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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. TANK!!!!!

    Religion: Because you can't find anyone who'll deliver repeated kicks to your head for $5.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  2. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    I think people who are convinced that they have the correct, true religion should ask themselves why believers in so many different religions throughout history have thought the same thing. This article is, I think, getting at the answer...it's not so much about the neighborhood religion being true, it's about your neighbors and what they think about you. That's why people are afraid to say what they really think. Didn't Jesus say you should pray in private instead of acting pious in front of everybody for social acclaim? A person who says they're an atheist in a religious society is probably sincere, because they've got something to lose by admitting it. On the other hand, you never know if people who talk about their faith are sincere, because it's considered to good to say you have faith whether you really believe it or not.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • snowboarder

      very astute carl.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Bill P

      @Carl – You appear to have confused "praying in the closet" (in private) with discussing and spreading the Gospel (sharing one's faith and salvation through Jesus). Jesus exhorts believers to do both. They are not mutually exclusive:
      "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6)
      "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.' " (Mark 16:15)

      January 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • snowboarder

      bill, not a single word of the fabled jesus was written within decades of his purported death. every quote attributed to him is likely complete fiction.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Bill P

      @snowboarder – sorry, there is nothing with which to base your statement regarding the currency of the New Testament writings. They were written starting about 40 AD and culminated with the Revelation in 95 AD and written by those that were Jesus' apostles or were with him while He was on this earth. There are about a total of 5600 copies of the New Testment writings in the form of fragments and nearly full text dating starting back to that period on to the 1400's. And they are all consistent or textually pure to about 95%. These copies are all over the world at universities and museums.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • snowboarder

      bill. copeis of docu ments are meaningless. you might as well give significance to steven king.

      every word attributed to the fabled jesus is at best suspect and at worst entirely fictional.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Linda

      VERY well put.
      I once read, and felt that for me, it was VERY true, that, "There are probably MANY more non-believers in existence than anyone knows of, because, for anyone to admit that they do not believe, most people know will result in them having to endure the same kind of persecution, that Gays do, any time that they "come out", so, what I read, said that there were a much higher number of "Closet Non-believers"."
      I feel that this is true.
      In my own family, of five people, the ONLY one who actually believed, was my Mother.
      My Father went along with it, to keep her happy, my two brothers went along with it, as well, but didn't believe.
      I was the ONLY one person who eventually "came out" because I had come to feel that, I needed to stop lying about not believing, and be honest, and stand up for what I did not believe in.
      I did so, but the price that I paid was very high.
      I was told that I was an "unfit mother", "a devil worshipper".
      People who had been friends and neighbors, did not want their children to play with my children any more.
      So, if you use the math, on just my family, you have only ONE out of five people, who actually, really believed, to FOUR, who did not.
      But, only ONE of those four was brave enough to publiclly admit it, and deal with the consequences.
      If those numbers are true in other families then for every ONE person who has "come out" and admitted to not believing, you may actually have FOUR non-believers. who exist.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  3. pmmarion

    "children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves"

    HA....They should learn to do the right things because they are the RIGHT THING TO DO....

    January 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  4. Just me

    Tank!!!!! – your funny!

    January 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Dippy

      It's "you're," not "your."

      January 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
  5. TANK!!!!!

    Religion: Because an IQ of 50 is too damn HIGH!!

    January 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  6. the AnViL

    religion: because... NO MATH!

    January 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  7. AtheistOne

    The burden of proof is on those claims that god exist. No evidence so far has come forward to disprove this fact. To say we are alone in the Universe, is to say we don't exist. We are proof, period. The more we explore the farthest reach of this and other galaxies, makes us feel alone. But truth be told, is an awakening, a realization that our thinking and reason must evolve. Great challenges are ahead of us and look forward a planet that gives reason number one priority.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Chad

      from http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismquestions/a/strong_weak.htm

      Atheism is commonly divided into two types: strong atheism and weak atheism. Although only two categories, this distinction manages to reflect the broad diversity which exists among atheists when it comes to their positions on the existence of gods.

      Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods. A weak atheist is someone who lacks theism and who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods — no more, no less. This is also sometimes called agnostic atheism because most people who self-consciously lack belief in gods tend to do so for agnostic reasons.

      Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all. Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist.

      Because knowledge claims are involved, strong atheism carries an initial burden of proof which does not exist for weak atheism. Any time a person asserts that some god or any gods do not or cannot exist, they obligate themselves to support their claims. This narrower conception of atheism is often thought by many (erroneously) to represent the entirety of atheism itself.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Dr E Lewis

      I don't think the burden of proof lies with either side. I am a Christian and NOTHING any person who does not believe in God could EVER change that. I am confident in my belief. In the same vein, many who do not believe in God are confident in their belief and that isn't going to change even if we sit and argue the bible, God, religion, etc all day and night. That's the beauty of having the freedom to believe what you want. So believers do NOT bear the burden of proof. If you are confident in what you believe (just as I am), then more power to you. I think reasonable adults should be able to RESPECTFULLY agree to disagree.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • snowboarder

      chad, atheism is simply an acknowledgement of the fact that man has invented innumerable deities, religions and doctrines throughout history. all gods unless otherwise proven are assumed to be the invention of man.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I don't know of any gnostic atheists. Atheism is a response to theism. If there were no theism, there'd be no atheism. The theists are making the claim; the atheists are saying, "Nope, doesn't add up in my view." Deal with it, Chad.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • AtheistOne

      @Chad. We only exist on this planet, say roughly a hundred years. The Universe has been around for billions. Now, once everything has vanished, exhausted and spent, the wait begins again. To say, the Universe has been created one time and expanded one time shows how impatient we are. Universe does not know time, we created time. We are caught in the notion that understanding of the Universe is linear. Enjoy the ride.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Correct chad

      I'm a weak atheist with respect to the question about whether or not a god or gods might possibly exist.

      I am however a strong atheist when it coomes to the God of Christianity. Because the claims of Christianity fail. The God of Abraham is logivcally inconsistant, the Bible is full of contradictions and the source material is suspect at best.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Dr. Lewis, you only have "the burden of proof" if you are attempting to rationally convince a nonbeliever that your claim is valid. If you aren't putting forth any claims to anyone else, then you don't have a burden of proof since you're not concerned about proof in any way, shape, or form.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Chad

      @Moby Schtick "Dr. Lewis, you only have "the burden of proof" if you are attempting to rationally convince a nonbeliever that your claim is valid. If you aren't putting forth any claims to anyone else, then you don't have a burden of proof since you're not concerned about proof in any way, shape, or form."
      @Chad "true!
      a. atheists only have a burden of proof if they are claiming that God does not exist (which makes them a "strong atheist")
      b. if an atheist isnt claiming that God does not exist, they dont have a burden of proof (as well, I would agree that atheists arent concerned about proof in any way shape or form).

      ======
      @snowboarder "atheism is simply an acknowledgement of the fact that man has invented innumerable deities, religions and doctrines throughout history. all gods unless otherwise proven are assumed to be the invention of man"
      @Chad "your statement makes a claim, namely that "man has invented innumerable deities, religions and doctrines throughout history"
      Since you made a claim, you are now obliged to back that up with evidence.

      What is your evidence that man made up the God of Israel?

      =========
      @AtheistOne "We only exist on this planet, say roughly a hundred years. The Universe has been around for billions. Now, once everything has vanished, exhausted and spent, the wait begins again. To say, the Universe has been created one time and expanded one time shows how impatient we are. Universe does not know time, we created time. We are caught in the notion that understanding of the Universe is linear."

      @Chad "your statement seems philosophical, but not actually grounded in physical reality..

      January 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Really-O?

      To date, there is no empirical evidence supporting the claim that the god of Israel exists. None. No other reason is needed for suspension of acceptance of the hypothesis.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Chad

      @Really-O? ""To date, there is no empirical evidence supporting the claim that the god of Israel exists. None. No other reason is needed for suspension of acceptance of the hypothesis"

      Empirical arguments for the existence of God
      Aquinas' Five Ways

      In the first part of his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas developed his five arguments for God's existence[1]. These arguments are grounded in an Aristotelian ontology and make use of the infinite regression argument. Aquinas did not intend to fully prove the existence of God as he is orthodoxly conceived (with all of his traditional attributes), but proposed his Five Ways as a first stage, which he built upon later in his work.[2] Aquinas' Five Ways argued from the unmoved mover, first cause, necessary being, argument from degree, and the teleological argument.
      The unmoved mover argument asserts that, from our experience of motion in the universe (motion being the transition from potentiality to actuality) we can see that there must have been an initial mover. Aquinas argued that whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another thing, so there must be an unmoved mover.[1]
      Aquinas' argument from first cause started with the premise that it is impossible for a being to cause itself (because it would have to exist before it caused itself) and that it is impossible for there to be an infinite chain of causes, which would result in infinite regress. Therefore, there must be a first cause, itself uncaused.[1]
      The argument from necessary being asserts that all beings are contingent, meaning that it is possible for them not to exist. Aquinas argued that if everything can possibly not exist, there must have been a time when nothing existed; as things exist now, there must exist a being with necessary existence, regarded as God.[1]
      Aquinas argued from degree, considering the occurrence of degrees of goodness. He believed that things which are called good, must be called good in relation to a standard of good – a maximum. There must be a maximum goodness that which causes all goodness.[1]
      The teleological argument asserts the view that things without intelligence are ordered towards a purpose. Aquinas argued that unintelligent objects cannot be ordered unless they are done so by an intelligent being, which means that there must be an intelligent being to move objects to their ends: God.[]

      [1] - Aquinas, Thomas (1274). Summa Theologica

      January 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Really-O?

      When I state, "To date, there is no empirical evidence supporting the claim that the god of Israel exists. None. No other reason is needed for suspension of acceptance of the hypothesis", I am, of course, using the term "empirical" as it relates to science, not philosophy (I can't imagine Chad doesn't understand this, but he has in the past shown a profound lack of comprehension of nuance). So, I'll state the fact again:

      To date, there is no empirical evidence supporting the claim that the god of Israel exists. None. No other reason is needed for suspension of acceptance of the hypothesis.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  8. TANK!!!!!

    Religion: Because Mary Jane doesn't fry brain cells fast enough.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  9. organically

    Religion is our greatest scam

    January 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
  10. TANK!!!!!

    Religion: Because the onset of Alzheimer's isn't beginning fast enough.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  11. TANK!!!!!

    Religion: Because we can't all be as lucky as Phineas Gage.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  12. TANK!!!!!

    Religion: Because lobotomies are just too painful.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  13. Juliet

    THANK YOU CNN for posting the original article and this follow-up. MANY millions of people are not religious and choose to raise our children intelligently, rather than expose them to people and organizations who would teach them to fear a so-called "benevolent god" who punishes people because his fragile ego can't stand not to be worshiped 24/7.

    The rational public would enjoy MORE articles like this. Please keep posting them, CNN. Thanks again!

    January 18, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Don't be Mad

      This was an irrational stereo-type you place on a belief that millions of many other people cling. Because you don't align yourself with people of faith doesn't make those who do ignorant. I happen to be a person too. While I am exposed to hatred on many sides, atheist, believer, or something in between, we all have something in common; we're people. Come to a realization you're not being persecuted for being an atheist. You have no problems being angry about it. Just ignore it. Better for you're health. You'll live longer than you would had, had you spent those years angry before you 'cease to exist forever'.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • the AnViL

      Don't be Mad – are you aware that in a number of states – atheists aren't allowed to hold public office or even serve on a jury?

      did you know that american citizens are being denied their const.itutionally guaranteed equality because of retarded religious theology?

      were you aware that religious people work overtime to inject their creation myths into science classes in our public schools???

      .

      if you believe in imaginary men in the sky... you are delusional.

      don't be mad, but tolerance of religious idiocy is going away.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Juliet

      RE: Don't be Mad

      The day religion BUTTS OUT of politics, public schools, women's reproductive rights and the issue of Marriage Equality is the day I will stop being mad. Until that day, I will continue to be vocal about the danger of religious indoctrination and its truly frightening influence on public policy and law-making.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
  14. bobo

    Cliff's argument means that god is an atheist. Where does the line end? My simple human mind can't get past something coming from nothing. It's seems more likely that some simple molecules came from nothing than an all knowing, all powerful being.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Cliff

      "Cliff's argument means that god is an atheist. Where does the line end? My simple human mind can't get past something coming from nothing. It's seems more likely that some simple molecules came from nothing than an all knowing, all powerful being."

      If we drop this whole argument over "all knowing and powerful" and examine human existence as itself, it is blatantly obvious what is wrong with the world isnt it? Look at the grander scale of the issues revolving around North Korea and the mid-east. Everything is about "pride" and "ego" and the inability to recognize one is simply wrong. Look at 1/2 the people who responded to my previous post, they're just angry.

      Human beings argue, all the time. Forget the political outlook I just wrote, but examine personal lives of people at home, workplaces, etc... people argue argue argue, many for the sake of arguing and respond emotionally rather than reasonably. If we have such low tolerance for finite creatures as ourselves, how else are we to rationalize something greater than ourselves that is "all knowing and all powerful?"

      Think about it. Is there such a thing as true atheist? Because even the most basic common atheist believes in luck and fortune. Then the concept of "luck and fortune" becomes a variable that is greater than oneself and one cannot control. So this person is not a pure atheist. Now, I'm sure many will throw at me "I don't believe in any form of luck or fortune or what not. I believe solely that I AM in control of my own life and my destiny." Then... this person just proved my previous point, this person declared that he and he alone is in control of all thing in his life, he is the god in his life.

      In a simple term, to believe in something greater than oneself is the acceptance of "mystery"... the acceptance of an unknown that we may not know. This is what establishes as humbleness, adventurous, expanding the mind ... sorta speak, in which the opposite is... "narrow mindedness," true? Why do so many people have problem with this? Well first, how many people can actually "think outside the box?" Look at your home, your workplace, look at all these unintelligent zombies glued to reality TV shows, following the latest trends or buying the latest "cool techs." Monkey see, Monkey do. That's "one." The 2nd and probably more directly related... human beings are too arrogant to accept the idea of a mystery and cannot emotionally accept being wrong. Why is it so hard for people to apologize? Most people prefer to lie or the more popular "blame other people" and "make excuses."

      Wisdom begins with the utterance "I don't know"

      January 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Cliff, I am a true atheist because I have no idea if any gods exist or not and since I have no idea I don't believe in any. I also don't believe in unicorns since I have no idea if any exist anywhere. I also don't know of any atheists who believe that "luck" is some sort of magical force that actually exists. It seems to me that 'luck' is a human concept and a convenient label. Providence isn't.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Cliff

      @ Moby Schtick

      And you've proven my point. Your whole response is riddled with "I I I I I I I I I I I I I I"

      yes?

      January 19, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, Cliff, I have not "proven your point." Me using the word "I" does not prove your reasoning is sound even if you hold that according your philosophy it does. Your logic is unsound.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Cliff, sane people operate under the power of their own reasoning but that does not make everyone "god" in his own mind. How stupid!

      January 19, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • vpkwriter

      Cliff and Bobo!!! FINDING BIGFOOT! :)

      January 19, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  15. CNN Truth Check

    “I like your Deborah Mitchell. I do not like your atheists that post on here. They are so unlike your Deborah.”

    – Gandhi

    January 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • snowboarder

      but they are no worse than your christians.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • CNN Truth Check

      I'm a Hindu, but thanks for sharing about your resentment against Christians. Wow.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • snowboarder

      lol. a resentment of continual discrimination? understanable. what world do you inhabit?

      January 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
  16. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    Whenever someone says to me, "But we need god, or the bible or religions or we will have no morality" I look them in the eye and say, "Oh, so what you are telling me is that if you didn't have those things, you, personally, would be a serial killer." That usually shuts them up.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  17. TANK!!!!

    Religion: Because repeated blows to the head just didn't do the trick.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  18. Cliff

    A typical "I don't understand it, therefore it does not exist" from someone who base reality on their own sense of reasoning. I believe that is the definition of egocentricism.

    Error in the logic of this woman is not simply she failed to realize there are "many" things she does not understand because she is mere human, but the fact these "simple" things she does not understand are easily understood by a vast many "more educated" and to be frank, "intelligent" other humans.

    EVERYONE believes in some form of god, whether they admit it or not. Because for one to deny the existence of beings greater than oneself, is to declare one as the being who is the greatest and "knows everything." In short, this person believes he/she is god, one who defines right and wrong, fair and unfair, and what is real and not real.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Mari

      No we not all believe in god! And we are perfectly fine and normal, caring and honest!

      January 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • snowboarder

      cliff, the very definition of egocentrism is the religious ideal tha the entire universe was spoiled by the supposed iniquity of a single individual. the very idea that anyone would fall for such idiocy is fantastic.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • the AnViL

      cliff – there's no substantiated evidence of the existence of any imaginary men in the sky.

      fortunately you have faith....

      faith is a belief in something for which there is no substantiated, verifiable evidence... and even contradictory evidence...

      and there's plenty of that.

      and no – not everyone believes in imaginary men in the sky – and that's a flat fact.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Gir

      Utter nonsense. Where do you see her saying she doesn't understand religion? And what use are the opinions of the apparently more educated when they (admittedly) cannot present a single shred of acceptable empirical evidence?

      "EVERYONE believes in some form of god, whether they admit it or not. Because for one to deny the existence of beings greater than oneself, is to declare one as the being who is the greatest and "knows everything." In short, this person believes he/she is god, one who defines right and wrong, fair and unfair, and what is real and not real."

      If ambiguity, equivocation and fatuous conclusions had a baby, the above paragraph would be what it would like.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Raoul Duke, Jr.

      And, perchance, which of the many thousands of gods that man has created do you deign to the the "one true god."

      January 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      That's crap Cliff. Most of us just think we're lucky apes. Ones who evolved bigger brins than our animal kin. Sure there may be brainier animals out there in the cosmos but the notion of god or gods is just wishful fairytale thinking. It's your ego that is inflated to monstrous proportions. After all you're the one who believes you have a personal relationship with the creator of everything. Now doesn't that make you feel just soooo special.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • kyle

      but we do decide right from wrong, fair and unfair, real and unreal, that is what makes us, us. i do not believe myself to be a god, and i can say that there is a substantial amount of evidence disproving the bible, whereas the bible says its true because god wrote it circular logic.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Bob Ingersoll

      And you clearly do not understand Deborah, and seem prone to making all sorts of assumptions rooted in your particular, limited worldview.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • bsdolphin

      It's the opposite. No one is trying to diminish your belief in whatever you choose to believe. Your post sounds like a classic case of projection. You want everyone to believe as you do; therefore, you challenge the lack of belief in gods. We embrace the unknown and call it for what it is; Unknown.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Cliff

      I like how many of you replied without even reading and understanding what I just wrote. Thats pretty much how most people respond, emotionally rather than logically. I have never claimed to accept the evangelical agenda nor have I claimed to be defending any established religion.

      For those of you who "still" do not "get it." The concept and idea of a "god" is the recognition of an existence who is "greater" than oneself. That is the definition of a god. Now depending on which religious belief you choose, it will establish this definition. Christians believe in the "one God" defining this God as the "greatest." Regardless, logic flows that one who is "lesser" cannot possibly rationalize everything of the "greater," correct? Because if one can do so, then the lesser has become the greater thus rendering the previous inferior.

      Hence, for one to deny the "existence" of a being greater than oneself, you have already "established" that you are the one who sets the rules, sets the definition, and you have declared no one is greater than yourself, because you have already declared everything else inferior and ... in the dominion of YOUR reality, definition, etc.. etc...

      Got it yet?

      The concept of a god is that it is greater than you, you are not suppose to be able to define it, understand it, rationalize it, etc... it is what we called a "mystery" because it is unknown to us. To be known, declare it known, then we have established that we are greater, then this "god" is inferior... making us the superior... and us... "god."

      January 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • snowboarder

      cliff, a acceptance of the possibility of a being greater than oneself does not necessitate the belief in the christian god. the doctirne regarding the christian god is plainly absurd.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Gir

      I

      January 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • TMV

      Believing in some form of supernatural energy force is defensible on some level. The world's religions and the fairy tales they spin and use to control the masses is a whole different story that is not defensible in any logical or rational manner. Unplug yourself from the matrix dude and start thinking for yourself.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Gir

      I love how he doesn't address any of the criticisms posted by anyone here, and just restates the same validity-deficient conclusion as before.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Akira

      No, Cliff, that is your definition, and as such, applies only to yourself.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Cliff

      @ snowboarder

      did I say a Christian God?

      :s

      I'm just repeating myself now. People respond emotionally rather than logically. Look at the other responses, how many actually read what I wrote?

      January 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • Cliff

      @ Akira

      Not really... do you even have a college degree? Go take a couple of courses on reasoning, philosophy, humanity, sociology, religious study, etc...

      January 19, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Cliff, I think you fvcked up when you jumped the shark and said that everybody believes in some form of god. That's an arrogant statement that doesn't hold water and you've not proved your case. You think too highly of your opinions.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Cliff

      @ Moby Schtick

      Did you even read what I said in that whole paragraph?

      Look at your other response... riddled with "I I I I I I I I I I"

      Are you saying you are not self-centered? Egocentric?

      Are you not saying to me that "you" are the one who defines all things in your life?
      Does that not make you "god" in your life?

      You do believe in a god, that god is yourself.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • snowboarder

      sorry cliff, you are full of cr@p. we know your agenda. acknowledgement of the possiblity of beings greater than ourselves is not an admittance or reasonable acceptance of god.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • MA

      I neither believe in God, nor do I believe that I or our species are the greatest things in the Universe (or Multiverse?). The notion that humans (and often men in particular) are second to God and godly spirits is an Earthcentric, speciocentric view that feeds into the egocentricism of some individuals.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, Cliff, I read what you wrote. You have FAR too high an opinion of your own reasoning. I know that my reasoning is not perfect and that it is fallible, but you talk as if yours is perfect and infallible. Just because you see yourself as your own god when you reason does not mean that others think that highly of their own thought processes.

      To even think about whether or not something might be true, we must use our own brains. Thus, it is not belief in god every time someone thinks. You're pretty fvcking stupid if you think that every time someone ponders something and makes a judgment call that they are believing in god because they're trusting their own judgment. A person doesn't have someone else's judgment, he has his own. You seem like a stupid person who thinks he's smart.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Dana

      Cliff, translated:

      Basing reality on your own sense of reasoning is wrong. Let me explain the view of reality I arrived at with MY reasoning.

      This woman doesn't realize she's as stupid as I am, and didn't just accept the kinds of things I was told by people I view as "more educated" and "intelligent" than myself.

      Everyone believes in God, because to deny that would mean you think you are #1. This woman thinks she's #1.

      End translation. In short, Cliff, your blatantly poor logic is an excellent window into the mind of a religious person.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • vpkwriter

      Seriously, are you Cliff from Finding Bigfoot?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  19. Saint_John

    There is one person on the planet who knows for certain that god does not exist and that would be the pope. He must live in a constant state of despair knowing that he is responsible for perpetuating the greatest lie ever told. IOW, he is the father of all lies. Kind of gives one the creeps, eh? Ruby red shoes and all. Jesus !

    January 18, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • TMV

      Thank you for pointing this out. It's hard to believe there are those who want to make Pope John Paul ll a saint! He was a criminal who got away with crimes against humanity! Knowingly and willingly protecting child molesters is a crime everywhere except the Vatican. It's sickening and downright shameful.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  20. bobo

    Many people feel that religion gives us our morals. That it teaches us right from wrong. I firmly disagree. It is ingrained into almost all of us because we are a social species and we know if we help others in need, they will help us when we're in need. It is feels very good to know that you perform good deeds because you want to help people, not because it will get you to heaven or because it's what Jesus would do.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • the AnViL

      bobo – you're spot on.

      there is a fantastic amount of evidence of altruism, empathy and sympathy existing in the animal kingdom.

      we evolved with these traits for our survival... and there's absolutely no need for an imaginary man in the sky for these things to exist in us.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • snowboarder

      morality is a construct of civil society and continually evolves.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:24 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.