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Church without God - by design
Members of an atheist congregation at Harvard listen to music during a recent gathering.
June 22nd, 2013
11:25 AM ET

Church without God - by design

By Dan Merica, CNN

Boston (CNN)-– It’s Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a rapt congregation listens to a chaplain preach about the importance of building a community.

A few dozen people sit quietly for the hourlong service. Music is played, announcements are made and scholars wax poetic about the importance of compassion and community.

Outsiders could be forgiven for believing this service, with its homilies, its passing of the plate, its uplifting songs, belongs in a church.

If so, it’s a church without one big player: God.

Sunday’s congregation in Cambridge is a meeting of the Humanist Community at Harvard University and the brainchild of Greg Epstein, the school’s Humanist chaplain.

A longtime advocate for community building, Epstein and his group of atheists have begun to build their Cambridge community and solemnize its Sunday meetings to resemble a traditional religious service.

To Epstein, religion is not all bad, and there is no reason to reject its helpful aspects.

“My point to my fellow atheists is, why do we need to paint things with such a broad brush? We can learn from the positive while learning how to get rid of the negative," he said.

Godless congregations

For Epstein, who started community-building at Harvard nearly 10 years ago, the idea of a godless congregation is not an oxymoron.

“We decided recently that we want to use the word congregation more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community - a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world,” he said.

“It doesn’t require and it doesn't even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”

Epstein is not alone in his endeavor. Jerry DeWitt, who became an atheist and left his job as an evangelical minister, is using his pastoral experience to building an atheist church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This Sunday, DeWitt's congregation will hold its first meeting as a "Community Mission Chapel."

"When you become a part of this congregation, this community, you are going to become part of a family," DeWitt told CNN. "There is an infrastructure there for you to land in. There is going to be someone there to do weddings and to do, unfortunately, the funerals."

READ MORE: Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

Sunday school for atheists

As members of the Cambridge congregation file into a wood-paneled classroom at Harvard, singer Shelley Segal greets them with a few songs from her latest recording, called simply, “An Atheist Album.”

Taking a hint from the theme of the event, Segal strums on her guitar and belts her song, “Gratitude.”

“I don't believe in a great power to say thank you to,” Segal sings. “But that won’t take away from my gratitude.”

Harvard's humanist chaplain Greg Epstein leads an atheist gathering.

After the music, Epstein offers a few words of greeting before the meeting gets to its heart: a discussion about compassion.

A four academics and a journalist discuss the effects of religion on raising children and their ideas about compassion. Congregants listen intently, some even taking notes.

Each service has a message – compassion, evolution or acceptance - after which congregants engage in a lengthy discussion.

Before the main event, kids are invited to what some parents refer to as “Sunday school,” where Tony Debono, a biologist Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaches the youngsters about evolution, DNA and cells.

There's little talk about organized religion, positive or negative.

Likewise, down in Louisiana, said his atheist services will not be anti-religion.

"What we are looking at doing is different," DeWitt said. "If you are a religionist and you come and sit in our pew, the only way you can leave offended is because of what you don’t hear and what you don’t see. We won’t be there to make a stance against religion or against God."

Coming out of the closet

In the last few years, the number of “nones” – those who don’t associate with any organized religion – has grown at a rate faster than any other group. Nones now represent one in five Americans, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll.

Although the number of atheists has grown, too, there are still a large number of “nones” that choose not to associate with the label “atheist.”

Some at Harvard’s Humanist congregation fall into this category.

“I don’t particularly have a religion,” said Anil Nyer, a neurologist who brought his daughter to Humanist Sunday school. But Nyer also said he didn’t want to label himself as an atheist.

One reason to shy away from the atheist label: Many Americans hold a negative impression of nonbelievers.

According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute poll, nearly 40 percent of Americans believe that atheists are changing American culture for the worse.

“Whenever we put atheists on a list like this and we compare them to other groups, atheists tend to come in towards the bottom of that list,” said Robert P. Jones is the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

“Americans tend to hold a lot of reservations about atheists.”

Epstein hopes his congregation can change that.

By formalizing meetings and building a strong community, the Harvard group hopes it can be a model for other atheist congregations forming around the country.

A group meets during an atheist gathering in Boston.

More atheists may come of the closet if they know a congregation will be there to support them, Epstein said,

“Being an atheist is something we want people to come out and be,” said the Humanist chaplain. “There are so many people, probably millions, who are humanists or atheists or nonreligious in private and nobody knows."

Epstein said he gets e-mails daily from people founding atheist meet-up groups.

“Tulsa, Oklahoma; North Carolina; London; Vancouver, Canada; Houston, Texas,” Epstein said, listing the sources of the most recent e-mails.

“One part of what we are saying is come on out and let your neighbors know” about your disbelief, he said. “It is not going to make you worse of a person, it is going to make you a better person to be more open about who you are.”

Rituals for the irreligious

For the last few years, the Humanist Community at Harvard has operated out of a small three-floor walk-up off the bustling streets of Harvard Square. The walls are littered with posters about atheism – tributes to famed atheists Eddie Izzard, Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Fry.

Because of the scattered furniture and the Harvard dorm feel, Epstein jokingly describes the space as “college broke chic.” That’s being generous – but it's also about to change.

Starting in the fall, the Humanist Community at Harvard will begin meeting in a nearly 3,000-square-foot community center with an event space for nearly 100 people.

Although the plan is to use the space at the group’s headquarters, it will also serve as a broader community center for the group that Epstein and others are trying to build in the Boston area.

“What we really would like to see is a community center where people can come by at anytime and to use it as a space to study or have a meeting for various committee,” said Chris Stedman, the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard.

Stedman said he sees the new building as a place for people to gather, not only to become part of a humanist community, but to also become more engaged with the world.

When he talks about his plans for the future, Epstein appears to long for a time when the new community center could mimic aspects of church - a place for baby-naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals.

The success of an atheist church will depend on walking the thin line between too much and too little ritual, Epstein said.

Humanists boast a proud freethinking streak, and some at the Harvard event said they don’t want to be associated with any sort of dogma or belief system - or even a system based on disbelief.

Anyway, Esptein said his congregation will be less a group of people united by beliefs - or disbelief - and more like an opera, or a painting.

“Our community is like a work of art," he said. "Hopefully people will respond to that work of art and it will garner controversy and discussion like a work of art."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Houses of worship • United States

soundoff (6,897 Responses)
  1. jimmnyjonns

    I want to know.. when a guy sneezes during these services, what do those around him say?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • pbernasc

      Screw you .. take you germs elsewhere ... which is what "Bless you" means .. didn't you know?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Grampa

      Live long and prosper.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • BurkeMtn

      Gesundheit?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Doobs

      Why do you feel compelled to say anything when a person sneezes? Do you still believe that a sneeze expels evil spirits?

      If it was a friend or family member, I would ask if they feel okay, but I don't have any need to address a stranger's sneeze.

      June 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  2. DE

    Noah's ark is a myth, there were no kangaroos on the ark. THINK about it.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • That's just crazy talk

      Or sloths from the Amazon

      June 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Candiano

      HeavenSent thinks she's turning into a kangaroo. Fact.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • pbernasc

      You know .. I never thought about it ... though I bet the easy explanation is that the Godly written Bible is a human book ans so it can be in accurate ;-)))
      or Kangoroos are evil creatures!!!!
      ha h aha ha ha ha

      June 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. ©™

    No matter what you believe, religion is one of the most damaging things in the world.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Pravda

      Nah, by far abortion is the biggest killer right now. And that is something many atheists support...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Randy

      And the biggest lie of mankind.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Akira

      It is certainly one of the most divisive things, JIF, no matter what one believes.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, it isn't, you dimwit. Abortion rates have been steadily declining. And there are many atheists who don't support abortion rights and many, many christians who do-the majority of abortions are performed on women and girls who self-identify as christian.

      You are just a fount of misinformation and ignorance.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Pravda

      Heading up to 600,000 abortions this year in the US alone. Almost 20 MILLION worldwide this year so far.

      Yeah, religion is evil... We should all become atheists and support abortion...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • The real Tom

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/23/surprise-the-abortion-rate-just-hit-an-all-time-low/

      Women have a right to choose, Pravda. Get over it. And don't bother posting under yet another moniker.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • devin

      Well no, actually, if you believe religion is not one of the most damaging things in the world then it does "matter". You have just used a very primitive logical fallacy.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • everything in Moderation

      Pravda said: "Nah, by far abortion is the biggest killer right now."

      I'm appalled that the propaganda machine has worked so well that this is what some people actually believe. I don't care which side of the fence you fall on in regard to the abortion issue. If you know somebody who is so utterly ignorant of the myriad of diseases and the plagues of war, and so utterly swept up in anything preached from the pulpit that they ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS, set them down. Get them some real information and enlighten them.

      This is sad.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Pravda
      God is the most notorious as far as the numbers for abortion. How many pregnancies get terminated by no ones choice except for gods will. The numbers far outreach that of man performing abortions.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Pravda

      Hmm.. About 700,000 US killed in all the wars the US has even been in combined. About 55 Million abortions in the US since the '70s. You decide...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Pravda, what do you think would have happened if every fetus that has been aborted had been carried to term?

      By the way, do you believe in an omnipotent god? If so, why hasn't he rid the world of abortion entirely?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • snd_dsgnr

      If life begins at conception with a fully formed human soul, then god is by far the biggest abortionist in history.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Mike,Albany

      @Pravda: You really are a piece of work, aren't you? Your ignorance is absolutely staggering. First, organized religion has been responsible for more death, destruction, and suffering over the course of history than any other evil that has been visited on humanity. The Thirty-Years War between Protestants and Catholics ripped Europe apart for centuries, killed 11.5 million people, and I would go so far as to say that the entire history of Germany, including the Holocaust, can be traced back to the destructive influence of the Thirty-Years War. Catholics and Protestants also fought in the French religion wars that killed 4,000,000. The Spanish inquisition, which set Catholics against Jews and Muslims, permitted the most heinous acts of torture to occur in the name of God and lead to hundreds of thousands of executions. The list is wars and other atrocious occurrences in the name of religion is nearly endless.

      As for abortion, your regurgitation of Fox News propaganda tells everyone that you do little more than stare at the idiot box all day and let this lie factory fill your head. There is no such thing as an "abortionist". Nobody supports abortion, per se. The only thing people support is a woman's right to make her own individual choice about terminating a pregnancy, and that is a very different matter that is far from supporting abortions.

      I would suggest that you try thinking for yourself once in a while, but it's more than clear that this is something of which you are wholly incapable.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  4. Pravda

    If Christians and Jews worship God, what do atheists worship? Their minds and thoughts I guess....

    June 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Hate Based Religion

      Because God is imaginary, you worship your thoughts.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Pravda
      Why do you feel the need to worship anything?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Mick

      I don't worship anything.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Pravda,

      Worshipping is a fetish.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      fetish: noun,
      excessive or irrational devotion to some activity

      June 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Pravda

      All men worship something. It is a basic part of being human. If man does not worship a deity, they worship themselves or their mind. It's really that simple. Don't be ashamed atheists, you are not the first religion to believe in self-worship.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • snd_dsgnr

      Pravda is projecting so hard that if he had a USB port you could use him to display power point.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Pravda
      Lying again. I am happy, and healthy, and have great wealth in my relationship. I do not worship anything. You need to look up what worship means, and many other words you casually misuse.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  5. hoipollois

    Q: What do you call an atheist with children?

    A: A UU.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  6. IpseCogita

    Getting together to talk about how much better/smarter they are than everyone else? Organised, evangelical atheists annoy me. What next, will they be going door to door preaching and trying to convert the heathens?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Pravda

      They all ready do. They are called college professors.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      How would you know that, Pravda? You've never met a college professor.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Mike,Albany

      @Pravda: "They are called college professors". Really? None of my professors ever did anything like this. I was more than happy to learn about differential equations, algebraic topology, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, quantum physics, and so forth from them, however, never once was there a mention of the virtues of atheism. I'm guessing you have no idea what you are talking about because you never had a proper education. I'm now a professor who brings in over $1,000,000 in grant money every year to work on battery and fuel cell technology, and I teach courses in physical chemistry and statistical mechanics. You can check my lecture notes as thoroughly as you like (although I'm sure you won't understand them), and you will find absolutely no mention of atheism in a single one of them. Maybe you should think before you blurt out such stupidities.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      Fortune holds more for the bold
      @tom, I have not said anything about supporting Austin, I was merely confirming that you require evidence or proof and you are invalidating the Bible as a proof text. Anyone who has done a verbal defense of a dissertation would understand this as a statement of process...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |

      June 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Save it, Fortuna. I'm not interested in your process. I responded to Austin. You challenged me on it. I think Austin is full of crap, and I don't believe the bible is proof or evidence for god.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      @tom just what I thought, not intelligent enough to engage in dialogue, just an angry old troll, I will consider the source and move on....

      June 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      Btw Tom "fortuna" as in Carl Orf's opus......

      June 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • The real Tom

      This isn't a debate and I'm not interested in your beliefs.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Btw Tom "fortuna" as in Carl Orf's opus......

      It's ORFF, you stupid ass.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      O fortuna,
      velut luna...

      I've sung the Carmina Burana many times, honey. Don't bother with musical discussions as you've already proved you are also ignorant on that subject.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      Be careful when you assume, I have sung and recorded it with our Univ choir, impressed you knew the reference though...touché

      June 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oooh, whoopee! A university choir!!! Wow, gee, I'm so impressed.

      I knew you were a clueless idiot. Thanks for proving it.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mike,Albany

      For those who are posting lyrics to Carmina Burana, check this out:

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIwrgAnx6Q8&w=640&h=390]

      June 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      So predictable, you spiral to insults when you can't succeed in agitation, evidence of a sad pitiful troll.....

      June 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I "spiral to insults" when they're deserved. You earned them. Go suck my left teat.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  7. hoipollois

    Q: What do you call an atheist with children?
    A: A UU.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Randy

      Low life. Now you insult people's children.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  8. devin

    What better way to appease ones conscience from personal sin and accountability, than to deny the existence of a creator God. This worship of naturalism and the scientific method is simply mental subterfuge.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, manure. If you need to believe in some big bully floating around in the sky to behave well, there's something wrong with you.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tom, why do you think God is a big bully?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • rednaxelat

      So you're asserting the only conceivable template for accountability is an all-powerful creator god, even though that's an ontological impossibility? There's nothing about the individual conscience, the nature of things as such, participation in a cultural matrix, or relationship to sentient beings in general, let alone the concept of law, that might be worth considering in this regard? What a shaky moral foundation!

      June 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Roger that

      What better way to pi$$ off the evil dictator god than to do something nice for others. What God really wants is for his chosen people to destroy others that don't worship him.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Aren't you supposed to be one of his representatives on earth, HS? What else is anyone to conclude after reading your tripe?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mick

      There's a better way to "appease ones conscience from personal sin and accountability" : The belief that there is an all-powerfull ruler of the Universe who forgives your sins.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Science

      And I carry some with me at all times to fend off the bible thumpers !

      19. Solar nebula (repeat)
      Most meteorites are very old, as old as the solar system (4.6 billion years). Because meteorites haven't changed much since then, they are the best clues we have to the origin and history of the solar system and of the Earth. (Painting by Don Dixon, NASA JSC photo S76-25001)

      http://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/education/SlideSets/ExpMetMys/Slides35-42.htm

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Adam

    I am glad that the atheist community is able to congregate in this fashion. It proves the beauty of our God fearing country...no matter what you believe, you have the freedom and voice to declare it amongst a large group of your peers.

    Could you imagine, though, being Christian and trying to congregate in an atheist country? It would be the firing squad for sure.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Bostontola

      The US is a secular country, that's why you can worship. Please get educated, read our founding fathers.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Pravda

      Yup, you can be killed or imprisoned in China, an atheist nation, for preaching or passing out religious items.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • shadrac11

      Not at all, there are many thriving churches in Russia. Try practicing any religion other than Islam in a place like Saudi, it truly is punishable by death to do so!

      June 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Pravda

      How was it when it was still the Soviet Union?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Pravda

      LOL, most founding fathers knew the Bible better and were better preachers than most in the pulpit today. Read the founding fathers!

      June 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Pravda, you are an ignoramus. Many of the founding fathers were deists. They insisted on the separation of church and state. Read Jefferson's "bible." What the hell are you babbling about? You don't even have a clue what goes on in China regarding Christianity, you bozo.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Pravda

      Most founding fathers were pastors or clergy, look it up....

      June 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Look up Jefferson's bible, dolt.

      Why is god mentioned not ONCE in the Constitution?

      It's easy to see that you never got past high school, Pravda. Sad, really.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Pravda

      How about on our money, or the prays in congress? Swearing in on a bible? Any of these ring a bell?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Adam

      Bostonola, you are foolish...been drinking to much of that Jim Jones kool-aid I see.

      Even the founding fathers that were not Christian or religious still believed in a set of moral principles derived from Christian values.....they said as much themselves.

      Get a clue kiddo.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • snd_dsgnr

      Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson were all deists, but in reality that's beside the point. They created a political system that was independent of the church structure, which is what really counts.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Pravda

      49 of the 55 founding fathers were very religious. The few Deists waffered back and forth over the years between deism and Christianity.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Even the founding fathers that were not Christian or religious still believed in a set of moral principles derived from Christian values.....they said as much themselves."

      None of the moral principles they believed in are unique to Christianity. Not once is god or christ mentioned in our Constitution. Why do you suppose that is?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Pravda
      You are flat out lying about religion in China, evidence you have no idea what you are talking about.
      They practice pluralism, meaning that many beliefs are practiced. Bhuddism and Taoism are the two most commonly held beliefs, but they are considered non-religions as there is no God or gods worshipped. There are representatives from most of the worlds religions in China, and they do not "kill you or throw you in jail for preaching or passing out religious items". That is just plain ignorant. They do have laws governing the behaviour, but you can practice any belief you want.

      Does being happy in your ignorance come so easliy to you that you wouldn't even do a quick google search to get the facts BEFORE posting?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "How about on our money, or the prays in congress? Swearing in on a bible? Any of these ring a bell?"

      Nobody is required, ever, to swear on a bible in court or to take office. Our money didn't have a word about god on it until long after the formation of the country.

      Get an education, doofus.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • snd_dsgnr

      "49 of the 55 founding fathers were very religious. The few Deists waffered back and forth over the years between deism and Christianity."

      Way to focus on the bit that I explicitly said wasn't actually important. What the founders personal religious beliefs were does not matter, precisely because they were wise enough to develop a system under which their personal religious beliefs did not guide national policy.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  10. name

    Wow, why such hatred toward something that shows none toward you. Why do you act so hostile? Where is this aggression coming from. Why feel so threatened by something nonthreatening. I fail to understand. Isnt it enough to jus be a good person, love your family n friends, treat others how you wanna be treated?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  11. lolCAT2000

    @Bootyfunky you are the one placing religious people on high horses in your imagination. It's all in your mind... get yourself some real info.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini, ©™

    Does this congregation take Communion together and talk about the Blood?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Pravda

      Babies blood probably...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  13. Tim

    “Our community is like a work of art," he said. "Hopefully people will respond to that work of art and it will garner controversy and discussion like a work of art."
    – then shouldn't the group allow (accept) me who has faith in the God of the Bible, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us? ...shouldn't I be a color allowed on the color wheel? The Bible is full of sinful people, doing sinful things and yet among all that dirty fabric is God that loves us and God that died for us, took our transgressions upon Himself ...paid our ransom. Accept that reality and throw all the religious, or non-religious ideas out the window.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Paul

      Reality? No. These are stories you choose to believe. They are not reality. This us why they wouldn't be accepted. They may be tolerated, but not embraced.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  14. Necromonger

    Skepticism is healthy. I'm not saying there's no god – maybe there is a god – BUT until I have tangible incontrovertible proof, I will remain skeptical.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Orygun Duck

      I am skeptical of humanism in general. We have been down these roads before.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Reasonable.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  15. Bostontola

    Atheism can religions, it isn't one. Just like theism has many religions and isn't one.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Bostontola

      have

      June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  16. reaper19

    "I know very will how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, 'I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas'." So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brillian debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in His wisdom saw to it hat the world would never find him through humand wisdom, he has used our "foolish" preaching to save all who believe." I Corinthians 1:18-21 It isn't a matter of whether or not you worship, but who or what you worship. If you are going to sacrifice your life on someone or something's altar, better make sure it is the right one.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Eric

      Right, because "god" is so compassionate that he creates thousands of different choices, and then punish those who guess wrong to eternal damnation. What a joke.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • reaper19

      Eric>>> No guessing involved. "For God so loved the world that He sent his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. For Christ did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it. The is no judgment awaiting those who trust Him. But those who do not trust Him have already been judged fro not believing in the only Son of God." John 3:16-18. There is structure in every area of life from the time we are born 'til the time we die. God has given the blueprint for how to live a successful life and one that is in fellowship with Him. Your choice. Believe it or not. You have been given that freewill.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • snd_dsgnr

      Do you understand how silly it looks to dismiss the "wisdom of humans" while using a computer to access the internet?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    Psalm 53
    King James Version (KJV)

    53 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

    2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

    3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

    4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.

    5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

    6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

    The actual matter is not if there is a God or not. The actual matter is if we are ready to abstain iniquity. Every moment when we harm our neighbour we go a step farer away from God who is The Love and the Life. The more we sin the more we feel depression, lonelyness, illness, madness, etc.. The more we forsake the Life the more we feel the death, and it is meaningless to deny both the reality of Life and the reality of the death because we feel them.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Until people start forcing their beliefs on others, then it is the issue.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • reaper19

      Bostonia>>> you mean like what happens in every college classroom every day? Everyone has a belief about how things should be structured. No church forces anyone to enter. People of faith have a vested interest in having influence in civic affairs because they live within that collective system, just like those who would rather have society be a free for all.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Pete

      You must not have gone to college because I did and not once was religion mentioned in class except for my World Religions class.

      June 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • G to the T

      Christians often view anything that isn't explicitily in line with their definition of christianity as a competing religion. That's why they say we "worship science" or we "worship the self". They're told over and over again that "everyone HAS to worship something" even when that makes no sense...

      June 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  18. Orygun Duck

    Probably a good place to pick up chicks.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  19. LOL @ ATHEISTS

    Honesty I've never seen any one so obsessed with God like athiests are.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • What IF

      Atheists do not believe a god or gods exist. Believers, however, *do* exist, and they do things to affect society that need addressing.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  20. Pravda

    About time Atheists came out of the closet and started forming congregations. It was the last step in the formation of the religion of Atheism. Now they can officially supplant Islam as the most evil religion in the world.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      By definition atheism cannot be a religion. And it would also have to surpass christianity to be the "most evil religion in the world".

      June 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Pravda

      LOL, you have your own code of morals, creation myth, you have your evangelists, now you have churches. How is Atheism not a religion?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What "code of morals"? Some atheists oppose a woman's right to choose. Some don't. Some oppose gay marriage. Some are in favor of it. Are you talking about murder? Stealing? Rape? Most societies oppose such behavior–it's hardly unique to atheists OR believers.

      Honestly, is it a strain for you to think?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Pravda

      LOL, okay, a simple term for it is humanism. And most atheists that I have talked to have been dead down the line on many of their "core" beliefs.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Atheism is the belief that there are no gods. That is all. In order for it to qualify as a religion, there would need to be a supernatural component, exactly the thing that we do not believe. It cannot be a religion by definition.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • snd_dsgnr

      ROFL

      You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. None.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:36 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.