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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.

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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. atheist Realism

    how come christians, as mulsims, can't offer a single proof of a god existence? I say christians and muslims since they are all the same.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Austin.no such thing as atheism

      go no further in denial. I have experienced special revalation. The Holy Spirit is a sanctifying spirit that bears the truth of Gods word on a persons heart through a sovereign means if necessary. He is risen. Did you hear about that? It is undoubtedly true and I can confirm the Holy Spirit and to this I testify .

      John 15:26-27

      26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

      ◄ Mark 16:20 ►

      Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signsthat accompanied it.

      you should approach God for reality, not a secular text.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • FeralUrchin

      Better include observant Jews as well.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • What is That Thing on Aaron Neville's Face?

      The law made Austin have a "revalation" because he has admitted to driving into some churches naked in his truck doing much damage and then driving his truck, after the tires came off to the state capital and getting stuck in the mud there; lol.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Steve

      Christians and Muslims are not the same and you know it. Making intentionally provocative statements designed to offend people isn't going to make them hear anything you have to tell them, and simply contributes to the arguments of those who want to accuse atheists of being hateful and ignorant.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Austin.no such thing as atheism

      You can not make that claim for observant Jews at all. They have the old Testament, which is an insurmountable amount of proof for God that they DO have and honor. Muslims, no, Jews yes. but they are both resisting the final atonement of the lamb of God .

      March 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Faith and mental illness are indistinguishable in their major characteristics.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Austin.no such thing as atheism

      well, in a sence, you are probably about 80% correct about mental illness, but it is actually mimicry deception and goes under demonic revelation. (The manifestation of demonic oppression). then there are those who are truly mentally ill chemically. but the vast majority of false religion is simply the power that Satan holds over peoples minds.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Austin.no such thing as atheism

      well, in a sence, you are probably about 80% correct about mental illness, but it is actually mimicry deception and goes under demonic revelation. (The manifestation of demonic oppression). then there are those who are truly mentally ill chemically. but the vast majority of false religion is simply the power that Satan holds over peoples minds. And atheism is one of these religions.

      The authentic ministry of the Holy Spirit is the only true faith and spirit.

      1 My dear friends, many false prophets have gone out into the world. So do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. 2 This is how you can know God's Spirit: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ came to earth as a human is from God. 3 And every spirit who refuses to say this about Jesus is not from God. It is the spirit of the enemy of Christ, which you have heard is coming, and now he is already in the world. 4 My dear children, you belong to God and have defeated them; because God's Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world. 5 And they belong to the world, so what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. But those who are not from God do not listen to us. That is how we know the Spirit that is true and the spirit that is false. 7 Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God's child and knows God

      March 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  2. ana Christensen

    .......imagine.......

    March 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  3. Austin.no such thing as atheism

    A non believers thought on punishment (a leader around here)

    " If some idiot tried to tell me he murdered because he was under the thrall of a demon, I'd clap him on the back and laugh as I lead him to the chair.
    So, tell me, when your deity supposedly murdered the world, was he under demonic possession?"

    I think you make a good point to be honest. That is called character.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  4. atheist Realism

    as a parent, I treat religion as p-or-n and keep it away from kids until they are 18.

    The religious hate that since brainwashing sticks better when you begin in early childhood. Child abuse.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Austin.no such thing as atheism

      10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circ.umstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

      Angels look intently into salvation with great joy, as they never experienced it because they did not violate the free will choice of sin. there is somthing glorious involved in a child and unadulterated trust, and the ministry of the holy spirit. Something truly and absolutely glorious and innocent. This is that way God intended for the ministry to be delivered, to children.l

      Children are less inhibited by the consequences of sin. Their trust is not ignorant. Trust is a character asset in a sinless world where family, truth and God are in harmony. This was Gods creative masterpiece and plan. That all children would believe as infants form language, that they form a God centered reality and unadulterated truth.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Atheist Dad

      Unless you lock your kids inside they will be exposed to religion. It's on our freakin' money! They will be exposed to it as soon as they go to school and interact with other kids. Educate, but don't indoctrinate.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Larry

      Atheist Dad
      "In God We Trust" was only added to our money in the 1950s, and it could be removed given enough interest in doing so.

      Curious, but do you approve of Christians homeschooling their kids in an attempt to keep them from being exposed to anything that contradicts their beliefs? It works both ways, secular thinking is everywhere too, right?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Atheist Dad

      Interestingly, my brother is born-again and home schooled the oldest 5 of his 7 kids. 2 have grown into secular adults, and 3 are very involved with their church. It's another anecdote to illustrate my point, you can't prevent kids from being exposed to anything that's pervasive in society.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  5. Lameness Spotter

    Regular readers of this blog will know that this is not the original @Moby Schtick... and stooping to these tactics proves the depth of this poster's nonsense.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  6. Motarr

    Interesting. The atheism movement is evolving/growing and this is regarded as a good/ healthy course. Atheism was not born full-grown/mature, but is progressing with time and thought and practice.

    Faith and belief develop this same way. It is reasonable then for the OT to contain less sophisticated thought/practice than the NT, as one is the foundation for the other. It is also rational to expect the thoughts/practices of believers to grow as they continue in faith.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      That's a stupid comment unless you're claiming that god's knowledge grew and he had better info when writing the NT than he did when writing the OT.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • tony

      Delusion expands to fill the space available???

      March 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Larry

      Your point only makes sense if people actually do abandon old religious thinking in favor of newer, more evolved theology. "Liberal" churches do this, and it would be much better for the country if they were the driving religious force in this country, but they aren't. The churches that are most politically active are the ones who cling onto OT morality.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  7. davidpun

    In American english it is usually spelled "souped-up" . In English english it was originally spelled "suped-up" but the American misspelling has become quite common. It originates from the word super as in super-charged hence suped-up. Not soup.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  8. 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.

    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 times goes by.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • 633music

      So called Christianity...

      March 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Christian7

      Humans do not define Jesus Christ. Jesus defines Jesus Christ. Jesus is your only hope. You decided to have sin, and there is a very horrible consequence to your decision. No logical argument can get your condemnation repealed. Only accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior to forgive your sins will stop you from justice. You do not want justice, you want mercy. Accept Jesus before it is too late. No sin enters heaven.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • JWT

      You can keep jesus. No one needs religion or belief in some god.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • clarity

      There is no reasonable evidence for the divine characters/events described in the Bible.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Richard

      This is because people try to overthink the message to be kind to one another and love one another. I suppose money has a lot to do with the confusion as well.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Larry

      Christian7
      "Humans do not define Jesus Christ."

      Funny, because if you want a definition of who Jesus Christ is, you have to ask a human, don't you?

      "No sin enters heaven."

      Doesn't that go against the theology of Salvation through Faith Alone? Don't you guys still believe that everyone who gets into heaven is still a sinner, some even responsible for terrible amounts of pain and destruction, but that you all get in simply because you accept Jesus as your "personal savior"? So, you all expect to be sharing heaven with murderers, ra.pists, thieves, and worse people who all just happened to find religion a few minutes before dying. Hell, even Hitler could be waiting in heaven. He had lots of time to find Jesus in that bunker before dying. He could be up there right now, smiling down at all the unconverted Jews roasting a second time in hell. Doesn't sound like any place I'd want to spend even an afternoon, much less eternity.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Christian7

      Larry, The sinners sin is washed by Jesus Christ before entrance into heaven. If this is not done, you can not enter. And the decision is final.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • G to the T

      So... there's free will in heaven but no sin... then why doesn't god just make it that way on Earth? If we can have free will and be without sin in heaven, no reason we can't do it on earth and not be "robots"...

      April 5, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  9. 633music

    @Gyrogearloose May be, I have offended your faith...but I do find it a childish idea....

    March 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Gyrogearloose

      No offense taken.
      I don't view atheism as a religion.
      Nor do I view myself as an atheist any more than I view myself as religious.
      I don't particularly care about religion, and there are far to many of them for any one to have a high probability of being right.
      So, I'll just happily go about my life mostly ignoring it.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  10. midwest rail

    Nice try, fake Moby. Trolling should never be this boring.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  11. atheist Realism

    yet you pray to a black jesus, odd

    March 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  12. atheist Realism

    ..I find it rather odd that christians have tortured so many,, yet they act as if they are the tortured.

    Just like the catholic church who calls their children victims liars and denies them,, then the church's come back is that it is they who are persecuted. Yet many victims suffer a life time with mental illness and some committed suicide. Great selfish religion.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  13. Rob G

    Organized religions have perfected mob control not much different than hitler. They whip a group up into an emotional frenzy and pound their beliefs into their heads. Not only do you leave brainwashed but also a few dollars lighter. What a scam. Listen a person needs to believe in something but look inside yourself first for answers and a connection to whatever brought us here in the first place.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  14. OldSchool

    Good for him. I always thought that if I ever had the money I would donate massive amounts to promote reason and skepticism, and fight the debunked dogma espoused by religions.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • atheist Realism

      li,e the wealthy vatican uses their money,, not a dime to help the starving children. They just skim off the top taking money that was to feed starving children,, those children suffered while the religion lives in wealth.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  15. Christian7

    Anyone that thinks this: I don't know if God exists.Therefore, he exists.
    Is very illogical.

    But you are logical if you think this different idea: You can not determine if God does not exist; But you can know if God does exist because He could show you that He exists. You also can have some evidence that makes it seem likely to you that he exists too.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Christian7", but you have defined atheism incorrectly once again. Better luck next time, "Christian7".

      March 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Gyrogearloose

      Sure. But I'm not about to become a believer just because others claim to have seen indisputable evidence of existence of a god. There's too much likelihood that the evidence will turn out to be the result of an overly vivid imagination.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • atheist Realism

      christians here also incorrectly define evolution,, which is why they have so much difficulty/

      March 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Christian7

      atheist Realism, Lets assume macro evolution is possible. How would you naturally select from nothing to get the process of life started on earth? Saying I don't understand evolution is an invalid response. Hint: it can't explain how life started on earth.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Evolutionary science does not attempt to answer the question of how life started, but the elements for life were in existence. Nothing has never existed.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • clarity

      Xtian7: "Saying I don't understand evolution is an invalid response."

      Don't try to put words in people's mouths. We have some anwers, some partial answers, but many things are yet unknown. That is a valid response.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Christian7

      In that comment I did not attempt to define atheism at all. Atheism is a moving target. 99.99999% of atheists believe that they are certain God does not exist and that is what they mean when they say the word atheist. The few that understand logic understand that puts them in a vulnerably position because they would be a tiny fraction of the population and they know it is impossible to know if God exists. Just call yourselves agnostic and be done with it.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • clarity

      some answers

      March 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • isolate

      So where's the evidence? That's all we want. Something that meets the scientific test of existence. Without it, whichever god you believe in gets lumped with other unprovable beliefs, like Bigfoot, UFOs, unicorns and the next prediction of the end of the world.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Christian7

      Moby Schtick, You are correct that Darwin never tried to explain how life began and it is good that you realize that it can't explain it. But there are evolutionary theories that try to explain it. They are absurd theories that are "reverse engineer." The idea behind the theory is the assumption that God does not exist therefore how do we explain this. The best theory on how life began on earth is that it was designed.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I am agnostic and atheist just like I am a husband and a father. I am agnostic because I don't claim to have knowledge of spiritual things. I am atheist because I don't believe in any gods. I make no statements about god's existence other than it seems very unlikely from my perspective.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'm not talking about Darwin, dipsh!t, I'm talking about evolution. Evolution deals with the changes that occur WITHIN living things. Evolution doesn't deal with the transformation of matter from "nonliving" to "living." Math doesn't attempt to explain how Pi came into existence, either. Are you really this stupid?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Christian7

      Moby Schtick, No. I am not that stupid. You are making my point. Here is a hint to nudge you to the correct answer: I believe in natural selection on a micro level, not the macro level. You can have evolution change race, but not species. There are not and never will be found missing links. I really don't believe you could miss that a large number of scientists are implying that the beginning of life is not explained by science. They are wrong and are misleading people.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, you are proving my point: that you are stupid. If you understood evolution, you'd not be saying such stupid things about it. Speciation is just human categorization. And who needs even more fossils on top of the hundreds of thousands that prove evolution correct--especially when we have genetics?!!??? LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!

      March 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Steve

      I don't like it when people say that evolution doesn't include the origins of life. I think that's patent nonsense. Evolution must include the evolution of the pre-cursors of life, since there will be no sharp line between "life" and "non-life". But I fact there are hypotheses on the evolutionary origins of life – and some very good ones. And the fact that right now we can't say for certain, "this is how it happened", is simply the God-of-the-Gaps argument. Saying that no "missing links" have been found is an astonishing admission of either ignorance of the evidence or a willful intention not to see it. The evidence is all over the place and is increased every year as more and more fossils are discovered. And these fossils (as well as DNA analysis and embryology) clearly indicate that macro-evolution does occur. No argument has ever been put forward that explains why micro-evolution can happen but not macro-evolution. What is the barrier between the two? At what point do you hit that barrier? Why can't creationists even agree on what the uncrossable "kinds" are?

      March 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  16. atheist Realism

    is this how much others intimidate you? Tell us,, why do the KKK, white supremacist and tea party all pray to a black jesus?

    March 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  17. 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. Discussion...invites contribution..

    March 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • sjordan

      There is nothing "childish" about evolution. It's a simple fact that you can actually watch while happening in fast replicating organisms. Like many, you're confusing evolution with abiogenesis.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Gyrogearloose

      Actually, 'childish' is a bit condescending, don't you think?
      Evolution has a huge amount of scientific evidence to support it.
      You'd be better off trying to reconcile it with your religion than to deny it.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Christian7

      If you do not know that Jesus is your only salvation, nothing else will matter at all.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • 633music

      Ok, I am convinced...your strong faith in things truly unseen and unexplained has won me over....

      March 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Chad

      You'll need to define what you mean by "evolution".

      theistic evolution
      or
      atheistic evolution

      March 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • 633music

      @Chad General...

      March 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • 633music

      @Gyrogearloose May be, I have offended your faith...but I do find it a childish idea....

      March 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      In other words, do you believe in the scientific principle with or without the caveat, "All started by a big, invisible sky wizard chanting magic spells."

      March 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • 633music

      @Moby Schtick Cool, Sky Wizard..you make that up?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • i wonder

      Christian7
      "If you do not know that Jesus is your only salvation, nothing else will matter at all."

      And what is your verified evidence that this is fact?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • 633music

      Proponents of accidental creation sound exactly like the fake friends of the Bible. Read this, watch that, yet they never really ask the right questions, credulity...

      March 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • 633music

      What truly blows their minds is this kind of TRUE thought process, do not allow others to lead you along to slaughter, God sent me, I have a degree, doctorate, Nobel prize....
      Some things are so obvious, even the simplest of us can see....
      People have allowed themselves to be educated out of all common sense...

      March 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • 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 1:31 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      When did theistic evolution come into existence and who had the original concept? What is atheistic evolution, the original theory developed by scientific process would be my answer, what is yours?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Chad

      @JMEF "When did theistic evolution come into existence"
      =>13.77 billion years ago

      @JMEF "who had the original concept? "
      =>The God of Israel, see Genesis 1.

      @JMEF "What is atheistic evolution, the original theory developed by scientific process would be my answer, what is yours?"
      =>"life has developed by pure random chance, without God and without purpose"

      March 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Liar, Chad, you have been corrected countless times on the stupidity of your position when you say "random chance." You're not only a liar, but a stupid one who does not learn from his mistakes even when they are repeatedly pointed out to you. Keep making a mockery of your own position. It's awesome!

      March 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Chad

      @Moby Schtick "you have been corrected countless times on the stupidity of your position when you say "random chance."

      =>um.. so, I hate to do this to you, because I know it just isnt your thing.. but unlike the other countless times of accusing me of lying and refusing to explain why, could you make an exception here?

      Mutations are random
      The mechanisms of evolution—like natural selection and genetic drift—work with the random variation generated by mutation.
      Factors in the environment are thought to influence the rate of mutation but are not generally thought to influence the direction of mutation. For example, exposure to harmful chemicals may increase the mutation rate, but will not cause more mutations that make the organism resistant to those chemicals. In this respect, mutations are random—whether a particular mutation happens or not is generally unrelated to how useful that mutation would be.

      - Berkeley.edu

      As well, the environmental conditions that exist at any time are random.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      Thank you.
      Your argument comes down to God did it, not just any God but the God of Israel, versus that life could not have happened by random chance without God, and by the way the God of Israel, have I got it right?

      March 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Chad

      @JMEF

      A. Yes, the theistic argument is that the God of Israel created the universe and everything in it
      B. Responding with "well, we know it cant be God, so just take it on faith that this utterly improbable sequence of events actually occurred" is not even an argument..

      March 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      As a matter of interest, can you explain why your God would program into the universe 13.81 billion years ago mass extinctions so that different forms of life could become predominant?

      March 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Chad

      @JMEF,

      perhaps so that so that different forms of life could become predominant.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      Help me with this. Theistic evolution started at the creation of the universe 13.81 billion years ago. The earth as part of our solar system came into being around 4.5 billion years ago, quite the lag time. Now the God of Israel fine tuned earth to develop life by theistic evolution. While he was at it He also thought that mass extinctions would be required to have different forms of life be predominate. So 200 million years ago, the end Triasic Extinction occurred allowing dinosaurs to prevail for 135 million years. Then 65 million years ago a large meteorite/asteroid hit earth wiping out the dinosaurs and allowing mammals that evolved into humans to become predominant. Have I got it right, that is some fine tuning that look more like accidents.

      March 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Chad

      and it produced the sophisticated life forms that we have today 🙂

      regarding fine tuning:

      Fine Tuning of the universe
      In the past 30 or 40 years, scientists have been astonished to find that the initial conditions of our universe were fine-tuned for the existence of building blocks of life. Constants such as gravitational constant have been found, the variation of which to even the smallest degree, would have rendered the universe utterly incapable of supporting life.

      "There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the Universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned' for life". However, he continues, "the conclusion is not so much that the Universe is fine-tuned for life; rather it is fine-tuned for the building blocks and environments that life requires." - Paul Davies

      "The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the mas ses of the proton and the electron. ... The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life - Stephen Hawking

      : "If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature - like the charge on the electron - then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop." Dr. Dennis Scania, Cambridge University Observatories

      "If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all." - Dr. David D. Deutsch, Insti tute of Mathematics, Oxford University:

      "The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly. You see," Davies adds, "even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life - almost contrived - you might say a 'put-up job.'" - Dr. Paul Davies, Adelaide University:

      "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintendent has monkeyed with the physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars - Sir Fred Hoyle

      "how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quanti ties had slightly different values." - Dr. Gerald Schroeder, former professor of physics at M.I.T.

      beryllium isotope having the minuscule half life of 0.0000000000000001 seconds must find and absorb a helium nucleus in that split of time before decaying. This occurs only because of a totally unexpected, exquisitely precise, energy match between the two nuclei. If this did not occur there would be none of the heavier elements. No carbon, no nitrogen, no life. Our universe would be composed of hydrogen and helium. - Professor Steven Weinberg

      The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bullseye one millimeter in diameter on the other side." - Michael Turner, astrophysicist University of Chicago

      the likelihood of the universe having usable energy (low entropy) at the creation is even more astounding, namely an accuracy of one part out of ten to the power of ten to the power of 123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in our ordinary denary (power of ten) notation: it would be one followed by ten to the power of 123 successive zeros!" That is a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion zeros. Penrose continues, "Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe - and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure - we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed. The precision needed to set the universe on its course is to be in no way inferior to all that extraordinary precision that we have already become accustomed to in the superb dynamical equations (Newton's, Maxwell's, Einstein's) which govern the behavior of things from moment to moment." - Roger Penrose University of Oxford

      March 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      So you did not disagree just gave me many examples of why fine tuning may be viable. Any idea when the next mass extinction will happen? Will it be natural as the last ones or man made? By man made I mean nuclear catastrophe or man caused climate change or some sort of God ordered end of times? Is it always and evermore God did it?

      March 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  18. Austin

    Does that happen a lot in your neighborhood? Do you enjoy watching?

    March 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Moby Schtick

    I think you mean "souped." Enjoy your entertainment.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  20. BruceINpanama

    Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the TRUTH that makes men FREE.

    March 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • 633music

      Uh....Christian? Our culture?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • BruceINpanama

      Actually, that is a quote from  Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan's speech to the Christian Coalition, Sept. 1993.

      Can you imagine a wack job like that in the oval office?

      Had to be an act of God that didn't make it! LOL

      We should all be ashamed for voting for anyone like him EVER.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • atheist Realism

      thanks to secular society in the free world, religion is tamed. Hadn't we tamed religion,, the free world would behave as they do in the middle east.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Jason

      Funny, I thought it was the blood of the patriots that makes Americans free.
      If all we needed was your god, then why did my brother have to die?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • isolate

      As the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs. And there are none for your point of view. That's what separates belief from science: the former needs no proofs; the latter can't exist without them.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • skytag

      Something isn't "truth" just because you want to believe it.

      March 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
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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.