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Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience April 10 at the Vatican.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”

Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

“I gather from this statement that his view of the world's religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,” Speckhardt said. “While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening."

He continued, “If other religious leaders join him, it could do much to reduce the automatic distrust and discrimination that atheists, humanists, and other nontheists so regularly face. “

Francis’ comments received a great deal of attention on social media, with a number of people asking whether the Catholic leader believes that atheists and agnostics go to heaven, too.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.'"

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”

Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.

Although the pope's comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenet of the faith.

"Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ," the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.

"He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice.  In other words, he is not suggesting – and I think some are taking it this way – that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ."

Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.

“The remarks about atheists show that there is even a saint for atheists,” Pecknold said. “Including all of humanity, on this day especially, remarks like that are almost called for.”

“To stress that the gospel redeems all people, including atheists, is the teaching of the church,” he added. “This is an objective fact that the church believes.”

Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, said Francis' comments reflect “the interfaith and inter-community work many of us nontheists are dedicated to.”

That said, Epstein hopes that lay Catholics are listening.

“I hope Catholics, and all people hearing the pope's statement, will recognize that his words about atheists need to symbolize much more than just a curiosity or an exception to the rule,” Epstein said. “If someone thinks there are only a few atheists out there doing good just like Catholics do, that's a major misunderstanding that can lead to prejudice and discrimination.”

The pope’s comments come a few months after he told worshipers that Catholics should be close to all men and women, including those who don’t belong to any religious tradition.

"In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation,” Francis said shortly after his election as pope in March.

Even atheists like David Silverman, president of American Atheists, who has had an antagonistic relationship with the Catholic church, welcomed the pope’s remarks.

“While the concept of Jesus dying for atheists is wrong on many levels (especially given that Jesus himself promised hell for blasphemers), I can appreciate the pope's `good faith' effort to include atheists in the moral discussion,” Silverman said.

“Atheists on the whole want no part in Catholicism, of course, but we are all interested in basic human rights.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,731 Responses)
  1. Chad

    God invites everyone to take advantage of the One and only Way (Jesus).

    May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Athy

      I, for one, happily decline the invitation.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Rachel

      We are one you and me, aren't I Chad 🙂

      May 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Chad

      why?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Rachel

      Why?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Chad

      @Athy "I, for one, happily decline the invitation"

      =>why?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Athy

      Because it's fictitious.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Ummm, because it is not a sincere, authentic or real invitation. It is an invitation to join a nonsensical, unproven religious cult.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Chad

      How do you know it is fictitious?
      What investigation have you done that caused you to reject the claims of Christianity?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Chad

      @HotAirAce "Ummm, because it is not a sincere, authentic or real invitation"

      =>how do you know? wouldnt you have had to investigate Christianity to come to the conclusion that it was not authentic?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Rachel

      How do you know it is fictitious?
      What investigation have you done that caused you to reject the claims of Christianity?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Rachel

      @HotAirAce "Ummm, because it is not a sincere, authentic or real invitation"

      =>how do you know? wouldnt you have had to investigate Christianity to come to the conclusion that it was not authentic?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Re: investigation – all that was required!

      May 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Chad

      @HotAirAce "Re: investigation – all that was required!"

      =>what do you feel is required? Sounds like "nothing"

      May 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Joey

      People should only reply to Rachel after she copies whatever it is that Chad is saying.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Chad, you are not talking to a simple-minded person susceptible to your word games. In addition to being indoctrinated into the christian cult as a child, I have done as much research as I need to make a decision. Unless you or some other believer has some startling new (actually, first) evidence for your claims, no further investigation is required. In other words, the lack of evidence is not an unbeliever's problem – it is up to those making the claims to make their case, and as has been noted numerous times before, no actual evidence has ever been presented.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Joey

      I will accept the invitation as long as Chad declines it, I do not want to spend eternity with Chad, whether in heaven or hell.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • derp

      Chad 3===>-– Rachel

      May 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Rachel

      Don't exaggerate now. Be honest. Chad's => isn't a =====> 🙂

      May 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Chad

      @HotAirAce " In addition to being indoctrinated into the christian cult as a child, I have done as much research as I need to make a decision"

      @Chad "so, what led you to reject the claims of Christianity?"

      May 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Rachel

      @Chad => Keep it up Chad. Even when they have answered, keep asking the same question. That's me boy 🙂

      May 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Chad

      @HotAirAce " In addition to being indoctrinated into the christian cult as a child, I have done as much research as I need to make a decision"

      “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against traditional religion as the "opium of the masses"—cannot hear the music of the spheres.” - AlbertEinstein

      What Albert is recognizing, is the anti-theism of so many so-called "atheists".

      That's why I always ask what investigation has been done, because the answer is quite often "none, I have just utterly rebelled against the religion of my youth"

      Many are so disaffected with religion, that they become anti-theists and spend the rest of their lives screaming at Christians.

      May 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Wailing about being persecuted again I see? Whoa be to you to actually ask an atheist why they've rejected all other religions too, you just want to be a victim some more huh?

      So I guess having grown up jewish and still knowing a fair amount about christianity and seeing it's many, many cracks have rejected that as well as judaism is what? Just a fluke?

      May 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles

      a. I have no doubt you rejected your religion
      b. Based on dialoging with you, I have grave doubts about your understanding of Moses, and Law and the Prophets.
      c. Based on dialoging with you, I am firmly convinced that your familiarity with the New Testament is limited to cut and pastes from infidels.org.

      Here's the thing denying that what I am saying is true is not a demonstration that it isnt.

      May 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Edward

      Chad, claiming that what you spouted is true after people have presented strong arguments and evidence countering your claims that you have been unable to rebut, is bloody fscking ignorant on your part. You are an arrogant, prideful, ass wipe.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      like rain dances change the weather

      May 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  3. #moi

    'I believe'

    I believe in love
    I believe in faith
    I believe in hope
    I believe in God

    I believe I am saved
    By His precious atonement on the cross
    I believe you can be saved
    If you believe in Him

    I believe He loves us all
    Red, blue, green ,yellow,purple, straight and gay
    I believe you can be saved
    if you believe in Him

    I believe in short term goals
    I believe in long term goals
    I believe there is life eternal
    I believe you can be saved
    If you believe in Him

    I believe we are not perfect
    I believe we're all sinners
    I believe you can be saved
    If you repent and believe in Him

    I believe you can hate
    I believe I can overcome hatred with God's love
    I believe you can be saved
    If you believe in Him

    Christ is the messiah
    Who revealed himself to man
    I believe you can be saved
    If you believe in Him 🙂 🙂 🙂

    May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bob

      Your beliefs are founded on false premises. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there, and that you claim to believe in.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  4. oduolev

    Keep on believing what tickles your emotions and not your will. Judgement day cometh, all i know is that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven

    May 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      No, only thing he promised is, I will be your advocate in court of La, truth absolute GOD, but remember, he will take cases, acceptable to truth absolute GOD, with sure bad deeds, forget it.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Who?"

      – cordially,
      person who doesn't know christianity exists

      May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      madtown it's kinda sad that you cling to this diversion when you know it's been answered.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Madtown

      Bill Deacon
      it's kinda sad that you cling to this diversion when you know it's been answered
      -----
      LOL!! Diversion....funny Bill. If, by diversion, you mean "insurmountable logical problem", then I fully agree with you. You only think you "answer" it when you regurgitate scripture. You fail to see the most basic logic that your scripture is irrelevant to those who don't know it exists. And, those who don't know it exists are still equal to you in the eyes of God. So, if your scripture was God's truth, he'd provide a means for his equal creations to know of it, which is not the case.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • derp

      So that I have this straight....

      The super powerful sky wizard made me.

      He made me a sinner.

      He knew I'd be a sinner before I was born.

      He then expects me to NOT be a sinner.

      But it's ok if I actually am a sinner because he killed his kid to make my sins somehow not sins.

      If accept his dead son as my sin remover, I'm good.

      And you actually believe this?

      May 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      So the Jesus Christ Way is like the Queen Elizabeth Way, except it goes to heaven instead of Toronto?

      May 27, 2013 at 1:22 am |
  5. Malefique

    As an atheist myself, I'm kinda liking this guy.

    May 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      As a Catholic so am I.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • JMEF

      Bill Deacon not surprising that you like the new guy as all others, even the lying Ratzinger could do no wrong, right Bill, on your knees where you belong.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If these two represent the face of atheism, I prefer Malefique

      May 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  6. R Burns

    "American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers" kind of makes you wonder if the atheists really don't believe, or if they are suppressing the basic human nature of spirituality. Jesus was clear that he did not come to save the righteous, those already doing good, but came to offer forgiveness and salvation for sinners. Pope Francis is right on many levels. Comments here hanging on the idea that ONLY belief in Christ can bring salvation are not looking at Jesus' teachings, but on other scriptures that somehow made it into the Bible (Paul, for instance, was very proud to declare that he waited 3 years after his conversion, all the while establishing church bodies and making himself their "father" before introducing himself to Peter and the other disciples to learn what our savior taught! Read the scriptures. . .) For atheists to actively attempt to persuade others not to have or develop faith is, in itself, quite a transgression – so that's a stumbling block for them, not for the faithful. Pope Francis' optimism is wonderful, and the atheist's point of view won't change quantum physics or the reality of life beyond this physical existence – or heaven.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Hoe could he forgive any one, if he himself said, I CAN NOT DO ANY TING ON MY OWN. BY his WORDS, he HAD NO AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE OR PUNISH ANY ONE.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Marc uses logic

      why would the pope's comments make you think atheists really do believe in your imaginary friend?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Malefique

      No we don't believe, it's just that the pope is setting a great example – not the typical "us versus them" elitist mentality of the christian religion.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'R Burns – "American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers" kind of makes you wonder if the atheists really don't believe, '

      no, i think they are hoping it will mean less calling someone an atheist is a insult, finger pointing, hell condeming, etc from those believers that want to attack atheists.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  7. Jenny W

    God in His infinite wisdom has provided us with the sacrificial lamb, the payment for our sins. It's a gift of grace, but you have to accept it. He doesn't force our hand to accept Him or His Son Jesus Christ. For those who choose not to beleive, He has provided for them, too....a place called hell, separation from God for eternity.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Heretic

      Brains!!!! .... get some...

      May 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • derp

      So that I have this straight....

      The super powerful sky wizard made me.

      He made me a sinner.

      He knew I'd be a sinner before I was born.

      He then expects me to NOT be a sinner.

      But it's ok if I actually am a sinner because he killed his kid to make my sins somehow not sins.

      If accept his dead son as my sin remover, I'm good.

      And you actually believe this?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Athy

      How can a rational person believe that shit? You've been thoroughly biblewashed, Jenny.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God doesn't want you to use your brain.
      Don't forget that the search for knowledge is "original sin" in Christian theology.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Bob

      Jenny W, your beliefs are founded in invalid, stupid premises. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Heretic

      Hey Muslim, Atheist and Hindu are oxymorons, look it up, maybe its in your book of fairy tales after the child molestation part.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Marc uses logic

      Really where is this hell that he created? oh that's invisible too like heaven? you are brainwashed lady and deep in your heart you know its just because you dont want to believe the truth- that we are worm food in the end.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Madtown

      but you have to accept it
      ---–
      And, if we haven't heard of it? Then what?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Heretic

      Sounds like a disgruntled Pakistani, why else for Hindu hate?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Topher

      Jenny W

      Way to go! Keep it up.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      mmmmm, lamb!

      May 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Jenny W

      Thanks, Austin.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Nicholas

      IF YOU WHO WANT TO BE SAVED AND ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:

      Jesus (who is both God and man) laid the groundwork for salvation by stating; "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5).

      The Catholic Church with its sacramental system (e.g., baptism, eucharist, confession, et. al. - all referenced by Jesus in scripture) is the straight and narrow to heaven (the later two sacraments sustain your faith until death) . As the Vatican stated a Christian who KNOWINGLY rejects salvation through the Catholic Church cannot be saved (unless they repent through confession).

      For those of you who are not truly saved, pray that God the Holy Trinity give you, through the Holy Spirit, the free gift of faith so that you may be born again (have the first parents' original sin removed and your personal sin freely forgiven) by repenting of all your sins, believing that Jesus died for your sins, is all God and all man, is the second person of the Holy Trinity, that God is three persons - one God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and that Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back to judge the living and the dead.

      Also pick up and read the Bible and read a Catholic catechism and pray that the Holy Spirit guide you to an understanding of the mysteries of God, including salvation through the Catholic Church. Once you come to faith, call up a Catholic church and indicate you want to become a new Christian and be baptized; and then go to Church on all Sundays and holy days and be modest in your attire in and outside Church and avoid sin and occasions of sin. Remember the Church is full of saved sinners (and at times, as in our present times, many unsaved sinners who lack true faith). Also, pray for God's continued grace throughout your life, especially in moments of doubt and temptation.

      Those who do not accept the innocent blood atonement of the Jesus on the Cross for their sins cannot be saved and will be judged by God the Father, instead, for all the sins they ever committed and be sent to hell. Those who reject the mercy of the Son (Jesus) choose hell because failure to accept this mercy leads to continued hatred of God and all the myriad of wicked sins that flow from this rejection of God. The reason for this negative outcome is that without being born again (having original and personal sin removed through faith and baptism) we are born in rebellion against God from our conception/birth and we need this rebellious nature removed before we can enter heaven (hence, the need to be born [again] through the water and spirit). Otherwise, those who lack faith and are unbaptized will hate God and choose hell over heaven WILLINGLY.

      However, unless you are convicted by God through the Holy Spirit (the third person of God) and then admit you are a weak sinner in need of Jesus for salvation, you will be blind, depth and dumb to the reality of your personal sin and the need for God in your life. Therefore, please pray that God give you a repentant and contrite heart and that He open your minds to the reality of His existence. Because of our frail sin nature from birth, God understands our weakness for sin and this is why Jesus said He did not come to judge sinners, but rather to save them from their own condemnation before God.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  8. Where is your God now?

    You are at the Museum of Modern Art with a date. You have high hopes for this relationship. She is smart, pretty and a great cook. You just critiqued a group of Kevin Appel paintings when you felt a sudden urge to relieve your bowels. But where is the bathroom? Too late. And it is loose. You drag your smelly self to the elevator; she is behind you but gagging...

    May 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  9. Peter

    It's funny how it is always about a 10:1 atheist:believer ratio in the "Belief" blog comment section. It shows the level of butthurt.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Heretic

      We are outnumbered on fox though. You should see the butthurt on there about the boy scout vote. Ahhh Christian tears are DELICIOUS.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • derp

      "You should see the butthurt on there about the boy scout vote"

      Fecking awesome, I have been having the a case of the giggles all day watching the red faced bibletards whining about how this will ruin the scouts forever.

      Good, go start some other jesus scouts or something.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Heretic

      Go check it out on the fox facebook page, 8000 comments of hate.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Peter

      @Heredick

      They probably taste about the same as the atheist tears that pour out when the president of the USA says "God bless America" after every speech.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bob

      Good ole Christian bigotry and hate, now on Faux News. Par for the course.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Heretic

      Peter i suspect you are filled with the Lord. Question is, where do you like him to stick it?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • sam

      @Peter

      Nice try, but that's not how it works. Most nonbelievers don't have a cow over anything like that. Nothing compared to what the average christian does when they hear 'happy holidays'.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Heretic

      In fact get the rain barrels ready, changes for equality will continue, atheism is on the rise, i predict more delicious tears in the future.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Peter

      @ Heredick

      Oh, I would't jump the gun. We are breeding faster than you. Most effeminate atheist men are not even attracted to women. So in the end, it is your kind that will die out.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      dont be a hypocrit now peter......revilers, or haters, will not get into heaven.
      not my rules you understand but thought maybe you should be reminded of that seeing as it looks like you claim to be a believer.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Joey

      I was out last night and some random person informed me that the Boy Scouts were going to let gays in. I didn't know how to respond, I was afraid if I said it was a good thing (which it is) I would get punched in the face, or that possibly I would get punched the face if I said it was a bad thing. So I just said o.k.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  10. a dose of reality

    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. egocentricity, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.
    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and disdaining the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.
    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.
    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does if make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their life-after-death lands with magic-sacred powers of some kind.
    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your Bible.
    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.
    7. You disdain gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Moses, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of the Egyptians to save his own skin.
    8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Bronze Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.
    9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” to the extent you see a difference).
    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.
    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.
    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. Maybe, if they pray hard enough to their sky-fairy, the Catholics can turn them into 10

    May 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Jenny W

      @A dose or reality; I am not a Catholic, but I am a Christian who believes God's word is infallible. It's called FAITH. You can't see the wind blow, but you know it is there because you feel it's effects. It is the same with God. I know He is with me because I feel his presence. Science can't prove to me that He is not real.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • steve

      Wow. You have way too much time on your hands...

      May 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bob

      And Jenny W, Russell's Teapot is out there orbiting Uranus too. No, really....

      You idiot.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Athy

      It's all in your mind, Jenny. But if it helps you live, have at it. Some people need it, some don't.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • sam

      "You can't see the wind blow, but you know it is there because you feel it's effects."

      Oh boy.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • derp

      "You can't see the wind blow, but you know it is there because you feel it's effects"

      That is a new level of stupid.

      From now on, when someone does something unbelievably dumb, we can just say that they Jennied.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • chicago4

      Reality Dose, I've learned my lesson and don't waste my breath anymore. If people choose to be ignorant, there is nothing we can do about it. No amount of common sense or facts will sway the minds of people who have been brain washed. It's too bad that religion will continue to hold us back as a species but it's not going away anytime soon. Life is too short, just let people be dumb if that's what makes them happy.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  11. DANIEL

    I took it to mean that believers and non-believers can work together for charitable causes; not that somehow by works, an atheist can work his way into heaven. According to the scriptures, the latter is clearly wrong, so it must be the former.

    If the former is the true meaning behind his statement, then what I think he's counting on is the influence of Christianity over the nonbeliever, which through regular interaction, would increase the chances of that person being led to place his trust in Christ.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      And you would be correct.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I'd tend to agree that Christians who lead by example have a better shot at leading someone to Christ than those who spew vitriol from a pulpit.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • derp

      "If the former is the true meaning behind his statement, then what I think he's counting on is the influence of Christianity over the nonbeliever, which through regular interaction, would increase the chances of that person being led to place his trust in Christ"

      I do a great deal of volunteer work in my community. Every time some religious nutter starts blabbering about how I can be saved, it just make me dislike them more.

      Stop doing it. It doesn't work.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Madtown

      regular interaction, would increase the chances of that person being led to place his trust in Christ.
      ----
      Maybe so. However, this still leaves out many humans who just don't have access to christianity, and likely never will. So, it's probably not the only way.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  12. My Oh my!

    An hateist in heaven?

    May 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Where is your God now?

    It is dark in your South African condo. You come into the living room to switch off the television. You are ready to join your girlfriend in the bedroom. It is Valentine’s Day. As you pad quietly up the stairs, you here a peculiar sound and hear a door shut. You start, then collect yourself and retrieve your gun from the nearby closet. Thinking your beautiful sweetheart is in the bedroom sleeping, your mind reels madly. Terrified you fire without thinking through the bathroom door where you just heard noises. Four times you fire your gun. Your girlfriend is not in bed sleeping.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • DANIEL

      Are you talking about pistorious? you know he is an "edge" case, right? argument fail.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  14. Heretic

    No thanks Pope, you are losing, and no we cant be friends now.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Camus

      Yeah, he leads the largest religion on the planet....he sure is losing.

      Cha cha cha!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Marc uses logic

      actually he doesn't- Islam is the largest religion on the planet- FAIL buddy.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  15. goldencr

    You can take your heaven and shove it up you a** little man. Athiest dont want it or need your crutch to get through our day.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Peter

      U mad?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • John Stemberger

      You will answer for your remarks one day

      May 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Heretic

      If he exists, god will answer to us, for he is surely evil.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      When Ma'at weighs your heart against a Shu feather after you die, you'll have to answer for those remarks!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • derp

      "U mad?"

      You forgot the "bro"

      May 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  16. pat carr

    thanks Francis but i'm an atheist and will pass on "heaven"

    May 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  17. shawn

    This is hilarious. Yes – Atheists will go to the same place as Christians when they die... the ground.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    THERE IS NO HEAVEN SO IT'S A MOOT POINT!

    May 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • John Stemberger

      You will not see it if you continue your path

      May 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • derp

      "You will not see it if you continue your path"

      According to the new pope we will.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  19. Apple Bush

    I am writing a new history of man. A correct one within the confines of my ability to experience and unerstand. It is a far cry from the lies in the Bible. But the bible was killer at the time. That time is past.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Without Honey BooBoo or the Kardashians to watch 2,000 years ago, people had to make stuff up to entertain themselves. The Bible is just a collection of the best of those stories. It's like America's Funniest Home Videos from the bronze age. 🙂

      May 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  20. somak

    But I don't want to go to Heaven. I love it here. In this Earth. It is so much fun and satisfying.... I was to come back here after my death... what should I do for that ?
    I guess I'll just do good and say "no thanks" to Heaven 🙂 LOL

    May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I want to try a new planet. Which I could make that work somehow.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Apple Bush

      Become a Mormon. Not only can you have a new planet according to their religion, you can be the GOD of that planet.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I just want to explore and find the good drugs.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:38 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.