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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. jeffreyfalick

    While not mentioned in the article, Greg Epstein became a Humanistic Chaplain through his training as a Humanistic Rabbi. Humanistic Judaism combines the philosophy of nontheistic Humanism with the cultural celebration of Judaism. If you're interested, check out http://www.shj.org.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  2. lol??

    So they're a bunch of old people relivin' the days of street agitatin' for Jim Jones. How's that fer classifyin'??

    June 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • oOo

      Is that the best you can come up with, lollipop? You must be quite the joy to dine with.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  3. 1word

    Is it a coincidence that in order for earth to sustain life, we need Oxygen, Water, the Sun, or how about your body, can you live without a heart or lungs? Can you also live without Blood? Why is man the most intelligent being on the planet? I guess it's all because of CHANCE. You have better luck hitting the lottery 10 times in a row than to create this world from a big bang.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • The real Tom

      Why would you think this earth was created to suit US? Isn't it more likely that we adapted to fit IT? Has that never crossed your mind? Suppose that some of the parameters were different-the life forms that would have arisen would be different, too.

      Certainly makes more logical sense than the idea that some giant genie poofed the universe into existence and made it "perfect" for us, yet is nowhere to be seen now.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      1word .. since you've obviously calculated this, I ask .. What's the "chance" that the christian muslim jewish God is eternal and created the universe perfectly from nothing? That sure seems a bigger stretch to ADD an anthropomorphized God to this equation while claiming it couldn't have happened in a "big bang" while yet not giving ANY explanation as to how a God could've done it. Your belief only adds more layers of questions and absurdities than the singular big bang theory.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Damocles

      I have a hard time believeing man is the smartest animal after reading your post, word.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Marc

      If god created human, then who created god?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • mjbrin

      wow, you just justified my theory that aliens did populate this planet! thanks!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Damocles

      @marc

      Please don't! If I have to see one more time how the deity is supposed to exist out of space/time and needs no creator or see any more of the special pleading by believers on behalf of their deity, I'm going to scream.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • The real Tom

      Damocles, on the internet, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM! Bwahahahah~

      June 24, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Damocles

      @the real tom

      LOL! So true.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • 1word

      So we adapted to this planet? LOL If I don't brush my teeth, maybe my breath will adapt to stank air. lol

      June 24, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Damocles

      And oneword's final brain cell just gave up the ghost. So sad.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • skytag

      There are billions of stars in the universe. Millions of them have planets circling them. Some of those planets have conditions suitable for life to start and evolve. We exist on this planet because it is one of those suitable for life to evolve.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Doobs

      No, it's not a coincidence. It's naturally occurring phenomena. We can't explain how it all works yet, but we've come a long ways since people believed that a man was "created" out of mud and a woman was "created" out of the mud-man's ribs.

      By the way, if Eve was created from Adam, that means she had his DNA, and his chromosomes, including his Y chromosome. That means she was genetically a male, and the first couple on earth was a male/hermaphroditic couple.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Drop out of the seminary and enroll in bartending school – you are better suited for pouring drinks and mopping up puke.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  4. bigmicmusicmachine

    ..in this interview God talks about his Great Cosmic Schlong..

    http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/audioPop.jsp?episodeId=28349&cmd=apop

    June 24, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  5. bigmicmusicmachine

    ..here's what God thinks of Buddhism..

    http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/audioPop.jsp?episodeId=29752&cmd=apop

    June 24, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  6. kf

    Has anybody ever heard the word cult. Think about this logically. People are going to a place of "community" and someone is preaching or teaching them WHAT? What ever they want. And someone is following. This is what a group is, you have leaders and you have followers. All this proves is that atheist are and have always been their own form of religion. To be a religion does not require a belief in a god just a belief.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I agree but ... what is the "belief" you claim Atheists have in common that make it a religion?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Or my favorite .. Like Bald is a hair color!
      I guess we are ALL A-unicornists or Agardengnomeists or A-(fill in the blank with anything you DON'T believe in)sts. It seems the A-theist concept is just too simple for followers to grasp.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • mjbrin

      years ago when I was studying different religions I went to a Jewish information class and learned that early Christians were considered a cult by the Jewish families whose children left them to follow the those leaders in that new religion........ so I guess the word "cult" doesn't work just for you interpretation of it

      June 24, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Nobody just heard me scream...........

      June 26, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  7. bigmicmusicmachine

    Here's an interview with God..

    ..boy, has He been misunderstood!

    http://www.dextervandango.com/view.do?contentId=128&menuId=128

    June 24, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  8. svrhodes77

    Most people have a need to belong to a social group...and, like a religious group, this fits the bill for these folks. It's all about "Us vs. Them".

    June 24, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  9. 1word

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270071/Party-hostess-scares-armed-robber-calling-Jesus-house.html

    Jesus is my protector!

    June 24, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Doobs

      Jeebus must have been on a smoke break, because he sure didn't protect this five year old...

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/23/us/louisiana-girl-dead/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

      June 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  10. @OD

    If god is like love, if god is like wind, if god is like happiness then god is an effect and we are the cause.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Nolan

      God is not like all those things you mentioned. He is those things thus nulifying your statement. Atheism is nothing more than a public display of the existence of God. If atheism believes in no religion, why do they hold so tightly to theres? By definition, atheism is a religion.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Nolan .. it is apparent you do not know what the word definition means.
      Atheism is (very simply) not believing in a God(s) .. that's it. Where's the part that "defines" (lol) Atheism as a religion?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • richunix

      Food for thought Nolan

      Is God willing to prevent evil, but is not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.

      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.

      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?

      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then why is he called GOD?

      -Epicurus 33 CE

      June 24, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • skytag

      @Nolan: "By definition, atheism is a religion."

      Truly one of the dumbest things believers claim. Is not believing in Santa Claus also a religion?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Doobs

      @ nolan

      How many religions do you belong to?

      The religion of not believing in Thor?
      The religion of not believing in Zeus?
      The religion of not believing in the Easter Bunny?
      The religion of not believing in David Koresh?
      The religion of not believing in Allah?
      The religion of not believing in Grannus?
      The religion of not believing in Ranginui?
      The religion of not believing in Teshub?

      Here's a list of all the religions you must belong to for your logic to be correct.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities

      June 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  11. mjbrin

    there are approximately 41,000 Christian religions........which one is true?

    June 24, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • Damocles

      Whichever one they belong to.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Damocles hits the nail squarely on the head!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • 1word

      It's not any one religion it's RELATIONSHIP. When you have a relationship with God, he will show you the way but yes you must study the Bible. YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN. A lot of people play Church but you know the difference when you become changed into what God wants you to be.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Marc

      1word, you are so brainwashed. I feel sorry for you.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • 1word

      The one that accept Christ as Savior. The one who believes in the Father the Son, and the Holy Ghost!

      Psalm 18:2
      The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • 1word

      Marc

      1word, you are so brainwashed. I feel sorry for you.

      Don't feel sorry for me bro. I pray you will be enlightened to the truth. I am just sharing you the truth my father has showed me. He is real, he knows your thoughts and he may be drawing you to him even as we speak.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Marc

      1word, I ran into many people like you. Man I do think you should believe in what you believe before you have the courage to understand the truth, the life, and the people outside your church.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • richunix

      @1wod, do you know what The Johannine Comma is?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  12. DC

    LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL....oh, aitheists, why do you want so bad to be part of a 'religion' that you treat a social gathering of friends as a 'church'?? hahahaha, hilarious

    June 24, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Marc

      Religion and church nowadays have bad image. Humanist Community shouldn't be a "church" or it will turn people off.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Most Atheists do not want to simulate a church service .. this is simply a gimmick to make the point that God(s) is not necessary. A church service bears striking similarities to any business meeting or elks club or rotary club btw. A meeting is a meeting no matter what you call it & is not the sole possession of religion.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • DC

      wow, what kind of church have you gone to? sorry, my church is not like a business meeting, rotary club, etc. Some of you must have had really bad horrible experiences at a church

      June 24, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      DC, they are the same in there construct. How you feel about it while you're in it has nothing to do with the fact that it is the same thing. It's all in your interpretation, but "Roberts rule of order" still applies no matter how loosely.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • skytag

      Humans like to form groups with others who share their values and beliefs. It is not a phenomenon unique to religions. We form clubs, teams, nations, political parties, and so on.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  13. ElmerGantry

    Some thoughts on what would const.itute proof of god
    A visitation by any being would be problematic. A being from a sufficiently advanced civilization would be indistinguishable from a god. Such an advanced being could perform feats that could totally astound scientists, feats that even a young one of their culture would understand. So a visitation by someone would not be compelling in this regard.

    It seems to me that something that would grab attention would be a series of individual events each of which is so statistically improbable that the probability of these unrelated events taken together would so small as to get world’s attention.

    Such an attention getting event might be the simultaneous and overnight,
    1) Worldwide total and permanent remission of all cancers,
    2) Worldwide regeneration of limbs of all amputees,
    3) Worldwide total cessation of sëx trafficking human abuse,
    4) Worldwide total cessation of child abuse,
    5) Worldwide cessation of all hostilities,
    6) Worldwide sudden curing of diseases cause by genetic defects.

    I tell you that if within one day everyone in the world woke up to all cancer patients completely and permanently cured, all amputees with their limbs restored, all sëx traffickers turned loose their victims, all child abuse stopped and captives turned loose, everybody laid down their weapons and shook hands, and all down syndrome and other people with genetic maladies were cured; all this taken together, would definitely get the entire world’s attention, would it not?

    Since Jesus makes many clear, simple, and unequivocal statements about prayer,

    Matthew 21:21:
    I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt,not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
    _______________________________________________________________________
    [A true believer can ask a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will be done. LOL!]
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Mark 9:
    All things are possible to him who believes.

    Luke 1:37:
    For with God nothing will be impossible.

    John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    John 14:14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    Nothing could be simpler or clearer than Jesus' own personal promises about prayer in the Bible.
    So there you have it, straight from Jesus in the New Testament in clear, simple, and unequivocal terms.

    So to convince people there is a god, pray in the sincerity and earnestness of a true believer to accomplish the six items above and when event described above happens you will get the attention of many.

    I do not know if this is sufficient or not, therefore,
    Question for others,

    Do you have suggested additions for events like the above?

    Any other suggestions as to what might constïtute proof of god.

    Screen shot archived to show posting.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • @OD

      If Jesus told people to wash hands more often, millions of lives could be saved, instead science did it. All the miracles that you listed will be achieved by humans with human hands, just like everything else we achieved.

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

      @OD,

      Agreed. Just calling attention to those who think prayer works.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Marc

      Non-religious people do what's right, not what's told.
      Religious people do do what's told, not what's right.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • DC

      Marc, I fixed it for you 🙂

      SOME Non-religious people do what's right, not what's told.
      SOME Religious people do do what's told, not what's right

      June 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • NT Reader

      OD, I think your examples can be seen as putting the Lord to the test. I believe Jesus already performed many 'signs and wonders' which is reliable since we are still talking about them today, even right now. Most likely they really happened since it has not been lost to history and remains relevant to every generation. The ancients weren't unscientific. They knew how life worked, so when big things happened like feeding 5k, raising of Lazarus, walking on water, etc... it got noticed and reacted to in different ways. Read through Luke 16 for greater insight if you would like to know more about how demands for a sign are insufficient. God Bless!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • kf

      Wow that is a lot of stuff. But you missed your own point. Jesus said if YOU believe and do not doubt... not is I believe. It doesn't matter how much faith I have if you have none it is pointless. There is no place in the Bible were a miracle is recorded that the person receiving it was using someone else faith. To address the rest of your superman analogies. The Bible nowhere say that earth is the only place that life exist. To say that God could not create life in the rest of the universe would limit ability of God. The Bible is a book specific to three thing; who is God, who are we, and who was the Christ. Not how old is the planet or are we alone in the universe.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Karri fieglein

      You sound like a child having a bit of a tantrum. The Lord is our father and the father decides how things will be and he has control over things. You don't look at at your father and say well if you don't do everything the way I want I'll pretend you are aren't real. The Lord did heal me from cancer and he heals many people every day. I agree there are some terrible things in this world and it is hard to see all the evil and not wish that God would do something more at times. but for those of us that don't question the father but trust him we know this is part of His plan and in the end He is the victor over Satan. The reason he does this is because we have free will and free choice. He doesn't force us to Love him or trust him, He gives us a choice. Every time there is a tragedy in the world, take a look at the aftermath and see how God works all things together for those that Love Him. God is good all of the time whether you believe or not. Please don't say He isn't capable just because He doesn't give you everything you want whenever you want it. I don't know who you are but I am praying for you. The Lord says test me and see. I dare you try it for real and you will see. He says knock and the door will be opened. Knock and you'll see.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Karri
      Was your cancer cured Mary Baker Eddy style – strictly through the application of the Holy Spirit? Or did modern medicine perhaps have something to do with it?

      As for the rest of your posting – I ask you to ponder the following and perhaps you'll start to understand an atheist perspective on God and evil:

      Stalin does not send anyone to the Gulag.
      It is those who have hardened their hearts against him who send themselves to the Gulag through their bourgoise atti/tudes and counter-revolutionary actions.
      This was not Stalin's plan at all. He truly wants everyone to go to the Worker's Paradise and it grieves him that so many harden their hearts against him.
      But he will not force anyone into the Worker's Paradise against their wishes. He respects their free will.
      If you don't want to go to the Gulag, just open your heart to the love of Stalin.

      Sound familiar at all?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Marc

      DC, so you do what the bible tells you SOME of the time?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Damocles

      @karri

      Ok, let's take a look at the aftermath of disasters....

      Floods: how many people were flooded out of their homes even after specifically asking their deity to not let it happen? How many little kids hearts get broken when their pet gets taken away after pleading with a deity to not let it happen? Would you say the number of houses that were prayed back into existence were more, equal or way freakin less than those that were rebuilt by hard work and sweat?

      Fires: Why the fvck does your deity not like cute little forest creatures??

      Earthquakes: Same thing as floods and fires above.

      Again, you are a believer that wants an all everything deity and then has to jump through hoops on why bad things happen. So either have the all powerful deity who is a jerk and kills randomly for the thrill of it or understand that bad things happen and people come together to set things right.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • tallulah13

      I wish you would answer the question about your miraculous recovery from cancer, karri. Did you receive medical care, or did you just pray the cancer away?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  14. Tbay

    Jehovah-less Witnesses. lol

    June 24, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  15. 1word

    Smarter than U
    Actually, all those looney people you named should be all lumped into the non believers column. The good people are BORN AGAIN. If you truly follow God you would not kill another person, you would not steal from another person. There's a difference than playing Church and Actually being the Church. May God Bless you with eyes to see and Ears to Hear. God Bless!

    June 24, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Damocles

      I'm guessing you see yourself as a true believer, whatever that means. Would you kill in self-defense? Would you steal a knife to prevent someone from doing harm?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Marc

      1word, I can tell you are "born again" because you are so naiive and so eager to impose your belief onto others.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • 1word

      Damocles
      NO I WILL NOT! I am totally against owning Guns. I discuss this all the times with people I know who are seeking God. You cannot take another Mans life be man was created in the image of God!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • 1word

      Marc
      I'm just spreading truth. You will not have an excuse when you appear before God. Because you heard the truth and refuse to listen.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Damocles

      Coward. I hope you don't have kids that need protecting.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      If it weren't for you book, would you commit murder?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • 1word

      Damocles
      Lol Coward? Call me what you want, but I know God will protect me. I put my trust in him.
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270071/Party-hostess-scares-armed-robber-calling-Jesus-house.html

      June 24, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • 1word

      Secular Humanist from Ohio
      Hating someone is murder in Jesus eyes. I honestly can tell you, if I didn't possess the Holy Spirit, YES I WOULD COMMIT MURDER. I HATED people because they hurt me. Now that I have changed, all I try to do is love people and show them the way to TRUE PEACE!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • @OD

      You forgot brain, may god bless you with brain

      June 24, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Damocles

      No, no, you're done. A man or a woman who is unwilling to protect what is theirs deserves what they get. Lie down, bare your throat to the wolves and look around in bewilderment as they bite deep.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Please keep believing. We have enough murderers already.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • 1word

      Damocles
      Have Faith in God! He is my deliverer not Sith and Wesson!

      Psalm 18:2
      The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Damocles

      Right, in one word, you are an idiot. If you are cowering in terror from the killer and he leaves for some reason 'ohhh, braise jeebus, it's a miracle'. If you spend hours in unending agony before the killer snuffs your life, 'braise jeebus, he works in oh so mysterious ways'.

      Utterly ignorant, but it's the pale lie that you live your life by.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  16. Athiest Hunter

    You can't have church. Church is the body of Jesus Christ. You're just in a human, powerless club.

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

      Ok pumpkin.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Science

      Family Guy – Stork in the house

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

      June 24, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Marc

      Religion and church nowadays have bad image. Humanist Community shouldn't be a "church" or it will turn people off.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Science

      What a joke below................include yourself AH !!!

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/22/pope-francis-atheists-can-be-good

      June 24, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  17. mjbrin

    think of it this way.
    the story of christ is kind of like the story of your middle brother.
    Mom has her version of his birth and life
    Dad has his version
    Big brother has his
    Big sister has hers
    then little sister and brother think WOW! he is amazing and they add their sibling worship
    then the grandkids hear a combined version and the worship continues
    then an ex-wife comes forward and everyone goes NO she is lying!
    it is a good story

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

      mjbrin.........spoken like a lost sheep.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • JunkyPimp

      You nailed it.

      JC

      June 24, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  18. 1word

    Basically, atheist know deep down inside there is a God because you would have to be totally looney to look at the intelligent Design of the human body and the world not to believe that God created Earth to sustain life. They know there is a God they just refuse to submit to his authority.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Right on! Otherwise they would not be so obsessed with God.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Incorrect.
      There is no reason to think there is a design, or a designer.It is foolish to jump to that conclusion since there is absolutely no evidence to support it.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • sam stone

      1word: if you look at this and see a god, good for you.
      you refuse to submit to the authority of every other god man has created....why do you feel "creation" implies that your creation story is the correct one?

      AH: Jeebus is waiting....got yer sidearm ready?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • 1word

      Richard Cranium
      Without the son we would perish, without Oxygen we would perish, without your heart you would perish. With God you will Perish. Intelligent DESIGN BUDDY!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Smarter than U

      Even if there were a god, loony is word I would apply to theists more than atheists. There the ones that took god and build thousands of religions and millions of behaviors around them. Churchs, wafers, popes, celibacy, jihads, anti gay, phony christians blessing motorcycles, bombing abortion clincs, bombing mosques, making prayers at the sight of a rainbow, lighting candles, shunning. To me this is the loony stuff. Atheists are way more well behaved and sensible. If there is a god, athiests are more likely to to be blessed than those who claim to be religious adherents.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      The human body is well designed?
      We eat and breathe through the same hole, risking choking and death. Dolphins don't do this so it's hardly an impossible feature.
      Our eyes can see only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
      Gasses we can't smell can kill us, e.g. carbon monoxide.
      Then there's that amusement park in the middle of a sewage system.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Damocles

      Intelligent design of the human body, eh? The appendix, the gall bladder, the fact that some people are dangerously allergic to common foods, various deformities passed down through generations. Mmmhmm the body reeks of intelligence.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Chris

      I contend that you're an atheist too. I just believe in one less god.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • JunkyPimp

      Cod is Great.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • WASP

      @1word: then please produce this great and powerful OZ, remember don't look behind the curtain. lmao
      give me a break you all sound the same" you had better fear our god........or he will get you."
      you winny little ______________________ things i can't type here. grow a pair and learn some science, NOTHING IN THIS UINIVERSE IS PERFECT.
      if the great and powerful OZ created humans, then please explain the purpose of "head hair"; what purpose does it serve? i know of no purpose having hair on top of the most important part of the human body, retaining heat close to it would truly serve..........unless ofcourse we evolved with it because females choose males that had head hair because it was attracting to their eye?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • sam stone

      Also, AH, we are not obsessed with "god", but we are opposing those who would legislate your lives based on their iron age comic book

      June 24, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • sam stone

      Tell us, 1word, how the possibility of an intelligent designer implies that it is the god of the bible.

      How do you make that logical leap?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      1word
      The existance of life does not indicate a designer. It only indicates life exists. A designer is only a hypothesis, not even a theory as there is no evidence what so ever to support it. There are many theories that are more probable.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • jimbocombo

      WASP – I would think it is exhausting try to disprove that God has something to do with your existence. Truth is revealed by coming to know God and the discovery you've been living in the Matrix. The revelation that the agenda to avoid and.or disprove God was the architect to a fabricated life. When you come to know God, who is actually infinitely personal, He shows you the souls of others and challenges you in love to embrace them with a life different. A glitch in the program per se.

      Being a follower of Christ does not create a perfect life – rather it creates a fulfilled life. Your post is also a challenge to all true followers of Christ reading it. How are we living out Christ in our lives? Are we loving others? Even those hard to love? Are we having compassion for those in need, in trouble? It's genuinely living out these acts of love, empowered by Christ, that we become the beacon to others.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Damocles

      @jim

      If your belief is the only thing that is seemingly keeping you from running around whacking people, then by all means, continue to believe. Just know that you don't need a deity to be a good person.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • sam stone

      apparently, the question was too logical for 1word and his brand of preaching.

      blather on, 1word.....better yet, take the big step to go meet jeebus

      June 24, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • grist

      Actually, the more you study human anatomy and physiology, the more clear it is that we evolved from other organisms. It only takes 10 minutes to describe your ideas on this. It takes a real education to understand biology.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Thinker...

      Well, I had a nice post explaining why we still have head hair, but the filter kills it even though I wrote it in word and searched for the naughty words. Oh well. Long story short, we have hair on our head to keep direct sunlight from cooking our brains. Ask a bald guy why he wears a hat when it's hot and sunny out.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Thinker...

      Oh, and that was evolution at work not ID.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  19. meme1348

    I am a non-believer – my husband is active duty in the military and we move frequently. For those of you atheists, nones or non-believers (whatever you like to be called) who are knocking this – maybe you should try to get any sense of belonging or community with children when you arrive to new communities every couple of years. Many people have support of friends and family that they grew up with. Religious folks can move somewhere, choose a church and start meeting people, networking and getting involved in their community much easier than a non-believer. I think this is a great idea. Many of us were raised Christian (or some other organized faith) and welcome the feeling of coming together with a group of people on a traditional day of rest to give thanks to the universe for our blessings 😉

    June 24, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Athiest Hunter

      The same thing that led to the fall of Satan. No thanks.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • 1word

      Meme, it's nice that you guys want to meet up and worship something other than God. You do know that when you don't worship God you worship the devil. I go to church with people who profess to be Christian but they refuse to Accept Christ as their savior and they fall away. You have to go all in to experience God. You must be BORN AGAIN.

      John 8:44
      Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Karmas.Laugh

      My only concern with communities like this, is that they will start to become corrupted like the churches have. I don't want to donate money to something that is going to build great monuments and not feed our homeless and starving. The coming together part, and meeting with like minded people is really great. That and I don't understand why it would set up like a service, I mean there are meeting where I live that meet at the local library and we have current discussions and lectures, so I don't understand why they would want songs and homily's. That's all though, I'm not banging it, if it works for you, that rocks! I'm just skeptical of the whole thing, feels like they are trying to find the backdoor to convert me or something.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • BillyD

      1word, when you don't worship cheesecake, you're worshipping Satan times infinity. See, I can play your silly games too. I don't have so much a problem with Chris tianity, but I do have a problem with the arrogancy of some Chris tians. I have a problem with people ignorantly telling me what I'm believing or doing just because they need my actions to fit their little narrative. I have a problem with people that say they worship a man that preached love but use that faith to judge and attack and feel superiority. You need to get a life. And if you continue to be a Christian, you need to start paying more attention to Jesus.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  20. Athiest Hunter

    That is hilarious, church without God! You mean a new social club to boost human ego. LOL!

    June 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      All churches are churches without god. Most have the delusion of god, but no actual gods.

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

      You've just been going to the wrong church.

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

      @ah

      Wow, it brings tears of laughter everytime I see a believer say that!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Marc

      Is that why you go to church? To boost ego? LOL!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Realist

      "Athiest Hunter": People might take you a bit more seriously if you spelled "Atheist" correctly. Well, that, and not spouting off about your big imaginary friend.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Marc

      Like recieve and receive - "Athiest Hunter", kid, you should learn basic spelling first before you want to be a hunter. LOL!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • sam stone

      "You mean a new social club to boost human ego. LOL"

      Like those who purport to know the thoughts of god, AH?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • mjbrin

      if @Richard Cranium is going to the wrong church then out of the 41,0000 which is the "right" church? Oh and by the way, did your god come to you in a vision and tell you which one it is? or did you read it somewhere?. I mean were there specific directions to it?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:38 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.