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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. Uncle Albert

    "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
    -Albert Einstein

    March 24, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Which religion could he have been talking about? The one that's true, no doubt. Which is that?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Kevin

      Pretty sure "blind" and "lame" would hesitate reading that quote.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have
      expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious
      then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as
      our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954)"

      March 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  2. Just Another Rich Liar

    http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Ex-Stiefel-employees-say-they-lost-in-deal-4254300.php

    Glad to see Charlie is keeping the money to himself instead of giving it to his son to squander on nonsense such as this.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  3. mason

    Bravo Todd!!!

    March 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  4. ThatOneGuy

    I don't care if you believe in God or not but Church people are just evil. It's all about showing off and being a hypocrite. Take the money out of Churches by taxing them like any other business.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • John Cram

      Amen.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  5. Reality

    Only for the eyes of sister and brothers of Islam–

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi--–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    أكثر التحليلات، وهذه المرة إنقاذ 1.5 مليار مسلم:

    من دراسات ارمسترونغ، رشدي، علي هيرسي، والبيهقي ريتشاردسون --–

    الخطوات الخمس لأبطل تأثير الخرافات من 1400 سنة الإسلامي:

    (-اتخاذ خطوات أقل من دقيقتين إلى دقيقة، والانتهاء ببساطة مذهلة-سنتين إلى إحلال السلام والعقلانية لأكثر من مليار نسمة، فقد لا تقدر بثمن!)

    هل أنت مستعد؟

    استخدام "الفروع الإسلامية 77 من" الإيمان "مجموعة الإمام البيهقي جمعتها كنقطة انطلاق. في ذلك، وهو ما يفسر الفضائل الأساسية التي تعكس صحيح" الإيمان "(إيمان) من خلال الآيات القرآنية وأحاديث نبوية ذات الصلة." أي ملخصا لطيفة من المعتقدات الإسلامية والقرآن الكريم.

    والخمسة الأولى من الفروع 77:

    "1، والإيمان بالله"

    وينبغي أن يضاف الملقب كما الله، الرب، زيوس، الرب، الطبيعة الأم، وما إلى ذلك لالخلايا العصبية الذاتية التطهير الخاص.

    "2. وإذا ما تصورنا أن كل شيء غير الله كان غير موجود. بعد ذلك، خلق الله العلي هذه الأمور لاحقا وجاء إلى حيز الوجود."

    التطور والانفجار الكبير أو "غي ب G-NAB" (عندما يبدأ الكون لإعادة تدوير) هي أكثر قبولا وينبغي إدراج "المندرجة" في سبيل الله إذا كنت لا تزال تشكل "CREA-tionist".

    "3. إلى الاعتقاد في وجود الملائكة".

    A بندا رئيسيا لتطهير الخلايا العصبية. الملائكة / دي vils-الإبداعات الأسطورية هي من الحضارات القديمة، على سبيل المثال Hitt خائبي، لشرح / تحديد الأحداث الطبيعية، والاتصالات مع آلهتهم، والطيور الكبيرة، والرياح المفاجئة، وحماة في ليالي الظلام، وما إلى ذلك لا "جميلة / UG-لاي ثينجيس افسح المجال ل" أو بزيارة أي وقت مضى تحدث إلى محمد، يسوع، مريم أو جوزيف سميث أو جو. اليوم سوف نصنف الملائكة كما airies-F و "كير القصدير يكون LLS-". وتصنف الحديثة دي vils كما دي مونس هيئة اجتثاث mented.

    "4. إذا ما تصورنا أن جميع الكتب السماوية التي تم إرسالها إلى الأنبياء مختلفة صحيحا، ولكن بصرف النظر عن القرآن الكريم، كل الكتب الأخرى غير صالحة بعد الآن."

    آخر بندا رئيسيا في حذفها. لا توجد كتب في ولاية روح السماء (إن وجد) كما لا توجد الملائكة لكتابة / نشر / توزيعها. القرآن، OT، NT وما هي ببساطة كتب من قبل البشر للبشر.

    اخترعت من قبل الأنبياء الكتبة القديمة عادة للحفاظ على الجماهير من الامم المتحدة والمتعلمين في الصف. اليوم ونحن ندعو لهم مقابل لحن فرز الأصوات.

    كما نبوءات invali مؤرخة من قبل الهدايا الطبيعية / الله / الله من الإرادة الحرة والمستقبل.

    "5. لنعتقد أن جميع الأنبياء صحيحة، ولكن ونحن أمرنا اتباع النبي محمد (عليه الصلاة والسلام
    صلى الله عليه وسلم) وحده. "

    قضى محمد ثلاثين يوما "الصيام" (أسطورة رمضان) في كهف الساخن قبل لقاءه الأول مع الله ويعرف أيضا باسم الله وما إلى ذلك من خلال "افسح المجال ل ثينغي جميلة". الحس السليم يتطلب حذف الخلايا العصبية من رقم 5. # 5 هو أيضا المصدر الرئيسي للالاسلامي VI-olence أي تحول محمد "سريع والجوع يحركها" hallu-cinations إلى واقع فظيع لغير المؤمنين.

    المشي هذه الخطوات الخمس ونحن نضمن انتعاش الكامل من طرقك الإسلامية!!

    للأسف، لا توجد العديد من المعلقين مسلم / القراء على هذا بلوق لذلك "لمدة دقيقتين" هو عدم الحصول على علاج لأولئك الذين في حاجة إليها. إذا كان لديك صديق مسلم، وإرسال نسخة منه وتساعد في إنقاذ العالم.

    خطوات مماثلة متوفرة في طلبك للحصول على deprogramming الأساطير المسيحية واليهودية والبوذية والهندوسية والوثنية

    March 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • mason

      LMAOROTF

      March 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that, "Only for the eyes of our sisters and brothers of Islam."

      And for those who are reading-challenged:

      There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam !

      لم توجد قط ولن تكون أبدا أي الملائكة جبرائيل أي لا، لا الإسلام!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  6. Vic

    !Read Between The Lines!

    Stephen Hawking:

    "Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?"

    "The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?"

    "If we do discover a complete theory, it should be in time understandable in broad principle by everyone. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people be able to take part in the discussion of why we and the universe exist."

    ..
    ..

    Albert Einstein:

    “No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

    In An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck
    The Saturday Evening Post
    Oct. 26, 1929

    March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Reality

      o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      And those two people are also cited as being strongly irreligious. So let's apply Occam's razor here: should we accept that those two are contradicting themselves, or that, like a typical, filthy, unthinking religionist, you are quote-mining them?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • The Tin Foil Hat Brigade Is Here

      For your quote mining, I want you to read between the lines: I'm holding the three longest fingers of my hand together.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Vic

      I believe a lot of scientists (not all) are closet believers in God one way or another! They just can't admit it because of peer pressure/social reasons! It is obvious that some of them use the "reverse psychology" to tell us that this existence can only be created by God!!! Don't you see?! A lot of times articles talk about strange and non-sense theories on purpose to make us think and decide for ourselves!

      Stephen Hawking himself does not believe the Higgs Boson particle can ever be found, and he bet on it!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Skip

      Many atheist males seem to have a fixation with peni.ses and rectums. There may be a connection.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • .

      Vic, believe what you want! Who cares! That's your opinion! Big deal!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "I believe a lot of scientists (not all) are closet believers in God one way or another! "

      Evidence, or GTFO.

      "A lot of times articles talk about strange and non-sense theories on purpose to make us think and decide for ourselves!"

      Quoted for comic relief.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  7. Trevor

    I find it amusing to reads posts saying that atheists are going to hell. We do not have imaginary friends that wound send us there, so don't worry. We're safe.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  8. huskiemom

    Hey, Todd! When you reach levels of omnipotence, please let the whole class know. Until then, if you have any real Theological questions, ask a priest. They are trained in such ideas.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      And if you have questions about craziness, ask a crazy person, not a psychologist.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      = = = = = =
      Richard S. Russell, a Bright (http://the-brights.net)
      2642 Kendall Av. #2, Madison WI 53705-3736
      608+233-5640 • RichardSRussell@tds.net
      http://richardsrussell.livejournal.com/

      = = = = = =
      Wristband logic:

      "I am a Catholic. In case of medical emergency, please call a priest."

      "I am an atheist. In case of medical emergency, please call a doctor."

      March 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  9. Was Lost

    How does it feel to serve Satan? An anti-christ without even knowing it?
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64X-Saa_p8Q&w=640&h=360]

    March 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Answer

      Look at that.. the christian d-e-m-o-n-i-z-e tactic.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Heinrich

      Typical 2 year old fail troll.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  10. Uncle Albert

    "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods."
    -Albert Einstein

    March 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      ..............and so religion falls apart completely.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Einstein also denied that quantum mechanics could possibly work. He was wrong about that, too.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  11. kyle

    Again, all you atheists want to be taken seriously? Then perhaps you should learn some respect for people different than you. Its hilarious really. This article is about how you want to be able to express your atheistic beliefs and yet look at all of the ride, disrespectful, hateful, and prejudiced comments on here. As long as you act like immature children you and your cause will never be taken seriously.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Answer

      You're pretty upset that we don't take your religion seriously.

      Now why are you so upset that we discount your fairy tales? Oh yah, that evidence thing.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Skip

      The drum beating, militant atheists are overwhelmingly nothing more than angry, petulant children.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Heinrich

      Dude, the only ones I see being prejudice towards others is You Christians.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • TJ

      good point, Kyle

      March 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Answer

      Skippy there doesn't like hearing the drums of others. Only the "God is great" drums for you.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • alex

      you wont be taken seriously until you stop believing in a fairy tale. I mean how would you act if someone was trying to tell you harry potter was a true story?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • mason

      Soon, we "nones" will be the majority. The information age is the enemy of irrationality and fairy tale myths.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Nick

      I find it easier to believe the story of a risen Jesus versus the story of a universe created billions and billions and billions and billions of years ago so that the claimant doesn't have to prove anything because of the time span. What is the origination point of the universe or the Big Bang materials. Jesus lived only 2000 years ago. Plus I found that he can forgive you of your sins and get you into heaven just by believing in Him. There is nothing to lose, except your life for all of eternity. Today is the day of your salvation.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      No Nick, today is first day of the rest of your life. But seriously, 2000 years is a long time. A long time for a great evil – the religion of Paul which has spread across the world encouraging persecution of dissenters, slavery, an inferior societal role for women, persecution of homosexuals and criminalization of ordinary sexual behaviors of both gay and straight people, quite a few wars, poverty and ignorance.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  12. Special K

    “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
    ― Søren Kierkegaard

    March 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Dippy

      That's all it can ever change.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Yakobi

      Muslims pray five times a day, prove it "it is rather to change the nature of the one who prays", they get crazier and crazier.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      No need for a god then.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  13. James

    I am an atheist and don't believe in God, but don't understand how the world came into existence. Where did the ingredients from the Big Bang come from? Doesn't the world have to be created from something bigger than itself?

    March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      What have you done to address your ignorance?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Dippy

      Don't think so small, James. The rules of physics can change. Go outside the box.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • JJ

      Atheists don't care about the origin of the Universe. It doesn't matter if a supreme being created it, or the Big Bang did. What does matter is what we can verify as fact. We cannot verify that a god exists. We cannot verify that a god did not set the Big Bang in motion. We also cannot verify how "god" feels about abortion, gay rights, euthanasia, immigrants, war, or any other BS. Therefore, any sane human being would factor god out of the equation. Policy decisions should be made against verifiable facts only.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Translator

      When they say go outside the box they mean use your imagination.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • jungleboo

      For starters, pick up Neil deGrasse Tyson's book ORIGINS FOURTEEN BILLION YEARS OF COSMIC EVOLUTION. The mathematics of E=MC2 can be traced from the present moment back more than 14 billion years, to perhaps a nanosecond into The Big Bang. They are working the problem backwards as well as they can, and have come up with all of the mathematics required for the protons, electrons, etc and the formation of atoms and so forth. If you can read and understand what I have written, then you would probably be able to deal with the book. DeGrasse Tyson writes with humor and clarity, and explains things beautifully. He is the head of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC, voted The World's S3xiest Astrophysicist in 2000 by People Magazine. That sort of thing.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • James

      But doesn't verifiable tangible material (e.g., Earth, universe) have to have a source or Creator? Where did it come from?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • James

      jungleboo - Where did the stuff come from to cause the explosion? Take the time factor out. It could be a googleplex of years, it doesn't answer the question as to what occurred immediately prior to the Big Bang. What was its source? Who created the matter?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • I wonder

      James,

      "immediately prior" IS a time construct. We don't know what the deal is (yet, or maybe we never will).

      March 24, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  14. Trumper

    Sad to see the weak in faith fall into the same trappings that some religious zealots have... pushing their agenda to the extent of harming their cause. Just live life in a loving and truthful way and your light will shine for all around to see. Where there is love there is real life...and existence that transcends all dimensions from the beginning to now and forever after. The simple mind of of an activist atheist... .how cute. there will be another chance to get it right for the ignorant.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • JJ

      Atheism has no agenda, atheists focus on verifiable, observable facts. Religion is pure conjecture. If an atheist claims that a "chair" exists. Is that an agenda? Can you really argue with that?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • James

      JJ – As a fellow atheist, where did the ingredients that make up our universe come from? Christians have me somewhat puzzled by the question.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • jungleboo

      @ James: Read my post above about ORIGINS, the book.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • Trumper

      Atheism has no agenda, atheists focus on verifiable, observable facts. Religion is pure conjecture. If an atheist claims that a "chair" exists. Is that an agenda? Can you really argue with that?

      If an atheist claims a "chair" does not exist and tries to pump millions of dollars in advertisements and radio spots...then yes..that is clearly and agenda driven action. Can you really argue with that? But hey, once you finally can admit that there are agendas on both ends... you can then try to duck the "observable facts" problem ... like what caused the universe....oh wait ..it has always existed right?...Well, if it always existed then it wouldn't be expanding from a central point now would it?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • redzoa

      @James – The answer to your ingredient question is that no one knows. The response to the Christians who offer this question (inferring a necessity of causation) is that there is no evidence indicating a deity played any role. If they offer every action requires causation, the response is that their alleged cause must then too require causation. At that point, they typically invoke special pleading (the "un-caused cause"), arguing that the premise they initially relied on doesn't apply to their proposed solution and they effectively lose.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Trumper

      Ah yes...the "un-caused cause"...how simple and "white flagish".... granted it if one ignored all the massively complexities around us just to claim it was an un-caused cause then it might be pretty easy thinking a trigger does not exist..... living life without that piece .... that cause.... must be easy in some respect....still takes a lot of ignorance or faith.not sure which yet.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • redzoa

      @Trumper – Amongst your ellipses, I see that you agree. The "un-caused cause" is special pleading; an argument by definitional fiat and a logical fallacy. That we don't know what precisely preceded the expansion of the universe or how this came to be is a simple fact, weighing neither for nor against a deity. Acknowledging this simple fact requires only humility. It is not a product of faith, but rather, as you suggest, very much a product of literal ignorance.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Trumper

      So through an un-caused cause you and I and our emotions, and aspirations came to be. And on this very day are bound together through a complex system of acquired/learned expression through a more simpler medium of binary transports and constructs to counter one theory over another. Granted, neither will be proven tonight. I just don't see how an atheist can rely on an un-caused cause to prove an existence of something nobody fully understands....be it the universe, gravity or the spark that starts any seed to life. Like some valence that changes it's property/orbit we both have much to learn as to why.... I believe science is taking a different path to the same conclusions based more on facts that others have already arrived at based on faith.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • redzoa

      @Trumper – " I just don't see how an atheist can rely on an un-caused cause to prove an existence of something nobody fully understands....be it the universe, gravity or the spark that starts any seed to life."

      If you read closely, you'll see that I suggested an "un-caused cause" is the typical solution offered by theists who, after inferring the necessity of causation for all events, must then answer the question of what caused their proffered "cause." The "un-caused cause" is the typical solution to the infinite regress required of theist's initial premise. To my knowledge, atheists do not subscribe to any "un-caused cause." Rather, they simply point out that there is no evidence to indicate any deity has played any role.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Trumper

      Yeah, kind of puts a real kink in the atheist belief that things just are...eh?

      March 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  15. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Rick, Answer, All atheists goons – Word Satan and Jenifer means, atheist, followers of Mohammad, filthy follower of truth absolute, self centered, with mind set of a dog, a secular. They deserve each other to be together in Mecca, hell.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Answer

      Islam, now say hell? Why you change?

      Want toilet paper?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • JJ

      Wow, is that English? I could barely understand what you were trying to say. Is it this: Christianity is the only true religion, even though there is no more evidence that it represents truth than any other religion! Dufus.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      JJ, pardon my hastily done cut and paste job, read my other posts to understand me

      March 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Answer, filthy atheist goon, I use environmentally friendly means to clean my ass, I mean my hands, do you have any problem?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dippy

      We've read most of your other posts. We still don't understand you.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Answer

      You use hands, I only confer to others. You mad.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Mohammad used hands, so does Jesus, they had to go out too!!! right !!!! so we just follow the truth absolute, no shame in using hands and a cup of water

      March 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Answer

      Why so mad with exclamation. Filthy past, filthy future, continue with hands.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  16. Peter Q Wolfe

    Doesn't it seem like christians whether conservative or liberal scape goat social issues like abortions, gay marriage or contraceptives for really fiscal issues instead? I mean to say that morally that hey don't care your a sinner anyways, so they really want to save money not concerned with social damination as much. I swear everytime that I read an article on women's health that is wwhat comes threw my mind. Leta WOMAN decide not a bureaucrat whether religious or politician. Science, technology and education should determine policy not baseless opinions as much. BTW: Wish that they would fund NASA and other critical federal research more than they do today.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  17. Mike Anderson

    It's funny how people who believe in modern fairy tales about god make fun of ancient religions like sun worship, which makes more sense than the crazy story told by the bible.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Trumper

      The ancient pagan rituals were still 'god' based.... just more or less uneducated... they worshiped a god that controlled the sun...the moon...the rivers...the rain...you name it... one cause...one being...call it what you wish.....or ignore it because you can't fathom it's depths.... The commonality is of a higher cause...something bigger than simple selves. Sure, mankind has put a real backward spin on some religious movements and outright fraudulent teachings....it really is easy to get all caught up in that so one can easily ignore the whole issue. Atheism.... it certainly takes a lot of 'faith' to not believe in so much as it does to believe...and just as hard to prove.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  18. JJ

    This guy is my hero. Someone has to take on the evil that is religion.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  19. Satan Your Father

    I will take all of the atheists into the lake of fire with me where the worm doesn't die.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Answer

      Make sure in you imagination that it's as hot as the sun. If you can even figure out how hot it is.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • FanFic

      Ah, you got that from a fantasy horror story, didn't you?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      Sounds fun. Is tonight OK?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      if you see my Mohammad, call me Satan

      March 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • JJ

      I believe in God. I also speak to him every morning. He has repeatedly told me that all Christians are going to burn in Hell. Can you prove different? Can you summon your god? I bet not. Why? Because you are wrong. MY God is the only TRUE God, I pray for all religions, because he hates all of you equally as much.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  20. Chairman Wow

    Is it not delightful that the three most influential Atheists in history are, in no particular order:

    Lenin
    Stalin
    Nietzsche?

    Nietzsche: the philosophical godfather of Fascism.
    Lenin,: the creator of communism.
    Stalin: arch 20th century proponent of “humanistic principles”.

    The result of their “humanistic philosophies”?

    At LEAST 100 million dead.

    The time span:? 53 years between the death of Nietzsche and the death of Stalin

    March 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Richard

      Atheists are in spiritual darkness and do not know their need. Pray for them.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Yes do pray. Secure in the knowledge that you are doing nothing.

      When you pray you do nothing. Don't even go out. Thank you.

      Just die at home like you are suppose to.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "Stalin: arch 20th century proponent of “humanistic principles”."

      More proof that religionists are unread, reason-averse slugs.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Special K

      “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
      ― Søren Kierkegaard

      March 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • The Tin Foil Hat Brigade Is Here

      Sigh... it wasn’t atheism that killed these people, it was totalitarianism....old, and incorrect argument. Do try and get your facts straight, mmmkay, thx.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • athensguy

      Hitler: Catholic
      On the other hand: Carl Sagan, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, Watson: atheists.

      BTW: Lenin did not "create" communism.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Keith

      You probably didn't know that Stalin spent time in a seminary in his youth and almost became a priest.
      Some of the biggest monsters in history were religious, such as Adolf Hitler and many many high level Nazis. Then there is the biggest group of murderers in history the catholic popes who have more blood on her hands than all the other dictators you can name.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Millie

      I am confused, you fail to recognize those leaders who were part of organized religion, who have have also caused millions of deaths.

      For Example:

      Hitler (Christian)- 11 million

      Osama Bin Laden (Muslim)- 3,500

      Christopher Columbus (Christian)- thousands of Native Americans

      Just to name a few. I don't think that it matters what religion you are or are not. Those who perform these mass murders/genocides are mentally unstable and use religion as a catalyst to manipulate, torture, and kill.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:55 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.