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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. %

    Godless in Boston mourn, too

    Aww. They aren't the vicious monsters they seem. Thats swell.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • no

      moron

      April 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • #

      Yes 'no' you certainly are.

      April 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  2. ajl

    This was a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  3. Really interfaith?

    Interfaith taking place at a church LOL..... It should be at a secular hall

    April 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  4. May Jesus Bless You

    ^ ^ ^ ^

    April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  5. Joe

    atheists do not have any morality and cold people.... how could they possibly be sad?!

    April 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam

      Yawn

      April 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I am an atheist with morals and who gets cold in the wintertime.
      Are you trying to assert that there are no atheists in snowstorms?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Pokydoke

      You are just plain wrong, nothing could be further from the truth, quit being such a bigot.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Matt

      What stupidity .....

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Kafir

      If you need religion to be sad... you're doin it wrong.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      Either trolling or stupid... I hope trolling.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • JoJo

      I'm a Humanist, Joe, and I feel very SAD for you, my friend.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • truebeacon

      Don't have morality? That's pretty offensive man. A lot of atheists do in fact have tons of morality, and I would argue that its more moral to take responsibility for the problems of the world ourselves than to sign it off to an imaginary being via prayer. You don't have to believe in a deity to be a nice person. In fact, most of the scientific community holds an atheistic view of the word, and they do more for people than anybody.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Freethinker Seeking Reason

      Could you possibly be more ignorant? Of course atheists have morality.

      Seek help in overcoming your religious addiction, as it has utterly blinded you.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  6. PROOF AMERICA IS A CHRISTIAN NATION

    It took place at a church 🙂

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

      What took place?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Our lady Cathedral

      🙂

      April 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Matt

      You seem to forget that the founders created a nation free from religion. That's what they were fleeing from in Europe. Freedom of religion is the same as freedom from religion. Have you ever even read a history book?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • sam

      Facts are hard; smiley faces are easy.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • JJ

      Yes, we realize the rape of children by priests takes place in churches and rectories all the time. What's that got to do with this story?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  7. Fokken Rite

    Christians is that they say they are enlightened, emboldened by the holy spirit, filled with the strength of the one true god; an army for goodness and righteousness and yet......

    when they open their mouths they tell the same tall tales the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Persians and Hindus told. And they don't even know this. How is this possible?

    April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  8. Lester Singleton

    Who ever said that atheists can't be just as caring as people with some type of religious faith? The difference isn't in the works, its in what they believe so why do we try to create a difference that isn't there?

    April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • .

      Most xtians say so. And one former president stated they can't be considered real Americans.

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

      Religion works off the "us and them" mentality and the vilification of the them. It's the way they've kept the flock in line, along with fabricated fears of the afterlife. That's why they focus on trying to force everyone to believe as they do, because to them the works really don't matter in the slightest.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Lester Singleton

      I am a Christian and to assume that people who lack the Christian faith can't be decent and kind humans just shows a lack of brain power. Faith doesn't make you a good person. If Christians were real with themselves they would admit that they chose their faith because they are the exact definition of what they are claiming atheists to be.......a total train wreck of problems with no real answers and a total lack of compassion for others.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Lester Singleton

      What I say to the atheists is that if you don't want to believe the same thing I do, that is your choice, your right and it is not my place to judge you for it. However, I think we all have the duty to be civil human beings who work to make the world a better place no matter what "religion" you want to practice.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  9. Alex

    Just know, our numbers will continue to rapidly grow as the greatest scam (organized religion) ever been perpetrated on mankind continues to be proven just that – a scam!

    April 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      May your deathbed prove you out. In death are the eyes made open.

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

      @lionly

      Yes that's a standard cowards way to avoid providing any evidence of your beliefs, just claim that eventually you'll be right when the person isn't around to contradict your statement. Pathetic.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      Well said.

      I hope there's SOME form of afterlife consciousness (though I accept it's highly unlikely, with no evidence to support it) so I can look at all the Christians I know who have condemned me to hell, and laugh at them for wasting so much of their life on lies.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • TheTruth

      If you want proof, it's there in abundance: start with Evidence That Demands A Verdict and The Case For Christ. Do you have the courage to search for the truth?

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

      @truth

      Read them. Pathetic piles of shit not worth the paper it was printed on. Useless fearmongering and lies meant only to scare or trick people into accepting irrational stupidity.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      hawaiiguest,

      Such arrogance as yours is what wreaks of the pathetic. Your tripe and ridiculing commentaries are mere derangements of sedimentary slurry. I faced death's door three times and was turned away! I have found reason to live since then. It is for my brother I now do live out Life! What you hawaiiguest clamor about and dare write is bitterness and vulgarity.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @lionly

      Keep crying about the mean person that doesn't accept everything you say merely because you say it. I don't really care. You have no substance to any of your posts, and as far as I've seen you have no interest in actual discussion. You merely have interest in spewing whatever pseudo-intellectual garbage you can come up with in order to present a "smart guy" front.
      Why don't you get a head start on what usually happens, and run away.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  10. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Article is about promotion of god of hindus, ignorant, Monkey, the atheist , self centered by nature.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby

      *poot*

      April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you are one seriously mucked up individual, did your wife run off with a hindu or something?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • sam

      Bug off, Mohammed.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Still waiting for you to explain how a polytheistic religion is atheistic.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  11. michael

    Very thoughtful. Of course, you will receive a lot of counterpoint, "It's not about you, why draw attention to atheists now?" Of course, what those people are saying it that it IS all about them. If you don't believe what they believe you are not any good and you should just keep your ideas to yourself. That, truly, is the pathetic hypocritical part about people with religious beliefs.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  12. jamie

    Atheism is just the ultimate expression of the super ego and narcissistic satisfaction. Believing that one is indeed the center of the universe and nothing in that universe could possibly be involved in a self serving and actually uncontrollable existence.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Swing and a miss.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby

      *poot*

      April 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      quite the reverse. its the believers that think mankind is the center of the universe, its atheists that know that, to the universe, mankind is quieter than a worm fart and it will not miss us when we are gone.

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

      Christians believe they were made special by god in his image and are the object of personal attention. Most atheists (not all) see themselves as specs among millions and millions of specs in the universe no more worthy than any other. Who is closer to the definition of narcissistic?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Atheism is just the ultimate expression of the super ego and narcissistic satisfaction"

      As opposed to believing that the creator of the universe desires nothing more than a personal relationship with you?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Andy

      Actually you couldn't be further from understanding what mainstream atheism is about, jamie.

      1. Mainstream atheists are often agnostic when it comes to deities. They are open to the idea that there could be a creating or controlling force in the universe, but that we presently do not have a knowledge of such; and

      2. Many atheists see the Abrahamic God as something created by man in a way that is too self-serving to human needs or too self-serving in supplying answers for human existence, as if humans and this planet are the center of the universe.

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

      So sorry, jamie, but you missed the point of the article. However, since you brought it up first, I must point out that it is religion that is the ultimate egotistical expression disguised as humility. How else can you look at facts like evolution and still maintain creationism? Christians need to start listening to Christ rather than Fox News.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • jamie

      Not talking about chistians at all, just any humanist/atheists who believe that they are in control of their existence/destiny and look inwardly while ultimately having no control over said existence. Appears arrogant to think otherwise.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • jamie

      P.s please read more carefully, I am not a christian nor made any references to God, christianity or religion

      April 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Dave

      Wait, what? "Believing that one is the center of the Universe..." Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it the religious people among us who believe in a certain "one" who is the center of the universe? And as for being narcissistic, do you follow the Bible word for word or are you one of the masses who believes in his own version of God? You want to believe in the God from the Bible but when it comes to the things you don't agree with, it's always... "well, MY God doesn't believe in that" Seems just a little hypocritical if you ask me. And while I won't speak for any other athiests out there, my belief is that we're all spinning around on the same rock in space and we better learn to work together, regardless of what fairy tales you might believe.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      Wow... Talk about missing the mark.

      We're really selfish and egotistical. Believing that the Universe happened by chance, we happened by chance, and that when we die there will likely be nothing.

      That's nothing like the selflessness of believing an all-power, omnipotent being created you, and cares about you, and your decisions, and is always watching out for you, and helping you when you need it. With all of this beings infinite time, patience and existence, it truly loves you and cares for you.

      Right... If you can't figure out which one implies ego, you don't understand what ego is.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • sam

      jamie, you're wrong in this assumption. Now please offer us mustard to go with your pretzel logic.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'jamie
      just any humanist/atheists who believe that they are in control of their existence/destiny and look inwardly while ultimately having no control over said existence.
      P.s please read more carefully, I am not a christian nor made any references to God, christianity or religion'

      Thing is jamie is that your original statement was not 'some' or 'any' atheists but a sweeping statement about atheism itself......'Atheism is just the ultimate expression of the super ego and narcissistic satisfaction'
      And you can hardly claim you were not talking about religion when your comment was about those that do not follow religion.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • G to the T

      Actually, I think I have a pretty good grasp at just how vast the universe is. In my opinion, believing that our backwater little blip on the radar we call earth, has any kind of cosmic signifigance is self-centered to say the least.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  13. Reality

    As we march to the tune of Rational Thinking:

    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 2:29 pm |
  14. FajitaBob

    What self-serving bulls hit! I cannot belive this clown is using this tragedy to advance his little cause. And I could not care less what group he is affiliated with–disgusting! And if you disagree–go back and read it again. The ONLY point of this opinion letter is, "don't forget to include us!" What else would one expect from a "humanist?" I guess he is just trying to make the point that he is indeed the center of his universe. Yes, Greg, we acknowledge you.

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

      By all means, Bob, come on in and whine about it and make it all about yourself. That works.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Never said anything about myself, dum bass.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • CrystalV

      Apparently YOU did not read the article. He has two congregants who were injured in the blast.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam

      Making post after post whining about the article is your special way of drawing attention to yourself, DUMBASS, because you're assuming anyone cares. You missed the point of the article, and you look dumber every time you post.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  15. Hector

    My personal experiance with individuals who are atheist is that they are often very cold hearted and mean spirited. Just my personal experiance with atheists.

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

      ( experience )

      April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      My personal experience with believers is that most are mentally ill delusionals who constantly lie to small children. Just my personal experience with believers.

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

      That's unfortunate. Most people I know that are atheists will give you the shirt off their back...the most genuine people I know.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam

      I doubt it. Chances are all they did was close the door in your face when you knocked on it to babble about your delusions.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      was this just after you told them that their godless ways was going to damn them to hell hector?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      I would suggest you get out more.

      Or find out what the people around you actually believe.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam

      @cedar – LOL

      April 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      That's generally because we were raised in heavily religious areas and ostracized our entire lives from a sense of community, and constantly condemned to hell.

      I was told at the age of 3 I was going to go to hell, one of my earliest memories.

      I'm generally a very nice, caring person. I love my family, my friends, get along well with co-workers, and if you were to meet me in person, you'd never guess I was an atheist.

      Until you asked me about religion, that is. Then you'd feel the decades of people saying those things to me, treating me the way they did, come back in a tirade of empirical evidence that will seem off-putting to you, because you accept things without evidence.

      Then I will become hostile when you try to use the Bible, or personal experiences as evidence to rebut scientifically verified evidence.

      Then I'll give up and walk away before the stupid makes my head explode, and you'll be standing there thinking to yourself, "Boy, he sure was cold and off-putting..."

      April 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, I have to agree with Jesse on this one. I remember answering the phone one day when I was 9 and someone from the 700 Club, knowing she had a kid on the line, informing me that if I had not accepted JC into my life, I would be condemned to hell for eternity. I spent so many nights after that praying so hard for god not to send me to hell that I would break a sweat.

      Kind of hard not to take exception to being told over and over that no god = no morality.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  16. Joanne

    I love this article. And I don't think he is making this moment about his "Issue". I believe that he is pointing out that we as Americans are progressing from a faith based society to a secular humanism society. As a former Catholic (not my choice) I applaud his efforts to bring like minded people together in community and to serve others in the community regardless of "faith".

    April 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "Like minded" people should never be brought together.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Departing from truth absolute in life to atheism, self center ism of animals, secular s by nature.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  17. jp

    This Country was founded on In God We Trust, that has been taken away by the Minority.. Bibles have been taken out of schools, but encouraged in prison. Where are we headed, the past tells me, that it is not for the better....

    April 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Are you serious? You're not serious are you? That's way to stupid for you to be serious about.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Fokken Rite

      Failed troll. No way that stupidity is real.

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

      Dumb ass – the phrase was added to the currency in the 50's by commie-fearing idiots like you. The country was founded by diests, not christians. Let me guess – is this about those pesky gays, or your horror that there's a darkie in the oval office?

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

      You do understand that "In God We Trust" was not embraced until the Civil War, right? And if you want your children to study the Bible in school, no one is stopping you from home schooling them or sending them to a private school. Weaksauce.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      "In God we Trust" was added to our money in the 50's. How many times do we have to tell you nitwits that this country WAS NOT founded as a christian nation, and was intentionally created as a secular society. If you have a problem with this, I suggest that you leave.

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

      This country was NOT founded on the phrase "In God We Trust." According to the US Treasury, the motto was added to coins beginning in November 1961 because of the increase in religious sentiment due to the Civil War. Also you must have missed the history lesson in school that the founding fathers were Deists. Diaries, treaties, and other writings would suggest that some were agnostics or atheists. I am always saddened and sometimes outraged by the level of ignorance expressed here.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • jen

      Someone needs to brush up on their history. "In God We Trust" wasn't adopted and added to our currency until 1956.

      http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx

      April 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Please then explain then the Treaty of Tripoli – signed by President John Adams in 1797 – that goes like this:
      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—"

      April 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Seriously, take a history course. And not at your local bible college.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Kenny

      jp,

      The country was not founded on "In God We Trust". It was added in 1956 as a replacement to the original US motto of "E Pluribus Unum". The nation was at a tense time in the Cold War and as a result, the 84th Congress passed a resolution to replace the existing motto "E Pluribus Unum" with "In God We Trust". The change was in a part motivated by a desire to differentiate between communism, which promotes atheism, and Western capitalistic democracies, which were mostly Christian at the time.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Snoopsig

      Wrong. In god we trust wasn't adopted until the 1950's.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Pike

      In God we Trust was added to coinage in 19th century in commemoration to Civil War soldiers.

      April 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  18. Fokken Rite

    The way humans experience the world is limited by our evolved faculties. We can “see” light waves but not x-rays for example (without technology). What else are we missing? Just because we can’t experience something doesn’t mean it is not there. There may be many more dimensions we simply don’t have the mental or physical tools to perceive.

    The reason I am an Atheist is because I don’t how it all started or where it is going and likely never will. I accept that. I don’t need to fill that gap with gods and goblins. Whatever is “behind the curtain” of the Big Bang is probably not possible for us to know. I don’t believe in the “Super” natural. If something exists, it is natural.

    This is a simplistic post for a large subject, but the moral of the story is, it is ok to say, “I don’t know.”

    Now it is possible to enjoy the scientific journey of discovery with a clear and rational mind.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • art

      If you say "i don't know" , you are an agnostic, not atheistic. Atheism simply says "Just because I cannot perceive God, or the majority cannot perceive God, or show proof of God, God doesn't exist."
      These people would have said microbes don't exist, had it not been for technology. It is the greatest joke to me, when Atheists claim they have a rational mind. They don't. But, i am totally OK with what they choose to "believe". Yes, it's a belief. That's all. How does it make it any less or any more exalted than any other belief out there?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Fokken Rite

      Not true. For an atheist, based on existing evidence, there is no God. However if evidence were presented to the contrary, an atheist would examine the evidence scientifically and perhaps come to a different conclusion. Atheism is science based. Someone that calls themselves and Agnostic is just full of shit.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'These people would have said microbes don't exist, had it not been for technology'

      what a bizarre claim. Especially as it was the religious that claimed for so long that disease was sent by god and the idea of microbes would be dismissed as preposterous.
      Not to mention that when science does claim something even today it is dismissed by the religious.....example is the claim of the age of the earth and evolution.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Stephen

      Growing up Catholic, "I don't know" was a commonly taught phrase in my parish church. "Knowing" and "having faith" are two different things. "Faith" is the acceptance into your life of an eternal concept that you are not capable of knowing or understanding. And we also learned that "faith" can and should be questioned. That it's healthy and responsible to do so.

      Also, I'm not sure which religions worship goblins. It's never come up in church.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      This is actually a response to "art".

      "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable, ATHEISTIC answer.

      Are you aware of the two types of Agnostics? If not, then you probably shouldn't talk about what is, or isn't Agnostic.

      Atheists have no beliefs. We accept what is presented in evidence. We say there is no God, just as we say there is no such thing as a Tooth Fairy.

      If, tomorrow, someone presented evidence that the Tooth Fairy was real, we'd re-examine the evidence, and draw new conclusions. The same with god.

      Don't argue that Atheism is a belief. If Atheism is a "belief", than so is Anti-tooth-fairy-ism, or Anti-Santa-Clausism, because the evidence for all of those things are exactly the same... None.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  19. Anna

    You are a person, as we all are. It's not for any single one of us to judge what's going on inside. It's for all of us to love, comfort and take care of. Regardless of how you were brought up, that should've been the basis. For those of us who do believe in Jesus, we should be the FIRST to offer comfort to anyone and NOT condemn them for what they believe. However you believe you were created, we all share a heart, we all share feelings, we all share the ability to love & grieve. Take care of each other.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  20. dbrock

    What a self-centered and egotistical point of view. A tragedy has occurred and the "Humanists" (aren't we all human? duh!) feel left out of the mourning process. What a bunch of narcissists. But I shouldn't be surprised. If they believe they themselves are all-powerful and that nothing is greater than themselves, then what else can you expect? You end up with yourself.

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

      Don't try too hard to sound butthurt that the article wasn't written by some god-fearing sheep.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Anita

      The author is just trying to give a different perspective. I did not think it was self-centered.

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

      I am one of those godless and morals and feelings exist without the to believe in a god. As far not believing there is anything greater than oneself because you do not buy into religion, not is just not accurate. There is "Us", "all of us". We are more than the sum of our parts and we owe an describable debt to each other. My heart goes out to those hurt and I wish them the best. I offer my help and donations but I not pray for them. To pray is say 'it is in someone's else hands', it is not, it in ours.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Tom

      please forgive my typos...

      April 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • lolwut

      Narcissism?? You want narcissism, here's narcissism: believing that your "reward" for being a "good person" according to outdated fables will be an eternity of perpetual bliss. That's narcissism at it's finest. Atheists and agnostics do good for the benefit of mankind only, that's about as selfless as you can get.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Did you actually read the article and see that people in this group were directly affected? This wasn't some humanist group in Anchorage.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:46 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.