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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. sqeptiq

    "When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." I Cor. xiii. 11.
    Putting aside belief in deities is part of putting aside fear of things that go bump in the night.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  2. Shan

    I don't believe in God because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It is not a comfort blanket that keeps me from thinking death is the end of all. I believe in God because I look at our universe and see there is so much we don't know or understand. I know there is more than just what we see with our eyes.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Pete

      " I know there is more than just what we see with our eyes."

      Scientists are showing that there is but it doesn't mean it's a god.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      If the Argument from Ignorance had a mugshot, your comment would be what it would look like.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Athy

      Just because we don't know something doesn't mean that a god is responsible. That sort of thinking is deplorable.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Jason

      In other words, "we don't understand, therefore God MUST have done it!!"

      Your belief in "God" is based on ignorance by your own admittance.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Shan

      I don't believe in God because I don't have answers. I believe in God because I believe in the Bible. I assume non-believers don't believe because they can not understand how God could exist. They want to see to believe. All I am saying is i believe without needing to see.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Brian

      Just because we don't understand everything about the universe does not imply that there is a deity of some sort. There could be, there may not be, we don't know. And of course there is a lot of things we don't see! Quantum mechanics is very confusing, and there are still things we don't entirely understand. Everything we observe in the macroscopic world breaks down when we get down to the atomic and sub-atomic levels. For example, did you know that at this very instance there are millions, even billions of neutrinos passing through you? You don't notice it, or see it, but it is happening at this very instant.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • ??

      Classic god of the gaps fail.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Roger that

      I'm with you Shan. I also feel warm and fuzzy for not believing in God.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  3. a

    I don't claim to know for sure, but I have never been to church and I have never thought for a second that any of the big 3 were right. The whole foundation time and again in Christianity is based in deception. It has neven been a question for me, but how can you believe in a religion that is based in deception after deception. What really gets me is that American Christians just can not fathom people that don't believe in the sky super being. They can understand people believe in other god, but someone who believes in no god, they just melt down when confronted with any real argument.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  4. Old Timey

    When people ask me if I believe in God, I just say "maybe". If they ask me if I think Jesus was the son of God, I just say "possibly".

    January 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Akira

      When people ask me, I ask them their yearly income.
      In other words, it's nunya.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Possibly won't cut it. Possibly will get you sent to an eternal hell by the god that loves you so much.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Athy

      I say no to both questions. Because that's just the way it is.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  5. MikeA

    I have always wondered why someone would lose their faith because a loved was taken from them. We are all going to die, so our passing and that of everyone we know is inevitable.

    I think we are not able to see the big picture – that this life is just a phase. And I believe if we could experience what Heaven is like for just a second – we would have no fear whatsoever of leaving this life behind.

    I don't think this mother is doing her kids a favor. The happiest people I know are those that have a deep faith.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • zometimer

      The sooner you begin your next "phase" the better.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • DoctorDan118

      Mike, that's because ignorance is bliss. People who simply choose to ignore reason and logic, and the history of religion and Christianity, may likely be happier...because they refuse to fill their brains with facts and science, and instead choose the simplest approach, which is denial of anything that doesn't coincide with their blind faith in the imaginary. It's a simple life for simple people. These kids will be infinitely better off for opening their minds to other possiblities than simple blind faith.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • ??

      ..when I was a kid I would whistle when I walked past the grave-yard at night.It helped me from thinking a ghost was after me.I know-silly right?

      January 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  6. Canadian Jack

    Existence is theater for GOD. We love movies, television and the net. We are just like HER. Solitary confinement is a terrible punishment. That is why we need each other and SHE needs us. Do not look to religion to find HER. SHE can only be found through a logical journey through scientific literature. Religion invites belief through faith. Logic proves beyond question that SHE is real. In truth everything is a holographic projection and everything is an illusion. The light projecting this illusion is far too intense to see the reality behind it. But thought alone is the key to see what is behind.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  7. Drew

    There always seems to be the underlying story of how "Christians don't love people who don't fit the Bible's definition of what a person should be". That's so far from the truth. The fact is that good-practicing Christians love all. Period. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. But the same honesty that is viewed as "heroic" on this board is labeled "vile" if it comes from a Christian who tries to communicate that one should always strive for better, despite our weaknesses. I don't go around telling anyone how to live, but there are many people who try to force their way of living onto me and want me to accept it even if it's not Biblical. If I accept it, I'm in good standing with them, but if I choose not to, then I am the worst person ever: a bigot, a jerk, you name it. The bottom line is that everyone has flaws and I know that if I recognize my own and walk with the Lord in order to make myself a better person, I'm on the right track. Without God, what path are you following? In the end, it's your path to choose, not mine. But I will pray everyday for my friends, family and community to accept Him and follow the path that directs us to His Glory.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Archive_Alicorn

      While a "love all" type of Christian is preferred to the hellfire, brimstone, and damnation type, theologians have debated that point for millenia, and furthermore that idea of a Christian is very, very new compared to the more "evil" type, which has been predominant for a long time.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • DoctorDan118

      You ask, "without god, what path are you one?" I'm on a path that includes logic, reason, science, and common sense. I have a degree in astrophyics, so I have studied the infinitely large and the science behind the expansion of the universe. I also have a PhD in physics, so I have studied the infinitely small, and how energy and matter interact on the smallest of quantum scales. I also have a minor in religous studies, mostly out of curiosity for our past and for understanding how people have tried to explain our existence through the supernatural. I currently have a job working in a biomedical lab, doing medical research involving DNA and the basic building blocks of life. I have also read the bible, books on hinduism, buddhism, islam and judaism. Needless to say, I've examined the meaning of life from just about every perspective imaginable. My guess, you've read nothing more than the bible, which is why you sound like you are in a cult....having to pray for your friends and family to find their way to YOUR path. How unbelievably closed minded. This is the problem to begin with....people like you who think that REALLY REALLY REALLY believing something makes it true. Just because the bible, which was written by ordinary men whose connection to the divine was only in their head, makes statemenst about "the path" and "his glory" and all the nonsense, doesn't mean you can quote it thousands of years later as some ultimate truth that nonbelievers haven't stumbled upon yet. It's a shame that people like you are allowed to vote and raise children. Please educate yourself and stop spreading your mythical dogma.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Greg Justice

    She may not believe God, but God still believes in her.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Greg Justice", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertion is unfounded that "it" can believe something. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Jeff

      You may not believe in Zeus, but Zeus still believes in you.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • lol??

      She hasn't pulled a school teacher astronaut switch yet?

      January 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  9. Dan

    Sorry for your unbelief. It is written that Christians will be laughed at, mocked, and persecuted. everything is coming to pass. The more reason for unbelievers to be very afraid.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Dan", but what is "written" is mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Damocles

      My goodness, I do believe that just about everyone on this planet has been laughed at sometime in their life.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Randy

      You don't have to feel sorry for us. I do not feel sorry that you do not believe in magical forest fairies, Zeus or flying unicorns. I know, that would be crazy, right? : ) But a talking snake, zombies rising from the dead, a 6000 year old earth and men living to be 600 years old, well, that's believable. : )

      January 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Roger that

      It was also written that snakes talk. When was the last time you sat down and had a coversation with a snake?

      January 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Colin

      Mocked? Mocked? Simply because she doesn't share your belief? Persecution complex.....

      January 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Akira

      Christians do much laughing and persecuting themselves...so are they afraid??

      January 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • ??

      Just wondering,do christian ever mock or deride believers of other religions?Probably not.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • No, this is far worse

      Christians have a huge persecution complex and they lap up being "laughing at, mocked and persecuted" . The world is doing much worse to you, it's starting to ignore you. Your time is over. Every day Christianity is more and more irrelevant , soon to be abandoned on the waist heap of history just like all the religions that came before it.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Damocles

      @??

      Really? All the believers that say everyone of a different religion is wrong, doomed to hell and you are going to say they don't deride others? How blind of you.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      Why is that, Dan? Someone said a long time ago "people will see this for the absurdity it is"?

      January 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Chris in Dothan

    Why do you think things like Sandy Hook happen? Because people have been raised to believe in me, me, me. Very few are brought up with morals or the thought of "do unto others". God is needed more than ever now, but Satan has a hold on the world. Yes, Virginia, there is a Satan, and he is alive and thriving!

    January 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Chris in Dothan", but "God" and "Satan" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".

      January 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Anthony

      "Why do you think things like Sandy Hook happen? "

      Honestly because of bullying and the intolerance of others in our school system and since 80% of people claim to be religious then I'll blame it on that. You can see the intolerance of Christianity in all aspects of our society and the bullying is spreading into the work place. So lets do away with your religion and fix our society.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • the AnViL

      ok – but in reality it was just because of an unchecked mentally ill person experiencing a psychotic break – and getting his hands on unsecured weapons.

      srsly, bro... that's what happened.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Akira

      Sandy Hook happened because one very sick person got a hold of his mother's gun.
      Ps: he was Christian. And THAT has nothing to do with it, either.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • CallMeRational

      ....you're delusional.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Jesus, not again.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Satan was not a part of it. There were two factors: 1. a seriously deranged mind and 2. a rapid fire gun with a high capacity magazine.
      If you believe satan was involved, you probably should be kept away from 2.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Thundal

      Pro-tip: Crime stats in secular and atheistic countries are much lower, both in total and per-capita, than they are in religious nations. You want to know why these things really happen? Because we have no basis for psychological care, because psychoanalysts make exceptions for nutters if they're religious (look it up, it's hilarious). Because we have so many people who don't know the statistics for gun crime nor for criminal psychology and still argue their position. Because, when all is said and done, people are not only permitted to hold unsubstantiated views, but are encouraged to by religion and a fair portion of a population...

      January 19, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  11. cindy lou who

    if your living life like there is no God......you better be right!

    January 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • the AnViL

      pascals wager wrapped in a whoville sized pug-nose...

      ADORABLE!!!

      January 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Cindy: If you are worshiping a single god out of the thousands that have been worshiped through history, you'd better hope he's the right one. Since there's equal evidence to support the existence of all of these gods (none whatsoever), I'd say your odds are are not good.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • jmj

      I think I'll take my chances on believing in God & being wrong than chance not believing in
      God & be wrong!!!

      January 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Damocles

      @jmj

      Good choice! You should buy up all the lottery tickets as well. Purchase every car ever made on the chance that yours is a lemon. Help make and birth all the kids just in case yours wind up ungrateful. Kill everyone before they have a chance to kill you. Worship every deity in case you happen to pick the wrong one. Do everything in case doing nothing is wrong.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      jmj, what you describe is not BELIEF; it IS CYA. An omniscient god could surely tell the difference.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • CommaWitch

      Ha. Hope you're living your life with a dictionary . . . some of the stupidest people I know are Christian, too. Some of the most judgmental, ignorant, and condescending people I know are Christian. They might be happy, but that doesn't mean I want to join their ranks.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      cindy: if you are liviing your life with a god, it better be the right one

      January 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  12. bibleverse1

    If all people could love regardless of belief or unbelief.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  13. shlibotnik

    Whenever people start batting the metaphysical back and forth it drives me crazy that everyone seems to think they have common ground as far as agreement about the definition of God. I think if you broadened the concept of God far enough many people who profess to be atheists would really be agnostics. I'm still lost as to what God is–divine watchmaker or fiendish cypher who intervenes in our daily existence or simply the universe and everything in it without thought as we understand it. Religion is so embedded for most in their cultural upbringing that it seems more like tradition than critical thinking.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Most atheists actually are agnostics in the sense that if any irrefutable evidence that a god exists actually surfaced, we would believe. However, as there is no evidence at all for any supernatural being watching over us, there is no logical reason to believe in one.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  14. Ron

    Whether you are a Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Evolutionist or Creationist it all boils down to one thing…Faith. Faith is putting your belief into something that you cannot prove to be absolute truth. No one can claim absolute truth regardless of how sincere their faith or beliefs are. The problem with most people is when faith crosses the line into attempting to force people to accept it as absolute truth through intimidation, force or violence. This even includes Evolutionists and Atheist that while claiming scientific authority they still have no claim on absolute truth and regardless of how much they boast of scientific facts they still do not have absolute truth and use intimidation in our education system to silence other beliefs. The Bible beautifully states that faith is the substance of this hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. While I do believe there is absolute truth out there that we will one day attain through death; in our life time we are limited to be able to only put our faith in things that go well beyond our limited knowledge and understanding. I hope one day she is proven right in her beliefs...for her sake and the sake of her kids.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Randy

      Does it take faith not to believe in Bigfoot? How about Leperchauns? Unicorns perhaps? They are no more far fetched than an imaginary, magical man in the sky no one has ever seen.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • apshai

      Atheism isn't a religion. Most atheists are simply people who prefer to use the scientific method and apply reason and logic to the natural world around us. We prefer the mountain of evidence that proves evolution rather than the zero evidence faith based monotheistic beliefs. After all...if you are going to use the label then really people who belief in the christian god are really atheist as well as they don't believe in Zeus or Woden.

      I think it is sad but fitting that some southern states that believe in a literal translation of a myth are going to ensure that most science and technology jobs will end up going to people living in states that teach science....if the south isn't careful it is going to fall very very far behind. The economy needs science more than ever. Everything from oil to medicine relies on the scientific method...to deny it is folly.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • CallMeRational

      "Faith is believing in what you know ain't so." Mark Twain

      ...expressed simply and succinctly.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Empirical evidence: No faith required!

      January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Brian

      Actually, evolution is not a subject of faith. It's a subject of concrete observable scientific phenomena. We actually observe evolution on the microscopic level every day. With various disease gradually developing immunity to our current methods of combating them. With viruses mutating to be more virulent, to be more dangerous, to be immune to already in use methods of combating them.

      It's the same thing on the macroscopic level, except on a different time scale. It takes hundreds of thousands, even millions of years of successive mutations. I think the biggest thing is that people don't understand WHAT evolution is. It's not that we evolved from monkeys. It's that we share a common ancestor with monkeys (though more distant than with Chimps, our closest relatives).

      Also don't confusing a scientific theory with a theory in general speech. A scientific theory requires proof in order to be a theory. A theory in general speech is basically a scientific hypothesis.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Ron

      Obviously there is a very lack of understanding of what absolute truth is. How many innocent people have been executed or imprisoned based on overwhelming evidence. It is a best guess. Until we know absolute truth we can only have faith that we are right. I never said Atheism was a religion but it does require you to put faith into whatever you believe. The same as an Evolutionist, Scientist or any one else in this world. If you think that science or the "THEORY" of evolution provides absolute truth you are a bigger fool than a believer in bigfoot.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Ron, that is the same irrationality that creates gods. Nonbelief is not the same as belief, no matter how much you wish it to be so.

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

      There is more faith that a person has to have to believe it is absolute truth than a person who believes in creation and a creator. How many pieces of scientific evidence used in attempt to prove evolution was later found to be falsified or altered. The only fact is that no one alive today was present at the Big Bang therefore there can be no claim of knowledge of absolute truth. Therefore you must put your faith in your empirical evidence. There just as much evidence that disproves evolution as proves it but those people you have faith in their own empirical evidence refuse to consider such evidence. To think you have no faith and you claim to have absolute truth only proves you are a bigger fool than the ones who think believe in God.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Ron

      Faith is the expression of your beliefs. Applies to everyone whether you are an Atheist, Christian or any other person. How can anyone claim to be an atheist and claim they have no faith. It amazes me at the lack of real understanding that smart people really have. I am a Christian, I observe the earth, trees, stars, and all of creation, I read the Bible, I study science and I look at evidence and I come to my own conclusions. At the end of the day I do not know what absolute truth is but I put my belief in God. An atheist chooses not to believe in God. He is putting his trust in his interpretation of the evidence he has in front of him. He believes there is no God, he trusts in his belief therefore is has faith in his beliefs.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Brian

      @Ron: Actually no there isn't.

      Between fossil records, and our observations of bacteria, evolution IS A FACT. As I said, A SCIENTIFIC THEORY IS NOT THE SAME AS AN EVERY DAY THEORY. A scientific law is a mathematical law observed every day. It is quantifiable. Hence the law of gravity. It is quantifiable. Fg = G(m1*m2)/r^2. We can't say the theory of evolution is a law because there is no mathematical formula to actual quantify evolution. Evolution has so many factors that are involved. Everything from radiation, to natural selection, to other environmental factors.

      Make no mistake, evolution is a fact. Anyone that declares otherwise is ignorant of what science actually is. Unless you can come up with evidence that actually disproves it, it is proven. And this evidence has to be empirical, and must be replicated. So trying to say something about complexity or the bible does not count as evidence. If there were evidence that disproved evolution, then evolution wouldn't be considered a valid theory anymore. Hence, your entire argument is off.

      We know the big bang happened based off of current models. Between the expansion of the universe (yes the universe is expanding, and the speed at which it's expanding is increasing), and our measurement of the background radiation that appears to have no source, we are 99.999% sure that the big bang occurred. Additionally, mathematical models have shown some evidence for m-theory, and thus would help explain how the big bang occurred, and may provide evidence for other universes.

      I know it's hard to understand time scales that we talk about. We aren't talking about processes that take a couple days/years. We are talking about things that take millions, even billions of years.

      When it comes down to it, yes science requires a certain amount of faith to start. However, that faith alone isn't enough. The difference between science and religion is that with science, you must prove that initial faith, that initial assumption is correct. If that initial assumption is disproved through evidence, then that assumption is discarded.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Ron

      I have never claimed that evolution does not take place. I am a student of science myself. You are correct that evolution can be scientifically proven and observed. However your claim of macroscopic evolution or claiming that evolution has occurred that evolves one species to another has not be proven either with fossil evidence or any other scientific method. There are only theories that can be put forth in attempt to explain certain evidence however no absolute truth. I will go back to my original claim there are unknowns that requires faith you chose yours I chose mine.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  15. David Crosby

    Its about time we really started a dialog about removing Christianity as our American motivator and validator..Jesus being dead and all, I'd rather worship the Earth ....

    January 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • lol??

      Oh, ooooohh, a new and improved timepiece.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Ron

      Makes perfect sense to worship the creation and not creator. It is about time we recognize just how enlightened we have become.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  16. Mike Ball

    Raised a Southern Baptist turned Pantheist @ 50. Just because I think of the biblical old man on a gold throne God is an ancient invention evolved from many sources; doesn't mean I don't believe in a God. Appears to be more of a loving compassionate force found in every sub atomic particle that determines form/function in the universe. That force that arranged our atoms into complex DNA made from amino acids whose elements could only be made from exploding SuperNovas makes our star dust beginnings in dark matter and dark energy as our womb. With parallel universes and infinite dimensions; "after life" may very well be real but nothing as could have been considered 3,000 years ago. Neo-christianity has evolved from the Roman Paulinian, Catholic Mithra Egypts Horus challanged by Marttian Luther corrupted even further by Calvin and now interpreted by uneducated hillbillys who find it their life's mission to impose their "faith" as has been passed down on the rest of us. We are free FROM religion NOT OF..

    January 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • KidIndigo

      Mike, I totally agree with much of what you're saying. As for the folks proselytizing, I also agree. Nonetheless, my "God" is much as you describe, and I'm a Catholic. In fact, I was a big skeptic, until I found a church who "did it right." By that I mean, serve your fellow humans, love one another, and have faith. For the record, I'm still pro-choice and pro-birth control. I choose faith, if for no other reason than it beats negativism right now.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  17. MikeyNYC

    In the USA, its not just a matter of believing in a god, its whether or not one believes in the Christian god. I'm Jewish and I grew up in a place where there weren't that many Jews. If I had a dollar for every time I was told that I would burn in hell for all eternity if I didn't accept Jesus Christ, I'd be as wealthy as Bill Gates. I was treated worse than many atheists and agnostics, since not only did I reject the Christian idea of a god, I accepted another faith and another idea of a god entirely. Luckily I was a strong person and didn't let others make me feel bad about my own beliefs and faith. No one deserves to be treated poorly because of their faith or lack of faith. No one should have the right to force their faith on others, nor should those who have chosen to believe differently be chastised and/or castigated for that choice. If Christians wish to show that their faith is about love and understanding, then Christians need to practice what they preach and treat everyone with love and understanding, not just their fellow believers. In my experience, the best advertisement for atheism is evangelical Christianity.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Coulda been worse.You coulda been burned alive in a church like the african americultians do it.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • If christians practiced what they preach there wouldn't be a problem

      " Christians need to practice what they preach and treat everyone with love and understanding, not just their fellow believers"

      I haven't seen much "love and understanding" being shown between different denominations of christians. Seems to me they are even happier to damn each other to burn in hell then they are to damn atheists

      January 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  18. Graham

    To all who hide in fear due to their lack of belief, come to New York. We will take with open arms your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Right, waivers, bailouts, cut the red tape and leave wall street alone!

      January 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Akira

      All of which is passed by a very Christian Congress, so I'm unsure of what your point is.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  19. lol??

    "Dan 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."...........But knowledge can't save. You just build better weaons.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  20. AM Coffee

    This essay's ability to garner attention (“650,000 page views”) clearly proves the extent to which people are interested in knowing about one who has successfully made the transition away from God. Believers and nonbelievers alike are dialing in and commenting while so many others aren't participating as such, but are watching, reading, absorbing. What do these numbers say about this audience? Any of us could have just glossed over it and kept on going. No one had to comment. And what of it being flagged as , both the original posting and even this followup? Does fear explain that? Of the comments left, pro and con, how do the numbers shake out on those founded on logic versus faith? And if this iReport drew the second highest number of page views, what topic drew the most? So far this topic has proven to be remarkable and fascinating. What more do we stand to learn as the data continues to pile up?

    In any case, kudos to Deborah Mitchell for placing this issue on the table in an honest and forthright manner. Clearly a large number of people are taking the opportunity to express their own hidden or not so hidden, thoughts and feelings.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:32 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.