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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. bostontola

    "lol??

    The educratists teach morality from SCOTUS declarations so ya made a whole lotta skakin' occur in the abortion clinics. You want it both ways, and yer woemen want it all."

    Talk about fear. Your fear of education is exactly like the fundamentalist Muslims who don't let kids get educated beyond the Koran. I understand, education will only expose the gaping holes in your beliefs. That's why your days are numbered.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Terry

      And why shouldn't women "have all," lol?? So sorry that you think women should not have any say in the world, but misogynist refusal of rights for women is a thing of the past. How many unwanted children have you adopted? My guess is zero. Easy to be a champion of the unborn when you don't have to deal with the reality of it, isn't it? Hypocrite. Hush about matters that don't concern you.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • lol??

      Bloom and the Frankfurt School does give the woemen and children a sense of ent*itlement after they destroy dad. It's sensual, err carnal.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • lol??

      Terry sayz,
      ".....Hush about matters that don't concern you."

      What's that smell?? Ovens??

      Socies never change.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Peter

      LOL
      Fascism is an extreme RIGHT wing ideology.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • lol??

      A fascist is always the "other guy". There is no accepted standard for the definition of fascism.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Terry

      What is a socie, lol? And don't forget the ovens were a Christian ideal.
      Christians never change.
      Abortion in this country is overwhelmingly obtained by Christian women.
      Denying that is being willfully blind.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • lol??

      And you got yer statistics from the killers, terry. That'll work.

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

      "That's why your days are numbered."

      Don't be so naive. There will always be plenty of people who prefer a comforting narrative over reality.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Peter

      lol??

      fascism |ˈfa sh ˌizəm| (also Fascism)
      noun
      an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
      • (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.

      Seems pretty clear to me.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Terry

      Lol??, the numbers are clear, and where else are you going to find the statistics, except the providers? Do you think your preacherman keeps them? If you have got any evidence that this is false, besides your deeply held belief that good Christian girls DON'T, provide it. You can't. Yes, that'll work, because it is TRUE.
      Looking down your snobby nose doesn't change the fact that Christian women are the ones getting most of the abortions. Too bad, so sad. Own it. It's your group, darlin'.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Right wing has multiple meanings. Economically, fascism is quite left wing

      June 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • lol??

      Seems is an emoting verb that doesn't imply logic being used. BTW, look into it a little further.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • @lol??

      "Seems is an emoting verb that doesn’t imply logic being used. BTW, look into it a little further."

      This is freaking hilarious, coming from you. You defy logic all the time in your posts!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Peter

      I'm sorry Dave
      Fascism supports the profit motive, but there's also a focus to have industries support what the state's interests are more than that. It's more to the point that people's personal happiness and well-being gets diminished the further you stray from the ideological center, with the "wingtips" of both the Left and the Right basically being so indistinguishable as to be curved up and touching. I doubt that there were many real differences between the economies of Germany and the USA during WWII, right?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  2. lol??

    Like the A&A's care who ends up in the fiery lake. Deception walkin' on the waters of fire.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • bostontola

      You're right, I don't care about your fantasy.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • skytag

      What fiery lake? The one in your imagination? No, I don't care one whit about what transpires in your imagination. Bring me some evidence and then we can talk.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  3. I don't get it

    Rather than complaining about someone else's religion, why not just come up with a definition for "God" that works for you? Coz really you can define "God" anyway you want too aka a state of mind, coincidence, the universe and so on.

    June 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      But why? Why call it "god" at all?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • bostontola

      I don't get it,
      That is just what people have been doing for millenia, defining god to meet their needs. I don't care a whit until they try to impose their rules on others (esp me). But alas, they do exactly that, often.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Jesus had their number a long time ago.

      "Jhn 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?"

      That many gods walkin' around gives quite a backdraft.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • I don't get it

      When I hear someone say the word "God" that means to me that person's highest ideals..whatever they hold to larger than themselves. So yes, it will change based on the person and no that person will not always agree with you. Still, everybody is reaching for "something" a goal or what not. Saying you have no "gods" at all is like saying you have nothing larger to hold to and that's probably not true.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • bostontola

      IDGI,
      You are projecting your philosophy on others, I for one don't see it your way.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Athy

      I for two don't see it your way.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Sue

      Christians redefined God to include a son and third partner. Muslims redefined God to include their prophet, and Mormons did the same for theirs. Each new group actually redefines God to establish it's independence and "truth". Of all of them, each believes that only they have the "truth" so, either 99.99% of them are wrong, or 100% of them are.

      Not very inspiring, is it? It's like putting ALL of your money into buying lotto tickets. Sure, you might win, but isn't it more likely that you won't, no matter how much you invest?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  4. One one

    Has anyone in human history killed or cammanded to kill more people than God according to accounts in the bible ?

    There is the great flood, all first born of Egypt, Sodom & Gomorrah, Jericho, and many more. In fact, there are so many stories of god killing people, it's hard to keep count. Like the story of god sending bears to kill kids for mocking an old man. Anyway, is there a mor prolific mass murderer that god, as told by the bible ?

    June 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Estimates are 25,000,000 killed.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      No. And it is impossible to think of a being who allows/causes more suffering and evil. Nobody can even imagine a being more evil than god because no one can imagine anything more horrific than eternal torture as described in the classical, neverending hell.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • bostontola

      interesting god that screws up so badly that he takes a mulligan and kills everything but 2 of each species to start over. I would have thought an omniscient god wouldn't have had to do that. Oh wait, he works in mysterious ways.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      An atheist by the name of Adolph Hitler was responsible for a small conflict, maybe you know it? It was called WWII. Russian deaths alone were 25 Million. 6 Million Jewish folks died. 500,000 Americans. The list goes one. A war based on atheism. Thanks atheism. You're a real great group of humanists.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • One one

      Yesterday Colin posted an estimate of the number of people God/Jesus has sent to hell to suffer horrific torture for all eternity in a place he created to torture us because he loves us. The number ran into the billions, and still counting.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • One one

      @catholic engineer,

      Sorry, you are wrong.

      "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator."

      – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

      June 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      CE is a troll.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • bostontola

      CE,
      Hitler wasn't an atheist. If he were, it wouldn't indict all atheists any more than the Crusades indict all Christians.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @ One one

      I appreciate the update. I was referring to murders in the bible. Good to know.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The second world war had nothing to do with Hitler's hypothetical atheism. (I'm sure someone as disingenuous as yourself knows he was raised Catholic and used Christianity to motivate the 'good' Lutherans and Catholics of the Third Reich to do his bidding.)

      The conflicts of the second world war really started with the Ja-panese invasion of Manchuria and the Ja-panese were certainly religious. They thought their emperor was divine.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • One one

      @Gop'er, you are 100 % correct. The "hitler was an atheists" claim is a red herring used by Christian apologists. Like so many of their arguments, they are deceptions at best or outright lies as usual.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Sue

      catholic engineer
      I don't think that many historians would disagree that, without the sacrifice of those 25 million Soviets on the eastern front, Hitler would have been unstoppable. We owe our victory on Stalin's leadership and defiance of Hitler. Hitler executed atheists like he executed Jews and gays. How is it even possible for you to imagine equating Hitler with atheism?

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

      @catholic engineer: Those wars weren't based on atheism. Such a claim is a lie or the product of profound ignorance. Those were the actions of psychopaths, who, it should be noted, often had their evil carried out by believers. As far as we know, Hitler never personally killed anyone after his service in WWI until he killed himself. The atrocities carried out under him were performed by millions of Germans serving under him at a time when Germany was overwhelmingly Catholic. So in point of fact most of the people killed "by Hitler" were actually killed by Catholics following him.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • skytag

      @Sue: "How is it even possible for you to imagine equating Hitler with atheism?"

      You are talking to a Catholic. As a believer he is not bound by facts, evidence, reason, logic, or reality. Free of these constraints he can draw any conclusions he likes.

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

      @ catholic engineer

      "Gott Mit Uns"

      June 25, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  5. catholic engineer

    Atheists pretend to know the Bible in and out, but the facts clearly indicate that every single item they post against it is taken entirely out of context. The information in the Bible is factual. Commandments are commandments, and records are records. Stop getting them mixed up. Atheists are afraid of admitting just how wrong they are about the truth of the Bible. They read everything out of context and make pathetic attempts at using it against Christianity. Look around, Atheists. It isn't working. You know for a fact you're losing ground. You aren't progressive. You're regressive. If you don't believe in God, why do you spend so much of your time trying to prove it wrong? If you really believed that there is no God, you wouldn't bother with the subject. You instead spend countless hours making futile attempts to invalidate a book of truth that you fear. That is where you have failed in your case. As others have eloquently stated in the past, this is where you lose. This is a checkmate.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      "Look around, Atheists. It isn't working. "

      You could say the same thing about Christianity. IT ISN'T WORKING.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Science

      Hey CE

      The bible is BS !!!

      Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/biblical-marriage-iowa-scholars-op-ed_n_3397304.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/24/has-the-oklahoma-atheist-been-saved/#comments

      June 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      CE, As to the resisting religion part – that's mainly because most religions evangelize and some religions (including yours) want to set the agenda for the rest of us – prayers at public meetings, religious texts on public buildings, laws based upon your belief, science education to include religious beliefs, etc.
      As to the bible text, there are inconsistencies throughout and inconsistent interpretations in addition to inaccuracies; the creation myth is proven to be incorrect, in places polygamy is OK in others monogamy is the only way, shellfish and homosexuality are called abominations but the religious only focus on the latter, is the story of Lot and his daughters just descriptive? What makes a passage prescriptive?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • bostontola

      CE,
      Now I know you are a troll. Page 1 of the bible, page 1! The earth came before the sun, birds came before land animals. Day and night came before the sun! Do you call that perfection?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my! We atheists to not believe the bible is true and factual! ( Do you need some smelling salts?) Well I'll just forget about the Schaibles, the fact that atheists cannot hold office in 7 states, that there are child abuse religious exemptions in 31 states, all based on bible for which there is no factual evidence of Abraham, Moses, Jesus' virgin birth, of Jesus' divinity.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • One one

      " The information in the Bible is factual. Commandments are commandments"

      Do you follow the 10 commandments ?

      How about this commandment ?

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      June 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Science

      You know the se0x deal again aye CE ?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • lol??

      Science you better figure out what bull is before you run off half-mocked classifyin' dung, Scarab breath. While yer at it, stop messin' with the genetics of the food supply and keepin' it secret.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • One one

      It's hard to imagine how anyone could possibly doubt the belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who is his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in all humanity because a rib-woman was convinced to eat from a magical tree by an infinitely sadistic being disguised as a talking snake with legs.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "The information in the Bible is factual."

      Bwaahaahaa.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Sue

      catholic engineer
      "Records" of things that God either personally did, or ordered people to do, like killing babies, right?

      These "records" give insight into the character who issued the "commandments", so aren't the two completely linked? Personally, I wouldn't just take orders from somebody who ordered the killing of real, live babies. Why would you?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      "The information in the Bible is factual."

      Let me stop you right there, catholic engineer.

      End of post.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      A Poe? Dam,n. Strike that one off this list.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Roger that

      'The information in the Bible is factual'

      Holy crap!

      June 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Terry

      Atheists do not believe in any god. Any one at all. Although you may find this hard to believe, it isn't. And this is where YOU fail. Stop generalizing, because you do not have a clue as to what an atheist believes, let alone state anything with any authority.
      Game, set and match. Now stop pretending you know what anyone except yourself believes.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • lol??

      Y'all just jealous that God can fire off ye ol' synapses better than you can with yer LSD, per the talkin' a**ss story.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Peter

      The Ebola Virus
      Talking snakes are totally believable, it's silly cartoon movie stuff like taking donkeys that a joke. 😆  

      June 24, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      As predicted, all replies are examples of out of context information. Instead of so-called "intelligence" gathering from cherry-picked websights, I recommend you actually read a Bible.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Jesus walked on water. Am I taking that out of context? Okay, good. I didn't think so.

      It's impossible to walk on water.

      The Bible isn't factual.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • bostontola

      CE,
      Read page 1. Tell me what is out of context about the earth coming before the sun, day and night coming before the sun. There is an explicit timeline in there. Do you concur with that timeline?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Jesus is God. God is the creator of the Universe. Of course He could walk on water. Don't let your arrogance get in the way of common sense. To say that a being that created the Universe couldn't possibly walk on water is absurd. The Bible is a guide for us. It is the light for our path as humans. Why attack it with such hate? Nevermind, I already answered that in my first post. Fear. Attack that which you fear. Once again, proving the truth of the Bible.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @bostontola, what is wrong with the timeline? God created all things. It has no bearing on your protest in the order of creation. A rather petty argument, is it not? "I don't like the choice you made in the order of how you went about your daily morning routine before you went to work. Therefore you must be a liar." This is your argument. It is empty and pointless, and it has no bearing on God.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • bostontola

      CE,
      Why would fear make something true?
      Also, what do you think of page 1 of the bible?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Athy

      I'm an atheist and I have absolutely no fear because of it. So you're wrong.

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

      The Bible says that Jesus is God. I don't believe that the men who wrote the Bible were telling the truth, and I don't believe that there is a god who created the universe, or even a ham sandwich.

      I don't recognize the Bible as being anything but a collection of stories written by humans. Why do think I fear it? I don't fear it any more than I fear Atlas Shrugged, or Harry Potter. It's a just a book.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • bostontola

      CE,
      You said the bible was FACT. You can't now say don't quibble about the timeline. Do you agree with the timeline or not?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Sue

      catholic engineer
      I know the "context" for killing babies is that some guy said that God knew that they would grow up to be a problem later, but would you just believe some guy who told you to kill babies because God told him to? Seriously, how do you justify something like that?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      CE

      You are busted. Troll.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      "Don't let your arrogance get in the way of common sense."

      Choosing not to accept the existence of a god, in the complete absense of any evidence suggesting its existence, is common sense. Making up stories about how the universe was created, then expecting everyone to believe you, is arrogance.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • lol??

      Of course God can walk on water and the scripture walks on the water on yer bwains all the time.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Roger that

      "I recommend you actually read a Bible."

      Funny

      June 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Peter

      catholic engineer
      Criss Angel must be another god then. I wonder if he has his own, personal universe as well?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnwYtpxb7jo&w=640&h=390]

      And since when is Christianity not all about fear, and attacking what you fear?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Terry

      Lol??, one can tell by your intelligible post that you must be a believer. Talking in tongues? For your post makes 0 sense.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      "Fear. Attack that which you fear. Once again, proving the truth of the Bible."

      I'm not afraid of the Bible. I'm afraid of Christians.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Peter

      EnjaySea
      Is that like the argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people? Let's see, bibles don't cause hurt, people cause hurt. It's just that using a bible makes causing hurt so very easy.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Austin

      @ Enjay Sea its more than a book because a supernatural God inspired these men. they are known as prophets, great men of God. and the spirit of truth, and the power of God, are detailed in exact form and fashion in the Bible.

      I can personally tell you that i know it is true because i have experneced the aspect of this spirit, the living God who can provide revelation. you see one on the names for God is Jehovah Jireh, this means the Lord Our Provider, because HE provides faith and the revelation of His Spirit.

      He has, and He does.
      He is risen , He is God.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Austin

      Peter back up your claim and cite a new testament verse calling for violence then if the bible makes it easy, you must give your reason .

      New testament now, you know Christians are new covenant temples.

      John 18:36 ►

      Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

      June 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The bible is filled with contradictions, and every denomination of christianity has it's own interpretation of the bible. Chiding others for not choosing your particular interpretation is nothing more then vanity.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Peter

      Austin
      Matt 5:17 makes clear that Jesus has nothing bad to say about what went on in the OT. If he had any objection to the cruelties of the OT he would have stated that here, right?

      Then there's Matt 10:14-15 where the NT God is predicted to behave just like his OT self towards nonbelievers.
      10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
      10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
      Where is the love and kindness? Clearly, this is the same blood-thursty God of the OT.

      And then there is Revelation, which is so bloody that it makes the invasion of Canaan look like crowds getting pushy at an after Christmas sale. So, despite all of Jesus' flowery words describing how loving his dad was, God is still the same guy he was in the OT.

      If you want accounts of Christians actually killing their enemies you have to wait until they slip from the authority of Rome, which had been restraining them, and they gain the authority of Rome. When that happens they turn out to be truly merciless towards their enemies, many of whom were fellow Christians, only with beliefs different enough to get them called "heretics."

      June 25, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Saraswati

      "If you really believed that there is no God, you wouldn't bother with the subject."

      I can't possibly believe you are stupid enough to think that statement makes sense, and can only assume the same arrogance that makes you think you know the truth about God leads you to believe atheists are stupid enough to fall for it.

      On the off chance you really are that ignorant (or still in junior high), consider the fact that beliefs influence elections, elections influence laws, and laws influence people's lives. These are not trivial issues.

      June 25, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • EnjaySea

      @Austin, all we know for certain is that the Bible was written by humans. There is no evidence that it was written by an alien. You say you've had a personal experience? Great. I haven't. So I don't believe your claims.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  6. bostontola

    When the United States levied duty on vegetables but not fruits in the 19th century, the Supreme Court declared the tomato a vegetable. Of course botanists disagree.

    Pretty silly, don't you think? Maybe we are a Christian nation.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      What?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • bostontola

      Ken,
      The point is, you can't make a falsehood true by declaration. Religions do it all the time.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I do agree.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • lol??

      The educratists teach morality from SCOTUS declarations so ya made a whole lotta skakin' occur in the abortion clinics. You want it both ways, and yer woemen want it all.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  7. lol??

    It's a grooming group for Warlocks and Wiccans. The 1%ers are slippery.

    June 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Are you accusing Wiccans of having inadequate hair styling?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • ME II

      Hairstyles of the witch and famous?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Now yer gettin' the hang of it. Work on the parting of the red hair next.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • IntellectualViolence

      @ ME II: "Hairstyles of the witch and famous?"
      —That just might be the one-liner of the day. Loved it.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      That just might be the one-liner of the day.

      Seconded!

      June 24, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • lol??

      No wonder American Idol was a hit. Yer addicted to voting.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Motion passed.

      June 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • lol??

      So why did the pwogwessives elect the Big O with his non-voting voting record and his non-graded grade record?? As Mama (K)onflicted would say, "That's conflicted!"

      June 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Austin

      dats confwicted?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  8. Erasmus

    bostontola

    "There are a great many Christian religions that have different definitions of good. They fight and kill over those differences. What is your point. I didn't see you answer my question either, define good. "

    Ofcourse I answered it, it was rhetorical right? If not, then its kind of a paradox how you bash me for not answering your inquiry, when you answer my question WITH A QUESTION!

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

      Erasmus,

      Do you need help in finding the "Reply" button?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • bostontola

      No, I'd like to know your answer. I have never responded to an answer to my question with "it was rhetorical".

      June 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • lol??

      Is Bostonola flingin' cream pies again?? No manners.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      Erasmus, define "good."

      June 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Info

      Erasmus,

      The "Reply" button sits at the start of each new thread. You started this particular thread.

      To reply to bostontola's post right above this, go to your original post at June 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply and click *that* "Reply" button.

      It works that way all throughout these blogs.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • bostontola

      lol??,
      I'm impressed that you know what a cream pie is, very good.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Erasmus

      I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      Erasmus, define "good."

      I am assuming you want something far greater than just my opinion? and if so, is a dictionary greater than my opinion? Is your opionion greater than my opinion? What source can i use that will not incur some sort of "thats rediculus" remark from you?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  9. I'm a Believer

    I think it would be a real good idea if all the Christian donors who contribute to Harvard University pull their future donations from this school. That would stop groups like this one from forming.

    June 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • One one

      Why do you want to stop groups like this from forming ?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I don't think Harvard is so easily bullied even if Christians are almost 90% of the population in the US. What's wrong with atheists meeting together and talking like muslims or poker players or jews or bird watchers or stamp collectors?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • bostontola

      You should pull your donation for sure. As for the other donors, maybe they can think for themselves.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Also known as the Southern Baptist strategy.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The congregation is not funded by Harvard.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Go ahead, - pull all the funding from the whole Ivy League as far as im concerned – they keep giving us Elites that haven't found a war they didn't like. just the loss of Harvard Law alone would be a huge plus.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • bostontola

      "I'm a Believer", the Monkeys. Strangely appropriate.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Ken

      I'm a Believer
      What would the televangelists, Christian book writers, professional gospel singers and everyone else who makes a huge profit out of their faith do without Harvard tax lawyers to keep them out of fed prison?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • skytag

      Do atheists really scare you that much? How sad.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • I'm a Believer

      I believe that everyone has "freedom of religion"...whatever their religion is. However, I do not think that a university is the proper place to hold such meetings of any kind of religion. I never said that Harvard was funding this group...they are only allowing the group to gather on school grounds, which I think is wrong for any religious or humanist group. I also am not afraid of atheists. I am also not Southern Baptist. I think most of the people who have posted to this article need to grow up and act like adults.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  10. Wayne

    Catholicism is among the worst of the Christian cults, and among its worst aspects has been its opposition to birth control. That kept its membership up for a long time, but even that is falling apart now.

    June 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • jerry

      The great skit:
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk&w=640&h=390]

      June 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Yes.

      Aids is bad but not quite as bad as condoms are bad.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • bostontola

      I don't rank Christian religions, but I have to give Catholics some credit for accepting evolution.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @jerry

      Funny skit!! Thanks!

      June 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Erasmus

    bostontola

    "Define good."

    How can and atheist "church"/group heip me, when, according to responses received, they can't even agree on what GOOD is, let alone, point me to one who has EXEMPLIFIED it? I mean, if GOOD is just being myself, obviously i don't need to join any group whatsoever, i am already bettering society with my example of GOOD.

    June 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      So don't go. There's no humanist commandment that says you have to join the congregation on Sunday.

      Humans are social animals. Companionship is nice. This is for people who want to spend time with like-minded people who happen not to believe in God.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • bostontola

      There are a great many Christian religions that have different definitions of good. They fight and kill over those differences. What is your point. I didn't see you answer my question either, define good.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Terry

      You are looking for a reason, any reason to disapprove of this group. So be it. You want to be judgmental, and you are succeeding admirably at it. This says more about you and your personality than anything this humanist group does...grow up. You just want to argue.
      If an atheist cured cancer tomorrow, you would still complain. Your religion doesn't have the corner market on goodness, and belonging to a religion isn't a prerequisite to do good deeds. If the only reason you do any good deeds is because you are afraid of God, you are no true Christian, anyhow.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • ME II

      @Erasmus,
      "How can and atheist "church"/group heip me, when, according to responses received, they can't even agree on what GOOD is"

      1) Perhaps, one way is to help you think for yourself and arrive at your own answer.
      2) But, if you really want to know how the group can help, you might want to ask them.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • One one

      Good is subjective. Why don't you try deciding for yourself what "good" is rather than taking someone else's word for it.

      With over 35,000 denominations, Christians obviously don't agree about what "gods word" is.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Sue

      Erasmus
      Before Lincoln, most Christian denominations here in the USA believed that slavery was GOOD. If you oppose slavery as an obvious evil, are you arguing that the Christianity upon which people argue the USA was built upon was not GOOD?

      This is the point, Christianity itself redefines what is considered good and evil over time. It use to be good to burn suspected women as witches, but not anymore. It use to be good to basically sell indulgences, but not any more. It use to be good to keep the Bible out of the lay person's hands, but not any more. It use to be good to basically kidnap indian kids and force them out of their cultures, but not any more. All of these things were once considered well-intended, but history has proven them destructive and even evil. How can you say then that Christians have any sense of what's GOOD if they've been proven wrong so many times?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Erasmus

      Terry

      "....You want to be judgmental,"

      if asking a simple question is judgemental, then the whole forum is guilty as charged. And you called me religious?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Erasmus

      To: Sue
      I can appreciate your logic, compared to just pure smart remarks from others. So i will answer your logic with logic:
      Lets say you have a son, and you teach your son not to hit girls, and he doesn't , for a while. Then you get a call from school, jr. hit a girl. Options, did Jr hit the girl because he forgot about your good rule? Did jr. hit the girl because he hates his mother? or did jr. intentionally hit the girl and feel bad after realizing his mistake. Now mind you, no matter which one you choose, there is still one conclusion, THE MOM (YOU) DID NOT COMMIT THE HARM, you tried to prevent it. But you know, that no matter what, the mother of that young girl, and who knows, maybe the whole school, may never look at you the same.

      What do you do? deny that your a bad mom? eventually accept that your a bad mom? or just hope their ignorance clears someday?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Sue

      Erasmus
      Even the best parents often cannot raise children incapable of doing harm to others. You try your best, but sometimes whatever you do just doesn't take hold, just as some truly amazingly good people were raised by neglectful, or even downright monstrous parents. Why would I therefore consider it fair to judge any parent by the actions of their children?

      If you want to argue that bad kids shouldn't be given their independence within your God/parent analogy that would be one thing, but your God wants to treat even the good kids like little children forever. I consider myself a grown up and I generally don't hurt anyone, so haven't I earned my independence from big daddy?

      June 25, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  12. catholic engineer

    It is popular now to blame Christianity for all evil. I suggest a re-reading of Genesis. Atheists want to think for themselves. When the first primate realized he was human – call him Adam – began thinking for himself, he immediately turned himself into a drudge. In the next generation, the first ho*m*ocide occured: Cain did away with Abel. His motivation? Envy. From the beginning, humans displayed both bad thinking and a penchant for governance by their emotions. God simply allowed man to proceed. Man did. Today, instead of using rocks and stick, he uses nukes and biological weapons – compliments of the high priests of science.

    June 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Engineer of Catholic Lunacy

      I'm going to take the word of an apologist that can't spell "homicide" correctly while telling us to reread genesis. The first two chapters of that book contradict each other. It is a fairy tale. End of story.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      This has to be a joke.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Reality

      homicide

      June 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Even better compliments for you Christ. Dam,n we still don't get it. Time for a new lesson plan. Destruction of life on earth.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      June 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • ME II

      @catholic engineer,
      If you want to read Genesis as a metaphor of the awakening of human beings to self-awareness and reason that is fine. But why view God as anything more than a metaphor for evolution and nature taking its course, e.g. the tree of knowledge and reasoning, etc.
      That which earlier man saw as separating us from the other animals.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Heck, even the supposed virgin birth is widely known to be a mistranslation and manipulation.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • bostontola

      If you're an engineer, I hope I never am exposed to one of your products. Go to Genesis, it says that the Sun was created after the earth, it says birds came before land animals. Do you believe that?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      We don't blame Christianity for evil. We're tired of Christians saying all good things happen because of god.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • ME II

      That should read:
      God as a metaphor for the cause of that which earlier man viewed as separating us from other animals, reason, which we now know was caused by nature and evolution.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Wayne

      Catholicism is among the very worst of the Christian cults, and among its worst aspects has been its opposition to birth control. That kept its membership up for a long time, but even that is falling apart now.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • jerry

      Like the great ones (Monty Python) said,
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk&w=640&h=390]

      June 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Science

      HEY CE..............since you puked on yourself about the nukes and the a bomb.............The Effects of Nuclear Weapons June 1957

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

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

      Oops as you know CE NO GOD(S) REQUIRED for the a bomb.................uranium is needed !

      June 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Sue

      catholic engineer
      Why is it wrong to think for oneself? What's the alternative, thinking what someone else wanted you to think, even someone who called these thoughts "sacred scripture"? Of course humans have a tendency to do bad things, but why is following the thoughts of a few priests living thousands of years ago going to lead you any better? They were just humans like anyone else, despite what "inspiration" people claim for them.

      The problem with Genesis is that the God character wants to treat people like children forever, where the human reality is that, while parents do treat their children this way for a while, eventually the children become adults and are allowed to think for themselves. If God is the parent of us then he's a bad one for not raising us to become independent adults.

      Science may develop weapons, but it most often takes a religious person to order them used against people. If your argument had any weight, the Colt, Browning, Bushmaster, Glock and all the other gun manufacturers out there are the real ones responsible for every murder committed using a firearm. Try arguing that down at your local NRA meeting.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • skytag

      I pity you. All you have are fairytales. No facts, no evidence, just a lot of beliefs for which we both know you have no evidence whatsoever. How frustrating that must be for you.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    if the bible is the word of god, how can there be so many denominations of Christianity?

    I know it's a confused, simplistic and very ambiguous book but surely something as omnipotent as your god would steer you in the right direction. Or is he that malicious, that cruel, that sadistic?

    What would happen if you got to heaven and you'd been worshipping the wrong version of the Christian god all these years?

    D'OH!!!

    June 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I've always wondered how are their "updated" versions of the bible. Shouldn't gods original word be good enough?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Question

      Where is the "big prize" if they agree with you? Say an "ex Christian" comes up and says..hey y'know what you're right. Then what?

      In the eyes of a Christian, if you agree with them you get rewarded by a big pizza party at the end of your life, they think "the more the merrier" I understand their reasoning.

      I don't understand yours. You'll wind up with a bunch of Nihilists who fear their death...and I know how much it sucks to be afraid of dying.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @question...............It works both ways. Suppose an atheist agrees with an christian? So what! Nothing changes. We'll still have wars, drugs, crime, hunger, homelessness etc. etc.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Question

      Yeah it doesn't actually change anything but if it aleviates just one person's fear of death I don't want to take that away from them.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      why do Christians assume that Atheists are afraid of dying?

      most Atheists are at peace with the fact that you live your life then it's over. No fear there.

      It's Christians who fear death. That's why you invent your magical land at the end of the rainbow where you go after you die (but only if you've been a good sycophant during your life).

      June 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @question................Their are a lot of people afraid to die. Why do religious sick people ask for prayers? Christians will tell you heaven awaits those that believe. If that's true religious people should be jumping off buildings like it's an Olympic sport.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Question

      What if it commands to kill? Although it seems the only place some people get their morals is from a book a fairy tales.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  14. catholic engineer

    Christianity is specific and difficult. It is about radical love: "turn the other cheek", "do good to those who hate you", "forgive them for they know not what they do".
    Humanist "religion" looks more like "be a nice guy."

    June 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Yes, it is.:)

      be a nice guy..... if you look out for others then when you need a hand somebody will be there.... it really is that simple.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "be a nice guy"

      What's wrong with that?

      It's better than "be an azzhole". (Which seems to be the message that lots of judgmental Xians absorb.)

      June 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Bob

      Christianity is about a lot more than that, and much of it is very evil. In the bible, there is very explicit support for slavery, for racism, and for murder and rape as appropriate punishments. You can pick and choose your favorite parts, but that stuff is undeniably also in there.

      Christian god, if it existed (good thing it doesn't) ought to be up on trial for hate speech and causing human rights abuses. And apparently murder and other atrocities, if one is to believe the horrid Christian bible.

      Like many others have said here recently, it is time for humanity to get past god scams and tales such as those of the Christian bible and the various Christian cults such as Catholicism. High time. Catholic engineer, wake up and smell the coffee. Your god fraud is in its dying days.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • ME II

      Not that I agree with your characterizations, but is not turning the other cheek being a nice guy?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Sue

      Being a nice guy at least doesn't include intentionally hurting others, like many religious people do by blindly following the orders of their faith leaders. For example, if you allow yourself to assume that allowing gay marriage may actually be the right thing to do, then helping to impede it may turn out to be an evil act. Only religion can get basically good people to do something like that.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @Bob The Bible is a chronical of man's emerging relationship with God. It does not condone the things you mention, it only records them

      June 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @catholic engineer,
      I'm sorry but don't both Leviticus and Colossians condone slavery?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Engineer of Catholic Lunacy

      catholic engineer, you're implying that instructions in slave ownership and various other acts of indecency commanded by the bible are just records? How about that commandment to put gays to death? If you're going to continue being an apologist, read it before giving us your biased opinion about it.

      http://www.evilbible.com/Slavery.htm

      June 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I thought Jesus told the Jews to kill their disobedient children.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Catholic engineer: Bob is not wrong.

      If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)

      A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

      If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

      Looks like your bubybull does condone those things. You might wish to read it sometime, it is the greatest path to Atheism ever.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Colin

      It is about radical love: "turn the other cheek", "do good to those who hate you", "forgive them for they know not what they do,

      In theory, but that is a totally impractical way to live. Should we have offered Bin Laden the Empire State Building as "the other cheek.?", When you catch en employee stealing from you, do you open the other cash register,? Do we forgive the murders, child molesters and rapists of society?

      No. Unfortunately, Jesus philosophy, to the very limited extent it was original, is a total, unmitigated, unworkable failure.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Colin

      @Catholic Engineer, you said "It does not condone the things you mention, it only records them"

      Bullsh.it. It totally condones them. Read the fvcking thing.

      By the way, the quotes I cite below can easily be checked on line or in any hard copy of a Bible. You can´t make this stuff up.

      However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

      The following passage describes how the Hebrew slaves are to be treated.

      If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

      Nice family values there!

      Here is its view on the almost incomprehensible evil of selling one’s own daughter as a $ex slave.

      When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

      As to beating slaves…

      When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

      Jesus and Saint Paul, the two towering figures of the New Testament were also open supporters of slavery.

      Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

      Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

      Now, I accept that Timothy was one of the 3-6 of the 13 letters of Saint Paul in the Bible that were forgeries by early Christians, but it still reflects the views of the early Christians on slavery and it is still included in the Bible.

      In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

      The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it..But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

      So, whatever else one might think of the Bible, one must accept that it condoned slavery, set rules for its practice, supported the $ex trade and allowed the barbaric act of beating slaves who “misbehaved.”

      If one used it as a moral compass, Martin Luther King would have been beaten and his daughters sold as $ex slaves.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Sue

      catholic engineer
      1 Samuel 15 (New International Version)
      The LORD Rejects Saul as King

      1 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ”

      Here God, speaking through Samuel, orders the killing of babies. That's not just reportage, it's a theological statement about obedience to God. Wouldn't God condone his own actions, or are you arguing that Christians aren't to condone this order from the same God they worship?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  15. Rishkin

    Someone below asked what is a good person. For an atheist, that question doesn't . The atheist has already said that he is the product of blind, stupid forces of nature, destined for the grave. THere is no good, no evil. There is only what is. If the atheist wants to find good, he has to borrow something. Usually he borrows it from religion. Its better than looking their own beliefs in the face.

    June 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • bostontola

      Even bonobos exhibit compassion and caring for others. You don't think humans had any goodness before religion?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Rishkin

      morality exists outside of religion.

      Religions arise and evolve to reinforce the established morality of a society.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Rishkin

      Thank goodness for god, otherwise I would not know that stealing is wrong.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @rishkin................Obviously your meds ran out. Do us all a favor, go back in the bathroom and take whatever is UNDER the sink. You'll sleep better i guarantee it.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • ME II

      @Rishkin,
      "THere is no good, no evil. "

      While all the evidence does point to us being the product of undirected nature. That only means that there is likely no absolute good and evil, not that there is none at all.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Sue

      Good and evil aren't as clear cut as children's stories would have you believe. Often, what one person considers evil another might consider a good. There are very damaging floods going on right now all over the world. Evil for many homeowners losing their property, but good for those employed in the industry of cleaning up and repairing that property. It's not very often even in war when one side can be honestly labeled the "evil" one. "Evil" very often boils down to things that affect people personally in a negative way, and sometimes that exact same thing could be seen as "good" by someone else. It all depends on your point of view.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What do atheists borrow from religion?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Cpt. Obvious,

      in this context the Humanist Community in Harvard has meetings on Sundays where they listen to lectures and sing songs.

      That's certainly 'borrowed' if you ask me.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Akira

      Rishkin, are you saying that religion invented niceness? Really? Absurd.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Doobs

      So if you didn't believe in a god, would you think murder was okay?

      I'm just fine with being a nice person. I wouldn't want to follow any god who said certain people are bad because of where or how they were born. I don't need a god to tell me that stealing, cheating, and hurting others isn't okay.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  16. lionlylamb

    If God is said to be nothing at all then the vastness of nothingness is now God.

    June 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Isn't that what Stephen Colbert said?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      Why bring an imaginary being into it?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  17. Erasmus

    To all Humanist,

    Please name one GOOD human that lived, or lives?

    Thanks

    June 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • bostontola

      Define good.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • I AM A MAGICAL UNICORN

      Me.

      What purpose is this going to serve? Are you going to use the Ray Comfort approach to conversion?

      June 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Im a good human too. So is Steven Hawkings. Richard Dawkins is good by my definition too. Lets see where you are going with this!

      June 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "The world knows nothing of its greatest men."

      Philip van Artevelde
      Act I, sc. 5.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      ME! I'm good. I know a lot of good people.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      not Michael Jackson ... he's BAD

      June 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • tony

      I think the vast majority of the 250,000 who were drowned in god's last coupla Tsunamis were good. So many were poor women and children living in sea shore villages, that the percentage of merely innocent must be huge.

      Judging by our own "support our troops" ribbons, I can't imagine the entire Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea by god and moses were all bad either.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • ME II

      @Erasmus,
      Are you asking for one completely, entirely, good human?

      I'll venture that you are looking for an answer like, "no one is entirely good".

      June 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      hello ... Erasmus ... are you still there?

      June 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Erasmus,

      Tell us what you plan to do with this GOOD human, and I'll hand him over, but not a moment sooner.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Don't hand over the good human! Did you not read about Lot, Job, and Jesus!

      June 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      There are lots of good humans

      June 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      That you have heard of? Daniel Dennett seems to be a pretty solid guy....its easy to choose from academia because being dishonest in a professional sense for these people would be an extreme waste of time...theyd be out of a job. Add to that being successful, meaning desperation is not a factor. And they tend to see what humanity COULD be and seem to be working toward that.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Larry Homes

      It's more a matter of intending and achieving more good than ill in one's life. I find that a much more honest idea of "morality" than being able to do huge amounts of evil in this world only to be told that you are forgiven because you mumbled some magic words of acceptance towards Jesus. Imagining how many true monsters of human beings are out there right now feeling comforted by that magic spell really disgusts me. I can't see how a born again Christian could argue that Hitler himself could be in heaven, if he managed to be "saved" just before he died. That's why the theology of salvation by grace alone is truly offensive and unjust.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • tony

      Just Who is the Biblical god jealous of?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Doobs

      I'm a good person, and so is my husband, family and friends. I know a lot of good people.

      Now, before you trot out "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of god", I don't believe in sin or that I am somehow culpable for what happened in the fictitious account of Genesis.

      If by good you mean perfect, then it's a bullshit question and you know it.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  18. bostontola

    Christians,
    Does it ever bother you that there are so many Christian religions and they have killed each other over the miniscule differences?

    June 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      not as much as it bothers them that gay men might love each other.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Rishkin

      There are about 30000 Christian denominations, I'm told. This shows that Christians are thinking for themselves. In atheism, there is only one very easy thought: "God does not exist." Atheists cannot even identify a destiny for humanity.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • bostontola

      Rishkin,
      To fundamentalist Christians, all but 1 of those denominations are wrong.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      The one thing all Christians proclaim, on faith alone, is that Jesus died for humanity's sins.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Sue

      Rishkin
      Why does humanity need a "destiny" beyond advancing ourselves and avoiding extinction? What kind of "destiny" does religion offer? Servitude to some powerful alien being called "God"? The breaking of the cycle of reincarnation so that we can just die and remain dead? Neither of these sounds particularly inspirational, so what are you criticizing atheism about?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Thomas

      Doesn't bother me, I would say it was not Christ in those people who did the killing. Frankly, more atheistic-leaning groups have killed more millions and I suspect it was the same evil in them that caused those deaths.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Sue

      Thomas
      If you're alluding to communist groups, then you have to lump them together with the other dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, many of which are/were openly cooperating with the religious leaders of those countries. Show me where any democratically elected secular government terrorized anyone, or displayed any lack of valuing human actual life like the clergy supported kings of Europe did with the Crusades, Inquisition, and Anti-Jewish pogroms.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • lol??

      The catholic church is the original gubmint church, just what the A&A's and their Pagan friends asked for. They be flexible.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • One one

      There are thousands of ways to be wrong, but only one way to be right.

      There are tens of thousands of interpretations among Christians about what gods words and expectations are.

      Among atheists, there is only one view about gods existence.

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

      This shows that Christians are thinking for themselves.

      LOL!

      June 25, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species

    (and yes, this is reposted from someone else. not my original work. don't fret.)

    June 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Colin

      It is my original work, dog and u may repost as often as u like......

      June 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • lol??

      It takes a village to train up Sodomites.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • lol??

      Fetch doggie, yer master calleth! ALPO TIME!

      June 24, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Sam Becket

      "7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?"

      Guess that's a big ol lie since my parents are atheists and I decided to be a Christian, even though there are other faiths represented in the culture. But don't let that get in the way of your "open minded" views on anything.

      June 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  20. tony

    I want equal tax exemptions for not believing.

    June 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • bostontola

      Good reason to call it a church.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • ME II

      I suspect that this "church" could organize as a non-profit and get tax-exemption, although I'm not sure it would be as easy as a typical church.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ME II

      501(c)(3)?

      Sure, the IRS hands them out like candy (or at least they do now!)

      June 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      In case you are interested:

      From the donations page:

      The Humanist Community at Harvard is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and we are not funded by Harvard University. All of our funding comes from people like you who support our vision.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • ME II

      @... not a GOPer...,
      Thanks. I was looking for that on their site earlier but didn't see it.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ME II,

      you can find it here:
      http://www.gofundme.com/atheistcommunitycenter

      June 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • lol??

      Go for the gusto. Be all ya can be. Be an army of one. Ask for an Affirmation Action slot from yer gubmint god, too.

      June 24, 2013 at 5:41 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.