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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. Jeesh

    What rights have Christians lost? Forcing their beliefs on others, burning witches and heretics at the stake, enslaving minorities, etc. which rights do you complain you have lost?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • atheist Realism

      denying children abused by them while pretending to care for children abused by others.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  2. MO

    To Bob, Damocies, and Gyrogearloose:

    I can only surmise by your comments there is a real fear in your heart that there is a God. But, out of foolish pride, you have chosen to accept only what you can see and feel. That is fine, it is your choice. As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Luis Wu

      There is no "Lord", grow a brain. It's just ancient mythology. People that believe in invisible, supernatural beings in the sky aren't right in the head. THEY scare me, not some make-believe sky fairy in the sky.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • atheist Realism

      hope you at least let your kids reach the age of 18 before you begin the brainwashing. Then again, probably not, the brainwashing won't stick as well if you don't start at childhood.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Science

      To all creationists/bible thumpers !

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

      Peace

      March 24, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'MO' is an instance of the ad hominem fallacy

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      March 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • el papa

      Fear among atheists? You have it backwards. Doesn't the "Lord" threaten non-believers with eternal damnation and suffering? That, my friend, sounds like fear as a primary motivational tool.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  3. openminded19

    Good for him. If I have to be constantly told about the magical Jesus Crist, I think it's fine for him to put up billboards and spread his views. Religion is unnecessary.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  4. TG

    Many have become atheists due to the churches failing to provide anything of substance concerning God, as for example the Catholic church that has traditions that one goes through, the Eucharist, Mass, etc, but provides nothing to establish that there is a Creator, nothing to reason on, building their foundation for life on “hot air”.

    Others have become atheists just because they do not want to examine life more critically. When someone buys something that has to be assembled and comes with instructions, these may not look at them before trying to assemble the item or look hastily and then condemn the manufacturer as having made a “sloppy product”.

    Many atheist have taken little time to examine the inner workings of life on its various levels. These fail to “dig deep”, but rather are quick to say that there is no evidence to support that a Creator exists. It like when a person has car problem, all the mechanic says is, “just raise your hood” as if that would repair the trouble. He has no idea how to fix the problem and is not willing to invest the time and energy in finding a solution. But another mechanic though does invest the time and energy and the problem is resolved.

    At Psalms 10, David in the Bible said: “The wicked one according to his superciliousness (Hebrew gobahh ‘aph, meaning literally “according to height of his nose.”) makes no search; All his ideas are: “There is no God.”(Ps 10:4) Many never look past their noses (perhaps because of the failings of the churches) at the evidence that bespeaks of a Master Designer everywhere, as the universe is so precisely tuned that astronomers can determine the exact location as for example of the moon thousands of years in advance if need be.

    At Isaiah 42, it says: “This is what the true God, Jehovah, has said, the Creator of the heavens and the Grand One stretching them out; the One laying out the earth and its produce, the One giving breath to the people on it, and spirit (or life force) to those walking in it.”(Isa 42:5)

    March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Gadflie

      LOL! You skipped those of us who used reason and study and came to realize the obvious truth, the very idea of God is laughable.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • tony

      Adherents not thinking is what keeps religion going at all. You are a great example.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      Many believers only do so because their parents brought them up as such and are too lazy to think outside of the box. Why is it that 90% (could be greater) of all believers continue to believe only in the religion they were born into? No critical thinking skills needed here I suppose.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Sunnysmom

      The idea of God is no more laughable than the idea of no God. Neither belief system should judge..each search is our own.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • NickZadick

      How is quoting fiction relevant? I would prefer you defend your point with logic! but since religion has none...I understand!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Bob

      TG, since you insist on quoting the Christian book of horrors, let's take a look at some of the other fine material that's in that wretched book:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      March 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Hentenza

      Bob,

      Yes, there are difficult passages in scripture but you fail to interpret them in their historical context. Typical.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  5. Russ

    Consider this. The nearest star in our galaxy is 24.5 trillion miles away, or about 6 light years. There are possibly a trillion stars in it. There are possibly 500 billion galaxies, each containing an average of 500 billion stars. The furthest galaxies are 13.4 billion light years away. You do the math. Does anyone truly believe that any kind of being could get his arms around that and create it? It/s not like it was a train set on his living room floor!

    March 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • hammerschlag

      Right! We humans have a very limited understanding. We cannot even make a little flower or a rose. All we can is clone that which has been created.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  6. hammerschlag

    Jesus was a genius because he said it is all up to you, I do not force anyone to do anything. It is free will, you decide which way you want to go. It is the man made denominations and churches who dictdate people to do things. I ask myself, why do the Catholics amass such great wealth when there is hunger, thirst and decease in the world? Why do we need Mega Churches like the Cristal Cathedral in Garden Grove CA? Why are there so many fake organisations like Camp Ministries who steal money form naive and ignorant people? Jesus walked walked around in a robe which had no pockets! He just gave to all who had a need. If we humans could just do that too, the world would be a much better place.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Too bad his followers haven't listened to him, and insist on imposing their hate-filled interpretation of his teachings through force of law, coupled to state power – which is their goal throughout the world, at least in evangelical circles.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  7. Will

    Thinking that we all just got here without a creator is like thinking that a 747 Jet "evolved" out of a heap of scrap-metal. No, the 747 had a creator, and I'm certain you and I did too.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Gadflie

      A creator that just magically existed, right? And you think that this is a valid explanation? Really?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      You really need to read up on arguments against your own position sometimes. The point you make has been torn to shreds time and time again.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I'll bet you are also certain of a great many other wrong things.

      In my experience, true believers have a greater terror of uncertainty than of anything else.

      Consequently, they'll buy any crock of superst¡tion that comes from somebody who asserts it with enuf confidence.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Alex R

      If God is a designer, he is a bad one. Do you know that our eyes see thing upside down so that our brains have to use extra energy perceiving things correctly? Sounds like something brought about by random natural selection since evolution doesn't create perfection. You'd have to explain to me why God included this and other design flaws for no apparent reason. You also have to explain what created God, since your argument essentially boils down to "this thing is complicated, therefore it is created." God is complicated, so by really simple logic it must have a creator. As must its creator... And so on ad infinitum.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Science

      All creationists !!!

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

      Peace

      March 24, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Will

      All of your arguments against GOD will get you nowhere dear friend, as it is impossible for finite man to grasp the concept of an infinite GOD. So, I fully understand why you are having a problem with it.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Will' is an instance of the Argument from Ignorance fallacy

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      March 24, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      @Will; Who created the Creator?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Alex R

      Now your argument is "you can't conceive of God, but he still exists." I warrant that you can't conceive of a square circle. Is that evidence that a square circle exists? Of course not. Try some actual arguments.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Russ

      Ah, the old "watchmaker theory". Everything needs a creator, because it must have a beginning. I know it is hard to get your head around, but time is a creation of man. All it is is a ruler to measure. People invented rulers.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • hammerschlag

      Faith is freewill! Jesus did not say : You have to believe me. So, it is up to you.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  8. KATE

    Get a job

    March 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      He HAD a job. He got rich at it.
       
      Can you say the same, or are you just jealous?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  9. justageek

    "I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement" – Wow. Now that's funny. Equality in what exactly?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I think he said: CIVIL equality.
       
      Literate people were able to figure this out.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • An Atheistu

      In many state and local governments it is illegal for an atheist to hold public office. That is one example of the inequality we face.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  10. Sunnysmom

    I appreciate everyone's faith be they muslim, christian, jews, buddhists, atheists, agnostics, humanists et. al. In the end, whether our spirits go somewhere else or they don't, our goal in this life to be good to one another should be the same. If there is a God, and I believe there is, other people's salvation/afterlife is between them and God, not me. It is not my right to preach about such things and judge.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Well said.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  11. taxasjimbob

    Thank you Mr. Stiefel. It is about time that Americans realized that it is possible to be a non-believer AND a good person. It is also time to end religious discrimination against non-belivers.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  12. whoblackmailspeople

    stop worshipping the wall street Money God, and the parasites instantly lose all of their power and control over you.

    the world outside the US-UK-Israel has been doing just that.

    hence so much war by the cabal against the world.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  13. paul46

    Even though I believe in God I like this man. We had similar journeys. I abandoned my Faith at 16, then set out to disprove all religions. I studied the various Holy Books of different religions & was shocked at their commonality. Eventually (20 long years later) I became deeply convinced that there was in fact one God who guided all humanity. I applaud Mr. Stiefel for being brave enough to question the roots of belief. It seems like most of us blindly follow in the footsteps of our forefathers. I had to abandon all that I believed I believed in order to come to belief. Good luck, sir.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      One commonality? Really? Using logic, no two organized religions can be true at the same time. Quick example, the Jews don't believe in Christ. Apparently, you didn't study all that hard to disprove all the religions as you claim.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  14. muslim2012

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCAffMSWSzY&w=640&h=390]

    March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Muslims — further proof that Christians and Mormons aren't the looniest tunes on the planet.
       
      OK, there's Scientologists.
       
      If you ask me, the guys who are probably snickering about the whole deal are the Rastafarians.
      "What!? How can you cay that, dude? It's a SACRAMENT!"

      March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  15. Joe_ma

    FAMOUS GOD Believer.

    It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.
    –George Washington

    FAMOUS ATHEIST..

    When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use.

    Joseph Stalin

    HA ha ha ha... What a sick mind of an Atheist.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Washington's quote – if accurate – is every bit as chilling.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      OK, Joe, after I pointed out that Hitler was a Catholic, you switched the #2 guy in your pairing of famous people to Joe Stalin, who WAS an atheist (tho not motivated by his atheism but rather his ruthless lust for absolute control).
       
      This time around, you got the FIRST guy wrong. Washington wasn't a Christian, he was a deist. (You could look it up.)

      March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Religious people live in a delusional fantasy world. It's really sad actually, they've been sucked so far into their fairytale world there is no escape. Only people with real intelligence and see it for what it really is. It's not reality, it's a fantasy. I really wish people would actually THINK instead of blindly accepting ancient mythology and superst!tious nonsense as reality.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Also, it takes less than 30 seconds to determine that the "quote" is fake. Not surprising; christians have a long, sad history of ignoring injunctions against lying when it furthers their theocratic ends.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  16. James Madison - POTUS #4 - chief architect of the U.S. Const!tution & Bill of Rights

    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.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Sue

      A great quote. Thanks. I wish that more recent presidents had the courage to speak the truth like that.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  17. tony

    A true "Good Samaritan". Healing the Mentally ill with his own money.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  18. Luke

    I don't think God and Science are mutually exclusive – it is possible to believe in the Big Bang Theory while also believing there was a creator behind it – the universe it set up to perfectly for it all to be a random accident.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Gadflie

      That's called "observer bias", it's set up perfectly because you evolved to fit it, not because it was set up to fit you. Your argument is like saying because the pee spread across the floor in a flat puddle, the floor was obviously designed to make pee into a flat puddle.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Atheism

      Science would argue that there would have to be some evidence to back that claim up. The universe is billions of years old. That is a length of time that truly none of us can comprehend. In that time it is entirely possible to have the universe form in the way that it is now.

      Time itself allows for things to form. We can see it on our own planet, look at the Grand Canyon, carved out of the ground by a small river over thousands of years. Look at the Himalaya's, formed over millions of years as the country of India gets pushed into the rest of Asia.

      Given enough time almost anything can happen.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      While I believe that this "random accident" assertion completely misrepresents the issue, I do agree that one can accept an old universe and earth while still believing in a creator. It is not my belief, but I will not stand in the way of believers who are seeking to be progressive in their faith, unlike young earthers.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • paul46

      Totally agreed. How can there be 2 contradictory truths? There can't be. Truth is one. Ancient religious texts symbolically paint a fairly accurate view of what science now teaches. Religion paints in broad, metaphorical strokes. Science finds the same truths using a microscope or telescope. To me, science & religion are one & the same thing–they are the search for Truth. We are tiny beings. The Universe is huge. Let us, with all humility, proceed.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • NickZadick

      yesssss! but that's not the lure of religion is it?? Religion promises you an afterlife in a magical place when you believe in it...and fire for eternity if you don't! THAT'S the ridiculous part which make you out as imbeciles!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  19. Hentenza

    Atheism is an oxymoron. It is a logical fallacy to attempt to prove a negative so atheists merely have faith that there is no God. So much for "free" thinkers.

    *waiting for the failed parallels like unicorns and fairies* lol

    March 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Alex R

      You don't seem to understand the definitions of oxymoron or atheism. I'll skip oxymoron and jump to atheism. It is not a belief that God doesn't exist; it is a lack of belief that God exists. The two are completely different. No atheist claims with 100% certainty that God doesn't exist, no more than you can say with 100% certainty that goblins aren't real. But you lack a belief in goblins, as atheists lack a belief in God.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Not You

      You seem to be confusing an absence of belief with a belief in absence.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • lynnsiemens

      Actually, your argument is flawed from the beginning. You say atheism is an 'oxymoron' but by that statement you have no idea what an oxymoron actually is. Atheism is a word devised of two parts: a-theism, which just means 'without theism'. This isn't an oxymoron, it's just a statement of being. Next, you say atheists try to 'prove a negative' - this is incorrect. Atheists know that a person's true nature without any influence is a state of being -without- theism, and from there we call upon Theists to prove -their- beliefs. Atheists don't prove atheism.. atheism merely exists in a vacuum where there is no religious influence. Religion is a construct of man, pure and simple. It is those who profess belief who have something to prove - not us.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Gadflie

      You really don't understand logic do you? The fallacy of "negative proof" means nothing else but the burden of proof falls on those that claim that something does exist. In other words, it's your burden believers...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Hentenza

      AlexR,

      "Belief" is the operating word as you so "eloquently" stated. Belief is faith. Atheists have faith that God does not exist, consequently, atheist's beliefs come from faith not from empirical evidence. As I said, so much for "free" thinkers.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Hentenza

      lynnsiemens,

      Atheisms is the construct of man since theism is the historical natural state of humankind.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Not You

      Again, you are confusing an absence of belief with a belief in absence.

      If there is no proof of something, it does not require evidence to disprove. As stated above, the burden of proof lies not on atheists to disprove, but on theists to prove their extraordinary claims.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Alex R

      You should really take a philosophy class on logic, you're completely misunderstanding what is meant by "lack of belief." You lack a belief in goblins. That doesn't mean you have faith that they don't exist, you just do not carry the belief in the first place. It's not that you believe they don't exist, it's that you don't believe they exist. The placement of "don't" in that sentence completely changes the meaning. I'm not going to bother explaining this again, either you get it or you don't and you're just not getting it.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Al

      you are the typical closeminded ignorant Christian that is described in this article.

      nobody is arguing that atheism is not form of religion, you seem to miss the point by a mile. however major difference is that atheism is supported logical and scientific ideas , where , well all others, or should iI say most other religions are supportied by brainwashing and blindly accepting and following what they're told

      ..... sheep...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Hentenza

      Alex R

      First, I never used the word 'don't" in any of my sentences but you did. Secondly, I am agnostic of gobblins since I can't either prove nor disprove their existence, consequently, I am not "agobblin" but merely agnostic of their existence. Atheists, also, can not prove NOR disprove the existence of God, consequently, atheists are agnostics. As I stated, atheism is an oxymoron (look up oxymoron if you don't know what it means).

      March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Hentenza

      Al

      "atheism is supported logical and scientific ideas" lol

      There is no empirical evidence, whether logical or scientific, supporting atheism. Atheism is faith based.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Al

      see, once again it seems you have a reading comprehension problem. first thing I said was that there was no argument that atheism is in fact a religion.... believing in anything can be considered religion. what you're so riled up for your " cause "that you're reading but not seeing what people are saying.

      you are finding arguments in statements that do not contain them.

      why? because you don't really have anything to say or have a worthy coment, you want to be heard so all that's left is the senseless blabber....

      March 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Hentenza

      Al,

      The first thing you said is:

      "you are the typical closeminded ignorant Christian that is described in this article."

      1. I never said that I was a Christian but you "assumed" it from the start and posted the typical ad hom. lol
      2. If you base your beliefs in assumptions, as you did here, then your beliefs are flawed from the start.

      The second thing you said:

      "nobody is arguing that atheism is not form of religion"

      1. Study English grammar so that you can construct a proper sentence.
      2. Since no empirical evidence exists to support atheism, then it is based on faith, just as any religion that believes in a "god" or "gods".

      March 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  20. DCG

    How silly is atheism? Proclaiming yourself to not believe in God is so silly. You know you believe. You're just mad at the world because God doesn't give you what you want when you want it (instant gratification–the American way). You have to earn His good graces.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Alex R

      Uh no, you obviously have never spoken to an atheist. Claiming that someone you disagree with is secretly just lying is really dumb. Engage the debate, don't sidestep it.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Jax Wolff

      That's a very flawed argument. So if I'm made at, say my boss, then the way to get back at him/her is to believe they don't exist?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • BBT

      Actually, I know that I don't believe. And no, on my deathbed I will not have a conversion.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Al

      anyone can pull a blank out of their blank and claim it to be the reason for whatever the current topic is. this is once again atypical Christian response where nothing is supported by a fact or reason.... the sad thing is that there are people reading this that take it for a fact

      March 24, 2013 at 11:48 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.