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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. Thoth

    Humans in general are a social species. We crave interaction in some form. While it would be nearly impossible to gather reliable data, I suspect some, if not many folks simply go to church, and attend events for the social aspects and opportunities. That's what I think makes this idea of humanists gathering such a good one. It fills the social desires without the supersti.tious dogma.

    June 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  2. Erin

    Do any of you believers have enough courage to admit that your Christian god stories are obviously nonsense?

    The case is very clear now that Christian beliefs do not have support in either evidence or reason.

    June 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      according to you??? Never heard of ya.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      erin: i would be happy if many of them would be willing to acknowledge what they have is faith, not fact

      June 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nobody's heard of you, either, AH.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      hey AH finally got the name spelled right!

      Erin,
      Consider how solipsistic religion is.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Sure I'm known, you know you all love me on here.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Will Ruppel

      Erin, Why do you do to others what you do not want done to you?

      You obviously want to be respected for what your beliefs (or nonbelief with all due respect) yet you disrespect others who choose to believe something different than you?

      Sounds like a lyric from the Who "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss"

      If you choose the positive as Mr. Epstein asserts one would ask why you would not apply the "Golden Rule" – to treat others as you wish to be treated?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Will Ruppel

      With all due respect you are patently wrong, if treating someone like you wish to be treated is not reasonable, I think their is nothing more that can be said, Erin –

      June 24, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • JMEF

      Yes AH, known but not loved. You would have made an awesome Grand Inquisitor or you would love to be a Salem witch burner, wouldn't you? Killing for Christ has been going on for ages.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      The Bible is a book of plagiarized myths, distorted over the centuries, with the goal of oppressing people and making humanity fearful and ignorant. It is the result of a political power play. It contains little morality and less historicity. Makes a fun story though.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Erin

      Will, you clearly lack courage. I'm not surprised.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  3. Robert Brown

    Are any of you nonbelievers ready to call on God yet?

    June 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Observer

      Robert,

      Not unless they come out with a new Bible that isn't full of errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense and a few good morals..

      June 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Russell

      As soon as you convince me that a god exists, and you know what it wants – then maybe i will call.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      What's the phone number?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Doobs

      Why would I want to do that? To become like you? No, thanks.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      God the number for you. H-E-L-P M-E J-E-S-U-S. No waiting.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I tried already, Robert. God doesn't answer his phone.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Thoth

      ok....I called..no answer. You got an e-mail address for God? How about a physical address where I could go meet with him?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Wendy

      Robert
      Why would we want to do that?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's an experiment anyone can try and I encourage it, Robert. Feel ready. Call on God. Wait on what happenswith an open mind, at least for a reasonable time. Since there is no evidence of the existence of God, and nothing that excludes the existence of God, it seems that nothing else could work. Be prepared for disappointment.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Robert Brown, why would anyone need to "call" on an omniscient, omnipotent being? Oh, right, your god isn't one of those.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      I sincerely hope you did try this one, "Jesus I am an atheist and I don't believe in you, if you are real and you love me and died for me then reveal yourself to me." Then wait. He's not a Genie, He's an all knowing God who works in his own time.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What would I call on him for?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Bob...........cause he's not lost we all are and cause he doesn't need you you need him.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      How can anyone call on anything in which they do not believe?

      Can you call on Allah, Jah, Ra, etc?

      When your family indoctrinated you into their belief, did they take your brain?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      If he is all knowing, A(ss) H(ole), there is no free will

      June 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      sam stone..........easy, yes I could but I don't choose to pray to demons. Thanks. My brain is not theirs to take. Sorry dude.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What brain?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Observer,

      What?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      The real Tom.........the one that's got a bunch of atheist reeling and spinning.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Russell,

      He is the only one who can convince you all I can do is recommend.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Secular Humanist from Ohio,

      Heavenly Father.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Ah, I don't see any spin apart from you. The question to you was why you chose this god out of the thousands of others – the presumption being that you did not learn about the others you just followed what your parents did and told you. Is it a true statement that you believe in the same god as your parents?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Doobs,

      You wouldn’t be the same as you are now, but don’t worry I think we all are still unique.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      AverageJoe76,

      I have found him to be extremely slow to answer at times myself. I hope you don’t give up. I believe he will answer in his time.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Thoth,

      Keep trying. Sometimes when he doesn’t answer right away, he’s waiting on you to do something or realize something.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Wendy,

      Wouldn’t you like to know God?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Tom, Tom, the Other One,

      Yes, I also encourage it. When he knocks you can open the door.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Bob,

      Try calling with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The real Tom,
      Wouldn’t you like to know him?

      June 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Bob

      Robert, "extremely slow" as in never, ever has answered, and never will. Your god obviously does not exist; it doesn't answer prayers because it cannot. If you think otherwise, then present your proof. Proof is something that in all your many, crazy posts to date you have been utterly unable to produce.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Sam stone,

      Where does faith come from?

      June 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Bob

      So, god, of those many millions of starving and ill people in the world, none have sincerely called to god in times of real need? Really?

      You insane, pathetic, unreasonable and stupid fool.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bob

      So, Robert Brown, of those many millions of starving and ill people in the world, none have sincerely called to god in times of real need? Really?

      You insane, pathetic, unreasonable and stupid fool.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      RB, If there were a god all the people on the earth would know and believe in the same god. As there is no evidence of a god we have the current situation where even the believers believe in different gods and those that share a god worship in different ways. No evidence of a god and no evidence that it is your god.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Bob,

      I can’t prove God to you. All I can do is tell you the good news. You will have to experience God for yourself.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • fred

      The Real Tom hit it on the nose. She does not need God so the odd's she would ever see God are slim to none. Now, Saul of Tarsus did not intend to see the one and only God as he was happy with the God that was taught to him from childhood. Saul however needed to see God he just did not realize it. God knows everything including the fact Saul was sucked up by a false religion and a false image of God. Saul saw the light in Jesus whom he and the Jews had persecuted and was the key figure in establishing Christianity.

      Let us pray that The Real Tom sees the real God not that false image she has of God.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      In Santa we trust,

      Wouldn’t it be funny if we get up to heaven one day and God says yeah all those God’s were me.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Science

      Hey fred ...............how is chad and dot ?

      June 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      I don't understand your logic.
      "Saul however needed to see God he just did not realize it. "

      So if we can't be certain that we will realize when we need God, then whose responsibility is it? Ours to call, even thought we may not realize the need? or, God's to reveal himself, because we may not realize the need?

      June 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      RB "... all those God’s were me"

      In which case you could convert to Islam, or Hinduism, Shinto, etc. and be OK. Why would you choose Christianity and stick with it?

      June 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Bob

      Robert Brown, good to see you admitting that you cannot prove your insane beliefs. One step forward for you.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • fred

      Science
      I lost the article on information retained in the event horizon of a failed Black Hole you gratuitously posted 3 weeks ago. If you have it handy let me know otherwise I will use existing information as I do not recall any new information in the post. Thanks

      June 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      It is worse than that as God actually blinds some people from the true God. No one comes to God unless they are drawn. It would appear any call or selection originates within God. How you respond to the offer presented reflects the grace of God and your true hearts inclination.
      It is a blessing to never have received that offer from God if you would reject the offer. There is a relationship between the amount of opportunity one is given and the consequence for rejecting the offer.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      In Santa We Trust

      By the same token it would good for you to admit you have no scientifically accepted proof for you belief either.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      In Santa we trust,
      I believe Jesus is the son of God, the way, the truth, and the life. I’m not really expecting to convert to something else.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      "It would appear any call or selection originates within God."

      Then perhaps you should pray for God to call rather than harangue non-believers about an, apparently, inattentive God.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      fred, I cannot prove that your god does not exist same as you cannot prove that the gods that you do not believe in do not exist. I have no reason to believe in any god – I have seen no evidence of one and our scientific knowledge shows us that all creation myths including yours are incorrect.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Rb, So what was the point of your post? You do not believe in a god which encompasses all religions. Clearly you have not tried the others you just followed your parents and you have not presented a good reason for your choice.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      Romans 10:14:"14 But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them;"

      -Jesus is the way so by his example we see he gave testimony about the things of God and gathered 70 that followed him. Even John the Baptist only proclaimed the way of the Lord and said the one who is coming will baptize with water and the spirit. That spirit came upon the remaining apostles them at Pentecost upon giving their testimony 3,000 were saved. The rest is history.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      "Then perhaps you should pray for God to call "
      =>correct, without prayer and without the Holy Spirit preparing the way our words fall on deaf ears.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • ME II

      ME II
      @fred,
      "But before people can ask the Lord for help,..."

      But I thought that we had already established that...

      ..."It would appear any call or selection originates within God."

      Which is it?

      June 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      Please don't quote mine me. The full quote was, "Then perhaps you should pray for God to call rather than harangue non-believers about an, apparently, inattentive God."

      June 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      In Santa we trust,

      I wasn’t necessarily making an earth shattering point by saying “wouldn’t it be funny,” more of an observation or sharing a thought. I haven’t tried the others because I have experienced the God I believe in. I don’t really feel a need to seek because I am persuaded that I have been found. I am compelled to encourage you to do the same. We share the good news, another may add to it, but it is God who gives the increase.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Doobs

      "You wouldn’t be the same as you are now, but don’t worry I think we all are still unique."

      RB, I've already done the calling on god thing. I did it for decades. And you're right, I was very different then. I was always afraid, constantly conflicted about why the bible was so inaccurate about the physical world, why god seems to favor white people so much more, and why Jeebus needed to come to the Americas on a boat, when he could easily have made himself known to the Native Americans without all the blood spilled by Christians converting them. I wondered why the pastors always had new cars, beautifully manicured wives dressed in designer clothes and expensive homes while telling me that god needs me to give him ten percent of my gross income when I had very little money to start with or risk not being "blessed" by him. I had a constant feeling of being a bad person.

      Then I finally got the courage to face the fact that it was all a lie. The feelings of inferiority and depression went away. Now I know that I'm a good person because that's just the way I am and not because god is making me that way somehow. I didn't feel responsible for someone supposedly being tortured to death because of me.

      So yes, going back to being a Christian will change me, and not for the better.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God" is from John1:1 (speaking of Christ). "The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it." John 1:4. "There came a man sent from God his name was John (the Baptist) who was sent as a witness to testify. In short salvation originates with God (who has made a way). God uses people to witness and testify as to the truth.
      In the case of Saul he heard the testimony of Stephen and witnessed his last breath as the Jews stoned him because the testimony was so convicting. Later on as Saul was riding out to rid the land of Christians he was struck by the light of the Lord. We are not told if Saul was impacted by Stephens testimony but, there was a reason Saul was standing there watching what was happening to Stephen and given Saul's intellect it is doubtful he did not fully grasp it.

      The great commission to go out and tell the world about Christ. Given God answers prayer according to His will not ours your ability to hear is a function of God. God does not "need" us to bring salvation as that was finished on the cross. We simply have the opportunity to be a tool or voice in that process.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      If one is to believe the stories, Saul/Paul did not need faith, he had evidence, albeit subjective evidence. Many others like the apostle did not need to rely on faith, but supposedly had miracles galore as evidence, Thomas even supposedly touch the wounds of Jesus.Should we less fortunate, or at least weaker, mortals be expected to be greater than they in faith?

      I've heard it said that the Biblical example is that, as in the case with Saul/Paul, God reveals himself first then belief occurs, is that not so? Why not the same for us?

      June 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      Never mind. This is an endless cycle of 'God must call first' but 'we must spread the word in order to prepare', but 'God must call first' etc. etc. etc.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Doobs,
      Your reply is very sad, but true. Organized religion has done more to harm the cause of Christ than most anything else. There are those that use the guise of religion to enrich themselves, they have their reward. I don’t know if it would do any good, but all of Christianity is not as you have experienced. Jesus was very much against the established religious authority in his day for the very same reasons you have cited. They placed heavy burdens on the people that they themselves would not do. The ti.the is a good example. I think for some 10% may be good, for others way too much, and for those who have a lot, not nearly enough. While God will convict you of sin to get you to come to him, once you are his you are forgiven.

      What you experienced was a lie, not that God isn’t very real, but the doctrine you were under. I am glad that you feel better, but hopeful you will consider the true way that Jesus established. He wants you to feel good as a loving father makes a child feel, accepted and loved. Jesus paid the debt willingly. We are grateful for what he did and we are appreciative of him loving us enough to do it.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      Jesus said to Thomas you have seen and believed, blessed are those who have not seen and believed. I take this as an example that God knows what a person needs in order to believe. A born skeptic may require a great deal of overriding reasons to believe given lack of evidence. Someone born into a Christian household surrounded by actual faithful believers with an inherent need for assurance may ask for very little reason or evidence. The thrust of the New Testament is that God does what man cannot do himself. Now, to each is given a measure of faith and the apostles had very little of it. Consider after all they witnessed they were hiding in the upper room. It was when the Holy Spirit came on them that they could move with boldness. Saul had the Holy Spirit in him that allowed him to move with boldness but he needed the blinding light and the vision to complete itself (a mortal man had to visit him from the vision). So, Saul needed the witness (saw and heard Stephen testimony), knocked off his high horse by blinding light, given a vision of Ananias who would cure him, a physical visit from Ananias then the scales fell from his eyes.
      In my case I needed a conversion experience and a desperate need for a savior before I would accept Jesus as the Christ.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      " I take this as an example that God knows what a person needs in order to believe."

      Now we're back to the onus being upon God. Fine. So if God knows what it takes why do you need to "spread the word"? Because God said to? etc.,
      etc.
      etc.

      If God knows what it will take to convince me, then why hasn't he convinced me?
      Alternatively, why would you presume to think that your words would have any effect?

      (sigh)
      It's just self-reinforcing, or confirmation bias. If you tell everyone, when someone converts them you can think that it was due to them "hearing the word", when they don't it's due to 'God knowing what is needed'.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      The Bible is an endless circle, God creates the heavens and the earth, destroys the heaven and the earth and creates a new heaven and earth. Nothing new about circles. Look close and some theologians in the first lines of Genesis see ("in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.........................then a formless void then 6 days of creation") our existence as the rebirth then use that to justify old earth geology. The complete circle was already shown in the first 3 chapters of Genesis with the tree of knowledge and the tree of life both located in the Garden of Eden .

      In the beginning was the word says a lot. All that we know was from the word (the physical we can see and test came from the word as did the spiritual that cannot be tested by tools bound by physical properties). Another way to look at it is information. God gives us information which sets our perception of reality. DNA for example is not the information that results in who we are it is where the information is. You have nothing more than chemicals bound in specific ways that send out the information. That instruction set is not physical that we have detected at this point which is why everyone of the 7 billion people on this planet is unique. If it was the result of chemical interaction we have specific limited reproducible results which we do not. Even identical twins are not identical. The DNA is a store of information it is not the information.

      Your physical trappings are the store of information containing your soul. That information (thought) inside of you that results in unique creative capacity is what the Bible calls life. It is the breath of life God put into man (the information). We can create machines that carry out life functions and even reproduce themselves but they would never have "life" because that is the information that makes us unique. You can attempt to erect all sorts of denial fronts such as lack of physical evidence yet you know from biology that who we are is not from the physical only contained in the physical. "Life" as defined by Jesus is not in the physical but in the word

      June 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Science

      Hey fred NO fairy in the sky required ..........................uranium is needed !

      http://www.atomicarchive.com/historymenu.shtml

      June 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      Why does God need man to spread the word? God does not need man.
      Why did God choose this method? I don't know but I have guess. My relationship with another person is very different when I journey with them through good and bad. On a non biblical side when someone not on my team leads me out into a sprint finish I suddenly have a different bond with that person. When I tell someone about Christ and begin a journey there is bond that develops. When Christ died for my sins it formed a bond, when prayer is answered (real or imagined) the bond is strengthened. God walked with Adam and Eve, Abraham, Noah etc. and Christ walked with the Father as we walk with those we try and help on the journey. Christ came to serve and give which is the way the truth and the life. It is not complicated unless one looks hard for road blocks or erects road blocks to a simple journey.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • fred

      ME II
      "If God knows what it will take to convince me, then why hasn't he convinced me?"
      =>The Bible gives all kinds of reasons as to why you have not seen or heard but, I would not have a clue which if any apply in your case. As for me after my conversion the past, present and future landscape changed so that I could see just how often God was gently attempting to get my attention. I could also see where His hand was on my life even when I did not want it.

      "Alternatively, why would you presume to think that your words would have any effect?"
      =>It has been my actions more than words which have effect on non believers in general when I am out in the community. I have two good friends who are die hard atheists living very well where neither action or words have made an impact as they have no need they cannot provide for themselves.

      Seems that those who come with great need are very ready and looking for any form of hope.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • fred

      Science
      You said:"Hey fred NO fairy in the sky required ..........................uranium is needed !"

      =>Thanks for attached link to the atomic website home of the Trinity Site where a18 kiloton nuclear bomb was tested.
      Interesting that they assembled the test in Pope N.M. to test at the Trinity Site. The name "Trinity came from a devotional poem where John Donne opens, "Batter my heart, three person'd God !

      =>no fairy needed just an open mind

      June 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I've an ongoing experiment, fred. As I told Robert, and I'd encourage anyone to try: Assume there is one God and that it will hear you if you call on it. Do so with an open mind. Give it a reasonable amount of time. You contend that this will work, fred. How can one know if it has worked?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • fred

      Tom Tom the other one
      Ok, I see your point. As a believer I cannot expect anything from God if I approach with an open mind. James clearly states that if you ask with doubt you should not expect anything. An open mind for a believer would require some degree of doubt.
      On the other hand an agnostic, atheist and believer are subject to a sovereign God such that it is the will of God which governs. Without faith you cannot please God. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord because he pleased God which saved his whole family and way to salvation for all people. Faith then brings you into Gods will such that what is asked just so happens to be the will of God. A request of God is not answered because of who you are absent of God but who you are in the presence of God. It is your heart and mind that is transformed not Gods as God does not change. God simply is.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  4. Ahappyfarmer

    Nothin new. Please move on.

    June 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  5. Will Ruppel

    @Richard Cranium

    With all due respect sir did you even READ the article?!

    Quote from the article below –

    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.

    I never indicated that people should not assemble – my point is simple Richard...Greg Epstein needs to be honestly convey his position – an organization that wishes to make strong change in the world needs specific beliefs & a motivated 'community' – READ BETWEEN THE LINES – he is not creating communities for lonely non-believers...he wants to affect STRONG CHANGE – so PLEASE STOP with the poor lonely NONES that need to have a place to go –

    I understand loneliness but that is NOT Greg Epstein's agenda – I encourage you to READ the article & ask yourself the question – What is his REAL MOTIVATION? – I submit it is strong change in the world & if that is HIS INTENTION he should be honest enough to indicate what he believes...otherwise he is simply a manipulator

    June 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Erin

      Will, religion historically, Christianity especially, is all about manipulation and control, sometimes to the point of torture and murder, per the Inquisitions and other hateful, violent acts by Christians.

      It really is alarming to see people still pushing religion at others, and the great news is that the pushback against religious belief is growing and getting louder. Great news there, anyway.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Russell

      Maybe his agenda is just to help young, confused people before churches catch them and brainwash them.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Will Ruppel,

      you indicated in a thread below you weren't concerned about these people have a hidden agenda to try and destroy organized religion.

      What "STRONG CHANGE" do you think they are trying to make besides a sense of community for like-minded people who don't feel like they belong elsewhere?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      They're going to bring down humanity by encouraging everyone to eat their babies.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Will Ruppel

    @My Dog is a jealous Dog

    Wow....I have been called far worse, but, you missed the point...YES THEY HAVE NO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS but they EMULATE REILGIOUS PRACTICES – its hypocrisy...if they want to feed the hungry or shelter the homeless let them do so – let them incorporate it into their organization...but emulating that which one does not support is hypocritical...they will create secular versions of 'rituals' for what reason? Do they admire them or are they too lazy to create their own?

    Complain about organized religion but use their traditions, ritual, & formats...enough said....

    June 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Truly enough said.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Copying the church would turn me off, so I agree.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      They are emulating a meeting – not a belief. I don't see any hypocrisy here. Atheists reject religious belief and dogma, not community or organization. Inspiration does not have to be religious in nature, and yes it does come from poetry and music and other forms of art.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You clearly are missing the point, and are hung up on word definitions. Who cares what the building they meet in is called? It is inconsequential. Call the building a house, shed, whatever, does not change a thing. So what if even they call it a church. The origin of churches would indicate that ALL churches are for Mithra the sun god. So Christians worship in a house of Mithra ( which is appropriate since the whole story of jesus is a rehash of the story of Mithra anyway).
      Get past the definitions of words and realize that people can come together to change things for the better without the need fro the man made concept of a deity.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Doobs

      Good grief. Now you're trying to say that Christianity invented the idea of people meeting together to discuss common interests in an organized manner? How arrogant.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bob

      Great point, Doobs.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Hilikus

      Christmas trees have a pagan origin. The day you celebrate your religion's savior's birth is meant to coincide with a pagan holiday. Does that make you pagan? ...how about a hypocrite?

      I don't personally believe so...but if you just had to label it, those examples are more concrete than saying they are copying religion because they meet, sing, and discuss community. It's not emulating just because two groups of people are doing something similar.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  7. Atheist Hunter

    If atheists hate religion why they want to play church? Makes no sense!

    June 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I hear ya. Church kinda sucks.... why immitate?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      I guess same reason atheists sit on a religion blog all day. Bet that sucks for ya too!

      June 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ Atheist Hunter – Um, nah...... I kinda like the blog. Helps me vent.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Russell

      What you can't see is that none of the benefits that come from a church require god to exist.
      People can support each other and their community without threats of eternal torture.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      AverageJoe76........what is there to vent about? I though God was not real. You like fighting things you don't believe in. Seems like such a waste of time to me. Try jogging or boxing or something. It's really weird to spend your days fighting a God you say doesn't exist. I'll never get you bunch of atheists. That's why I like hunting you guys, strange breed and very entertaining.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • oOo

      Yeah – it doesn't suck at all, AH. Some of us are retired and I don't know whether you've heard of this or not, but if you're a little computer-savvy, you can even do several things at once in different windows. Please excuse me if I'm being too technical.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      AH
      More of your lies and strawman argument. It is a belief blog, and even though you continuously claim otherwise, atheists have beliefs, just not of any supernatural creatures.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Observer

      Atheist Hunter,

      It's much easier picking on Christians since so many of them are world-class HYPOCRITES.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @oOo – I've tried explaining the concept of multi-tasking to them... but to no avail. The bible doesn't mention computers or doing more than one thing at once... so they just can't comprehend it...

      June 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • oOo

      I agree wholeheartedly with Observer. It's much more satisfying to hunt hypocrites while doing other things on the computer.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Richard for your cranium......... the address is religion blog....HELLO IN THERE!
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/22/church-without-god-by-design/comment-page-50/

      June 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ Atheist Hunter – I 'vent' because to THIS day, I still don't get why most humans cloud themselves with the invisibles. Yes, I have plenty questions, and I have some internal beliefs, but the faithful.... take it to another level. A deadly level. An oppressive level. You cling to Jesus, then do something opposite of his teachings. That angered me. The hypocrisy of the masses is upsetting to me. And here we all are, on a tiny blue speck, zooming through a vast cosmos, worried about stuff we cannot prove.... EVER. I'm dumbfounded, at how dumb we are.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Science

      ASS HAT this actually what it is .

      June 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Science

      ASS HAT do you see....................... element ?

      Or an attribute ?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      AverageJoe76.........What angers you controls you. You haven't read the Bible if you believe that Jesus' plan is oppressive. It is liberating. It quenches all fear and the power of death. You're beginning to get it, we are dumb, but God is all knowing and try as you may you will never out know him and you will never figure Him out. He is too far beyond us. That's why it is called faith. Have faith and watch the oppression leave you forever!

      June 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Science

      To funny you do have an attribute AH !

      What does ASSHAT mean? – ASSHAT Definition – Meaning of ASSHAT ...

      http://www.internetslang.com/ASSHAT.asp

      This Internet Slang page is designed to explain what the meaning of ASSHAT is. The slang word / acronym / abbreviation ASSHAT means... . Internet Slang. A list of ...

      June 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  8. Erasmus

    Lets use what the schools and librarys use to define church:

    The Dictionary

    church/
    1. a building for public Christian worship.
    2. public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
    3. the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.
    4. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a Christian denomination: the Methodist Church.
    5. that part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.

    Dictionary also states,

    atheism [ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPA/ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/ Show Spelled
    atheism , denial of the existence of God or gods and of any supernatural existence,

    the best and only word to best describe this combination in the article above from the same dictionary is, an oxymoron

    June 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I see that reading comprehension was not your strong suit in school. The atheist 'congregation' never called it 'church'. The idiot writer of the article called it that.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Doobs

      "Lets use what the schools and librarys use to define church:"

      Let's just say you should visit a few libraries yourself.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  9. Will Ruppel

    @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    thank you for your response – it is greatly appreciated.

    Though I can appreciate your position & understand the desire for the sense of community I am challenged by the ironic nature of the organization – if you want to have a community why would you emulate the organize religion – why not create something totally new? Something your community could call its own...

    With all due respect, if I use a loose analogy using Walmart – Greg Epstein seems to indicate that there are many people who do not want to shop at Walmart & he is creating NON-Walmart, except it works in a very similar manner to how Walmart operates....why create secular copies/versions?

    June 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      already answered below but you decided to jump threads.
      How ironic. People are social animals, they gather in groups. Religions came along later and gave people an additional reason to come together. No one is emulating religion by coming together to discuss ideas. Religions are not the only reason people gather.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Is every organization that has meetings trying to emulate a church? Think of it as a PTA meeting, or a neighborhood watch meeting, or a town hall meeting.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Doobs

      Organized meetings were not invented by Christianity.

      Why do Christians think that they own everything?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  10. Doobs

    "And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." Rev 4:3

    This verse proves that Jeebus is gay (not that there's anything wrong with that). Why else would he be surrounding himself with a rainbow? Apparently the apocalypse will be the ultimate Gay Pride Parade.

    June 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Doobs

      Oops, misfire. Reposted where it belongs.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Science

      hello Doobs waiting for doogie to chime in ?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Hello!....The Gay's stole the rainbow ignorantly, the symbol of their own destruction and they wear it proudly like a bunch of fools. In the end Jesus will take the rainbow back and the gay's will be reminded of their arrogance and ignorance of mocking a promise from God not to drown them for their sin.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Science

      Is that doogie AH or dot ?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      No drowning but it said nothing about burning.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Observer

      Atheist Hunter,

      Skip all the HYPOCRISY. If you REALLY cared about sin, you'd be busy lecturing all your fellow Christians who are ADULTERERS for divorcing and remarrying. There are FAR FAR MORE of them than there are gays. OOOPS.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Science

      AH = ASS HAT or prayer bot.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Russell...........can you heal the sick, can you deliver people from financial ruin, can you set the captive free, can you deliver from sin and addiction, can you heal depression, can you make the lame walk or the blind see, can you give us eternal life, can you provide us with eternal heavenly homes where there are not tears, or can you just tell me to accept it cause there's nothing you can do to change it all. I like Jesus' plan a lot better than yours. People's support hasn't work so far for me. People fail me and others daily.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      oOo............you mean this is all retirement has to offer??? How sad, fighting ghosts that you don't believe in. Why would you want to ??? Doesn't sound one bit technical to me, sounds like utter boredom. Try Jesus.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Science..........prayer bot is good! God created your science!

      June 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • JMEF

      Ah, AH, so you settle for a mythical crutch because people treat you like the crap you reveal yourself to be. Try and quit being an aszhole and follow the teachings of Christ, I doubt He would have been a hunter of non believers.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      "God created your science!"

      ......sure.... and just chose not to use any of it when giving instructions to his creations.......yeah....

      June 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Doobs

      Hi Science! I haven't seen Gay Coitus Doogie for a while now. Maybe he's trying to revive the Exodus program?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Doobs

      "can you heal the sick, can you deliver people from financial ruin, can you set the captive free, can you deliver from sin and addiction, can you heal depression, can you make the lame walk or the blind see, can you give us eternal life, can you provide us with eternal heavenly homes where there are not tears"

      Can you provide verifiable evidence that Jeebus did any of those things?

      I've seen plenty of people "healed" by simply going to a doctor or taking appropriate medication. I've seen people go to debt counselors and be "healed" from financial ruin. I've seen people convicted of crimes freed because DNA evidence proved they were innocent. I've seen people go to rehab and be "healed" of addiction. I've seen people go to a psychiatrist and be "healed" from depression. I've seen the video of the little boy who was born deaf hear his daddy say "Daddy loves you" for the first time because we now know how the ear works together with the brain to interpret sound waves.

      None of these happened because they muttered incantations to your god. They happened because of our increasing understanding of science and medicine, because the person stopped spending more than they made, or because the person did the hard work of overcoming addiction.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Doobs

      BTW, I didn't address the issue of eternal life because there's no evidence of any such thing.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      AH...gays does not have an apostrophe. Now, go fvck yourself

      June 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Gee, AH, Jesus will take it in the end? I suppose that explains your attraction to the savior.....fvcking closet queen

      June 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  11. Erin

    Aisha, answer my question. No more sneaky sliding away with side comments:

    Aisha, why should mortals have to "sacrifice" anything to a god who purportedly is all-powerful and can make whatever it wants? Your religion is flat-out stupid and based on obviously wrong premises.

    June 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • lol??

      Definitely not Christian. God provides the sacrifice to satisfy justice with no bellyachin' from daemons or dust balls.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Athiest Hunter

    Great Idea........lets create a church that believes in nothing and tell each other how great we are. Brilliant! Or we could just go fishing instead and maybe catch lunch.

    June 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Still trolling I see and I also see you brought your strawman with you.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      "Great Idea........lets create a church that believes in nothing and tell each other how great we are."

      You continually say atheists believe in nothing.....not true at all...we just don't believe in you god....

      June 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Maybe, but you do believe that you are all so great and brilliant. That's what I said.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Bad troll.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • oOo

      AH troll really works hard to miss all points. Thank you for working on my behalf in the way that Sarah Palin works on my behalf; lol.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Now you claim to know what I believe. Troll with a strawman.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      oOo........Palin's got your number, jigs up!

      June 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      We are what we are.... your god isn't there –never has been....everything we ve done has been by us, to us...with supersti tion playing a large part in this. We don't have any room to maneuver anymore...we are hemorrhaging lives and money on this useless construct....we need these people in the lab, not the battlefields..and certainly not wasting away in some damn refugee camp or slum.....how many potential Einsteins and Newtons have died as the result of this religious BS?

      June 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • oOo

      "Sarah Palin's got your number. Jig's up!" LOL – too much enthusiasm there – sounds very Vicious; lol.

      No, Sarah is good for one thing only – bringing down whoever she surrounds herself with.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Doobs

      "Or we could just go fishing instead and maybe catch lunch."

      Sure beats waiting for Jeebus to show up and give one of his famous catered picnics.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  13. Will Ruppel

    @snowboarder

    Point taken, but, with all due respect, you only addressed one condition – not having specific beliefs, how does such an organization make strong changes in the world without specific beliefs?

    I ask you to consider the dichotomy of these 2 quotes & ask yourself the question are they consistent? Can an organization make strong change in the world without promoting specific beliefs?

    It has been my experience that change is made by organizations with a specific discrete set of objectives & the will to challenge the status quo...if that is true Mr. Epstein needs to be honest or he is simply no more credible that the organized religion he chooses to emulate....

    June 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      They don't have any specific RELIGIOUS beliefs – I would assume that they all believe that hungry people should be fed, that people without homes should have shelter, ...

      Are you an idiot?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      How ironic. People are social animals, they gather in groups. Religions came along later and gave people an additional reason to come together. No one is emulating religion by coming together to discuss ideas. Religions are not the only reason people gather.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Why don't you email him and ask?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • JMEF

      Woodstock, three days of peace and music.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  14. Celticson

    So...how is this going to be a defense at the Judgement?

    June 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Why would one need a defense at your alleged judgement. your god supposedly knows all.

      We are judged by mankind in this life. There is no evidence or reason to believe there is anything more, no reason to believe in an afterlife.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "So...how is this going to be a defense at the Judgement?" Honestly... don't you feel, even a little bit, stupid for saying things like this?... truly?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  15. Will Ruppel

    @ MEII

    thank you for your reply...For my edification, as I want to ensure I understand, the secular humanist organization does have specific beliefs but they, the secular humanist organization, does not imposed them on the "congregation"...(just trying to understand, not judging...)

    June 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • ME II

      That would be my understanding as well, however, I am not certain of that.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • lol??

      If you don't turn em in to Homeland Security you are a traitor.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  16. skytag

    @Aisha: "I wil say that as a Christian, I do surrender my life to my Father along with my will. I do not seek to hate anyone or any group, but to love as Christ loved....EVERYONE. I know you doubt my beliefs and I get it...but please do not lump us all together."

    Unfortunately religions are never content to stop with this. Sooner or later the people who subscribe to them decide that some other people are not pleasing God and must be stopped or eliminated. There are Christians in this country, for example, who believe abortion is displeasing to God and that to fix America's problems we must ban abortions so the women who are getting them will stop offending God.

    Members of the Westboro Baptist Church protest funerals because they believe our country's acceptance of gays makes God unhappy.

    One of the fundamental problems in all religions is their reliance on needing to know what God wants, your "Father's will," as you might put it, despite the fact that no one in any religion can demonstrate that his understanding of what God wants is accurate, or even that his God exists. So we end up with thousands of religions, including scores or possibly hundreds of variations of Christianity, all of which have their own ideas about what God wants.

    All religions, including yours, are nothing more than a god-based narrative people choose to believe because they like their narrative better than the alternatives. You believe what you believe because you find it comforting, not because you've found any evidence that any of it is true.

    June 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Moderates also shelter and enable the fanatics to grow.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • lol??

      How 'bout those Green Bay fans!! Hindu head coverings from cows!!

      June 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  17. I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

    This is more important than any made up deity. It needs to be known.

    http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/news/companies/twinkies-return/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

    June 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      All hail the fried Twinkie! And verily... covered with chocolate sauce and powered sugar...

      June 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      I knew a couple people spending outrageous amounts of money on boxes of Twinkies on ebay after it was announced that they were being discontinued. I bet they're going to be angry upon reading this delightful news.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • skytag

      Awesome!

      June 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "powered sugar" LOL

      June 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  18. snowboarder

    having a community or congregation seems like a good thing, especially without the religious mumbo jumbo.

    June 24, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • lol??

      Crips and Bloods are cool with their emulatin' of the major political parties with much more interestin' partyin'!

      June 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Will Ruppel

    I submit two quotes from the article both made by Greg Epstein that are clearly diametrically opposed – he wants to make a strong community that can make strong change happen in the world with an organization that has no specific beliefs...With all due respect I am skeptical...Greg Epstein is obviously an intelligent man, however, I must indicate that I am highly suspect of his quote from the article '“It doesn’t require and it doesn't even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”'... I would encourage Mr. Epstein that if he wants to be treated with respect he needs to treat others with respect...making such a veiled statement is disingenuous at best..or blatantly dishonest ... no organization can make strong changes without specifics beliefs...

    “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.”

    June 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • snowboarder

      i think he is implying without specific religious beliefs, which is perfectly reasonable.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Will Ruppel,

      what do you see about this that is disingenuous?

      Are you asserting that this community of secular humanists really has a hidden agenda to foment the destruction of organized religion?

      That is precisely what they are not trying to do.

      If that is your argument (and honestly I can't tell from your post) then why are adherents of organized religion so paranoid about unbelief?

      June 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • ME II

      @Will Ruppel,
      I think he was referring to the word, "congregation", as not requiring a specific belief. The group or congregation is being formed by a Humanist organization, which does have specific beliefs though secular in nature.

      http://harvardhumanist.org/cambridge/ (Not certain that this is the same org)

      June 24, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Will Ruppel

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      To respond to your questions –
      1.) what do you see about this that is disingenuous?

      His organization must have specific beliefs – one doesn't write a book such as his that does not have specific beliefs – I ask him to simply state them honestly – rather than hiding behind ambiguity

      2.) Are you asserting that this community of secular humanists really has a hidden agenda to foment the destruction of organized religion?

      No, not at all – Secular Humanists can & do believe what they choose...though Secular Humanists beliefs may be diametrically opposed to organized religion they can never 'destroy' organized religion nor am I concerned by such a group as defined by Epstein because why be afraid about anyone who believes in nothing...

      3.) If that is your argument (and honestly I can't tell from your post) then why are adherents of organized religion so paranoid about unbelief?

      I am not paranoid...simply do not like being manipulated – I ask Mr. Epstein to CLEARLY state his beliefs & the aspirations for his organization – With all due respect, it is obvious Epstein is an intelligent man, and if he wants to set up an organization that provides for secular versions of the organized religion he does not subscribe to then say so plainly...if he believes it he should state it – I indicate disingenuous because no one commits himself to creating/investing 10 years of his life without a discrete, specific conviction –

      June 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Will Ruppel,

      thanks for your answers.

      Everybody has beliefs. That's what makes a discussion about unbelief difficult. But this coummunity is not so much about shared beliefs as a shared unbelief.

      They are simply trying to create a sense of community for people who don't want to attend a church where belief in God is essentially a requirement to participate.

      Arguably one could construe these secular humanists as trying to turn atheism into an organized religion (for want of a better word). What they have in common is not a creed, but the lack of a belief in God.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • furry princess

      yeah cuz will has all the answers and knows so well stuff people think

      June 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Hilikus

      You are stretching to find a problem that does not exist...looking for any reason to demonize this group. It doesn't seem you want them to be good. No matter what message they throw out, there has to be something sinister happening behind the scenes...a deception in the making.

      When someone views you like this off the bat...it makes it hard to develop any meaningful positive connection.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Will Ruppel,

      "Greg Epstein seems to indicate that there are many people who do not want to shop at Walmart & he is creating NON-Walmart, except it works in a very similar manner to how Walmart operates....why create secular copies/versions?"

      Is the answer not obvious? Lots of people don't like Walmart but they still have the same basic need to eat as those that are willing to unquestioningly buy what Walmart offers. They choose to shop at local co-ops or farmers' markets because they don't share the same values as Walmart's corporate executives.

      So it is with this group in Boston. They have the same human need for a sense of belonging. They just don't believe in God.

      June 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  20. Russell

    This has all the benefits of a church, but none of the lies.
    (stolen from a post many pages ago)

    We need these in every city in America.

    June 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • lol??

      A&A's are so needy. Give a man some fish and loaves of bread and he'll follow you everywhere. One way to tell em to take a hike:

      "Jhn 6:41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven."

      June 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • oOo

      I don't think Gullible's Travels and tempting someone with food will help you out on this one, lollipop.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
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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.