political systems, indoctrinates our children and postulates that its doctrine must be followed, lest we be destroyed in body, in soul, or both.
      Non-believers are simply responding to the avalanche of religious messages that bears down upon us daily.
      Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives. Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Religion...is everywhere.
      Ask yourself. When's the last time an atheist rang your doorbell with the Good News of Humanism? How often do you find Richard Dawkins books in the dresser drawers of your hotel rooms? When was the last atheist temple erected in your neighborhood? Have you ever attended an atheist revival? Has atheism demanded 10% of your household income? How many dedicated atheist television channels come through your satellite dish? How many atheist verses were you instructed to memorize as a child? When's the last time someone thanked a FARMER (or even the cook) at the dinner table instead of God?
      On a more radical front, what's the name of the last atheist who sawed the head off of an "infidel?" Or sentenced a shrouded woman to death for displeasing an oppressive husband? Or strapped explosives to his belt in order to kill hundreds in a public square? Or publicly hung a gay person for his lifestyle?
      It's everywhere. Religion is a pounding drum that has gone mostly unanswered for a long, long time. And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful. Its very nature compels the believer to proselytize, preach, promote, convince, convert and prevail. If you play on the team of the religious, your game plan is to stay, always, on offense.
      Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem. Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.
      And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur'an and other holy books, the religious wail, "Why can't you just leave us alone?"

      The irony is thick.

      And religion impedes curiosity and inhibits learning, as the much-maligned Creation Museum proves. It stymies critical thinking. It stretches us to believe the unbelievable. And it poisons the foundational teachings we are using to train up the generations of tomorrow.
      And if your belief system is so undeniable, so factual, so provable, so real and so true, certainly it can withstand the opposing viewpoints presented here and elsewhere. Certainly, it can survive the acid tests.
      Just remember. Religion began the argument. It amplifies itself before the world. And it threatens all mankind with punishment upon its rejection.

      And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.

      -The Thinking Atheist

      November 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Superman

      @ blessed...do you REALLY think that people will read your entire post of total crack-head nonsense? I mean, saying that you can be an atheist and an agnostic is stupid to begin with, but then going off like you do seems pretty schizo to me.

      November 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Superman,

      If you didn't read it, fine I don't expect you to, your choice. But to say it is "cracked up non-sense" without reading it seems kinda stupid don't ya think?

      Or if you did read it you refute your whole premise that "people won't read it"....either way it does not reflect well on you.

      And as far as atheist/agnostic.....I will answer but from your previous post I am not sure you have the attention span to handle it....here goes.

      It has to do with the difference between what you believe and what you think you know. For any particular god that you can imagine, a "theist" is one who has a belief in that god. In contrast, an "atheist" is one who does not have a belief in the god. A "gnostic" is one who knows about the existence of god and an "agnostic" is one who thinks that god is unknowable.

      Notice that the terms "atheist" and "agnostic", by these definitions, are not mutually exclusive. You could be an agnostic atheist, meaning you don't think that the existence of gods is knowable, but you don't choose to believe in one without further proof. Many people assume that atheists believe that gods can be proved not to exist, but this isn't strictly true and there is no proper word to describe this. You could call such a person an "untheist", perhaps. Or, you could just call such a person a "gnostic atheist", one who doesn't believe in a god and thinks that his non-belief can be proved.

      So there are four possible ways one could be.

      1. Agnostic-Theist: believes god exists, but the existence of a god is unknowable
      2. Gnostic-Theist: believes in a god for which he claims knowledge
      3. Agnostic-Atheist: does not believe god exists, but it can't be proved
      4. Gnostic-Atheist: believes it can be proved that god does not exist

      November 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • ME II

      @Jenifer is a family name,
      "...you BELIEVE that after your life, you cease to exist. Semantics aside, that is a belief. In fact, it is a religious belief because it concerns a soul or the lack-thereof. RELIGION PEOPLE! Get a grip on your beliefs and admit you are a religion."

      I also "believe" that I don't go to Valhalla, Hel, etc. like the Norse nor to Elysium, Tartarus, etc. like the ancient Greeks. Does that make me a believer in the religion of 'A-Valhalla' or 'A-Tartarus'?

      November 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @Jenifer is a family name,
      ps
      Forgot to mention that there is reason to think that we cease to exist after death.
      It's not proof mind you, but the complete lack of brain activity, which maps very closely to all mental "states" one thinks of as self, implies that what we think of as our 'self' no longer exist after brain-death, not to mention what one would use to "think of as.." in the first place.
      Therefore it is not a belief, but rational opinion of what happens. Admittedly, it may also be wrong, but it's not a "belief" in the religious sense of the word.

      November 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, I agree with you that there are a lot of problems that certain religions have caused, and I myself experienced legal discrimination based on some of certain religions policies and beliefs. I fully support your efforts and intentions to critique those belief systems, religious or secular, which promote mistreatment of humans or other sentient beings. What I'm not comfortable with is the universal condemnation of religion as a whole, or with some of the claims of innocence for Atheism. I've lived in a communist country where hom ose xu ality was condemned and occasionally prosecuted (not part of the system technically, but argued for based on communist thinking) and in an officially Christian country where same-s. ex unions are allowed. I know some very intellectual believers in God who, with the exception of holding onto the idea of God, are willing to question just about everything. I've also found many atheists to be naive realists who believe that the material world is really as simple as what we see, despite coherent arguments as far back as Berkeley that it cannot be.

      So while I don't myself have a religion or god-belief, I don't like the practice of generally criticizing "religion" like it's a unified block. We don't really know whether some people need religion to be happy. Studies on who's happier have been conflicting, but even more significantly, have not accounted for the reasonably well established link between religiosity and genetics. Further, while I find certain religions unlikely, we don't really have any idea what's going on in the universe than our ancestors did, and to think we do makes us just as arrogant as they were.

      So I'll go with you as far as criticizing some of the religions and religious components that have an obvious conflict with civil welfare and science, but I won't call even their adherents fools, because there's a lot more to belief than that. And as for believing in a god and whether religion in a general sense holds us back, I don't think there's anything to be said on that beyond supporting future research.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • ME II

      @Saraswati,
      That was quite a dissertation and some interesting points.

      "...the claims of innocence for Atheism."
      I would propose that one could make an argument for the "innocence of Atheism", only because it is a single negative statement and not a system of belief that justifies or validates certain actions. Your comparison of communist vs Christian countries is just a comparison of Communist vs "Christian" philosophies, not an Atheist philosophy, which one might argue doesn't exist.

      Additionally, http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/23/world/africa/uganda-anti-gay-vote/index.html

      "...reasonably well established link between religiosity and genetics."
      I'd be interested in more info on this, if you have it handy.

      "...we don't really have any [more] idea [of] what's going on in the universe than our ancestors did..."
      I would disagree with this. In a time when the gods threw lightening bolts, religion might have made a lot more sense. Now, not so much.

      "...I don't like the practice of generally criticizing 'religion' like it's a unified block."
      While I agree that weak or hasty generalizations are not valid, I think that a case might be made for the idea that religion in general, or the concept of faith, i.e. belief without, or in spite of, evidence, is generally detrimenatal to individuals and society. It may not be a rock-solid case, but neither is the opposing view that religion in general is generally good for individuals and society.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • the AnViL

      "Atheists believe in self-anhilation after death: There is nothing after this life."

      actually some atheists understand what happens after death. they choose to believe the truth, so far as we understand it.
      self annihilation after death is impossible – because that means you'd be killing yourself after you die. that's dumb and silly.

      "Atheists believe that there are no gods, goddess or higher powers."

      actually – atheists don't believe in gods, goddesses or higher powers.

      "Atheists believe that everyone should believe the same way they do."

      actually – atheists understand that everyone should believe the truth and the harm that's done when everyone doesn't.

      "Atheists have groups of people that actively engage in converting people to their way of believing. Atheism is a religion, just like any other religion. Atheism is as extreme as christian fundamentalism."

      there is no central position of atheism other than a lack of belief in imaginary men in the sky, there no collection of – or gathering of.. or assembly of atheists. there are no assembled squads of atheist soldiers marching out into society with baseball bats and chains and switchblades invading homes. just (mostly) lucid individuals setting things straight.

      deal with it

      atheism is a lack of belief in imaginary men in the sky – it isn't a religion any more than not fishing isn't a pastime.

      atheism – like anything – can be taken to an extreme.

      – i am an anti-theist. i can and will take it to the extreme... believe it.. have faith in it.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Smarter than U

      I am an atheist. I simply can't fathom how people can believe what cannot be proven and whose only basis of existence are the writings of bronze era people. These are folks that understandably got EVERYTHING wrong. The sun doesn't revolve around the earth. You don't cure illness by bloodletting. There is practically nothing these early folks got accurate, yet somehow, this book, written by people who were not born yet when Jesus was alive, got this PERFECTLY right as did everyone who rewrote and translated it. It is simply IMPOSSIBLE. So until you can prove gods existence, I say it is all nonsense and as Hitch said, I don;t have to disprove what cannot be proven.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswati,

      I generally agree with what you said. I will try and clarify some of my positions. First being atheist just means we don't believe in a god, it does not mean we necessarily clam there is no god, some may, I don't. Being a former christian I will say that I think the possibility the christian god exists is next to nill. I do make the claim that particular god is irrational, contradictory and most importantly immoral. People may not agree but I will defend that position. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school (with real habit wearing Nuns). I only breing this up to point out I was a believer and have first hand experience with the dogma. Unlike many religions Christianity does everything it can to get and retain followers and therefore actively opposing that dogma is fair game. There are plenty of atheists that are wrong on any number of issues and I will call them out when I see it. I don't care what anyones behavior is as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. I am also a skeptic and the answer to unproven questions is "I don't know". I don't clim to know 100% what happens after we die though there is no evidence to support a soul or any type of afterlife though that is not proof there is not one. I appreciate your thoughtful response and feel free to call me out on anything you dissagree with, I have proven I can change my mind with additional information. Being religious does not mean one is stupid, most of my friends and family are believers and they are not dumb, though I do think that they have accepted the claims of there religion on emotion not reason. People should be given respect, ideas and belief have to stand on their own merits.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswarti,

      You also said ""...I don't like the practice of generally criticizing 'religion' like it's a unified block."

      It is my opinion christians have brought this on themselves, they like to refer to themselves as "christians" when it benefits their argument, but then will claim other christians are not really christians at times when it does not. When they stop refering to themselves as a "block" I will respnd in kind.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II, I'm afraid my response to you isn't posting for some reason. I'll post it if I can get it to go through.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, that all makes sense if you use that definition and are sticking with it. I'd still argue that it makes more sense to call yourself an agnostic (both linguistically and diplomatically), but terminology aside I think your position stands well. The only thing I'd note is that atheists refer to themselves as as "atheists" just as your Christian example, even though, as you note there are differences in belief. So we should expect in turn Christians to react as to a block against the more obnoxious or ignorant atheist positions.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II

      I think with regard to the innocence of atheism we differ on two points. First you don’t see it as a philosophy (I’d actually say “belief system” here), which I do. I think it is in practice, and arguably in definition, a positive belief that there is no god. I’ve had this conversation elsewhere on these blogs and it boils down to some issues of etymology and English morphology that would be another dissertation. :)

      November 29, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II
      Second I refer to the atheism here in all its cultural complexity (and there is an atheist culture here in the US) and not a simple definition, much as I would in talking about modern “Christianity”. For instance, most who bother to call themselves "atheists" in the US are materialists.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II
      For instance, most who bother to call themselves "atheists" in the US are materialists.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II
      Since the term causes so much conflict, those who expressly use this term generally have personalities that are more open to conflict. Anyway, you could approach it either way (use a strict definition or look at atheism in practice), and I don’t argue that either is better or more true.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @ME II
      On the topic of genes and religiosity you might want to check out Matt Bradshaw and (for a different twist) the predictions of Robert Rowthorn.

      Regarding what we know now compared to what we knew previously, I agree that in most scientific spheres we know more. I work on the assumption that on a scale of 1-100 of knowledge we’ve moved from maybe a 1 to a 3…which is great depending on how you look at it, and whether I’m right of course. I also think for philosophical reasons that there are things we don’t know about reality and will never be able to know (at least in the sense I think of knowledge).
      “While I agree that weak or hasty generalizations are not valid, I think that a case might be made for the idea that religion in general, or the concept of faith, i.e. belief without, or in spite of, evidence, is generally detrimenatal to individuals and society. It may not be a rock-solid case, but neither is the opposing view that religion in general is generally good for individuals and society.”

      I guess we’ll have to differ here as I think there isn’t enough information out there to support the argument either way. Another set of research you might want to look at regards the theory that traits that support religiosity evolved as a survival mechanism. If that is the case, we are left to ask whether as a society we have evolved to no longer need those traits.
      My own experience is that populations as a whole seem to believe about as much “generalized weird stuff” as ever. For example, I find that people who are less religious are often more political, believing more zealously in their positions and replacing the area religion fills in some with politics in others – usually argued no more rationally than the religious argue their own points. There’s often an interesting separation here in the US, with women slightly more likely to hold unfounded religious beliefs and men to hold unfounded political beliefs (in many Islamic countries males are more religious). In Europe, I see things like naturopathy filling the voids. I wish I could be more optimistic (my own bias in using that word) that humans are rational, but I don’t really think that’s borne out by modern psychology.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Apologies for posting that in pieces, but I don’t have the energy to fight CNN’s bizarre filter.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      damocles, try a dictionary.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswarti,

      Linguistically atheism and theism refer to "belief". When the question is asked 'do you believe in a god" anyone who answers with anything other than "yes" is an atheist. I don't believe aliens are visiting earth....I don't claim to "know" that they are not for sure, so to that question I am agnostic (knowledge).

      Diplomatically many atheists do not like to refer to themselves with that label and I am fine with that. I use "atheist" on purpose because I think for too long the non-religious have been forced by societal pressures to "keep quiet" and hide in the shadows which allows religion to expand unopposed. Religious belief should have to sink or swim in the marketplace of ideas and relagating the opposition to "softer" labels in an attempt to placate the religious majority is counter productive to the discussion and I think society as a whole. Religion really does nothing to help our understanding of the world other than as an example of what does not work.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, linguistically my issue isn't with belief vs. knowledge, Its just that with english semantics and morphology isms only refer to positive beliefs. It there for means not that you are lacking a belief in god but that you think none exists, and you do so with the conviction of an "ist". That's how people put language together, and I thinkit's unfair to ask them to make exceptions. If you don't consider yourself an agnostic (and to me its quibbling, as I've done enough epistemology believe these words fairly meaningless) you'd be better off just saying you have no religion and don't have a befief in god.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswati,

      I understand what you are saying but I don't agree. Belief and knowledge are not the same and if we can differentiate between the two in an effort to better understand the complexities of the issue it will help us describe the intricacies of the concept. You can tell me my perception of your position is wrong but you seem to be more concerned about being accomadating to the religious, where as I am fine with being directly oppositional because it forces the discussion.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Bibletruth

      According to the bible when a person dies that person is dead. That means now there is no life. Dead means without life. The bible says when a person dies its no different as when an animal dies. They are dead, that is, there is no more life. Jesus referred to it as "sleep" because when a person dies they know nothing, no awareness of anything, etc. Every bible believer or anyone interested in the word of God should have a complete concordance and look up every instance of certain words. Read that verse carefully as to what it says and doesnt say , etc. Every verse that contains the word your interested in. And then read the verse in its context. This takes some time. But do this with about 20 words or so and no one will ever snow you re what the bible says. Very few...very few are seekers of truth. By the way, those who die and are thereby without life of any kind whatsoever will be resurrected to life at the first resurrection or at the second resurrection, the first one being unto eternal life and the second one being unto eternal death. The bible is the most wonderful material possession a human being can have. Jesus in the heart (Christ within, the hope of glory) is the most wonderful possession.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese,

      "You can tell me my perception of your position is wrong but you seem to be more concerned about being accomadating to the religious, where as I am fine with being directly oppositional because it forces the discussion."

      I think to force a discussion you have to have a discussion in the first place. The approach I use has allowed me to converse in the workplace over lunch with a self-declared "fundamentalists" and bring numerous coworkers of varied belief into hours of discussion – with no one threatening lawsuit, storming out or taking offense. The religious person doesn't care about your distinction between belief and knowledge – that may make a nice topic between you and your like-minded friends, but the fundamentalist next door doesn't care. They care that you are outside the circle and you are in. They have normal curiosity about other religions and ideas and are open to learning about these if you aren't dominating the conversation with details they find trivial and an impression that you look down on their religion and would believe anything else (which is where the I-don't-know-but-not-a-Christian-god line leads). You are contrasting being accommodating with furthering the conversation; I'm saying they're the same thing.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "You are contrasting being accommodating with furthering the conversation; I'm saying they're the same thing."

      In your example you are correct, you are talking about personal conversation where one must be softer in how the conversation is continued for it to be a reasonable "back and forth" sharing of ideas. (I do find it interesting that use of the word "atheist" gets people offended in the first place). When I have personal discussions with people outside my closet friends and family I use "non-religious" for the same reason. However when I used the word "discussion" I meant it more as a broad national conversation like we have here and elsewhere in mass media. I feel that the more people hear "atheist" the easier it will make it long term. "Atheist" has been hijacked by the religious as being equated to all things evil and I think it should be taken back.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Bible Truth" is one of the best examples of an oxymoron.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, I think our approaches aren't really that different. I just don't think the word "atheist" fits the public sphere any differently than the private for the same reasons.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Here is the thing Saraswati, If I am asked "does Zues exist" my answer is "no" ....so to that god I believe positively it does not exist and by your definition I am an "Atheist".

      Odin = Athest
      Mithra = Atheist
      Ra = Atheist
      ect., ect., ect.

      Any god that has been defined by man as being a personal god (including the christian god or any Abrahamic god)...I am an atheist. I will argue that god does not exist to a certainty.

      The only god(s) that I admit may exist would be either a Deistic or a Pantheistic god, and those gods by definition are irrelevent.

      So am I an agnostic or am I an atheist by your definition?

      November 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, I think you're an atheist in the strict historical sense of distinguishing between deism and theism. I don't think 99% of the people you talk to or the general public is going to care about this distinction. With diminishing religiosity I don't think a campaign to make this distinction to the general public is valuable or likely to be effective. What an atheist is to most people is just what you have defined it as previously yourself – one who disbelieves in god. If you look it up in any major dictionary (all the average person is going t have ever referenced on this issue) the first definitions you will see will just say "god" and not be any more specific. The only people who care about this distinction are people calling themselves atheists (many of which have a very different position than you regarding belief).

      People aren't making nitpicky distinctions here and you aren't going to be capable of forcing them to use your language instead of what they commonly accept to be the meaning of the term. Literally, "anemia" translates as "no blood". If a friend tells me her kid has anemia am I going to assume that she was sucked dry by vampires and is dead? No, the term has evolved and isn't used this way and I'm not going to win any arguments telling people how to use it.

      Additionally, I think they are very fair in asking you why you don't describe yourself as an a-blue-bouncing-balls-running-the-world-ist. Why define your beliefs with a term describing one thing out of an infinite number you don't believe in? It just speaks, rightly, to a prime concern being with opposing religion. Unless you have a term for every one of these things you think unlikely you're defining a position of importance and a system of though by the conventions of the English language.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswati,

      I know you said you grew up in a communist country and I am assuming you live in the U.S. but that is just a guess. If you do I am not sure what part of the country. The point I am trying to get at is I don't think the religious right wing cares about terms. This country 100 years ago was not as religiously fundamental as they we seem to be getting today. Their seems to be a "battle of epistomology" going on and to this point the religious right has been allowed to define the terms. 100 years ago the secularists had seemingly won out and they backed off. After WWII the religious defined "atheist" with "communist" and painted them all as the enemy. This is still going on. Right now if anyone uses the term "atheist" it sends a chill through a believer. I don't know if you are familiar with Julia Sweeney but she is a U.S. comedian who like me was raised Catholic. She conveys the story of her mother finding out she was an atheist and her mother called her and said "I understand you don't believe in god but don't be an atheist". That is the mentality we are dealing with. If you watch the right wing religious pundits they are trying to vilify the terms "liberal", "progressive", "secular" just to name a few. Under normal circ.umstances I would agree that needlessly irratating those of faith would be counter productive but it is my opinion we should embrace the term and show there is nothing wrong with being and atheist any more than being a buddist or a Methadist. They are trying to marginaize the non-religious and by allowing them to define the terms we are letting them do just that. I do think you posts have made great points, I just think at some point a "line in the sand" needs to be drawn.

      November 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • End Religion

      I enjoyed Julia Sweeney's one-woman show on HBO! Have seen it a few times.

      November 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      End Religion,

      That is a great show.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Saraswati

      @Cheese

      "her mother called her and said 'I understand you don't believe in god but don't be an atheist'. "

      Why would you (or she) think it important to convince anyone that you were an atheist when that person was just fine with you not beleiving in god?

      This person gets that her daughter doesn't believe in god and doesn't seem to have an issue with it. Theonly reason for wanting to have a label then is for the daughter. She doesn't go around labeling everything else she doesn't believe in. She isn't an aunicornist, so there's something special here about wanting to specify this particular group. Maybe she doesn't care but was just making a funny point about her mothers ignorance, but you do. Do you:

      1. Want to have some sort of community?
      2. Want to upset people to make a point?

      It's totally normal to want a community with a label to belong to...this is done in all societies throughout time. But this is a label of negation. When someone asks what religion you are, they want to know what you do believe, not what you don't. If someone said "what relgion are you?" Would you answer, "I'm not really religious, I'm an adarmaist" (or aunicornist or whatever)? I don't think you would, you're just picking one negative thing to define yourself as. You want a label, most people, like the mother in this case, don't care that much.

      And when they do they aren't looking for a negative, for what you don't believe in. They also aren't just looking for a metaphysical answer, they also want to know your ethics...what you're about and what your values are. A lot of other answers fill this. "I'm a humanist", "I'm a Spinozan", "I'm a teleologist", "I'm a non practicing Unitarian" whatever. If they ask about gods, well, "I don't believe in a god in the Christian sense though there may be one in a pantheist sense"...whatever. That's what they're looking for. You can still get into what you believe but you don't need the label. And if you do want a community, there's no point in making it one of negation. There are pleny of atheistic Buddhists but you don't see them going around calling themselves atheists.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese,
      I didn't grow up in a communist country, but I worked in one. I don't want to give too much identifying info, but I do now live in th northeastern US and have also lived throughout the west coast and in the south. I have never lived in or been to Texas which I gather is as bad as or worse than the south religious oppression-wise. In the south I oned a book called the Handbook of Denominations and learned every major US religion so I'd know who I was talking to...it had never occurred to me I would ever do that!

      November 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @BATC,

      @saraswati has challenged us all that the word "atheism" and "atheist" should only be used in the context of a positive belief in the non-existence of God. I'm not sure why s/he's so particular about this.

      In my view these distinctions are usually only important to believers – which is why I emphasize the 'disbelief' of agnostic atheism.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @GOP, What's confusing is why you want to have a word for a disbelief at all? Why atheism and not aunicornism? I went over to the house of a pagan coworker and she had out food for the fairies. I didn't tell her I was an afariryist.

      When I used the word positive earlier, though, I actually meant it in what it turns out is appropriate to Cheese's use. I mean he positively believes in a world of no god...or disbelieves in god. A negative use in that context would be one who doesn't know if there's a god, but doesn't believe positively believe in it. Many atheists make this claim, which is really what most people believe by agnostic (yes, I know the belief knowledge distiction, but I'm talking street use).

      But Cheese is (more or less...leaving deism aside) an atheist in the positive sense. He really belives there are no (theistic) gods (some questions out, but for th sake of argument).

      So then we have another sense in which isms are "positive". This is slightly different. By this I mean an ism about a thing in which you believe, not disbelieve. To mix it all up, Cheese has a positive belief in a negative concept. But by custom isms aren't used for negative ideas (aunicornism, afairyism). Yes, sometimes in technical senses they are, but not in everyday language and not in the context in which people are discussing their beliefs.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @GOP, I do like the compromise of agnosit atheism, btw. I don't know that it will win me over, but I'm going to consider its use in some contexts.

      The reason, btw, I think it should be limited to the positive belief in the non-existence of god is that agnosticism is already out there to cover the uncertain state. Sure, you can distinguish between belief and knowledge, but you have to have a lot more faith in the meaning of language than I do to take that too seriously.

      I'm a linguistic pragmatist...I don't really thing words inherently have deep meaning or are a mirror image reflectin of reality. Words evolved for survival, like opposing thumbs. They are there because they work, not because they mean anything in a reflection-of-reality or even consistent sense. I got about 5 weeks into my undergrad epistemology course before I realized what a crock it was. People who are multilingual in nonrelated languages have the advantage of understanding that more easily, but at that time I'd only learned european languages so I was a little so.

      I'm all for defining words as precisely as possible when there's really something to get at, but if you haven't done it yet try taking an epistemology class and spending a few months defining the words "know" and "believe" and the pointlessness of some of these exercises gets to you. Belief maybe can oneday be defined as a psychological state with certain neurochemicals and a roughly identifiable patern in the frontal lobes (or something...making that up)...but it isn't some dictionary definition natural concept we can tie up with a ribbon.

      Anyway, all that's by way of saying not only does the general population not care (and won't care) about the difference between agnositism and negative atheism, but I really don't think we should expect them to.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @GOP "she" (to save you a slash)

      November 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @saraswati,

      thanks! I thought so. I just didn't want to assume.

      (He in my case.)

      November 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Yeah, odds are a Saraswati'd be female, but you do never know. GOP could go either way, but I think the original ad was a male "dentist".

      November 30, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Sometimes it's really hard to tell.

      Either way, it's mostly relevant to the proper pronoun and an ingrained sense of etiquette.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I read an article recently about how hard it would be to change English not to use gender specific pronouns (like Finnish and spoken Chinese). I don't remember the details but the answer was 'very hard'; apparently that’s a more intractable part of grammar. I wonder if the Finns realize how much simpler their communication is on anonymous internet sites.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You said...."Why would you (or she) think it important to convince anyone that you were an atheist when that person was just fine with you not beleiving in god?"

      "Atheist" and "not believing in god" are the same thing....hence it was a joke, her mother was acting like they were not one in the same. I know you are hung up on the "ist" portion of "atheist" but really, it is just a word. I describe myself with many terms, man, father, friend, ect. It is not the word, it is the meaning behind the word. Why should anyone not offended by my "lack of belief" suddenly be offended because I call my religious position "atheism"? I don't have an issue for atheist being a term of positive belief because I am positive all of the personal gods defined by man are fiction, so in that respect I am making a positive claim of belief. Would it make any difference if I called myself a "non-believer"? If so why?

      1. "1. Want to have some sort of community?"

      Not sure what you mean by that, there are non-believer communities available, some that refer to themselves as atheist communities, the one that I am associated with is called a "freethought" community.

      The website Dictionary.com gives the following definition of "religion."

      1.
      a.Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
      b.A personal or insti.tutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
      2.The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
      3.A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
      4.A cause, a principle, or an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

      Clearly, definitions 1-3 do not apply to atheists since we reject the notions of supernatural powers and spiritual leaders. Definition 4 could possibly apply to atheists, but then, it could also apply to a bowling league or a Britney Spears fan club. The claim that atheism is a religion is generally made by Christians who have been religious all their lives and thus cannot conceive of anyone not having some kind of religion as an integral part of their lives.

      It's instructive to point out that theism is not a religion either. Theism simply has to do with believing in a god, which one can very easily do without engaging in any sort of religious activity—to wit, the practice of worshipping that god. A person who believes a deity or higher power exists, but never in his life sees fit to go to a church or pray or partake in any kind of practice designed to worship or revere that deity, would be theistic, but not religious.

      Atheism, which is about not believing in god(s), and theism, which is about believing in god(s), are philosophical or theological points of view, but they are not religions.

      2. Want to upset people.

      If people get upset because I refer to myself as an atheist it is not my problem, that is their problem. There is no rational reason to get upset about that term or to get offended that I refer to myself as such. And I have seen the term "humanist" be vilified too, if I refer to myself as a "humanist" and theist get offended that I refer to myself as such should I stop using that as well?

      November 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @saraswati,

      funny that you mention Finns. They are very direct. They would not hesitate in this medium to say exactly what they think.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @BATC,

      I think we have some fundamental ethical differences with regard to the role of the individual and language in a social context that mean we've gotten everything out of this we can without changing not only a few premises but some life values.

      Thank you for the conversation, though, it was great to toss the ideas around with you and clarify some things, both in my own thinking and the perspective you're coming from. One thing about internet discussions is that you'll never know if I sit up six months from now when pondering some issue and say, "Oh THAT was what Cheesy meant by that!" So I thank you too ahead of time for any additional side effects that tend to rattle out of conversations for me well down the line.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saraswat,

      I agree, would could around this for quite awhile. You have given me points to think about even though I don't agree at this time. If nothing else you have helped me understand my own positon better which is also one of the reasons I enjoy discussion with theists. I just think theists, and more specifically christians are threated by the very fact non-believers exist regardless of the label used. Thanks for the responses, they were well thought out, I look forward to the next topic.

      Non-GOP,

      Same goes for you, I responded to your post on the Catholic church and science and would be interested in your feedback.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
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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.