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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 • Faith Now • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. bornagain

    The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    What about the new testament colin? What about the forgiveness and love of christ? Why are atheists always in the old testament? FYI The bible is filled with contradictions ON PURPOSE!!!! Its to snare the proud. Like you!!!!

    January 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Lines

      Yep.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • logicalfallacy

      your logical fallacy is called: begging the question.
      the bible is not required to practice morality.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • AreWeThereYet

      @bornagain I've never been a believer and a pot head at once, I wonder what that's like? Can you shed some light or "holy light"?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • scottundra

      Even worse ... YOU CANNOT GET ANY AGREEMENT ON THE BIBLE!!!! Every group, leader or individual seems to have there own twist on this. And everyone seems to be an authority on how to interpret the Bible. CRAZY!!!!

      January 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Cowin

      Yes, you've got to find a trusted person to teach you about it.

      Don't believe what some guy on a message board says about it. He doesn't really know.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  2. AreWeThereYet

    Can we all get along? Dear GOD, now is a good time to come and show yourself.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  3. bornagain

    The reality is there is no such thing as an "atheist". Even atheists worship something. Maybe its money, maybe its science, maybe it's themselves. Whatever it is, you worship something. There is no such thing as "atheism". However I think as an atheist, instead of throwing out irrevant "facts" about science, instead ask youself. Do I have a soul? Do I have a conscious? Do I have the internal ability to know right from wrong? If you answered yes to those questions, then the next question is....where did all that come from? Who gave that to you? An ape maybe? A big bang? Come on man....you are a CREATION!!!!! An immaculate one at that. Stop selling yourself's so short!!!!!

    January 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • JWT

      Atheism – no belief in any god. A very simple and complete concept.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Jill

      bornagain, renovate and coat. Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently. So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Ah but is there such thing as warthog sandwiches? Yellow, misty farts say yes but they snort bathtubs on secular holidays. I find dogs to be desk drawers although they moo that it's cats who smell of sunshine.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Athy

      I'm an atheist and I worship nothing. Absolutely nothing. People who have to worship something are deluded, senseless weaklings. There is nothing to be gained by worshipping something. The thought of having to worship something is totally abhorrent to me.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Fuel

      bornagain,
      You really should learn the deffinition of 'atheist'–It's a single belief on a single question–it is not even asserting that god doesn't exist, it only means that one does not see any reason to BELIEVE that one DOES exist. Get it? So it matters NONE if they 'worship' anything else.
      ((I wonder what you will be the next time you are 'born' again))

      January 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Pwr

      Human beings were designed to be in relation to their creator, God.

      If you reject God, you choose something else to be your God. Money, se.x, family, cars, drugs, career, sports.

      All will fail you. God will not.

      Death is not the final outcome.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  4. Colin

    Can a Christian please help me? I am having trouble distinguishing the third example of circular reasoning from the first two. Perhaps you can explain the difference.

    “I believe Obama is a great man because his biography says so, and the reason I believe his biography is that it is about Obama, who is a great man.”

    “I believe David Koresh was a wise and great prophet because the Branch Davidians wrote a book saying he is. I believe that book because it was inspired by David Koresh, a wise and great prophet.”

    “I believe God exists because it says so in the Bible. I believe the Bible because it is the inspired word of God.”

    January 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Chad

      Interesting point you make

      why do you believe that George Washington is a great man?

      you never met him...

      If you have resolved not to investigate the truth of any written account regarding a person.. how exactly are you coming to the conclusion that any person that existed prior to radio/TV was real, good, bad, whatever?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • seaann

      Colin, if a business man has a secretary to write a letter for him. The receiver of that letter has no question in reference to who sent it.
      The designer of this Universe has placed everything in order. The order of this universe is doing what it was designed to do, seasons in order, animals doing what they are suppose to do. Fish are doing what they are suppose to do.

      Please! tell me why if all of this is set by the Creator, the Order of things.Why? Oh! Why? cannot the Creator protect a book, His book with instructions for mankind. 2 Peter 1:20,21.

      The mess we are in is because man (like the nation of Israel) who wants to do thing their way.

      The Bible is the first book of history. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens & the earth.(do we not see that?)
      Everything in the creation account we can see. Every thing was good 1,2,3,4,5,6, days He rested on the 7th day and is still resting, we are in that rest day(mankind has made a mess of what the Creator purposed, at the end of that 7th day it will be evening & morning and it was all good.

      This history tells our future for the next 1000 years. At the end of that rest day for the Creator, mankind will be standing perfect before the Creator, Satan & all his demons will be gone forever.
      That is what is recorded in the bible. His book, His purpose will have been accomplished. So the bottom line is this! Where would you like to BE? John 17:17 Your word is truth!

      January 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  5. bornagain

    I would just like to say that I have been on both sides of the fence, and I can assure everyone posting here that God is very real and very loving. He is so loving that he gives us all complete free will. That is why he does not interfere with our actions, as terrible as they can be. I was an atheist for many years until one day I got tired of worshipping science and took a friend up on an offer to visit a non-denominational church. It was here that I learned that "religion" in a sense was a complete waste of time, and what God wants from us is a personal relationship. Just like the relationship you have with your loved ones. b/c I was once an atheist I know that when you are outside of christ all God is too you is "an imaginary man in the sky" even though there is nowhere in the bible that says he is a man in the sky. When you are in christ, you certainly do feel God/christ through his holy spirit, that much I can attest to. Of course you are called "delusional" for this by non-believers who do not have a relationship with God and those who do not know him in thier personal life. Chrisitianity is not supposed to be logical. It is faith based. God holds back the answers from us on purpose, in so that he can build a strong relationship with those that seek him. Remember, science also told us once that the earth was flat & that there were only 9 planets in the solar system. Science is so logical right? Finally, in relation to marie's point Atheistic communism comes in at #1 with over one hundred million deaths in the last century alone. (Marx, stalin, hitler, mao...to name a few) "Religion" also has oppressed and murdered millions but only because man has framed it for thier own political gain. John 16: 2,3... that there will be some who, in thier error, commit atrocities and muder in the name of God. The bible tells us that these are not true believers and that "no murderer has eternal life abding in him" FYI.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      But surely duckling soup fights crime to prevent 9/11. Horseless carriages are furry on Tuesdays with smoky televisions emanating from a chocolate garage.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Jill

      bornagain, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      To be born again, does one have to ram oneself back up one's mothers orifice? Poor woman.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Jill is the queen of non-sensical ramblings. I'm merely a lowly squire in comparison.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I think you win the January award for the most utter nonsense crammed into a single paragraph. It would take 10 pages to dissect and analyze all the things you got wrong in so many different ways in such a small space.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • roadrunner321

      You seem to see science as an unchanging belief which, when it gets new data or corrects an old theory, proves itself false. I submit you don't know how science works, and this has led you to dismiss it on the basis of a fallacy.

      Hitler was not an atheist, his soldiers had Gott mit uns (God on our side) on their belt buckles, and swore "to Almighty God" their loyalty to the Furer.

      Stalin created a state religion around communism and even claimed miracles to give his reign legitimacy. Russia had a history of worshiping their leaders, the czars being thought of as slightly more than human.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • the AnViL

      this is some good stuff here.

      good stuff

      January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Joe

      You have assured me of nothing and quoting a book of fiction does nothing to help solidify your stance.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • FreeThinker15

      Using the bible as a credible source for anything, especially historical events, morality, and references, is a joke, and makes your argument comical. An Atheist? You were? I highly doubt that because once you clear your head of the B.S., there is no way to force your mind back into slavery. No new informaton will get into your head, and nothing new will ever come out. Enjoy your servitude, slave...but don't try to convince anyone that, for a time, you never believed in anything. That, like your source, is a joke...

      January 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Fuel

      bornagain,
      If I have free will that means I have the ability to surprise god–doing something it didn't expect–hence god is NOT Omniscient. If god knows everything that will ever happen in minute detail then none of us have the capacity to change the outcome and we cannot posess free will.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      bornagain- if you worshipped science, then you were not an atheist. Please look up the definition of the word. And for someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, you seem pretty angry. Why? Even if you are right, and there is a god, their plight won't affect you. Let it go.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  6. gstlab3

    jezzabell windtunnel free ride

    January 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  7. Rational Libertarian

    We claim to have superior intellect, but damn atheists love to rise to troll bait.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • JWT

      Have to do something other than watching the superbowl.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I find non-sensical ramblings to be the best method of dealing with their non-sensical ramblings.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  8. Brampt

    Many pass the impression that you need to have a "Christian University" to know who God is, know his purposes, and so call "Preach from a stand"! But that is NOT true, Ex:

    God favors the humble, not the haughty. (James 4:6) He hides the truth from “wise and intellectual ones”—worldly-wise and learned ones who in their pride and self-reliance feel no need for his help. (1 Corinthians 1:19-21) But he reveals the truth to “babes”—those who come to him with sincere hearts, showing childlike humility. (Matthew 18:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28) God’s Son, Jesus, saw such responses firsthand. Many proud, highly educated religious leaders did not get the sense of Jesus’ message, but humble fishermen did. (Matthew 4:18-22; 23:1-5; Acts 4:13) At the same time, some wealthy and educated ones who showed genuine humility became Jesus’ followers.—Luke 19:1, 2, 8; Acts 22:1-3.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • logicalfallacy

      your logical fallacy is called: appeal to authority.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Kate

      Your god apparently also ignores starting, suffering black kids in Africa, Brampt. Auf Widyerdelusionstime

      January 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Kate

      Your god apparently also ignores starving, suffering black kids in Africa, Brampt. Auf Widyerdelusionstime

      January 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Cowin

      God has provided enough food to feed those children.

      Because of greed and hatred of human beings, the food doesn't reach them. It is probably more the fault of Americans than God.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Cowin

      And God is with those kids, starving.

      Jesus makes that clear. Help the poor, the orphaned and widowed and you are helping God.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Marie

      Chad, do take a course in html. Spend a lot of time at it, please. Every day, all day, for at least 5 decades. We'd really appreciate that.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Arwen

      So Cow-in, your Jeebus is there and just lets those starving kids suffer, when being omnipotent, he could just say bjphhtfreflrublestein and make them all fed and better. He must be quite the jerk.Don't try the free will or satan defenses either, cuz you know they will get you into deeper doodoo, little boy.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Cowin

      You can try to help or just try to prove people wrong on a message board.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  9. Colin

    The funny thing is that Christians today do not even follow the religion of Jesus. Jesus was an apocolyptic Jewish prophet. It was Saint Paul and the other early Christians of the first century who made Christianity a religion about Jesus, not the religion of Jesus.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  10. Joe

    The internet is allowing the next generation to educate themselves on religion and as they become more educated they realize that there really is no supernatural forces at work in our lives, this scares many older Americans who can not understand.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • logicalfallacy

      your logic is sound.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • seaann

      Joe that is not the truth.
      There are demons and Satan the devil, He if very real, and smart enough to make people like you believe that he does not exist.
      These demonic movies, video games with its violence, the unspeakable violence we are seeing. The crazy things people are doing. Where do you think that comes from?
      Worldly education is one of his traps. So how smart is American and the rest of the world killing their fellow man and children. Who do think is behind that garbage?

      January 19, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  11. Brian

    When I look at churches in this country it reminds me of a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: "The last Christian died on the cross."

    January 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Lines

      We let criminals, firefighters, gays, lawyers, drug addicts, saints, teachers and soldiers into our church. All are welcome. None are as great as Jesus, and we don't expect them to be.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • logicalgirl

      Lines- that's wonderful that anyone is welcome. But it has nothing to do with the quote as far as I can tell. Showing up doesn't change anything. In fact, showing up at church and then treating people outside the way most of them do is pretty hypocritical. I have been lucky enough to meet 2 REAL Christians in my life. Out of thousand of people I have run into. Not great odds.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  12. toofarawayfromboston

    Kudos to this mother for doing what is right. Shoving G-d down a child's throat is no way to teach a child. Teaching them about caring about themselves and others, being honest, taking care of the sick, elderly, homeless, and poor, being a good citizen, being compassionate, etc... are the important things.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  13. Colin

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Christianity that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, an “angry atheist”, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections.

    If you have a disagreement with a point I make, post it. However, if you only object to the fact that I said it, please understand that I do not buy into the whole “it is immoral to be skeptical of the Christian religion” nonsense.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Eddie

      Great argument and I totally agree 100%.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • urilifecast

      Definitely an opinion, but a fairly ignorant and uneducated viewpoint of Christianity. This is a "good argument" that will appeal to lazy people who never really seek out the truth or the existence of God. They just want to have soft serve reasons why God does not exist.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Colin

      Great urilifecast, I'm sure you will have little problem pointing out what I got wrong. So, go ahead....

      January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • scottundra

      Well written and I agree with the vast majority of your points. Humankind has an intense need for answers. This can be good and bad, since sometimes this intense need is satiated in answers that may not truly be proven. I often wonder what level we will reach in another 100, 200 or 1,000 years (if the human race/planet survive).

      January 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • seaann

      Colin, I have read what you have written: You are so wrong.

      First of all the Bible is the first book of recorded history. Moses wrote the first 5 books under inspiration. There were 40 different men who wrote the bible over a period of 1500 years. It has one theme"God's Kingdom" 1 recorded prophecy is Genesis 3:15

      Genesis 1:1 has evidence of the creation we see it. The bible confirms it.

      We do have a Creator of this Universe, no question about that. We SEE IT!!

      What is most interesting is so called intelligent people have no clue (many do) as to who the Creator is. The Author of any book would know more about his book than the reader.

      The Creator of this Universe allows honest hearted people who are humble and sincere to understand His writing and His purpose.
      That is why so called educators say many things are a mystery. They are a mystery to them for God Knows there Hearts.
      Haughty, arrogant people will never get the sense of the bible, because their hearts are not right. (veil on lies on their hearts) 2Corinthians 3:14-17 & 4: 3,4 Satan has them blinded.

      1John 4: 8 says "God is Love" When a honest hearted person reaches out to the Creator He hears them(Psalms 65:2)

      You want to know why people are so ignorant of the bible, it is because they want to do what they want to do. The Creator is not spying to see what people do, he made mankind as free moral agents. He does not burn them is a fire. (lie)

      He is however searching for those who are seeking him. Psalms 53:2 is clear. " As for God, He has looked down from heaven itself upon the sons of men, To see whether there exist anyone having insight anyone seeking Jehovah"

      He is searching for people who want to qualify to live in His New World, Revelation 21:3,4 .When His time is ready He is going to clean the earth just as He did doing the Flood of Noah's day. Genesis 6:1-8 Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.

      His Will is going to take place believe it or not. Those are the facts!!!! Isaiah 55: 11" so my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it."

      Wonderful Future Just Ahead!!!!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Steelerfan

      WELL SAID!!!

      January 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  14. peace

    With all due respect, when I look at this broken world that we live in, the people whom I observe loving it are the God believers. Many homeless shelters, children's homes, and work to alleviate suffering abroad and at home - happen because of Christians. I don't see many atheist organizations doing much other than being angry. I don't understand the anger when so much good has come out of the church, which comes from belief in God. Christianity is a powerful force for good, which is good for this whole country, and even good for atheists.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Colin

      Here are some atheist charities

      o Alternative Gifts International
      Amnesty International
      Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
      Doctors Without Borders
      Freedom from Hunger
      FINCA International
      International Aids Vaccine Initiative
      Kiva – Loans that change lives
      Mercy Corps
      Oxfam International
      Partners In Health (PIH), Health Care for the Poor
      PATH A catalyst for global health
      Pathfinder International Changing Lives, Saving Lives
      Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.
      Richard Dawkins Foundation
      Second Harvest
      Southern Poverty Law Center
      TechnoServe – Business Solutions to Rural Poverty
      The Nature Conservancy
      UNICEF
      WHO World Health Organization

      January 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      As an atheist, I support efforts by non-religious organizations like Amnesty International, the Red Cross, and Doctors without Borders, which serve up their compassion pure, instead of with a side order of "believe this or burn in hell forever". And, of course, I also support the largest atheist charitable effort of all: government. (I call it atheist because its helping hand is not based on god belief but on simple human compassion.)

      January 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Kate

      That's far from true. A trivial googling will find you many secular charities. And unlike the Christian ones, they tend to not have strings attached.

      Amnesty International
      Human Rights Watch
      The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

      and many, many more.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Kate

      Thanks, Colin. You're faster than I am :-).

      January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Athy

      Will we get any response from Peace?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Lines

      Not all Christian charities require you to believe something.

      That is actually quite anti-Christian to do so, in my opinion.

      In my town, nobody helps the homeless like the rescue mission.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Kate

      If anything, I bet he'll just try to change the subject. It's the main Christian tactic when you point out their nonsense to them.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Eddie

      I'm sorry but you are wrong I am an Atheist I donate time money and clothing to all sorts of Charities .I do this without Tooting my own horn or using anyone Else's money as does your Religion .People in general are good and giving .Churches Take everyones money whether christian or not ,lump it into an interest bearing bank account and THEY take the credit for doing the good things .There is an organization-of Atheists in Austin Texas ,run by Joe zamecki that is called Atheists Helping the homeless ..He doesn`t take a dime in Salary or administration costs as your church does ...So please stop proselytizing and just realize Most People are good and giving

      January 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Lines

      There are Christians that volunteer in and donate to secular charities, too.

      I do. And I know others.

      My church helps those in need in our community. And outside. Like, when a natural disaster hits a small town and it doesn't reach the same publicity as a large town.

      And we do lots of work overseas. And we get help from the secular community to accomplish this. For sure.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Lines

      > I'm sorry but you are wrong I am an Atheist I donate time money and clothing to all sorts of Charities .I do this without Tooting my own horn

      That's called "Tooting your own horn", dude.

      I guess not only Christians need to have their nonsense pointed out to them.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • TheHappyAntichrist

      Don't forget how compassionate Christians were for the majority of the time since Jesus. Saving as many eternal souls as they could. Many Christians must shed a heartfelt tear at the loss of their most cherished and beloved Christian tradition of murdering apostates, adulterers and heretics as they did for over a thousand years. Christianity has has been around for two thousand years and for ~1600 years they threw civilization into a dark pit of fear and despotism. GOOD JOB!

      January 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Cowin

      Here are some charities that I haven't donated to or helped, but will claim them as fellow atheists to further my cause:

      o Alternative Gifts International
      Amnesty International
      Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
      Doctors Without Borders
      Freedom from Hunger
      FINCA International
      International Aids Vaccine Initiative
      Kiva – Loans that change lives
      Mercy Corps
      Oxfam International
      Partners In Health (PIH), Health Care for the Poor
      PATH A catalyst for global health
      Pathfinder International Changing Lives, Saving Lives
      Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.
      Richard Dawkins Foundation
      Second Harvest
      Southern Poverty Law Center
      TechnoServe – Business Solutions to Rural Poverty
      The Nature Conservancy
      UNICEF
      WHO World Health Organization

      -–

      What a joke. Dude, get off your @ss and help someone, quit talking about it.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Athy

      Will we get any response from Colin, either?

      January 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  15. wow47

    Even though I do not believe all the nonsense in the bible and do not agree one bit with the lunatics or mega church fools I think it is important for children to have an education in religion so they don't grow up and become swayed into the christian cult....like so many of this younger generation have been brain washed into doing......they need teaching by someone who is educated at a reputable theological school...then when they grow up they will have knowledge to make their own decisions for their live path...with or without organized religion. If there is a god then I see him in a spring time tree, flowers, a sunset or a childs laughter....not in someone else's belief system.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I'd agree that a course in comparative religions would be a valuable addition to any high-school curriculum if we could only find a way to guarantee that it would involve TEACHING and not PREACHING. Unfortunately, that's been the rock on which such courses have always foundered in the past: They always seem to attract evangelical teachers. Too bad, really.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  16. Eilson

    CNN Belief Blog: Where the atheist branch of the Westboro Baptist Church gathers daily.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Eilson

      Atheists, don't forget tomorrow is Sunday. That's like a KIA's funeral for you folks

      January 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • ??

      Nope.It takes a very strong belief in god to be that loony.But keep trying,you'll get there.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • mendacitysux

      Every day is a holiday to an atheist. But I do enjoy a winter solstice as much as the next fellow.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Most people only reply to their own posts to correct spelling errors or to respond to later comments. I think you're the first person I've seen narcissistic enuf to reply to his own message by starting a new thread.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Eilson

      Everyday a holiday. Ha! I've NEVER an atheist that was jolly, or fun to be around. All a glum, gloomy, harsh, grim. And ARROGANT.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Eilson

      Richard – I didn't reply to myself or start a new thread. I added to my point

      January 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Mr. CrestWhiteStrips

      You need to take a look at the "true believer" on the Roe thread if you want to see grim, hateful, and morose, Ellie.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • mendacitysux

      Eilson- if you run int an a hole in the morning you ran into an a hole. If you run into a holes all day – YOU'RE the a hole!

      January 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Eilson writes: "I didn't reply to myself"

      Hmmm, more delusional than I first suspected.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Shane

      And where unemployed, fat, balding, middle-aged men who are now living in their mommy's basement gather to spew their ignorant venom.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Eddie

      Eilson, Nate Phelps ,former member od Westboro Baptist ,now Shunned by his family has come out againgst his father`s abuse and teachings ,So there is no Atheist Branch of any church .Atheists" Know" ,Religious people ,believe ,,,,.!!!
      Its a Thought Process not a Hope process.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  17. TRACY

    Blah, Blah, Blah, I am a christian but I was soooo bored. blah...

    January 19, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  18. Thinking Man

    Debrah Mitchell says, "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."

    In the interest of diversity and freedom of speech, if she is allowed to publicly state her viewpoints regarding God, should others not be allowed the same respect? Her statement presents a point of view that a belief in God should not be expressed in public, thus indicating she has a superior belief than those who have faith in God.

    Both viewpoints should be allowed to be freely expressed, with those expressing them respecting the viewpoints of others and not insist on the correctness of their personal belief system.

    Not a completely sorted out statement, but you should get the idea...

    January 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Kate

      Keeping Jesus' truth in home or church is why all the horrific events occur. The atheists religion of no religion rages it's ugly head.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • The0racle

      think again. it seems that she is describing her vision of a world in which people do not attempt to force their beliefs on others or take actions against others based on what they might think there God would want them to do. same as she might not get in others faces and decry their beliefs or attempt to force her philosophy on them.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • james

      not bad and if anyone believes in something strong enough and feels it is lifesaving, like "quit smoking", it is his or her duty to share those beliefs as Jesus told his followers they should go and make disciples of people of all the earth. If you believe that is lifesaving you must do it whether a door is shut in your face or whatever persecution you receive.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Check

      Kate,

      You blew your cover there... (actually, a few posts ago)

      January 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Marie

      Kate, where do you get such long lasting batteries for your vibrator?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Eddie

      KATE ,Atheism ,IS NOT A RELIGION..... Atheism is an Itelligent way To actually Think and know that We are responsible for our lives and actions.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • kels

      An intelegent thoughtful discussion about God and religeon is fine. Even in public or the work place. But trying to influendce my personal beliefs, even if that belief is to say that I don't believe, crosses a line, in my opinion. We are a nation founded on Christian values, freedom to worship (or not) as your heart dictates, and the seperation of church and state. My beliefs are deeply held and personal. I don't try to push them on anyone else. And I hate it when others try to push their beliefs on me. That's personal.... keep it to yourself. And if someone chooes not to beileve, that's OK.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  19. Free Nuts

    Free nuts all over the place today!

    January 19, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  20. WhyRespect CrazyPeople

    What is this obsession with respecting the belief of mythological creatures? If someone started crying to you about how much they love and feel the presence of pink unicorns, would you feel the need to respect that belief? They deserve nothing but a chuckle and to walk away. They're obviously not evolved as the rest of us who are capable of getting past the Santa Clause syndrome.

    January 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • mendacitysux

      But can you prove there aren't any pink unicorns? How many people have been killed in the name of them? How arrogant you are to think there aren't any! If you don't believe in them you will surely burn in hell.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Chad

      How do you know the God of Israel is not real?

      The usual answer is "well, none of the other "gods" are real"
      but, that's a pretty lousy answer, right?

      There are fake Elvis's, fake Michael Jackson's, fake Mona Lisa's, fake all kinds of things, but you wouldnt dream of using that argument to say that Elvis never lived..

      ===
      Another typical answer is "well, how do you Mr. Christian know the other gods arent real"
      which is another lousy answer, for two reasons:
      1. me not doing my homework doesnt excuse you from doing yours
      2. belief in the God of Israel is mutually exclusive with belief in other gods, so I DO have a basis for asserting that they are fake.

      ==
      Another typical answer is "all gods are fake until they are proven to exist"
      which is a completely fallacious argument from ignorance.

      Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or "appeal to ignorance" (where "ignorance" stands for: "lack of evidence to the contrary"), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is "generally accepted" (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four, (1) true, (2) false, (3) unknown between true or false, and (4) being unknowable (among the first three).[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof

      ====
      so.. How do you know the God of Israel is not real?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Anybody who forthrightly admits "I base my conclusions on faith" gets high marks from me for honesty and rock-bottom marks for reasoning ability. Faith is — bar none — the world's all-time, blue-ribbon, gold-medal, undisputed, undefeated, heavyweight world champion WORST METHOD OF DECISION-MAKING EVER!

      January 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Pink Unicorn

      You will believe in me or else you will almost feel the wrath of my single quantum fluctuation as it perturbs your eigenvectors almost perceptibly.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Grundig Glasswerks

      Chad's homies give him a shasta blasta for each time he posts.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Mr. CrestWhiteStrips

      If someone doesn't believe something is real, they are not likely to do any homework at all, Chad, and it is not up to you to berate someone on it, either.
      Want to know something?
      The people who don't believe don't CARE enough to do any research on it, so shut the fvck up about research...it makes you look intellectually dishonest, and look like an arrogant windbag.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Marie

      Chad, I think we'd all appreciate it if you took an html lesson or maybe just stopped trying to use it. You keep fucking html up and that just makes your posts even harder to read.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • mendacitysux

      Since proving a negative is impossible Chads argument is moot. It is usually made when they have no proof in their assertions and try to change the subject

      January 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Chad, some years back I read a fantasy novel in which Sherlock Holmes matched wits with Dracula. Early in the book, the author made the case that the 2 men looked a whole lot like each other and, in fact, had been mistaken for each other from time to time. "Shoot," I said. "Easy enuf for a novelist to say. One of those guys was fictional."

      Which one?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • TJ

      That's right. And the Earth is flat!

      January 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Kate

      WhyRespect CrazyPeople, sorry to read that Jesus' truth is over your head.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Kate

      TJ, are you out of 4th grade yet? If so, your argument is old and you need new material to post.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • The0racle

      confirmation bias at work again

      January 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Marie

      Kate, where do you get such long lasting batteries for your vibrator?

      January 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Athy

      Chad also needs to learn how to properly form plurals without using apostrophes.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Check

      Kate
      "... your argument is old and you need new material to post."

      Especially coming from you, that is the biggest laugh of the day!

      January 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Colin

      Chad, see above. The usual. There is zero creidble evidence of the existence of your god.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Chad

      @marie, italics are used to indicate a quote, bold to highlight an important section. hope that helps

      @colin, can you define what "credible evidence" is? What is your criteria for that?

      @richard, no idea what you are talking about..

      January 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Grammar

      What are your criteria, not is. Chad, you need help in more ways than one.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Chad

      ah, thanks!

      @colin, can you define what "credible evidence" is? What are your criteria for that?

      January 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • james

      richard; not if your faith is based on accurate knowledge and personal experience which I feel you are still looking for but do not give up chad is right behind you.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:11 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.