home
RSS
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.

CNN Belief: The secular high priest of SXSW

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.

CNN Belief: Atheists ratchet up rhetoric, use billboards to attack Republican politicians

“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. Me

    Discrimination against atheists? I've applied to lots of jobs, and I can't remember any that ask you your religion?

    March 25, 2013 at 3:06 am |
    • John

      That's because it's a dumb question to ask. You might want to ask the JEWS living in Germany from 1936 to 1945 how they liked getting asked that question.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:11 am |
  2. Salim Obaid

    All religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism disagree on everything, at least they agree on one thing, that this dude is going to hell... And the funny part is that you can comment all you can and convince all the people you want, but the reality will never change,,,we are all going to die,, I hope that we all agree on that at least,, and all Abrahamic religions over the last 3000 years at least call for unity of God and his Existence...

    March 25, 2013 at 2:55 am |
  3. Gary Guinn

    It takes brave and intelligent people to take a stand against man made religions. The vast beauty of our solar systems and the cosmos are inspiration enough to bring joy into all our hearts. The old myths about sky gods are absurd and dangerous. Our new cultural evolution is just beginning . Atheists are loving, trusting and seek the truth. Religions have imprisoned the minds of humanity far to long.

    March 25, 2013 at 2:40 am |
    • Dippy

      too long, not to long.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • Opposing View

      Haven't you heard? Jesus Christ wasn't a "sky god". Nor was he a myth. But he was a real live person who walked upon this earth. And Jesus himself stated, "If you don't believe that I'm he, then you shall die in your sins." Meaning, you will go to hell. And all your atheist nonsense don't mean a thing...

      March 25, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • sam stone

      OV: Nor do your Iron Age comic book tales. Fvck you are your empty proxy threats

      March 25, 2013 at 2:57 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Let's assume jesus walked the earth. Now prove that he was divine. Thanks, I didn't think you could.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • ScottLL

      HotAirAce. Your name is fitting. You raise 2 points. Your assumption. Research any authority on antiquity. They agree that Jesus Christ did exist. As far as being able to "prove" he is the son of God, it wouldn't be called faith if you could prove it. My suggestion for you is to read the New Testament and understand what it is saying.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:22 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Once again, my "handle" is a distraction to the apparently simple minded. . .

      Why can't those that claim jesus was divine prove that was/is the case? Why isn't The Babble so compelling that everyone believes it the instant they read it (and I have read it)? Why does one have to believe to beleve?

      March 25, 2013 at 3:27 am |
    • I wonder

      Scott,
      " it wouldn't be called faith if you could prove it."

      So 'faith' (aka 'hope', aka 'wishful thinking') is more important than truth and reality?

      There was a frequent poster on these blogs who used to ask the question:

      - If there were a box sitting on the table which contained the truth about everything, and would prove whether or not your 'faith' was justified and valid and you wouldn't need to have 'faith' anymore, would you look inside?

      March 25, 2013 at 3:37 am |
  4. chanel # 5

    know what i like? Bernie thought up the whole thing. he got murray, hankie and harry to write down the entire shooting match as he dictated. took 2 weeks.
    they threw that new testament of theirs together and immediately hit the road lookin for suckers. what con men. the words "christ" spoke? stolen from an old folk singing trio from 4966 bce.

    some moral teacher. got to hate everybody, drink blood, gouge out eyeballs, cut off hands, and kiss butt. and you all believed it.

    and not a hair on their heads got touched. Herod and pilate invested and they all made a killing. my cousins inherited a ton of money and their estate on the riviera

    March 25, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I told you, it was Harry that was the mastermind! Bernie was a drunken third-rate scribe! Repeating your blasphemy will not make it so!

      March 25, 2013 at 2:52 am |
  5. Semma

    I'm not an atheist, perhaps a loose deist in the grandest sense, but I am fairly certain that all of the gods created by mankind are quite false. why? No evidence, all very silly, all created from the EGO, nothing real

    March 25, 2013 at 2:19 am |
  6. davidc

    You will see Him and He will look at you with pity, because He loves you. He will say to you, "my child," and you will answer Him, "my father." 'promise

    Pursue the truth at all costs. Never stop pursuing it.

    March 25, 2013 at 2:10 am |
    • Emma

      you have no soul, nothing happens when you die. don't waste your life

      March 25, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Where's your evidence of a god?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      Then why not believe the truth, davidc? You're not showing a whole lot of intelligence.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • John

      DavidC, you seriously sound Like you could have your own cult in the next few years. Does anyone else think Jonestown when you hear idiots like this?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John, prove that the leaders of Georgetown, and their followers, were not on the right path. After all, they had sufficient conviction in their myths to die for them, an act by some early christians that some use to argue for the validity of the jesus death cult.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • sam stone

      Wow.....a promise. Why should we care about your promise?

      March 25, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Sorry John (here), I may have confused you with the other, or another, John who claims to have perfect knowledge of some god.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:14 am |
  7. Opposing View

    FACT: Being an unbeliever will not prevent you from going to hell. It will only ensure it…

    March 25, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      OV. Where's your evidence for a god? I know you've had your god-juice today so I'd expect you'd have loads of proof to post.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • Emma

      There is no hell. nothing lasts forever. Humans have always hoped to not die, your religion was made with this in mind, to ensure perpetual followers. There is no heaven, no hell, no afterlife. Let the childish notions go, you have no 'father'. Just try harder to be a good human.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • Opposing View

      In Santa… Jesus Christ is all the evidence I need. Where's yours?…

      Emma… You say "There is no hell. Nothing lasts forever." If that is the case then prove it. Put up or shut up. And don't evade the question…

      March 25, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      There is no need to disprove such preposterous concepts as hell and heaven. The onus of proof is on the one making the claim. Common sense would seem to make such concepts as being ridiculous unless one has been hopelessly brainwashed from childhood.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:39 am |
    • Opposing View

      Religion is… That's nothing but an excuse to evade the question and to keep from admitting you have no proof. Even a fool should know, if you have no proof to back up your counterargument, then you have no counterargument…

      March 25, 2013 at 2:47 am |
    • John

      I think the whole point is that we don't know. Religion preaches certainty. Atheist preach we just don't really know if there is a god. I will tell you this though, there are a lot of things in the bible that have been disproven because of science. Take of your blinders!!!!! PS, it might be very difficult to disprove that a imaginary character does not exist.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • sam stone

      OV: you sure have an issue confusing FACT with OPINION.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • sam stone

      OV: you ask Emma to prove her opinion and say "put up or shut up". where is the proof of yours, punk?

      March 25, 2013 at 3:03 am |
  8. A Darkes

    Has this guy ever heard of the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution? Atheism was declared the state religion, the conditions of things were so awful within 3 years the were essentially forced to allow the Bible back into France.

    This poor soul needs to study up on his history. Humanism gave rise to eugenics, which showed it's true colors in the Nazi regime.

    Atheism and Humanism continue to spread in our society, at the same time morals decline. This is no coincidence.

    March 25, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Did you miss out on school completely?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      How can the truth cause morals to decline?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Dippy

      Its, not it's. Do you even know the difference, Darkes?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • Lord Lucan

      If you think the Bible is a source of morals, you've clearly never read it, or like most christians you hypocritically select the bits you can relate to........who says morality is declining anyway? I think you'll find most atheists care about others and the world around them much more than people of dogma.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  9. davidc

    Are all these self-professed atheists the same person? They certainly seem to share the same brain. All I see is a condescending, sometimes hateful bunch of posts all using the same terms: "reason", "evidence", "deities", "childish", "myths", "magic", "santa claus", "unicorns," etc. Nice jargon. I believe in reason, evidence, and a Deity, and in no myths, magic, or "fanciful beings", and I am not childish in my beliefs, in spite of being labeled as such. For all your language about "tolerance" and "respect for other's beliefs" you don't seem very tolerant or respectful of my beliefs. That's hypocrisy at its finest. Another well-used idea is that "Christians are hypocrites." Well, let's just see how well you can use your keen "reason" and "logic" to search for your "empirical evidence". Go look up for yourselves secular studies on how much an average (this means typical, as opposed to your very ILLOGICAL use of anecdotal evidence to draw conclusions or simply spouting the same thing you read in a combox somewhere) Christian gives of his own time and treasure to charitable causes versus an average atheist. If you want to "make the world a better place" you'd be much better off following the tenets of a religion, which flow from the belief in a Creator who created us out of love, for love, than being an atheist. You all say that "evidence" is all-important. Go find it, if you ACTUALLY have intellectual honesty and are as concerned with "the truth" as much as you say you are. I live in one of the reddest, most religious states of the union. We are also one of the poorest, but (guess what?) we also rank #1 in terms of charitable giving.

    Done yet? ...

    Another point: Another tired idea: Teaching children about God and the tenets of religion is "indoctrination" and "child abuse." What if a couple were to raise their son from the time he was very young telling him that there is no God and those Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. were all mentally challenged, ignorant people holding on to "myths" about "the magic spaghetti monster" that they have been "childishly" holding on to and that anybody who is intelligent and uses his "reason" will believe that there is no God. Of course, I'm exaggerating (or am I?) to make a point but is that not indoctrination? Or would it not be, because it is "the truth" (as you see it)? Filling his young little mind with the idea that we're just a product of chance (which is a preposterous idea, btw) and that life really has no meaning, as opposed to the truth that we are all created by a God who is Our Father and loves and cares for us and to whom we were created to return after this short life is truly "child abuse". What a sad state of existence, not knowing who you are, where you came from, why you're here, or where you're going.

    Many of the greatest minds (actually the vast majority) in history found belief in God perfectly reasonable.

    Soon enough, you will all see that there is indeed a God. Remember, you heard it here.

    Bye now, God Bless.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Damocles

      And yet here you are, being condescending and saying the same things that have been said over and over and over again. I guess all the believers on here are the same person as well.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      Teaching children religion is abuse. Why not tell them the truth right up front? Why do they need to believe in your bullshit fairy tales? Stop the insanity. Throw out the outdated mythology. Science rules!

      March 25, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • BlakeA

      Attack the enemy, young david. You have been well trained. Good dog.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      And if there were any evidence for a god it would be a more compelling story. All creation myths are disproved by modern knowledge. Believers in this invisible omnipotent, omniscient being need to make the case and show some evidence.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • doctorbabaguy

      "What if a couple were to raise their son from the time he was very young telling him that there is no God...". Well, we did, and our two seem to have turned out to be two fine young man and woman–compassionate, skeptic, kind, tolerant–one of them already a parent, and both still firmly 'non-believers'. Surely we did not tell them that those who are religious are fools but merely that they fail to question deeply their fundamentals of beliefs.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:10 am |
    • L

      Just as not all christians are the same, neither are all atheists.

      We are a diverse minority.

      If you want to call out atheists for being condescending and sometimes rude or hateful, then you must also look at christians who, under the guise of neighborly, christian love, are very much the same.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • Also

      stupid is as stupid does

      March 25, 2013 at 2:17 am |
    • Scott

      And Religious people have NEVER been condescending, they have NEVER persecuted others for their beliefs, They have NEVER killed in the name of their God or even worse used the name of their God to justify killings for political, territorial, and economic reasons or even just because they hate someone. If fact these things go on to this day. You live in a glass house and you are using a catapult to throw your stones. Look at what goes on and has gone on in the name of your religion. I consider my self to be a Christian and I am ashamed of some of the things that have been done by evil people in the name of my God, I am sure there are people of many other religions who feel the same. I will pause for the hypocrites to say "I didn't condone that", many didn't condemn it either because it benefited them, made them secretly feel good that the nonbelievers were punished. The sad thing about religion is while there are some truly good people in them there are some truly evil people fostering hate and bigotry and the good people mostly sit on their hands and do nothing. One thing I will give the atheists, I don't see them killing others for their "religion", maybe we could learn from them.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      A religious person learning from an atheist? That would be like teaching integral calculus to my dog. Just can't happen.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • HitchedBritches

      "I believe in reason, evidence, and a Deity, and in no myths, magic, or "fanciful beings", and I am not childish in my beliefs, in spite of being labeled as such."

      Well, see, that can't really be completely true. There is the minor inconvenience of a major contradiction there. That you don't recognize it says a lot.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:45 am |
  10. Contra

    I support any organization that fights discrimination, of any kind. Period.
    I like Jesus, I like him a lot, but I'm more concerned that organizations like this have a basis for existing in the first place. Christians nowadays aren't real Christians, the only reason people are getting upset is because they're being asked to step up to the plate and practice what they preach. STOP BEING HATEFUL PEOPLE.
    Besides, the whole basis for defending God is absurd, I'm pretty sure he can take care of himself.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • Also

      none of the gods of Man are real

      March 25, 2013 at 2:17 am |
    • sam stone

      also: they are real to the believers

      March 25, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  11. Keith

    I just don't understand the "Athiest Movement". I have never been one to believe in God, but why do people feel the need to join together to promote a lack of belief? I think this all goes back to a person's need to be a part of something – whether that be religion or anti-religion. Belive whatever you believe, but don't preach that others should do the same.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Zues

      Exactly why "happy holidays" got started instead of "merry Christmas"... cant wait for the war on Christmas again this year.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Jason

      It's not a group of people joining together to promote a lack of belief.... That's not what this is, read the article again please....

      It's a promotion of belief equality. Christianity and many other religions are WELL represented legally when it comes to business and government positions... Who is representing those of us that don't believe?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • Tom

      If you don't understand why there is an atheist movement, you either don't understand the harm religion has done or you don't understand why religion ends up doing harm. Part of it is faith, a sort of belief without evidence mentality. It's about raising awareness of the harm religious dogmatism does and asking religions to stop imposing their beliefs on other human beings. And how about we start doing something about the human impact on the planet? If people didn't believe Jesus was going to come and save us from our own destruction maybe we'd at least be a little less invasive of the planet's resources and actually care about what the world will be like in 10 or so years.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • chanel # 5

      xtianity is guilty of all evil everywhere

      March 25, 2013 at 2:17 am |
    • HotAirAce

      No, only most in many places.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • sam stone

      keith: when the believers use their beliefs to deny others their civil rights, then need to be opposed

      March 25, 2013 at 3:06 am |
  12. DolphT

    Man created "god" in his own image - probably during a thunderstorm that killed daddy. Actually, many men created many gods over time and the only thing they have in common is that their shamen are conment with their hands in the wallets of others.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • chanel # 5

      his name was bernie

      March 25, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • HotAirAce

      No, it was Harry that thought everything up. Bernie was an assistant scribe of no consequence.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:25 am |
  13. Zues

    Atheism is a religion like NOT smoking is a habit.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  14. i12bphil

    I would simply like to know why being an atheist means you automatically have to become a complete j@ck@ss to everyone around you.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Why characteristics const!tute being a jackazz? Simply disagreeing with delusional jesus death cult members? What about those believers that vehemently tell small children they will go to hell for eternity if?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  15. i12bphil

    Well, we finally get to meet the anti-Christ...

    March 25, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • Jason

      Or perhaps meet a sane person who doesn't believe in fairy tales...

      Depends on your perspective but I will tend to side with him.

      Count me in the anti-Christ group as well.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • G to the T

      In your previous post "I would simply like to know why being an atheist means you automatically have to become a complete j@ck@ss to everyone around you."

      And then you turned around and said "Well, we finally get to meet the anti-Christ..."

      You REALLY don't see the irony in that. How should peopel react when you group them into what is (in your mind) one of the greatest evils that can possibly be? Is it really any wonder we're defensive and a bit put out?

      April 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  16. Miked

    When you don't believe in anything intangible, you have no spirit... No soul. There are forces in this planet that depend on people to not believe in a Higher Power to monetarily profit from them, like wolves to lambs. Find your own spiritual path, believe in a God that can help us all make this planet a paradise on earth for EVERYONE. May Jehovah God bless us all! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! Amen.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • Damocles

      How about I go ahead and continue to think that people will eventually wise up and do the things that need to be done in order to have a better planet? I mean, sure, I can wish upon a deity to make everything a-ok, but it's a lot like wishing upon a star, or a potted plant. The only thing I've done if I wish for things to change is given me time to act all shocked when nothing has changed.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  17. HotAirAce

    Oh how the mentally ill delusional believers whine when their childish myths are examined. . .

    Every day, they move one step closer to becoming exactly the same as astrologists, their predecessors on the evolutionary tree of stupidity.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Salero21

      Au Contraire! Evolution is foolishness in the most extreme degree. Atheists who believe evolution are therefore twice as fools.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Opposing View

      I don't know any mentally ill delusional believers. But I know plenty mentally ill delusional "non-believers"...

      March 25, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • John

      HAA, what's funny is reading what you're saying. When God acts, you can do odds calculations on probability of whatever occurring and then say "that's 1/infinity" or a number with 30, 40, 50, 60 zeros in it... it becomes common and so much that you just give up bothering other than to acknowledge he's doing what he does. You never see that, one, because you won't believe after the fact stuff, because it's over, and "made up". It's much like the bible accounts... to you... all made up... because you won't give God the benefit of the doubt. And you know what, ANYTHING God would do to or for a person present day, past or future, is honestly insignificant compared to forming the universe. I'm not downplaying anything God has done, but I'm saying in relation to what he's done in the past... we're dust... God interacting with dust... spirits within dust. That's how insignificant we are in comparison, and that interaction... it's not an issue. It being from God, it's a miracle, but it's normal and quite small compared to what God has done, and is capable of. I love God and know he can do what he said. And when Jesus showed up to die for sins of those that believe him, I know God was being straight about that too. It's all there, but not if you don't believe him, to you, it's nonsense, but to me, it's an opportunity to acknowledge that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob... he is God and he made everything.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      salt shaker, you frequently post that. Where's your proof that evolution is wrong. We know more about evolution than we do about gravity – I suppose you believe in that?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • Damocles

      @John

      So you are saying you are dust, yet can somehow have a meaningful relationship with the person running the vacuum cleaner?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      OV, You're just making that up for effect. I'll bet you don't make purchases such as automobiles or houses, make investments, etc. without verifying. Why would you trust the imagings of ancient tribes over verifiable science? It's not like you don't use science – internet, cell phones, satellite TV, etc.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • HotAirAce

      What about those belonging to religious cults, such as the Roman Catholic Church, that have stated they accept evolution and that there is no conflict between their cult's beliefs and evolution? Are they stupid too?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • John

      It's funniest when a believer in God has to tell someone that "believes in science", what science recently admitted.

      "Reverse Evolution"... "oops! We have no idea what's going on!"... "sorry for diverting you from God"... "not really, we don't care"

      Major bungle by science. Oh well, if you believed them, that's your loss, and it's what you wanted, right?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:58 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John, for your blather to be accepted or have any merit, one must assume there is a god. There is no verifiable, objective, independent, factual evidence to support the existence of any god. Why do you accept such a proposition when the odds of it being true are 1 / 1 x 10 to the 30, or 40 or 50 or . . .? Why is your conclusion (some god exists) any more valid than mine (it is very unlikely any god exists)?

      March 25, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      John, That made no sense. If you have proof that science is wrong, post it. Gaps in our knowledge does not mean a god did it.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • chanel # 5

      know what i like? Bernie thought up the whole thing. he got murray, hankie and harry to write down the entire shooting match as he dictated. took 2 weeks.
      they threw that new testament of theirs together and immediately hit the road lookin for suckers. what con men. the words "christ" spoke? stolen from an old folk singing trio from 4966 bce.

      some moral teacher. got to hate everybody, drink blood, gouge out eyeballs, cut off hands, and kiss butt. and you all believed it.

      and not a hair on their heads got touched. Herod and pilate invested and they all made a killing. my cousins inherited a ton of money and their estate on the riviera

      March 25, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • John

      D, yes, we're all dust, mostly water filled dust. And you have a spirit within you, but you deny it, because you don't want to know that God is there. In the end, you'll find out what I already know, and many others knew... yes, God exists. God is a spirit, he's not anything physical, he can form a universe and dwell within it... because he isn't something physical. Like we have both phyisical and spiritual aspects, God is spiritual. And yes, he can interact like anyone... if that's what he wants.

      It's all nonsense, right? Ask the guys in the bible what they thought about it... because you wont' believe me or anyone else... everyone is a liar, mentally ill, or delusional... so you can deny God. We're all doing that so you can be happy... no one else knows what's going on, but you... and that's how it will remain, in your mind.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John, you *know* nothing about any god. You only think you know. Unless you have some verifiable, objective, factual, independent evidence for your claims, of course. Thanks, I didn't think so.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • John

      HAA, it is your contention that God isn't there. Everyone that has told you that God is there, you have discounted their statements and said only evidence you can see, as it happens, will suffice.

      So what?

      I don't care. I already know God is there. For me, it's over, he's there. For you, you won't read the instructions God gave and you don't like what he said to do. So what? How does that affect me? I'm typing right now, because I feel someone needs to say God exists and that he created everything... because I know it's true... I don't believe it, I know it. I've done the statistics. If you had God doing things that you could do statistics on... it's likely you might have been typing right now what I'm saying... and no one would believe it, that didn't already believe before. Again, you got what you wanted... you didn't believe God, and didn't want him to be there, so he gave it to you, as much as you liked, stumbling blocks all over the place for you to trip on, because that's what you wanted.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:23 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John, please provide your statistical analysis, or a pointer to it, for the existence of any god. I bet you cannot not, or will not.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:29 am |
    • John

      HAA, since when have you started believing anyone saying God is there? Because that's all it is at this point. Any interaction God has done in the past... is past... for anyone God has interacted with. If he's said something is future, you have that too, but my experience here is that is rejected too.

      My understanding is that you and others like you, that do not believe God, will not believe God unless you see first hand, said evidence... from God himself. You don't need me for that, you need YOU and a bible, YOU beliving God, reading it and taking the time to understand what he's said and done, and giving him the benefit of the doubt for, and I'm being honest here, for basically insignificant compared to a universe formation, events God did with those he interacted with. Are you up to it? Are you able to pick up a bible and read it? Because you won't believe me or anyone else telling you, and probably won't believe anyone in the bible either... because if you had, you would have believed God by now, and haven't so we have the answer for that, don't we...

      March 25, 2013 at 2:41 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John, you claimed to have done the research and statistics – you should be able to provide that to us, to educate us. I don't think you undertook any kind of systemic assessment of The Babble or the existence of any god. I think it is more likely your brain is damaged, perhaps as a result of bad drugs.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:46 am |
    • John

      HAA, you obviously think you're right, and probably enjoy thinking that. I won't ruin your fantasy. But do realize, I am right, God is there, and you are wrong... clearly wrong, and you're happy to be such.

      There are only 2 options, the one you say, and the one I say. Unlike you, I know he's there. Think about it.

      March 25, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      John, I am thinking about it. I am trying to see your point of view, but you refuse to share your research. You are the one making the absolute claim that some god exists – I did not say that no god exists, I said it was unlikely. One can only conclude that you have no rationale reason to believe, as you claimed you did, so you must be mentally ill, a liar, both. I'm going with both.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:05 am |
    • John

      HAA, here's a good example for you to think about. The last part of Daniel, imagine it's being described to you, and you then reply with what? What would you tell Daniel? What names would you call him? How much would you ridicule him? He like you said, would then become a liar, mentally ill, lots of names, and what difference did it make to you? It made no difference at all, because to you, everything Daniel said is a lie, or delusion, or he was dreaming and it makes no sense to you. So open a bible if you have one, or get a link to text online, and read that last part of Daniel, and reply back with all the vile ridicule you can dream up... because that's what you'd do for anyone telling you God is there... because quite frankly, you don't want to know, and don't care in the least.

      This reply here is just what you wanted, not exactly as you wanted it, but really, it's all there... blast away... and understand that it's right... and God is there... and you reject no matter what is told to you... at any point in time, past, present or future... so it makes no difference who said it, or when you're told.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:44 am |
    • HotAirAce

      We cannot have a rationale conversation about the contents of The Babble until we have a common understanding of the truth or value of The Babble. Convince me that The Babble is not a work of fiction by middle eastern goat herders and we can proceed. Until then, we may as well discuss the Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series, both examples of superior (to Te Babble at least) fiction.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:40 am |
    • John

      HAA, if you won't look at the last portion of Daniel, you won't believe anyone else either. Every account in the bible, where they said God interacted, is a heartfelt statement by those that interacted with him, or a scribe writing it up for them later. And tbh, everything is after the fact anyway. You'll never get the 'first hand proof' you want, until you believe God first, and if you do get it, none of your atheist peers will believe you... much like you now. Because being after the fact, you all deny using the standard atheism motto:

      "If God is mentioned, deny it ever happened because they'd have to be liars or delusional, and if it actually happened, say nothing did it instead"

      The bible is a small fraction of every interaction God has had, but that's what you get to work with until you put in the time and effort yourself to believe and find God. You certainly won't believe anyone telling you directly. I did give you a big hint, yes God is there, but it's basically the same hint you get from the other accounts and you don't believe them either. You're happy, and so is God... because you didn't want to know him anyway, else you would have put in the effort before this, and during this.

      You look at things of God and think you know it's all wrong, but fail to recognize how wrong you are in doing that. Have fun laughing at the truth... but realize it looks pretty silly to someone that knows you're wrong... about as funny as I look to you in telling you that.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:07 am |
    • John

      ISWT, look up "Reverse Evolution" and dust mites. Basically science is admitting evolution is a failed concept. You might as well admit God is making what ever he wants... or I will, which ever.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:18 am |
  18. Nathan

    Also, see The Christology of the New Testament by Oscar Cullmann (1963), The Background of the New Testament and Its Eschatology by W.D. Davies, et. al. (1956), The Origins of Paul's Religion by J. Gresham Machen (1925), Methodology in the Study of the Mystery Religions and Early Christianity in Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (1968), Early Gentile Christianity and Its Hellenistic Background" in Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation by A.D. Nock (1928) and Pagan and Christian Mysteries by Hugo Rahner (1955). Nash and Brown basically summarize the findings of these scholars in addition to supplementing their findings with more recent evidence that suggests 1st century Christianity did not steal its ideas from paganism. (Though many Christians did speak Greek, leading them to use some of the same terms as Pagans used, but with different meanings.)

    March 25, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • Gerry

      Library cards are cheap. Do you understand what are supposedly in these books to explain them here?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • clarity

      My question would be WHY did apologists like Justin Martyr and others have to come up with that whacky notion of diabolical mimicry?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:30 am |
  19. James

    Atheism is stupid.

    If you want to be scientific be agnostic. A true scientific person wouldn't make up their mind either way without proof for or against something. Atheists are more stupid than religious people because at least religious people have a purpose for their belief other than being contrarian. There is no proof for a god, there is no proof that god was made up.

    If I told you that there was an elephant in a completely barren room you wouldn't say I was a liar until you looked all over that room, yet that is what atheists do. Humans have not been far beyond our moon, and we are just getting the first glimpses into the universe past our galaxy. We cannot say that there is no god because all the options have not been exhausted...thus atheism is stupid.

    March 25, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      James, When the creation myths of all religions are shown to be incorrect by our knowledge of science and the majority of the bible is either proven wrong or cannot be verified, don't you think that skepticism is the sensible path? The religious are the ones making the claim, shouldn't they be the ones to support that claim with evidence? So in your analogy, god is the elephant.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Pete

      If you want to be "scientific" you also have to be agnostic about all the other gods, and about vampires, werewolves, dragons, ogres, leprechauns, and pretty much everything else from all the world's cultures and religions. If you were honest you'd have to be equally concerned that all of them could be real, and lots of them require worship and tribute like God. So, do you try to please all of them, just in case, or do you try living a life not based on fear?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Damocles

      Depends on the size of the room. If we are talking about a room that is just big enough to hold the elephant then, yes, I might just call you a liar. If we are talking about an eternity sized room that would take me an eternity to search, the point os moot.

      If you are going to allow a never ending universe, yes, all things are possible, but all things would be equally impossible. So, from your viewpoint, absolutely nothing can be dismissed as the possible start point of the universe, but if the universe is eternal, it would have no scientific or supernatural start point. We have a conundrum.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • The Seeker

      Your point is exactly what Einstein would have said, as a scientific question atheism is an ignorant response based on fear.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Pete

      James
      You might claim there is an elephant in the room, but while we're searching we might find an aardvark that wasn't a part of your theology. Does your belief that there is only an elephant make the aardvark not real? Religion says that there is a God out there, but we've found other things, things that religious people deny. That's what's going on in your room.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • The Seeker

      Einstein's exact quotes on the matter:

      I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.

      Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres.

      In the view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognise, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support for such views.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • Opposing View

      Atheism is stupid because Jesus Christ was the Son of God and atheists refuse to acknowledge that fact. Jesus Christ is all the proof they need. Even Jesus himself stated (John 8:24) – "If you don't believe that I am he, then ye shall die in your sins (meaning you will go to hell)…

      2 John 1:7 – For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      OV. When the creation myths of all religions are shown to be incorrect by our knowledge of science and the majority of the bible is either proven wrong or cannot be verified, don't you think that skepticism is the sensible path? The religious are the ones making the claim, shouldn't they be the ones to support that claim with evidence?
      As I said to you in another post – you wouldn't just trust someone selling you a car, house, investment, etc. why would you trust ancient superstition over verifiable science?

      March 25, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • Damocles

      @opposing

      Then your deity is a tyrant and you sound no better than someone claiming that you better follow Hitler if for no other reason that you don't want to be placed in front of a firing squad. You may want to be shackled to a tyrant, but I don't.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Post and run Seeker,
      Einstein did not believe in a personal god.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:57 am |
  20. Nathan

    By the way, I have a B.A. in Philosophy/Theology from Point Loma Nazarene University (a school known for having some very liberal theology professors (not a fundamentalist Christian school).

    March 25, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • Gerry

      So? Ted Kaczynski went to Harvard when he was 16 and earned a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. Doesn't make him any less wrong.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • chanel # 5

      h orton wiley.

      the fact is, reborning xtianity has robbed the bland and boring stuffed shirt atheists of all their panache. they abuse everyone all the time and are proud of it. their greatest thrill surfaced within the last 24 hours when they admitted culling the cooperation of those godless boobs who all along took them seriously! like they really believe in god. imagine.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:38 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
Advertisement
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.