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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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“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. James

    I believe in the Great Unicorn as supreme being. He has told me how to behave and how all others should behave. I challenge anyone to prove the Great Unicorn does not exist. He speaks to me daily. Plus, there are many many books that mention unicorns. Therefore, the Great Unicorn exists. If you do not worship the Great Unicorn you will be subjected to eternal goring when you die. All other beliefs are false! Praise the Unicorn!

    March 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Sense0326

      The Great Unicorn is nothing more than a pagan myth. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the only being worthy of our worship, for he has reached out his noodly appendage to touch the hearts of many. R'amen

      March 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Ralphco

      Yah James it's already been done with the spaghetti monster thing.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  2. Christian7

    The Soviets and Chinese communists were atheistic systems; they killed millions of their own citizens in peace time.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • James

      Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • tony

      And where did the 1,000,000 Iraqi deaths go?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • psych ward staff

      Repression of religion in communism by dictators is a terrible way to try to define atheism. Plus, it's silly to speak so broadly for the repressed populations of such regimes.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      they were also totalitarians, christian7....nice attempt at a strawman

      March 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Alex R

    Religion cheapens the natural wonder of the universe. I'm not amazed by Jesus or Allah, I'm amazed by the incomprehensibly vast universe that has existed for an incomprehensibly long time. I'm amazed that I am an aware organism capable of reflection and rational thought. I'm amazed that humans have conquered a planet. I'm amazed when I look up at the night sky and think of how much natural beauty there is in our universe. Science amazes me. When you try to say that God is responsible for that beauty and all that mankind has accomplished, you insult the universe itself. Why do we need man-made myths and monsters? Isn't what we have enough? I am in awe of the universe. It is far more amazing and wondrous than any deity conceived by man.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  4. Zobby

    I was an atheist long before I ever heard of this guy. I'm glad he is spreading the message but there is no "face of atheism". A not belief is not a belief or a religion. Just because I don't believe in Santa clause doesn't make mean im against Santa Claus. Some religions teach people important moral lessons, but they people reading them should also understand they are just inspirational fiction.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  5. atheist Realism

    I can see it now,, thousands of years ago, two aliens visited earth. One nudged the other, with laughter, and said 'want to play the jesus/god thing here too?'

    March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  6. Bostontola

    Reading the comments it is sad to see so many arguments based on false assertions (e.g. Hitler was an atheist). I don't think these people are lying, they believe what they are saying.

    What is sad, is that these arguments are propagated in churches and handed down in families. Many religious people think atheists go through life not seeing truth, but its really the other way around.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • An Awesome Message from P.W. Swivel

      People are People

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbD3Hlbvafo&w=640&h=360]

      Thanks for watching.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  7. Junger

    There would be no need for this man to do anything if the religious didn't persecute Atheists.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  8. Gary L. Wimmer, Master of Lithomancy

    The debate over the existence of God goes on, but this athiest movement is a healthy response to the extremists of every religion who always insist that God is baised towards their point of view. With 7 billion people on th planet, there are 7 billion ways to see God... or not see God.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Doris

      Padre Wimmer, or should we call you Pedra Wimmer?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  9. Alex

    Content to be a peaceful non-believer now...but more than ready and willing to become a militant atheist when the time comes!

    March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • californiarestinpeace

      People only become militant when they know they're wrong. So, don't do that. Keep an open mind. Nobody really has the answers to the secrets of existence or how we relate to the universe.....yet.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Alex

      people become militant when the ignorant use beliefs instead of facts to persecute...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  10. atheist Realism

    one thing proven over history,, religion and their believers are the last group anyone should listen to. Children especially.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  11. edwardst35

    A simple question for all of you simple YOUNG Atheists out there.......what came first, the chicken or the egg?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Caleb

      The egg, of course. Just because evolution via natural selection is too complicated for you to understand, it doesn't mean that it's not true.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • atheist Realism

      you god was created by man.. oops, there you go

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • tony

      Was the wheel invented by rolling the first collection plate?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Jeesh

      Same question for the not fully brainwashed YOUNG Christians.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Zowi

      https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/296100559423954944

      The egg. Laid by a bird that was not a chicken.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • dave90210

      Bacteria.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Cyrus

      The Egg- evolved into the Chicken

      March 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • californiarestinpeace

      The egg would have evolved first. Are you aware that some species of frog gave birth gastrically, or from the stomach and through the mouth?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  12. Ed

    This man will burn forever for his sins.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • tony

      Not unless we frack the oil sands

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Jeesh

      Ed
      Preparation H.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Junger

      The beaty of not believing in this sadistic Christian god is that you don't have to live in fear of God...but you do have to live in fear of Christians.

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

      "Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense." Voltaire

      March 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • God

      Com on people, give me a break. My job doesn't end at 5 and I god 6 billion children.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • dave90210

      Bring it on gawd. We're not ascared.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • totally

      Sun burn?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Ed: Do you not see the immorality in that statement?? How is it you feel justified in wishing eternal torture on a fellow human? Does your god not teach to love another or does that only pertain to those foolish enough to idolize him?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Cyrus

      Heaven and Hell is right here, right now on earth as we live. At best, we're fertilizer once we're dead. Stiefel seems to be in heaven right now doing some good. Be good for goodness sake, not for god or any organized religion... They (god & religion) might have been needed 1000 years ago, but not today.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Jim Brody

      That's not for you to decide.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • californiarestinpeace

      A snake told him that.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  13. Bob Vulich

    If there truly is no god, then forming an organization to stand against the beliefs of people who DO believe in this spurious being is like forming an organization against the beliefs of people who advance the idea of a fourth primary color. We KNOW a fourth primary color does NOT exist. If these atheists are correct in their beliefs that there is no god, shouldn't that be self evident for all to see. Why not just marginalize those who want to believe and move on? Why so much effort and resources to block a certain view? Almost sounds like a veiled challenge for this god to show himself.

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

      Lack of evidence of god is self-evident. Unfortunately, religious education is designed to mask that.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • YouMayDisagree

      Because belief in god influences people's decisions which influences life's of others, that is the only reason atheists are looking for the truth.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • chubby rain

      The "fourth color" believers aren't trying to force their teachings into schools and politics. To paraphrase Gandhi, if more Christians were like the Christ they say they are following, I would have no trouble with that religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • dave90210

      I think most Atheists want people who choose to believe in silly religions to believe in those silly religions in their own places of worship and not in places like public schools. I am an atheist and have no problem with anyone who wants to set up camp in their church and go on a 24/7 endless prayerathon. Have at it. But keep it out of public schools and government etc.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  14. YouMayDisagree

    Peter needed to see Jesus walk on water, Moses had to have a burning bush, yet all common people have to have a blind faith, sounds like a classic fraud to me.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • tony

      Just send more money.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • G to the T

      Hell – Thomas even got to poke Jesus' wounds!

      March 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  15. kd

    'If you don't understand something, and the community of physicists don't understand it, that means God did it? Is that how you want to play this game? If that's how you want to invoke your evidence of God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.' – Neil deGrasse Tyson

    March 24, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  16. 633music

    No matter how much "evidence" I am shown, I still do not believe in atheists...really...
    And Bible and religion aside, evolution is a silly little fairytale without equal.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      You've mention this a number of times but I am not getting your point. Please elaborate.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • atheist Realism

      yeah,, and 1 + 1 = 2 is just a delusion

      March 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Science

      It would be NICE......... but
      Maybe they should not have created the wedge !!!
      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic
      convictions.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

      Peace

      Please watch what the Discovery Inst-itute is trying to prevent.......................... evolution

      Thanks

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okWkmgkS00w&w=640&h=360]

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

      Preset your evidence against evolution. But, be warned, if you use a logical fallacy or misuse statistics, I'll embarrass you.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • 633music

      Creator or no, Evolution is not something we should put our faith in.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • 633music

      Simple Creator or no, Evolution is not something we should put our faith in.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Gadflie

      633, why is that, other than it goes against the myth you believe in...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Darwin

      god is the silly little fairy tale. we have PROOF that evolution is real, what is your proof that god exists???

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      @633music. Evolution is not based on faith as you state. Evolution is both a fact and theory based upon repeatable scientific findings. How can one ignore the facts presented and state they don't "believe" in it? Should God suddenly appear to me, I would then feel it strong enough to state God is a fact (assuming I'm not mentally deficient of course).

      March 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Science

      To 633..................................... music you might want to read this ?

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      March 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • 633music

      Darwin, you missed it...CREATOR or no...Evolution is a slily, silly, sad fairytale. Requires a great deal of credulity and faith...
      Its ok, just get another theory, because that one is broken...
      And really, that should not offend anyone here, as none of you concocted this nonsense..
      Reading some of the posts, I am SURE you can do better...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • 633music

      @Bob Carlson I have read the Evolution "Bible", I found it to be full of holes.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • 633music

      @Science I find that to be like the fake preachers who say, the Bible is true, just look in the Bible...never offering REAL facts to support what they say...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Science

      To 633 let us see if you can answer this ??

      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.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • 633music

      @Science the Bible? Has nothing to do with Evolution being a real option of how life or anything else began...boring...uh..it was an accident....no mater how massively complex....uh...yea...just happened....uh....900 million years ago....

      March 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Science

      In the beginning...

      "...we have a viable theory of the universe back to about 10-30 seconds. At that time, the currently observable universe was smaller than the smallest dot on your TV screen, and less time had passed than it takes for light to cross that dot."
      -George F. Smoot, Winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics

      Have a nice day

      March 24, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Tom LI

      You don't believe in atheists? Really? Even if you met a real live one?

      But you believe in a God, and that he sacrificed himself to himself, to pay a debt he didn't incur?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • MUST SEE Creatard Pwnage Par Excellence

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QIrfxj02pQ&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • 633music

      @Science Wow, was he there? Even if it is true, do you understand how much is left that is left unexplained? Over simplified squared...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • 633music

      @Tom LI Read the posts, God aside, evolution is silly...again, not trying to offend anyone's faith or beliefs, just do not buy the evolution bunk...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Shout-Out: logicked

      LOGIC OVERLOAD FOR 633 ?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns5pnPab29k&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • 633music

      Again, no offense to anyone...you can believe as you so desire, but Evolution sounds like pseudo religious nonsense...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!

      Good Stuff................................. 633 !

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTRn28iZD_g&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • 633music

      Even if we think the "God's" of all the religions are absurd...how scientific is it to rule out that there may be a higher intellect somewhere?
      ANYONE who truly understands the basics of the make up of living things...as en example, knows that Evolution offers a childish explanation to how and WHY they came to be.
      Again though, not ONE of you here invented the notion of accidental life...so...you should not be offended by an alternate view.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • 633music

      Thank you, but I prefer not to watch the show...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Science

      633 the mind what a trip !

      Mind mapping NO GOD(S) REQUIRED !

      Gone but Not Forgotten: Yearning for Lost Loved Ones Linked to Altered Thinking About the Future

      Mar. 18, 2013 — People suffering from complicated grief may have difficulty recalling specific events from their past or imagining specific events in the future, but not when those events involve the partner they lost, according to a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130318151631.htm

      Maybe the bible needs to be updated

      Have a great day !

      March 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Prehistoric shark captured on film

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mneDhOtVEQw&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • 633music

      @Science So, you think I believe you hate the Bible? I would only believe it I knew you truly understood it...inspired or not, much of it is brilliantly relevant, and beautiful. Your beliefs are perhaps inspired by the fake friends of the Bible...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Thai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossile

      The fairy a fossil yet ?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwD_hjq_V7U&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • californiarestinpeace

      And now we know why and where the lake of fire myth originated. Still like to know where the devil got his horns and tail though.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  17. tony

    Hey you Republicans!

    Heaven is Socialism!!!!

    March 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  18. Thai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossile

    The FAIRY IN THE SKY A FOSSIL YET CREATIONISTS ?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwD_hjq_V7U&w=640&h=360]

    March 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  19. mike from iowa

    Consider the amoutn of damage that the ignorance of religion has caused your loved ones. Think how far behind in technology we are, from where we should be. It should be like "Star Trek" right now. Think how religion gave rise to the rift between Muslims, Jews and Christians. Religion fuels war, it is used for political power, it transfers money from the poor to the powerful, it retards progress, it displaces responsibility, it risks the future of humanity. End religion in our lifetimes.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  20. Kyle

    Trying to prove the existence of a god with a bible is trying to prove the existence of Superman with a comic book. One half will remain rational while the other half dream and hope in fairy tales. When conflicts between those different fairy tales causes death and destruction, those who think rationally have every right to claim THEIR existence and right to live peacefully. If that voice costs money to be heard, so be it.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • atheist Realism

      yeah,, but superman was nice. He didn't threaten anyone with eternal damnation if they didn't believe in him

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

      The very idea of eternal damnation has its foundation in the Bible. The should PROVE that a man didn't write that book. We, in our self centeredness, would've come up with that concept.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • el_incr

      Let me try that again; The very idea of eternal damnation has its foundation in the Bible. That should PROVE that a man didn't write that book. We, in our self centeredness, would NOT have come up with that concept.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Tom LI

      to el-incr – uh, why not? Your logic makes no sense. If we humans were already blaming our allleged mistakes as transgressions and slights against the Gods – why wouldn't we think up eternal damnation? Humans have long been playing with the ideas of a "forever after" – and they predate the Xtian ideas. Forever-after was already a developed idea in the East before the Xtians borrowed it from their probable exposures to them on the many and diverse trade-routes in and out of the Middle East. Its very probable Jesus was exposed to them living with a tradesman carpenter father in a huge cross-roads of trade routes.

      Oh, yeah, the Bible was not written, it was compiled – from a bunch of scattered proto-xtian manuscripts and a loose collection of Jewish ones specifically (OT). No ONE person wrote the Bible. Its new compared to the stories contained within it.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.