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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. Silas

    um, as someone who studies religion, especially religion in the US, there is a BIG difference between atheists and "nones". Do not lump the nones into your group to make yourselves seem larger or more in vogue than it really is. very sloppy.

    April 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, it is misleading to conflate unaffiliated with atheist/agnostic/humanist etc.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Really?

      You might study capitalization when you get the chance.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Nowhere near as sloppy as the bible you "study".

      April 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • lol??

      Conflation is a red flag for the IRS.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Right. Most of the "nones" I know are just too lazy to think about it.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    The self-sustaining stench of universal puke.
    Star stuff, cereal boxes, decay.
    Weeping over dirt. Laughing at miserable animated misery turned stoic and lifeless.
    Would you have this pile over for dinner? No?
    How about this dissolving goo from you know who?
    Play your flute.

    April 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • El Duderino

      Apple got a new stash of some righteous ganja! Party at Apple's house!

      April 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      El Duderino, how are you flute chops? We can jam.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • El Duderino

      The dude abides.

      And bowls.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      As long as you don't roll on Shabbos dude.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  3. Chris

    I've tried to get a humanist atheist to explain the me why in the 20th century every government run by atheists, no matter the nation or culture, all turned to authoritarian dictatorships. All left millions dead, and total loss of personal freedoms. I guess when you start with the precept that you only have yourself to answer to, you can perform any act and not worry about it.

    April 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Exactly!

      April 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Anthony

      Actually, we haven't had enough democratically elected atheist leaders to draw conclusions yet Chris, but nice try with that planet-width brush of yours. Good one. You'll do well at Christian marketing jobs and other work as a shill.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • .

      Oh, which one stood up and said "I do this in the name of atheism!"...and it wasn’t atheism that killed these people, it was totalitarianism. Yawn. Try again.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Because your assertion is flawed.

      There are western parliamentary democracies that have had atheist leaders for years. They didn't turn into despotic regimes.

      You deliberately conflate atheism with communism. The two are different. Communism deliberately tries to convert the sheeple from a religious framework and replace their beliefs with a belief in the state.

      Arguably this is even more misplaced than a belief in deities – though theocracy seems to be the very worst form of government there is.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Robert Wong

      Chris, they explained things to you just fine. You were just too stupid to understand.

      There have been plenty of Christian despots, and others from other religions too. Same old same old. Go kill a goat now little boy or your sky fairy will smite you and burn you eternally.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      What govt are you referring to? The govt's in the middle east aren't atheists. Yet in Egypt and Libya just to name two, the gov't was over thrown. I would think it's the economy ad the democratic process that caused an upheaval.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Alex

      Well I'm a humanist atheist (usually anyway), and here's my answer: because human nature has it's dark side. The events in Boston are just another example of this. I will be the first to acknowledge that secularism has been abused like pretty much every other 'ism' that's existed in history, and yes I am of course aware of Stalinist Russia, the Khmer Rouge, Robespierre, China's abuses, and so on. With that being said, I am not overly cynical about people. They can be very moral, just, and good also.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Sky

      Simple, really.

      Some governments were atheist because they were communist and certain communist doctrines involve atheism.

      Some other governments have "religion" in the form of effectively coveting the dictator as a godhead. It's not that there is no religion, it's that the state and the leader are the religion.

      Then still there are those in which the governments did not ban religion, but didn't come out in favor of one either and their acts of persecution of dissidents was taken as an attack on religion, when those dissidents are religious.

      What you see as atheism, however, was a means of control, and method to an end, rather than atheism being necessary and intrinsically linked with the development of dictatorial behavior.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • sam

      So you've tried to get an answer on an incredibly faulty premise?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Malone

      Actually, the question of Communist atrocities has been answered very completely here repeatedly, so your assertion is a lie. Allow me to state it again.

      Millions of people were repressed or killed under Communism. Communism lists atheism as one of its concepts. Is atheism therefore responsible for the atrocities? Actually, the vast vast vast majority of executions and imprisonments were for political reasons, with no possible religious element at all. Clergy were specifically targeted, but they only account for something like .01% of the victims. So atheism played only the tinest of roles in a much wider atrocity.

      Do countries with high proportions of atheism have any tendancy towards murder or oppression? No, they are actually far safer than America, and generally better educated and more prosperous. Atheism existed before communism. Did it show any sugns of violence? No, none.

      So except for Communism, atheism is actually very unlikely to create oppression and murder.

      So what is going on? Could it be that totalitarianism is the problem, and not irreligion? We can test that by seeing if there were pro-religious murderous oppressive regimes, and voila! Spain under Franco (and the centuries of Catholic domination too), Argentina during the Dirty War, Portugal under Salazar, Italy under Mussolini, the Dominican Republic under Trujillo, the list goes on and on.

      So the problem is totalitarianism, which murders and oppresses whether religious or atheist.

      And just in case you still don't get it, there has never been a war started by atheists for reasons of atheism. Never. Religion, especially Christianity, has many in its name, including the massive Taiping Rebellion, which may easily surpass the total number of all those you falsely claim atheists killed.

      You fail.

      Here endeth the lesson.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Tim Brown

      Christians are idiots. We atheists have grown above your religious foolishness. Do you know one atheist or humanist in the USA espousing this kind of violence. Of course not. Yet you would still be killing atheists if a civil society didn't keep you under control. How is the slave trade going?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Alex

      As for a charitable organizations created by agnostics or atheists, how about Medicare and Medicaid, social security, Medecins sans frontieres. It is possible atheists were involved in the creation of all of these. If you are a fiscal conservative, how about the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. It is possible Mr. and Mrs. Gates are atheists. In fact I remember reading something that would back this up.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • You mean like Sweden and Denmark?

      .

      April 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      What do you want to bet that the Boston bombers are some kind of religious fundamentalists? I'll take the affirmative.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  4. Simple Logic

    I keep seeing the sentiment from Christians who claim atheism sux because it has no point.

    So then, what is the ultimate point or goal for most Christians? Fluffy eternal existence with a spirit being in an unknown alternate plane of existence? Is that what is required in order to be happy and feel full of purpose? That along with knowing that only a small portion of creation will get the fluffy and the rest get the burny for eterny? Does that make you feel special and elite? Is that why you have such a hard time actually testing your own faith? I know blind allegiance is so much easier than to study and question your own faith, read more than just your brand of philosophy and come to conclusions on your own, but that is whats required to become enlightened. Those who do not will continue to hide in the dark like vampire c o c k roaches that scatter in horrified fear anytime the light of reason is shined at their faith.

    April 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam

      @ ISLAM IDIOT

      SUCK IT HINDU TROLL

      April 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  5. Tom

    "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." These final three sentences sound just like a town, local community, NGO, or family gathering – why should your definition of a 'humanist' approach be categorized as a 'congregation'? PS: If we are, in the end, merely 'dirt' what difference does it make to create 'good' out of life?

    April 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • antbias reporting

      what a cray insane article.Ae you trying to be cute? It didn't work

      April 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Chris

      Almost all societies studied over the past 6000 years have had a concept of a god. Obviously the people felt the need for that belief system. The belief system brought hope and comfort to them. Please give me a list of the schools, colleges, hospitals, food banks, orphanages, started and solely supported by atheists. I do not think your list will be very long.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • .

      Why you think that atheists wouldn't support a charity because it got its roots in religion is beyond me, Chris. Oh, and so look up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation...the largest charity in the world.
      Want to believe that you and your flavor of religion is the only good thing, go for it. You'd be wrong, and psssst...your ignorance is showing.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Robert Wong

      Wrong again, Chris, you ignorant tool. The reason why you don't hear about atheist charity organizations is because these charities don't promote atheism or any religion for that matter. Here are just a few of many:

      http://www.populationconnection.org/

      http://www.tac.org.za/about.html

      http://www.planusa.org/who/faq.php

      http://www.madre.org/

      http://www.actionaid.org/

      http://www.irteams.org/

      http://www.americares.org/

      http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

      http://www.pih.org/

      http://www.directrelief.org/

      These are all secular charities. They don't promote atheism or any theistic belief.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    I was in the supermarket last week and my daughter wanted me to buy some Doritos. They have added a new flavor! "Doritos Locos Tacos" flavor. However the still have "Nacho Cheese Flavor" Doritos. Isn't the taco flavor already the nacho flavor? They have cross branded a flavor that was created from cross-branding the exact product that is sitting on the shelf next to the very product created from it.

    I want to see someone walk up and by both "flavors" at the same time. Sometimes I really hate the assholes in this country.

    What does this have to with belief? You decide.

    April 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Cherry Pie

      It's because you can get a nacho Dorritos taco at Taco Bell. Just an ordinary Taco Bell taco with a shell made of a big nacho Dorritos chip.

      Just a way to separate you from your money. Not a belief, just a hustle

      April 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Cherry Pie, thank you for completely missing the point of my meditation. I feel great now.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Does Cherry win a prize?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Cherry Pie

      Feel free to enlighten me on you tortilla chip revelation.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Yes, Cherry can have a fucking taco. Kill me now.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Reactorist

      doritos locos are better after a bunch of cheap beer

      April 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • OS2toMAC

      Cherry Pie.... "a way to separate you from your money" Sounds like the "hustle" played by most Christian sects. I know not of the Islamic, nor the Jewish faiths.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Cherry Pie

      I seriously did want to know your actual intent, apple. Your metaphor just didn't get through.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Cherry Pie, fine.

      Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God, 3 different flavors that are all the same. Stupidity rules religion and marketing and I hate every bit of it. That is my point.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      But they don't see it that way. They see their god and the others don't exist.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Cherry Pie

      But those religions are a bit different, like one can be Cool Ranch Dorritos and another can be Nacho, and Islam can be Plastique Explosives Dorritos. It's the same chip with a slightly different coating. That's what you are trying to say. And Buddhism can be the tiny bit of tasteless cheese, Hinduism can ironically be the low quality beef, and lets have Rastafarianism be the tiny bit of lettuce, as Rastas have a passion for green herbiage, though not to eat.

      I'm getting the munchies. When do I get my taco?

      Back to metaphors, Chad can be the diarrhea that you get after you eat the taco made by the guy who didn't wash his hands in the restroom.

      Great metaphor. I enjoyed it immensely.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Thanks CP, now go have a coke, er....pepsi.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Cherry Pie

      Okay, but only if Pepsi can be a metaphor for individualist anarchism.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Cherry Pie,

      no Chad would argue that it was not a Doritos Locos Taco that you ate but that it was a Big Mac.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  7. Chad

    I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy - Greg M. Epstein

    what an absolutely bizarre thing for an atheist to say.

    Atheists dont believe in "making sense of a tragedy", they just view the universe and the various material, biological entities that occupy it as executing along, no free will, no soul.

    Atheists dont believe in any overarching meaning to life.. If you dont believe in free will, if you dont believe in a soul, If death is the permanent end of our consciousness and our lives are part of no higher purpose, what are you exactly trying to "make sense" of?

    It is precisely atheist reactions like the authors that prove without a doubt, that they do actually believe in free will, in meaning, in purpose, they just have no way to justify those beliefs when they deny a creator.

    April 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Observer

      Chad,

      Not believing in God does not mean that life doesn't have a purpopse. There are an infinite number of possibilities for the reason for life. You have only picked one possible explanation.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • sam

      Thanks for stopping by to yet again prove you know jack shit about anything, Chad. Go blow it out the orifice of your choice.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Chad posting as "Rachel" –

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/06/richard-dawkins-evolution-is-not-a-controversial-issue/comment-page-10/#comments
      Starting ~September 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm
      Busted – September 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Cheers, you pompous ass.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Flint Fredstone

      You find it surprising that an atheist would try to make sense out of why someone would do something like that?

      This is fundamentally why you just don't get it, Chad. You keep trying to demand that atheism is how you define it, and not how it really is. You just cannot transcend your own straw man paradigm to achieve comprehension of reality.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Bob Collins

      Thank you for your assessment of what non-believers think. Have you ever spoken with one?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Hope

      Good point Chad.

      How does an atheist find hope? If they have discounted the possibility of any kind reliance on God, where does this hope stem from? Hoping on chance probably?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Chad

      @Flint Fredstone "You find it surprising that an atheist would try to make sense out of why someone would do something like that?"

      =>yes, it doesnt make sense that if an atheist truly believed what they were professing to believe, that they would try and make sense of anything at all.

      For example, how can an atheist believe in free will? Most atheists dont believe in free will at all. Does the author believe in free will? If not, then his att itude would have to be "well, the bomber was just executing as a biological machine in the same manner as all of us. That person had no choice, he was just executing along deterministically, that's the way it goes".

      What is the meaning/purpose of life to an atheist? If you, as an atheist, truly believed what you say, then there simply isnt any. What then is there to try and make sense of?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Walter

      Your delusion is just false hope, a security blanket for those not able to deal with reality.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Flint Fredstone

      Reread my second paragraph, for you once again falsely asserted your straw man assumptions.

      You have no interest in the truth, do you?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad Sir
      You hung me up to dry on the other thread. As a deist I would like to know where "soul" comes from and what good is it? Why do I need soul to have "free will", I am pretty sure I have not got soul?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Chad

      @Hope "How does an atheist find hope? If they have discounted the possibility of any kind reliance on God, where does this hope stem from? Hoping on chance probably?"

      =>exactly and good point.
      If your belief is that all there is to this reality is the impersonal matter and physical laws that govern our universe, what in the world are you finding hope and meaning in? Thats naturalism/determinism, and by that philosophy the only force that operates in our universe is the physical laws which govern it.
      That is why atheists reject free will, and if you reject it, how in the world can you condemn the bomber? Along that line of thought, he had no more choice in the matter than the earth does in revolving around the Sun.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Really?

      Atheists reject theological free will, Mr. Equivocation. That does not mean atheists believe you have no ability to choose.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • .

      Saraswati

      Gospel of Chad:
      (Updated list derived from history of Chad conversations.)

      Atheism:
      1. All atheists agree with everything Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins say, even if it is unrelated to atheism. Hawking and Dawkins disagree on free will, however, but you should ignore this conflict or any atheist who says they disagree.
      2. All atheists agree with one another on everything even if it has nothing to do with atheism. See # 1 for models from which you can derive all their beliefs.
      3. The definition of atheist includes anything that any atheist I disagree with believes or anything I feel like tossing in there. Ignore any definitions in pesky places like dictionaries and philosophical encyclopedias.
      4. If one atheist somewhere on the internet said something, then, since all atheists agree with him/her, I can use that randomly selected example as an argument to address all other atheists.
      5. The definition of atheism includes not just materialism but strict deterministic materialism. Non-believers who might be Buddhists, believe in probabilistic physics, see consciousness as prior to the physical world, believe in, say, witchcraft aren’t really atheists.

      Free will:
      6. All people who use the term “free will” really mean the same exact thing by that term, which matches my personal use of the term “free will” (unless backed into a corner, then I just declare all other meanings irrelevant)
      7. Fatalism and determinism are the same thing. It has been pointed out to me that historically these terms have been used with different meanings, but I find it more convenient to make up my own definitions, as with atheism and free will.

      In fact, I brilliantly argued “If a person is a determinist, how in the world does deterrence even come into the picture? Determinists believe in an ever marching set of deterministic outcomes based on an existing set of antecedent conditions. Those conditions march back to the origin of the universe, no way to change the past, so no way to change the future.”

      On April 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      After reading a bit more about fatalism and determinism I decided to change my tune to a claim that determinism leads to fatalism (and to pretend this was what I was saying all along). I’m sticking to reading easy pop philosophers, though, and selective websites on the topic as anything more complex makes my head hurt. I have read snippets from a couple of websites now so that ought to put me on par with people who’ve read dozens of books on the topic, understand neurobiology and have written on both the philosophical and cultural aspects of free will and people’s belief in the topic. Oh, yeah, I know what I’m talking about!

      Telling lies:
      8. It is ethical to lie so long as it promotes Christian beliefs.
      9. Speaking of telling lies, a really good way to do this is to rephrase what your opponent says and then keep repeating the misquote in hopes that he or she will get bored and leave your lie as the last statement. Then you win. You can do this either by rewording as a supposed paraphrase or pulling lines out of context and reordering them. God really loves this and gives you extra endurance to sit at the computer all day and keep repeating it.
      10. One way to use this super endurance to your advantage is to keep posting the same questions over and over again even after they’ve been answered 50 times. Just pretend they haven’t been answered and act self-righteous about it. It’s really cool if you can ask this same thing on multiple threads and then claim it was never answered forcing people to waste time on the same thing over and over and over. When they refuse to play your game or you don’t like the answer add some sarcasm, but use an emoticon to soften it so they’ll know your snide remarks are all in good fun.

      Science:
      11. If one scientist says something that backs me, then I can assume all scientists agree with that statement.
      12. If atheist scientists say something, even if it is the view of the majority of people in that science, it should be ignored. See #8.
      13. Atheists are ruled by confirmation bias. I am free of it – it’s just great luck that everything I read and all the “data” around me confirm my strong religious convictions. See #12 on ignoring anything else.

      General truths about the CNN belief blog:
      14. All non-believers are, by definition, idiots so you can use illogical arguments and they’ll just fall for it.
      15. If I post a quote that has a few key words in it from our discussion I can claim it backs my point even if it actually says the exact opposite thing from what I’m claiming. Atheists, as mentioned above, are too dumb to notice.
      16. There is a huge mass of fence sitters out there who are eagerly reading CNN blog comments in order to decide whether or not to believe in God.
      17. I will personally save all those mentioned in number 16 because I, Chad, am super smart. I know this because I get away with all the above mentioned lies and manipulations. Sometimes people think they are pointing these things out but they really aren’t. Or the stupid atheist masses aren’t reading them anyway.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • OS2toMAC

      Atheists don't believe in free will? I find that to be polar opposite. Atheists have no "god" to tell them what to do. They decide for themselves what to do. Decide what is right and wrong.

      If you are religious, I guess "free will" is not following the religion's tenents? Then I guess you aren't really part of that religion. If you do follow every tenent, then aren't you just a robot, and have no free will?

      What is the definition of "free will" to you?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Chad

      "Hoping on chance probably? ... =>exactly and good point."

      According to you, atheists don't believe in chance. Which would make your congratulations to your sockpuppet moot.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • .

      "Reread my second paragraph, for you once again falsely asserted your straw man assumptions.

      You have no interest in the truth, do you?"

      Chad once again proves they have really poor reading comprehension.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      Still can't actually demonstrate any of your assertions I see. It seems like you're the one that has no free will. You seem to have no choice but to be an arrogant, dishonest little moron that can't back up anything you say. Pathetic.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Please explain how believing in free will requires a creator.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Chad

      @sqeptiq "Please explain how believing in free will requires a creator."

      =>since atheists reject a creator, they have no option but to posit a natural "cause" for the origin of the universe
      since atheists reject a creator, they have no option but to reject the existence of the soul
      since atheists reject a creator, they have no option but to view the universe as impersonal, and entirely governed by physical laws only.
      since atheists reject a creator, they have no option but to view all living organisms merely products of the natural world, entirely governed by the physical laws.

      Naturalism commonly refers to the viewpoint that laws of nature (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe

      In this view, the only difference between you, and a tree, is the level of biological complexity.

      As Hawking puts it:
      “Do people have free will? If we have free will, where in the evolutionary tree did it develop? Do blue-green algae or bacteria have free will, or is their behavior automatic and within the realm of scientific law? Is it only multicelled organisms that have free will, or only mammals? We might think that a chimpanzee is exercising free will when it chooses to chomp on a banana, or a cat when it rips up your sofa, but what about the roundworm called Caenorhabditis elegans—a simple creature made of only 959 cells? It probably never thinks, “That was damn tasty bacteria I got to dine on back there,” yet it too has a definite preference in food and will either settle for an unattractive meal or go foraging for something better, depending on recent experience. Is that the exercise of free will?

      Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets
      . Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws.For example, a study of patients undergoing awake brain surgery found that by electrically stimulating the appropriate regions of the brain, one could create in the patient the desire to move the hand, arm, or foot, or to move the lips and talk. It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.”

      — Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design

      No creator, no soul, no free will.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Repeating your bullish!t ad nauseam doesn't make it true, Chard.

      It does, however, make you look like the azzwipe you are.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Atheists dont believe in "making sense of a tragedy", they just view the universe and the various material, biological ent ities that occupy it as executing along."

      How the fvck would you know what all atheists and agnostics view the universe or this tragedy? You have no idea what anyone else thinks or believes, you arrogant swish.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • El Duderino

      Once again, Chad is committing the Fallacy of Equivocation, confusing theological free will with biological ability to choose.

      I wonder if he is going to say he has no biological limits? That would be required for his precious not-in-the-Bible free will.

      Humans have a limited ability to choose. They think they have more than they do because subconscious impulses are thought to be choices when they are actually conditioned reactions. However, living beings do have the ability to choose, if limited. It is biologically advantageous to have that range of choice. But it is not biologically fully free, nor is it biologically totally determined.

      Free will is a deceptive paradigm, especially when people like Chad conflate theological free will with biological choice.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Chad

      @El Duderino "I wonder if he is going to say he has no biological limits? That would be required for his precious not-in-the-Bible free will."
      @Chad "hunh? how do you figure that? Source? (your fertile imagination, whilst impressive, doesnt count)

      @Really O "Humans have a limited ability to choose. They think they have more than they do because subconscious impulses are thought to be choices when they are actually conditioned reactions. However, living beings do have the ability to choose, if limited. It is biologically advantageous to have that range of choice. But it is not biologically fully free, nor is it biologicallytotally determined.
      @Chad "hunh? how do you figure that? Source? (your fertile imagination, whilst impressive, doesnt count)

      @Really O "Free will is a deceptive paradigm, especially when people like Chad conflate theological free will with biological choice."
      @Chad "hunh? WHat is your source for "theological free will" and "biological choice"? (your fertile imagination, whilst impressive, doesnt count)

      April 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Nick

      Chad, so you think as a "believer" you have a monopoly on compassion, and only you and other believers have a soul? Why do you think a belief in an afterlife is necessary in order to have compassion? We non-theists don't put off living life to the fullest and making as much of a difference in the world through compassionate living as perhaps you do, "waiting" for your reward after you die.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And there goes Chad again. Equivocations and blind assertions are his only weapons. Dishonesty is his hobby.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • clarity

      Chad, I would venture to guess that others are saying that you are trying to apply the yes/no, white or black constraints that you are able to "bucketize" for your theological notion of free will upon the informal notion from Hawking & Dawkins regarding determinism. First of all, using the quotes you clipped, Dawkins says "If we have free will" and Hawking & Mlodinow conclude with "so it seems". So right off the bat, these are weak statements, much less proofs of anything. In my opinion, being agnostic on many things, I believe we have much more to learn in Dawkins' area of expertise before we can really get to an educated answer to the issue, but that is just a gut feeling, but with serious consideration to what we don't actually know on the issue from these fields of science.

      Someone brought up before, "what kind of determinism?", and I believe they listed several scientific and metaphysical types. You've been going back and forth with others about this for quite some time on several threads, but I have not seen you use but one description for determinism even though it seems the discussions have involved various scenarios that should warrant looking at them with a specific type of determinism in mind for the sake of the discussion.

      For instance, take John Martin Fischer, of UC, Riverside, who will become President of the American Philosophical Association this year. He is credited with this notion of "semicompatibilism" which seems to be a branch of compatibilism, a branch of Soft Determinism. The idea of this semicompatibilism regarding morality is that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, whether free will is present or not. Now that sounds like that doesn't help us with the question you've been wrestling with, but I thought that this example of semicompatibilistic determinism was interesting:

      (it is from: http://www.thomsonedu.com/philosophy/book_content/0495094927_feinberg/introductions/part_4/Compatibilism/fischer.html )

      =======

      [..] Thus determinism cannot be compatible with free will. In order to deal with this problem, Fischer proposes semicompatibilism. Semicompatibilism abandons regulative control (the sort of freedom that involves genuine access to alternative possibilities) and asserts that humans have only guidance control. (Guidance control, says Fischer, is a unique sort of causal connection one can have with the world. When one is driving a car in normal circumstances, one has guidance control; when one sneezes while driving and causes the wheel to jerk to the left, one does not have guidance control.) The Consequence Argument does not touch semicompatibilism, because the Consequence Argument rules out only regulative control, not guidance control. Yet semicompatibilism retains the central advantages of compatibilism: it allows us to confidently attribute moral responsibility to agents even if we are unsure whether determinism is true.

      =======

      April 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • El Duderino

      Chad is one sad little guy, isn't he? Just a pile of rhetorical sophistry with no substance.

      How old are you, Chad? Fifteen would be my guess.

      April 19, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • clarity

      Correction – I had Fischer's title wrong with APA – he has been the Pacific Division President since 7/1/2012.

      April 19, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  8. Mediquette

    PS – I think a giant problem of society today (and for awhile) is the need to continually label and define everything. To place everything and everybody under a microscope to understand, judge, and eventually persecute. Thing is, life is too short, you only live once... stop trying to point a finger and define everybody else (and this goes double for the "believing crowd" like the Westboro Baptist Church)... go enjoy your life, you only get one shot at it... define YOURSELF, make it something worth remembering! Q:)

    April 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • OS2toMAC

      I can agree with that.

      Be the best person you can be, and have the best possible life you can.

      Existence of god/gods, or not, will be answered when you die. If there is, you will find out. If there isn't, it won't matter to you anymore.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  9. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Just as a sobering comparison point, new today:

    Blast in popular Baghdad coffee shop kills at least 27

    Baghdad (CNN) - A bomb exploded on Thursday night in a popular coffee shop in western Baghdad, killing at least 27 people and wounding 51 others, city police officials said.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/world/meast/iraq-violence/index.html

    April 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I guess Allah doesn't care either.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @KM

      Not my point – but I wouldn't argue.

      I wonder how long this Bagdad blast will stay in the news cycle?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Until the next Baghdad blast.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • sam

      Part of it is that this is a constant way of life in some parts of the world; so when it happens somewhere that it's considered a rarity, it makes bigger news.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "this is a constant way of life in some parts of the world"

      So that makes it OK to ignore or devalue it? And no, I know you don't mean that. This story just made me think about the notion of 'proportional response'.

      Certainly such violence in Iraq is less surprising than in Copely Square. That shouldn't make it more tragic for the victims or their families though.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The fact that it is constant in the middle east should REDUCE people's belief in Allah. The fact that it happens at all anywhere should end the devotion to the "big guy in the sky"

      April 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  10. HeavenSent's Camel-Toe Diaries

    My camel-toe has put in an application for it's own zip code. I hope to recover the kittens before my camel-toe goes to rehab. I can change the channel if I shift my weight back and forth really fast. My camel-toe misses the cushions but the authorites promised they would leave the stains. Amen.

    April 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • HeavenSent's 12-Year-Old Daughter

      Mama said I could work at the fair this year as long as no one can see my face.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  11. Ed

    Say, what about us agnostics? Are we half-animals? Non-vile fornicators?

    April 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Zingo

      You can be semi-vile if you like.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • lol??

      Mr. Ed, who allowed you to speak?? Hook yersef back up to that stagecoach.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Why would anybody care to debate people who don't know what they believe? When you figure out what you believe, log back in.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  12. Reality

    As we march to the tune of Rational Thinking and Rational Conclusions:

    Only for the new members of this blog–

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’/Atheists' 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)

    April 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  13. Out-There

    It is saddening to see two groups of people, religious and non-religious who claim to care so much for people just through ugliness back and forth at on another with such disregard for feelings. A persons beliefs are not something they need to prove to anyone no matter what they believe. I am a believer and a christian and it makes me sick to see people who call themselves Christians to come on here and treat others the way that they do. No wonder 18% of america are non-believes.On the other hand if non-believers care so much then why do you treat people who believe in such a manner. GOD help us all.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Out there you are wrong and you are part of the problem. Christians, Jews and Muslims DO need to prove. If you want to set public policy for the rest of us, PROVE IT. If you want to kill for it, PROVE IT. If you want sympathy, PROVE IT.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Blip

      Actually, all unmoderated forums are like this. Fountain pen forums get into very nasty wars over ink. It's the nature of the internet, so get off your high horse, you goat-molesting moron!

      And for the humor impaired amongst you, that was a joke.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • OOO

      Out there,
      Do you believe, or do you just hope. There is a difference. If you take the stronger position of belief, then you have an obligation to the rest of us to share the evidence you have. We should be allowed to be enlightened just like you, and you would be hiding this valuable evidence.

      Think of someone keeping the "round earth" of vaccines or physics from you.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • knowmoststuff

      I don't believe in god but I agree with you. You can live in a respectful way and not believe in god and you can say your a christian but not act like a christian. More people need to be good, loving, caring people and live and let live.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Dennis

      Exactly, Apple.

      Out-There, so far there is no good reason for us to believe in your particular sky fairy. So, out with your proof, or stop bothering us with your tripe and your requests of your non-existent god.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Observer

      The world would likely be a much better place if many more Christians and others started following the concept of the Golden Rule.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Out-There, "It is saddening to see two groups of people, religious and non-religious who claim to care so much for people just through ugliness back and forth at on another with such disregard for feelings."

      I have some disappointing news for you. The worst examples of this behavior seems to be coming from the Middle East, parts of Africa, and America. Where I live, Ja.pan—which is strongly secular but has roots in polytheism and buddhism, you have people living in harmony despite their beliefs.

      Could it be that cultures that promote monotheism propagate and atti.tude of absolutism in terms of right and wrong?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @observer..................Unfortunately Christians only follow the concept of a golden shower. They pi'ss all over everyone that doesn't agree with them.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • kenny of salt

      Hi, Out-There
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I hope your wisdom leads you to peace

      To OOO, who says Out-There and other 'believers' have an obligation to share the facts upon which they base their faith, I offer the following caution: be careful about equating factual knowledge with subjective personal belief. For example, i KNOW sodium ions and cloride ions in solution will form translucent cubic crystals upon dehydration, but I BELIEVE the resulting substance is the perfect beginning to a shot of tequila. The first is objectively demonstrable in a lab setting, and the latter is open to endless debate starting Friday at 5:00pm.

      Peace
      Kenny

      April 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • OOO

      @Kenny,
      I think you are answering for Out-there... and you are basically saying that faith is really hope, not belief.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • there'shope

      Faith is what pleases GOD, I want to share evidence that GOD exists. When a person or persons read the BIBLE with a open heart and mind and truly seek GOD with all the inner being, GOD will reveal himself to that individual. I know personally from a life changing experience. When I by FAITH believed that CHRIST died for me and paid for my sins in full, the SPIRIT of GOD indwells the BELIVER and reveals the TRUTH of GOD to anyone who does that. I'm no better than any one, it does absolutely no good to ridicule anyone for the way they believe or do not believe. As a child of GOD I am suppose to show LOVE, MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVNESS to everyone. This is who CHRIST is. I am not offended by any of the ridicule or name calling. I know who I am, and I know that GOD loves us all the same. The SPIRIT of GOD is the REVEALER of the TRUTH'S of GOD.

      April 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Pete

      " the BIBLE with a open heart and mind and truly seek GOD with all the inner being, GOD will reveal himself to that individual."

      That's why so many of the atheists posting here are former xtians or ministers, which proves what you are stating is false and why atheism is on the rise world wide.

      April 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  14. knowmoststuff

    Every religion started as a cult.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      And remains so to this day. A large following does not make a cult less of a cult.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  15. Michael

    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 call BS. I have never been asked to show my Christian ID. If these people showed up to help and not make a spectacle of themselves I do not believe their help would be refused. If they showed up like the West Boro Baptist Church, I understand not wanting the help.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Sigmund Kurt Russellstein

      Christian ID is equivalent to a dunce cap.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • sam

      If they were asked who they were affiliated with or what group they were with, and they answered something secular or humanist, then sure, that's all they'd need to do to be turned away. Anyone who says "Blah Blah Church of Holy Whatever Jesus Yay" they can automatically get in.

      So I call BS on you.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  16. Believer

    Dear Atheist:

    So you don't believe a God exists.

    So what is your position on love? Is it merely an animal instinct that has carried on over millions of years of evolution? An instinct and emotion that was developed millions of years ago to serve the purpose of survival of the fittest as a means to protect ones offspring? I love my 3 children enough to die saving them from imminent death. Do I feel this way because its an inherent trait of all parents in the animal kingdom? Or is love proof of something more than our physical existence?

    For the record, I possess scholastic accolades that are above average norms; I studied science, and still do, because I find anything related to our existence as well as the universes existence as extremely provocative and interesting. You can call me ignorant because I believe, but I can say the same because you do not. I have both a scientific education as well as 40+ years of life experiences to draw from. I am not who you think I am, yet because I believe in creation, God and an afterlife, you automatically assume I am brainwashed and ignorant. You do realize I can make the same assertion about you and your ignorance?

    Your attempts to refute the position of a believer fail because you can never provide a single assertion to refute my position on time and creation. Science will tell you today that the universe started from a singularity of infinite energy, heat and density. At the point of this singularity neither time or the laws of physics existed. Read that again. The very logic, math and laws of the universe most use today to refute creation and the existence of a God didn't exist at the most critical time – the very same moment when all things were created. If all logic and science you rely upon today to refute the existence of a creator did not exist at the moment the universe was created, or more accurately did not follow the same rules, how then can you rely upon the rules of universe as you know them today to refute Creation?

    There are more time interval increments / measurements of time in 1 full second after / during the big bang than there is all of time since – 13.75 billion years worth. During this 1 second of the big bang a process labeled "inflation" occurred – energy, gas, etcetera moved faster than the speed of light – all laws of physics as we know them in our human physical existence today did not exist then. It wasn't until after the universe was created did the laws of physics exist. These same current laws of physics have not been broken or disproved in 13.75 billion years.

    If these assertions are true, as most physicists and cosmologists claim to be true, then what does it say about the possibility that what we know to be true in our current universe today was not true during and before the singularity that resulted in our existence? Plainly spoken, if we only rely upon what we see and understand today, under laws that govern our physical existence today (and the past 13.75 billion years), what then are we missing when not considering the fact that what governs our knowledge today didn't exist when all things were created?

    I am not one who cares to convert a non believer, nor do I feel sorry for them or treat them any differently; I am merely more interested in debating with someone that seemingly excludes the possibility of a God / creator based on little to no facts.

    Lastly, you seem so quick to disregard my position about Time only existing in our universe by claiming I conveniently believe this notion so that "my God" can be free of time and creation himself. I obviously failed to persuade you that science indeed tells you that time is a function of our physical existence and that of the universe. Time is a function of our current laws of physics. Yet, as I described above, the universe has a beginning, and its beginning was not governed by the current laws of physics, and therefore, relied upon a different set of rules / laws. Rules and laws that may or may not have been devoid of time. My position is that the universe was created by God, who dwells outside our laws of physics and time – because he does not physically dwell in our universe. The universe was created and time as we know it followed. Put in another way, if you do not believe in God or an afterlife, you then believe time stops for you and I upon our imminent demises. You believe this because we were both born and live under the rules of the universe that require each of us to die. Yet, the very universe we live in and rely upon to govern us was created under a different set of laws and rules. How one reconciles these facts is where opinions differ on how God can be eternal or make believe. If we know that time is a function of our existence today, only after the universe came to be, what does it then say about times function prior to the creation of our universe?

    Recently a renowned neurosurgeon who was a professor at an ivy league college died from a very rare form of bacterial meningitis. I use the word "died" loosely here because he returned from the sickness in full health. He "died" a non-believer – he experienced an NDE and now is a believer. His first admission is there is no scientific explanation how he experienced life after death when his brain was dead; 2. there is no scientific explanation how he returned to life with full brain capacity after suffering from a "brain-eating" form of bacterial meningitis. This is one of literally thousands upon thousands of similar experiences that have been reported world wide – despite cultural or religious beliefs and influences. Opponents of NDE's claim they can stimulate the brain to reproduce these same experiences, but not once has this actually happened to the degree of actual NDEs. Not to mention the fact that a dying brain would much more likely flash non congruent images and experiences that lacked normal time fluidity. Lastly, well over 90 percent of these same experiences have the NDE'rs meeting those who've already passed on. Why would the brain conjure up reuniting experiences only with those who've already passed on?

    Sorry, I rambled on much more than I wanted – I guess it serves to prove my interest level on the subject at hand. Again, I know I am not going to convince you to believe in my position over your own much like you will not change my opinion. Only you can control your belief system.

    I would only suggest for all people that they use more tact and less discrimination when debating with another about a belief system that does not match your own. You just never know, you can always learn something from anyone.

    Good luck in your endeavors no matter what you believe.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • sam

      TL;DR

      April 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      TL;DR

      April 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • OOO

      Love is a self-defined label for an emotion.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Believer, I'll see you in the rapture capsule with the unicorns. Remember to wear your nose ring -the big steel one that I padlocked the chain onto when we were practicing for the uplifting.

      This time, though, when the swirling starts and your head gets pulled in, close your mouth so the brown floaters don't go in like they did to you in our last practice session.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Understander

      Logical errors in that block of prolixity:

      1. You fail to provide any evidence of your assertion. Your points are tangential criticisms of phenomenon which in no way suggest a deity or supernatural entity.

      2. Your time discussion is totally irrelevant. You again cannot show that any deity exists in any time frame. You are making pure assertion, with no evidence.

      3. Love is an electrochemical process in the brain. You can fantasize that it is something more, but again that is just you using your imagination, with no evidence at all to support your assertion.

      4. "The universe was created" – no evidence for that. You must prove a creator, and you have no evidence. " . . .and time as we know it followed" – no, most theories do not have time beginning with this universe. Time preceded, though not necessarily as we understand it. The origin of this universe was not a true singularity.

      5.Anecdotal evidence is notoriously unreliable. One individuals opinion of his NDE in no way makes him right.

      So basically, you have no evidence, and are just making unsupported assertions.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Believer

      Understander, you have not disproved a single assertion I made, moreover, I am only parroting what the scientific community tells us is the most reliable theory on the creation of the universe and its laws.

      The rest is inference from the data. This is where we differ. I cannot prove a Creator, only the possibility of one, just like you cannot prove no Creator nor the possibility of one existing.

      I say a Creator exists. You say no. I supply the evidence of the possibility of one, you say its not proof of one. I am merely making the case for the possibility, which you cannot refute.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Believer, I guess I miss the part in your post where you provided "evidence". What was your evidence again?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Meh

      Certainly takes you a long time to make your pointless.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Dylan

      Instead of going through the hassle of all that trying to explain or disprove God non-sense wouldn't it just be easier to live a good, honest life?
      I find it frustrating when people use all that time and energy to argue and fight over puzzle which will always be missing a piece until you die.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Dennis

      Believer, if your god is the Christian one, then it is readily proven that it does not exist, and in fact that has already been proven.

      So, the characteristics of your god are what, exactly? Is yours the Christian one?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD HE REIGNS OVER HEAVEN ABOVE WITH WISDOM POWER AND LOVE OUR GOD IS AN AWESEOME GOD!!!

      I think that all atheists are just mad because they dont have gods love. How could you know the difference between right and wrong if your an atheist? I guess its just anything goes! And they cant prove god doesnt exist and thats another reason why there mad all the time. LOL whatever! Have fun burning in H-E-L-L

      April 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Understander

      You supplied no evidence. Evidence would support existence. Yours did not. It equally suggests the possibility that Happy Bob, God of Mimes created the universe in a magic fart.

      Total lack of any and all evidence for existence is strong evidence that something does not exist. Due to the impossibility of disproving a negative, absolute finality is impossible, but it is 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% certain there is no god.

      You are trying to say that the impossibility of disproving a negative makes the negative true. That is a massive fail.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • sam

      @OUR GOD – honey, does your mommy know you're unsupervised on the internet?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Happy Bob, God of Mimes

      You mean I didn't create the universe in a magic fart?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • ME II

      @Believer,
      "I supply the evidence of the possibility of one, you say its not proof of one. I am merely making the case for the possibility, which you cannot refute."

      I agree that neither can "prove" nor "disprove" the existence of god(s), however you seem to think that questions support your position.
      Not knowing an answer is not evidence of anything.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Grant Hawkingtons

      "I say a Creator exists. You say no. I supply the evidence of the possibility of one, you say its not proof of one. I am merely making the case for the possibility, which you cannot refute."

      I can say the universe was created by the flying spaghetti monster and you can't refute that. I can say that I'm Jesus reborn and you can't refute that either. You can make any number of bold irrefutable claims that are all entirely untrue.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • sam

      If a mime farts in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it create a universe?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • One one

      I'm sorry, I fell asleep while reading your post. Would you please re-type it ?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Lancemick

      No, Understander, I am not making the claim you cannot disprove my God so he exists. I am saying science has actually helped to support the possibly of Creation. Did you know that he prevailing theory on the universe's existence used to be, prior to the Big Bang theory, was that the universe always existed. The fact that the universe has a beginning points to Creation. Also, what does the fact that the universe had a beginning say about the Laws of Thermal Dynamics?

      Also, I challenge you to research NDE's with an open mind. We use eye witness accounts in both the legal and scientific fields, yet we are supposed to disregard millions of people's testimony on the subject out hand?

      Lastly, there are scientists still studying mind and brain and consciousness. Some are studying the possibility of our conscious existing out of body.

      In summary, there is no reason or proof to dismiss the possibility of Creation. Do you have some You would like to share? I would argue current science only helps support the idea of Creation.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Mary

      Believer
      You're giving an argument for believing in a God, not for there actually being a God to believe in. Big difference.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • hee hee

      Quote: ".... so quick to disregard my position about Time only existing in our universe by claiming I conveniently believe this notion so that "my God" can be free of time and creation himself. I obviously failed to persuade you that science indeed tells you that time is a function of our physical existence and that of..."

      must not ... doze... locate... point....

      ...ultra-long posts ... widely acknowledged sign .... of wisdom...

      April 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Me

      That guy did NOT die. One does not die then get better, that is only in Zombies shows/movies/books.
      I'am not sure your what your tring to get with to with 'time', we are now starting to find out that we do not live in linear verse but a multiverse (Schroeder cat's), with scientific proof.
      For the after we die part, Atheism and "afterlife" are diffrent things. We live after this body dies, we all have electricity running through us, a few 100 watts to run us. One part of physics is you can not have something from nothing and nothing to something. We are just biological androids and like a robot when the power shuts down the power just does not disappear, it changes form.
      Oh do not try to say 'what about the big bang, nothing before that', then look-up M-threoy/multiverse science and "Brains"

      Santa Claus is not real.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Believer

      I find it funny that many of you non-believers tell me to look up different / new theories (for the record I am aware of M-theory / String Theory & Multiverse) as if you all believe THEY are possible, with little to no evidence, but will dismiss the possibility of Creation with No facts to do so.

      It's why I always shake my head at the idea that to be scientific you must dismiss Creation withou any factual basis to do so, while believing in other crazy neo-scientific theories that rely upon supposition and no proof.

      Seems hypocritical, doesn't it?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • kenny of salt

      Hooray for the sun god
      He is the one god
      He sure is a fun god
      Ra! Ra! Ra!

      April 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Our attempts to refute believers fail because their belief is not based on anything demonstrable. You can spout science and our lack of undertsand of the universe...nothing leads to any definition of god presented by man.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • El Duderino

      If there is no evidence whatsoever that something exists, it is only prudent to believe it does not exist until someone can provide evidence to the contrary.

      And if there is no evidence whatsoever that something exists, it is bizarre and foolish to believe in it anyway.

      It all comes down to evidence, and all claims of deities and the supernatural have not a shred of evidence.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Believer

      El Duderino:

      Creation is refuted out-of-hand without merit, while M-Theory, String Theory and Multiverses are seen as possible by the likes of many who've commented on this article.

      If you cannot see the hypocrisy in what I have written above, then I again find it ironic that Believers are supposedly the ones called "sheeple". It is as if some are SO against the idea of there being a God / Creator that they will decline the notion of it without any factual reason to do so; meanwhile, these same people will believe the possibility of any other new "scientific" theory that has little or no evidence.

      This is what I do not understand. Atheists are SURE there is no God and that the universe was not created. What scientific theory proves this notion?

      April 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • El Duderino

      Total non sequitur, Believer. The credibility of string theory has nothing at all to do with the existence of deities. Atheists do not need to even consider them. Not part of the discussion. They appear to be interesting ideas that will either be supported or discarded, but that still has nothing to do with the existence of any god.

      If you want to claim creationism, you MUST provide evidence of a creator, not simply an extreme outside chance of a creator. Yours is a theory that has had millennia to provide evidence, and nothing upon nothing has ever been even hinted at. Scientifically speaking, it is a theory that should have been discarded long ago. Yours DOES have everything to do with the existence of god, yet you have no evidence. None. Nada. Nothing.

      Second, you need to research atheism, because "sure" is a misrepresentation of what many of us understand. You would find what most actually believe is that it is very very VERY unlikely, but as some polls I tried here indicate, most would adjust their understanding were they provided credible evidence. Christians similarly polled would reject any and all evidence – not a one said they would change their understanding based on evidence of a different or no god.

      Finally, there can be no scientific theory on nonexistence of anything because it is impossible to disprove a negative.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Believer

      El Dudeirino,

      So, in a nutshell, what you are saying is: "If a guy with a white lab coat postulates a theory of the creation of the universe then it should be considered a possibility; yet, if the guy is wearing a robe / religious garb then his theory should be refuted out-of-hand."

      I believe I have summed up Atheism perfectly.

      That's what I thought.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • El Duderino

      What a foolish and egregious misrepresentation of what I said!

      April 19, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  17. Rynomite

    "'Why do people have to be so godless to want to kill innocent people?'

    That's a dumb sentiment. Usually it's one religious group or another that is wanting to kill people for not adhering to their particular religious principles. So when the question "... have to be so godless..." gets asked, it's the way a religious nutter can dismiss a different set of principles because the concept of god is different.

    We atheists just stand back and shake our heads at the fools.

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

      This is America, I have never understood the atheist, if you don't believe in God, you don't have to do anything, you are not dragged out to go to church on Sunday's, you can sleep late, do whatever you want to do. Why then do you have to try to keep Christians from practicing their faith?? Please explain it to me.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • sam

      holma, state one time an atheist has tried to stop a christian from worshipping. You're full of shit.

      Also, the day atheists start going door to door asking about everyone's relationship with god, you'll have a point. Until then it's the 'faithful' who've been trying to set policy in this country, to the detriment of others.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • It's like this

      We don't care about what you do or believe as long as it does not interfere with everyone else. But Christianity has a long ugly history of forcing itself upon others and demanding everyone obey. That is where we stop ignoring you and actively fight back.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • holam

      GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD HE REIGNS OVER HEAVEN ABOVE WITH WISDOM POWER AND LOVE OUR GOD IS AN AWESEOME GOD!!!

      I think that all atheists are just mad because they dont have gods love. How could you know the difference between right and wrong if your an atheist? I guess its just anything goes! And they cant prove god doesnt exist and thats another reason why there mad all the time. LOL whatever! Have fun burning in H-E-L-L--–I couldn't reply to this one so I will do it here, It is dangerous to try to talk for God. Make no mistake, I am a Christian, I believe in God and Jesus as my saviour. But, I respect your right not to, and Jesus said that he wouldn't kick in the door, he would stand at the door and knock. Jesus said to love your enemies, do good to them that use you.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • CB

      Holam – becasue Christians tend to dictate laws in this country. No one is stopping you from worshipping your fairies, but don't base laws that apply to all on something that doesn't exist.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • .

      See, holam? When confronted with the evidence of your duplicity, the first thing you do is say stupid shit like "have fun burning in hell!". Guess what, twit? You are so far from what Jesus taught that you'll likely end up there too, you intolerant bitch.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I want to kill all of the people who want to use their religion to deny rights to other people. I am totally happy with religious people who keep their beliefs personal.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  18. Bonjour

    Anyone who is not Christian after reading the Bible must seek physical help....

    April 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      Physical help? Did that make sense to you?

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

      Should we do stretches or something?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Bonjour

      Atheists turned me into a newt!

      I got better . . .

      April 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Jon

      Physical help? Perhaps you should try reading some books other than the Bible,

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

      Good grief, and they say we are weird.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Roger

      Which Bible, of the many there are out there, and then which part, the Old Testament (one of many) that Christ said no longer is relevant (but bigots and fearmongers still love to say you have to live by if you happen to be gay) or the New Testament that is full of contradictions and has been proven to have been written hundreds of years after Christ supposedly walked the earth?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Dennis

      Good one, Sam.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Leo

      Anyone who is STILL Christian after reading the Bible needs help.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  19. Truth

    CNN is getting immoral..... Sad

    April 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      how is it being "immoral"?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      From the American Religious Dictionary:
      immoral |i(m)ˈmôrəl, -ˈmärəl|
      adjective
      any action, deed or thought that is not in keeping with what I believe is right or have otherwise been indoctrinated to believe is right.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Pete

      You should check out Fox News then. They lapped "immoral" long ago.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  20. Truth

    http://www.funnyist.com/8-reasons-jesus-definitely-existed/

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

      Maybe, but can you prove that he was a god?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

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

      April 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
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About this blog

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