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January 8th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

My take: 'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman

Editor’s note: Chris Stedman is the author of "Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious" and the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDStedman.

By Chris Stedman, Special to CNN

(CNN)—This year, Congress welcomed the first Buddhist senator and first Hindu elected to either chamber of Congress, and the Pew Forum noted that this “gradual increase in religious diversity … mirrors trends in the country as a whole.”

But Pew also noted one glaring deficiency: Religious “nones” were largely left outside the halls of Congress, despite one in five Americans now saying they don’t affiliate with a religion.

There is, however, one newly elected “none” — but she seems to think "atheist" is a dirty word.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, was sworn in a few days ago without a Bible, and she is the first member of Congress to openly describe her religious affiliation as “none.” Although 10 other members don’t specify a religious affiliation — up from six members in the previous Congress — Sinema is the only to officially declare “none.”

This has gotten Sinema a fair amount of attention from the media. Many identified her as an atheist during her congressional campaign, and after she won, sources touted her as a nontheist. Even this past weekend, Politico declared in a headline: “Non-believers on rise in Congress.”

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

But there’s a slight issue: Sinema doesn’t actually appears to be a nonbeliever. In response to news stories identifying her as an atheist, her campaign released this statement shortly after her victory: “(Rep. Sinema) believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.”

As a nontheist, atheist and nonbeliever (take your pick), I find this statement deeply problematic.

It is perfectly fine, of course, if Sinema isn’t a nontheist, and it is understandable that she would want to clarify misinformation about her personal beliefs. But to say that these terms are “not befitting of her life’s work or personal character” is offensive because it implies there is something unbefitting about the lives and characters of atheists or nonbelievers.

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

Try substituting a religious group of your choice in place of atheist if you don’t agree: “[Rep. Sinema] believes the term Muslim is not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.” Does that sound right? It shouldn’t.

Of course, many do view Muslims as unfit for political office. In that respect, political opponents have regularly misidentified President Obama as a Muslim. Many have defended the president from such attacks by noting that Obama is a Christian.

But former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell rightly pointed out the pernicious underlying message such a defense sends:

The correct answer is: He is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’ The answer is ‘No, that’s not America.’ Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

Just as Muslim is used as a political smear, politicians seem to avoid "atheist."

This is probably because the American electorate views both Muslims and atheists more unfavorably than they do other groups: According to a Gallup poll released in June, only 58% of Americans would vote for a “generally well-qualified” Muslim candidate, and only 54% would vote for an atheist. (This is the first time that number has been above 50% for an atheist candidate.)  By contrast, 91% would vote for a Jewish candidate, 94% for a Catholic and 80% for a Mormon.

There seems to be a greater general tolerance for, or blindness to, comments that marginalize or diminish atheists than those aimed at other groups.

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

Prominent individuals like Powell rightfully decry anti-Muslim fear-mongering in politics, but few speak out against those who wield accusations of atheism as a political weapon.

Whether people don’t see it or simply aren’t bothered isn’t clear, but it remains a problem.

I respect Sinema’s right to self-identify as she chooses, and I don’t wish to speculate about her religious beliefs. But while I celebrate that she is comfortable enough to openly identify as bisexual, I find her response to being labeled an atheist troubling.

Why not instead say that she’s not an atheist, but so what if she was?

The 113th Congress is rich with diversity. As an interfaith activist, I am glad to see the religious composition of Congress more closely reflect the diversity of America. As a queer person, I’m glad that LGBT Americans are seeing greater representation in Washington.

But as a proud atheist and humanist, I’m disheartened that the only member of Congress who openly identifies as nonreligious has forcefully distanced herself from atheism in a way that puts down those of us who do not believe in God.

We are Americans of good character, too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chris Stedman.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (3,637 Responses)
  1. Phazon

    Let me ask all the atheists something do you choose not to believe in God because of the world and false religion have you ever even tried to get past your own thinking and ask God for guidance or have you looked to the writings of philosophers for guidance? Take a long look and stop accepting evolution as facts because the fossil records do not hold up to support this claim if you say it is impossible to have a creator I say to you with all due respect that it is equally impossible for all life and the way the earth is meant to support life all by accident but just as every creature is according to it's kind just like they was created. Scientists cannot back up evolution sure they can tickle your ear but only the bible explains why we are getting sicker despite all the medicines and all the technology they cannot cure man kinds ailments sure if evolution was real we would have evolved into creatures that didn't get sick. As Spock would say regarding evolution its not logical captain.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • Observer

      Life expectancy has probably DOUBLED since the days of Jesus.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Yeah

      Have you ever put aside your delusions and realized that there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE anywhere in the universe for the existence of any god? Have you realized that Jesus was repeatedly wrong, and gods cannot be wrong, so Jesus was not a god?

      If you think – I know, you were trained to not think – you would realize gods and christianity just cannot be.

      But hey, waste your life worshiping your imagination. Kinda masturbatory, but go for it.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Phazon,

      I will believe in your religion if you can show one claim of your religion that your religion independently proved as true, not just asserted it.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • Facts

      When you get to choose your own facts, you can make anything true. Only creationists say that the evidence doesn't favor evolution. A majority of theists and virtually everyone else accepts the science supporting evolution because it is solid.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • Hillcrester

      What you wrote just makes no sense to me.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Fernando

      Human global population has doubled in the last 45 years. Is this what you mean by a species that if becoming increasingly diseased?
      To paraphrase you; "If evolution was real, humans wouldn't get sick."
      Why don't you just say, "If evolution was real, helicopters would eat their young, manta rays would run congress, and horned toads would eat cake." You exhibit minimal grasp of logic or reality. Your statement meant nothing at all. Just a dream or a bad piece of fish causing you to think such a thing – with all due respect, of course.
      I knew Spock, and you're no Spock.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • fintastic

      @fernando........... "bad piece of fish" haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!..... LOL

      January 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  2. ol' pink

    As a believer, I cannot and will not trust an atheist. Ms. Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in so many words during an interview in a well-known paper that "...you ignore our numbers at your peril...", and believe it or not she is absolutely correct. Atheist' numbers were ignored in nations like the old Soviet Union, Red China, Cuba, ect, and many people were put to death or taken away to forced labor simply for believing in a higher power, and I believe if we continue to give the "nons" more and more power the same will happen in this country. If you doubt me then read the comments by the majority of atheist regarding this story. Christians are evil, nuts, mentally unstable, bigots, and I could go on, but I won't. Today it's public displays of Christianity the atheist want to outlaw, tomorrow it'll be a midnight raid on a family because a Bible was found on the premise.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Straw man argument of the worst kind.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Answer

      You need to scream. Scream hard.

      "They're coming for us!" "HELP!"

      "Get me my guns!"

      **paranoia is so fun.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Jeffy

      We know you Christians are bigots. We're used to it.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Career Ranger

      Be sure to save that copy of the bible for the apocalypse and then give it to a blind denzel washington!

      January 9, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • breathe deep

      Yes, how could a loving and compassionate person not condone a midnight raid on a peaceful family simply for having a different bible in their house? Sounds absurd doesn't it?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • jennymay

      Haha and all the deeply religious countries in the world do just great these days, huh?

      January 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  3. The Deepening

    I don't know why people are so surprised in the trend away from religion given the "sins" of church leaders these days. Their hypocrisy and lack of moral fiber is so painfully evident. Religion should be a personal thing not used to gain votes. Why not have politicians outline their slate and let the votes fall where they may. Oh, but that would be a government of the people, for the people and by the people. We can't have that now can we. There's just as much corruption in politics as their is in religion. What will people turn to to replace politics when they get fed up with that?

    January 9, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • SourCreamLover

      You voted for Obama, right?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Yeah

      Sour grapes from SourCreamLover

      January 9, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • breathe deep

      Just curious on what their beliefe should mr. sour cream loving mexican coddling sir?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:14 am |
  4. Pushover1234

    "None" does not mean not spriritual. Something Atheists use to try to make it look like their numbers are larger. I don't identify with any religion, but I do believe in a higher power. Atheiests try to twist that into I believe as they do. I don't. Is it the God of Abraham? I don't know. But dont label me as a an Atheiest because I dont identify with any religion. That is Atheiests trying to make themselves feel as a larger group than they actually are.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • marks320

      We won't label you an atheist until you can consistently spell it correctly.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • McDuck Quackerton

      False. Most atheists would actually say what you say is meaningless. The "spiritual but not religious" labeling is often seem as a joke.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Pushover1234

      Any IDIOT that comes onto a chat board and expects crorrect spelling and grammer is less than an Atheiest. This is not a doctorial disertation. Frakking Liberal PC POS.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  5. RillyKewl

    Susan Jacoby had a wonderful opinion post in The Sunday NYTimes about Atheists + our community + morals, in the wake of the Newtown shooting. It was very thought provoking.
    Love Her!!

    January 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  6. SourCreamLover

    Believes in God...Check
    Believes maybe it was not literally 7 days in which the Earth was made. Maybe one day is really 750 Million years...Check
    Maybe some stories are just allegories...Check
    Maybe my God made the universe through some sort of big bang...Check

    January 9, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • Funny thing

      Christians who are open to the big bang and guided evolution are rarely the ones who get the microphone.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • breathe deep

      You'd be suprised how many of the "godlesss immoral atheists" think the same way. I don't think the same way they do, but many subscribe to the notion of "evolution is the answer to the question of how, not the why".

      January 9, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • fintastic

      maybe the bible isn't the word of god? = check

      Maybe god was invented by man? = check

      Now we're getting somewhere....

      January 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  7. BldrRepublican

    If you're right, after we die I'll join you in nothingness.

    If I'm right, I'll spend eternity at an all-you-can-eat buffet amongst streets of gold, while you will perpetually ask the caretaker to turn up the air-conditioning.

    Sounds like most of you are not playing your odds correctly....

    January 9, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Answer

      Another case of Pascal's Wager.

      So common. And the result of that wager is the religious person is the loser. Thank you.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • SourCreamLover

      You just won the interwebs

      January 9, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Yup. Pascal's Wager is too cliché.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Yeah

      Pascal's wager. Massive fail. You forgot to nclude all the other possible hells that you would go to as well. You are playing the odds very poorly.

      If you consider the evidence for the existence of any deity (none), then consider that your Jesus was wrong at least twice on major issues in the bible, you will realize that the odds are massively against any god, and even worse against Christianity. The odds are 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 against you.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Athy

      If you sleep better by believing that bullshit, have at it.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Unless you pick the wrong god....

      your odds just went down considerably.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • No

      Heaven is Heaven because the people there are in the presence of God, and his presence is paradise. If you are in this because you think there are literally going to be buffets, golden streets, and AC, pick a different religion.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • BldrRepublican

      @Answer – wrong.

      Your assumption is that one is "unhappy" or "dissatisfied" if they must live a religious life whilst here on earth. Au contraire – idealist like you exclaim that NOTHING would make the world a happier place than if we just all "got along" and "showed good will towards one another". But that is precisely what Christians espouse, but for some reason you separate the motive from the behavior.

      That's called hypocrisy.

      Tell me, if all Christians acted EXACTLY as they do now, but absent the motivation of religion, would you redicule them? Of course you wouldn't. They would be model citizens in your eyes. But the fact that they are motivated by religion makes us beneath your contempt.

      That's called hypocrisy also.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Chad

      Your "odds." This is exactly my argument in the other direction. From all that I can see the odds of there being a Christian afterlife is so infinitesimally small that the amount of time I have already spent thinking about it is far too much. So it's not a 50/50 crapshoot. It's a matter of wasting a good chunk of the life you do have on the relatively impossible chances of a 2000 year old story being more than just a story.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Answer

      Guess where the hypocrisy came from? It's great to use hypocrisy on the religious – that's where I learn all the best tools. XD

      January 9, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • NorCalMojo

      It's easy to blow off Pascal's wager on your own soul, but when it's the soul of a loved one at stake, it becomes a lot more meaningful.

      The benefit and peace of mind belief brings is realized whether or not the belief is true or not.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • Peter

      If you are wrong, you will have missed out on your, "all-you-can-eat buffet amongst streets of gold,"
      Even if you are correct, are you sure you've been doing it right?
      And what if the Krishna's or Mormons were right? Where would you be then?
      Your wager gives 50/50 odds, mine offers no safe bets.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • Answer

      @NorCalMojo

      –quote–
      It's easy to blow off Pascal's wager on your own soul, but when it's the soul of a loved one at stake, it becomes a lot more meaningful.

      The benefit and peace of mind belief brings is realized whether or not the belief is true or not.
      –end–

      You're free to think that it does bring you benefit. But that is just lying to yourself. You don't realize you're playing a justification game with your own mind. We don't care.

      We find harmony and happiness without the silliness and you people scream and kick that "no you're not really happy".
      Ya- like really – the religious people who aren't us are going to tell us that we're not happy? Do you see the folly in their arguments. Telling and dictating to others – that to be happy is to accept their silliness. That's whacko.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • Mulehead

      How can your brain possibly be firing enough electrons to keep you breathing.....dolt.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • BldrRepublican

      @Peter –
      "If you are wrong, you will have missed out on your, "all-you-can-eat buffet amongst streets of gold,"

      How so? How can I miss out on something that, according to you, does not exist? If it doesn't exist, I wouldn't have missed out on it, correct?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Beelzebub

      You've got it all figured out! I'm sure that this "all knowing" being that you believe in will not realize that you're just playing your odds and welcome you right in to wherever you think you're going to go when you die.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • Career Ranger

      You are making the presupposition that there is a 50% chance of you being right or wrong. The reality is there is almost infinite possibilities with what happens when we die. I would argue that since all evidence suggests that death is final then that is probably what it is, but still, look at all the variables. Is it anymore likely that you go to heaven than say you star in a hit 80's commercial featuring dominos adorable character "the noid" on some cosmic endless loop? Now that I have written that down does it give it the same weight as the bible? Do we just need to wait 2000 years? What if I put the odds at you being right as something 100x less likely than winning powerball? Who then is spending their time more wisely? Should I just throw my lot in with every religion out there and hope for the best? It always works when people buy 50 powerball tickets, right?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • BldrRepublican

      @Beelzebub
      "You've got it all figured out! I'm sure that this "all knowing" being that you believe in will not realize that you're just playing your odds and welcome you right in to wherever you think you're going to go when you die."

      And that would be........right where you're going, correct? Can't be any worse than where you're headed. You can find me there and tell me "I told you so".

      Unfortunately, if I'm right, I won't be able to say the same to you...

      January 9, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If your god rewards or punishes based on belief or non-belief that makes him an asshat not worthy of worship.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • marks320

      So your vision of the afterlife is gluttony and streets of gold? Sounds like hell to me. Also, you inadvertently expressed doubt in your own beliefs by considering the possibility that you will join us for an eternity in nothingness. Do you think that pretending to believe is going to satisfy your god?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • breathe deep

      And unfortunately since you are playing odds, then you will be burning in the lake of fire with rest of us right?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  8. Jack Basuk

    Has anyone in this debate consider agnosticism? Einstein, amongst others was one. To me atheism is a belief, a belief in the the non-exstence in a primary cause, namely a creator, a god. I simply assert existence is a mystery for which there is no answer. Belief indicates an unacceptable arrogance. Bertrand Russell, when asked if he was willing to die for his beliefs, tersely answered. 'Of course not! My beliefs can be and are probably wrong."

    January 9, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • lol??

      +2 on B R's weasel factor.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If I were to try to be an Agnostic, and say,. “I just don’t know if there is a god,” I would feel just as silly as saying “I just don’t know if there is a Tooth Fairy.” It’s not so much that we Atheists have ‘faith’ in the lack of gods, but we do have faith that theists accept fallacies as proof, most likely out of fear. This may be the same reason Agnostics will not profess true Atheism (the fear of being wrong). In the literal sense of trusting in evidence, I’m okay with being a faithful Atheist, but my faith is nowhere near the amount of unjustifiable faith required to believe in magical spirits helping us with daily activities.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  9. Religion is illogical...

    So many Jesus freaks.. So few IQ points.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Tim

      I hate to rain on your parade, but I believe in God and am also one of the most intelligent people on this earth. That may sound like boastful pride to you, but I have figured out what ties space and time irrevocably together. One day this knowledge will be used to travel the universe. Had I the gumption I could do quite a bit with my intellect, but I would rather live a quiet life. I would rather raise a family and have them know love, peace, understanding, acceptance, and most importantly God.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • Religion is illogical...

      Tim... LOL

      January 9, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • breathe deep

      hahahahha tim, oh I hope that you are the Tim I'm thinking of that lives in Broomfield CO. But I doubt it. Seeing as how if you were the one that tied space and time together then you would be on every news network in the world and wouldn't have time to post on cnn blogs, but since you appear to be nothing more than a fabricated persona of the being you would like to claim yourself to be, I'm going to have to blow a hole in your notion of yourself. Answer me this, if space and time are consistent, what is the algorhythm?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • fintastic

      Oh Tim............ I really hope for your sake that was a tongue-in-cheek post......... wow.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  10. KP

    Reblogged this on Odd Atheist Out and commented:
    Be WHO you are, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema!!

    January 9, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  11. Jon

    This commentary doesn't make any sense. The representative said it was "not befitting her life's work or personal character". Sounds to me like she wants to be known as a member of congress, not someone of a particular faith. The author is way too sensitive. Get over yourself, Mr. Stedman.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  12. my2sense

    Thanks for the article on this important topic. I would encourage those interested in non-sectarianism in America to read Ben Franklin's autobiography. Subsequently, the videos of Christopher Hitchens on youtube are of immense value. Regards, C

    January 9, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • lol??

      Does Ben include the 50 ways with the women?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  13. Mopery

    I think we Atheists should just call ourselves what we truly are: Realists.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • BldrRepublican

      I do agree you should call yourself what you really are – "damned".

      January 9, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Mopery...better watch out....his god is going to beat you up.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Yeah

      We are damned . . . damned right in our realization that religion is total bullshit that only suckers in dingbats.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Answer

      These are the a-s-s-u-r-a-n-c-e-s that the bible clowns always need to put down as a comment:

      **Cut and paste my third statement.

      3) "because they reject my fairy tale they are doomed"

      ==Proven by this person==

      -quote–
      BldrRepublican

      I do agree you should call yourself what you really are – "damned".
      –end–

      January 9, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • Raider

      Yes, damned happy we're not believers in fairy tales.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • lol??

      You'll get bored and start askin' for virgin daughter heartmeat.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • lol??

      Or even forming a mob and insist your leader servants be kweer.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Doomed to face reality + see the world as it is.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  14. Matt

    If God is real it would be the only thing about the natural world that early civilizations got right, outside of farming and algebra.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • lol??

      They were great at astronomy. Guess they saw holywood coming.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  15. lol??

    So many atheists, so cold in outer darkness.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • lol??

      That's my delusion, and I'm sticking to it.

      It's fun to use your imagination!

      Bad atheists! Cold dark place you you, with worms and aardvarks, and a fouol-tempered sea bass with a fricking laser beam on his head!

      January 9, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • Answer

      These are the a-s-s-u-r-a-n-c-e-s that the bible clowns always need to put down as a comment:

      1) "these atheists have no meaning"
      2) "atheists have no joy in their life"
      3) "because they reject my fairy tale they are doomed"
      4) "their opinions don't matter because they're against me"

      ==Proven.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • Softship

      So many non-atheists, so cold in intellectual darkness.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Athy

      Answer, you seem to be having trouble with the word assurance for some reason. Why is that?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Answer

      @Athy

      I'm so used to doing the a-s-s word that way. It's automatic.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  16. Mickey Weedon

    Christians worship some dead guy on a stick, they eat his flesh, drink his blood and hear voices from their invisible space daddy in the sky.....If these nut bags are running our country, what is wrong with someone in office who does not believe in fairies goblins and angels. Nothing, I would rather people who put reason ahead of some faith in Gods do the job.
    Also, the Sara Palins of the world the drill baby drill crowd, gun nuts who shoot all the animals, spill oil in our oceans, cut down trees cuz their God gave it to them to destroy. They believe they are getting beamed up to heaven and leave their mess for us non believers. NUTS really crazy delusional nut bags all of you religious people!

    January 9, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Athy

      I'll second that. And third it too.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • boatsnhos

      This is why atheist becomes a bad word like evangelics because of pompous windbags like you who think they know all the answers

      January 9, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • RillyKewl

      I'll fourth + fifth it!

      January 9, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • TheSadFacts

      so obamas still the savior right? Im just so confused?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • breathe deep

      When was obama ever the savior? The only people I've ever heard describe him that way are (no kidding) sean hannity, anne coulter, bill orielly, and ted nugent. Have these people ever said that obama was the savior? Of course not, they use those terms so that people who argue on their behalf (like you) can use those terms to try to silence or put down any opposition to their ends.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  17. allenwoll

    .
    One's being a Theist (A "Believer") OR an Atheist (A "non-Believer") is an article of FAITH - since NEITHER can prove the truth of their position, of their belief (with lower-case "b").
    .
    Thus BOTH are but the two sides of the SAME coin : They place their FAITH in a NON-verifiable BELIEF.
    .
    Consequently, Atheism is but just ANOTHER System of Belief, the sort of thing usually called a Religion !
    .
    It is downright HARD not to have "Religion" ! ! ! - IF you are fair and HONEST ! ! !
    .
    The Agnostic sits ensconced in the middle, having NO FAITH, one way or the other ! . He would seem to be free of "Religion" of ANY description !
    .
    Thinking about this stuff can give one a headache ! !

    January 9, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Matt

      Some might claim the onus of validation lies with those who believe in the affirmative...

      January 9, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Athy

      It doesn't give me any problems. There just isn't any god, it's as simple as that. No doubts whatsoever.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • marks320

      Your convoluted attempt at logic just gave me a headache. Why can't you just accept the fact that we DON'T believe, DON'T feel the need to have some kind of FAITH in our absence of belief, we are just content to enjoy our lives without having to constantly reassure ourselves of the reason for our existence? You sound like you're trying to convince yourself, not us.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • fintastic

      Wrong wrong and wrong..... atheism = lack of belief. Nothing more, as much as you would like to re-define the term.

      Calling atheism a "belief" is like saying not playing chess is a hobby.

      January 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Gadflie

    My opinion on the origin of religion (and I claim nothing more for it). We humans are a curious species. We are always striving for answers. But, some answers require a certain amount of base knowledge to grow on. Before this base was available, "God did it" as a pseudo-answer that at least helped fill the hole. We always invented a God or Gods but, unless there was a connection between cultures, the Gods we invented to supply this "answer" didn't have anything in common beyond their imagined ability to be an answer. But, the things we need that non-answer to cover is shrinking every day.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:25 am |
  19. Dana

    Religion will be as stupid to us in 100 years as witch craft is to us now.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Saraswati

      Except that withcraft is growing in popularity...along with belief in homeopathy and all manner of crackpot unscientific beliefs. It's all just a whack-a-mole game. People will keep coming up with odd ideas no matter which ones you work out of the system. You can only home the new ones are more suited to the times.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • lol??

      Well then,we'll discuss it then.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • TheSadFacts

      I only believe in dr. walmart hes the best

      January 9, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  20. Erbie

    The lack of religion(atheism) and all religions require humans to believe in one form of start to the universe or another. For all of the evolutionary answers we think there are, there is still the question of where did matter come from in the first place. So in a way you must have some "faith" that it wasn't placed there by a god if you have no religion. Or on the other hand you must convince yourself a higher being exists that created the universe and we don't know where they came from.

    In an oversimplified way of looking at evolution, we are to believe that if we took an infinite amount of water and left it alone for an infinite amount of time, eventually creatures would exist in all forms and species, they would inhabit all of the areas of our planet and be evolved to survive in those environments. Also, there are an infinite amount of other life supporting planets throughout the universe that support an infinite amount of other life forms we haven't discovered yet. All of this would have been started by an infinite amount of matter that also had an infinite amount of time to become the elements we know of and an infinite amount of other elements we aren't smart enough to detect yet.

    If you are a Christian or Jew you believe that the entire universe was created by God, in 6 days. This creation is still being explored and yields millions and millions of life forms and planets. The planets have no life on them, at least none described in the Bible, and may or may not be infinite in number. You still have to have faith that God came from somewhere outside of our understanding and created all that we know just as described.

    From my very limited knowledge of the world's religions I think that is the overriding theme. The earth and heavens were created by a god and believing that will one day get you to a better place.

    I am a Christian though only the last 11 years or so of my life. I used to be a person that didn't believe in any higher power, now I do. So I have a bit different perspective on this discussion. I believe that the only danger in living to be a servant to others, to love your neighbor as yourself and to forgive freely is that you may end up being wrong at the end. I guess we could die and go nowhere except in the ground. I prefer to try and live my life in a Christlike way and take my chances at the end. Because if you don't believe in heaven you will not go there when you die. It seems an easier life to have faith and be wrong than to not have faith and be wrong.

    I see this as an age old discussion that can't be answered except through faith. Do you have faith that the entire universe came from somewhere unexplained? Or do you have faith that God who came from somewhere unexplained created the entire universe. It seems like all sides of the discussion have one really big question without an answer.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Answer

      So you're going to end your discovery of the universe. Good for you.

      Just sit there and let us atheists think and explore the universe. You don't have to .. just sit and rot away at your leisure.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Whambo

      Your logic is terrible.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • charlie

      lets phrase your "two" possibilities slightly differently: either, you're not sure where the matter in the universe came from, or, you believe matter came from God and you're not sure where God came from. when you put it that way, i'll take the former. makes more sense.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • lol??

      Are you saying ANswer to rot now or rot later?

      January 9, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • Answer

      @lol?

      Well you don't think.. I guess I can't ask you to do that then.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Akira

      Pascal's wager.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Santiago

      I think you missed the point of the article, it's about the atheists, not everyone else.
      Maybe they need their atheist pride parade to celebrate their... I dunno, what is there to celebrate?
      Nothingggggggggggggggg

      January 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Stefan

      Erbie man...you seem to get it here. Not all atheist believe that everything is completely infinite. But you seem to have a generally good grasp of the comparison between atheist and religious. You are right that both sides have to believe that something unexplained started this universe. Atheists claim the universe just started without any purposeful creation, and religious people accept that god somehow was came into existence without any purposeful creation. I don't know why you are simply choosing christianity because it is the easier route. Easier isn't always better. Look at the other qualities of atheism vs christianity. Atheist don't claim to know everything, but we want to search and learn as much as possible, without bias as to the results. Christians let their faith blind them and mislead them away from truths and reason. Go back to atheism. Look at the universe with an open mind. Don't be lazy and take the easy path just because it's easier.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Fernando

      "The lack of religion(atheism) and all religions require humans to believe in one form of start to the universe or another."

      You're absolutely wrong, incorrect and lacking in basic information with your first sentence.
      That is your rule that I have to believe in one form of start to the universe. I don't have to believe in a start of anything or for that matter that anything exists or that it doesn't exist, or that there is an end to anything or that time works the way you say it works or that for every effect there is a cause. Why should I? Why would you insist that I must believe any of these things? I'll work with them for all intents and purposes, but don't disbelieve them & don't believe them. I really don't have sufficient information to come down with a decision on any of these basics. Not even sure if any part of that's true.
      Very comfortable with this outlook, thank you.

      January 9, 2013 at 12:41 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.