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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. richunix

    Please excuse me for posting old material.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  2. Science

    Se-x and the stork anyone ?

    June 24, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      No thanks!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • William Demuth

      Hunter prefers Altar Boys

      June 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Sorry, not catholic. God didn't create me for s ex he created me for his glory. S ex is a gift for the obedient Husband and Wife. People who are slaves to s ex are pathetic.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • William Demuth

      Ah, so you aint getting any?

      It would explain a lot.

      So you yank your carrot to a crucifix?

      Does the body of Christ compel you???

      June 24, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • sam stone

      AH: God created you for his glory?

      Wow, he sure screwed the pooch on that, eh?

      Your god needs to be self-glorifying?

      Funny people

      June 24, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I wonder why God never does anything because it's interesting. It's always about glory (God's), righteousness (God's), justice (God's), vengeance (God again) and mercy (because apparently God isn't always about justice and vengeance). Where in the bible is God ever interested in something other than glory etc.? Why doesn't God have a hobby? Maybe it does. Maybe it's trains. The world is God's train set and we're just the little poeple who inhabit the little villages the trains go by.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  3. Modoc Brown

    I don't understand why people reference various "gods" or so-called prophets and holy books so much. Atheists don't believe they're accurate. You might as well say, "BahbahBOOM said XYZ!" It wouldn't be any different. Larger cults are just larger cults get over it. You live, you die. Try to enjoy life and make it enjoyable for those around you.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Pedro

      Why make it enjoyable for those around you?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • William Demuth

      Hey, we can do the same thing!!

      Hulk will SMASH puny humans!!!!!

      Avengers #3, page 6, balloon 3

      June 24, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Maybe because this is a religious blog, not an atheist blog. Oh I forgot atheism is a religion and you do have a god. My bad.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • William Demuth

      We can do it too!

      "Hulk will SMASH!!"

      Avengers #3 page 6, line 5!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Yep still still trapped in the 70's and delusional.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • sam stone

      AH: This is a belief blog, not a religious blog. Try to keep up

      June 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • William Demuth

      Ironic.

      I may be stuck in the 1970's, but Christianity is actually stuck in the original 70's, worshiping an imaginary Jewish political dissident with metrosoxual tendencies who thought his father was God and his mother was a virgin?

      You guys must be trippin!!!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      sam stone..........well obviously you believe in nothing so why spend your time here? Keep up, we're way out ahead of ya.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      William Demuth............Read the book Jesus wasn't from the 70's. You're right, we're on a high that your money can't buy! You're so missing out!
      I

      June 24, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • William Demuth

      Dippy, Jesus is a story. From a book that WAS written in the 70's

      I have read it more often than you and your mama put together (Bet you think she was a virgin also??)

      Just another cult, one of 3000 Gods we silly humans have created, and just as discredited as the other 2999.

      Your God is obsolete and shall soon fade just as all the gods he was plagiarized from have

      June 24, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • sam stone

      AH: I believe in plenty of things. For example, I believe you are a dimwitted troll

      June 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  4. richunix

    Test:

    I have read the Bible numerous times, in fact I spent the last 10 years study it, so part of the Bible does contain some historical entries, but sadly the majority contains what we refer as “lest probable events”. The main question that arises during our discussion is “Did Jesus exists”. The answer amongst the majority of scholars (me included) is “YES” as a man, not what is painted so many years after his death. Modern Christianity has more to do with the Christian religion and less to do with the historical Jesus

    June 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Pedro

      How do all you scholars know this?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • William Demuth

      These are the same scholars who believe King Arthur and Spiderman also existed.

      Alas, only in the minds of their fans.

      Christ is a fabrication.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Colin

      How do they date MArk to about 60 A.D. richunix? Is it because know with a pretty good degree of historical certainty that the Jewish uprising against the Romans took place from 65-70 C.E and Mark’s Gospel contains references to it? If so, what are they?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Pedro

      Why do you say Christ was a fabrication? What is this based on?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Colin

      Sorry, I meant 70 AD

      June 24, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • William Demuth

      Common Sense

      People profit from the story, ergo it is supported.

      Reality that impinges on profits is expunged.

      The Church has spun a yarn, nothing more.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  5. Pedro

    The egotism and arrogance of Humanists amazes me more every day. Christ was very clear that in this life we do not have the capacity to fully understand/process what He came to teach, but will in the next. Humanists are so full of ego, that if they, with their incredible intellect can not understand His message, it must not be true. How many can understand and truly know the origin of the universe, or can even prove what THEY believe? None that I have encountered. Their system is just as grounded in faith as mine is. My faith is also grounded in humility, where theirs is not. I am strong enough to know that I know little about this world and where/how it was created. But through my humility, I can be comfortable with a loving God who created the universe and me. Because of my faith, I don't have to have answers that I can't process anyway.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      But do you know Jesus? The only way to God?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • William Demuth

      I knew Jeebus back in the 70's

      He used to travel with the Dead and sell peyote.

      I heard he got deported.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • richunix

      The Christ you refer to, is what the Church wants you to believe.You can try reading the Codex Sinaiticus , or the Codex Vaticanus (Codex Bezae, 8th century) written in the 4th century. Both version have the most complete version of earlier Bible and some more, however they have MAJOR difference between your current version. Or you may take your hand (like the rest of us) and learn Konic Greek, so you can read the very early version of the Bible like, Papyrus P52,46 or P75. You listed historical names from the Bible, maybe you should try reading the Gnostic Gospel such as The Gospel of Mary, James, Peter…better yet the Gospel of Judas (published in 2006) or the Gospel of Solomon (or King Solomon), how about the Gospel of Jesus himself?. Do you even know the difference between the Gnosticism and Docetism? Take your current four Gospel and read the Crucifixion stories, which version is correct, when only one (unnamed Apostle was present) and yet they all have different words spoken by the dying Jesus, different way’s and times he died. The bible you see today is not the bible that was originally written 2000 years ago, in fact not even close. None of the Gospel are/were not written by any of eyewitness they are penned after, they are in fact written century’s later by trained Greek scribes, you need to read more about Teutullin and Irenaeus. We do not HAVE any surviving Gospel from the 1st century, it is not until the 3rd century we have a few incomplete Gospel (P46/75) and the most complete by the 4th century and even these do not match the earlier version.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      William Demuth.........how would you know, you're still stuck in the 70's.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Damocles

      @pedro

      Really? So you are too weak to seek answers on anything and somehow hope that when you die all will be made clear? It's this kind of bass ackwards thinking that got us leeches and volcano sacrifices. 'Ohhh lawd our deity must be powerful angry at us, toss in the virgins untill all is made right'.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • skytag

      "The egotism and arrogance of Humanists amazes me more every day."

      Will it ever be as great as yours?

      No one is more arrogant that a Christian. With no evidence supporting anything they believe they are absolutely convinced that their beliefs are superior to those of any other believer, even other Christians.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Because of my faith, I don't have to have answers that I can't process anyway."

      Becuase of your faith, you HAVE the answer to any and all difficult questions – just cram God into that gap.
      Humanists and, more specifically Natrualists, reject Christianity's core tenet that curiousity is negative.
      The original sin of seeking understanding and knowledge is no sin at all – it is what drives humanity forward.
      The accept dogmatic, rote answers to life's biggest mysteries is to deny the insatiable curiosity that makes Man unique.
      My article of atheistic faith is that while many things are unknown, nothing is ultimately unknowable.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Skytag
      The real arrogance of Christianity is their steadfast belief that the entire Universe in all its unfathomable vastness and glorious complexity, exists as it does simply to have us in it.
      That humanity is the predilect object of an anthropomorphic, anthropocentric Creator.
      Now that's egotism!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • skytag

      "Humanists are so full of ego, that if they, with their incredible intellect can not understand His message, it must not be true."

      Arrogance has you believing that not buying into your beliefs is a product of not understanding the message. You don't believe in God because of any evidence, but because of your superior spiritual awareness, right? New flash, Pedro, we understand the message just fine. We simply see no reason to believe it's anything more than a comforting narrative you've chosen to believe because you like it better than the alternatives.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • skytag

      "How many can understand and truly know the origin of the universe"

      The same number as believers who know the origin of God.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • skytag

      "or can even prove what THEY believe? None that I have encountered"

      More evidence religion makes people stupid. I have no more need to prove God doesn't exist than I need to prove leprechauns, vampires, and Santa Claus don't exist.

      Since you are claiming God exists, and more importantly, that people should base important life decisions and the way they live their daily lives on that belief and what they believe this God wants them to do, the burden of proof falls on you, not us.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • skytag

      "Their system is just as grounded in faith as mine is."

      More faulty Christian rationalizing. What faith must I have to believe there is no God when I see no reason to believe in one? I don't believe in God, vampires, hobbits, leprechauns, Santa Claus, or alien abductions, and all for the exact same reason: I see no rational reason to believe in any of them. That isn't faith, that's rational thinking, common sense, accepting reality.

      "My faith is also grounded in humility, where theirs is not."

      This is too funny. Your entire post is an arrogant discourse in which you disparage atheists and tout your superiority to them.

      "I am strong enough to know that I know little about this world and where/how it was created."

      As an atheist I am strong enough to accept that we don't know how the universe was created without having to credit its creation to a mythical being whose creation I can't explain either.

      "But through my humility, I can be comfortable with a loving God who created the universe and me."

      There is nothing humble about you.

      "Because of my faith, I don't have to have answers that I can't process anyway."

      This only says your beliefs satisfy your need to understand things, not that they are true.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      "My faith is also grounded in humility, where theirs is not...." What an incredible, jaw-dropping statement! This has got to be one of the most arrogant posts (and that's saying a LOT) I've read on this blog, ever! Obviously Petey, you have NO idea what the word "humility" actually means!

      June 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    Ironic that they name equality, and also feminism. Once again, special status for a special group! If all are equal, then all have the same status.

    This isn't atheism, it is the Church of the Liberal

    This does not promote equality, just a reshuffling or the current order, not to a level playing field but to a hierarchy established by those with an agenda.

    And the parting on the left
    Are now parting on the right
    And the beards have all grown longer overnight

    I'll tip my hat to the new constiiution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    Then I'll get on my knees and pray
    We don't get fooled again
    Don't get fooled again
    No, no!

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss

    June 24, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Wow, deep.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  7. Athiest Hunter

    Church without Jehovah God is a complete waste of time, and is worship of Satan, the master of self righteousness.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • William Demuth

      He said JEEHOOOVVVVAAAAHHHHHH

      Let the stoning commence

      June 24, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      OOOhhh I'm scared, send me to heaven early.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • William Demuth

      What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • fintastic

      Speaking of wasting time, there is no such thing as "god" or "satan" so stop wasting your time worshiping mythology.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • sam stone

      AH: Take the step yourself.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • wakeup333

      Atheists, alone or in groups, don't worship. Atheism is not a religion. Only the religious worship. "Satan" exists only for the religious. Satan is an imaginary invisible being, like god. Atheism means "no god." Hence, no invisible beings. Hence, no satan.

      The religious can rant, rave, get red in the face, wag their fingers, shake their heads, none of that changes the above. Only the religious believe in satan, hell, demons, angels, god, etc.

      If any religious people can post a picture of one of these invisible beings, please post the link!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • skytag

      More religious drivel.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Stone him! Stone him! Hey, I'm without sin, I don't even believe in it, so I'll cast the first one!

      June 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
  8. richunix

    You can try reading the Codex Sinaiticus , or the Codex Vaticanus (Codex Bezae, 8th century) written in the 4th century. Both version have the most complete version of earlier Bible and some more, however they have MAJOR difference between your current version. Or you may take your hand (like the rest of us) and learn Konic Greek, so you can read the very early version of the Bible like, Papyrus P52,46 or P75. You listed historical names from the Bible, maybe you should try reading the Gnostic Gospel such as The Gospel of Mary, James, Peter…better yet the Gospel of Judas (published in 2006) or the Gospel of Solomon (or King Solomon), how about the Gospel of Jesus himself?. Do you even know the difference between the Gnosticism and Docetism? Take your current four Gospel and read the Crucifixion stories, which version is correct, when only one (unnamed Apostle was present) and yet they all have different words spoken by the dying Jesus, different way’s and times he died. The bible you see today is not the bible that was originally written 2000 years ago, in fact not even close. None of the Gospel are/were not written by any of eyewitness they are penned after, they are in fact written century’s later by trained Greek scribes, you need to read more about Teutullin and Irenaeus. We do not HAVE any surviving Gospel from the 1st century, it is not until the 3rd century we have a few incomplete Gospel (P46/75) and the most complete by the 4th century and even these do not match the earlier version.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Colin

      Agree with most of what you said, with the exception that the Gospels of Mary, James, Peter and Judas are Second Century fakes written pseudonomously under the names attributed to them. I have never heard of the Gospels of Jesus or Solomon, but would bet they were not written by their proposed authors either.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • richunix

      Colin,

      Sorry, I'm unable to post the first part, due to something seen in the cnn censors, but I can't figure what as it is what I written in part from my final exam.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • Colin

      richunix. ususally t.it or cu.m in a word like const.itution will block you. It is a computer blocking system that looks for "naughty words" like f.uck, d.ick t.it, etc. Just use a period to separate the letters – like I just did.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • skytag

      Trust me, Colin, sometimes comments with no offense words whatsoever simply don't show up after posting. No error message, and the system acts like the comment has posted, but I end up at the top of the page and my comment is not to be found.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  9. William Demuth

    Cowards!!

    Going along to get along?

    To recognize the EVIL that organized religion has become is part of the Awakening, Trying to promote album sales at snooty colleges is not

    The bigotry, the hatred, the FRAUD that religion is today is palpable, and it is clearly dragging us all collectively closer to the edge.

    A passive atheist might well soon be a dead atheist. If you can't or won't see the evil unfolding before your eyes, then you get what you deserve.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • darkstar

      [whispering] Psst!!! You might want to sneak into the nearest restroom and check yourself. Your delusions are showing.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • William Demuth

      Really?

      Watch Syrian news and see the corpses your so called faiths produce!

      100 K and counting!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  10. Reality

    "Mission Statement

    Our Philosophy

    Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

    Our Mission

    Our mission is to create, establish and connect a nationwide network of Humanist communities focused on individual, group, and societal betterment, by providing them with the tools and expertise needed to make Humanism recognized, accessible and influential across the United States.

    Our Values

    If you believe in: reason, compassion, creativity, justice, integrity, awareness, environmentalism, feminism, equality, science, progress, and pluralism…welcome to your community.

    Our Community

    A hand of friendship, a voice of reason, a space for questions, a place to make change —a Humanist community"

    June 24, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Reality

      From: http://harvardhumanist.org/

      June 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • richunix

      Good Morning, well written.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:51 am |
  11. Reality

    See http://harvardhumanist.org/ for a better idea about what this group is all about.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  12. silencedogood20

    This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:37 am |
  13. skytag

    required: "The "word of man" is telling me just above, that the Word of God, is not, without any evidence when the Word of God has all kinds of evidence backing it up, overwhelming evidence. Open a bible."

    Reality is so not your happy place. I opened Bibles for 40 years. I've read it cover to cover. I've memorized verses and marked favorite passages. Eventually I simply couldn't continue to rationalize believing something for which there was no evidence and which was often inconsistent with what I saw in the real world.

    There is no proof in the Bible, and you sound like a true simpleton claiming that opening one will prove anything in it is true. There are lands and people mentioned in the Bible that are consistent with other historical records, but nothing of a spiritual or miraculous nature mentioned in the Bible is supported by any evidence whatsoever.

    A Mormon would say everything you say about the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Do you accept the Book of Mormon as the word of God? If not, where is your evidence it is not? If you are not a Mormon you do not accept the Book of Mormon to be the word of God for the exact same reason non-Christians do not accept the Bible to be the word of God and atheists accept none of them.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • richunix

      Ok, the word GOD is 6th century Germanic in origins… Which Gods are you talking about. Yahweh, El, Baal. All these Gods are part of the mythos. Bonus question what was Yahweh wife name?

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      June 24, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Pedro

      The egotism and arrogance of Humanists amazes me more every day. Christ was very clear that in this life we do not have the capacity to fully understand/process what He came to teach, but will in the next. Humanists are so full of ego, that if they, with their incredible intellect can not understand His message, it must not be true. How many can understand and truly know the origin of the universe, or can even prove what THEY believe? None that I have encountered. Their system is just as grounded in faith as mine is. My faith is also grounded in humility, where theirs is not. I am strong enough to know that I know little about this world and where/how it was created. But through my humility, I can be comfortable with a loving God who created the universe and me. Because of my faith, I don't have to have answers that I can't process anyway.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Colin

      Pedro – odd that you claim humanists "cannot" know the origins of the universe and are arrogant to think they can, then turn around and claim you have the answer – that your god did it. Classic "god of the gaps" reasoning.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  14. OldMo

    Actually, many "churches" have been emptied of God except to use a hollow counterfeit to separate people from their money. At least these chaplains and their flock are being open and honest with themselves. Get in or get out, being lukewarm isn't going to work. Hours logged in pews will also not be taken into account.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:15 am |
  15. Dennis

    I will pray for you all. We are all children of God! Who do you think created the world? – It didn't just happen.....
    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. So tell me what happens to you when you die? I'm
    going to Heaven thanks to Jesus. Jesus please forgive them for they no not what they do! Bless them. D

    June 24, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      I am a direct product of my parents not some imaginary being that can't be proven with any evidence to exist. I don't claim to know what caused the Big Bang and thus feel the most honest answer is exactly to admit not knowing. As for what happens when I die, that's it...nothing more...no evidence to support anything more than death. If jesus existed, he was nothing more than a regular man. He did not die and come back to life...that is not possible and nowhere else in recorded history will you find evidence of such a thing happening...so why accept a 2000 year old book saying it as being fact?
      Pray for us, we'll think for you.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • Science

      Hey Dennis.............. sounds like se-x...........and the stork ?

      From http://www.space.com.....................old news !

      The Universe: Big Bang to Now in 10 Easy Steps

      http://www.space.com/13320-big-bang-universe-10-steps-explainer.html

      June 24, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • skytag

      You go ahead and waste all the time you want praying for me. As far as I've been able to determine there is no evidence that any prayer ever uttered has ever been answered.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • sam stone

      dennis: that sounds so sweet....and so delusional.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Colin

      I love this line of reasoning. Dennis says, in referring to the origins of the world, "It didn't just happen" and then turns around and says it did just happen becuase his god miracuously made it just happen. It's like those who say the "Big bang" couldn't just happen and then turn around and say their god made it just happen.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • skytag

      "Who do you think created the world? – It didn't just happen....."

      Truly the lamest logic imaginable is claiming a God whose existence you can't proof and whose origins you can't explain is the explanation for how the world came to be.

      The fact that science can't and may never be able to explain the origin of the universe is not evidence that a god created it. Historically there have been many examples of phenomena explained by people just like you as having spiritual explanations, only to have their real explanations determined at a later time. For example, people used to believe disease was caused by evil spirits. Now we know disease is caused by viruses and bacteria.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • darkstar

      No worries. Zeus forgives you too.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  16. guest

    By the definition of the word ‘church’ is:
    A. :A building for and especially Christian worship
    B. :the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
    C. Often capitalized; a body or organization of religious believers as:
    1: the whole body of Christians
    2: DENOMINATION: i.e. Presbyterian
    D. 3: CONGREGATION
    E. A public divine worship
    F. A clerical profession
    Are the atheists going to redefine the word ‘church’?

    June 24, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • Luther

      That is a great idea! Thanks! After all language, like people and all living things, evolve.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • guest

      So, Luther, just what do you think the ‘new’ definition of ‘church’ should read?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  17. skytag

    required: "Oh yes there is, all kinds of evidence. Open a bible. I have one, it's real, believe me, it's real, turn the pages..."

    You obviously don't know what the word "evidence" means. The Bible is real, just as my copy of The Hobbit is real. You need to get a clue. You seem to believe the only people who reject your belief in the Bible are people who haven't read it. In point of fact I spent 40 years of my life as a Christian before I finally got to the point I couldn't continue to rationalize believing a lot of stuff for which there is no evidence and is often contradicted by what takes place in the real world around us. The idea that turning the pages of the Bible proves anything other than the fact that it has a lot of pages is patently ludicrous. The Koran is real and has pages you can turn. Ditto for the Torah and many other writings deemed sacred by those who believe they are sacred. Belief is not proof. Sorry.

    You're still willing to rationalize, to spin one excuse for another to justify the lack of any evidence that God exists, that anything of a miraculous or spiritual nature described in the Bible happened, that any prayer ever utter has ever been answered, and so on.

    What you have is basically a conspiracy theory. You start with a set of beliefs for which there is no evidence, and then you proceed to fill in the holes and rationalize the inconsistencies with yet more theories based on no evidence. All you have is a web of theories and explanations, not one of which is based on any evidence whatsoever, and you know it.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:56 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      You have said it better than I could. Although I doubt 'required' will come back with anything more than circular reasoning.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • skytag

      @Truth Prevails: When required opens his Bible I'm sure he feels a deep sense of reverence and awe, and he mistakes that for some kind of divine confirmation that God is pleased he's reading it. What he likely hasn't considered is that Muslims feel the same way when they open the Bible, Mormons feel the same way when they open a Book of Mormon and so on. Before the advent of the printing press I'm sure people in many cultures charged with keeping religious records felt basically the same think as they recorded stories on whatever medium they had available to them.

      Yet I am quite certain required would not accept the hieroglyphic records of the Egyptians to be proof that Ra and Osiris were gods, or that the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith was a prophet, and so on. This alludes to the arrogance of most believers, whose position is basically, "I have no more proof my beliefs are any more true than yours, but I know they are."

      June 24, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • skytag

      Oops, that was supposed to be, "Muslims feel the same way when they open the Koran."

      June 24, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  18. thinquer

    Then satan said to eve, 'You yourself can be like God, choosing what is good and bad for yourself', (Gen 3:1-4) essentially eliminating God from influencing their lives. They thought they were now thinking independently, but in fact that act of "independence" was the first of a continuous act of following satan. The rest is history.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • skytag

      Ah, the first fairytale.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • darkstar

      Please contact CVS or Walgreens promptly. There is a medication for that.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • sam stone

      ironic name

      June 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  19. Speak the Truth

    As one of three ministers for the oldest nontheistic congregations in thw world I'm always amazed how little the CNN writers k ow. The Society for Ethical Culture has been around since 1876. We hold services on Sunday, have thriving Sunday schools, and perform tons of life cycle ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals, for no believers and theists looking for a meaningful ceremony devoid of god language. We have congregations in several American cities since the late 1800s and dedicate our lives to making the world a better place. Come visit us some Sunday. http://Www.aeu.org or http://www.nysec.org.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  20. skytag

    juan frias, this stuff is the stuff that responsible for the the good that religion does. It's real. It helps people. All the god stuff is just a lot of fairytales designed to get people to do what these people are doing.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:30 am |
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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.