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The money man behind atheism’s activism
Todd Stiefel, a wealthy businessman, is responsible for bank rolling many atheism activism projects.
March 23rd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

The money man behind atheism’s activism

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small.

For Stiefel, a slim, scruffy ex-Catholic, his public persona is his wallet and activism. Through the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the 38-year-old has made an indelible impact on the nation’s fastest-growing “religious” group: the nonbelievers. Most of the highest-profile atheists campaigns –- flashy billboards in high-traffic areas, news-making efforts to get atheists to come out of the closet, and boisterous rallies - are funded by his fortune.

Stiefel isn’t shy about his far-reaching goals.

“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”

So far, Stiefel has pumped $3.5 million into those aspirations, and his money benefits a number of atheist organizations, from the Clergy Project, a group that helps atheist and doubting clergy out of the closet, to American Atheists, arguably the most in-your-face atheist group in the country.

Stiefel sees his work as far more than just money. For him, this is just the beginning.

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From Catholic school to atheist millionaire

Stiefel was born in Albany, New York, in 1974 to Catholic parents. He was raised in a Catholic household, confirmed in the church, attended Sunday school, went to a Catholic high school.

“I was a cross-wearing, praying, religious-retreat Catholic,” Stiefel said. “You could say there were points that I felt the spirit.”

But his faith, he said, fluctuated during high school. “I was always a skeptic,” he said, “and I always asked a lot of questions.”

At 18, Stiefel attended Duke University to pursue a degree in psychology. To fill an elective, he took an Old Testament history class at the Duke University Divinity School. It was there, he said, that his final “ebb” away from belief took hold.

In the class, Stiefel said he saw a flawed logic in the Old Testament. In particular, he said, he began to see much of the Old Testament as unoriginal stories that had been told in many pagan traditions.

“'Wait a second, is what I believe in really the truth or is it really the accumulation of myths bundled in a package?’” Stiefel remembers asking himself. “That was the end of my faith right there.”

After graduating from Duke, Stiefel went into the family business: Stiefel Laboratories, a company that develops products to combat skin diseases. For 12 years, Stiefel worked with his family and turned the business into a major player in their specialized market.

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In 2009, with Stiefel in an executive position, the Stiefel family opted to sell the company to GlaxoSmithKline. The price tag: $2.9 billion, according to media reports at the time.

“I only got a very small piece of that, for the record,” Stiefel said with a laugh. “I did, however, find myself in a unique and fortunate position where I was able to do whatever I wanted to do.”

And like many who have the luxury of doing exactly what they want, Stiefel began thinking about what he was truly passionate about. After kicking around the idea of starting another business, the answer became clear to the young millionaire: advocating for atheism.

“I wanted to try to help the world,” he said. “I wanted to give back and this seemed like the most productive way to help humanity.”

‘Just doing my part’

Stiefel put $2 million in to begin his foundation. In his first year, according to tax documents, the nonprofit disbursed $700,000 to groups like the Secular Coalition for America, the American Humanist Association and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In 2010 and 2011, the giving continued with the foundation distributing around $750,000 to different atheist and humanist causes. In 2011, he also pumped another $500,000 into his foundation.

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“I am just doing my part within my means,” he said. “Different people have different means. I am doing what I can do, just like the rest of the people in the movement are.”

But recipients of the money, such as David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, see his impact as much greater than just a one-off activist.

“Todd is an example of what major contributions can accomplish for atheism,” he said. “From a donation stand point, he is really leading the movement to a different level.”

Walking the line

One of Stiefel’s major concerted contributions in the last three years was the Reason Rally, an event held on the National Mall in Washington, which was billed as a watershed moment in the atheism movement. The goal of the event was to show to religious Americans that atheism was a powerful minority in American life.

Stiefel speaks onstage at the Reason Rally.

The rally drew a number of high-profile speakers, including Richard Dawkins, the author of “The God Delusion,” and thousands of attendees, despite rainy weather.

In his speech to the crowd, Stiefel talked about what he sees as the most important problem facing atheism: “Discrimination comes from ignorance, and in this case it is ignorance about our beliefs,” he said. “We are told freethinkers believe in nothing, but that’s a misunderstanding. We believe in a lot of things; we don’t all believe the same things.”

Stiefel put $250,000 toward the rally, a contribution that Silverman, the organizer, said was critical.

“He brought the Reason Rally to a brand new level,” Silverman said. Without that money, “we would have had far fewer people and a far smaller event.”

Silverman and the Reason Rally advocated for a specific brand of atheism. Silverman, who regularly calls his group the “Marines of the Freethought Movement,” is not shy in making it clear that he views his goal in calling out religion and elevating atheism.

Stiefel says he doesn't necessarily endorse those tactics wholly, but he does see their validity.

“I try to walk a line,” he said. “I see religious criticism as valuable, and groups like American Atheists are good at that. I do think we have to have a dialogue about who has the right ideas and part of that is pointing out the flaws in religious ideas.”

Stiefel continued: “I also see inter-belief work, though. I do find a lot of value in inter-belief work and I do see a lot of value in general charity work.”

Evidence of that is his work on cancer fundraising.

In 2012, Stiefel approached the Foundation Beyond Belief with an idea of creating networks of nonbelievers around the country to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Stiefel tapped into his atheist network and began organizing different event.

In total, the atheist groups raised $430,000 in 2012, including a $215,000 donation from Stiefel and his wife, Diana.

“Across the country there are 150 local groups of atheists and freethinkers raising money for charity,” Stiefel said proudly.

The key, however, was bridging the gap between atheist and religious communities in the name of charity.

“We welcomed Christians, as well,” he said. “Some of our biggest fundraisers were Christians.”

For 2013, the goal is to raise $500,000.

Expanding the community

With money and resolve comes great influence for Stiefel. He has the ear of many atheist leaders, meaning he can dictate the movement’s focus.

Stiefel said he wants to see the atheism movement expand its footprint.

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“What I would really like to see is expanding out communities to people who may not just be atheists or agnostics and into people who are religiously skeptical and may still have some religious beliefs,” he said. “Nobody is a perfect skeptic and I would like to see more people like that in our community.”

For Stiefel, this is a personal priority. He says his wife, whom he describes as a skeptical Christian, is someone who would fall within an expanded atheist movement.

“My message is not only of anti-theism,” Stiefel said. “I don’t choose to attack religion itself. I see religion as something that provides both good and ill to the world.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism

soundoff (7,617 Responses)
  1. George

    He's right on! As long as people choose to believe in the supernatural we'll never get them to focus on humanity and
    create a 'heaven on earth' for the rest of us.. Religion is a crutch which relieves people of the responsibility of their conduct..oh, i'm sorry, they can go to 'confession' and get pardoned for sins lol

    March 24, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Name*John

      You must be an athiest since your obvious ignorance of religion and subsequent attack and simplification of only Christianity is so misguided.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Reflection

      Without laughing, try to reflect on the concept of forgiveness. Isn't it necessary?... if not crucial? Have you ever needed forgiveness? Is forgiveness more importatnt to the person who commited the act or to the person who was acted upon?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  2. Tina

    Nyiballs has an excellent point. Atheists want people to know they exist. It is about egoism. Those who believe in God want people to know that God exists; that there is a benevolent father of infinite mercy. One can judge an action/believe by it's fruits. Although there are many who believe in God who do not understand their faith and practice it poorly, their are many more who together provide the vast majority of humanitarian aid in the world. Stripping the ultimate good out of our lives makes room for the ultimate evil to step in. Christianity in particular asks us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the love of others. The thought of the hungry in the world that could be helped with the money Mr. Stiefel is spending on this campaign breaks my heart. I will pray for Mr. Stiefel and all my atheist brothers and sisters.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • George

      get a grip Tina, why not raid the vatican riches to feed the world.. Have you ever calculated the wealth of religions? Perhaps some good old fashion research will do your soul good.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Honey Hush

      Tina
      A girl sees what she want to see and disregards the rest. Wow! the tunnel vision of Christians, do you really think your religion is the only force for good in the world? What Christianity "says" and what Christians does is so different, holier than thou, so sad.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Caz

      The problem is the gap between theory and practice. Mother Teresa's hospital never got any upgrades or even better supplies as a result of her multi-million dollar fund raising.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • MagicPanties

      No, Tina. If things truly were as you say, atheists wouldn't have a problem with religion. The issue is that so many believers think it is their heavenly duty to get the rest of the world to believe as they do, even if that means killing the heathens. And using illogical "sacred" text as reason for discrimination, subjugation of women, cruelty, etc.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • jungleboo

      Thank you, George. I was in Rome a few months ago, and was appalled at the abject spending on churches, three to a block throughout the city. In every town in the USA, the largest, grandest, most fabulous buildings are the churches, enriched with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, pipe organs, band equipment, hi-def screens and sound equipment, massive heating and cooling systems and publication systems. All bought with money that could be better spent feeding the poor and providing them with decent housing, if that is your goal. But what would the faithful do without their fabulous magic mirror, attending every Sunday and gazing into it, raising their arms and waving about in Hosannas. They would not have their religion. It would evaporate as quickly as the food they placed on the tables of the poor. Rome couldn't even afford decent sidewalks and crosswalks. And all their churches had a collection box at the door, asking for donations to restore the glory of the church, each of which was crumbling, leaking, listing, and empty. Where is the human sense in that human pursuit of grandiose building?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • tomnikoly

      Tina....are you aware of the money being spent in Uganda by evangelicals who back the "kill the gays" bill? You think that's just fine and dandy? Maybe you do. If so, you are a pathetic individual. Xtians don't spend money unless there are strings attached as you know quite well I'm sure.

      Keep you prayers, your arrogance, your delusions, and your condescension to your self, please.

      As atheists we know that there is an agenda among evangelicals and that is to turn the US into a theocratic or a pseudo-theocratic state. We WILL not allow that. And don't say you don't know anything about that and that you're one of the "good" Christians that don't go along with that sort of thing. BS. You follow the same delusion.

      Mr. Stiefel is aware of this sinister plan and that's why he's spending the money does. Good on him.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Rob

      Right on Tina! The Catholic church gives billions away.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • chyrd

      Benevolent father full of mercy... but created hell? Think about that. Atheism isn't about egoism... and even if it was... how is i from the religious right? Modern atheists are simply tired of being told what they can and can not do based on religious beliefs, none of which are based on evidence.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Marie

      Keep "praying" Tina, cause it really shows that you have to hide behind that. Too bad you are not open minded to other people in 2013, cause the bible is just a book of stories in those times and we need to have free and open thinkers in today's society without yours or anyone else's permission or "prayers"

      March 24, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  3. john

    The world would be a darker, more brutal place if it weren't for people trying to emulate Jesus. Real or not, I'm happy about that. To each his own.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • robert

      That was the most elegant and fair minded response to this discussion that I have heard.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • colin day

      John, no one is disputing that the good works of a man named Jesus (whether he existed or not) is not a good way to live your life, or to hopefully aspire to. I think we all know that when we put others before ourselves, we have a sense of connection with the world, a bit of peace and purpose and possibly some good results. To say nothing of at least we are distracted from self and might actually feel better about ourselves.
      But the point of the article is that we are all human, and as such have brains that think and reason. Everyone has an opinion and some have opinions that differ with those that believe in a deity of some sort. Is that so wrong? It is because of the different ways man has believed and created differently that the world has advanced to today. For good and bad. But that is man that is doing the advancing and man that creates our situations, opportunities, results and happiness. Not some outside source. Our brains are the most technologically advanced "invention", if you will, from which all action, advancement and creating occur. I'm not talking about gravity, or flowers, or animals or the stars etc. I am talking man.
      I agree, doing good, whether you emulate Jesus, or mother Teresa or someone else we admire, is a great blueprint to lead your life. But just as you believe in Jesus or God, you must know that the ability and capability to believe is something else is just as possible and does not meant that that person is any less giving.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  4. faberm

    I am a Christ-Follwer and I am an American. This guy should be totally free to express whatever he believes or doesn't believe and I will defend his right to do so. I am glad that I live in a society that defends my right as well.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • angeson

      Maybe you should do a fund raiser for burn ointment. He is going to need a bunch of it when he gets to hell.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • What is that thing on Aaron Neville's Face?

      @angeson
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxYsi5Y-xOQ&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • freddo

      faberm: that's a perspective we need more of.

      angeson: feel free to post evidence of this devil, and of the "existence" of hell. Unless, of course, all you can do is quote the Bible. That ain't evidence.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  5. FAITHwalkr

    How sad not to believe in ANYTHING. I'll be praying that his eyes of understanding are opened to the beauty of God's love.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Tbone

      OMG! You totally don't get it.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Not believing in god does not equate to not believing in anything. You can pray all you wish but it doesn't do anything of value.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Rapsy

      That's a myth that atheists believe in nothing. They just don't believe in your (or any) god/s. Atheists believe in humanity, equality, and education. If you think those things are nothing, then I you clearly need to learn to think for yourself.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • AllFairness

      Apparently you did not read the article what so ever. Make sure you understand what you are replying to before replying. I will also pray for your delusion to be un-done.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • newsrell

      Sorry, we believe in science, which is helping us, including YOU, today. It is sad to believe only in non-provable fiction and pretend to look down on people who believe in solid thing.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  6. RunForTheHills

    I am an Atheist, but I don't feel the need to wage a war against religion. This is a free country and if people want to practice religion, it is not my business to interfere.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • angeson

      Well God love ya for your decency.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  7. Thomas ReichName*

    I was told religious faith was about the search for the truth. Most people of faith hide from the truth. All life evolved. Because humans evolved there was never an Adam and Eve. This means there was never a fall. Christians understand that this fact undermines the basis of their faith. It's safer to deny the truth.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  8. Richard Conn Henry

    Physics tells us that the difference between dreams and what we call "reality" is the presence of conservation laws in the latter. But both are simply mental. The universe as we call it is mental: see my Nature essay – http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf OK, so much for physics! Now for religion: you have a choice: the universe is you, or maybe is someone else (who?), or .. "God." I pick God!

    March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  9. an atheist

    I'm grateful for this man. I have always been respectful of others' beliefs... but I find more often than not, religious folks are very disrespectful of the fact that I do not believe in a god. Why this double standard is acceptable is beyond me.

    From a societal perspective, I also find that atheists are discredited and marginalized in politics, as if we either do not exist or are being shunned. By definition, atheists are not organized as a group.... but we do need to "come out" so we can be heard as individuals and identified as a population.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • AllFairness

      Just remember, they do not like you because you do not fit perfectly into their pretty box that explains their world concisely. It is human nature to struggle with the fact that this world might be it (from a physical approach) but not biologically. What is next is anyone's guess. What is not a guess, is the historical evidence that indeed many cultures thousands of years prior to monotheism, told the same bible stories we know today. The only difference is that the dates and names are changed. Zoastrianism is a classic example along with many others proven through historical records. The creationism approach does not match up with geological records what so ever. "The Church" also, in the early 14th century, told people that everything rotated around the earth. When Galileo disproved them, they nearly killed him, but then conveniently changed their story as they have continued to do ever since.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  10. aWitchintheWoods

    The tendency to want to believe in "god" is easily explained.
    Some humans will always wish for an all-powerful, protective "daddy" (or "mommy") to take care of them in their adult years... like their real parents did while they were children.
    The rest of us will realize that "gods" are a lovely fantasy, grow up and get on with our lives as responsible, rational adults.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  11. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    =================================================
    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  12. Ricardo Williams

    I live by Christian principles and those principles come from me reading and trying to understand the teachings of Christ. When I meditate on the teachings it helps me in my life journey. That is my proof that my belief works for me. I'm OK with other people believing what they wish to believe.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  13. myhotmailemailaddress

    If you are a person who believes that you and your loved ones are more than a compilation of atoms and flesh you should be respected as much as those who believe otherwise. As someone who does believe there are forces at work that exceed human understanding; the terrifying thing,to me, about atheists is not that they don't believe in god. It's that they don't believe in the devil.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      God and the devil go hand in hand, to dismiss one is to dismiss the other.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  14. evan

    Wouldn't he do better by spending all his millions to alleviate hunger, our pitiful education stats, cancer, etc. rather than to try to convince people not to believe in a higher purpose in life.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Ponyboy Garfunkel

      One might make a similar statement regarding organized religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Native on a Reservation

      Didnt you read the article? The subject of the story has done just what you suggest and made repeated donations to charities as well as his atheism pet project.

      Why is it when someone uses their money to advance a cause some disagree those people always play the "Give your money to XY charities instead" game.

      When its your millions being spent, we will see how quick you are to drop your personal beliefs because its politically correcr.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • AllFairness

      Yes, you are probably right. However, most churches / religions would do well to follow this advise too. Instead of building massive churches with lavish dressings and fixtures etc, try building some low income housing, shelters and the like.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  15. The Anti Christ

    The Masters greatest deceit was convincing Mankind that God doesn't exist.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Prove a god exists.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • The Anti Christ

      Truth Prevails... Keep up the good work. you will be rewarded.by The Master.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Not overly worried about your master for it is not my master and until it is shown to exist, it has no merit. I simply asked you to provide proof and you fail to...could it be due to the fact that you have none?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • freddo

      You've managed to prove you live in a circular argument and choose to ignore reality.

      Good job.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • AllFairness

      Prove your "Master" exists. Oh wait, you can't...

      March 24, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  16. Alfredo

    One day the earth will be inhabited by beings that understand that their actions alone determine their fate. Religion is man made. Religions and God were created by man because of their fear of death. Man can't accept death as the end so he created the imaginary heaven and hell for control. Get over it, death is just eternal sleep (not bad). Live and enjoy this life (the only one) and make it the best it can be....

    March 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • popseal

      dream on .............

      March 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • freddo

      I'd say we don't understand life, never mind death.

      Is death just an "eternal sleep"? Good question, and no one knows the answer.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  17. Mary S.

    I was wondering where the $$ came from and now I know. As to his "work", I am not convinced that he knows the meaning of the word. To doubt means he still has some bit of belief and hence is not an atheist and he "believes" in His work...So he creates a god in HIS own image, himself. Wow now that's logical.
    As to those who have trouble logically explaining the existence of God, who said that faith is logical? I believe in what I can accomplish but my logic tells me that I cannot see nor hear that belief. It isn't that difficult, faith comes from within yourself and not your mind. I feel compassion (not logical) for those who are not comforted by faith in anyone but themselves. It is truly a sad status.
    When I was a child I often wondered why my prayers weren't answered; the answer was simple. they were answered only the answer wasn't what I wanted to hear. In your arguments about the development of the universe can you possibly imagine the odds that it could occur naturally without intervention? Why does man have a conscience, a sense of right and wrong? Perhaps he doesn't and it is learned then why do infants smile from contentment and cry from discomfort? Why do they seek comfort from a parent or sense when something is wrong?
    Science cannot explain everything; it never will be able to due to the limitations of the human mind. But then, it might, just might have a reason for man's limitations. Therefore, human kind such as this man, wants no limitation and proclaim that all we do is for naught and to live for the day without consequence and people BELIEVE him!
    It sounds to me that he has more dollars than sense.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Jay

      Mary,

      In many ways, you represent a powerful problem with religion. You ask very good questions as to how the universe came to be or how our species developed complex behaviors around morality. Very good questions indeed.

      Unfortunately, religion has taught you to not seek the answers. While science, of course, does not know everything, it does know quite a bit and that body of knowledge grows with time. Religion lacks the ability to grow and in fact shrinks as man's understanding of the natural world increases. If you think about it, no new revelations have occurred in any religion since it inception. At most, it eventually dies and is replaced with a modified belief system to account for what science has discovered.

      Please continue to ask questions but have the 'faith' to seek answers rather then blindly accepting 2000 year old writings of desert dwellers who knew less about their world then your average third grader.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • newsrell

      Science cannot explain everything, but it progresses firmly one step at a time. What it achieves is solid and useful to believers and non-believes equally. If you understand the reason behind the tides, the reasons asthma can be treated, that is all thanks to science and science alone. You can thank science for the computer and the internet you are using. Clinging to a 2000 year old book will never get us to our comfortable lives we have today. These progresses are all thanks to people who refused to think within one book, and have the mind, the independence to explore what is not found in the book. With time more will be explained, but only with science, not any rigid belief.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • AllFairness

      Actually, science has now explained how something (the universe) can be created from nothing (not nothing however, but very little). By means of the subatomic world it now appears there may in fact be multiple universe's and dimensions. This is based in fact and is complicated, so you would need to read quite a lot, but the explanation (answers) are out there. Unfortunate most do not take the time because its complicated and it is hard work...religion is an easier out.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  18. Ed Fern

    I am very proud to be an atheist, knowing that I can live a moral life without letting some preacher pervert my conscience by telling me his version of what his god wants me to do. God has been on both sides of every war that's ever been fought. Perhaps if we could follow the words of John Lennon's song, "Imagine," we could move toward a world at peace with itself.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • GJ Day

      Ed...I'm glad that you live a moral live in spite of your disbelief, but I curious as to why you do. If God does not exist what is the basis for moral or ethical behavior? Do you follow social norms to avoid displeasure and consequences of the society? A belief in the legitimacy of the law? If there is no God and a person has the means to impose their will on others or take what they want without consequence, why should they not do so? Further, if the benefit of deviance outweighs society's consequence why not deviate from the social norm?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Anthony Rivers

      More common than God being on both sides of all wars (which is a bit of an over-reaching statement), the only thing I see common to all wars is human beings. Blaming religion is a scapegoat. The problem is ourselves.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  19. HarryGP

    His money may buy atheists, but it won't buy me. I would walk away from all riches offered, for God.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Harry'the'GulliblePuppet: Then please walk away from your computer-sell it and stop using medicine...without brilliant Atheists, you'd have neither.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Robert

      Yes. And as Carlin says: God is all powerful and all knowing, but he needs your money!

      March 24, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • HarryGP

      You would like that wouldn't you. I get the biggest thrill out of saying that I love God, and this keyboard doesn't slow me down one bit. The point was, if someone offered me all the riches in the world, everything there is if I would reject God, I would walk away from riches, and I'd say why. God exists and he sent his only begotten son to die for the sins of believers. Jesus rose again the third day, and that says there is life after death, with God. Hallelujah! Praise God for his gift! And do the right thing, thank him for all the other gifts he's given us! Give him credit for who he is, God!

      March 24, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • freddo

      If your God needs money to get things done .. something doesn't compute.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  20. Which god?

    Thor is displeased. His holy thunder shall not be silenced.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:05 am |
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About this blog

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.