home
RSS
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. deol

    Atheism is the strongest expression of hope and the greatest effort of search for God!

    June 23, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Dippy

      Search all you want, you'll never find him.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  2. Here's a thought

    If there's no God whatsoever than Christians and Atheists are in their respective churches both paying tribute to nothing...and then arguing about it.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • mason

      🙂 well, is the Atheist were paying tribute anything it would be something real like nature, science, arts, sport etc.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The word "church" was added by the author. The activities of these groups were explained within the article. Did you bother to read it?

      June 23, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  3. The real Tom

    The asswaffles who claim that without a god there is no morality are just plain stupid. There is NO proof that people need some deity to behave ethically. None.

    If you idiots had any evidence of your claim, you'd cite it.

    Why don't you? Oh, that's right-there isn't any.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually (and sadly), some people may need to believe some deity is watching in order to behave themselves. That's one of the reasons religion was invented; to control the behavior of the weaker-minded folks.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • lol??

      Commie mobs are always "out of hand".

      June 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  4. Josie

    Hm, I do this several times a year only I call on several God(s) and Goddess(es), all people meet up and gather to gain strength in their beliefs. Yes Atheists have beliefs even if they claim they do not. They believe in Logic and Science, but there are still things that Science cannot explain yet. And we are far from really understanding everything. We are children with too much knowledge and not enough understanding of what exactly we know. To claim there is no God or a Creator to me is rather far fetching considering, yes we have the Big Bang Theory but at the same time we as humans do not understand how exactly it started or if anything started it. Sorry but I can't believe in living and dying...without something more being out there.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Science it works!

      If you design a plane with science, it flys.
      If you build a rocket based on science, it goes to the moon.
      If you base medicine on science, it can cure.
      No faith needed.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Dippy

      Flies.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      The common argument, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, [the Christian] god must have caused it – does not make sense to us. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to us, much less the Judeo-Christian god. We feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. We’re crazy aren’t we?

      June 23, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Fear of mortality is not proof of god, but it certainly helps keep religions in business.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  5. No way Atheists!!

    What did they sing?

    There is no God, there is no God,
    we can do whatever we want,
    because there is no God.
    There is no God, there is no God,
    no need to take responsibility because there is no God.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      You've not heard Steve Martin's "Atheists Ain't Got No Songs?"

      June 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So, if you thought there was no god, you'd go brain your mother-in-law? Kill your obnoxious next door neighbor? Steal from your employer? Rape your hot niece?

      And you think ATHEISTS have no morals?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • The real Tom

      SHFO, I doubt the dolt even knows who Steve Martin IS.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Christians take no responsibility because they have Jesus to forgive them (after he was tortured to death of course)

      June 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Wha???

      I'm still trying to figure out how someone would "brain" their mother in law??

      June 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • No way Atheists!!

      Secular Humanist from Ohio – Thank God for Jesus and is forgiveness, at least Christians own up to their responsibilities, repent, and don't keep committing the same sin that atheists refuse to give up.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Science

      Steve Martin – Atheists Don't Have No Songs (Live on Letterman 03-16-2011) [HD]

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wogta8alHiU&w=640&h=390]

      June 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      @Wha??–
      well, that would be impossible if one's mother-in-law were brainless; Your Mother-in-Law Brainless Mileage May Vary.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "at least Christians own up to their responsibilities, repent, and don't keep committing the same sin that atheists refuse to give up."

      What "responsibilities" do Christians "own up to" that atheists don't? What sin do atheists "refuse to give up" that Christians don't?

      Be specific, sweetums. Otherwise, you're a bald-faced liar.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Thanks Science!

      June 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Saying your sorry to your invisible friend is not owning up to your responsibilities.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Atheists don't need a book to tell them that murder is immoral.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Marc

      Religious belief: If you can't prove that god does not exist, then he does. You can prove that god exist, then he does not. What a belief !!

      June 23, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Science

      Secular Humanist from Ohio

      You are welcome............it is a great song !

      Had to load another Classic from long ago.

      Is that Chad on the other page ?

      June 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Got that kinda backwards there Sparky.

      There is no God, there is no God,
      we can do whatever we want,
      because there is no God.
      There is no God, there is no God,
      no need to take responsibility because there is no God.

      IF you're taking responsibility, there doesn't NEED to be a god. IF there's no god to tell you when to sh!t and when to wipe, well then you'll have to figure it out all by yourself, won't you? That's called "taking responsibility".

      June 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  6. The real Tom

    To the poster who said that we can't know whether or not god exists: why would a god with unlimited power and unlimited knowledge choose to keep his existence secret? To what end? Why would an omnipotent being demand that all believe it exists and then decide to hide itself for eons?

    Do you people ever even ask yourselves anything?

    June 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Vic

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/22/church-without-god-by-design/comment-page-24/#comment-2430162

      (Highlight the above l i n k, right-click, and then open.)

      June 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, Vic. Talk about being a lazy-ass dolt: you take the cake. Either post your thoughts or don't, but if you think anyone is going to go back and click on your links, you really are a complete dick.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  7. No way Atheists!!

    Well at least these dimwits will be able to convince each other that there is no God and prove to each other there is no God. LOL

    June 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Can you prove there is one?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • No way Atheists!!

      The real Tom – No, but God can prove He is real.

      Knock and the door shall be opened,
      Seek and you shall find
      Ask and it shall be given to you.

      You atheists are too lazy to follow these simple steps.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, bull. Your imaginary daddy hasn't done diddly to show its existence, you nit.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Just believe! Just believe! He will show his grace to you. Open your heart and let him in. You will be rewarded with eternal peace and happiness! The proof of his existence is in my heart any millions like me. Do not let satan deceive you. The lord wants you to come to him and receive his eternal blessings........(excuse me).

      June 23, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • No way Atheists!!

      The real Tom – Take the easy steps I gave you, dimwit, and you shall see for yourself and stop being a lazy assss atheist.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Marc

      "Knock and the door shall be opened,
      Seek and you shall find
      Ask and it shall be given to you."

      You mean that wasn't Santa?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Marc

      LOL

      June 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "The real Tom – Take the easy steps I gave you, dimwit, and you shall see for yourself and stop being a lazy assss atheist."

      I'm the last person anyone would call "lazy", you idiot. I'm also the last one anybody would think lacked brains. Now, either put up or shut up, you fvcktard: provide evidence that your jehovah exists or shut up. You're a lying POS.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • No way Atheists!!

      The real Tom – Your lazy assss atheism is showing, bitter fool!

      June 23, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And your inability to pose a cogent argument reveals your lack of any integrity or intelligence whatsoever, NoWayJose.

      Try to grow a couple of brain cells so the one that's rattling about in your skull won't be so fvcking lonesome, you dimwitted turd.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  8. Science

    Hey Bible Thumpers..............minerals evolve too..............geography !

    Mercury Mineral Evolution

    CarnegieInsti-tution

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

    June 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • LookANDSEE

      It takes a lot of faith to believe that happened all by it's self.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Science

      faith in numbers in numbers................E = mc2 and (U-Pb)

      June 23, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  9. pdog

    Atheist are dumb. We can't know the existence of God- we don't have the means to know. Either way we can't claim that God exists or does not exist. All we can do is be uncertain about anything that may exist outside this planet.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I can be certain that the word "atheist" is singular and that you're too stupid to figure out how to make it plural. I suspect you don't even know what the word "plural" means.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Christians claim to know god exists and base morality and law on that belief.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Gary

      Athiesm is a BELIEF. It is not knowledge that god does not exist. Sure, anything is possible. This planet could have been created by a giant ant named Larry but we athiests don't BELIEVE that to be true, as we don't believe in any other of the thousands of religions out there because we don't just blindly follow things that science has proven to be false. But you can go on believing in fairy tales, and some day far in the future after some major event wipes out the majority of us and the only survivors began to replenish the earth, maybe one of them will unearth a copy of Harry Potter and a whole new religion will be formed.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • oOo

      Wrong, Gary. The problem you're having is you don't understand what mainstream atheism is. If you did, you'd realize the rest of your assessment fails.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  10. Juanito

    It's a gathering of people seeking something more to their existence.

    I think we all want to be a part of something more, and want our lives to mean more than just living out a string of days of experiences that won't translate to anything more than the person we're buried next to.

    Being a part of something more here in this life will also translate to something more in the eternal life if they open the door to the One who loves them more than they could ever understand.

    I pray that this is a step towards Jesus for all of them, and all of you as well.

    The Lord bless you all!

    In His Love, Juanito

    June 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      If you give you heart to the FSM he will reward you with eternal happiness, otherwise you are doomed. We will pray for your salvation and and the FSM to shine his grace upon you.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Juanito, I'm sure your myth brings you comfort.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Enlightened 1

      One of the evolved traits we have inherited from our ancestors is the need to be part of a social group which was necessary for our survival for millions of years.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • CosmicC

      True believers in the FSM do not speak of grace, just his noodley goodness.
      RAMEN

      June 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  11. Happy Atheist

    I'm not sure what the story is here. It's not like it's a surprise that humans can behave as moral actors without subscribing to any God. This has been known by anyone with half a brain for quite some time.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Well, that right there should be your clue as to why this is such a hot button issue: most of the assholes who are so upset about this article are brainless idiots. I mean, really, read devin's posts! Do you think he's unique?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      Well I guess i'm an ass for not caring what half wits think 🙂

      June 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, you're no ass. Just someone as mystified as I am by the behavior of the lemmings.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  12. Seth

    The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God – hence, a congregation of fools.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Christianity, A Confederacy of Dunces.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Greg Morgan

      Apparently, Seth, you didn't read in the article where it said this: "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." Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to judge; remember, your scriptures say, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1). Or if you still want to violate what Jesus commanded by judging others, maybe you should base your judgments on facts, rather than on things you make up. Otherwise, you look like a fool.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      There could be A god.....just not YOUR god.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Anyone ever point out that you're a fvckwad? No? Well as hard as I find that to believe, let me be the first.

      You're a fvckwad.

      June 25, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1). Or if you still want to violate what Jesus commanded by judging others, maybe you should base your judgments on facts, rather than on things you make up. Otherwise, you look like a fool.

      that does not actually say do not judge, it just says if you do judge people will judge you, which your doing, and in turn making that part of the bible true.

      June 25, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    so ... after all that being said ... it's really just a social club for nonbelievers. People seem to need a social club.

    I still believe that a good percentage of people identifying as Christians are only in it for the social club. The see through the foolishness of the religion and it's bronze age story book but just don't want to miss the social side.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Vic

      1 Timothy 1:15

      "15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all."

      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

      http://www.biblegateway.com/

      We Christians are humans and sinners; we believe in God Almighty, the Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit as we are!

      June 23, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      It might be interesting if someone were to do a completely anonymous study, asking a statistically significant number of self-professed xtians if they "really" believed. Personally I think that most of them DO believe in their horrifying diety, just like a schizophrenic believes in the reality of the voices in her/his head. There are other ways to socialize; no religion needed.

      June 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  14. myVu

    Why do atheists always have to begin by cursing and swearing and naming calling? You seem very angry for some reason.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Observer

      myVu,

      Some do, some don't Don't ignorantly claim all do.

      Guess again.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      most of our anger is frustration at your foolishness.

      strange, eh?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Some Christians are just as, if not more guilty of inhumanity. Some state flat out that non believers will spend eternity in a flaming pit.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Gadflie

      MyVu, why do you start by lying?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Hey! 3 atheists and no curse words.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • alex

      There are atheists who will even go to church every sunday for social reasons. There are even atheists who work as pastors. Atheists are everywhere, most of them are not angry at all.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      What the fvck do you fvcking mean, fvcking cursing and fvcking swearing and fvcking name-calling, you fvcking ignorant moron?!?

      June 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  15. The real Tom

    I wonder if the one who's really all verklempt is Fortune. He seemed like an even-tempered sort but perhaps he's just a hairs-breadth from going postal!

    Someone should notify his momma 'fore he shoots up an elementary school or something.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  16. Pizza Hut

    There are 10 pizzas ready with double pepperoni, well done, crisp crust. You gave us a fake name for delivery just like you are faking names on here. We have your real AMEX number so come and get it lazy.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
  17. Robert

    Atheists are so silly. There is no objective morality if there is no God. They have to borrow everything of meaning from theism.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Robert, people invented morality and God as well. Morality has some lasting usefulness.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Keep believing in that book Robert, It's scary to know that you don't realize it's immoral to murder.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Robert

      You said, "Atheists are so silly. There is no objective morality if there is no God. They have to borrow everything of meaning from theism."
      Get a fucking clue, moron. Your imaginary friend is not the source of morality, nor is a silly superstition required to live a good and moral life. Being a religitard is also no guarantee of being moral.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Observer

      Robert,

      Christians are so silly. They insist they are so stupid that they couldn't figure out "good morals" without a 2,000-year-old book to tell them.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      there is no answer to a statement so blatantly foolish.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Andrew

      I believe it was Jesus Christ who said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The Golden Rule is completely subjective, yet it contains the seeds for a profoundly positive world. No need for objective morality... just empathy for others, rooted entirely in one's own experience as a living creature.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • sbp

      This notion that morality can only come from god has no basis at all. You keep saying it, but it means nothing. And it's been repeatedly shot down with facts and logical argument, and yet you still keep saying it. Is this some sort of cult like mantra to you? Clearly, it doesn't matter to you if it's true or not.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Let's take your statement as a give, just for a moment. How does that prove the existence of god? All it proves is that morality may be subjective.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It appears that Robert is a very evil person who needs supernatural threats in order not to harm others. I hope that he is locked away somewhere so he can't hurt others should his delusion slip.

      I'm grateful that most people are better than that, no matter their belief.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Total crap. I just love the way you fvcktards spew lie after lie and call it the truth.

      June 25, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  18. DocB

    I pray to the molecules!

    June 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  19. Let's have a hymn

    This is the end
    Beautiful friend
    This is the end
    My only friend, the end
    It hurts to set you free
    But you'll never follow me
    The end of laughter and soft lies
    The end of nights we tried to die
    This is the end

    June 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

    • This is the end
      Beautiful friend
      This is the end
      My only friend, the end
      Of our elaborate plans, the end
      Of everything that stands, the end
      No safety or surprise, the end
      I'll never look into your eyes again
      Can you picture what will be
      So limitless and free

      June 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  20. jsaljsalj

    Seems a little ridiculous if you ask me. The elephant in the room = let's NOT talk about ___. Check out the lyrics for Shelley Segal's "An Atheist Album" and she can't seem to help but address religion, faith, Jesus, etc.

    The Founder, Mr. Epstein, says about this group - "It doesn’t require and it doesn't even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.” But that's not logical. common sense tells us that – at its very basic – the congregants all believe it's a good thing to come together on a Sunday morning. And (arguably) they all believe it's a good thing to NOT discuss the elephant in the room. Also, they seem to have some mutual understanding of terms like "goodness" and "community" and maybe even "morality."

    The notion of a town meeting or a community pep rally sounds great to me. But this idea that the meeting – by design – insists upon NO MENTION of "God" seems like they're working way too hard to avoid something (or someone) in whom they supposedly have no interest.

    June 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • kyzaadrao

      That's true. Community service with a common thread of disbelief.

      I'm not convinced that not believing in God is worthy of a special interest group. People have not believed in God since the beginning of time. Or have believed in their God but not another cultures God(s).

      It just doesn't make for any sort of community. It almost seems that everyone is moving at hyper-speed to be the "new gay". They're not persecuted.

      But, we march onward with the concept of a church without a god that proclaims boldly "I am not an oxymoron!". As if disclaiming the fact makes it so.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • LinCA

      @jsaljsalj

      Do you expect every group that gets together discuss the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny? Do you discuss every imaginary creature at your church? At every service?

      June 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      I know...right? Kinda like... DUHHH!

      June 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Gadflie

      There are plenty of atheist songs that don't mention God. Look at Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" or abour half of Rush's songs. Plus, this isn't any more ridiculous than any of the many "non-denominational" churches.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I consider Blue Boat Home by Peter Mayer to be an atheist hymn. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtZUM0JhLvc.
      You do not need to believe in a superior being to be in awe of nature, nor do you need a shared belief in a common mythology to have a community. However, if you are human you do need a community.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71
Advertisement
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.