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Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing
January 10th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.

Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years.

This study contrasts with headlines from previous studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the group was the fastest growing "religious" group in America and that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.

“Although this ‘rise of the nones’ has increased dramatically over recent decades, the rate of increase slowed last year, suggesting the possibility that there may be a leveling off in this measure in the years ahead,” reports the Gallup study, which is made up of more than 350,000 interviews.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”

“Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says.

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In his book, “God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,” Newport argues that a number of factors, including baby boomers reaching senior ages, migration to more religious states, recognition of health and well being of religion and an increase in a Hispanic population, are all reasons that “we are going to continue to have a quite religious nation going forward.”

Atheist and humanist activists disagree and pushed back against the Gallup study.

“The truth is, it doesn't really matter whether one of these surveys – even a big one like Gallup – shows the number leveling off a bit this past year,” Greg Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University, says. “First of all, the numbers for young Americans are still dramatically higher, and secondly, it is beyond dispute now that the "nones" are one of the largest demographic groups in the United States, and we're going to stay that way for a long, long time.”

The Gallup study also found that 27% of Americans age 18 to 29 identified as religious nones, making the age group the largest subgroup in the study. The finding tracks with other studies on religious nones, many of which have found the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.

“There's no slowing here at the Secular Student Alliance. We're up to 394 campus groups from 310 a year ago,” Jesse Galef, communications director at the organization, says in response to the survey. “You can see the religious future of America just by looking at the demographics: Young Americans (18-29) are almost three times as likely to be unaffiliated with religion than senior citizens are.”

In particular, Galef points out, the Secular Student Alliance has experienced growth in ages below 18, an age group that Gallup did not survey. In the last year, says Galef, the number of Secular Student Alliance affiliates at high schools doubled to 60 campuses.

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News of strong growth among nones had long been heralded by their community.

As study after study began to report that religious nones in America were growing, many atheist, agnostic and humanist activists began to stress the need for these relative non-believers to come together and turn their numbers into political and social influence. Though some leaders split on what wielding that influence would look like, the size of religious nones became the impetus for many leaders to call for more recognition.

In response to the Gallup study, those calls continued.

“The real question now is when are our historically large numbers going to start turning into more votes and influence,” Epstein says. “The nones can become a steady and inspiring powerhouse in American life if we focus on what we do believe in.”

And even though the Gallup study found a relative leveling off of growth among the nones, David Silverman, the president of America Atheists, says he finds the survey “not at all troubling.”

“This underscores what American Atheists has been saying for years - that every person in America knows more nonreligious people than they think they know,” Silverman says. “America has to get used to the fact that atheists are everywhere, you already know us, and we are a vibrant and growing portion of society.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Nones

soundoff (1,615 Responses)
  1. wolfyb

    There is an inverse relationship between the of education certain sciences and religious affiliation. Once people learn about comparative anatomy, the geological and paleontologic record and now genetics, religion fades rapidly. This is because the myth of the creation of mankind and everything else by a god resembling a human being, is no longer sufficient or needed. But religion will continue to be with us in the future, because it is still needed for the masses.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Have you read any of the studies that say the claims you make are based on skewed definitions of intelligence as well as religiosity? Studies that report an inverse relationship between religiosity and intelligence tend to minimize components of religious belief that are not categorically organized. Thus people who have a broader definition of "belief" are statistically null. They also skew towards empirical intelligence and minimize what is known as emotional or social intelligence. Your attack sounds good if you say it fast though.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill

      @wolyb didn't talk about intelligence – just education with a particular emphasis on the sciences.

      You will find very reasonable data contrasting scientists with the general public here:
      http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Scientists-and-Belief.aspx

      The scientists here are not limited to the academy of sciences.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes GOP. That is the problem with his statement. He puts it out there as if educated, intelligent people trend away from belief but he makes the same mistake the studies do which is to focus on narrow definitions of education/intelligence and belief/religiosity. There is more than one kind of both.

      The topic of religiosity and intelligence is the statistical relationship between intelligence and religiosity. Studies have begun to explore the link between religiosity and issues related to intelligence and educational level.

      Various studies further suggest that intuitive thinking and inductive reasoning styles tend to increase religious beliefs, but also imply more conservative beliefs in general. Less religious people prefer analytical and deductive reasoning. IQ only measures mathematical and analytical capabilities, so it usually correlates with less religiosity.[1]

      January 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • i'm confused

      @ Bill Deacon – "Emotional Intelligence", huh? You do realize that cute little term that you just made up couldn't be a more perfect example of an oxymoron, right?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill, Someone who understands comparative anatomy, genetics, astronomy, the geological, and the paleontologic record among many others cannot believe that the bible is literally true. I know your religion doesn't make that claim but many do.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  2. clem kadiddle

    The educational carriculum needs to be changed. We need to teach evolution compared to creationism or intelligent design as the religious right like to call it. Not having this discussion in the class room further weakens human minds and thinking process. Religion is the biggest STING, PONZI SCHEME, CON JOB of all time, even though it evolved out of sheer ignorance.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Chance

      @clem
      I don't know of a school that teaches ID over evolution but sure lets teach the kids how nothing produced everything and how mindless processes eventually formed man.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  3. derp

    Ever wonder why all of the pictures of Adam and Eve drawn by religitards show them with a navel.

    It's because religitards are too stupid to understand that they would not have needed them.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, god wouldn't have needed a navel either, but man was supposedly created in god's image so god must have had one too. So the question is: Why did god have a navel?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  4. danny

    @ Nathan and Moby

    Moby you are right exactly on. We do not know is a great answer.

    Nathan you are missing the point entirely. You just want to think you are so smart you know all the answers. The point is WE DO NOT KNOW! I am not trying to explain anything with a God. You just assumed that.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      By stating "it had to start somewhere..." you're claiming that some sort of power put this all together. I didn't say I have all the answers – that's why I referred you to do your own research. Idiot.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • danny

      Life did have to start somewhere. I am just trying to open your mind to all possibilities. when you do not know, you do not know. When you grow up you will understand. When I was a young college kid I though just like you do now.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      Yes, clearly someone who knows the classification of your religious position off-hand(deism) hasn't considered the possibilities of a super-natural being/power controlling the universe. Do you actually listen to yourself? Yes, I do not "know" any answer with 100% certainty. However, when all of the points we have learned about nature, and all of the new points coming to knowledge daily, point to a naturally existing universe with life as an inevitability, one kind of tends to realize that gods are just fairy tales told over long periods of time until cultures stopped adding "One upon a time..." at the beginning. You, sir, are the one that needs to read some Hawking, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens, Michio Kaku, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and so on.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Chance

      @Nathan read some current Hawkings, you will find he doesn't believe that the universe came from nothing.

      http://carm.org/atheism-and-the-multiverse

      January 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Chance

      @Nathan "point to a naturally existing universe"
      A total perversion of modern cosmology, no leading physicist agrees that the universe is naturally existent. Rather all modern science is looking for answers as to why the universe exist. Even if you read Laurence Kraus you wont find "a naturally existing universe"; your way off on this one.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • frank

      More apologetics junk from "Chance". Christians are constantly misusing words/ideas from people like Hawking and Vilenkin – often leaving out crucial info in attempts to fool the casual reader.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • frank

      And of course, inevitably, at some point, suddenly there is this huge leap to the God of Israel and the only logical explanation. Rubbish.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Chance

      @frank nice try its the read the article its all in context. Besides no leading scientist believe that modern cosmology "point(s) to a naturally existing universe"

      January 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Chance

      @frank is that the only retreat you have? no one is talking religion... I'm talking origins of the universe.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • frank

      Well maybe you're not talking religion. If so, then you should know better than to get your info from an apologetics web site. The origins of the universe can be summed up very simply as " right now, we don't know". There's your answer, nice and neat.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Chance

      Right that's your only card...I know its simple for a simple mind. My info is from many resources and no credible source says the universe is naturally existent. Modern cosmology points to a finite universe. Meaning it has a beginning and will eventually end.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • frank

      Chance – "Right that's your only card...I know its simple for a simple mind. My info is from many resources and no credible source says the universe is naturally existent. Modern cosmology points to a finite universe. Meaning it has a beginning and will eventually end."

      It may sound simple, but it is the most difficult for a theist to deal with. Why? Because it represents an honest opinion that doesn't make assumptions about things that are unknown. Agnostic. And by the way, I'm actually not necessarily refuting the position that the universe is not naturally existent. I am simply saying you cannot prove it. More importantly, Chance, I would say you can't prove anything else regarding a possible creator. So i'd be happy to let you try. Of course, I hope you don't think you can get by simply by listing key points that someone like, say, Craig would give. The popular theory of the day is not a proof of anything – I hope you realize that, Chance.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Chance

      @Frank
      I'm saying things that began had a cause. The standard model points to singularity our beginning. No matter what theory you bring up to avoid singularity it will fail. As the work of Alexander Vilenkin has shown the universe began. I don't buy this Goldilocks universe just came out of nothing. I'm saying it was made, I'm saying quantum mechanics didn't just pop out of no where and create the universe, I'm saying quantum mechanics was made.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  5. SconnieGuz

    Tell those kids from newtown how much god loves them. You religious delusional nutcases preaching on and on about about what ignorant people wrote in books a long time ago to control people (oh look, still works on fools today) really need to be removed from the planet for the good of our species. The strong will survive....and that won't be people living in fantasy land praying to their invisible friend.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So you're glad that the Christians who were killed in Newtown have been removed from the planet?

      January 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      In my Christian community we try to help the weak. We don't believe 'the strong will survive' is good. We need to help the poor, the orphaned and the widowed.

      We would be ashamed if we mocked the victims of a terrible shooting tragedy.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Can things happen that aren't part of god's will?

      January 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      I'll continue to pray for God's will, not yours, to be done.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      If everything that occurs is part of god's plan that my will and god's will are the same.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Sure. Gotcha

      God's will has competition, and your magic words will make it win? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight . . . . .

      January 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      >I'll continue to pray for God's will, not yours, to be done.
      That was for SconnieGuz

      >Can things happen that aren't part of god's will?
      It seems like it. I think we can invite evil into our lives. We can also be an innocent victim of evil. For me, God's will is standing up to evil.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      What exactly are people worshipping that god is doing these days? No all loving, all poweful god would have allowed them kids to die like that. He was where he always is when his followers need him most.....NO WHERE. god can go F himself for what he allowed to happen to those kids. And if somehow I end up at some pearly gates like you fruitcakes continue to believe, and he's about to send me to hell, I'll tell him he's no better than the devil for NEVER doing ANYTHING for all the people he supposedly loves so much.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Chance

      @Sconnie your logic is terrible. What does Gods love have to do with NTC? These kids where murdered bc of a immoral monster. This is our society, this isn't Gods idea of how we should conduct our selves. Why are you passing the buck to God? Why aren't you putting the blame where it belongs? This is our world, this is our society we have made. Get real and make a difference rather than blaming a God you don't believe in.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Chance

      @Sconnie first God has made us more than able to conduct ourselves in a respectable manor. Secondly we as fellow humans are capable of helping each other out. Finally the God of Christianity never said life would be A OK if you serve me...where do you get these ideas? Do you have any concept of orthodox Christianity? If God has given you a opportunity to follow him and you deny it how will you be justified telling him he's wrong? The choice is yours...

      January 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      God gave us this world. He has to let the consequences of our bad choices play out.

      And a lot of things humans do lead to evil. If I turn my back on God in the midst of tragedy then I have surrendered to evil.

      The one thing that evil desires the most is to separate me from God.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      @Chance....you have the nerve to tell me my logic is terrible but you continue to spout out more nonsense about how you supposedly know what god wants and what he does. YOUR LOGIC IS NON-EXISTANT.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Shaggy

      One of the central claims about the Christian God is that he is all powerful and all knowing. If so, if something awful happens to any one person, or if something catastrophic happens to many, like a mass killing or an earthquake, your God either :

      1) Knows and has the power to prevent it, but does not, which makes God indifferent, lazy, uncaring, vengeful, or all of the above
      2) Isn't all knowing
      3) Does know, but is powerless

      Pick your poison in your answer

      January 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Just because a bully lays out what he's going to do to you before hand doesn't mean it's a real choice or that he's not a azzhole.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Chance

      Why does God have to prevent a situation he didnt prevent? Your arguments are crazy talk. Just admit society is filled with immorality and nothing is off limits to a godless person.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Chance

      ****Correction prevent a situation he didn't create. We made this society not God.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Todd

      " Just admit society is filled with immorality and nothing is off limits to a godless person."

      And nothing is off limits of a person that believes in a god either. People that believe in your religion have done some pretty horrible things.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Chance

      @Sconnie....I can with out a doubt say the God i serve doesn't want people murdered. Its not a "supposedly" know what god wants MY LOGIC IS CONSISTENT yours isn't.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Chance

      Sure a extremist is capable of anything as well...I'm talking about orthodox Christianity. A atheist can say killing is fine as well...It makes no difference.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      People that believe in Jesus Christ are doing some pretty amazing things, too.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Bill Deacon' is an instance of the Begging The Question fallacy

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  6. onemorehere

    are we mistakenly making a femalegod and maleGod to worship and the femalegod supporters fight the malegod supporters just asking cause that would be silly wouldn't it be? when its being clear both are needed to concieve life right? end of arguement there are two forces of nature. combine they make one life existence as we know it some say males are dominnant while other say females are the dominant force i say the female is the meadle is the male is the west- the female is the democrat party the male is the Republican party- now it seem to me both can be dominant and subjegated at different times but for some reason both continure and will forever exist so get alone people...

    January 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  7. danny

    @ Nathan Kapusta

    Nathan, I firmly believe natural selection and evolution are facts. it did have to start somewhere. At some point non-life became life?

    January 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      "We don't know" is a better answer than "big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellz!"

      January 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • danny

      Did not say I knew his damn name.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      Exactly, Moby.

      Danny, using a deity to explain where the universe came from is not an explaination the complexity of the universe. It is a displacement of the complexity. Google "God of the gaps"; you will learn a lot.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Chance

      @Nathan
      The universe began and your phony cosmology about " a naturally existing universe" is way off.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      Can you ever do anything but assert and not back up anything?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG I remember last time you ran and hide when we had this conversation. You have nothing...

      January 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      When and where did this happen? With my recollection, it was you who actually refused to give any evidence to back your assertions, and just continued to reassert yourself thinking that the more you said it, the more right you were.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG What i'm saying is that the universe began, and science corroborates with that.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG Yeah well you left and me and your other buddy had a three day discussion.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      And there's the reassertion, with absolutely nothing backing it up.
      Are you using "universe" in a synonomous way with "matter and energy"? Are you using universe as the current state of matter and energy?
      Your assertion not only has no evidence to back it up, but it is also ill defined and purposefully vague when you say "science corroborates me".

      January 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Chance

      HG this guy @ Nathan says that modern cosmology points to a "naturally existing universe". That's way off, no leading scientist says the universe is with out cause and naturally necessary.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG its simple I'm saying the universe we observe began. It is finite. Space & Time are finite and began.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      And how can you demonstrate that no scientist says that? You're still using very vague language, and not addressing anything that I'm saying. This is why I stopped talking to you, because you refuse to actually address questions.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Chance

      Your saying the universe naturally exist the burden of proof is on you for that. I'll tell you modern cosmology points to singularity and before that there was nothing, this is text book stuff... As in no state of affairs nothing, no space, no time, no laws of physics, no particles, nothing..

      January 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      Wow, where to start.

      1) I'm not making any assertions.
      2) We cannot calculate all the way to the planck time (the start of the expansion).
      3) Science says nothing about matter before the Big Bang, because we cannot know.

      You complete mischaracterization is pretty pathetic, and your continued avoidance of answering my original questions to you is very telling.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG i'll make it simple for you. Your going to say we don't know but I know there is no God, the universe just leaped into existence. The laws of physics just appeared and the alone took authority of matter and energy and mindlessly made the observable universe. Quantum physics just always existed and particles too and mindlessly they formed a vacuum that just spit out a Goldilocks universe for me and you to exist. Right you go with that.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG I'm telling you the universe began, we do know this. Its called singularity, its the best theory we have. I'm saying laws of physics, quantum mechanics , quantum vacuums, don't just appear out of nothing, they don't make themselves. They don't preexist and just make a universe. I'm saying they were made.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      zzzZZZzzz
      zzzZZZzzz

      Are you done with your complete Straw Man? Are you done conflating a neutral position to being the opposite claim as your position? Will you actually address ANY of my points, ever? Because if not, then I'll just leave again because your highly dishonest debate style isn't worth the bytes used to render it.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG we know the universe is finite. So I'm stating it was created. Why is the universe finite? A – because if it had a infinite past how could we arrive at today. B Hawking and Penrose work results in a unavoidable point know as singularity. I could go on. Do you understand singularity means starting point for everything.?..

      January 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Chance

      HG you have nothing... what answer do you want? Show me one scientist that says the universe is naturally existent name one.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Chance

      2) We cannot calculate all the way to the planck time (the start of the expansion).
      True but the our best science stats this is when the universe began. Which is my point.

      3) Science says nothing about matter before the Big Bang, because we cannot know.

      We logically know that a law can not produce itself or anything for that matter. Thus creation. So why don't you challenge these premises and stop stalling.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • frank

      It's just theory, Chance. Nothing that you can prove anything from. If you can't prove anything from it, then you can't know something from it. The only thing left is speculation.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      "True but the our best science stats this is when the universe began. Which is my point. "
      False. Scientific research states that this is the start of the current state of matter, energy, and space/time. You're once again using "universe" as a synonym for matter and energy.

      "We logically know that a law can not produce itself or anything for that matter. Thus creation. So why don't you challenge these premises and stop stalling."
      Yet you believe some magical "being" didn't need to begin. It's special pleading. Until you can actually demonstrate the being, you cannot assign actions or attributes to it.

      "Show me one scientist that says the universe is naturally existent name one."
      Weren't you the one talking about burden of proof earlier? I don't believe your flat assertion about "every scientist says X", and you expect me to disprove you. So not only did you build a Straw Man against me, not answer my question about definitions, but you're also pulling a double standard on the Straw Man you built.

      Exactly how dishonest are you willing to be?

      January 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      BTW

      "3) Science says nothing about matter before the Big Bang, because we cannot know.

      We logically know that a law can not produce itself or anything for that matter. Thus creation. So why don't you challenge these premises and stop stalling."

      Your response not only failed to address the point, but you talked about something completely different. I was speaking about matter, and you go off on "laws", which are merely observations of the interaction of matter within the universe.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG & @ frank
      Anything that started or began to exist had a cause. The observable universe by our scientific research started at singularity. You’re saying we don’t know what happened before singularity. Are you saying that another time and space existed with matter and energy before singularity? That would just be a series of infinite regression because at some point in the finite past laws / matter and energy still had to start. You’re just imagining an infinite series of regression. Nothing can avoid singularity as Hawkings & Vilenkin's research has shown. Whatever theory you conjure up the laws that govern matter & energy still had to start and so did matter and energy.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG I’m saying an infinite being does not begin; anything that does not begin has no cause. That’s not special pleading that’s being infinite, a being that the origin can never be traced because it is infinite. At God infinite regression stops, all you’re retreating to is an unknown state before singularity. This is not your saving grace because if you tell me our universe was born from another you’re just going to regress infinitely.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Chance

      Alexander Vilenkin on eternal inflation – "To our amazement, it showed that space-time does not continue forever in most past directions," says Vilenkin. "Inflation must have a beginning."

      Vilenkin and Mithani have now shown that the cyclic universe cannot continue indefinitely towards the future and the past. According to the theory, matter on the branes expands more with each cycle and this means that the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem of there being a beginning to the universe still applies. "If you run it backwards like a movie in reverse, the cyclic universe encounters either a singularity or some kind of beginning like inflation," he says.

      In the context of known physics, however, Vilenkin and Mithani conclude that, whatever way you look at it, the universe cannot have existed forever so must have had a beginning. But how did it begin? According to Vilenkin, quantum theory has a solution because it permits something to pop out of nothing – with that something being a small universe that starts to inflate, cycle or hang for an extremely long time before inflating.
      If the universe owes its origins to quantum theory, then quantum theory must have existed before the universe. So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from? "We do not know," admits Vilenkin. "I consider that an entirely different question." When it comes to the beginning of the universe, in many ways we're still at the beginning.

      I don't but matter and energy just interact with each other for no apparent reason. I believe laws were made along with matter and energy. I don't believe they just came into existence and mindlessly created this Goldilocks universe.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      And once again, you build a Straw Man against my not believing your assertions of "magic man done it all", and then continue to reassert your position with absolutely nothing to back it up. I guess that answers my earlier question on whether you'll do anything other than that.

      January 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG I've answered all your question and back up my beliefs that the universe is not eternal. Do you know how to read look above. What straw man are you talking about. I'm laying out my beliefs. What answer do you want. All you can do is say straw man but you don't back anything up. I've already refuted your "we don't know anything before singularity" stance. Its like you don't even have a stance you haven't given me anything...I've already told you energy and matter had to being at one point. I'm telling you they are not eternal. I'm backing that up by research listed above. Everything that began has a cause.

      January 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Chance

      Furthermore @HG your with the straw man, give me your alternative how everything began. Tell me your stance or let me guess you don't know or you don't have a stance you just ignorantly say there is no God. Tell me how nothing made everything. By nothing I mean no laws, no matter, no energy nothing. Or do you believe matter and energy are eternal like some new age religion...I'm asking not inferring because you have yet to give me a stance on your beliefs of our origins all you do is talk about straw men. Tell me how it all came to be.

      January 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      Saying that my stance is opposing your because I do not accept your premise, then building your responses to your characterization is a perfect example of a Straw Man argument, and you continue to do it. Any lack of an alternative is completely irrelevant, because a lack of an explanation does not automatically make you right. That's called an Argument from Ignorance by the way. Not to mention you have not given any evidence for your assertions, and merely reasserted those things over and over.
      If you are really unable to actually discuss anything honestly, then I'm not surprised that I left a previous conversation with you.
      You can reassert all you want, you can build all the fallacious arguments you want, but that doesn't make you right.
      Whether I give you a stance or not doesn't matter. What matters is if you have evidence for your assertions that "god did it".

      January 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG your wrong and you still haven't given me what you believe in. How can we discuss anything if you have no stance?

      January 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Chance

      Furthermore @HG your belief is an argument from ignorance because all you do is say you don't know.

      January 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG my entire stance is based on singularity; every theory of origin will end up at singularity. The evidence for this is form Vilenkin a pioneer of modern physics, he helped develop the string theory. see below...

      "In the context of known physics, however, Vilenkin and Mithani conclude that, whatever way you look at it, the universe cannot have existed forever so must have had a beginning. "

      If it began it had a cause, anything that began can not be eternal. I believe God to be eternal, a un-caused being that is the first cause of the universe. Tell me why your theory is better than mine. Give a stance, have some dignity and put your beliefs out there.

      January 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Chance

      @HG stop waiting my time if you don't even know what you believe in.

      January 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      And what does my stance even matter? My stance is irrelevant for your complete lack of evidence for "god done it". If you are incapable of giving evidence for your assertions without a different stance to discredit, then that merely demonstrates my point that your entire base of evidence is an argument from ignorance.
      You're really being quite pathetic Chance. Your constant dodging of your burden of proof is pretty common, and goes to discredit the meme of "religion make people good".

      January 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Chance

      "And what does my stance even matter? "

      @HG your a coward you try and diminish my ideas and yet never explain yours.

      "My stance is irrelevant for your complete lack of evidence for "god done it". "

      I'm claiming the evidence is there is something rather than nothing, I'm saying that because all that we see began it had a cause. I'm saying nothing can not produce something. If all that we see is finite I believe it came from a infinite being that's my burden of proof, just because you don't agree with it doesn't make it a straw man. So my evidence is for you to look around and observe there is something rather than nothing.

      Your pathetic to not even have a stance on the subject and try to act like if your better than someone who does. Your a coward. I feel for you. There is nothing more pathetic than a coward not will to stand up for what they believe in.

      January 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      My stance doesn't matter you dishonest moron. Your constant inability to give evidence for your god beyond "universe exists" is the pathetic part. I have already pointed out that we do not know what was before the plank time, and whether matter existed before that as well. Without Being able to point to a specific point and prove that matter didn't exist in any form at that point, then you cannot just assert that matter began to exist. I think that is why you are constantly using the term "universe", but I had already pointed out that there is a definition question there, and you refused to answer that as well. You're running scared, and it's getting really pathetic that you have to have a differing stance to attempt to discredit in order to feel that yours is somehow proven by virtue of that.

      January 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Chance

      "My stance doesn't matter you dishonest moron. "

      Honestly your a coward, you have no stance and want to attack mine, classic coward.

      "I have already pointed out that we do not know what was before the plank time, and whether matter existed before that as well. Without Being able to point to a specific point and prove that matter didn't exist in any form at that point, then you cannot just assert that matter began to exist"

      By your statement above are you insinuating that matter and energy could have existed without space and time before singularity? What are you saying?...back your stuff up. You cant just assert matter is infinite. Its the same story with you, plea ignorance before singularity. Do you hold that matter and energy has always been around?

      "In the context of known physics, however, Vilenkin and Mithani conclude that, whatever way you look at it, the universe cannot have existed forever so must have had a beginning. "
      Look by universe I mean everything we see, matter / energy / laws / particles / everything.

      "You're running scared, and it's getting really pathetic that you have to have a differing stance to attempt to discredit in order to feel that yours is somehow proven by virtue of that."

      Actually my problem with you is your a coward not standing up for what you believe but saying what I believe is wrong. Only a coward would take this approach. If you think matter and energy existed pre singularity tell me how matter/energy came to be. Stop running scared. Are saying matter and energy can exist without space and time? How could matter exist without space?

      January 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      What the fuck does my stance matter?! Me not giving a stance does not automatically make you correct! Me not giving a stance doesn't mean anything, because an argument stands and falls on its own merits, not in the absense of another view! How is this so difficult for you to understand?

      Look by universe I mean everything we see, matter / energy / laws / particles / everything."
      And are you talking about the current state of everything, or the actual existence of everything? Because they're two completely different things. In no way can they know that the existent nature of matter, and energy had a beginning, the only thing we know about matter and energy is that it cannot be destroyed or created through any discernable means.
      Laws don't factor into this at all beause scientific "laws" are merely observations of the ways that matter interacts. It's like asking "When did gravity start being gravity". It's completely non-sensical because it cannot be anything but what it is.

      January 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Chance

      "Me not giving a stance does not automatically make you correct!"
      @HG I'm not saying it does, I'm saying it makes you a coward!

      "an argument stands and falls on its own merits, not in the absense of another view! How is this so difficult for you to understand?"

      I agree a argument stands on its own merits. I'm saying someone who attacks ones view without sharing their views is a coward. What don't you understand about that?

      "And are you talking about the current state of everything, or the actual existence of everything?"

      I'm talking of the existence of everything.

      "In no way can they know that the existent nature of matter, and energy had a beginning, the only thing we know about matter and energy is that it cannot be destroyed or created through any discernable means."

      We do know matter can only exist in space and if space & time began to exist at singularity then how could they have existed without space pre singularity?

      "Laws don't factor into this at all beause scientific "laws" are merely observations"

      Laws do factor in, they are not a byproduct of matter interaction. They exist, they are tangible, they are something. Are you saying matter controls how it interacts with its surroundings?

      January 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chance

      Why is it so important for you to have my view when it is your assertions that are being discussed? It doesn't make me a coward, it makes me a person who is not willing to give you an opportunity to ignore your own argument and focus on trying to disprove mine to say yours is ok.

      "We do know matter can only exist in space and if space & time began to exist at singularity then how could they have existed without space pre singularity?"
      We merely infer that because we cannot look outside of our universe to determine if any matter exists there, but that is not a valid argument when talking about the very nature of matter.

      Laws are tangible? How so? When we give the label of "law" to something in science, it is to merely say that this is an observation that was made. For instance, Archimedes’ Principle of Buoyancy (a principle and law are the same), or Hooke’s Law of Elasticity.

      "Are you saying matter controls how it interacts with its surroundings?"
      Wow. Just wow.

      January 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  8. clem kadiddle

    The next WAR will be between the Believers and the Non Believers. The battle for Souls is what the religious warriors calls it, The battle for Brains are what the Non Believers call it. Who do you think will win. The religious who think God or Allah will smite there enemy from above with arrows, Or will the brainy smart people who can create drones and direct there path using computers win. Come on people, do you really need a book, church preacher to tell you how to live and to know the difference between right and wrong, how to treat people etc.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I think most atheists would pretend to keep from being the target of some "ethnic" (atheist) cleansing by the religitards, so I doubt there will be any wars like you describe.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Chance

      @clem I don't think its necessary to look at religion to know what is right and wrong but if you are atheist you don have to ad hear to any morality. What might be right for one atheist may be wrong to another. In religion there is a standard, or if you serve God you have a moral compass not from you but God.

      Also the coming battle you talk about is not anything like you describe. The battle is over morality and who's morality will be legislated.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Help! We've been discarded!!

      I can't think of more disgusting code of morality than the god's. He breaks his own rules all the time. He tells us to love our enemies and then tortures his forever in a pit of fire that he created. Why do christians say that god is right to act this way? Because he's god, which simply means, "might makes right." So christians are the ones who believe in subjective morality and might makes right. Whatever god does is right (even if it would be wrong for us to do) because he's god and he's mightiest.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Chance

      @Help
      you have no idea about orthodox Christianity nice try though. Same stereotypical stuff....

      January 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chance. How can you say that the religious have a common standard? They may say sing from the same hymn book but hypocrisy abounds – child abuse, financial irregularities, closet gays, "celibate" parents, ....

      January 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Chance

      @Santa
      "How can you say that the religious have a common standard?"
      If you where to study orthodox Christianity there are fundamentals that are standard. Yes there are different interpretations of text but orthodox Christianity has pillars that do not change. If a "religious christian" where to say there are many ways to heaven; they would not be practicing orthodox Christianity.

      January 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  9. Serious Truth

    You do not need religion to believe in God. Religions would like to make you believe that only their religion is the "true" religion and are intolerant of all others. God & Faith save, religions are responsible for most of the suffering over the course of history. Especially if you don't belong to the right one. Funny that no matter which religion you practice, at least 66% of the rest of the world does not believe your religion is the "true" one.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      Duh... but being a deist isn't any more rational than believing the crazy religious doctrines out there.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • They have these things called dictionaries

      Religion is the service or worship of a god or the supernatural. You are mistaking "religion" for "organized religion." However, if you follow any of the concepts of a religion, even if it is saying Jesus is god, then you are following organized religion. And the more you adhere to parts, the more you are following organized religion.

      You don't like the stigma, but unless you havecompletely invented your own god and practices, you are a follower of organized religion.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Rynomite

      "but being a deist isn't any more rational than believing the crazy religious doctrines out there."

      Actually you are wrong. Being a deist is far more rational. A deist is not constrained by the logic errors of scriptures and standard religious dogma.

      If the majority of the world was composed of deists, I as an atheist would be content.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  10. Mac M

    Actually, we exist in a petri dish in a giant lab. A blob of fungi that grows in the dark. Every night the light goes off, the tech goes home, and we grow in the dark. One day the experiment will come to an end.... the rapture, and we will all be flushed down the toilet as another failed blob of crap that did nothing to sustain itself.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Bobby Waffles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Petri Dishes

      My petri dish is the true petri dish. Yours is false.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Help! We've been discarded!!

      Actually, the "universe" was completely different before it was thrown out. The "Big Bang" is the universe sliding into the trash bin and rotting away. -taken from Detri Pish, Book of Petri Dish 17: 11

      January 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  11. ME II

    I suspect that "David Silverman, the president of America Atheists," is the reason that there has been some leveling off.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      You also suspect that there is an omniscient sky-being looking over the world who is benevolent. Hundreds of thousands of children all over the world dying from starvation and malnutrition. This is surely the work of an all-powerful being.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @Nathan Kapusta,
      You misunderstand, I'm not opposed to Silverman's position, but I think his tactics alienate more people than they attract. In other words he's driving people away.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      People are essentially the same as they were as children. And some children don't listen until you smack them over the back of the head. Hitch understood that. At least he is bringing attention to the issue. Maybe after he slaps them, they will pick up a Sam Harris book and be eased-in.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So Nathan you must think God is right if he were to say "Obey me or burn for all eternity" (that being the infinite version of a smack across the back of the head)

      January 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      Bill, what the hell are you talking about? I wouldn't believe anything "God" said because gods don't exist.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      I would suggest that accepting it as a fair tactic is not accepting a supposed deliverer, i.e. a divine head-smacker.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  12. uos_spo6

    The ideas religion propagates are offensive to any independent intelligent mind. It cheapens the human experience, making us little more than lab rats at the disposal of and for the amusement of a self-centered needy celestial dictator. The only reason so many readily accept it is being blinded by indoctrination and to block off portions of their mind they'd rather not walk through. A life of jaded supplication, assurance and sugar coatings is much easier to face and navigate than a life of non-choreographed chaos where there is no divine order or balance.

    Would anyone be Christian (i use as example because most familiar with) if there wasn't a carrot on a stick for them in the story? Suppose God just had a bunch of regulations and expectations of you, but there was no promise of "salvation" (whatever the means) an "eternal life in heaven" ? I don't think anyone would bother committing that fairy tale to papyrus or parchment.

    Let me ask you something, if you were "God", and you had some ulterior motives, are you going to tell your minions about it?
    So why is anyone presuming that "Gods" self-proclaimed goodness is authentic? I'd like to hear Lucifer's side of the story. I'm not sure what he ever did to warrant expulsion other than ask god to share a little bit of the plunder. It's a shame he has such an awful PR department.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • danny

      If life is an accident that just happened by chance does that mean I can shake up a bag of sand for trillions of years and it will end up as an I Pad?

      January 10, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      Truly ignorant response, Danny. You obviously know nothing about natural selection. Also, straw man arguments do not make you look intelligent.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Serious Truth

      Lucifer means "Light Bringer". He gave us the knowledge of "Good & Evil". I guess we were suppose to live in ignorance.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      God: Don't partake of that fruit that will give you the knowledge of good and evil
      Man: So is it good or evil to obey that order?
      God: It's good to obey and evil to eat the fruit.
      Man: How would I know?
      God: Ummm.... well.....um......

      January 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Athy

      Danny needs to do some serious studying of evolution. Judging by his post he knows nothing about it now.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  13. redlace

    @ Blue Sox: that was a non-answer.
    @ centeredpiece: you appear to be confused, but your response is fairly typical of the misunderstanding folks like yourself have of the difference between science and faith. One is testable through experimentation, the other is not. With science, the mere fact that I (personally) cannot explain something does not mean it cannot be explained. It simply means I lack the understanding to adequately elaborate on it – not that nobody can explain it. Your example of flight is terrific – thanks for providing that opportunity. If I were to delve into the characteristics of thrust, lift, and so on, I could reasonably satisfy my need to understand the processes involved. It is, in fact, comprehensible. No faith is required because natural laws are being followed with no magical element. Faith, on the other hand, is not testable. It is incomprehensible.
    When you walk into a room at night and reach for the light switch, you demonstrate your own "faith" in science and natural laws. What do you suppose would happen if you were instead to fall to you knees and pray to your god to provide you with light? If that happened in my house, even my adolescent children are smart enough to come in behind you and flick the switch.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      > do you reject any faith tradition other than the one you espouse as the "correct" one?
      Yes.

      > If so, what is the basis for your rejection of that/those faith traditions?
      The gospel of Jesus Christ.

      > If you conduct an honest assessment of your reasons for rejecting any faith tradition other than your preferred faith tradition, two things will follow: you will understand why atheists reject all faith traditions, and you will have gained the insight required to begin rejecting the final faith tradition to which you cling.

      Nope, that is not my experience. I love and trust in God.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      And those were non-questions you asked.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • .

      Blue Sox = Chad

      January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      Not Chad. Wrong.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • redlace

      @ Blue Sox: and again, your relative non-answer is instructive. You cite the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the basis for your faith. You appear to be confused – the Gospel is what you believe in. What I suggested you do is assess why you believe in that particular faith system. Implied in my request was the need fo rational and reasoned analysis. The "reasoning" you provided was circular, and therefore not logical, rational, or reasoned.

      January 11, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  14. ER

    Wow, 82.2% of people still believe in religion? Boy oh boy ... sheep ready to be herded.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • danny

      there is nothing new under the Sun. There have been Atheists and believers since the start of human civilization.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • GAW

      And atheists saying the same things over and over again. I'd say there's flocks on both side of the fence. As for me I'm getting the flock out of here.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Nathan Kapusta

      Gaw, in what world do atheists say the same things over and over again? Granted some points have been the same since Epicurus, but what about all of the new science happening every day? What about the fact that we found organic matter on one of the most hostile planets in our solar system a couple of months ago? The problem with the ultrareligious is you only listen to each other. Science listens to anyone willing to put their claims to a peer-reviewed study.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • onemorehere

      this percentage will for ever believe in religion- and being herded is a good thing after all what would we do with a whole bunch of rebels...no focus into any one thing at the same time...radicals that is what their are called if they cannot be herded...

      January 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Serious Truth

      Yes, but over 66% of those 82% do not believe in your religion.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  15. Sandra

    happy people are realizing its just a BOOK made thousands of years ago. Books are stories that make people feel good, secure, and happy....doesn't god do that for you people?

    January 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  16. MagicPanties

    My invisible pink unicorn is praying for none of you.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Rainbow Dash

      Unicorns are overrated snobs. Pegasi is where it's at.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  17. DaveB

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

    January 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  18. Adil Javed

    When times are tough, we all tend to find refuge in belief and religion. Times have been tough! This can be one explanation!

    January 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Yes, I find refuge in unicorns and leprechauns. Very comforting.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • julie

      Or the fact that we nonbelievers believe in birth control.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  19. JJ

    Wishful thinking. The number of people affiliated with any religion has dropped like a rock. And you all know that your religious beliefs have caused you to lose respect in this country. Time to deal with it. Fideism is not a way of life, it's a genetic defect.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • John

      It's so good to see the love and acceptance from non-believers. I'm sure that your total disrespect of those with beliefs that don't align with yours will draw others to join in your way of thinking!

      January 10, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • maxp0wer

      You name calling has caused you to lose respect on this board. Keep the discussion civil and you will be taken more seriously. There's lots of smart people on both sides of the issue, as well as dumb ones.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • GAW

      Naw! For some of the younger atheists it's just 'cool' to call yourself an atheist as it was 'cool' back in the early 1970s to call yourself 'born again'. I'm mostly convinced of this since most of those posting here seem to be slices from the same block of cheese. They say the same things over and over again like group think with a vengeance. This of course this is not an argument against atheism but a description of much of its more popular subculture and expression in the U.S.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Truth

      Christophobic much?

      January 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  20. GAW

    Wasn't this issue dealt with a few months ago? It's old news now.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is a new survey that essentially coroborates the existing survey data supplied by competing surveyors with the presenters of this new survey trying to demonstrate value by adding a new spin / interpretation of what is essentially similar data.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:01 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.