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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. Jrad

    Atheist is a bad word.... if you ever intended to get elected into public office.

    January 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Hopefully, one day that will no longer be as true as it is today.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • hee hee

      I'd also like to be able to say "I don't believe in god" in public, without making people angry. (In some places, I would be afraid to do it.)

      January 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • sam

      I live in a blue state, but still wouldn't be able to say it without getting some backlash. But at least the backlash here would be verbal; other places, you can get a beating. IN THE NAME OF JEEEESUS.

      January 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • someone

      As a converted Mormon, you can tell me you don't believe in God all you want. Do I care? No. If that's what makes you happy, go for it. Just don't spit on me if I say I do believe in God.

      To each his own.

      January 9, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  2. Sly

    Unbelievable that religious people fight amongst themselves about who's God is better.

    Come on folks – Christians, Muslims, Jews etc ... you are all pretty much identical.

    Besides, God is Barry Bonds, and I can prove it. I know it, so it's true.

    January 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • niknak

      Then how does the whole PEDs fit into it?
      Unless the creator created Balco so he could get those drugs to help him out with the heavy lifting.......

      January 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  3. Sly

    Most Congressmen are religious?

    Ok ... that explains it!

    January 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Congressman

      I'm religious! You can trust me!

      January 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  4. Southern Humanist

    atheism is not a belief. it's the rejection of gods, that's it. not that difficult.

    January 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • niknak

      Very difficult for a fundie who wants you to believe not for you, but for him.

      When you believe 2 plus 2 equals 5, then you have to "convert" as many people to your belief in order for it to be "true."

      January 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jim

      Hi SH,

      I'm always amazed how many people say that and don't realize just how faulty people's understanding of the basics of language are.

      An atheist is one that believes there is no god or gods. An atheist makes a positive statement of belief – it's that simple.

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist

      January 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      Hi Jim, we aren't agreeing on the word "believe." I don't "believe" in gods because there is no compelling evidence to do so; the same way I don't "believe" in Leprechauns. The burden of proof is on the person making the supernatural claim, not the one rejecting it.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Chad

      @Southern Humanist "I don't "believe" in gods because there is no compelling evidence to do so; the same way I don't "believe" in Leprechauns. The burden of proof is on the person making the supernatural claim, not the one rejecting it.

      @Chad "A. what investigation have you done into the claims of Christianity that has led you to reject it?
      B. "God is not real" can not be a "default" or "starting" position for anyone, The statement "God is not real until you prove He is" is equally as fallacious as "God is real until you prove He isnt"
      C. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim:
      -- if you claim that God is not real, you have a burden of proof to establish that claim
      -- if you claim that God is real, you have a burden of proof to establish that claim
      neither claim is "true until you prove it is false"

      January 8, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chad

      Do you have insurance?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • niknak

      OK Chad, then disprove elves.

      Oh you can't?
      Then they must be true, right?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ... and then there's @Chad, tediously trying to shift the burden of proof ... again.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Oveja Slayer

      atheism = without god
      jesus = god with us

      January 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      I believe that God is actually the ephemeral manifestation of a large group of flying monkey men who power the universe via a unicycle mounted in the center of the planet Kolob. Now prove me wrong. See how crazy it sounds...

      January 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • fred

      Southern Humanist
      “God” is revealed through the Bible very clearly and your suggestion does not match up in any way.
      I suggest you use the word god instead.

      January 8, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Geogal

      @Jim atheism... without theism...not theist...

      Sometimes even the dictionary doesn't understand language.

      January 8, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  5. JoJo

    For me personally, the last nail in the coffin of religion was the generally enthusiastic support the Religious Right of this country gave to that unnecessary holocaust in Iraq and unnecessary torture of prisoners. I'm a Humanist now and I'm happy with it.

    January 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • niknak

      Good on you JoJo.

      Rejecting religion is the best way to open your mind, and your heart.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Chad

      Did the existence of Jesus influence your decision?
      Never could understand why anyone would reject Christianity based on a reason that had nothing to do with the reality of Jesus Christ.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • niknak

      You have an open invitation to prove your god/jesus hypothesis.
      As to date, you, and all your religious friends have not taken us up on it.

      We are STILL waiting......

      January 8, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Chad

      Evidence for the God of Abraham:
      1. The origin of the universe
      2. The fine tuning of the universe for the building blocks of life
      3. The origin of life on earth
      4. Punctuated Equilibrium: the fossil record showing species experiencing millions, 100's of millions of years of stasis (no change, random genetic mutations are weeded out of the gene pool resulting in a pool 'wobbling about the genetic mean'), followed by extremely rapid change resulting in new species appearing fully formed in the fossil record.
      5. The empty tomb, and the unshakable conviction among followers and enemies alike that they had witnesses a resurrected Jesus. A conviction they held so strongly that they wen t to their deaths proclaiming its truth .

      January 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      Well done JoJo – Chad, I don't understand your question. Why should the existence of a particular person influence the acceptance of an entire dogma?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Chad

      Why should the reality of Jesus Christ influence your acceptance of Jesus Christ as a personal savior?

      would seem self evident..

      January 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Chad

      Christianity is about the reality of Jesus Christ.

      It isnt about joining a club, where if you dont like the other members you dont join..

      January 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Answer

      would seem self evident..?

      Would? Hence not really. You can do better Chad.

      Just say it is self evident. Why are you only speculating?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      Are you really still posting the same 5 points that prove absolutely nothing at all?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • niknak

      If that is your evidence of your god Chad, then it is rather pointless in us trying to have a disscussion.

      Did you know that every religion has the same "proof" of their various gods too?
      And none of it is proof of anything except conjecture that is not proven, just believed to be true.

      If you presented that at any scientific board as evidence they would laugh at you.
      Enjoy your long slide into oblivion.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Southern Humanist

      Hi Chad, your view is based on theological suppositions which are not grounded in history or evidence. Doesn't make it any less real for you of course, but you should have no expectation that others accept those same suppositions.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad. You said "Never could understand why anyone would reject Christianity based on a reason that had nothing to do with the reality of Jesus Christ."

      For a committed believer such as yourself what reasons would have nothing to do with the reality of Jesus Christ?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Answer

      @hawaiiguest

      The 'Chad' there doesn't even like his own words that he's posted. That's the way he rolls.
      He especially can't even agree with these two statements.

      7. the world is full of people with mistaken belief systems
      8. where in the world are you getting this erroneous information from?

      Chad thinks he's above it all. Even his own words.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • JoJo

      Evidence for the God of Abraham:
      1. The origin of the universe. -1 + 1 = 0. SEE LAURENCE KRAUS'S BOOK "A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING"(2012) & RELATED COSMOLOGY.
      2. The fine tuning of the universe for the building blocks of life. READ UP ON THE MULTI-UNIVERSE FOR STARTERS.
      3. The origin of life on earth I'M A STATISTICIAN AND THE LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS SHOWS THAT AN EVENT HOWEVER IMPROBABLE BECOMES MORE AND MORE LIKELY GIVEN THE NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES (e.g., ACROSS SPACE & TIME) THAT IT HAS TO OCCUR. THE ORGIN OF LIFE HAD A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES, A REAL LOT.
      4. Punctuated Equilibrium: the fossil record showing species experiencing millions, 100's of millions of years of stasis (no change, random genetic mutations are weeded out of the gene pool resulting in a pool 'wobbling about the genetic mean'), followed by extremely rapid change resulting in new species appearing fully formed in the fossil record. SO WHAT?
      5. The empty tomb, and the unshakable conviction among followers and enemies alike that they had witnesses a resurrected Jesus. A conviction they held so strongly that they wen t to their deaths proclaiming its truth . YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING WRITTEN ABOUT AN ALLEGED OCCURRENCE WHICH HAPPENED AT LEAST 50 YEARS PREVIOUSLY BY FANATICS WHO HAD EVERY REASON TO WANT TO TILT THINGS ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY WANTED TO BE TRUE. WITNESSES CONTRADICT THEMSELVES ABOUT THEY ALL SAW TEN MINUTES AGO.

      January 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      @ Chad Why would the creator of the universe have to "fine tune" anything for the building blocks of life? Isn't god powerful enough to create a creature that he loves so much that he made in his image to survive in any environment he chooses to? It seems that the idea of "fine tuning" runs counter to your god.

      January 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Chad

      @JoJo “SEE LAURENCE KRAUS'S BOOK "A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING"(2012) & RELATED COSMOLOGY.”
      @Chad “Krauss’s “nothing” is a “nothing” of his own invention, it isn’t “nothing” as in “the absence of everything”
      I really love it when atheists try this one. :-)
      one of the most enjoyable times in my life was listening to Craig slam Kraus for suggesting that something comes from nothing, and Kraus back pedaling by admitting that the "nothing" he was referring to "was a different kind of nothing, it was vacuum space, which has particles and laws and mas s", it was not the real meaning of nothing, as in the absence of everything.
      it was just fantastic, I so enjoyed Kraus having to acknowledge his disingenuousness and admit that indeed, nothing can come from nothing.. here is the exchange:

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-craig-krauss-debate-at-north-carolina-state-university

      Craig "Now what about the Big Bang confirmation? Dr. Krauss appeals to Stephen Hawking’s model. Hawking’s model involves an absolute beginning of the universe! It has the beginning of the universe, though it does not have a beginning point of infinite density. He says, “But it can come into being out of nothingness because nothing is unstable.” This is the grossly misleading use of “nothingness” for describing the quantum vacuum, which is empty space filled with vacuum energy. It is a rich, physical reality described by physical laws and having a physical structure. If a religious person were to so seriously misrepresent a scientific theory as this, he would be accused of deliberate distortion and abuse of science, and, I think, rightly so! What the quantum vacuum is is a roiling sea of energy. It is not nothing. As Dr. Krauss himself has said, “By ‘nothing,’ I don’t mean nothing. . . . Nothing isn’t nothing anymore in physics.”7 Empty space is not empty. “Nothing is really a bubbling, boiling brew of virtual particles.”

      Kraus: O.K., we don’t understand the beginning of the universe. We don’t understand if the universe had a cause. That is a fascinating possibility. By the way, [points to PowerPoint slide] there’s the picture of the vacuum that Dr. Craig so adequately described that I talked about. It’s not the nothing that I’m going to talk about in a second; it’s one version of nothing. That’s empty space [points to PowerPoint slide]; that’s what it looks like according to the laws of quantum mechanics and relativity. Empty space is indeed a boiling, bubbling brew of particles. In fact, you have ma ss because of it.

      ==========
      @JoJo “The fine tuning of the universe for the building blocks of life. READ UP ON THE MULTI-UNIVERSE FOR STARTERS.”
      @Chad “lol, ah yes, the fantasy of an infinite number of universes, and we finding ourselves in the one that can support life. :-) Of course, infinities cant exist in the real world, and the multi-verse is by definition a scientifically untestable notion (funny how atheist will embrace the supernatural, as long as ascribed to God)
      Fine Tuning of the universe

      In the past 30 or 40 years, scientists have been astonished to find that the initial conditions of our universe were fine-tuned for the existence of building blocks of life. Constants such as gravitational constant have been found, the variation of which to even the smallest degree, would have rendered the universe utterly incapable of supporting life.

      ""There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the Universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned' for life". However, he continues, "the conclusion is not so much that the Universe is fine-tuned for life; rather it is fine-tuned for the building blocks and environments that life requires." – Paul Davies"

      "The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the mas ses of the proton and the electron. ... The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life" Stephen Hawking

      ==========
      @JoJo “The origin of life on earth I'M A STATISTICIAN AND THE LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS SHOWS THAT AN EVENT HOWEVER IMPROBABLE BECOMES MORE AND MORE LIKELY GIVEN THE NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES (e.g., ACROSS SPACE & TIME) THAT IT HAS TO OCCUR. THE ORGIN OF LIFE HAD A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES, A REAL LOT.
      @Chad “lol
      Otherwise known as “if you give 10 monkeys a typewriter and enough time, eventually they will bang out war and peace.
      Sorry, you should have studied more, you simply do not understand probabilities. It doesn’t matter how many heads you have flipped in a row in the past, the probability of rolling a head on the next flip is always 50/50.

      ==========
      @JoJo “ Punctuated Equilibrium: the fossil record showing species experiencing millions, 100's of millions of years of stasis (no change, random genetic mutations are weeded out of the gene pool resulting in a pool 'wobbling about the genetic mean'), followed by extremely rapid change resulting in new species appearing fully formed in the fossil record. SO WHAT?
      @Chad “so, it cant be explained via natural causes, that’s what :-)

      ==========
      @JoJo “ The empty tomb, and the unshakable conviction among followers and enemies alike that they had witnesses a resurrected Jesus. A conviction they held so strongly that they wen t to their deaths proclaiming its truth . YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING WRITTEN ABOUT AN ALLEGED OCCURRENCE WHICH HAPPENED AT LEAST 50 YEARS PREVIOUSLY BY FANATICS WHO HAD EVERY REASON TO WANT TO TILT THINGS ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY WANTED TO BE TRUE. WITNESSES CONTRADICT THEMSELVES ABOUT THEY ALL SAW TEN MINUTES AGO.”
      @Chad “they made it up? And, knowing it was a lie, they went to their deaths refusing to recant it?
      No one willingly dies for something that THEY KNOW is a lie.

      That reason, plus the inability of that to explain how a movement based on a resurrected Jesus could have survived in the face of an occupied tomb, is the reason no serious scholar attempts to forward this theory, it was debunked long ago.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  6. Bob

    There has never been evidence to suggest that gods exist. If you want other people to believe in gods, why can't you produce some evidence as to why anyone should believe in them? Until some evidence is produced, it is silly to be anything besides an atheist.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • niknak

      R'amen

      January 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • sam

      Here, let me tell you what the nearest fundie will: "You can't believe until you open your heart and let him in." That's what you will get. You cannot believe until you believe, and then you are granted the secret handshake and all will be clear.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Chad

      Evidence for the God of Abraham:
      1. The origin of the universe
      2. The fine tuning of the universe for the building blocks of life
      3. The origin of life on earth
      4. Punctuated Equilibrium: the fossil record showing species experiencing millions, 100's of millions of years of stasis (no change, random genetic mutations are weeded out of the gene pool resulting in a pool 'wobbling about the genetic mean'), followed by extremely rapid change resulting in new species appearing fully formed in the fossil record.
      5. The empty tomb, and the unshakable conviction among followers and enemies alike that they had witnesses a resurrected Jesus. A conviction they held so strongly that they went to their deaths proclaiming its truth .

      January 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chad

      You forgot these ...

      6. most importantly, a personal relationship.
      7. the world is full of people with mistaken belief systems
      8. where in the world are you getting this erroneous information from?

      The same crud from you as always. It's so refreshing.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Observer

      Chad,

      Except for #5 which could be easily faked, you have NOTHING to prove that the universe wasn't created by Moe, Larry, and Curley before they came to earth.

      Try again.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  7. Damon

    Makes you wonder how many so-called "christian" people are merely religious for the sake of convenience and perceived integrity, especially politicians.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      RINOs?

      Of regular 'believers': >50%
      Of politicians: >90%

      January 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  8. Angel

    You know what I hate? All of a sudden i'm getting tons of spam from this Christian Mingle group. They don't know anything about me, they just send this stuff out and i find it completely offensive. There is little more in life that would scare me more than being pursued by someone who thinks 'God has chosen me for them". Scary, Scary Sh-t.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • sam

      The commercials are a little creepy. Brilliant marketing on their part, though, making believers think their matching system is approved by god...

      January 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • frontgate

      Sam, I don't think this marketing is brilliant. I think it is devious. To try and fool or deceive people to believe their bottom line is not money , but some sort of continued salvation in screwing another christian.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam

      Frontgate...you just described most churches.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Athy

      Hey, if you're going to market something to reality-challenged people, you've got to pander to their childish beliefs. It's like selling toys to kids, or cigarettes to smokers. In that respect it is brilliant, in its own devious way.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Angel

      Yes, inventive and devious....but leave me out of it. If you believed in all that rot anyway, you'd have to believe that 'God' chose my last husband for me........I assure you, that was my mistake alone.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  9. Science Is Savior

    I'm an atheist and I'm sorry to go against the mainstream, but Atheism is indeed a belief. It's not belief in a god, or a particular dogma. However, it is a belief.

    We atheists believe there is no god. We cannot prove that a god does not exist, so it is a belief. Isn't the whole movement rooted in science? If we cannot prove our hypothesis that god does not exist, then it is only a hypothesis (a belief). So we expect the religious to use the scientific method to prove their hypothesis (which they fail miserably), but don't apply it to our our hypothesis is just ridiculous. Since when does a hypothesis ever become a Theory or Law without being put through experiments? Yes, I realize that we cannot prove a god does not exist...so that means we just accept it as Law??????

    Why other atheists have such a hard time with this understanding truly baffles me.

    -I was saved by Science!

    January 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Isn't the whole movement rooted in science?'

      no, not really.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "We atheists believe there is no god."

      You may – but this statement does not speak for me. All that is required of an atheist is not to believe in God. The distinction is subtle but important.

      While most people who don't believe in God may trust the scientific method, science is not an alternative religion and it's not a requirement for not believing in God.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Answer

      Atheism – yes it is a belief.

      The big difference is that it is not a religion. All the silly religions have rooted traditions and practices that followers adhere to.
      I don't see us, atheists, all conforming to all those ridiculous practices like they do.

      Do we, atheists, go and eat tiny white wafers then think to ourselves that it represents a dead zombie's body and blood? No.

      Do you see us wearing those outrageous white collars and going around crossing ourselves and mumbling useless words of "bless you"?

      Do you see us atheists go and dip our babies in putrid water and say that our babies are now better and sanctified? Nope. We just take them to go swimming in decent pools and such.

      While the label of a belief is true .. the context is in the absurd stuff that the religious t-w-a-t-s think up on to make themselves different from each other. We however do other things to make ourselves look as individuals. Notice the various styles of clothing and apparels that we have!

      January 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Pete

      "We just take them to go swimming in decent pools and such."

      Sorry dude but those waters ain't so pure either. 3 our of 5 adults admit to peeing in the pool at sometime in their life. Gross....

      January 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bet

      Did your scholarly scientific studies teach you the difference between a belief and evidence?

      January 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Answer

      @Pete

      Take that Vitamin C... maybe the antibiotics. Hey that's why science is so dependable. Worst thing is just being a little sick.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • imsomadbro

      Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is a null stance, not a hypothesis. The burden of proof is on the shoulders of the one positing a claim; in this case, that there is a God. When lack of evidence, or evidence for the contrary, comes (and you ARE correct in asserting that in this case it does), we can drop the hypothesis, or modify it. Sadly, theists aren't so keen on modifying their theories to match evidence. Of every religion I can see their evidence is not convincing or is sorely lacking. So I will not believe it. I have tested their hypothesis and am now back at my null stance, left a God they claimed to be there. It's not that they showed me their evidence, it failed, and now I believe that there is no God because no evidence is forthcoming.

      When someone tells me they believe in pink unicorns, it's not that I believe they don't exist. I simply wait for their evidence. They posited this outlandish claim. They provide the evidence. I don't have to provide evidence for the contrary. What I DO then use are my critical thinking skills and compare their claims with the reality I have inhabited thus far, in which I have never seen or heard of pink unicorns. I don't then decide to not believe them. I don't even have to entertain the theory to not believe in until evidence is brought to the contrary. The claim is simply too outlandish and unsupported by evidence.

      What I DO believe, is that you are misconstruing the label of atheism for there having to be something you need to 'do.' In this sense, "atheism" is a very strange word. Is there a word for a not-skier? Is there a word for a non-stamp-collector? We call ourselves atheists, sadly, because we have to define ourselves against what is, sadly, the norm; a belief in a higher power. I am a person who thinks that the claims set forth by theists is ludicrous, and I choose not to believe them. To save time, and these delusional people's feelings, I'll call myself an "a-theist." I am without-god. I am not a person who believes there is no god. Just without.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @imsomadbro

      excellently put.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Science Is Savior

      @Bet We currently do not have the technology to scan the multiverse for a god, or a creator. Where is the evidence that a god does not exist?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Lolo

      I'm agnostic. Basically it means that there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove the existence of god, so I admit that I don't know.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • daytonaguy

      @Answer, why is it that you feel the need to demean those of us who choose to believe? You lose all credibility when you resort to name-calling and playground tactics. Science has proven that men (not meant gender specific) will attack that which they fear. I respect your stance on religion. Understand that real people read and write these posts. Your comments show a lack of respect for people in general. Bless you, and have a nice day.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @SIS

      "Where is the evidence that a god does not exist?"

      There is none, does there need to be, to not believe?

      I don't believe in God, but I can't / won't / don't have to prove that there is no God.

      It is your statement that all 'atheists believe there is no God' that is incorrect.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • JamesFromPA

      You just displayed one of the biggest misconceptions about atheism. It's not the belief of anything. Atheism, by definition if the disbelief of a god. You can't call the disbelief in something a "belief in disbelieving." It doesn't make sense. Science also isn't used to prove the non-existence of anything, or I could sit here and ask you to prove that fairies don't exist. There's no way to do it, so it's against the laws of science. And science IS the basis and driving force of atheism.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Answer

      @Science Is Savior

      Where is the evidence that a god does not exist?
      ---

      What a stupid question. Why do the idiot religious always ask to prove a negative?

      The words, if you trim them all out , look like this: "evidence" && "not exist". Man religious people are fvcktards.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Answer

      @daytonaguy

      Simple. They're fvcktards.

      Apparently you think you need to be the one that has to give out your approval of me. No one needs your approval.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Jerome Haltom

      Atheism means a-theism. 'a' is a prefix which means 'without'. I am without theism. That does not mean I positively believe that God does not exist. It means I am without a positive belief that God does exist (theism.)

      I can't figure out why simple linguistics trip up so many people. :)

      January 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Where is the evidence that a god does not exist?"""

      I see why you're confused. You're asking the wrong question.

      Ask it this way: "where is the evidence that a god exists?"

      You will never find evidence of something which does not exist. Do you understand?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Aud

      @imsomadbro

      Great post, thanks.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Jim

      SiS,

      Thank you for being a true freethinker instead of someone trying to look like one. You obviously understand basic logic and know how to use a dictionary unlike too many so-called atheists who cannot use basic reasoning skills.I am a follower of Jesus and support your right to believe whatever you wish (although I am saddened because of what I believe the long-term implications are for you) but, I can appreciate someone who can think above the level of a child and be honest as you are.

      Blessings,

      January 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • niknak

      I guess you and I have a different definition of what atheist means.
      To me, it is the non beieif in a god(s).
      Because it (they) have not been proven to exist by any reasonable proof.
      Just the same way I don't believe in the tooth fairy, or santa claus, or angles/demons/elves etc.

      By your logic, then anything can be valid if there is no evidence against it.
      I don't see it that way, or have any "belief" in such a statement.

      There is fact, and there is conjecture.
      Most atheists I know adhere to this and don't think of it as a "belief" system.

      But if that works for you, then go with it.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      From the OED:

      atheism, n

      Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God. Also, Disregard of duty to God, godlessness (practical atheism).

      The operative word is 'disbelief'. Nothing in there about 'belief that there is no God'.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Science Is Savior

      @imsomadbro "I am a person who thinks that the claims set forth by theists is ludicrous, and I choose not to believe them."

      No matter how you slice it, a choice/decision that isn't backed by evidence is made from a belief. You believe they're wrong (which I happen to agree with you).

      January 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • daytonaguy

      @Answer – I judge no one. I seek no one's approval, nor am I making any statement about approving of you, or your opinion. Have a nice day anyway.

      January 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  10. Brandon

    Atheism is a condition fools suffer from. It is not a word it is a condition.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Mike

      Pity those fools!

      January 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Pete

      Hey look another lying xtian we should start marking it down like road kill.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      such hatred will get you a warm afterlife brandon, better avoid that slipperly slope whilst you can.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Mister T

      @ Mike: I pity the fool that uses my catchphrase!!

      January 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • MC

      Get help, you sad little half-wit.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      Brandon: Still on your knees, begging your punk god for salvation? Good little slave

      January 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • ME II

      "...anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:22)

      January 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Atheism is a condition fools suffer from. It is not a word it is a condition."""

      so....witty.

      Odd that you'd mention suffering, considering that a primary goal of all the major religions is to relieve human suffering in one way or another.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  11. empresstrudy

    Amy Winehouse died for your sins.

    January 8, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Oh, Amy's voice! What a loss. Now there is a better argument than the Bible for the existence of something beyond human existence – that magical, surreal voice.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  12. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    From the topic commentary-

    "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’ The answer is ‘No,....."

    Actually, there is something very wrong with being a Muslim anywhere. And why is that?

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, mohammed's book of death for all infidels and muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    January 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Reality

      o On the koranic passages and world domination:
      o
      "Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

      Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

      Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

      Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

      Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like

      a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.

      In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

      Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.

      Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

      A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

      Don Richardson
      =================================================================================

      January 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      why is it that islam's attempt at conquest is always thrown out as an example of how evil it is but christanity's spread across Europe by the exact same means just glossed over?

      January 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Reality

      Some examples of Islam's attempt to subjugate the world:

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "

      o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
      o
      BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.
      The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

      25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT

      (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

      26 ) September 12, 2012
      U.S. AMBASSADOR KILLED
      Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Reality

      For full disclosure on atrocities committed by humans against humans:

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:
      M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

      "The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Christians)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      "A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."
      .

      January 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Reality's Check...

      Wow, just wow.
      I'm sure after you took the time to leave a dissertation as a response to your own comment (ridiculously tacky BTW, makes you look and sound like a fringe lunatic that cant wait his turn to speak) you probably patted yourself on the back, and stroked your ego thinking about how smart you thought you sounded on top of your soap box there ... instead the actual meat of your argument was just filled with xenophobic rubbish (though you used quotes properly, that's about all you did correct) and the end effect of your "manifesto" is to just undermine what little (stress little) logic that your argument followed. You made yourself look and sound like a pernicious, petulant child instead of an intellectual (which was your obvious goal). Kudos on the buffoonery, i mean after all you can only get better from here right? ... Or end up a member of the WBC like the rest of the loony fear mongers...

      January 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for those who are "reading-challenged":

      From a PowerPoint Slide-

      SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
      THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR LIKE 9/11.

      SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
      THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

      SAVING 15.5 MILLION FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
      ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

      Added details upon request.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  13. Barney

    Pete: "Most religions have been claiming that long before your Christ arrived. If your God was really made of "true love" it wouldn't have created failures and it wouldn't have made the mistake of having to sacrifice it's own son. That's not true love, that's barbaric." Think about what you just wrote. Do you really think a world of people who are given everything on a silver platter would produce anything other than spoiled brats that know nothing of God's true love. Love is a choice dude. It's not a white picket fence. If we all got what we wanted, we'd never be given the opportunity to choose love instead of just being blind clueless in the world. Love is also tough, it's sacrifice, it's teaching others because you know that going through something now will help later. There is more here than you are allowing in. Here's the kicker: Christ had the choice. God didn't say "Kill my son". He put his son on earth as a road map for us. Christ was tempted over and over and He chose love every time. He was pure love, pure righteousness. He could have stopped everything and decided to rule everything and everyone. But he didn't. Why? That's the question. We don't know all the answers, but we do know that this dude was awesome, and we aren't worthy, which is why the fact that He still loves us is amazing. Ever heard of the song "Amazing Grace". That's what it's all about...

    January 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Pete

      This post has been answered see below.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  14. gonygonygo

    I am not an atheist nor am I a believer. I keep an open mind and know that I'll never know the truth about whether or not there is a god. However, I do believe that the worst crimes by man against man were perpetrated by organized religion. Whether it's Muslim vs. Jew, Catholic vs Protestant, Hindu vs Muslim (the list is endless), religions cause war, death and suffering. Yes, religions also do a lot of good but I'm not sure if that good tips the scales towards heaven. If you believe in something, good for you, but the fact that you don't like people that don't believe in what you believe – or believe they are not fit to serve in government is the problem. I won't live to see the world I hope for – where there is no religion. But I can Imagine:

    Imagine there's no heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today...

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace...

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world...

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one

    -John Lennon

    January 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • BeckaLeck

      I have plenty of Atheist/Agnostic friends and it doesn't bother me one bit. Let's not lump one another into categories.

      Also, evil men/women have used faith as an excuse to do horrible things throughout history. There are evil men and women who would gladly do so today; it is the whacko leading the Crusades or beating up Jewish children in a quest for power and domination that is at fault NOT the entire belief system

      January 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  15. suckmydictum

    Well said, Stedman.

    January 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  16. Zobit

    People who are religious view atheists as a threat and are less likely to vote for them. I have noticed if I tell Christians im an atheist they also don't want to be around me. or think that im some sort of bogeyman. In certain situations its better not to draw attention to the fact that your an atheist or just dodge the question. However I believe the need to do that will diminish in the coming years as more people begin to accept atheism.

    January 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • xirume

      I've experienced that myself. When I finally admitted to be a non-believer, I was generally treated like a leper in my social circle, even by people I knew for years.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • someone

      The same could be said from their viewpoint about Atheists.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Bill Hannegan

      'I'll leave you with this, then you can do the tough job of being a critic: Do you love your mom (or someone else close to you)? Prove it.'

      Meh – dumbest question ever. I have like 2GB of naked pictures of me and my mom together, of course I love her.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Bill – hey, I have 2 G of those pics of you and your mom as well. You DO love your mom!

      January 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  17. BeckaLeck

    I'm not sure why this has to be so hostile on either side. I'm a Christian Liberal who lives in Arizona (we exist..I swear). I really couldn't care less what anyone else believes so long as he/she is a decent human being and doesn't treat other people like garbage.

    Christians: There is no reason to beat other people about the head and neck with Scripture...your beliefs have nothing to do with the lives/rights of others. Accept and move on.

    Atheists: Not all Christians are psychotic Tea Partiers who don't believe in science and hate anything even remotely not like them. Unfortunately, those folks are just the ones who get all the attention because they are jaw-droppingly annoying and stupid.

    Everyone else. Judge a person by the content of his/her character. I voted for Kristen Sinema because I believe she best represents the values I believe to be important. Her religious affiliation was never a concern of mine.

    January 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • ME II

      Hear Hear!

      January 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Canadian

      I thought religion and politics were legally separate – why is anyone even talkng about the religous beliefs, or non-beliefs of a politician – I'm so glad I live in Canada where we don't judge peoply by that kind of criteria!!!

      January 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Texhimself

      Well said, I will 'ditto"

      January 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • jorgath

      Canadian: They are LEGALLY separate. That means that you can't use the law to impose your religion or to interfere with someone else's, and there can't be a legal prerequisite that you be or not be a member of a certain religion in order to be elected. If someone decides to vote for you or not vote for you because of what you say about your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), that's their right.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • sam

      A+

      January 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Bill Hannegan

      Canadian: If you've never spent time in the US, you don't understand how much the religious crazies affect politics. I've been all over, and it's not the same here as it is in Montreal or London. A very large chunk of Americans literally believe that the Earth is 6000 years old. Those are the same idiots that decide elections.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  18. Jesus

    I don't understand why you feel the need to question what she believes in. Last time I checked, Mr Stedman, you don't get the final say approving what everyone believes. If she wants to say "none", that doesn't mean she's atheist, it means SHES PICKING NONE, but I guess since you don't approve, it's not ok?

    January 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Geogal

      His issue wasn't with her saying "none" it was treating the word "atheist" as a dirty word.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Derek

      Had you read the article, Jesus, you would have realized your flawed question. As was already pointed out (and directly stated in the original article), the author is not taking issue with whether the woman believes in something, anything, or nothing at all. His issue is with her phrasing of her description of her religious beliefs, which was stated in such a way as to suggest there is something objectionable about being an atheist.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Akira

      She never treated it as a dirty word; that's his assertion.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  19. JSP_AZ

    I am so tired of these arguments. Most "Real Christians" or believers in anything we be live and let live. What I see become the norm is to knock people who believe in a greater power.
    Why should a lack of belief be something that is respected? It should not be looked down on, but it should not be lifted up as well.

    January 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • ME II

      If belief in a "higher power", whatever that is, is the reason for holding demonstrably irrational beliefs, e.g. believing in a literal Genesis, in the face of evidence to the contrary, it should be "knocked".

      January 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Most "Real Christians" or believers in anything we be live and let live"
      Yet, the spirit of 'live and let live' is rarely demonstrated here by those who declare themselves as Christians.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • B.S.

      Religious belief needs to be "knocked" because as Thomas Jefferson once wrote 'ridicule is the only weapon which may be used against unintelligible propositions'

      January 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Bill Hannegan

      Yeah, about that – apparently the "real Christians" aren't the ones any of us see. We see the ones trying to stop gay marriage and abortion, while people in other countries sell kidneys to get basic medical help. Never knew that provincialism was one of the commandments.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  20. Live4Him

    @Thoth : '"Good" has several definitions depending on context.'

    You're correct, 'good' is a relative term. However, the concept of "to live a good life" is not relative. A typical life has some good and some bad (i.e. not black or white, but grey). All of us are a shade of grey, some dark and some light. However, true good is an absolute. It is like absolute white – it is either all there or it isn't "good".

    God looks at this issue on the absolute level – so we are all failures. He doesn't see us as "partial failures", but "failures". None of us measure up to this level. Only Christ does. When we follow Christ to the end of our lives, our failures will be filtered out to level of absolute goodness prior to being presented to the Judge.

    January 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Pete

      "God looks at this issue on the absolute level – so we are all failures."

      You're God sure knows how to hold a grudge, now that's childish. Not to mention your God sucks because it created failures.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • xirume

      That's ridiculous.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Geogal

      I hear "god" referred to as "father" a lot. What parent sees a child as a failure for not being absolutely perfect?

      January 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Barney

      Amen Brotha. Our debt has been paid. Many don't comprehend Christianity. There are many facets. One eludes the cynic though. It's the one where they think Christians are fake because they think they are forgiven for everything and so they have this "get out of jail free" card. It doesn't work like that. Even Christ himself suggests that those who do everything right in life, except do not do it in love do not know Him, and therefore when they come to Him in the afterlife, Christ will say He did not know them and push them out. The thing they don't understand, is when you truly give your heart to Christ (rather than just saying it) you have no choice but to grow with Him and become more righteous, naturally. Not forced, but naturally. Because you love Christ, you do not want to disappoint Him and you start feeling the peace, joy and love he promises to those who love Him and walk with Him. Amen brotha....God is good!!!

      January 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Pete

      "Because you love Christ, you do not want to disappoint Him and you start feeling the peace, joy and love he promises to those who love "

      The history of Christianity proves this statement false.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Canada

      haha, Pete thinks He deserves something for nothing!

      January 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Barney

      Don't listen to the comments here dude. They are born of ignorance and naivety. Pure and true love could have never been born in this world without Christ coming to it. We are all sinners, this is true. But how much does God love us anyways to give His son to be killed by our sins, just so we could be saved? Just so we could have a true role model of love, of God. Just so we could choose to love rather than it being forced upon us. Just so we can fail rather than being perfect and being given everything on a silver platter. God does not want fakes and hypocrites. God wants to "parent" us just like we want to parent our own children. We want to teach them discipline them, not spoil them, push them, and love the heck out of them and be there for them to get through life. God never promised an easy life, only that He would walk it with us and if we recognize that He gave his son to die so that we could be with Him, He would in turn recognize us. Would you give your child to die if you knew it would save the world? God did. He died for you. Read Christ's words in the first 4 books of the New Testament and let it sink in. Deep stuff. Filled with love and idealism this world would be better off adhering to.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Pete

      "Pete thinks He deserves something for nothing!"

      ? the stupidity of people always shines through....

      January 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Pete

      "They are born of ignorance and naivety. Pure and true love could have never been born in this world without Christ coming to it."

      Most religions have been claiming that long before your Christ arrived. If your God was really made of "true love" it wouldn't have created failures and it wouldn't have made the mistake of having to sacrifice it's own son. That's not true love, that's barbaric.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Pete

      " Filled with love and idealism this world would be better off adhering to."

      Your religion has been trying for 2000 years and it's failed, so guess it doesn't work so well.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Barney

      Pete, you are missing it dude. It took me a long time too. The "history of Christianity" is a spotty one, we all know that. But that's putting faith in man, not Christ. Man is flawed. Focus on Christ and Christ alone. Trust me, there are a lot of "Christians" that give following Christ a bad name so I understand what you are saying. Think of it this way: If you are the devil, how would you go about your business? You'd do your best to get "Christians" to sin and discredit Christ as much as possible. That's the dirty little trick....the devil thinks we are foolish enough to allow men that are evil give a bad name to the one who was Holy and righteous, Jesus Christ. Do not put your faith in man. Put it in Christ. Man's journey is one of learning and growing with God. Everything changed when Christ came. It's almost like God said "Wait a minute. There is no way I can discipline you and force you to be more righteous and love me. I'll give you my son. And in the end, you will have the choice of whether you want my gift of life or not. Then I'll know who loves me by his own choosing, and who does not."

      January 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Pete

      "Put it in Christ. Man's journey is one of learning and growing with God. Everything changed when Christ came."

      No, it didn't and that's the point.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Pete

      "There is no way I can discipline you and force you to be more righteous and love me. I'll give you my son. And in the end, you will have the choice of whether you want my gift of life or not. Then I'll know who loves me by his own choosing, and who does not.""

      Again, that's barbaric. Your god was so lame and so stupid it had to come up with this out because it just show real forgiveness and love without having to perform a sacrifice. Now, that's lame.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Barney: So god gave us his son so his son could die for us? Have you ever stopped to actually think about what you're saying? How about this?
      God is all-powerful, and created the universe, and everything in it, right? So he could create an infinite number of sons. or daughters. Or anything else.
      God sends a piece of himself – his "son", Jesus to be born and live and die as a human.
      God is all-knowing, right? So he knows beforehand what's going to happen. Jesus will be born, live, die, come back to life 3 days later, then return to heaven to rejoin god.

      Soooo, where exactly is the sacrifice? Jesus would have suffered a bit on the cross, but many humans have suffered greater physical pain and discomfort, so the actual physical act of being crucified isn't the greatest sacrifice. God could make a zillion sons. God knew he was getting Jesus back.

      So how, in any way, is this a sacrifice?

      January 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      oh please, what did he sacrifice? it was like an avatar of god, wouldnt have cost him anything. God in the OT has no problem destroying almost the whole planet, not sure he would really be all that bothered by 1 being.
      And at the end of the day, it was a supposed sacrifice of himself to save us from his own rules....bizarre.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Barney, think of is this way: would you claim that Bill Gates had infinite love for you because he lent you a penny for a second and he KNEW in advance that he would get the penny back? How would that be showing love?

      Clearly, this story was an attempt to impress bronze age goat herders. For them, losing a son WOULD be an enormous sacrifice. So, create a myth about Jesus being god's ONLY son (which makes NO sense at all) and it would resonate so much more with those simple goat herders.

      And why a son, and not a daughter?
      Simple: because at that time sons were valued far more than daughters.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Barney

      Pete: "Most religions have been claiming that long before your Christ arrived. If your God was really made of "true love" it wouldn't have created failures and it wouldn't have made the mistake of having to sacrifice it's own son. That's not true love, that's barbaric." Think about what you just wrote. Do you really think a world of people who are given everything on a silver platter would produce anything other than spoiled brats that know nothing of God's true love. Love is a choice dude. It's not a white picket fence. If we all got what we wanted, we'd never be given the opportunity to choose love instead of just being blind clueless in the world. Love is also tough, it's sacrifice, it's teaching others because you know that going through something now will help later. There is more here than you are allowing in. Here's the kicker: Christ had the choice. God didn't say "Kill my son". He put his son on earth as a road map for us. Christ was tempted over and over and He chose love every time. He was pure love, pure righteousness. He could have stopped everything and decided to rule everything and everyone. But he didn't. Why? That's the question. We don't know all the answers, but we do know that this dude was awesome, and we aren't worthy, which is why the fact that He still loves us is amazing. Ever heard of the song "Amazing Grace". That's what it's all about...

      January 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Barney

      It seems lots of cynics here simply want one of us to try and persuade them. I'm just a man. Why don't you read Christ's words and learn about his ministry. Nobody can do the Word of God justice. Just read it. That's all. First 4 books of the New Testament. It will bend your mind and heart, I promise. It's so easy to be a cynic. Sorry if I'm excited about trying to attract people to Christ....it brings serious joy. I'll leave you with this, then you can do the tough job of being a critic: Do you love your mom (or someone else close to you)? Prove it.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Pete

      "God didn't say "Kill my son". He put his son on earth as a road map for us. Christ was tempted over and over and He chose love every time. He was pure love, pure righteousness"

      Dude that's what they wrote to make you want to believe it but there are stories that your Christ killed when he was younger. You don't know if this dude was pure. Again, your god had no need to create this son in the first place. If it truly was a loving God it would have admitted it created a bunch of failures, made a mistake and shown love by forgiving you in the first place. The story is barbaric and part of human sacrifices of that time period. Doesn't mean it actually was true.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Pete

      "It seems lots of cynics here simply want one of us to try and persuade them. I'm just a man. Why don't you read Christ's words and learn about his ministry."

      Most of the atheists posting here are former xtians and some are former ministers. Try again.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I'll leave you with this, then you can do the tough job of being a critic: Do you love your mom (or someone else close to you)? Prove it.'

      what a bizarre argument.
      what do you believe it would be trying to achieve?

      January 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Barney – okay, then why did God only send ONE Jesus to one small illiterate corner the world? Why not send a bunch of "Pure Love" Jesuses (is that the plural of Jesus? Who knows!) throughout the world. To North America. To South America. To Africa. To the Far East. To Australia. 2000 years ago travel and communication was very, very limited. Why was your God so stingy and cheap – why wouldn't God have wanted this message of Pure Love to be everywhere in the world?

      Seriously, do that make ANY sense at all? And please do not say, Oh, the Lord works in mysterious ways. That is a cop-out, plain and simple.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Robert

      "I'll leave you with this, then you can do the tough job of being a critic: Do you love your mom (or someone else close to you)? Prove it."

      They can now with images of the brain. Love is a chemical reaction in your brain.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Name*penguin

      So we are all "failures". And to think we were all made in His image. That's certainly not the God I believe in. My God rewards those who do good deeds and not by their professed belief in Christ.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • sam

      God is a terrible parent. I would rather he put us up for adoption.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bet

      Do you love your mom (or someone else close to you)? Prove it.

      I love one of my children so much that I killed him when he disobeyed me.

      Okay, not really, I don't even have kids, and I don't want the cops showing up at my door.

      January 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Moses

      Live4Him:

      "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Matthew 7:6

      I appreciate what you are trying to do, but the swine are turning on you, trying to tear you to pieces.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • sam

      Loving religions and their assignations of who is swine, or dogs. Adorable.

      January 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • JeramieH

      A strange man comes to town, tells everyone in town that they were born a loser.
      But... if you'll only do what he says, they can be a winner instead.
      He promises to pay you riches galore... after you die.

      And I'm supposed to believe that?

      January 8, 2013 at 6:29 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.