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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. Sonny

    Very interesting comments. I've read an atheist writing that "mainstream atheists don't necessarily not believe in God, they just don't believe we know enough about God to belief in Him, or that "(atheists) do not belief God exists" or from an "atheist universalist unitarian that his congregation encourages people for their own spiritual growth".

    This is just a sampling of what I've read. But these all contradict to each other. The problem with atheism is that you cannot have a spiritual being, you only have molecules. And you can't believe in the possibility of a god because you believe there is no god. So you cannot bemoan the fact that you are not included in "interfaith meetings" because by definition "faith" is not something you can have as a grouping of molecules.

    God has implanted His Truth in all of us. Too many times, it's gets distorted and people do things like blow each other up. But the simple fact that even those that don't believe in Him, still know the difference between right and wrong, of good and bad, proves that we are more than just molecules. We have a conscience. And a conscience cannot be defined by dna and genes.

    And one more thing. Atheists are quick to tell us how our founding fathers were not Christians and how In God we Trust was not added until the 20th century. But who really were the founding fathers of our country? Those guys in nice clothes who signed papers, or the men and women who fought and gave up their lives in war after war.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam

      "The problem with atheism is that you cannot have a spiritual being, you only have molecules."

      How is this a problem? No, really. I've got popcorn, and I am ready for this.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "The problem with atheism is that you cannot have a spiritual being, you only have molecules."

      Many people are religious without believing in a god, most obvious are many Buddhists who have no god but a metaphysical system beyond "molecules".

      "And you can't believe in the possibility of a god because you believe there is no god."

      A person who lacks belief in a god can believe it's possible. A person who believes with 60% certainty can believe there is a possibility of a god. If I said "I believe Obama will win the election" it doesn't mean I believed there was no possibility that Romney would win – just that I believe it more probable.

      "So you cannot bemoan the fact that you are not included in "interfaith meetings" because by definition "faith" is not something you can have as a grouping of molecules."

      The question is whether the term "inter-faith" should be used at all or replaced by another term to include all groups that have shared ethical systems, since that is what is really addressed by these groups.

      "But the simple fact that even those that don't believe in Him, still know the difference between right and wrong, of good and bad, proves that we are more than just molecules."

      Certainly. We are conscious molecules who have developed mirror neurons and social norms that promote the continuation of the species.

      "We have a conscience. And a conscience cannot be defined by dna and genes."

      Agreed. DNA and genes are only a part of what makes up conscience.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Naturalism does not exclude morality. That's just an attempt to say "I'm right about god because I am". None of your post really makes any sense at all. Full of presumptions, and misrepresentations of what atheism, naturalism, religion, and morality really are.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Sonny,

      Is it not written in scripture that God and God's brethren live upon all celestial Life's insides and we are merely buildings to be inhabited by God and God's kinds?

      1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building."

      Luke 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

      April 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Sonny

      Just trying to figure out what being an atheist means. I was under the impression that it meant that all we are is matter. If all we are is matter, then we cannot have a spiritual side. There cannot be anything outside of that "matter". If you are saying that an atheist believes it is possible that God exists, but you don't believe that is the ilkely case, then that is news to me and many of the atheists that i've heard speak.

      I'd like to know how something can exist outside of matter in atheism. I only ask because I've read atheists on this thread talk about encouraging each other's spirituality. That is the problem I was referring to.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Sonny

      Atheism is simply that a person does not believe in a god. There are things that are consistent with atheism, but as for atheism itself, not believing in a god is the only necessity.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Sonny

      Thank you.

      So if an atheist cannot believe in a god, does that mean that they cannot believe in something outside of matter? Something, "supernatural" ? (for lack of a better word)

      Also, can an atheist not believe even in the possibility of a god, as one atheist on this thread described most "mainstream atheists"?

      April 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Sonny

      Atheism does not exclude the supernatural, because the supernatural is not exclusive to belief in a deity. Traditional Buddhists do not worship a god, so they are atheists, but they also have supernatural beliefs (Karma, Nirvana, reincarnation).

      As for possibility, it is not contradictory to think that it could be possible that a god exists for atheists. In fact, I would say, as an atheists, that it could be possible for a god to exist.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • clarity

      Also, Sonny, keep in mind that the people who crafted our Constitution were not kings and queens, but just like today, they were elected representatives. Most of them were Christians, but many of them were also Deists. As such, many of them did not believe in the miracles purported by the Bible, and thus their view of God was different than the Christian God of today.

      The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

      –John Adams (from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])

      April 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Sonny

      I truly appreciate your answers. I actually hope that this is what atheism is, though it has not been my experience.

      Perhaps I am not that different than your definition of atheism. I am Christian who struggles day in and day out with my belief in God. Sometimes I'd say it's even much less than the 60% mentioned in a prior comment. But every once in a while, it's 100%, and that's what carries me the rest of the time. How we live our lives is not that much different than picking red or black on a roulette wheel. We go with our best bet.

      And one more thing, a true Christian judges and condemns no one to hell or any other torture. As we say, "Life is how you deal with the cards you've been dealt"

      Good luck to you.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Sonny

      Clarity
      Point taken. But again, John Adams was one of a few men. I'm not sure that he spoke for all of those that really founded this country by giving of their lives.

      And if we are to speak of the role of God in country and Government, I would refer you to the second inagural address of Abraham Lincoln. Either Lincoln was deeply faithful man (something I believe he was, despite not being tied to a denomination) ,or he was a genius orator and liar who felt he needed to speak to the role of God in our country as it must have made up the fabric of what we were. Either way, God is there full and in effect.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Sonny

      I don't mind answering honest questions, and indeed atheism merely responds to a single question. The rest is entirely up to the person.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Sonny

      Just so I understand correctly. That single question and answer would be which one of these?

      1. Does a god exist? = No
      2. Can a god exist? = No
      3. Do you (as an atheist) believe that a god does not exist? = No

      They seem similar but the implications of all 3 are very different. So I just wanted to be clear.

      Thank you.

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

      @Sonny

      None of them. Theism and atheism specifically deal with belief, which is why I said earlier that atheism is not believing in a god.
      The closest in your list would be number 3, but saying "I believe no god exists", and "I don't believe in a god" are two very different statements. The first is a positive statement that would require evidence to back it up, and the second is a response to the question on belief.
      Weird distinctions I know, but really important.

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

      I'm sorry. I'm still a little confused.

      Christianity does not allow for the chance that God does not exist. Christians themselves either try and believe this or they aren't really Christians.

      For atheism to be the opposite of Christianity, and any theistic belief for that matter, then atheism would NOT allow for the chance that a god CAN exist.

      I would say you would have to be an agnostic rather than an atheist to even allow the possibility that a god can exist. An atheist by definition says a god CANNOT exist. An atheist doesn't believe in the religion of atheism if they believe it's possible a god can exist.

      Or perhaps I'm missing something

      April 19, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Sonny

      And therein lies your confusion. Atheism is not the opposite of Christianity. It's not an opposing assertion.
      One of the best analogies I've heard is the court analogy. When you're on a jury, you are told to asses guilt. You vote either guilty, or not guilty. Now, if you are voting not guilty, you are not necessarily saying you think they're innocent, but you have not been presented enough evidence to say they're guilty.
      Agnostic is a whole other ball game. Gnosticism and agnosticism deal with claims of knowledge, not belief.
      So agnostic and atheist are not mutually exclusive terms, since they are responses to two different questions.

      Agnostic atheist: I do not believe a god exists, but I don't claim to know that for sure
      Gnostic atheist: I do not believe a god exists, and I know that to be true.

      Agnostic theist: I believe a god exists, but I don't know for sure.
      Gnostic theist: I believe a god exists, and I know that it is true.

      Does that clear it up?

      April 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  2. URLOVED2

    As a Christian I hold to the commandments laid down by God, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and the second as the first "love your neighbor as yourself! If these two commandments are not the basis of your life as a "Christian", you can not call yourself a believer. As for those who don`t believe as we do, I don`t understand how anyone could not believe in the God I worship. But I do respect the fact that everyone has the right and the freedom to their own beliefs.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      I hear you brother. I cant see why people dont still believe in Santa.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • URLOVED2

      Why ruin Christmas and stop believing? Christmas is about love! If we love Christmas remains in us year round!

      April 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Seriously who would not want gifts from Santa. All they have to do is accept and believe in him.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  3. Ted Jones

    Was Jesus/God saddened twice? Once when he already knew what was going to happen and then watching it unfold? I wonder if Jesus/God takes delight in watching us live our predestined lives thinking we can change or make a difference. Watching us raise our children from birth to have them ripped and torn apart?

    April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      You have a choice on a predestined path. ***cross eyed*

      April 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  4. bailee

    Perhaps the entire world would be at "peace", and get along with each other if religious denominations or non-religious denominations were dissolved. In my entire life, I never thought I would experience such "hateful and ugly" behaviors and words spoken by some persons in the Republican Party. And those persons are the very religious, evangelistic Christians who are Bible based, AND political at the same time. It is not about one's beliefs. It is about one's character. And most of all it is about "helping and serving others" in the time of need, no matter the time or the place.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • NClaw441

      I'd disagree. People of all faiths and no faith come with different personalities. There are polite people and rude people. There are those who are tolerant those who are not. Your view is a valid one, but it suggests that only you get to choose how people should live. I suspect you'd react less than kindly to a suggestion that all people should be required to be Christian, or Hindu, or whatever.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  5. mulehead

    The following is part of a transcript from the Sam Harris / William Lane Craig debate at Notre Dame in April 2011 – I think Dr. Harris articulates the mindset of atheists on all religions:

    Dr. Harris:
    I’m curious: How many of you consider yourselves to be devout Muslims? Let’s see a show of hands. Don’t mean to single anyone out, but not many. Now, you’re all aware, of course, that the Qur’an exists, and claims to be the perfect word of the creator of the universe? You’re aware that once having heard this possibility and rejecting it, you’re all going to Hell, for eternity? I mean, needless to say, Dr. Craig and I are both going to Hell if this vision of life is true. The problem is that everything Dr. Craig has said tonight, with a few modifications, could be said in defense of Islam, in fact has been said in defense of Islam, ok. The logic is exactly the same: We have a book that claims to be the word of the creator of the universe. It tells us about the nature of moral reality and how to live within it. But what if Muslims are right? What if Islam is true? How should we view God in moral terms? How would we view God in moral terms, or I should say, Allah? Ok, we have been born in the wrong place, to the wrong parents, given the wrong culture, given the wrong theology. Ok, needless to say, Dr. Craig is doomed. He’s been thoroughly confused by Christianity. I mean, just appreciate what a bad position he’s now in to appreciate the true word of God. I have been thoroughly misled by science. Ok, where is Allah’s compassion? And yet, an eter—He’s omni—He’s omnipotent; he could change this in an instant. He could give us a sign that would convince everyone in this room. And yet he’s not gonna do it. And Hell awaits. And Hell awaits our children, because we can’t help but mislead our children.

    Now, just hold this vision in mind, and first appreciate how little sleep you have lost over this possibility ok. Just feel in this moment how carefree you are, and will continue to be, in the face of this possibility. What are the chances that we’re all going to go Hell, for, for eternity, because we haven’t recognized the Qur’an to be the perfect word of the creator of the universe?

    Please know that this is exactly how Christianity appears to someone who’s not been indoctrinated by it.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • NClaw441

      We all believe what we believe. If it is true faith it is not simply chosen from a list of religions. You may disagree with others, that is your right. And they can disagree with you. If you don't believe as others do, why should that bother you? Do you think your faith is wrong? I have had times of weak faith, but it was not because someone else believed something I did not.

      If the fact that others have a different faith than you causes you concern, perhaps you (and I also) should re-examine your faith.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • mulehead

      I think you may have missed the point Dr. Harris made.

      I have no concern about what other people believe...I loose no sleep what-so-ever that others believe there is a god, or faith, or whatever....Sleep like a baby....until they force their beliefs or infringe on the rights of others.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • mulehead

      *lose.....i hate typos.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Alias

      Yes. THIS. So much this.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Jackie

    Ugh...some of these comments are absolutely insane! And to say that we, as atheists, are incompassionate is also just as ridiculous. I'm so tired of hearing how your God controls all, except free will. You CANNOT have both. Either God controls everything and LETS people perform horrendous acts of violence, or God controls NOTHING because of free will. He simply steps aside and says to an extent 'Go for it' and 'I'm not going to stop you'. This does NOT work both ways.

    And to say that I'm self-centered is stupidity speaking. Whatever kindness I may do for someone else has no reward for me here or whatever lies when I die. It is simply the right thing to do. I don't do it in order to get into a better place in the afterlife or receive some sort of reward here on Earth.

    Now, I have made it through many hardships in my life, personally, and have seen horrible things happen to those around me. I didn't have faith or God to get me through. I came through those times because it was what I had to do. Life keeps moving forward. You can't stall yourself. Those around me, however, believed in their faith and are still stuck asking 'Why would God put me through this?' And I even have some that believe God is punishing them for something stupid they did a lightyear ago. Don't tell me that I'm not better off and don't feel sorry for me. I'm good.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Science

      You asked for it Jackie Have a good read !

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/

      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/28/pope-praises-science-but-insists-god-created-world/

      Science

      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-hawking-says/

      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM ET

      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/07/the-jesus-debate-man-vs-myth/comment-page-137/#comment-2281915

      Make sure to read comments

      April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Science

      NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

      April 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  7. Mike

    I really don't get the point of this article. It would be incredibly weird if atheists didn't mourn a death. Christians (true Christians, at least) celebrate death because there is life after death. For atheists, this world is all that exists, and losing a companion is tragic for those who remain alive.

    Is this article just trying to make atheists sound more out-of-touch with reality than they already are?

    April 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, it's obvious you missed the point. Thanks for flat out stating it before you proved it, though, top notch performance.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The point is that non-believers in the supernatural are intentionally left out of many discussions and group efforts.

      http://www.examiner.com/article/humanists-excluded-from-boston-marathon-interfaith-service

      "The Secular Coalition for America reports at least two of the victims in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday were part of the humanist community in the greater Boston area, Celeste Corcoran of Lowell, Massachusetts, who lost both her legs at the knees in one of the bomb blasts and her 18 year-old daughter, Sydney, who suffered severe injuries as a result of being hit by shrapnel.

      The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts and the Boston Atheists report that they repeatedly reached out to the Governor's Office of Community Affairs, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and the Mayor's Office in an attempt to secure a place at the public table, but were ignored and stonewalled by public officials."

      April 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  8. Dan

    This article is about putting aside our differences, specifically religious in this case, in order to combine efforts to better help during a time of need. As an Atheist, I have no problem putting my differences aside and working along my fellow religious brothers and sisters. Fortunately some religious feel the same. As for everyone else, Atheist or Theist, realize that not everything has to involve your (non) belief.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  9. Ted Jones

    Can anybody prove that Santa does not still exist with his elves? Anybody?????

    April 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      oh i can tell you he isnt around, not anymore he isnt. Teach him not to give me my damn bike when i ask for it.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Cedar can you back that claim up that he is no longer around?

      April 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • sam

      I never got that pony. If he does exist he is a bastard!

      April 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      lead you to the body? heck, just take my word for it, you will have to have faith.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Correction I have the faith....you do not so back it up

      April 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    I have no respect for people of faith who attribute morality to God. That is where my "tolerance" line gets crossed. When someone goes there they are fair game for a strong verbal reprimand and if I happen to call them stupid, too bad.

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

      They are deluded. But stupid for allowing themselves to be that way.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  11. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    cedar rapids
    Nothing personal, but strictly linguistically. Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity, such as belief in atheism, self center ism.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • sam

      Shut up, FFS. NO ONE CARES.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • .

      Confused Islam troll strikes again....

      April 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      When i see his stupid name, I just skip over what he posted

      April 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them'

      no, that yet another lie, you are piling them on today. Heck, hindered is not even a Latin word. The word closes to that in Latin is prohibeo, the root word of which prohibit comes from.

      Its from the arabic for land of the people who live across the River Indus.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • mykroft

      What does a Latin word root have to do with a word from a fundamentally different language?

      April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Joe

      Catholicism, Baptism, Lutheranism, etc....

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

    Wow folks, chill out. If someone wants to pray in church each Sunday, let em. If someone wants to have someone of their own gender as a husband or wife, let em. If someone wants to be NY Yankees fan, let em. If someone wants to believe in science and evolution, let em.

    It's a free country, we all have our own opinions, and frankly I don't really care which God you believe in, or whether you believe in God at all.

    This story is about how someone murdered 3 people. Happens everyday, so not really a big story, but with the bomb I guess it's more interesting that a story about some right-wing hater murdering a dozen students from India.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Souce

      Historically, it's democrats that tend to go insane and take part in these kinds of atrocities.

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

      The guy who murdered the Indian students was a right-wing racist. Don't get all political and sensative, the point wasn't to put down one party or another, just to point out that while 3 people died, it isn't really that big a tragedy.

      (But ... while we're at it, most of the American terrorists seem to be right wing types: McVeigh, the Wacko from Waco, the ex-marine cop who killed other LA cops, the Indian killer, the Olympic bomber, the bunker-boy-kdinapper etc ...)

      April 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • mykroft

      Souce, provide a source for that statement.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • METSRULE

      nah, no way, if they're a Yankees fan, they're going to hell, sorry. 😛

      April 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Souce

      Read the news.

      Virginia Tech
      Aroura
      Newtown
      9/11 – I've never met an Islamic Republican
      The holocaust

      Any questions?

      Yeah, I didn't think so.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Souce

      Read the news.

      Virginia Tech
      Aroura
      Newtown
      9/11 – I've never met an Islamic Republican
      The holocaust

      Any questions?

      Yeah, I didn't think so.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • sly

      Point is, 3 people dying isn't really a national tragedy. Since I started typing these 2 sentences, over 3 Americans were just killed by semi-automatic weapons, and obviously we aren't worrying too much about those folks. And America has just 10-20 foreign innocent women and children with drones since the bombing, and we sure ain't mourning them.

      It's all sad. Happens every day, and we are the one's doing the killing, so get over it, and go out and enjoy a good baseball game.

      As for the Godsters debating the non-Godsters on here? Wow ... I feel like I'm at a Yankee Red Sox game – the loudest fan's usually 'win' the argument (while most of us know that both teams really suck).

      April 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Point is, 3 people dying isn't really a national tragedy. Since I started typing these 2 sentences, over 3 Americans were just killed by semi-automatic weapons, and obviously we aren't worrying too much about those folks."

      While this is technically true it's not really the appropriate time to discuss it. Even the World Trade Center incident didn't kill as many people who were killed just shortly thereafter in Venezuelan mud slides. But it's not really about the numbers but the fact that a society isn't a society unless it comes together occasionally and shares both sad and joyous moments. And hopefully that isn't all around reality TV shows and move star weddings.

      These events also reinforce common values which again we need to have as a society, or we aren't one. You can argue as to where the focus should be but it will always be showy events which are out of the ordinary. And most people will never have the numerical abilities to truly see the demographics for what they are so it's sometimes better just to leave it and appreciate the shared mourning for what it is.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  13. Ellen

    What a great piece. I always struggle with explaining to others that you can be a moral and good person without being a RELIGIOUS person. Morality is about being a humanist first and foremost, and I am glad that I embrace it without some threat of divine disapproval hanging over my head.

    By the way, Humanists DON'T believe that nothing is greater than ourselves. Often we believe in the sheer miraculousness of science, and believe that the collectivity of humanity is greater than our individual selves.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • lol??

      Safety in a group? That's what terrorists look for, to have maximus impactus......"......Often we believe....." ugh, fight on.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  14. My Dog is a jealous Dog

    To all the trolls today:

    Be prepared to have your a$$es handed to you, all of the big guns are out today on this topic.

    Why?

    Well for me as an atheist, nothing pi$$es me off more than to have my morality or ethics questioned by a bunch of self righteous morons.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • NClaw441

      You and I believe differently. You are free to express and defend your views, and others are free to do the same. That said, following an event like the Boston bombing, the focus should be on healing, comforting and grieving– oh yeah, and revenge.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • lol??

      You can buy a pressure cooker at Sears. They have everything.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  15. Gobi

    Excellent article.
    I don't need a "god" to know the difference between right/wrong, good/evil.
    I truly think many people have distain for atheists as they are then forced to question their beliefs that they have been brainwashed into believing (and not even aware of it).
    There is no hell or heaven. We're living in the here and now.
    Many evils have been carried out in the name of "god."

    April 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • lol??

      You did just fine until you mentioned the "wegod", "We're living in the here and now.". BTW, nuttin' new or pwogwessive about, "eat, drink, and be merry!".

      April 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • John

      And just as many evils have been done to disprove God. As a faithful person, I was interested in reading this article and was not let down in the slightest. I write made some fantastic points, but then I made the mistake in reading the comments that followed. I do not try to do good things out of fear of God, but do them because it makes me happy seeing others happy...no matter what they believe. When I sit down and pray it never crosses my mind what someone's faith or non faith is. As a Christian, it is my job to pray for all of my love ones, even if I don't know you from Adam.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • there'shope

      When you draw your last breath,you'll find out if there is a hell

      April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  16. The Vass

    As an atheist, I don't understand where all the 'center of the universe' and 'all powerful' comments are coming from. I'm not delusional enough to think I'm the center of anything, let alone the entire universe. I'm simply a tiny speck that plays a small role in life and the universe.

    Atheists struggle in life just like Christians, Muslims or Buddhists. It doesn't make sense to me that people who believe in different gods can come together to help after a tragedy. If, however, you don't believe in any god, your care and compassion as a human being is suddenly not good enough.

    I don't feel the article was self serving at all. To me, the main point is that, no matter what you believe, everyone can and should come together in times like these to help each other.

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

      From what I've been able to gather, some believe that if you don't accept that humans are super special snowflakes created by a higher being, then you must of course believe instead that you are your own god. More delicious pretzel logic.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Ellen

      Well said. I also don't believe this was self-serving. With so many articles and mentions of GOD during the post-tragedy days, this is the first thing I've seen that brings the rest of us into the mourning process. We ARE all in this together, whether we pray for strength from a God, or we seek out that strength through human connection.

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

      NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

      April 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  17. Kafir

    Trolling or not, it's actually very awesome for fundies to come in here and parade their backwards fairy tales and bigotry on full display here so that the educated elite can refute them at every turn and show all the fencesitters on which side of the argument lies reason and logic. Bring it on, I say!

    April 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • lol??

      Bigots are never far from an A&A. They see em everywhere.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  18. Livilla

    The christians commenting here are such a testament to their faith.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • JJ

      I agree..delusional, vile, ignorant, arrogant, hateful....

      April 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  19. mick

    Non religious doesn't mean godless.

    April 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  20. Michael

    Not to sound disrespectful because I respect all those with different beliefs or non beliefs. But I honestly think both religion and Atheism too its extreme is dangerous to our society.To believe in something to the point were you are blind and ignorant to others beliefs or non beliefs is dangerous , to say that God or whoever is of love, and to not practice that love is destructive, to take a book that was written by men and apply it to our modern world is delusional.On the other hand to not believe in anything, to the point were you cant open your mind to see that there are many truths out there, and that you might not have all the answers is equally as dangerous, to disrespect someone, call them crazy or stupid, just because they believe differently is destructive. I choose to stay away from those who are religious or atheists they both seem to have this narrow minded view of the world, the world is a lot more complex than what we think it might or might not be, we don't have all the answers, that's the what makes our universe so amazing and mysterious, the sooner we realize that, that happier we will be. Just live your life to the fullest, try to be kind to people,live your life with meaning, that way when you do die, and if there is an afterlife, than you know that wherever you end up, it will be in a place of peace and love, and not anger and hostility.

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

      Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a deity. Anything else you hang on the term atheism is of your own creation. By your rant you respect the 9/11 hijackers, right? You respect their beliefs? You don't think they were delusional?

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

      Who says atheists don't believe in anything?

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

      Michael, if stay away from religious people and atheists you must lead a very lonely life. Logically this would also require you to stay away from yourself as by definition everyone must fall into one of those two categories. How exactly do you accomplish this miraculous feat?

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

      just treat people with respect. Thats my religion.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • sam

      @Jim – he's covered all the mirrors in his house.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • markinator

      Atheists nearly always have had questions about all religions, and have come to identify as atheist after educating themselves about possibilities. You can understand why we would reject the extraordinary, and physically impossible claims made by organized religions. But to say that non-belief in their religions is as dangerous as they are is to give validity to religions, which have never provided any reasonable evidence for their claims. But when we look at those persons devoutly clinging to religious precepts, we find a lack of knowledge about the most basic foundations of their religion. The blind acceptance is on the part of the faithful. Atheists do not blindly accept any theory whatsoever. That's why I am a proud atheist.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • there'shope

      You can't understand,the book called the BIBLE that was written by these men,was written under the inspiration of the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD, unless you believe and accept by faith JESUS CHRIST as LORD you don't have the spirit to reveal the truth to you

      April 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Michael

      JJ- I never said I respected hijackers, I said I respected those of different beliefs as long as they were respectful and good people.

      Kafir- I never said all atheists I said most atheists don't believe in anything.

      Jim- Most people that I know are just good people I never said that I stay away from all religious people or atheists I just meant that I stay away from the ones who live in fear and hate, and or the ones who don't have open minds, as far as myself is concerned I am a good compassionate person I don't need religion or science to tell me that, I consider myself to be a spiritually open minded person and I don't try to coerce people into my way of thinking, I am a human first and foremost my beliefs are secondary, I think if everyone had that mindset we wouldn't have any problems in our world.

      Markinator- I never said you have to believe in what they believe in,or to even give validity, I am just saying that not everything is black and white, I have met some religious people who are decent, compassionate human beings, there is no need to judge all religious just because a few of them are blinded with hate and fear, also a lot of atheists judge not just those who are part of an organized religion,which is understandable,what I don't get is why they have to be so narrow minded about anything and everything that seems out of the norm of possibility,it just makes them look arrogant and less educated then they say they are, Atheists always claim that there more intelligent and rational, but someone who is really intelligent and rational, realizes they don't have all the answers, and that its not there place to judge others beliefs instead they try to understand, they ponder, they research, they don't squash or disrespect someone, just because they believe differently that's not really intelligent or rational,and like I said we don't have all the answers, you can analyze something all you want , but it still doesn't prove without a doubt that nothing exists beyond this 3d world we live in, why do they so easily dismiss something just because it seems not possible, that's only a perception, that's not reality, the truth is that we don't know, our world is too complex to be based off science and logic alone.

      There'shope- You can believe what you like, just don't claim its an absolute truth, there is no absolute truth, because truth is subjective, I understand the bible well enough to realize that it is a book, that was created to instill fear and control into others, you say God and Jesus is of love yet that book is filled with nothing but fear and hate, it can't be both ways, love doesn't work that way, you can't claim to love someone and then say that there sinners and they must go to hell, I might not know everything, but I do know one thing for sure, I know what love is and that is not love, there are so many hypocrisies in that book that everything in it becomes null and void.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:33 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.