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Godless mom strikes a chord with parents
A CNN iReport essay on raising kids without God draws record-breaking number of comments.
January 18th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Godless mom strikes a chord with parents

By Daphne Sashin, CNN

Deborah Mitchell remembers the time, when her boys were younger, and another mom asked her about her religious beliefs.

Mitchell was raised Catholic but moved away from religion in her early 20s. She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God.

Then, she says, the recruiting started.

“She used to call my house and tell me she was praying for me. She’d leave me messages and leave cards in my mailbox with scripture,” Mitchell says. “I do realize that she meant well, but at the same time, I know my views were seen as wrong. I needed to be ‘saved.’”

Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” started a blog about raising her children without religion because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn’t want to feel so alone, she says.

This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform.

It starts:

When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

Mitchell posted the essay detailing her seven reasons for raising her children without God on CNN iReport because she felt there wasn’t anyone else speaking for women or moms like her. As she sees it, children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves, not because God is watching. She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?

Lots of people disagreed with her. Tons. They flagged her iReport as inappropriate and criticized CNN for linking to her essay on the CNN.com homepage. But there were plenty of others who wrote thoughtful rebuttals, respectfully disagreeing with Mitchell while not foisting their own beliefs on her. Take, for instance, a Methodist dad, who said faith can be hard to nail down, but “not to avail ourselves of the power of something we don't completely understand is silly.”

Others said Mitchell presented a simplistic view of religion.

“Presentations such as these seem to ignore a substantial percentage of believers - well-educated, compassionate, liberal folk, Christian and non-Christian alike - who, I feel, are able to worship without being blind to the realities of the world, or without lying to their children about their understanding of these complexities,” wrote commenter RMooradian. “I'll be raising my children with God, but I understand those who cannot!”

But Mitchell’s essay also struck a chord with hundreds of like-minded parents raising children in a world where lack of belief puts them in the minority, often even in their own family.

“Thank you for writing this. I agree with everything you say, but I’m not brave enough to tell everyone I know this is how I feel,” a woman who called herself an “agnostic mommy of two in Alabama” posted in the comments. “Thank you for your bravery and letting me know I’m not alone.”

It’s a growing group. One in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion, and that number has grown by 25% in the past five years, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of that group, 88% said they were not looking for religion, although 68% of the unaffiliated said they believe in God. 

Brittany Branyon, an American graduate student and substitute teacher living in Germany, was also compelled to express her thanks to Mitchell. Branyon was raised Southern Baptist in Georgia and Alabama. In high school, when she began to question the theory of creation and befriended gay and lesbian students, she says her mother tried to perform an exorcism.

“She opened all the windows and doors in the house, brought me to the door, held my shoulders and shook me while screaming, ‘Satan, get out of this child!’, ‘Satan, leave this child alone!’.”

After moving away from the South, she and her husband “became more comfortable in our secular ways,” but still take criticism from family members. They are now expecting their first child.

“Though we are elated to welcome our child into the world, we can’t help but dread the religious uproar that is to come from our families,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Such an uproar is familiar to Carol Phillips, a stay-at-home mother in northern Virginia. When she gave birth to her first child, she said her family was shocked that the baby wasn’t baptized. She said her mother-in-law cried and told her the little girl’s soul would not go to heaven.

Then there are the comments from strangers. Last year, Phillips said she and her daughter were at a birthday party when a tornado warning sounded.

“We were all in the basement keeping safe. A little girl was saying baby Jesus will keep us safe. My daughter asked who Jesus was. The rest of the time was spent hearing ‘I'll pray for you sweetie, we can take you to church with us if you want,’” Phillips told CNN.

Commenting on Mitchell’s iReport, Phillips said, “To live out loud and to speak freely about my beliefs brings many clucking tongues. I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist.”

Mitchell said she spent years studying the history of religion and does believe it has “an important place in our community.” She has told her children that she’ll be fine if they decide to join a church when they are older.

She ended her essay:

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

After her post ran on CNN, Mitchell said she was encouraged by the number of people who agreed with her, or who disagreed but wanted to have a respectful discussion.

“I’m not saying that everybody should think how I do. I’m saying the people that do should have a place in our society and have acceptance and respect,” she said. “I just want to have children grow up and be able to not be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe that,’ or ‘I’m not part of that.’” 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. Nana Bowman

    GOD the word is man made.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • seaann

      Not true, but man is responsible for the mess in false religion.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • seaann

      Not true, but man is responsible for the mess in false religion. 1 John 5:19

      January 19, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Which "false" religion? Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc, etc?
      -
      It gets too confusing in a free country. God people – please specify your flavor of god to limit confusion.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  2. ROCK M

    Deborah Mitchell is a smart and concerned and loving parent. I agree 100% with this brave and honest woman and her position on the whole faith and God issue. Stand proud Deborah, you are right and those who wish to challenge or put you down are weak minded, simpletons who just don't get it.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • El Reason

      Hear, hear!

      Rock, you and Deborah rock.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • robert

      While I respect a person's right to believe what they choose, true love demands, not in an obligatory way but in a deep inward compelling way, that I share the love of God with that person. If I had a cure, not an idea about a cure, but a true genuine cure for cancer, would I sit on it quietly and say something like, "I hope people eventually hear about the cure for cancer." NO! I would share it with every cancer victim I could. As a Christian, I firmly believe I have a cure for death and it's consequences. Regardless of what our secular society says, I cannot keep silent nor will I.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Robert – there you go being self-righteous and judgmental again. The epitome in Christian contradictions.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • robert

      Tea clown, how in the world could you construe my comments about loving someone as judgmental? Is English your first language?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Spirituality

      Robert, you didn't like hearing teaclown's opinion so now you pull out the racist card?...comments about "what is your first lanquage" reek of racism & intolerance. Typical of the religious right, when in doubt, accuse.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Pete

      The fact that you think people who don't believe in god need to be cured is pretty judgmental.

      January 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  3. It is Called

    t is Called

    Wont' have peace till we face the facts of life.

    This is what is REAL !!!

    Brand new F-35 fighter plane cost over 1 billion dollars for 1.

    What was that made for?

    But it will take 1,000's of lives not good.
    Who/what made the F-35 ?????
    Maybe god(s) made the plane ???
    Or maybe this is the God(s) of the sky.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • It is Called

      Or maybe the answer to the question above is what is the truth.
      No god(s) made the plane by the way.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  4. J.R.

    As a gay American who was raised in a catholic household, I can say I am much happier now that I am agnostic and gear my beliefs more towards Science – something that does exist. I am sick of the control organized religions have on our society. I'm disgusted how with all of our education and technology we still have people who think our nations and it's laws should be based on a book that is, if you read it closely, filled with one contradiction after another. The bible is completely ludicrous and science has proven most of it to be fiction. Even more, you have people quoting it as a means of attacking gay people when in fact these people disobey the bible more than they know, yet turn a blind eye to it. Hypocrites, much?

    January 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Lemaitre

      Do you believe in the science of Father Nicholas Copernicus?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • just wondering

      How happy did you say are as a liar and a qu eer?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Shedding the shackles of organized religion is probably more refreshing than coming out of the closet.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Oh boy. Here come the "loving" Christians with their usual hateful attacks.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Lemaitre

      You undoubtedly know less about science than you do about theology

      January 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • just wondering

      Isn't love telling the truth?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • End Religion

      nothing says love and tolerance like religious goons frothing at the mouth

      January 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  5. dinaanid

    Good ireport, and I'm glad we are able to discuss this out of the closet. I am fine with other people believing in God and all that gives them: hope, purpose, morals, etc. I hope those people can learn that we don't all have to have a God, or the same God, to have hope, purpose and morals. p.s. I "created" two beautiful children, but I would never expect them to worship me, and I would certainly never want to condemn them to an everlasting hell of any sort, if they didn't. Really, a strange idea.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • End Religion

      Dina, you got it, sista. Keep on truckin'!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Colin

      Well said.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  6. Jason

    Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too...right?!

    January 19, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  7. snarkjeg

    The fact there are almost as many versions of god as there are humans seems clear evidence that god is a human invention.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Lemaitre

      dumb argument!

      The fact that many people have differing opinions on what the united states is doesn't mean it doesn't exist!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • End Religion

      Lema, the U.S. doesn't exist. The idea of the U.S. is a man-made construct; a set of boundaries we've agreed to on a map; a set of beliefs upon which we based more fictional constructs called laws to live by.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • JR

      Lemaitre
      dumb argument!

      The fact that many people have differing opinions on what the united states is doesn't mean it doesn't exist!

      It doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it means it's a human invention. That's the point they were trying to make, you're the dumb one for not understanding that!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  8. Questioner

    I just wondered does she celebrate Christmas? What about the other holy holidays there are? I myself do believe in God but don't go to church. I was raised Catholic but I didn't agree with all they do. I don't think money should be part of any loving God so there you go. But I do believe in letting people have their own beliefs without crusifying them. Everyone has a right to what they believe in and I do not like when people try to "change" someones belief because they don't believe in that persons. ridiculous

    January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • James

      "I just wondered does she celebrate Christmas?"

      Christmas was a stolen holiday, it's the celebration of Winter Solstice.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • ironman59

      I celebrate the change of the season. The same secular celebration of thousands of years ago before christianity stole it and merged it in with the rest of the traditions they stole from other cultures. Having a time to get together with friends and family doesn't imply any religious belief. It is nothing more than a seasonal tradition.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Lemaitre

      @James,

      Spend a little less time watching the History channel and a little more time reading the History of the Christian faith. You'd be amazed and disappointed at how little you really know.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Tea Clown

      LMAO – money is at the root of most churches. Witness the obscene wealth of the Catholic and Mormon church.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      She doesn't seem like the type who would deny her children the wonder and magic of Christmas.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • James

      "Spend a little less time watching the History channel and a little more time reading the History of the Christian faith. You'd be amazed and disappointed at how little you really know."

      What an idiot, your Christ wasn't born on Dec. 25th. What's the history channel?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • roadrunner321

      I celebrate Christmas because everybody else does. It doesn't bother me that the symbolism like evergreen and lighted trees came from pagan holidays. What better time to have a big party than when the rest of my family comes together during the really cold and gloomy season?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • End Religion

      Lema, you're right. I am very disappointed with how little you know.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Trev Rock

      Axial Tilt .......is te reason for the season

      January 19, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  9. scott robberson

    i do believe there is a higher power, but live and let live if they are happy in believing their is no
    God, no worries. what we all need to do is get rid of the preachers who promise faith and wealth. while they make all the money and everyone else is broke. the first thing these idiot preachers preach is do not worry how the money is spent that is the responsibility between god and the church, just give. that is must in their speeches since they drive fancy cars and live in mansions on other peoples money. i do hope there is a hell so those preachers can go there.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Religion is the ultimate con job.
      -
      Witness the wealth of the Catholic and Mormon churches. They have more wealth and power than most countries.
      -
      I rest my case.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  10. JoeChase

    Many people posting comments are missing the point of what this brave lady is trying to say... it is "great if you are religious, just leave me and my kids alone" .. and that is the main issue we, Atheists face in society: churches, crosses and religious messages everywhere, religious , people praying for you to save you, etc, What?.. I, as a proud Atheist don't go door to door promoting Atheism like many religious people do.. Christian groups are very powerful in many countries, and have a precise agenda: impose God and Jesus Christ at all costs....

    It is sad when religious people see you as somebody with no morals, incomplete, and a menace to society simply for being Agnostic / Atheist ... when many of the worst criminals and most dangerous people to society were deeply religious...

    Am I a lost soul going to Hell for being a non-believer?.. None of your business !!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • ironman59

      Agreed. The religious nuts want you to respect their choice & more importantly to them – follow it. Yet they have no respect for the choice of someone like this woman. It is the hypocrisy that is religion.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  11. steve

    ahh the religious flagging things as inappropriate because it isnt what the believe in.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  12. gary

    Weak and the stupid? Maybe your brain is to weak yo understand God. We dont need him to lay blame or a crutch, its about morals and respect for others which you apparently have neither,. I just pray you are not a parent.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  13. Andrea Jones Mullins

    Deborah is typical of the majority of parents. The sad condition of the world is the consequence of living without a relationship to God. While everyone loses when we sin, the greatest loss is every moment we live apart from God's love and guidance. The great thing about Deborah is that she is at least thinking about it. I have no doubt God knows her needs and will make Himself known as He chooses.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Douglas

      "we live apart from God's love and guidance. "

      That's why so many Christians are some of the most greedy, selfish, drunkard and gluttonous people in America. Guess that guidance ain't working so well, especially since your god doesn't exist.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Oh I know! The world was SO much better when owning slaves was the norm, women were considered chattel, Inquisitions and genocide in the name of god were a part of daily life, and popes had the power to torture and kill anyone or any people they didn't like. Oh how I wish we could go back to those good times!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • visitor

      One day you will learn you don't need a spirit man to tell you how to be a good person and raise your own kids. Women were raising kids hundreds of thousands of years before the bible was written. Somehow we did it without the voice in your head or your book.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • jiveturkey

      God really showed his love when he flooded the world killing innocent children, and destroyed sodom and gomorrah killing more innocent children (because it is statistcally impossible that there were no children present), then he sat by and watched the holocaust. All examples of gods love... of infanticide

      January 19, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  14. Tea Clown

    My hunch is that posting self-righteous, judgmental rants, on the Sabbath no less, is the ultimate form of blasphemy. Now go repent, flog yourselves and say a prayer. And 5 dozen Hail Mary's – or you'll be damned!

    January 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • seaann

      This is one of the many reasons that people feel like this women. You misrepresent the True God of the Universe . The bible at 1John 4: 8 say" God is Love" There is no where is the scriptures where you are told to go do Hail Marys to Jesus earthly mother Mary. That is a part of false religion, and that is why so many feel the way this lady feels.
      Read the bible yourself, humble yourself and pray for your own guidance.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Um, wasn't there also a strict passage? Something like "Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged"?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  15. Steve

    Jesus said most dont make it," Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 17:13-14 .Unfortunately most people dont find that road. Its evidenced by asking most Americans a simple question ,what religion are you? Oh I am a Christian. Yet they live the way they want and for all intent and purpose are unidentifiable from the masses.Which leads me to my next point.That being that religion is a dead end road spiriual reality found in a personal relationship with God through knowing His one and only Son. In fact that is eternal life, being born again and in union with Him spiritually.' And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. ' John 17:3 The most important issue for everyone living is that haunting question that we must deal with. Who am I??????,Why am I here ??????? and where am I going?????? Kind of a bummer hugh?
    Way back when I asked that same question. During the turbulent 60's. College,trying to stay out of Vietnam,and S.F.rock concerts,and endless days of pot. Finally got to the bottom of my list and found scribbled a name of Someone.......Jesus.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • DLO

      I love that scripture that talks about how the path is narrow and only a few will make it. It's encouraging. Knowing that God would put us all on earth and make it so that only a small select few would make it. The others of course, would spend an eternity gnashing teeth in a burning hell. What kind of "Father" would be okay with sending billions into an eternity of fire. ETERNITY! That's like, never ending! All for how you spent your short time here on earth. So very dumb. Imagine putting your own kid on a burning stove as a punishment for disobedience. You can't? Because it's a disgusting thought. Yet we casually read and quote these scriptures and just act like it all makes sense.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • visitor

      Ever notice its not a Mother and Daughter?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  16. sincedutch

    Atheists are always pompous, and have an earful for anyone who believes in something they don't.

    Funny THEY believe everything really did pop out of nothing NATURALLY speaking... lol.. they find all kinds of excuses to get around it.. string theory for example... but in the end.. they believe that nature can someone pop out of nothing.

    They believe everything popped out of nothing 7.4billion years ago.. (that number will change too by the way.. 10 years from now they will believe it all happened 8.6billion years.. and in 100 years.. they will believe it took 1 trillion years.

    They will keep adding more time to try to explain all their bunk natural theories on everything from planets to microbes...

    nevermind that everything cannot come out of nothing NATURALLY... by definition.. it would be from BEYOND nature , thus SUPER-nature... or super-natural.

    atheists.. = fools

    January 19, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      sincedutch

      But surely horses gather dust like mice? If not, why does my harmonica wheeze with ketchup?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • scotty501

      But you believe God popped out of nowhere?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • dinaanid

      "Atheists are always pompous"..."atheists.. = fools"
      By using those words, you are perhaps making that exact argument about yourself.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • FleshTuxedo

      So, if nothing can come from nothing, where did God come from?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Andrew

      hilarious. You open with a statement about the awful characteristics of atheists (pompous, always there to give a earful...) and then proceed to exhibit the traits you find so reprehensible. People do not see themselves.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  17. ted

    Most atheists come from very religious backgrounds, and have at one point intesively read the scriptures, and given lots of thought to the issues beofore deciding NOT to believe. Most atheists know more about the bible than hard core christians.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Faith

      All things is purposeful to an end.

      Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Faith

      All things are purposeful to an end.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • James

      Faith, you just proved you're an idiot and have poor reading comprehension.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Faith

      James, you may say what you will, but the end will not lie. I do not need your approval, but you need God's permission for entrance into Heaven if you remain an unbeliever. This is a blogger not a writing contest so mistakes will occur. Let's hope you do not make the biggest mistake of your life concerning eternity.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  18. Steve

    Jesus said most dont make it," Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 17:13-14 .Unfortunately most people dont find that road. Its evidenced by asking most Americans a simple question ,what religion are you? Oh I am a Christian. Yet they live the way they want and for all intent and purpose are unidentifiable from the masses.Which leads me to my next point.That being that religion is a dead end road,its found in a personal relationship with God through knowing His one and only Son. In fact that is eternal life, being born again and in union with Him spiritually.' And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. ' John 17:3 The most important issue for everyone living is that haunting question that we must deal with. Who am I??????,Why am I here ??????? and where am I going?????? Kind of a bummer hugh?
    Way back when I asked that same question. During the turbulent 60's. College,trying to stay out of Vietnam,and S.F.rock concerts,and endless days of pot. Finally got to the bottom of my list and found scribbled a name of Someone.......Jesus.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Reminds me of Stewie Griffen's "Oh Squiggly Line" poem.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Same experience except my scribbled name said "Mom and Dad".

      January 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I see you there lurking on the periphery of my vision,
      but when I try to look at you, you scurry away,
      Are you shy, squiggly line?

      January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Roger that

      It's now 2013. We know more about the history of Jesus than ever before and pot is legal in two states. Do some research and enjoy the rest of your life.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Faith

      Steve, Yes, religion is dead and that is why some do not see, because they are looking to religion and not seeing God and Jesus Christ. They hear the name but there is no relationship. For the true believer, the focus is not religion. It is relationship, and for a person who does not understand that, you have to seek Him to understand. Again, God cannot be explained. He has to be revealed. Those who walk in darkness do not see light.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  19. Colin

    Ten Ways You Know you are an Atheist.

    1. You were likely brought up a theist (probably a Jew or Christian if you live in the USA) and had to do your own thinking to rise above the beliefs that still occupy the mind of the believer. This usually involved being smart and working hard at school and college so as to get a good, accurate view of the natural Universe and overcoming significant social pressure to dumb yourself down and conform. In short, you had the guts to ask the hard questions and the brains to spot the weak answers. The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to understand human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.

    2. While rejecting the supernatural elements of the Bible, you nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent you reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, your basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – you just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.

    3. You know a great deal more about the Bible than most believers. This is because you took the time to read it yourself and did not rely on the primary-color simple stories you learned in Sunday school. You have also probably done some research into the historical Jesus and have a good handle on where he REALLY fit in to the broader picture of the Middle East at the time. Needless to say, his miracles and other magic powers soon started to look pretty unlikely.

    4. Your knowledge of basic science and history is much stronger than that of your average believer. You likely have a basic working knowledge of physics, astronomy, evolutionary biology and cosmology and a good idea of the history of life on this planet. This acc.umulated knowledge puts you in a position to judge the claims of the Bible in a critical light and they are almost always found wanting. To the theist, this makes you “elitist” and ‘arrogant”.

    5. You relish your role as a religious minority in the USA, as this gives you an impetus to fight and you understand how others with unpopular, but doubtlessly correct views have felt throughout history. There is something altogether satisfying to you about having a deep conviction you are right and being viewed with disdain for your views by the errant majority. You feel a quiet confidence that future generations will look back on you as a member of a class of trailblazers, as religious supersti.tions go into inevitable decline in popularity.

    6. You are likely more environmentally aware than your theist friends and colleagues and unlikely to fall for claims of industry and wind-bag politicians concerning the impact of man’s activities on the environment. You could no more act in an environmentally irresponsible manner because “god will keep us safe” than you could jump off a ship, believing King Neptune will keep you safe.

    7. You generally have a live and let live atti.tude, but will fiercely defend against any attempts by theists to thrust their views on you or your children, directly or through control of school boards, the legislature or the executive. While you are prepared to debate and argue passionately with the theist on an intellectual level, you would never wish them harm or ill will. You know you are likely to be smugly told you will “burn in hell for all eternity” for your healthy skepticism. This highlights what you despise about religion, as you would not wish a bad sunburn on another, simply because they have a different religious view to you. You have never heard of an evolutionary biologist strapping a bomb to himself and running into a church yelling “Darwin-u akbar, Darwin-u akbar”.

    8. You likely know more about other religions than your average theist. This makes you less fearful of them and enables you to see parallels. You realize that, if you were born in India, you would have been brought up with a totally different religion. You realize that every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. They cannot all exist and you see the error all faiths make of thinking only theirs exist(s). This “rising above” the regional nature of all religions was probably instrumental in your achieving atheism.

    9. You likely have a deep, genuine appreciation of the fathomless beauty and unbelievable complexity of our Universe, from the 4 nucleotides that orchestrate every aspect of you, through to the distant quasars, without having to think it was all made for you. You likely get more out of being the irrelevant ant staring up at the cosmos than you do in having to pretend that it was all made to turn in majestic black-and-white pirouette about you.

    10. While you have a survival instinct, you cannot fear death in the way the theist does. You know that the whole final judgment story, where you may be sent to hell if you fail, is Dark Ages nonsense meant to keep the Church’s authority. You also know that you were dead for 13,720,000,000 years before you were born. It is impossible for you to fear death, for the simple reason that you know the capacity to feel pain, or to regret or fear itself dies. You will not even know you are dead. Fear of death is as meaningless to you as is the fear of a vacuum, the fear of not being born. You feel a lot more secure, and indeed a deep comfort, in this knowledge, than you would in trying to yoke yourself to some quasi-hope from Bronze Age Palestine that every part of your intellect tells you is untenable.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • SImran

      That is an excellent post. Thanks for the laughs. I totally agree.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • cath

      Finally! someone has put down so clearly the progression of my atheism. Thank you fot laying it all down so succinctly.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Education is my religion

      Amazing post, Colin. Thank you, my friend.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • tami

      I may have to frame this Colin. :)

      January 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  20. Heather

    Only the weak and stupid believe in god because they can't get through life without a crutch. They need something to blame things on, and they need the comfort of convincing themselves that there is something better out there when they die.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:24 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.