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April 18th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

My Take: Godless in Boston mourn, too

Editor’s note: Greg M. Epstein is the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of the New York Times best-seller "Good Without God." He directs the Humanist Community Project, a national think tank helping to study and build communities for the nonreligious.

By Greg M. Epstein, Special to CNN

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) — After two days of holding back my own feelings to focus on the needs of a community in mourning, what finally split my heart in two was scrolling through the list of donations to the fund-raising page for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter among the tragically injured at the Boston Marathon.

Celeste, the mother, has volunteered for my congregation. She’s basically an aunt to a senior member of our staff. So I cried for the two-sidedness: A member of our community lost her legs below the knees, and nearly lost her daughter. And, in one day, nearly 4,000 people donated more than $250,000 to support them. They seemed to be saying, through their gifts, “Please do this for me too if anything should ever happen to me or my family.”

AC360: Mother lost legs, daughter nearly died in bombing

As a chaplain, I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy just like any other member of the clergy. And like faith communities across the country, the thousands of people I work with are doing what needs to be done when tragedy strikes close to home. We’re offering one another comfort. We’re calling around to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out who needs help and how we can provide it.

The only difference is, we are a community of atheists — a congregation of Humanists.

You’ve probably read the statistics: With 18% of the nation’s population now nonreligious, America is less religious today than ever before. This especially applies to young Americans, up to a third of whom now have no religion. That number may be closer to half on many of the college campuses throughout Boston, like the one where I work.

What you may not have noticed, however, is that in addition to the religiously unaffiliated, or “nones” as sociologists have taken to calling them, a new and very significant group of Americans has been emerging — the nonreligiously affiliated. Relatively quietly, many thousands of mostly young Americans who identify as atheists and agnostics have been coming together to form civically active, thoughtful secular community groups that now dot nearly our whole nation.

Sometimes you hear about the debates these groups hold with religious leaders. But while Richard Dawkins and the like are eloquent and controversial speakers on behalf of atheism, most such debates are actually organized by religious organizations. The vast majority of what Humanist and secular communities do is positive, uncontroversial and entirely American. We serve. We meet throughout the year. We help one another raise good kids. We celebrate life, and we grieve death.

So I don’t relish the opportunity — or the need — to say that right now, our community is grieving too, just like any other Boston-area congregation. Boston, in fact, is home to one of the biggest secular/Humanist/atheist/nonreligious communities in the world. (Sure, we don’t know what to call ourselves. But then again neither does the LGBT — or is it GLBT? — or LGBTQ? — community, and that hasn’t stopped them from thriving.) We meet every week. We’re getting ready to open up a large community center. We sponsor service programs where we invite interfaith groups to help us package thousands of meals for hungry kids. You can even join us this Sunday: We’ll be marking our losses together in a memorial gathering.

What is so disappointing to see people do, then, is blame the horrific and traumatizing events of this Monday on the godless, or on godlessness, as way too many on Twitter and elsewhere have been doing. As one young woman in our community said to me, “It’s hard enough to deal with senseless grief, but when people write things like 'Why do people have to be so godless to want to kill innocent people?' it makes me feel like I’m not safe either, like we’re being singled out for prejudice.”

Obviously when people say “I’ll pray for you” or “May God grant you strength,” they’re only expressing their own sincere convictions. But while not everyone holds those same beliefs, we all want to be acknowledged in a way that feels right to us.

And when political leaders like Gov. Deval Patrick or President Obama try to make sense of these moments by assembling interfaith services, it is admirable — far better for a politician to bring different religions together than to only recognize one religion’s view of loss as valid. But for goodness' sake, must the nonreligious continue to be excluded from such gatherings? I’ve seen Humanists knock on the door recently at the interfaith celebrations of political conventions, or after tragedies like Hurricane Sandy or Newtown. We wanted to help and were turned away. I hope this is where people realize: We are part of the community too. We care and want to offer our support just as much as anyone. We, too, are in shock and grief.

Secular people place our faith in the human ability to value life over death. We believe in committing ourselves to love and care and help as indiscriminately as possible, because that is what makes our lives worthwhile. We try our best, despite our doubt, to ensure that the good will that comes from tragedy will ultimately exceed the bad.

All that said, I don’t have a clue what Celeste’s beliefs are, and I don’t care. I just hope she and Sydney and everyone else injured get well. After all, would you believe for a second that every Christian pastor knows whether or not every visitor to his or her congregation truly believes in the Ascension? Nor should they. The point of a congregation, to me, is just to care about the people in it, and better yet, to help bring people together to care about one another. Our community is including everyone, religious or not, in our thoughts and hopes at this tough time. It would mean a lot to us if others do the same.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (3,411 Responses)
  1. Truth

    Anyone who is not Christian after reading the holy Bible is a retârded bígot moron

    April 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      Many atheists are atheists BECAUSE they read the Bible.

      I'm one of those.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Sandy

      Umm, your god needs a book to make his case why again?

      To paraphrase a wise person, read by an intelligent mind, the bible is a great route to becoming an atheist.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Bennett

      Oh Christian god -the one asking for all the killing Right...

      No thanks, you can keep your zombie Jezeus stories. There's better science fiction than the bible fictions anyway.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      jesus is waiting, eat your sidearm

      April 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • nojinx

      The Muslims say the same thing. Who is right?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • lol??

      Not the Left.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  2. Luis

    All godless people should be fed to lions and be done with them

    April 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      Everyone is godless. Some people have the illusion that they are not, but it's just an illusion.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • mk

      You mean like when your loving god killed masses of people and ordered the slaughter of babies despite doling out that fifth commandment?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      Great christian sentiment

      Come get us, pen-day-ho

      April 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      Will *any* god do or just your version?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • nojinx

      Luis, the Taliban would love you very much. You are their kind of recruit.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  3. Myself

    Why is everyone attacking each other? What the hell does it do for us to be so freaking politically correct? So some people are godless... awesome. What's their business being so darn offended by anything that has to do with God? Aren't Christians supposed to never be offended by other religions? Who cares what other people are believing. Lets just all believe in it enough to die for it, cause its all we're going to have when we get there. And then lets just let each other be. Christians are all like "hey join my group, lets all be together" and athiests are all like "stop cramming it down my throat and never make me consider it ever ever again!" and then moan when theyre left out. So... there's no making anyone happy.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • sam

      Hush up, tool.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Myself

      Also, I dont buy that they can't give aid because they're unaffiliated. I've come up on tragedy, I've been with other responding to it. No one ever ran up to the scene screaming "I'M AN ATHEIST! LET ME HELP!" In fact, no one, ever, not once, said or asked what religion was getting to help first. Almost positive the RedCross isn't turning away people who want to donate blood because theyre unaffiliated.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Sandy

      It's because deluded moronic religious nuts get to vote too and force their stupidity on the rest of us. Get over your excuses already.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • nojinx

      We moan because we are left out of the mourning process. We are not complaining that we are being left out of the gods-talk.

      It is an unnecessary exclusion. What is the purpose of excluding people from this event?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  4. CHRISTIAN REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    "God does not exist"

    Prove it....... You cannot 😀 because he exists

    April 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Dash Riprock

      Prove god exists. You just made the claim, now prove it. If he exists, you will have evidence.

      Go for it.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Geoff

      "god exists!" Prove it. Go ahead, i'll wait....

      April 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Luis

      God created Earth

      April 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      Prove god created Earth.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Sandy

      Your nation does not exist. Nor does your specific god. Easy to prove both. And stow the open mouth smilies because you know what you can stick in there, you arrogant little-dicked moron.

      So is your particular claimed god omnipotent and omniscient and omnibenevolent?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And we can all wait, probably forever, for Luis to prove his unfounded assertion as well

      April 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Geoff

      Well not forever... Eventually in a few billion years, give or take, the sun will go all Red Giant-y and there won't be much of Earth left to prove...

      April 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Giggling Merlin

      Then we better start praying to Red Giant god-guy!

      April 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Geoff

      @Merlin – you mean.....the sun? You wouldn't be the first. See: almost every pre-Christian religion. Considering it enables all life on this planet, it wouldn't be the worst thing to worship.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  5. M. Parker

    "...We serve. We meet throughout the year. We help one another raise good kids. We celebrate life, and we grieve death..."
    Hmmm. Y'know, someone, or some group, that does such things, might be closer to a God they don't even believe in than a lot of my fellow Christians who do believe in God. Who knows – God may be smiling on them, despite their non-belief, because they're doing His work.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Sandy

      Or god might just be an ass hole, or might not exist at all. Looks like the latter, overall.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • nojinx

      Given that there are an infinite number of possible gods and we can only choose one set to worship, if you choose a set of gods to worship it is an astronomically small chance that you have chose the right gods (if any exist).

      In fact, if you choose to be a theist, you are most likely just angering the real gods with your worship of the wrong gods and dooming yourself, mathematically speaking.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • G to the T

      Thanks for the kind words M. Parker.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  6. CHRISTIAN REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    If I ever become a president, I will take away atheists citizenship because they are NOT real Americans. Real Americans believe in one and only truly God. I love G H Bush quote!

    April 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      So, how'd that work out?

      You have misquoted by the way.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      You may as well tell us what you are going to do when you become Ronald McDonald.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Wow, people like you are very frightening. Doing it your way would mean that every baby born in the USA would be an illegal citizen.
      Where your absurd thinking doesn't work is that the Constitution allows for freedom of and freedom from religion; it further insists on separation of church and state. A President alone can't change that document and you can be guaranteed the 18% of Atheists in your country and the numerous others who don't share the same imaginary friend as you, would never vote for the USA to be a Christian Nation.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Asunja

      The USA was founded by people escaping religious persecution.
      The Founding Fathers specifically mentioned separation of church and state in order to protect people of different belief systems. People like you try to forget this in their intolerance So you become one of the symptoms/reason of the disease of hate. .

      April 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • *Sigh*

      Wow, if you were around 240 years ago, you'd call for the deaths of our founding fathers.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • nojinx

      All people are born atheist.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  7. John S

    Godfree, not Godless

    April 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • nojinx

      What about "God-liberated" or would that be too much in the other direction?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • G to the T

      I like to think I'm "pro-reality" rather than "anti-god"... 🙂

      April 19, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  8. Marc

    I have to laugh at an atheist who has a gig as a "humanist chaplain." Next time some atheist is screeching about how atheism isn't a religion, I'll point him your way.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • GodlessOpera

      Atheism isn't a religion. Note that this is a humanist chaplain, not an atheist one.

      That you're ignorant about the difference is simply plain for all to see, I need say no more, I suppose.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Geoff

      There is a difference between atheism and humanism. Atheism is a thought-state, and humanism is a set of beliefs. Analogous to the difference between being a theist and being a Christian or Jew or Hindu or whichever. Also, humanism celebrates free-thought, good without god, and human-compassion, so I don't think you'll find too many atheists upset about those guidelines.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  9. CHRISTIAN REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Who cares what silly atheists thinks..... They are wasting their life in this planet anyway.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      So what are you doing here?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Adam

      Glad to see anonymity allows the religious to speak hypocrisies and hate. So much for adhering to your belief. Jesus will see you burn, better go pray.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Janet

      Who cares what silly religious folks think. They're deluded and have been brainwashed since childhood.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • CHRISTIAN REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

      Janet.... I converted to Christianity at the age of 45

      April 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • mk

      I see you're into following the sentiments of that "loving" god was a fanatic about killing people who didn't believe.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Asunja

      It is people like you who cause the hate in this word and allow such tragedies to occur. Religious tolerance, which includes the right to NOT believe is the only way peace is even feasible.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Christ....................So what about the first 44 years. Don't those years count? What about the sins you were committing before you converted?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      Troll.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Ken, if I understand the dead jew zombie death cult, all sins are washed away by the blood of jesus. I'm beginning to think that all that blood comes from the innocent children jesus allows to be slaughtered. But given that there is no evidence for a divine jesus, I'm probably wrong. . .

      April 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  10. examiner

    Religion has been contemplating the human condition, its origins, and how it should conduct itself for thousands of years.
    It will be a very long time before humanists can prove that they haven't borrowed their ideas from religion.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • OOO

      Why do they have to prove that?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • GodlessOpera

      What a bizarre implication - philosophers of all stripes, theist and non-theist, have been contemplating these issues and traded ideas back and forth since the dawn of abstraction. I don't think it's reasonable or fair to say either theists or atheists have a monopoly on the profound issues. Such black and white thinking truly baffles me.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bennett

      examiner is just stupid and just got totally PWNED by GodlessOpera. Good one, GO.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • nojinx

      Humans predate religions by thousands, if not millions of years. They had to come up with concepts like gods and scriptures before they could they could tell people the moral behavior and humanistic treatment of each other they have been practicing for generations actually came from a imaginary beings.

      Note monotheism is a much later development than even theism.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Asunja

      Just as their have been always different belief systems around since humans existed, there have always been people challenging and questioning those very belief systems. Read ancient Greek or Egyptian philosophers and you will see. But it seems only the 'modern' and 'young' religions seem to have a need to force people into their faiths. Christianity and Islam have only been around for appropriately t 2000 and 1500 years respectively. Both feel they have a right to claim exclusiveness and that they have the right to belittle everyone else. Or worse force others to their will.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  11. Deep thinker

    What has occurred is indeed a tragedy of epoch proportions for the simple fact that it has shattered a certain basic and fundamental trust that cannot easily if ever be recaptured. This is so for religious and non-religious people alike which means that the security that comes from having a trust that one can be secure or losing that trust because of certain events goes way beyond belief or non-belief in a God or being a religious or non-religious person. And no matter which side of the fence a person stands on neither can deny that there is equally a fundamental law of cause and effect i.e. "what goes around comes around". Everyone on either side would be much better served to start paying attention to certain unassailable universal laws and thinking about both the wonder and the awesome power of this universe instead of getting caught up in belief or non-belief since both belief and non-belief can be neither proved nor disproved. The only thing that works is knowledge because it is provable and therefore knowing the essence of the universe i.e. the Ultimate Cause of it all will not only provide the ultimate security that we all seek it will carry us through these times of such devastating loss.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      More like deep doo doo. Religious people say god exists. It is THEIR responsibility to prove it. Atheists cannot prove a negative (no one can).

      April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Its true. Knowledge IS provable. The only remaining question is who will be using this knowledge and to what end. Humanity's knowledge has been increasing for a very long time. And yet his nature never improves. A hundred thousand years back, a caveman took a shaft, affixed a sharp stone, called it a spear, and terrorized his enemies. Less than a hundred years ago, scientists took a different kind of shaft (an ICBM), affixed a different kind of point (a thermonuclear device) and terrorized the entire planet. Knowledge is necessary. But whether it helps us or not depends on human nature.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • nojinx

      You are presuming there is an Ultimate Cause.

      The key is to always base you beliefs on knowledge. Otherwise there is no way to discern them from delusion.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      You're not a deep thinker, you're a shallow parrot. You try so hard to sound like an intellectual that it's almost embarrassing. Anyone with even rudimentary critical thinking skills (e.g.) would know the difference between "epoch" and "epic".

      April 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  12. lionlylamb

    The average literate ratios are barely admissible within a court of generalized linguistics. The above averaged literates' empathies; imparts linguistics of a more generalized efficiency rating,- even though generalists averaging below par linguistically derail those of above averaged cunning. I Love much and waste little love.

    As time becomes more progressive, deeper becomes the sandy grooves not unlike the spokes upon a wheel. In Love are we held, all together and in unifications,-undeniably strengthened by words from the mouth or words so written. Ease ever placidly thru the broken torments and embittered entanglements being ever snagged upon.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • .

      LL is the belief blog pseudo intellect, just laugh and move on.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • GodlessOpera

      Sounds like word salad... glossolalia

      April 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      SPLAT)))) SWISH_____________SCREECH<<<<<<<<<<<<<

      "Get out the screen cleaner maw, paw found another speck!"

      April 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  13. mique

    Yes, it is true. You can not believe in a sky fairy and still believe in being a decent person. Who would have thought it! Only a moron would think otherwise. Belonging to a religion does not give you an upperhand on morality. Even elephants mourn their dead.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • examiner

      Atheists think in terms of "shy fairies". The concept is smaller than the atheist, so they can easily redicule and dismiss it. Spiritual people hold a much loftier idea of God. Their idea of God is transcendent and therefore fully engages the mind.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Marc

      Though as your post shows, it's more likely that you'll be an arrogant bigot if you don't believe in a gigantic sky fairy.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • nojinx

      @ examiner: That is to be expected. Theists hold their personal gods in lofty positions (though, oddly, not other gods – why the hypocrisy?) so they will assign undue status when none is needed.

      All things not based in reality are easily ridiculed and dismissed. Look at Shirly McClaine, Miss Cleo, Ghosthunters. What is really crazy is how some people will be willing to completely accept one supernatural notion without question, but everything else in their life requires proof – especially if they don't want to believe it.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  14. nsbwrite

    Call us the unaffiliated, the nonbelievers, the scientific-rationalists, the polytheists, the liberals without a church, the spiritual without affiliations, the seekers, the agnostics, the pagans, the sort-of-Buddhists-but-not-really, the ambivalent, uncertain, and non-dogmatic.

    Call us citizens.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Adam

      Reported the bottom guy for abuse. I'll take hell over being forced into submission and slavery out of fear for some eternal prison. I'd rather spend my time with the devil, who supposedly gave us intelligence and music, than with others like him.

      We all want to do good, but this divide that religious people create is a burden.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      "I thought it was my 12-year-old daughter's crack pipe, but realized I was leaking"

      I'm not sure where you're going. I do know I don't want to be there.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  15. PrimeNumber

    "Secular people place our faith in the human ability to value life over death." The ability to value life over death is the survival instinct. Monkeys and roaches share the same instinct. Since most of life shares this instinct, why not just call ourselves "Survivalists" instead of "Humanists"? If we insist on being "Humanists", we set ourselves apart from other species. Being set apart and special is meaningless in a universe that has no meaning.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Dash Riprock

      Straw man argument.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • examiner

      "Straw Man Argument". Please give an exhaustive explanation of your meaning.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The 'ol Aunt Sally, misrepresentation of an opponent's position.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "Being set apart and special is meaningless in a universe that has no meaning."

      What?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Dash Riprock

      Misrepresentation: " The ability to value life over death is the survival instinct." Wrong.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • nojinx

      Why do you think the universe has no meaning? Do you think all universes also have no meaning? Can you define what you mean by "meaning?"

      April 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • GodlessOpera

      Have you ever heard the expression "existence precedes essence?" As organisms with complex, highly developed cognitive faculties, we possess the capability to make abstractions; to dream, hope, love, cherish, and impart a meaning into our lives regardless of whether or not the universe at large has an objective "purpose."

      Please try not to let ignorance drive you into oversimplifying the humanist position because you simply refuse to take it seriously and discover what it actually *is.*

      April 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • .

      Semantics, PrimeNumber. Don't like the term? Don't use it. We don't care.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • lol??

      Time to break out a good ol' bottle of bestiality, the universal cure for the meaningless universe, hopefully a celebration of change. A tie is required.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  16. Teamski

    Humanist Chaplain. This is the first time hearing that term. I thought atheists were nonreligious. If so, why a chaplain? Interesting.

    -Ski

    April 18, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • examiner

      By being atheists, the humanists have an unwritten creed: "We don't believe in God." So, the concept of God is always present in this congregation, and by default, God. The most convincing atheist congregation is found in ordinary life among people who never give God a thought.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • GodlessOpera

      Humanism is a worldview - a life philosophy, not unlike those incorporated with religions. Not all atheists are humanists; and not all humanists are atheists. However, there is a great deal of overlap between atheists and humanists in that most humanists are also atheists.

      Atheism itself is not a worldview. It's a position of skepticism with respect to theistic propositions and beliefs. Thus there shall be no "atheistic chaplains" as atheism doesn't make propositions about how to live one's life. Since humanism *does* inform opinions on how to deal with tragedies (and so on), why is it so surprising for there to be a humanist chaplain?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  17. HeavenSent

    I am exhausted from coming on these articles and beating my head against the stupid atheists. You don't want to listen to God's truth because you love evil more. I keep the flea and tick shampoo in my shower. God gave His son so you could live for eternity.

    Amen.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Dash Riprock

      Do you find it difficult to give a good shampoo job to fleas and ticks? They have such little tiny heads.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      D.R. – LOL!

      April 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      LOL

      April 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • JJ

      HS...turns out..you have it wrong too. The Jews have been right all along and you've been worshipping an imposter. There is yet to be a Messiah. Enjoy hell alongside atheists and Muslims. Glory!

      April 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • mique

      Dash, I think he is used to dealing with tiny little heads.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • nojinx

      Please stop, for your own sake. You are not going to convince those of us who require evidence to belief or have faith in something. Stop torturing yourself, I am uncomfortable with the idea you are going through pains for this pointless effort.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Adam

      Satan gave us knowledge and music. 2 things I love a lot. I guess that makes me evil.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Poe Spotting 101

      Here is a clue: if you see a "HeavenSent" post with something about camel toes or flea and tick shampoo or addicted teenage daughter, you might just consider the possibility that . . . oh, I don't know, maybe a Poe?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • nojinx

      The Poes have to be corrected or they will deceive the foolish into their, uh, Poeity?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • mk

      I think your head-beating has caused brain damage, hallucinations and a superior sense of yourself. These symptoms point to christianity.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  18. Geoff

    Wow, amazing article. It's like you read my mind today. I was watching part of the services and lamenting exactly the point that they had no non-religious representatives speaking. There are more atheists or non-affiliated than jews and muslim combined in this country and yet not one was allowed to speak to this tragedy and offer comfort to myself in a language I identify with, as the other faiths had their comforts translated. I appreciate the good words all of the faith-led speakers gave, but it hurt not to have someone speak for me and the millions of non-religious.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @geoff................Why would a non religious person be interested in speaking at a church?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Geoff

      @KM- I don't know if you were being sincere or snarky, but it is a great question. "Why would a humanist chaplain want to speak at a church?" Well, because that was the gathering site for the memorial. Where you see a church with a capital "C", I see a place to come together, to mourn, to comfort. And that is precisely where the voice of the non-religious should be added to the chorus of mourners for those lost and hurt in this attack.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Dylan

      I don't want anyone speaking for me, especially if one of the thoughts in their heads during a ceremony honoring the murdered and maimed people of Boston is "Why are only the religious people speaking and not us too?"

      April 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @geoff......It was an honest question. I'm about as religious as a rock. I had ZERO interest in the service because of the religious theme that would be involved. We've "come together" after Columbine, Aurora, Newtown amongst other tragedies. Obviously prayer DOESN'T work.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Geoff

      @KM – i'm in total agreement about the prayer, but the service I watched this morning wasn't just about that. It was about our community (Boston) healing and comforting the families of those hurt and killed. Not unlike a funeral. And it wasn't just faith leaders speaking, it included Governor Patrick, and President Obama. And that is why I was hoping to see a secular humanist offer words of comfort as well. Clearly it wouldn't have been in the form of a prayer.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @geoff...........Frankly I'm tired of all the "coming together" after all these tragedies. I was more interested in the senate vote. Our senators had a chance to make a difference. So what did they do? Give us the finger! So lets see how the public responds. Will they vote these goons out of office?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  19. { ! }

    "With 18% of the nation’s population now nonreligious, America is less religious today than ever before." We don't know how significant this is. In one study, the US ranked 25th in the world in math, science, and reading skills. The decline in religious enquiry may coincide with a general intellectual decline.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Actually

      And yet, the more religious the area, the deeper the intellectual decline.

      America has hovered at about that number for decades. There is no real decline.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • examiner

      @Actually "And yet, the more religious the area, the deeper the intellectual decline." Try getting into Notre Dame, Georgetown (catholic) University , of Catholic University of America. You'll need substantial mental capability to get into such religious places.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Dash Riprock

      My degrees are from better universities than those.

      Areas. Regions of America. As in the Bible Belt. Seriously, it was a nice attempt to twist the discussion, as Christians love to do, but we were discussing the inverse relationship of intelligence and religiosity, proven by many studies. The existence of religious universities in no way changes that.

      I find it interesting that religious people must rely on distortion and deception so much.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Geoff

      @examiner – yes, but you don't need religion to get in there. I assure you, there are plenty of atheists and non-religious at Georgetown or Notre Dame.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Geoff

      Also, @DR, don't play the where my degree is from game. It is petty. Georgetown and Notre Dame are fantastic schools, but religion is not a prerequisite for attendance.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Dash Riprock

      I will do as I like, Geoff, and I suggest you consider your need to dictate the conversation of others.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • nojinx

      Interesting point. The United States went though a two great Christian upswings during 50s McCarthyism (when we put "God" statements on our money and in our Pledge of Allegiance) and again in the 80s and 90s. The latter 20th Century was the last great gasp of Christian dominance, and the effect it had on our education system is measurable.

      One can take some solace in that the highest forms of education and academia in the land (indeed, in the world) are largely insulated from theistic dogma and are secular by nature. If we can erode away the fungus of myths used as authorities, we will be fine.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Geoff

      DR – it is your right to be a d!ck, as it is mine to call you out on it.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  20. Dr. Jack Klingman

    Yes, yes...thank you for speaking out in defense of Atheists everywhere who didn't receive an invitation to church. Truly shocking....churches, synagogues, mosques, pastors, rabbi's, and chaplains everywhere should be ashamed.

    April 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • mark

      "Religious" arrogance. They do not consider anyone not one of them fully human. I hope I live to see the day when the percentage of self-defined "religious" people in the US reaches parity with Europe, 10% or less.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Quincy

      You are very butthurt over the concept of inclusion.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • examiner

      "Yes, yes...thank you for speaking out in defense of Atheists everywhere who didn't receive an invitation to church." Dr. Jack, nowadays, a simple invitation to church, synagogue, of mosque is interpreted as "shoving you religion down my throat."

      April 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • lol??

      ".....everywhere should be ashamed......" Oh yes, of course, hopefully ashamed and changed addresses, and hopefully no forwarding where change is ashamed, but onward and hopefully into the future, of course to a place of hope that has already changed with undeliverable mail sent back ,so the sender can determine a new changed address, hopefully.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.