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The money man behind atheism’s activism
Todd Stiefel, a wealthy businessman, is responsible for bank rolling many atheism activism projects.
March 23rd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

The money man behind atheism’s activism

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small.

For Stiefel, a slim, scruffy ex-Catholic, his public persona is his wallet and activism. Through the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the 38-year-old has made an indelible impact on the nation’s fastest-growing “religious” group: the nonbelievers. Most of the highest-profile atheists campaigns –- flashy billboards in high-traffic areas, news-making efforts to get atheists to come out of the closet, and boisterous rallies - are funded by his fortune.

Stiefel isn’t shy about his far-reaching goals.

“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”

So far, Stiefel has pumped $3.5 million into those aspirations, and his money benefits a number of atheist organizations, from the Clergy Project, a group that helps atheist and doubting clergy out of the closet, to American Atheists, arguably the most in-your-face atheist group in the country.

Stiefel sees his work as far more than just money. For him, this is just the beginning.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

From Catholic school to atheist millionaire

Stiefel was born in Albany, New York, in 1974 to Catholic parents. He was raised in a Catholic household, confirmed in the church, attended Sunday school, went to a Catholic high school.

“I was a cross-wearing, praying, religious-retreat Catholic,” Stiefel said. “You could say there were points that I felt the spirit.”

But his faith, he said, fluctuated during high school. “I was always a skeptic,” he said, “and I always asked a lot of questions.”

At 18, Stiefel attended Duke University to pursue a degree in psychology. To fill an elective, he took an Old Testament history class at the Duke University Divinity School. It was there, he said, that his final “ebb” away from belief took hold.

In the class, Stiefel said he saw a flawed logic in the Old Testament. In particular, he said, he began to see much of the Old Testament as unoriginal stories that had been told in many pagan traditions.

“'Wait a second, is what I believe in really the truth or is it really the accumulation of myths bundled in a package?’” Stiefel remembers asking himself. “That was the end of my faith right there.”

After graduating from Duke, Stiefel went into the family business: Stiefel Laboratories, a company that develops products to combat skin diseases. For 12 years, Stiefel worked with his family and turned the business into a major player in their specialized market.

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. LAST DAY

    We do not live in a "Coincidental" Universe,

    but we live in a "Mathematically Programmed" Universe!

    Even those 4 Fundamental Forces are intricately and precisely programmed from the very beginning!

    So GOD is the ultimate Creator and Sustainer of Cosmic and Biologic Evolution,

    from the beginning to the end!

    and His "Mathematically Designed" most Superb and Matchless WORD is here,

    with us now, for our Eternal Salvation and Happiness!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES!

    March 25, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • sam stone

      Nothing but conjecture

      March 25, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Let me guess. The mathematics you are talking about is hidden in the Bible so that only the wise people to whom God chooses to reveal it can see it. But now someone is ready to make it known to everyone. That sounds kind of viral. Don't allow just anything to run on your wetware. Here's a clue: you don't have to believe any of that crap. Realize that there are no gods involved in your life or anyone else's. You have been lied to and you have believed the lies. That's all. You can get over it.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • the AnViL™

      i was almost certain the link at the bottom was going to be for timecube.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • emp

      So your argument is "There's math, therefore God exists?" Really?

      March 25, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • fintastic

      A big fat pack of lies.....

      April 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  2. Brother Maynard

    John
    how does a seed, that was placed on stoney ground by a farmer, make the stoney ground furtile?
    Here's my point.
    Do you realize the most if not all current atheists WERE once believers? I was. I had 12 years of catholic education. I was an altar boy and at one point in my life considered the priest hood. It took me aprox 40 years to de-convert. I actually went into atheism kicking and screaming... It was ANYTHING but "easy"

    March 25, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      dang ... as soon as I hit 'Post' I knew a messed up an put this in the wrong stream.
      This is for John down below
      sorry 'bout that

      March 25, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      No worries – everyone will celebrate your recovery.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • John

      BM, if you're claiming to be a dead plant... what do you want to do about it? If you're a plant that's dying, and sprouting roots further out to find furtile ground, that's a good plan for you I guess. I told you what I feel I am supposed to say, that I know God is there and you'll either believe it or not. Other than that, I don't care because you have the same access to God's word that I have, and you chose what ever you wanted to believe based on what you wanted, and that either grew the plant, killed it, or left it nearly dead... all on your choice and those you associated with that lead you to stoney ground to die in.

      Lots of things to trip on in the bible, you'll either be a man and become self sufficient to make your way over the stumbling blocks, or you'll laugh about the challenge like it's a cartoon, sit idle, and toss away knowing the most incredible being in existence: God.

      I'll tell you up front, he's there, for real. The people saying that in the bible, they told you the truth. The things God did then, not downplaying their significance... but we're dust, and he created an entire universe... there's no comparison. He's God.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Science

      Hey John haow about this one............................. garvity wins splat goes a fairy .

      Curtains Down for the Black Hole Firewall Paradox: Making Gravity Safe for Einstein Again

      Mar. 6, 2013 — Research by scientists at the University of York has revealed new insights into the life and death of black holes. Their findings dispel the so-called firewall paradox which shocked the physics community when it was announced in 2012 since its predictions about large black holes contradicted Einstein's crowning achievement - the theory of general relativity. Those results suggested that anyone falling into a black hole would be burned up as they crossed its edge - the so-called event horizon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130306084151.htm

      March 25, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      John sez:
      "Lots of things to trip on in the bible, you'll either be a man and become self sufficient to make your way over the stumbling blocks"
      In other words you want me to accept the bible blindly
      ( BTW - LOVE the plea to my manhood there )

      ", or you'll laugh about the challenge like it's a cartoon, "
      Because the bible IS a cartoon

      " sit idle, and toss away knowing the most incredible being in existence: God."
      Again ... I actually DID know god ... in my youth, remember the whole kicking and screaming thing?

      March 25, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • John

      BM, this is the beauty of it all, that we're in the shuttle on Mars, and you're running around claiming, "I don't care, we're here, I'm on Mars! I'm going out right now!" and some on the shuttle are saying "No! BM! look at the dials, read the report about the atmosphere, you'll suffocate! Don't do it!" and there you go... jumping out the door with no suit on or life support... and it's another dead body on Mars. Don't you people have a motto for that "Darwin award" or something? That's what's going on right now with you and the bible, and you're set that the atmosphere is fine on Mars to breathe... OK... what ever.

      I know God is there, I know he exists. Call it a joke if you like, I don't care. I'll never forget God, I'll never deny he made his creation. And yes, I do love him, it's a thrill to know him.

      Enjoy your stay on Mars I guess... what ever gets the point across about the huge mistake you're making/made.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • NASA: Mars could have supported life

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWdU_px9ApE&w=640&h=360]

      March 25, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Madtown

      it's a thrill to know him
      -----
      I'm new to this thread, apologies if you've already gone over this. But, how is it that you "know" God? How have you accomplished this? What steps did you take? How does he interact with you that leads to you knowledge of him? When you say "know", I'm assuming it's the literal meaning of the word know, as we all "know" our friends and family members. Is this the nature of your relationship?

      March 25, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      John sez:
      "I know God is there, I know he exists. Call it a joke if you like, I don't care. I'll never forget God, I'll never deny he made his creation. And yes, I do love him, it's a thrill to know him."
      Uh ... sorry no you don't. You DON'T know ... you have FAITH that he does ... but that is not knowledge.
      Faith is the accepetance of something as true with out the evidence to back it up.
      THAT is what you have
      I just lack that ... I lack FAITH

      March 25, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Thai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossile

      Hey John your fairy a foosil yet ?

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

      March 25, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • John

      M, it's a waste of time, because if you won't believe what's in the bible, you won't believe anyone present day telling you either. But I will say this, God is not just what you read in the bible. What's missing in the text, is the unexpected aspect of his interaction, no one in the bible was expecting it, when he showed up to say something, or do something. That's what's missing in the text, there's no feeling of that happening when you read it, or very little feeling of it, especially if you're re-reading a portion of it. The thing is though, God knows ahead of time what someone will be doing, so he's not surprized. He knows your birth to death, everything you've thought, done, said, seen, heard, and what's going on within you... all of it... you're like an open book, we all are... all over the world.

      If you think I'm joking... no, I'm not. It's real, he's really there, and he's beyond anything people expect, or can comprehend. He's the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and he sent Jesus to die for the sins of those that would believe him. Jesus exists too, and so does the Holy Spirit... as real as you are, and much more.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • fintastic

      "If you think I'm joking... no, I'm not. It's real, he's really there, and he's beyond anything people expect, or can comprehend."

      So this is just based on a "feeling" you get or have?..... not any real evidence?... thought so...

      April 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  3. Realist

    To religionist,, a dog does not sit and think of how food got into a can of dog food. And just as a dog,, we too can't think of the right questions to ask. One day, by accident we will and find out that life itself is incredibly simple.

    yes, we are slightly intellectually above a dog,, but a dog had abilities we don't have. Stop being so arrogant

    March 25, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  4. Realist

    our brains,, religionist attempt to rename it as a soul. Brains alone are proof of evolution. As life began as simple amoeba, we had a need to feed and protect ourselves. Our brains developed to meet these survival needs. Even plants have some level of intelligence, they open towards the sun.

    In fact our brains are quite limited,, we never created a single thing, everything outside of primitive emotion has been from discovery and accident. The day we discovered a wheel, we didn't create a Mercedes Benz the next day. That all happened over many years of more accidents and discoveries.

    March 25, 2013 at 8:00 am |
  5. Chick-a-dee

    Up doing some reading and came across the term "primordial ocean". I looked it up online and the search results were linked to all sorts of subjects. After clicking here, there and everywhere I just had to ask the question. Let me preface this by saying, I only want answers from those who have gray matter between their ears and subscribe to a non-theistic viewpoint after careful consideration. In other words, I don't want to hear from any punk 20-somethings who are experiencing delayed adolescent rebellion and manifesting it in religion.

    The Judeo-Christian Genesis stories begin with the earth being a wet environment, much like the evidence of primordial oceans found on Mars. That story is not unique as many of the creation stories begin with this same soup. Certainly, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, religions of the ancient Egyptians and even ancient Greek philosophers had this in common. Modern science concurs with its Abiogenesis hypotheses.

    How do YOU explain each of these ancient cultures, none of which had access to any of our modern technologies, beginning its creation story with a scenario that is so similar to the modern scientific hypotheses?

    March 25, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Realist

      'wet'.. because they saw water. Water was not some unknown element to them. They clearly lacked knowledge and used best guess at the time.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Yes, they were obviously using language and descriptions familiar to them. My question is, how do you explain that each of them has such a similar story given that the origins of these stories pre-date even ancient forms of travel and communication? The corollary question is how is it that this happens to be so similar to the hypotheses currently held by science?

      March 25, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Realist

      it was a non-specific generalization interpreted by a few. In translation, they knew earth and water. In science, we know that does not represent the beginning. So they didn't get it right at all. They missed it by billions of years.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Choose whichever model you'd like. All of these scientific hypotheses boil down to first there was an planetary mass covered with water and providing the correct conditions for chemical reactions to create a simple organic compound from which life was formed.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis#Current_models

      By comparison, the Genesis story boils down to In the beginning...the earth was a formless wasteland...Then God said, "Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures...God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems and so on. Jews, Christians and Muslims subscribe to this same Genesis account. That is an overwhelming segment of the earth's population. But even others hint at this same idea of creation from a watery world. Hindis have a primordial Ocean of milk which exists between cosmic eras although that's about the only similarity. Buddhists have a material process without deities begins and ends this world begins and ends covered in water and darkness.

      All these stories were passed on orally from not just prehistoric, but from times immemorable before man committed them to written tradition. Yet, primitive people without concepts of scientific investigation came up with an idea that modern science mimics. How? Did they all have the same Magic 8 ball?

      March 25, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • .

      Modern science mimics? How about modern science explains what wasn't previously know to the primitives? Oral traditions that were later written down is now explained by the technology previously unavailable.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Shout-Out: logicked

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

      March 25, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      OK, fine. Use your semantics. Why isn't modern science explaining away an ancient oral tradition that says everything; earth mass, atmosphere, seas, all species of plant and animal life including man, arrived here all at once a compli? Why did the ancients think there were steps or phases of creation at all? And why did they all start out with a dark primordial pool actioned upon by an energy source (aka light) before chemical reactions began to create molecules for life?

      March 25, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Science

      Maybe share at mass on Palm Sunady

      (CNN) - Just in time for Albert Einstein's birthday Thursday, scientists delivered exciting news about how the universe works.

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/14/tech/innovation/higgs-boson-god-particle

      Curtains Down for the Black Hole Firewall Paradox: Making Gravity Safe for Einstein Again

      Mar. 6, 2013 — Research by scientists at the University of York has revealed new insights into the life and death of black holes. Their findings dispel the so-called firewall paradox which shocked the physics community when it was announced in 2012 since its predictions about large black holes contradicted Einstein's crowning achievement - the theory of general relativity. Those results suggested that anyone falling into a black hole would be burned up as they crossed its edge - the so-called event horizon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130306084151.htm

      March 25, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Science

      Oops dang thumb Sunday

      March 25, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Interesting video. It doesn't answer my question.
      Interesting, although the subject matter is beyond my interests. BTW, Palm Sunday was yesterday. Any mass is a structured participation event. Bringing up physics would be like inserting a physics lesson in the middle of the 3rd act during a Broadway production of Hamlet.

      I'll check back later in case anyone has any ideas on my actual question. Otherwise, I'll assume that no one here has even a mildly curious hypothesis about how and why different prehistoric people all came up with creation stories that are crude and primitive narratives of the multi-billion year creation theories that we bandy about today. I really thought this group would have some tentative explanation.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Science

      Oops Easter Sunday............................. where the PINK EASTER bunny keeps going and going and going.

      have a great day

      March 25, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • porovaara

      How do they all have the same story? I think you underestimate the intelligence of our ancestors. You also discount the many, many creation stories which don't come from the sea, for example most of the creation stories from the Americas do not start with the seas or oceans. For the others, the ones you cite, you mention peoples who spent the bulk of their entire lives on the coasts or around the mighty rivers of the time. Our ancestors picked things around them that had the most significance when constructing their various creation stories, again contrast the stories of those from around the Mediterranean with those of the Americas. The creation stories of the ancient inland Chinese also have nothing to do with water, again they choose the most natural dominate natural geography, mountains. Hopefully this answers your question.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • SevenPup

      Chick-a-dee...First note that many creation stories did not start in water. Secondly note that they had very limited understaning of the world, their world was part.itioned into three "knowns"...water, earth, and the sky. Basically they had those three options to tell their creation story from. Just because you cherry pick some culture that used water as their orgins story doesnt mean they knew anything, they just got lucky

      March 25, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      I'll throw my 2 cents in. The scientific model of the creation doe NOT start with the earth being a wet environment. Far from it. The creation of liquid water occurred, in all likelihood, at least a billion if not more years after the planet solidified.

      As for creation stories being set out in stages, people at that time understood that you build something in stages. It's a pretty basic step to apply that thought process to a story about the creation of the earth

      March 25, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Science

      How about GOLD thrown in ?

      Where Does All Earth's Gold Come From? Precious Metals the Result of Meteorite Bombardment, Rock Analysis Finds

      Sep. 9, 2011 — Ultra high precision analyses of some of the oldest rock samples on Earth by researchers at the University of Bristol provides clear evidence that the planet's accessible reserves of precious metals are the result of a bombardment of meteorites more than 200 million years after Earth was formed.

      Dr Willbold continued: "Our work shows that most of the precious metals on which our economies and many key industrial processes are based have been added to our planet by lucky coincidence when the Earth was hit by about 20 billion billion tonnes of asteroidal material."

      This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907132044.htm

      March 25, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Yeah, I just cherry picked some cultures that, combined, happen to have about 4 billion religious adherents – and the three religions that comprise this group all have the same creation story. Why would I think that asking questions about that would be an interesting topic considering the historic and contemporary cultural impact on the world? BTW. SevenPup, the four elements of the ancients are earth, air, water and fire.

      "Attack of the 50", I'm not too worried about the time frames. The primitives had no clocks and may not have even had the sense of time passing in the way that we experience it so their account wouldn't indicate the passage of time in a way that we would recognize. are we on the same page as far as these steps:

      1) The Solar system formed from a large, rotating cloud of interstellar dust and gas called the solar nebula.
      2) The nebula began a contraction that may have been triggered by the shock wave of a nearby supernova.
      3) Protoplanets began to form, orbiting the nebular center.
      4) The proto-Earth was impacted by a smaller protoplanet.
      5) A period of intense meteorite impacts began about 4.1 Ga, and concluded around 3.8 Ga, at the end of the Hadean eon.
      6) By the beginning of the Archean eon, the Earth had cooled significantly and primordial life began to evolve.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Science

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

      Peace
      Later I have to look for GOLD........................................ easy to find if you know where the stoey iron meteorites came in !
      BILLIONS of years ago.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • End Religion

      The Judeo-Christian Genesis stories DO NOT begin with the earth being a wet environment.

      March 25, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • SevenPup

      Chick-a-dee –

      The number of adherents mean nothing. I could find an equal number of creation stories that start from the earth – the number of people who believe might be smaller but how is that of any importance?

      I didnt say anything about the elements so im not sure why you posted that...unless you misunderstood my knowns comment...i was saying the known world was occupied by the seas, land and the sky

      March 25, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • All human births are heralded by water

      Just before a baby is born its mothers water breaks. There is a small flood and new life emerges. How could this not have affected the origin mythologies of many different peoples?

      March 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  6. grey

    i am starting my own religion based on snow white, the atheists' creed plus a lot of raw hatred

    March 25, 2013 at 6:15 am |
    • bobk52

      May I be first to crucify u!!!!

      March 25, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • grey

      to join, each seeker must explain how the new testament came to be. who wrote it, why, when? who came up with the concepts of virgin birth, sacrificial death, making man god? who put it all together?

      each acceptable answer may be used to form my new sensational religious creed

      March 25, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • grey

      I will drop the heaven hell thing. No sin. Murder and stuff will be normal activities. No marriage or families. No education.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Oh, I'd like to nail Snow White!!!!!!

      To a cross, of course.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Sounds boring, but enjoy spreading lies and stealing money from your "flock" like other founders of religious groups. If your group grows so large that it enter the national conversation (like the Phelps clan) then look forward to negatvie remarks from the nonbelievers of your cult.

      March 25, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  7. 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 5:49 am |
    • Peter

      This is ridiculous. There are plenty of organizations which rely on you continuing to not question them so that they become rich in spite of their own hypocrisy in the face of their own beliefs: as in most organized religion.

      I have no problem with the religious. I take issue with the ignorant and those who do not question their own beliefs for their merits, then discount others with their own brand of ignorance. It makes you a hypocrite. What a waste of a perfectly good brain.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      I believe in plenty that is tangible yet I don't have a spirit or soul (nor do you). Much to what I can only assume is your dismay, many are quite good without your imaginary friend.
      I previously asked you to provide evidence for your god, a soul and a spirit. You appear incapable of doing this just as all others who make the extraordinary claim do. You would think that if your god was so reasonable it wouldn't allow this non-stop questioning to go on and would have settled this debate many many years ago instead of being the evasive monster it is.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • sam stone

      You posted this same tripe a few hours ago and got slapped down. Do you think it is any more credible now?

      March 25, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • G to the T

      So my soul is contingent on my believing that I have one?

      Okey dokey!

      April 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Greg Kroeger

    Dear Todd,

    True atheists don't care about humanity. What are you thinking? (I'm thinking there aren't many 'true' atheists.) I'll see you in Heaven, my friend.

    March 25, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • Reality

      Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are atheists and are the major contributors to the largest charity in existence today.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Greg: Many theists don't care about humanity or they wouldn't be fighting so hard against equal rights.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • Science

      Morning Truth Prevails 🙂 you metioned theists ?

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

      March 25, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Good Morning Science;
      Did you happen to see John P Traver's post a page or two back where he claims that Evolution and Big Bang have been proven false? He's using some 40 year old evidence (if it can be called that) to attempt to prove his point.
      Look above at Miked's post...he poor delusional lost child can't seem to comprehend that spirits and souls don't exist. I'm thinking he was home schooled and the only science taught came from the buybull his Momma/Sister used to beat him over the head with (he's obviously suffering from some sort of low IQ issues).

      March 25, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Science

      Hey Truth Prevails 🙂 Evolution works !

      The African Rift

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

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

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

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

      March 25, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Science

      One more for the CREATIONISTS Truth Prevails 🙂

      Skulls of Early Humans Carry Telltale Signs of Inbreeding

      Mar. 18, 2013 — Buried for 100,000 years at Xujiayao in the Nihewan Basin of northern China, the recovered skull pieces of an early human exhibit a now-rare congenital deformation that indicates inbreeding might well have been common among our ancestors, new research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Washington University in St. Louis suggests.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130318180411.htm

      March 25, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  9. Reality

    Only for the eyes of our sisters and brothers of Islam."

    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!

    Only for the eyes of our sisters and brothers of Christianity:

    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    March 25, 2013 at 5:42 am |
    • John

      R, normally I wouldn't agree with you, but in this instance, the first portion I agree with. Christians though do not believe Islam, so the second portion is false... but is true for Muslims. Muslims believe the false prophet, the one doing the Islamic banking system, with a mark on the forehead and hand (dust from praying into the ground), they won't buy or sell to anyone that isn't Muslim... and they chop off your head if you don't convert... like it says.

      Islam also claims Jesus asked for a volunteer to die for him on the cross, asking 3 times, and each time some young guy stood up and said he'd die for Jesus, Jesus accepted and then floated through the ceiling as the soldiers arrived.... all of this is false, and Christians think Islam is a lie... which it is... so they get no forgiveness of sins through Jesus's sacrifice, and they get hell for taking revenge and killing others for a false prophet that they worship. Oh well.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • Peter

      John, you are a fool and ignorant. You just demonstrated how little you truly know. Not only does Islam place Jesus in a place of reverence, they only deny his divinity– not only that, they deny that there ever was a crucifixion. Your anecdote is both false and ludicrous at it's base. Showing your lack of education on a subject you are WILLFULLY ignorant on. Again, what a waste of a perfectly good brain.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Madtown

      Muslims believe the false prophet
      -----
      Classic he said/he said argument. Muslims believe their way is the "correct" way. Christians believe their way is the correct way. Each believes the other way is incorrect and false. Who is right? Neither. No one knows.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  10. johnforest

    A mostly reasonable and balanced report although I would offer one critique. In reference to the efforts of the organization called American Atheists, the reporter used the phrase "in your face". Let's be clear, when a believer (Christian, Muslim, or Jew) speaks out fervently in support of his/her faith, no media outlet will characterize such action as "in your face", as though the person was waving soiled laundry under our noses.

    March 25, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • John

      What's even funnier, is watching the guy spending a lot of money, when you know God is there.

      (chuckle)

      March 25, 2013 at 5:36 am |
    • Reality

      Please post on your church doors:

      The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (references used are available upon request)
      Posted February 5, 2007 11:11 AM

      March 25, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • Mirosal

      And how do you know "god" is there? Have you seen "him" Does "he" really look like George Burns?

      March 25, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • John

      The pictures of him too, those are funny, because he's standing there claiming God isn't there, trying to rally people, and when it comes right down to it, he's simply ignorant of God existing, and doesn't know it. In a way it's sad, because he think's he's promoting intelligence and reason, but really, he's spending money, making claims against God, saying people that believe God are dummies... and it's all wrong... because God is really there. It looks as funny as a kid writing 2+2=1111 because they don't understand or know what they talking about, but think they do.

      M, God is known through what he said, the Holy Spirit being active, and Jesus Christ of Nazareth. All three have made it obvious, along with all the prophets in the bible. It's 100% so many times it's ridiculous.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • John

      R, that's complete nonsense.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      Your bible is the ridiculous part. It is only your OPINION, not an established fact, that your "god" is around. Your personal beliefs in no way consti'tute fact. Also - 2+2 doesn't equal 1111, that would be saying 2+2+15, and we all know that isn't right. However, 2+2 DOES equal 100.As far as being ignorant, you qualify. You just don't get the FACT that the vast majority of Atheists have a religious background and/or education. How do you thnk we were led to become Atheists? "The bible is the greatest tool invented for Atheism." We already know your point of view, because we paid lip service to it for many years. You're the ignorant one for not seeing someone else's.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • John

      M, if you ever believed, you're like the seeds falling on stoney ground, sprung up quickly and withered and died because of lack of earth to grow in. You should have studied more, proved God right, and realized he's God, not a chump to beat on when you feel the urge to walk over someone that doesn't hand you the globe on a platter.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • JDE

      @John: "M, if you ever believed, you're like the seeds falling on stoney ground, sprung up quickly and withered and died because of lack of earth to grow in. You should have studied more, proved God right, and realized he's God, not a chump to beat on when you feel the urge to walk over someone that doesn't hand you the globe on a platter."

      Trying very hard to convince yourself, aren't you?

      March 25, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • John

      JDE, imagine asking someone in the bible that knew God is there, if they're trying to convince themselves of it.

      I couldn't care less if you believe me... because I know God is there and I don't care what you think about it. It's as if you said "keep trying to convince yourself there's no atmosphere to breathe on Mars..." so what? I don't care if you don't believe it, the fact is you can't breathe on Mars... you'll die there if you try to breathe without life support... test your theory all you want there. I don't care... well, I care a little, because you'll die doing something stupid... but that's your choice. Like it's your choice to ignore God or reject him... that's YOUR choice... and you're wrong.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • Mirosal

      The thin carbon dioxide atmosphere on Mars is a proven FACT. It really does exist. However, your "god" is merely the older myths wrapped up in a different package. Instead of everything has its god, now it's one god for everything.Your "god" is no more a fact that the unicorn. That "animal" is mentioned in the bible, and since you believe the bible to be "true", then you MUST believe in unicorns too, right? But, if you don't believe in unicorns, then the bible can't be all true now can it?

      March 25, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • John

      M, are you trying to be a good atheist, or just a "so so" atheist? The word they translated to english, means "ox".

      Now, be a good atheist and pick some more... NONE of them will change what I know... and if you bothered to do what you were supposed to do, you would have proven God right, yourself.

      And no, I don't care if you try to breathe without life support on Mars... I care enough to say "don't do it", but after that... dummies are dummies... when you know it, you know it... and it's over. I said what I was supposed to say, and you thought you were right... and you died on Mars trying to breathe.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      John sez:
      "if you ever believed, you're like the seeds falling on stoney ground, sprung up quickly and withered and died because of lack of earth to grow in"
      John this is a horible analogy. First of all Who put us ( believers now non-believers ) on the stoney ground? I'm assuming your own god in this analogy. How can we even have a chance in this scenario
      Additionally .... your god put YOU ( belivers ) on the furtile ground where you can grow and produce, and then you criticize ( sp?) the 'stoney ground' plants? for NOT growing ? That is just silly

      March 25, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • John

      BM, you and M probably think it's easy, it isn't. Especially when those on the stoney ground are saying they aren't going to try to figure it out, when you know the value of taking the time to figure it out... and they write it off as BS, or believing in "Fred Flintstone". OK, if you think it's a cartoon, it's no wonder you never figured it out... and breathing on Mars is not a cartoon either, it's life and death in minutes if you make the wrong choice... it's serious... and if you ignore what someone knows as fact, you lose. The people in the bible were telling others the truth. I'm telling you the truth too, he's there, really there. But if you deny God, and poo poo away what's said without proving him right, or making the ground furtile to grow in for yourself... oh well. You got what you wanted, and Mars isn't a great place to learn about carrying along life support after jumping out the shuttle door. It's a lot like that, Mars is a great analogy for how you can screw yourself up, and someone can tell you not to do that... and you die not believing someone knows the truth, that does.

      March 25, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • sam stone

      what someone knows as a fact?

      delusional gash

      March 25, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • sam stone

      furtile?

      March 25, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Science

      Hey John you siad........................and you die not believing someone knows the truth, that does.

      Might want to review this ?

      Mind mapping NO GOD(S) REQUIRED !

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

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

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

      Maybe the bible needs to be updated

      Have a great day

      By the way death = depleted carbon.

      March 25, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • John

      SS & S, following the S theme... it's all a secret... the bible is one huge secret text... to you... yet a wide open for anyone completely obvious set of statements about God existing and interacting with people and him expecting people to remember him and credit him for making his creation for the rest of us. I don't know how much more I could simplify it... but I really do need to add that God is the most incredible being I have ever tried to consider, completely beyond my comprehension in so many ways... and I love him, he is the best, especially when he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins.

      Yes, God exists, he's there, and I know it. Believe it, or not...

      March 25, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • sam stone

      he is beyond your comprehension but you know he exists?

      March 25, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • John

      S, this is a simple concept. It's like I can comprehend that there are all the atoms in our solar system, but I can not comprehend all of them at once, there are too many to think about, my mind can not grasp that many atoms, the variety of them dispersed over the solar system... but the atoms are there.

      Likewise, I can comprehend God interacting with people, him doing things, creating, forming a universe, species, all the things he does, but I can not comprehend the magnitude of God, and the shear dynamic nature of him in so many characteristics at once. God's being, himself in his entirety, is far beyond anything I can comprehend... but the things he's doing, on the human scale, I can comprehend.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • sam stone

      God creates man knowing that man will sin. God would either be glorified for his judgement or his mercy. Basically, we are pawns in god's self-glorification fantasy. And you want to worship such a pr1ck?

      March 25, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • John

      S, a marathon is set up to test thousands of runners, and only one will win. All the rest are losers and failures in the race. Why do all the losers run? Why is the winner a "pr*ck"? or whatever you're saying? The best is the best, I don't have a problem with that. God said what he wants people to do, and what he said is optimum for people. If the runners in the marathon don't follow the rules, they're disqualified, no matter how far they ran before that time. They're kicked out, game over.

      Why would anyone join the marathon? Why is the winner a "pr*ck"? You don't make a lot of sense, S.

      March 25, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • sam stone

      Faulty analogy, John. A better analogy is that the sponsor of the race knows who will win from the start, and punishes those who do not win.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      John, i think your earlier comment about the translation of "unicorn" to "ox" is rather telling. The bible that you know (or claim to know) has been translated, edited, modified, and retranslated over a very long period of time. That is not in dispute. Why then, do you feel that you can safely pick and choose what is the word of god as it is currently literally stated, and how do you determine when something literally stated is a translation error, or taken out of context? That strikes me as the height of arrogance – to place yourself on the level of a god. What about humility?
      And again – Leviticus 11: hares chew their cud. Bats are birds. Insects go about on all fours.
      Clearly those statements are WRONG. Yet, they are in the bible. I Are you saying that God, who supposedly created all of these animals, and is omniscient, didn't know that rabbits don't chew their cud???

      John, I'm troubled by this. Please explain to me these obvious errors in the bible.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • John

      A50, all those were gone over decades ago. None are an issue. But they do make great rejection of God reasons, right?
      Good for you A50, you got exactly what you wanted and didn't bother to research anything or prove God right.. Those are
      simple ones too.

      It's only your eternity you're tossing away... dead bodies on Mars is right. Anyone of sense would take what someone that knows God is there and tells them directly... so they can get on with figuring it out. Are you man enough to research and solve simple things, or are you too pampered by atheists to bother to read the instructions and notice you'll suffocate without life support on Mars? Run outside... go ahead... I really don't care, at all. You're another dead body in the pile outside the shuttle, all the people claiming the atomosphere is fine... dead... the atmospher is fine... dead... no it isn't fine, you need the life support on.

      The life support is Jesus Christ of Nazareth... put it on... put it on and repent of your sins.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • John

      No S, the analogy was simply to show that one of the runners is the best, and you'd call that runner a "pr*ck" because you don't want there to be a best one. I have no problem with being way down the line trying to keep up with perfection. God sent Jesus to die to pay for sins, so we don't have to be perfect to win the race... but God is perfect, he's the best. And if you decide not to run, or cheat... don't complain when you don't get in heaven... passing the finish line.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • sam stone

      "No S, the analogy was simply to show that one of the runners is the best, and you'd call that runner a "pr*ck" because you don't want there to be a best one."

      Gosh, John. You sure seem to have a comprehension problem. I was not speaking of the "runners". I was speaking of the sponsor of the race knowing from the beginning who was going to win and punishing those who do not.

      "God sent Jesus to die to pay for sins, so we don't have to be perfect to win the race"

      "God" set this up knowing that people would sin. He could forgive without sending his son down here to be whacked, but chooses not to.

      "God is perfect"

      Seems like a vindictive pr1ck to me.

      "And if you decide not to run, or cheat... don't complain when you don't get in heaven"

      I promise I won't.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ John – oops – just posted a reply to you in a separate thread, instead of a direct reply. Sorry about that.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @John – let's post this in the right spot. Those parts of Leviticus 11 are still in the bible, and they are still factually wrong. They were "gone over" decades ago? By whom? And to what result.
      My concern is this: your faith – and you are 100% enti-tled to believe what you want – is based on the contents of the bible. Now, how does one determine what parts of the bible to accept? If some parts can be factually wrong – and they clearly are – they who is to say that other parts are also factually wrong? Is it entirely arbitrary? if someone writing in Leviticus says that hares chew their cud, surely there could be other errors in the parts that deal with Jesus, right?

      We're talking the foundation of your belief system, and I'm saying, look, there are some obvious holes in the foundation. How do you know that that rest of the foundation isn't rotten as well?

      March 25, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • John

      A50, don't try to kid me, those have been gone over for years. You're reading a translation, it is possible for the translator to make a mistake and that mistake does not erase God. Maybe in your mind it does, but it doesn't erase God himself. If you really want to find God, for once in your life believe him and do the little research it takes to answer your questions. You have all this time to tell people you doubt God, but you won't spend a few minutes out of your day answering your own questions? The problem you have is you go to atheist sites to find "errors" and then try to get a theist to solve them for you... for no reason at all. You could solve them yourself or find where they're solved. But you don't.

      You're acting like a baby, expecting people to solve simple stuff for you, so you can find more things to solve, so you can deny God all the longer. So what... I don't care. It's your loss... you're like a guy on a shuttle on Mars that claims he's going outside without life support just to prove everyone wrong... wonderful, have fun. And I already told you: God is there. Use that as a basis to work from. I gave you the absolute answer... God is there, you're missing out if you deny him.

      You wont' believe any of that above, but someone has to say it. And God exists, he made everything, and he is the best there is anywhere at any time. That needs to be said, often, to counter all the BS you people say.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:13 am |
  11. JPO

    I can see the beginning of Mr. Stiefel's "problem". He was raised Catholic and asked a lot of questions. As my wife learned at an early age, the Catholic Church does not tolerate questions. They lost my wife at an early age when the told her that her father was doomed to Hell because he was not a Catholic and wouldn't tolerate her questions.

    March 25, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  12. HitchedBritches

    Tolerate religion? What good will come from suffering fools? In a vacuum they would be harmless and there would be no reason to care what they believe. Unfortunately, their beliefs have been acted upon and affect us all. Push back.

    March 25, 2013 at 4:34 am |
  13. Executive Orders Dot Com

    Proof that Christianity is waning? Watch how today's Christians behave. They truly are no different than other people in the world. This is a true sign.

    March 25, 2013 at 4:21 am |
  14. Carmelle

    People are afraid to break away from tradition and therefore become non-progressive.

    March 25, 2013 at 4:18 am |
  15. Mel Stricker

    This is as useless a cause as people telling everyone they MUST believe in God. This guy even said he questioned himself in what he 'believed' One cannot tell anyone that a belief is right or wrong. Beliefs are like opinions, there is no right or wrong in the mind of the believer. If I tell you a painting is beautiful and you tell me it is ugly, it is unlikely either of us will ever agree with the other. You cannot put this to any scientific test.
    So whether you believe in God and someone else does not, you are both right and you are both wrong, depending on a third person's belief.

    March 25, 2013 at 4:14 am |
    • End Religion

      All beliefs are NOT equally acceptable. You would laugh at anyone who formed a religion around Leprechauns and Bigfoot. Atheists find the god of israel just as laughable. There is no evidence for any god, and plenty of evidence all the manmade gods/religions are false.

      March 25, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  16. Colin

    I, too, am an atheist who lives in Raleigh. You’ll find that most (ex-Christian) atheists don’t believe for one or more of the following reasons:

    The concept of an immortal being makes no sense to us.

    The concept of an all-powerful being makes no sense to us.

    The concept of an all-knowing being makes no sense to us.

    Throwing the three together into one being cubes its already dispositive implausibility.

    We tend to have a good working knowledge of the age, size and history of the Universe. The idea that a being would create the entire thing – with 400,000,000,000 galaxies, EACH with 100, 000,000,000 starts and even more planets, then sit back and wait 13,720,000,000 years for human beings to evolve on one planet so he could “love them” and send his son to Earth to talk to a nomadic group of Jews about sheep and goats in Greco-Roman Palestine (while ignoring the rest of the 200 million people then alive) makes no sense to us. We can’t help but ask ourselves, “did God make the Jews or did the Jews make God?”

    The answers usually proffered for what we see as basic logical flaws in Christianity – “you have been blinded by your lack of faith” “God moves in mysterious ways” “God is outside the Universe” or “our minds are too small to understand the greatness of God” are never satisfying to us. We see a retreat to mysticism as the first refuge of the cornered fool.

    The common argument, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, the Judeo-Christian god must have caused it – does not make sense to us. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to us, much less the Judeo-Christian god. We feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. We’re crazy aren’t we?

    We do not see miracles in things like tornadoes missing a certain trailer in a trailer park, cancer going into remission or Tim Tebow winning a football game.

    We understand that Christianity is one of many, many religions in the World, and we don’t think that we were lucky enough to have been born in the one part of the World that “got it right”. Likewise, we know how all faiths evolve, morph and change over time and do not think we were lucky enough to have been born in the one generation that “got it right.”

    We tend to have a basic knowledge of history and know that there is nothing magical or special about the supposed history of the Jews, gospels, letters, apocalyptic story (Revelations) and other materials that found their way into the Bible, in that they are largely indistinguishable from the other mythology and religious writings of the pre Dark Ages Mediterranean.

    Human beings are terrified of their own deaths and we see the various religious beliefs that try to “wish it away,” such as reincarnation, living happily ever after in Heaven with Jesus, having your own Mormon planet etc. as nothing more than childish stories for the more näive, timid minds among us.

    We do not see morality as predicated upon a belief in the supernatural. We accept that one can be moral without believing in the supernatural and that doing so is no guaranty that one will conform to the norms of society that people call “morality”.

    “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” is not a convincing argument to us, or even a relevant point, because an inability to disprove something is a far cry from it being true. We cannot prove that the Hindu gods Shiva or Vishnu do not exist either, nor Santa Claus for that matter, but that is hardly a reason to believe in them. It is not even evidence for their existence. It is impossible to prove a negative in this context.

    When one looks at the various Christian beliefs that were once firmly believed – Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, people living to be 700 or 900 years old, the Red Sea splitting, water turning into wine, a talking snake, a man living in a whale’s belly, people rising from the dead, Jesus driving demons out of people and into pigs – but which are now acknowledged by most thinking people to be mere mythology, it is pretty hard to give a lot of credibility to what’s left.

    It is hard not to consider Christianity as based on circular reasoning. Most Christians believe in God because the Bible says so, then turn around and say they believe the Bible because it is the word of God. To draw an analogy, “I believe Mao Zedong was a great man because The Little Red Book says so, and the reason I believe The Little Red Book is that it was written by Mao Zedong, who was a great man.” Do you even have the slightest idea of how your Bible was compiled over the centuries or who decided what to include and what to exclude and on what grounds? Can you even name one of hundred plus authors who contributed to it? One of the many people who decided what got in and what didn’t?

    To be bluntly honest, the more one comes to understand mother nature, the less reason there is to believe in a god and the more one understands human nature, the more one sees why so many of us still do.

    So, before any Christian next proudly proclaims that you know the secrets to life, death, the origins of life on Earth and the origins of the Universe, simply because your parents or priest taught you some comforting stories from Greco-Roman Palestine as a child, you might like to reflect upon the overwhelming enormity of the claims you are about to make and the complete paucity of evidence that underwrites those claims.

    Body of Darwin? Amen

    March 25, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • Phazon

      Hmm you think you have it all figured do you well do you know why Jesus went to the Jews first because they where the the chosen people of God and was trying to get them to lay day their wicked ways but they didn't so they was not acceptable to receive the covenant that Jesus death would so because of their choice they lost this privilege as Gods chosen people why didn't he go world wide as of the statement I said above non Jews also believed in Jesus a Roman general named Cornelius. But must people the world over rejected Jesus and his father because of the same reason you are you think you are wiser than God and reject him because you have deemed your self better knowing whats good and bad thus eliminating God from your life you can feel comfortable making your own account of how things should be.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Nothing like a delusional rant full of 2,000+ year old unsupported claims, in response to a logical analysis. . .

      March 25, 2013 at 4:32 am |
    • sam stone

      phazon: apparently, YOU feel you have it all figured out.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:34 am |
    • JPO

      Well said!

      March 25, 2013 at 4:34 am |
    • sam stone

      phazon: how can someone possibly claim to be smarter than a being in which they do not believe? are you smarter than bugs bunny?

      March 25, 2013 at 4:48 am |
    • Phazon

      Think the world is bad now just wait tell this world is full of people who feel they don't have to answer for anything that they do notice how these so called Atheists seek nothing but wealth knowledge of the world and fame. They will realize soon enough they are wrong here is one for you now take this into consideration. You think you know so much and are wise in the teachings of men who have abandoned God. Now consider this in the flood of Noah's day if you got on the Ark you lived if not you died now think about that very carefully because we are also in the same situation. Think about this for a moment if you don't believe in God and he never comes what do you lose nothing but now if he does exist what will you do what will be your thoughts will you say to yourself why didn't I listen why didn't see it all the evidence was there I just didn't accept it cause I let Satan deceive me into thinking there wasn't a God. If someone told you that your house was going to catch fire at 2 in the morning would you pay no attention to them thinking they have no proof or evidence for their claim or would you likely be up all night just to make sure it didn't happen I know it's the later. You see people who try and disprove God are only tickling your ears they don't have solid evidence only their words and their equations of age using carbon dating if you actually look up whats involved in carbon dating you will see that it's the same as flipping a coin the fossil record has many many holes in it more than most people who believe in evolution will admit. According to evolution things are made by themselves things just happen by chance to say that evolution knew than humans would need to eat to survive suggests that something would have to know this are they considering evolution is a thinking force that knows what a creature needs to do to adapt ti certain things or that evolution knew that spiders needed to make webs to catch flies? That would mean evolution has a conscience we all know that little insects have the thinking power of a piece of dirt but yet they can use their brains to create little wings to fly? It is absolutely preposterous to believe everything happens by chance on the right planet with the right conditions not once but twice after the meteor killed the dinosaurs oh but wait a minute remember alligators and other reptiles evolved from the dinosaurs but wait a minute how did they evolve to these things if they was destroyed. If we evolved from primates why are there still primates? Why hasn't anything evolved and before you answer there is a difference between evolution and adaptation. Nothing has evolved ever if evolution was real we wouldn't be losing our intelligence we would be getting smarter and smarter but instead we are getting sicker and sicker the next time you look up towards the sky ask yourself one question how can an accident create all of this if God didn't exist you would never have to question his existence but because he exists there is that question.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:00 am |
    • Phazon

      Because Sam stone because saying something doesn't exist doesn't make it so and when a person says that they know the universe and that person says they don't need God they are making a deceleration that they know more than the wisest being in the universe.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:02 am |
    • theta1585

      Excellent post! Though, I would caution against assuming an attack stance toward those who continue to have faith and value religion. Just like us, people are free to believe whatever they value. Let us not become the very sects that anger us – those who push their religious values and judgments upon us because it differs from their beliefs. Instead, let us just understand that multiple beliefs do and will continue to exist and we are capable of living among our neighbors.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:22 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Phazon, saying something exists or is true does not make it so. You, John and all believers have zero evidence for your claims. You are delusional (mentally ill), liars, or both. I'm going with both.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:44 am |
    • sam stone

      "Because Sam stone because saying something doesn't exist doesn't make it so"

      Nor does saying something does exist

      "and when a person says that they know the universe and that person says they don't need God they are making a deceleration that they know more than the wisest being in the universe."

      No, they are saying they not believe in a god

      March 25, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • blake

      i am a former atheist from san jose. all atheists are very bright. they kicked me out cause i tried to talk about metzger

      March 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • G to the T

      Phazon – have you ever considered asking a jew why they don't believe Jesus was the Messiah (meaning "annoited one", as in "one annoited to be king" – only later christians came to associate turn with "savior")?

      Maybe instead of assuming you knew what was in the heart of an entire group of people, you could ask one?

      April 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  17. 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 4:00 am |
    • smack

      Miked, what is a soul? What is a "spirit"?

      March 25, 2013 at 4:02 am |
    • Miked

      To smack: If your physycal body was a vessel in this voyage called Life, You, your life force or being, would be the soul... The spirit.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:17 am |
    • smack

      Miked, says who? What do you base this on?

      March 25, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • Miked

      ...based on the fact that life finds a way to still exist after millions of years. Our ancestors, their priviledged "souls" are hard at work in keeping the human race alive and constantly evolving in this planet. Let's be thankful and give them, or "God", a good REASON to keep us around.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:32 am |
    • sam stone

      miked: it is called an evolutionary drive to procreate. how does this indicate a "soul"?

      March 25, 2013 at 4:36 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Miked: Wow, if you think that believing is going to save our sorry asses in the end, you're seriously in need of an education. First off you have three things to provide evidence for-spirits; souls and more importantly your god....until you can provide the evidence for these things you sounds like others who suffer from studying Gullibles Travel's (aka the buybull).
      Second, the only thing that's going to save our species (we're not so unique) is to start changing our ways in the here and now.

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

      That's just how the laws of God work. If there was proof of a soul that continues to live, people would be eager to think they can skip this life to go to the next be their own means. When you take your own life, you don't cultivate the seed of the soul to evolve itself, that's de-evolution. It's best to make this life positive for one's self and especially others, to earn the right to progress the evolution of our spirit-soul. Look at the aithiest comments in this forum. Are they mostly negative? Or positive? Does it inspire any motivation to help others see life in a good way? Your answer might be based on your own personal experience in life. There can be as many beliefs and defenitions of God as there are people on this planet. God bless and good night.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:48 am |
    • sam stone

      miked: all i see out of you is a bunch of unsubstatiated claims. you know the mind of god, do you?

      March 25, 2013 at 4:51 am |
    • sam stone

      mike: if there may be as many definitions of god as people on the planet, what gives anyone (including you or i) the right to define god?

      March 25, 2013 at 4:56 am |
    • Miked

      Like it's said in the Bible, "Ask and you shall receive". Prayer is a powerful tool God has given us for our minds...when you ask for things that aren't material, that is. God has the power to illuminate our individual paths so that we may see it with our "third eyes". What powers does God have in store for you? Pray and find out.

      March 25, 2013 at 5:02 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Praying is futile...it has been proven not to be effective. You still have failed to provide the evidence requested. Now if I told you a magic pink unicorn lives in my garage, you'd ask for the evidence, so what makes your god any different?? B/c a 2000 year old book written by man says so? Are you that weak minded and uneducated that you can't see how horrible that book is and how foolish your stance is?
      Try praying the next time you get ill and see how that works out. I'm guessing you'd be the first depending on science to cure you b/c your imaginary friend can't.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • sam stone

      miked: look up "confirmation bias" and get back to us

      March 25, 2013 at 7:37 am |
  18. paganguy

    Just today I got a note from the devil: "You can't come here, we won't let you in. We do have standards."

    March 25, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • smack

      Just today I got a note from paganguy: "Just today I got a note from the devil: 'You can't come here, we won't let you in. We do have standards.'"

      March 25, 2013 at 3:55 am |
  19. Worldcares

    I liked this article.

    March 25, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • Larry Holmes

      I like eggths man. I loves eggths...

      March 25, 2013 at 4:09 am |
  20. John

    Funny story. I had a girlfriend break up with me after 6 months of dating because she found out I didn't believe in god. Closed minded! Enough said.

    March 25, 2013 at 3:15 am |
    • HotAirAce

      While I agree with respect to being close minded, I don't understand how people with diverse, if not irreconcilable, religious beliefs can hold a long term relationship together.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:19 am |
    • John

      Well that is my point. This woman and I got along great, had a lot of the same hobbies, ext.... One night while having a few drinks the god subject came up. Two days later she broke up with me because she could see herself raising a family with someone who didn't believe in god.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:28 am |
    • John

      God was more important than how two people felt about each other. I just think that is dumb and shows how religion can make your view of people who's beliefs differ from yours seem wrong.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:33 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Sorry, I was not clear. I agree she was close minded and breaking up was probably a good thing. I am surprised when I hear of people with very diverse religious backgrounds being in long term relationships. I don't think I could do that.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:33 am |
    • John

      No I think you could, but the believer, not so much. I am actually married to a Christian woman, luckily she is very loose on her beliefs but she does believe in a higher power.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • Yeppers

      That's it in a nutshell: religion is a divisive force. You got a mini-version of why so much atrocity has occured in the name of religion.

      People who otherwise would get along fine end up hating over a purely hypothetical ideology.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • HotAirAce

      While I agree that in general, atheists are more tolerant/flexible than believers, perhaps I am less tolerant of religious people than I appear here. :^))

      March 25, 2013 at 3:41 am |
    • HitchedBritches

      There is no way I could have married a religious person. That was always a deal breaker for me because I felt it represented to great an intellectual gap to overcome.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • HitchedBritches

      *too

      March 25, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • John

      Well when I was single I wasn't searching for women at the nearest church. I also didnt ask what they believed in either when I first met a woman. In fact I would rather never know. Obviously it is inevitable that the topic will eventually come up. I guess what I'm getting at is that whatever you believe in should never matter when it comes to relationships and friendships.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:55 am |
    • John

      Anywho religion is a plague and is detrimental to society.

      March 25, 2013 at 3:59 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.