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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. Blablabla

    It's pathetic the way atheists constantly try to draw attention to themselves. This horrible situation is NOT ABOUT YOU.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "Atheists" don't exist as an organized group. This gentleman speaks for himself, not for me. I disagree with your first point and agree with your second.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • sam

      Poor reading skills, whiny, judgmental...sounds like another good christian!

      April 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • George

      ... and the grade schooler commandeers mum's computer once again . . .

      April 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I guess you didn't read the article and jumped right to the comments. The article is about atheists hurt by the bombs and their need for support. Having some priest/minister/rabbi/imam babble on and on about salvation will hurt, not help. Atheists need support as well. Comfort comes from human contact and a good listener.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  2. FajitaBob

    Here come the atheists to defend their right to their opinion by s hitting on other people's opinion.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • darknesscrown

      Read it again, hater.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • sam

      You're boring as usual, Bob.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you know being a hater will get you barred from heaven right?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jack

      Can I offer you some TP to wipe your opinion?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Not talking about the article–go read the posts. And if you haven't posted a derogatory comment, you really have no need to be offended. Go read the posts.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • snoozie

      Don't you see that BOTH sides do exactly that?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • sam

      We know you're talking about the comments, douche. Stop pretending it isn't just as equal from the faithful.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'FajitaBob

      Not talking about the article–go read the posts. And if you haven't posted a derogatory comment, you really have no need to be offended. Go read the posts.'

      doesnt matter what it is from, you comment was still full of hate. you are a hater, and thus banned from heaven. sorry, but those arent my rules.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Cedar: how in the world is my comment full of hate??? Note the irony here: I read a bunch of hateful comments, then simply made note of certain people who assert their right to an opinion by s hitting on others opinion. Any of you tell me I got it wrong? Go read the posts (and maybe your own). Man, how do you deny this??? It's a simple fact!!

      April 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  3. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Word human is combination of Latin word HU, meaning HE, truth absolute GOD, and man is hinduism corruption of Latin and German word MANN, meaning desire, word human means HIS desire, as Good LORD GOD of universe desired human to be, followers of truth absolute in life, not hindu atheist, ignorant self centered animals.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Sivick

      Is there unicorns in the world you live in? I bet there are...

      April 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Word human is combination of Latin word HU, meaning HE, truth absolute GOD, and man is hinduism corruption of Latin and German word MANN, meaning desire'

      no it isnt. another lie.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • sam

      Time for some more crazy garble from the hindu troll.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  4. Sivick

    Religious folk are good because they think they will be rewarded if they are and punished if they are not. Atheists are good because it is the right thing to do, without thought of reward or punishment from a higher authority. Which is the more selfless good i wonder? It's clear from the religious posts here that their "righteousness" is just false pretext. Their so called goodness is merely hiding behind their "god" and then cloaked with that moral certainty they are free to throw stones at everyone else. Isn't this how these terrorists situations start in the first place? Belief of absolute righteousness to justify horrible acts

    April 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Blablabla

      If you actually knew anything about any religion besides Christianity, you would know that not all obsess over right and wrong behavior, and not all promise rewards for "being good." Christianity is silly for focusing so much on sin and punishment, but that is not how all religions work. A person's belief or non-belief is not really the issue. It has a lot more to do with how much education a person completes and how far they advance through the stages of moral development. A religious person may be motivated by higher considerations than punishment and reward, and an atheist may be stuck at that earlier stage.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Ann Coulter is well educated and claims to be a Christian. She has the morals of a brick.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • mk

      Well said, Sivick.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  5. Segoy

    Um...yeah, even those who are not of a faith mourn.

    I think a colosal DUH can be heard coming from the whole CNN boards.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It is irritating, though, when you watch a news cast and when talking about a family or community the station hasn't even spoken to they say things like "this family's prayers...". Really, listen, they do it all the time. If I'm mourning or worried about the survival of a relative the last thing I want is to have some stupid news station misrepresenting to the world the nature of my grief or worse, that of a family member about whom I'm concerned. They just use this language as pat filler but it's very disrespectful.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  6. FajitaBob

    HUMANIST??? AAAAHAHAAHAAHAHAHAAHAAA!!!!!!

    April 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Zach

      I guess I don't get the joke...

      April 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • sam

      There isn't one – Bob is an attention whore hoping that if he posts enough BS someone will eventually agree with him.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    We will all die, crumble, and come back as a piece of an astroid, space dust or cereal box. Nothing special about a human.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Apple Bush: at least you're being honest about what you believe Apple Bush... that's certainly more than i can say for the author of this article.

      but I doubt most parents would be willing to embrace such a view if that was their 8 yr old killed.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Russ, somethng like this could cause one to lose their faith are embrace faith. Either way, faith is a delusion.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Apple Bush: i agree it's the harsh events that bring paradigm shifts – because they force people to be real & self-evaluate.

      but saying "faith is a delusion" fails to understand that *everyone* has faith in something. the question is: upon what are you ultimately relying?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • G to the T

      Russ – "*everyone* has faith in something" – nope. Where I cannot find certainty, I reserve judgement. Please do not try to push atheists into the "just as much faith" as believers category.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Russ

      @ G to the T: the atheist and/or skeptic's faith is in himself & his own observations.

      to claim to reserve judgment on your life would mean that you never live life. i doubt you are claiming that. you operate daily on the basis that some set of assumed realities. you are putting *faith* in them – both practically and in the ultimate sense.

      now, you can say "that's not the definition of religion" – but it IS the definition of faith.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  8. Patrick

    I'm a devout catholic who works with non-believers in charity efforts like United Way campaigns and Habitat House builds. The 'humanists' I work with are kind, generous people who, in this context, just want what we Christians want: to bring their time, talent, and treasure to work for those who are less fortunate. We are motivated by different inspiration, but we are having the same impact.

    Most Christians i know do not hate Athiests in general. They are simply put off by the 'in-your-face' form of argumentative atheism that uses insults and condescension to ridicule believers. My athiest friends don't bother arguing with me about faith and I don't bother them. Although, occasionally, I will playfully joke with them that Christ was the first Humanist, and when they are helping the homeless, they're actually doing 'God's work'.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • mk

      You speak as though atheists are so loud and obnoxious about their beliefs, yet the religious are so intent on pasting the ten commandments everywhere, legislating their creeds into law, insisting that we live in a Christian nation, etc. You make these relationships with your atheist friends sound like a rainbows and sunshine world, but if you'll be honest with yourself, in the back of your mind you believe they are missing out on something that you're special enough to have been chosen for.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Dan

      As an Atheist, I have to agree on the "in your face" tactics. It is off-putting and if we're interested in sharing what we have in common, we need to create a more welcoming environment and not be so offensive. That goes both ways of course. Thanks for getting it.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      That's kind of a back handed joke if you ask me.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And "in your face" does not automatically translate into insults and condescension as is implied.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • child of midian

      But see you're insistence on the "playful joke" that atheist are doing "gods work" is very frustrating for me because you can't have a rational conversation with someone like you about religion and god because you're not open to any other idea. My mother called Atheism a "phase" like I would outgrow this.No, my time as a Christian was a phase, an atheist is what I evolved into. All these "gods" are supposed to be so enlightening and so loving and we are all bound together through them, yet all the religions fight like hell and all these beliefs are divisive and erode society. If all over the world people could just drop there "beliefs" and their "god" so that we no longer all had that barrier between us, rampant peace would ensue.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  9. snoozie

    The point of this article is not whether being religious-less is good, bad, right, wrong, true or false. The only point the article is making is that people who don't believe in a traditional God exist in this world along with those that do, and that they, also, grieve, feel, share, hope, decry, help, etc. because they are human. And that they want to feel a part of this grieving "community", which consists of all of us standing together as an injured nation, regardless of whether we believe in the same God or no God at all.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Sal

      Good or bad? Right or wrong? Based on what? They don't believe in God.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Good or bad? Right or wrong? Based on what? They don't believe in God.'

      why do you believe you need to believe in a god to determine that?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Sal

      Cedar rapids – Then what will hold society together? Your rules? Why should I want to listen to that or anyone else's rules?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Sal – Cedar rapids – Then what will hold society together? Your rules? Why should I want to listen to that or anyone else's rules?'

      mutual cooperation, self-interest and survival means you listen. You dont want to obey society's rules then that is fne but society will lock you up if you break certain ones.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • snoozie

      Sal, I am talking about whether the belief itself (or non-belief) in God is good or bad, right or wrong,. NOT whether an atheists(or anyone's) moral behavior in society is good or bad, right or wrong.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  10. Organic1

    No matter ones views about religion, this was tragic and carried out by those who do not share the thoughts of humanity. Why anyone would stand up and claim to know, or even suggest they know the hearts of anyone else is just wrong and self-serving. Those that were there, those that were injured, and those with ties to America will live with this the rest of their lives, some more than others. This is not about beliefs to the victims, this is about healing, pushing an agenda is wrong too.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  11. Fokken Rite

    Greg M. Epstein is a total asshole from what I can tell in this article and I am an atheist.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • snoozie

      Just curious why you say that. Can yo explain? I am being totally serious, not trying to flame or anything. Thx.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jack

      More likely that you are claiming to be an athiest to make your post seem less biased.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Martin

      I suspect you are not an atheist and I'm sure you are a vulgarian.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Fokken Rite

      I say that because:

      1. The article is condescending to atheists.
      2. His M.O. is contradictory and silly.
      3. His POV is selfish.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam

      It's a shame your reading skills are so poor, then.

      I call Poe.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • snoozie

      Thx for response.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  12. Sal

    So sad for the atheist – what is left except for the loss of life. No afterlife, no eternal salvation. What a sad way to live – No hope for the future. I would be mourning my entire life if this were true.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Al, it is actually sadder for Christians because they believe all of those things exist when they don't.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you would Sal? why?
      As an atheist I accept that this life is it, nothing else, so enjoy it.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Humanist Here

      No pity necessary. We simply don't believe in make believe things. We're adults. We deal with science and facts. Not a system that was invented to control the masses and keep the coffers of organized religions filled to capacity with donations from ignorant people who feel if they give money to the church they'll somehow buy a ticket to heaven. Silly stuff. We realize we're nothing more than biological units that are born and will die. There is no afterlife. There is no heaven or hell. Get over it. We are the brave ones - we don't need a spiritual crutch to get by, or to do the right thing. We live by the Golden Rule and are happy people.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • ME II

      @Sal,
      It seems so sad to me that believers waste their entire existence waiting for an alleged after-life, instead of making the life that they know they have, the best possible life they can for themselves, their loved ones, and those who will come after them.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Andy

      Sal, actually it's sad that you walk around believing a bunch of made up nonsense that people came up with thousands of years ago because they didn't have the ability to understand the physical world around them. Good for you though chief, enjoy heaven.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Dan

      Not nearly as sad as you make it sound. But the truth is the truth. I'd rather deal with the truth, even if it isn't sprinkled with rose pedals, rather than believe in something that is not true. Having made the transition from one to the other, I find that I'm actually no happier or sadder than I was as a believer.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • sam

      I have a feeling Sal's neighbors avoid him like the plague so they don't have to hear crap like this come out of his mouth.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Sal

      Cedar Rapids – If this is it then I want everything. Yours and everyone else's. Why stop at anything, the worst that could happen is I die and leave you all to life's misery.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Sal

      Actually, it's pretty sad for you. You need to be believe in an eternal salvation, and that out of the thousands of religions you've just happened to pick the right one in order to see any reason to do things. That's the sad part. You're so intent on feeling that you're "special" that you've bought into beliefs without evidence, and even go so far as to imply that those who don't believe have nothing to live for. Pathetic.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Sal

      You all are goofy. First and foremost, prove to me that there is No God!

      April 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Sal

      Hawaiguest – it's not about feelings, it's about witnessing the truth.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • atheist

      Sal : So sad for the person who does not use drugs – what is left except for the dreary existence. No highs, no lows. What a sad way to live – No hallucinations. I would be mourning my entire life if this were true.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • ME II

      @Sal,
      "First and foremost, prove to me that there is No God!"

      "Prove" there is No Unicorn.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      bizarre, you think that means there are no morals then? you can want all you like but getting is an entirely different thing. And equally bizarre that you seem to think that atheists therefore go around with a 'worst that can happen is i could die' outlook.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Sal

      1) Prove there is no invisible dragon flying over my house protecting me from the minions of Cthulu while I sleep. Oh BTW did I mention that he can't be experienced with any of the five senses? But he's there, you can't prove me wrong, and since I haven't been killed by a minion of Cthulu, that proves it's true right?

      2) It is about "feelings", because that's all you have. You have witnessed nothing, and have provided nothing but emotional appeals to what you think is "sad" about atheism. Your little cookie cutter preacher response is a fine example of the complete lack of reason in your religion.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Sal

      So sad for the atheist – what is left except for the loss of life. No afterlife, no eternal salvation.
      .
      Shall we as sume you have seen this for yourself or you have heard your god's voice telling you this????????????????????

      April 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Sal

      You all are goofy. First and foremost, prove to me that there is No God!
      ...........
      With that statement, you already know you have no case. Burden of proof is on you. I believe the Land of Oz exists. If you do not, prove it. I am amazed there are still ignorant christians making the statement you made...mind boggling

      April 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  13. Linda

    "After two days of holding back my own feelings to focus on the needs of a community in mourning?" Wow, you held back for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Today, you're compelled to speak out with a self-promoting, poorly written article. This carnage is not about you, or your feelings, or your personal religious beliefs. While you describe yourself as a Humanist, true humanitarians help others in need with no desire of recognition. You could easily have helped your community as an individual, an anonymous donor of money or blood, or a Red Cross volunteer. Instead, you shamefully use this tragedy in a selfish attempt to usurp attention from those in need to your own agenda.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • TM

      Couldn't agree more – thanks for this thoughtful comment.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • sam

      Judgy, un-thoughtful comment. You have no idea what he did. He wasn't trying for agenda. Why isn't it ok for him to talk about how this affects him? You're just looking to nitpick the guy.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  14. agnositicandproud

    Going to be really surprised if the motivation for the bombing is not based on some sort of religious dogma or fervor.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Fokken Rite

      Christians and Muslims can't wait to die. They are infactuated with death.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  15. WT

    So where do Atheists put their hope? I sincerely want to know. I really want to hear from Atheists on this one. Do Atheists truly want the world to stop believing in God so it will somehow be a better place? Will that somehow stop the evil in the world? Is all the evil in the world done because of religious fanatics doing evil in the name of God? Do Atheists hope that without God humanity will just start to put others first and do kind acts on their own? What is the hope?

    It's easy to see where Christians put there hope. The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of everyman – Atheist and Christian alike. As a follower of Christ there is hope that this world is not the end and that evil, like the Boston tragedy, will not have the final say. As a person turns to Christ and follows his example, then he/she will start to think less selfishly and more selflessly. I see the hope there. I see hope in Christ – but I just can't see it in Atheism.

    "Hopefully" someone can explain it.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Caitlin

      Athiests have hope in humanity.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • wack a doodle

      glad you see hope in the fairy in the sky !

      Have a great life

      April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • agnositicandproud

      I do not focus on having hope. I focus on making myself a better person and try to be kind to everyone. I am not concerned with notions of good and evil becuase I believe there are some people who are just bad and always will be and there are some who pretend to be good but are bad inside and do things that are bad when they think no one is looking or will find out. I have found in my many years that the religious are worse in some respects because they do nto follow thier own teachings. They cheat, lie, steal, and get abortions in a greater amount than the non religion I know. they also do a whole lot of judging of others while they act like they have some sort of license to evalute and comment on others when they have a differnet view than themselves.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      why do you believe that atheists think all the evil in the world comes from religion?
      why do you also seem to believe that people need to believe in a god in order to put others first and do kind acts?

      I dont hope any less than you do that those that commit evil acts will not win, I do not need to believe in a god in order to have that hope.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jeff

      Please know, when atheists want to blame religion, that atheists killed more in the 20th century than all those by Christians in 2000 years. Between Stalin, HItler, Mao, Pol Pot and more, over 100 million were killed in less than 100 years by those who didn't believe in God and wanted to eliminate him from society. So please, stop pretending like anyone from a religion is nuts, and atheists are the only rational beings left. It is quite the opposite.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @WT

      You don't even want an answer do you? Your characterization of atheists, and of Christianity show this very clearly.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Mmadave

      Wt (Read following post from Cedar rapids again. BANG ON!

      cedar rapids

      why do you believe that atheists think all the evil in the world comes from religion?
      why do you also seem to believe that people need to believe in a god in order to put others first and do kind acts?

      I dont hope any less than you do that those that commit evil acts will not win, I do not need to believe in a god in order to have that hope.

      Also: It's their not "there.
      We don't need god to act properly. And I don't need the 10 commandments to know:
      I shouldn't kill someone or steal. Duh!!!!

      April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • CJ

      I put my hope in you, and in me, and in the other 7 Billion people who share this rock we call home. I hope that from now until the sun envelops our tiny slice of the universe that we humans can live out our lives in a world filled with joy.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "So where do Atheists put their hope?"

      I hope that through the charity work I do I will help bring happiness to those I touch. Fortunately I see this happen every week. I hope through the donations and tax dollars of millions science will find a cure for pollution and disease and psychology will better pinpoint what makes us happy. I hope through education we will better understand one another and come closer together as fields of science are shared.

      "Do Atheists truly want the world to stop believing in God so it will somehow be a better place?"

      Some maybe do, but this is not a unified group with a creed. It's just people who don't have a belief in god. I don't think god believers or non-god-believers are necessarily any happier. Studies indicate that the happiness of each group is highly dependent on who is the majority and who the minority.

      "Will that somehow stop the evil in the world?"

      I shouldn't think so. But aligning religions with science should at least eliminate some of the stupider avoidable problems like discrimination based on se xuality, bans on funding birth control and abortion in the US and abroad, restrictions on science and treating the earth as something less fragile than it is.

      "Is all the evil in the world done because of religious fanatics doing evil in the name of God?"

      Goodness no.

      "Do Atheists hope that without God humanity will just start to put others first and do kind acts on their own?"

      We know that in more secular developed countries the people are much more willing to see their taxes used to help others in society. Certainly many, such as myself, engage in charitable works and donations without a push from god. Anyone who cannot get on board with that way of thinking probably will end up in jail and out of the gene pool.

      "What is the hope?"

      I can't speak for anyone else, but I hope to see the greatest happy, conscious well-being of the largest number of sentient beings possible.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • DarqueSideoftheMoon

      Can't speak for atheists, but as an agnostic I believe this is the 'show' and when it's over, it's over. My hope is that I have left this place a touch better than when I arrived, nothing more.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      For starters jeff, hitler was a catholic, He claimed that by killing the jews he was doing god's work and that he said he was not ashamed to admit that he dropped to his knees and thanked god that he was born at such a time.
      Secondly those others killed because they were tyrants holding onto power. They did not do it in the name of atheism, no one ever went to war and declared 'for atheism and country!', whereby history is full of people that waged war in the name of their religion.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • K-switch

      hope

      1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.
      2. a particular instance of this feeling: the hope of winning.
      3. grounds for this feeling in a particular instance: There is little or no hope of his recovery.
      4. a person or thing in which expectations are centered: The medicine was her last hope.
      5. something that is hoped for: Her forgiveness is my constant hope.

      The act of hoping does not automatically equal a "turn out for the best". I prefer to make actions in my life that will statistically favor a good outcome.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • snoozie

      I really don't think most atheists care whether other people believe in God or not. I think it is believers who go crazy wanting atheists to either become believers or go away. I don't think atheists want others to "do" anything. The just want to live their lives without being relegated to second class citizen by people who DO believe in God. They don't want to be hounded and pushed and attacked and told they are evil incarnate.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • snoozie

      I also think there is more one can hope for than that there be more after this. Why not make "this" the best it can be and know you have lived a good life?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Kimberly B.

      As an atheist, I don’t expect the world to stop believing in some sort of god, but I would like people to take the time to consider what and why they believe in what they believe. If they want to keep their beliefs, which is absolutely fine with me (please know I don’t speak for all atheists as I’m sure you don’t speak for all theists), I hope they won’t expect everyone else to believe the same. What I would hope for is a world when people can understand why someone wouldn’t believe and not berate them for it and vice versa. I don’t believe a world without the belief in god would necessarily be a better place, but a world with more consideration for others would. Many religious people have shown that they are quite capable of helping everyone regardless of beliefs, but far too often people stop their tenderness and care at that religious line. If someone can disregard people based on where they were born (this is more often than not the basis for religious beliefs) it makes it quite difficult for us to care for others as people. And no, I don’t think this would get rid of all the “evil” in the world, but it’s a start. We don’t need to get rid of religion, but foster thinking/analyzing skills and allow more for differing opinions. If we can become more sympathetic and empathetic towards others we can become a better people. So, in short, I put my hope in people.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • geenabeana

      Do Atheists truly want the world to stop believing in God so it will somehow be a better place? As a nonreligious person, I don't think it would be right to ask people to stop believing in their god. My wish would be for people to be accepted for who they are and not shunned for who they are not. I don't want to fit into the mold of the majority just to be accepted. I am a good, decent person with a heart of gold. I want to be seen for that and my talents, not for who I don't worship. I want my kids to grow up in a world where it doesn't matter whether or not they believe and where they are accepted for making the choice to not believe, if that's how they feel. Tolerance. Acceptance. People as a whole should enjoy the beauty of this life while we have it and not dwell on something that may or may not happen once we are gone. I don't want my life to be about what happens when I die, I want it to be about what happens while I'm alive! We are all supposed to have a choice in this country, yet those of us who choose no belief system are looked down upon and outcast because we are a possible minority. We are feared because we are different. It's disappointing. I hope that some day, no one has to feel that being different is wrong or evil.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Kiersten

      Personally, as an atheist who was a believer for nearly 20 years, my sense of hope comes in knowing that I actually have the power to make a difference for the good in my life and in the lives of others. When I was a believer, good outcomes were always dependent on some ethereal "other" and I had no control. Now, I know that doing good is not dependent on the will of anyone else but me. I don't have to pray about it to decide whether or not I should do X kind thing for someone, I just do it. So I spend my days doing good things, loving those around me with a ferocity that I didn't know when I was a believer because I thought I had eternity to do that. I think that believers would benefit from questioning their beliefs in light of logic and reason, mainly because freeing oneself from the binds of religion and the quest to please someone (god) is such a liberating and enlightening thing.

      In my life, I was raised without religion, was "born-again" and found god, then finally returned to fully settle on atheism. When I was in church, I thought I was free from the bonds of sin, but in all honesty, I have never felt more free than I do today. In looking back, the church was the real bondage.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Jeff

      Please know, when atheists want to blame religion, that atheists killed more in the 20th century than all those by Christians in 2000 years. Between Stalin, HItler, Mao, Pol Pot and more, over 100 million were killed in less than 100 years by those who didn't believe in God and wanted to eliminate him from society. So please, stop pretending like anyone from a religion is nuts, and atheists are the only rational beings left. It is quite the opposite.
      ..
      You really cant be that ignorant??????????

      April 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Ted,

      When you learn:

      1. To do math for deaths based on the size of a political unit rather than absolute numbers
      2. That your church brochure is feeding you deaths actually attributed to famine
      3. The difference between a political system and a religious / metaphysical belief

      come back and give advice to others.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  16. SokrMom

    What a remarkably patronizing article. Yes, people who don't believe in god actually have emotions.

    April 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • sam

      Did you even read it, or are you just being a snot?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Liberty

    I've never seen a 'secular' person turned away from a community event, so I don't have a point of reference. As far as the communities in which I've lived, we're neighbors and friends and comfort each other as we do, whether religious or secular. I wonder if the author is assuming or speculating that there is more of a problem than there really is.

    April 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • snoozie

      That is great!! Love your post. I think it comes down to the point that most of these post-tragedy speeches are often heavily peppered with God references so it feels like the sympathy is only being doled out to the believers. But yeah, I agree. I think inclusion is pretty much implied. After all, it would be kind of awkward to have a post-tragedy speech that says specifically, sympathy to all who believe in God and also those who don't.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  18. palintwit

    Bristol Palin wanted to run in the marathon but was told she had to lose 400 lbs. first.

    April 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  19. darknesscrown

    Probably 98% of religious people in the U.S. have a problem with atheists. It's the 2% who stockpile guns, home-school their kids, and exhibit severe xenophobia towards anyone who doesn't conform to their extremely warped view of the world around them who are spewing venom towards atheists on here and saying our existence is unacceptable. Everyone else commenting knows how to read and doesn't find it unacceptable that people are different.

    April 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • darknesscrown

      *98% DON'T have a problem...typo.

      April 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Blablabla

      Atheists have simply adopted the ancient Christian persecution complex. No one is bothering them. Nobody cares what they believe. But in my experience, people who go around proudly proclaiming their non-belief are attention-seeking, conflict-seeking dorks with poor social skills and a host of emotional problems. I don't believe in any of the major religions, either, but I keep it to myself, and guess what! I don't get hassled for it. Nobody cares.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • sam

      @blabla – except for the cases where they're openly discriminated against re holding public office...getting certain jobs...etc. Facts aren't important to you, though, are they?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • G to the T

      Blahblah – let's see... was it Bush that said he didn't think Christians should be considered Americans? No? That's right, it was atheists he didn't think should be considered Americans...

      April 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Fokken Rite

    Christianity – The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

    April 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Sal

      You are truly confused.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Fokken Rite

      Sal, in what way am I confused. Is that not the story?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Caitlin

      I don't believe in Christianity either, but no need to be so condescending. Just respect the fact that others believe in something you don't.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Sal

      You are expressing your belief and they are wrong. Christians don't believe in a symbol nor telepathy.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Humanist Here

      Yup. That pretty much sums up christianity. Fairy tales for gullible sheep.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Fokken Rite

      Sal, you are a liar.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Christians don't believe in a symbol nor telepathy."

      Like a cross, or prayer?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:44 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.