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July 15th, 2013
02:50 PM ET

Behold, the six types of atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - How many ways are there to disbelieve in God?

At least six, according to a new study.

Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who still observe some religious traditions.

“The main observation is that nonbelief is an ontologically diverse community,” write doctoral student Christopher Silver and undergraduate student Thomas Coleman.

“These categories are a first stab at this," Silver told the website Raw Story. "In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types.”

Silver and Coleman derived their six types of nonbelievers from 59 interviews. We're pretty sure we've spotted all six in our comments section.

1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic

This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism.

They like debating and arguing, particularly on popular Internet sites.

(Ahem.)

They're also well-versed in books and articles about religion and atheism, and prone to citing those works frequently.

2) Activist

These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.

They tend to be vocal about political causes like gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals.

3) Seeker-agnostic

This group is made up of people who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience.

Silver and Coleman describe this group as people who regularly question their own beliefs and “do not hold a firm ideological position.”

That doesn't mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.

4) Anti-theist

This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.

“Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental,” the researchers wrote. “The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions.”

Anti-theists are outspoken, devoted and – at times – confrontational about their disbelief. They believe that "obvious fallacies in religion and belief should be aggressively addressed in some form or another.”

5) Non-theist

The smallest group among the six are the non-theists, people who do not involve themselves with either religion or anti-religion.

In many cases, this comes across as apathy or disinterest.

“A Non-Theist simply does not concern him or herself with religion,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “Religion plays no role or issue in one’s consciousness or worldview; nor does a Non- Theist have concern for the atheist or agnostic movement.”

They continue: “They simply do not believe, and in the same right, their absence of faith means the absence of anything religion in any form from their mental space.”

6) Ritual atheist

They don't believe in God, they don’t associate with religion, and they tend to believe there is no afterlife, but the sixth type of nonbeliever still finds useful the teachings of some religious traditions.

“They see these as more or less philosophical teachings of how to live life and achieve happiness than a path to transcendental liberation,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “For example, these individuals may participate in specific rituals, ceremonies, musical opportunities, meditation, yoga classes, or holiday traditions.”

For many of these nonbelievers, their adherence to ritual may stem from family traditions. For others, its a personal connection to, or respect for, the "profound symbolism" inherent within religious rituals, beliefs and ceremonies, according the researchers.

-

The authors of this study have graciously agreed to field questions from our commenters. If you're interested, please post your question below or tweet it to us at @CNNBelief. 

We'll take the best questions to the authors and the Q&A will be posted in a follow-up article. 

Please try to keep your questions related to the study itself.

Thanks,
Daniel Burke

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Holidays • Lost faith • Nones • Spirituality • Trends • United States

soundoff (9,518 Responses)
  1. No one

    Excuse me while I recite and incantation and consume the flesh and blood of Elvis Presley.

    July 16, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Ken

      Eat Elvis? Hope you booked the whole week? 😆

      July 16, 2013 at 12:50 am |
  2. Reality

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of atheistic life. e.g. Do No Harm!!

    No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired

    July 16, 2013 at 12:13 am |
  3. Jason

    I may be bringing up something that may have already been posted on the other 14 pages of comments but...

    No George Carlin?

    July 16, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  4. leite14

    I don't fall into any one type all the time. I used to be a spiritual agnostic who phased into a ritual atheist. I don't relate to these types anymore. I wish I was a non-theist (what a relief that would be!) more often. I fluctuate between the types, depending largely on what is going on in the world. I quickly become an anti theist when religion drives political policies which then negatively impact me or causes I care about.

    July 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  5. atomD21

    I'm not an atheist, nor am I any longer a devout Christian in the traditional American sense of the word. I still believe in God and look frequently to the example Jesus showed of how to treat others, but I can no longer support a religion that claims to follow Jesus but in truth only uses his name to further an agenda of country club politics and holier than thou games... So I would say that I'm more of a deist-activist, looking to help make this messed up world a better place through teaming up with like minded people from all walks of life. I don't care what you believe about God, if you want to right some wrongs and help your fellow man, I'm with you.

    July 16, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  6. Phil

    The Bible is more scientifically accurate than any science book I have ever read. In Job (the oldest book in the Bible) God talks about the Earth being suspended on nothing and the gravitational bands of the Pleiades and Orion's Belt. The Bible is archaeologically and historically accurate. I have read Hawking, and Jillette, and listened to Hitchens; none of their work can stand under the scrutiny the Bible has endured. Please, read for yourselves.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      the bridge called ....the goats are about to cross again, your presence is requested beneath it.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Pill, this utter nonsense. I doubt you've read many scientific journals, books, etc., other than Dr. Suess or Frosty the Snowman.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Leviticus: Bats are birds. Umm – wrong.
      Leviticus: Hares chew their cud. Umm – wrong.
      Leviticus: Insects go about on four legs. Umm – wrong.

      If your god created everything, and the bible is the word of god and everything in the bible is true, then why doesn't your god know about the animals that he supposedly created?

      The garden of Eden? Adam and Eve? Myth. People descending from 2 individuals. Umm – wrong.

      Noah's Ark? 2 of every animal in the world, on a boat, for a year? Food and water for a year? What did the carnivores eat? Where did the water go? How did Noah get animals from Australia?

      Phil, you are either a complete Poe, or a complete idiot.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:01 am |
      • Aaron

        A quick look into the bat thing rendered this: "we must be aware that it is modern science that has a different classification system than ancient times. To the ancients, creatures such as a bat were considered birds since they categorized all flying animals as birds. If that is the category that they used, then they were correct. It is not an error. It is a difference of categorization procedures. The critic has imposed upon the ancient text a modern system of categorization and then said that the Bible is wrong. This is a big error in thinking." (from carm.org)

        July 16, 2013 at 12:16 am |
        • redzoa

          Nonetheless, it demonstrates that the cultures responsible for the texts were scientifically primitive. Were this simply an ancient/modern cultural comparison, your response makes sense; however, the claims here are that the Bible is both divinely inspired and scientifically accurate. The first claim is highly questionable and the second claim is demonstrably incorrect. Were the Bible a valid source of scientific understanding, there would be no need for apologetics websites attempting to explain such discrepancies.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:29 am |
        • atomD21

          Essentially what we need to stop doing then, is making claims that the Bible is the ultimate authority on scientific matters. The text was written in a much more primitive time based on the understanding of how things worked back then. As our knowledge grows and evolves, the Bible becomes less significant for explaining how the universe works. It is time for Christians to stop leaning on several thousand year old science to refute observable evidence today. Because, in the end, does it truly matter if the universe is billions of years old if you believe that God made it? It is still a marvel to behold and explore.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:38 am |
        • Aaron

          Keep in mind, I'm not trying to defend Phil's comment about the Bible being more scientifically accurate than science textbooks; just the one response claiming the bat thing as a reason why the Bible cannot be of God. For me, it all comes down to the story of the resurrection. If that happened, I'm in. And the crazy thing is, there are rational, compelling arguments/evidence that it actually happened. And yes, I'm in. I believe Jesus rose from the dead, and is who the bible says he is. Blessings, and may we all go about our journeys (different as they may be) in a loving, respectful manner. 🙂

          July 16, 2013 at 12:48 am |
        • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

          @Aaron: My point re: Leviticus is that people claim that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. If that's the case, then God got it wrong, which means god is not all-knowing and infallible. If it's not the word of god, then it's simply the word of man. Which it is. Did god have a different way of characterizing animals 2000 years ago?

          And Aaron, as for your comment: "And the crazy thing is, there are rational, compelling arguments/evidence that it [the resurrection of Jesus] actually happened." I'd agree with the crazy comment. Where is the evidence? what are the rational compelling arguments that 2000 years ago god's avatar in human form was killed, arose from the dead 3 days later, then ascended to heaven? It's ludicrous.

          July 16, 2013 at 6:44 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'To the ancients, creatures such as a bat were considered birds since they categorized all flying animals as birds.'

          So does that mean they called butterflies birds as well then? it seems a poor claim to try to make.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • devin

      PREPARE FOR INCOMING !

      July 16, 2013 at 12:04 am |
      • Elise

        Incoming what? Trolls?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:20 am |
        • devin

          Ridicule.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:32 am |
        • Harvey D. Rabbit

          Ridiculous assertions deserve ridicule.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:41 am |
      • atomD21

        There would far less ridicule if Christians would just stop trying to say that our ever changing world is actually not changing and has always been like this, because a story written before the discovery that the world isn't flat and is bigger than a small chunk of the Middle East and northern Africa says so. We make ourselves out to be intentionally ignorant because we make claims based only on what our human leaders say and never question it. It is not denying God's greatness and power to say that Genesis 1 isn't the be all end all of the universe's origin. In fact, I have come to respect the power of God even more by realizing just what precision was put into motion at the beginning of it all to get us to where we are now.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:47 am |
        • devin

          Please let me know precisely where I have stated anything that would not concur with your reasoning.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      lulz. The bible is almost completely inaccurate from a scientific viewpoint. It is rare that one even conjures up verses where the physics/botany/biology describes anything remotely accurate. It's hard to think of a book that's less correct.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
      • atomD21

        It was correct to the understanding of the time... It is only strict adherence to dogmatic principles that keep dragging that understanding into present day.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Observer

      Phil

      "The Bible is more scientifically accurate than any science book I have ever read."

      Rather than praising the Bible, you've just embarassed yourself and your knowledge. The Bible says the earth doesn't move. Read it sometime.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:08 am |
      • devin

        And when you see the sunrise in the morning do you say," Oh, look honey, the earths revolution is at the point where the sun is now on the horizon"?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:19 am |
        • Elise

          No, I say "what a gorgeous sunrise." What a absurd statement.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:26 am |
        • devin

          Elise, you obviously missed the point.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:29 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          Considering that you evaded the original point, devin, you really have no right to criticize others.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:33 am |
        • Harry

          Do tell us your version, Devin. I need a good laugh.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:35 am |
      • Observer

        devin,

        And when you see the moon and the sun do you say thanks to God for not stopping them in space for a day or two?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:22 am |
        • Observer

          devin,

          (Joshua 10:13) “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.”

          July 16, 2013 at 12:31 am |
        • devin

          The earth standing still, the Red Sea parting, a man living in a fish, a man walking on water, water being turned into wine, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing , the lame walking, all things you find incredulous, I simply believe without hesitation. Now the reason I believe without hesitation is because I accept that very interesting concept that is found in the very first words of scripture, that God created, ex nihilo, the heavens and the earth. If you accept this initial idea, the rest is incidental.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:52 am |
        • Harvey D. Rabbit

          And why did you accept that? You had absolutely zero evidence that it was true.

          Be honest: you accepted it because mommy and daddy told you that. They didn't have any evidence either.

          Why did you accept that? Do tell

          July 16, 2013 at 12:58 am |
        • devin

          Harvey

          As much as I hate to burst your bubble, or more precisely expose your false assumption, " mommy and daddy" were irrelevant in my situation.

          Ultimately, I believe it because in the end "that", along with the totality of the christian narrative, is the most plausible and pragmatic system of explaining both our existence and the human condition. Now on a side note, I can on some level respect those who embrace agnosticism, but atheism, simply nonsensical.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:14 am |
        • tallulah13

          I think that anyone who thinks that "...the christian narrative, is the most plausible and pragmatic system of explaining both our existence and the human condition" really isn't in a position to judge the plausibility of anyone else's beliefs (or lack thereof).

          Thousands of gods, thousands of myths and not a shred of evidence that any of them are real or true, yet Devin finds his particular mythology more plausible than verifiable scientific and historical fact. I confess. I just have to laugh.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:51 am |
        • Harvey D. Rabbit

          Just stunning that your idea of "most plausible" explanation is magic, devoid of even the slightest evidence. But you avoided the question I posed: Why did you accept that first bit, from which all other tales of magic became plausible too?

          July 16, 2013 at 2:00 am |
        • Charlie

          Interesting how many Christians mock science for saying the universe was created from nothing (which is a misrepresentation of the actual theories), then say the universe was obviously created from nothing.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:06 am |
        • devin

          Harvey

          What I find stunning is that you have swallowed this paradigm that knowledge is limited to only that which can be found in a natural, closed system. As for the "avoidance" accusation, perhaps you should clarify "first bit". I have no idea what you are referring to.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:14 am |
        • Harvey D. Rabbit

          "the very first words of scripture, that God created, ex nihilo, the heavens and the earth. If you accept this initial idea, the rest is incidental." Why did you accept that? Why do you say this is true when there is zippo evidence, not a shred, and why do you reject the world of evidence and say there is more than the closed system, for which there is all evidence, even though that "more" has not a shred of evidence?

          Are you really saying that to your absolutely unsupported theory is more credible than reality?

          What made you believe that? Who told you, and why do you believe it?

          July 16, 2013 at 2:36 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Pill, explain something for me. How did Noah get to Indonesia to get a pair of Komodo Dragons? Then how did he get them back to the Ark? A magic carpet? A boat he built ahead of the Ark? If he did build a boat capable of getting to Indonesia, it must have had sails. How long did the trip take? Or maybe he drove east along the caravan trails. In a Range Rover? Did he pick up the elephants and giraffes along the way? It wasn't simply a matter of herding all the animals aboard the Ark. He had to collect them first. Just how did he collect all these animals from the far corners of the earth?

      July 16, 2013 at 12:10 am |
      • atomD21

        The thing we don't realize is that when the Noah story was told, the world, according to the Jewish people was about the size of Texas. They didn't know of anything too far outside of their tribal area. So a worldwide flood to them would be similar in size to the Mississippi River flooding Louisiana after heavy rains. Noah would only have had to gather up the animals in the localized area for them to have it be all of the different types they knew of. It is only our modern understanding of how big the world is to grow that story into something of unintended proportions.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:31 am |
        • redzoa

          Still, there are the passages indicating the destruction of every living substance. Disregarding the genetic and ecological problems associated with such small founding populations, the hyperevolution required to address the "kinds" v. species biodiversity issues, the logistics of feeding/watering/waste disposal/disease, etc, etc, there is the problem of existing in an area that has been completely obliterated of life. Even if one rejects the literal interpretation of a world-wide flood and accepts the local flood concept, the story remains implausible outside of purely allegorical.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:52 am |
        • atomD21

          Oh, I'm not advocating for it being true but on a smaller scale, I'm just pointing out what so many proponents and opponentsforget about the logistics. The fact that they would have been on the boat for almost a year and didn't all die of the various diseases that animals and people seem to infect each other with made the story implausible to me even when I was still more inclined to believe.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:19 am |
      • Edward

        You can correct me if I am wrong but I believe that in the bible, god told the animals to go to Noah. Still, laughable.

        September 2, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • atomD21

      I have read it. All of it. It is a significant text, but it is not a science book. Stop using it like that. The Bible does not offer an exhaustive account of the processes God put in place to keep the natural world in balance, and it doesn't have to. It is a guide to show us the primitive ways we as a species used to live by, and shows us the example through Jesus of how we should attempt to live and treat others today. It is not a science text, or a political weapon to further religious agendas. The Bible also speaks of the sun stopping in the sky, which we know now is not how the solar system works. I will never understand why Christianity has now somehow become opposed to using the brain the God put in our head to discover more about how the universe works. Why couldn't God have put evolution into motion and let it happen? Personally, I'm very thankful for the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Could God have created all this just six or seven thousand years ago in a matter of a week? Sure, but the evidence we are discovering doesn't support that primitive understanding. Isn't it also possible the Genesis account was just a poetic way of explaining to the tribes that God was behind it all? From what I can figure out, God exists outside of time, so six days, six billion years, it's all the same. Before we simply parrot what our pastors and other religious leaders tell us, we need to stop and decide for ourselves with discerning hearts and minds if that really makes sense.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • sam stone

      haven't read many science books, have you?

      July 16, 2013 at 2:36 am |
  7. Siggon-Kristov

    This article misuses the term "theist" with its prefixes (atheist, anti-theist, etc.)
    It is possible to be atheist or anti-theist while belong to a religion. Theism is about belief in a deity, not belief in a religion. Atheism is lack of belief in a deity, not lack of belief in a religion. Anti-theism is opposition to the belief in deities, not opposition to religion.

    There is a difference between theism and religion. There is a difference between atheism and secularism.
    Some religions don't have deities. Samkhya Hinduism, for example, is an atheist religion. It's also possible to be a theist while not believing in a religion. Many persons, that I know, believe in a deity, but oppose the idea of religion.

    Before talking about religion and theism, one must first know the difference between the 2 concepts. "Religious" and "Atheist" are not mutually exclusive labels, and "Theist" and "Secular" aren't mutually-exclusive labels either.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Whaaaa?

      So what's the difference between a theist and a deist? And do you honestly think that an atheist believes in any organized religion?

      July 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
      • iphonesnaps

        Deism is a subset of theism (theism is a broad category meaning a belief in a deity or deities).

        Some atheists are indeed part of organized religion—a prime example is some Unitarian Universalists, though there are also strains of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism) which are philosophically compatible with atheism.

        July 16, 2013 at 1:32 am |
      • Siggon-Kristov

        Being a "theist" means you believe in one or more deities.
        A monotheist (prefix "mono" + word "theist") means you only believe in one deity.
        A polytheist (prefix "poly" + word "theist") means you believe in multiple deities.
        There are other forms of theists as well. Being a theist doesn't mean that you have to follow a religion.
        An atheist (prefix "a" + word "theist") means you don't believe in any deities. It doesn't mean you can't follow a religion.

        Most atheists are secular, but many belong to a religion. Not all atheists are the same, and the word "atheism" means disbelief in a deity, not disbelief in a religion. There is a separate word for people who don't follow a religion: secular.

        July 16, 2013 at 7:12 am |
  8. Steve

    All things you see around you have a creator. If it didn't it would be uncreated and nonexistent. If human objects need a creator to exist this theory should likewise apply to nonhuman creations. An ant hill isn't created without ants nor was ant created without its creator. There is more visible nonhuman creation to believe there is a creator than to refute that there isn't. Neither think that all the troubles in the world are proof there is no caring God. The Lord always has a hand in straightening out the mess humans bring on themselves.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Stove, you are full of horse feathers. There is no God, no Lord, no Jesus, no afterlife, or any of the other nonsense fools believe in. The Creator was the Big Bang.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
      • Steve

        You have no faith... Name one thing that was fashioned or created that you use every day that doesn't have a creator. Things don't come forth by themselves. If I gave you a mechanical watch and took apart all the gears and pieces and you put it in a box...give it millions of year or whatever... Will it be able to tell time without using intelligence to put the pieces together again? Our world is in order because of intelligent design. Your belief is arrogant that you think humans are of their own existent.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      If all things have a creator then who or what created your god? And who or what created your god's creator? and so on. And so on.

      If your god does not require a creator, then there is no absolute rule that EVERYTHING must have a creator, and therefore there is no reason to state that the universe was "created".

      July 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
      • Steve

        Your lack of faith must be from too tight of underwear. God is outside the created realms much like outside of time. Past, present and future are all observable and are of one to God. To jeer, scoff and taunt about the Creator now is the same as doing it when the Creator hung from the cross.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Edward

          I don't remember Jesus ever saying he created anything.

          September 2, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • photografr7

          Not true. Jesus created a myth. And a darn good one too.

          September 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I suppose you mean that everything that exists was created. Similar to, but a bit stronger than, WLC's everything that has a beginning to its existence has a cause for that beginning. "Cause" kind of magically morphs into "Creator" for him. At any rate, all such arguments fail when people just don't swallow that first premise.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Observer

      Steve,

      Tell us who created God and then how God created everything out of nothing.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
      • devin

        Again, he is self-existent and is eternal, Theology 101

        July 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
        • Athy

          Self-existent? Please explain.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:09 am |
        • atomD21

          Parroted church-ese has never been used successfully to sway an argument with a person who does not also believe as you do. Just saying God is self-existent doesn't explain that concept in any way shape or form. Personal faith in God does not become concrete proof just because we say so.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:24 am |
        • Steve

          Self – existing means God has no beginning or end. Time is a creation by God. You are thinking on human understanding and not on divine understanding. God is outside of time, how can something have a beginning or end if there is no time?

          July 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
      • ScottLL

        Do you believe that all of the mass and energy in the universe coalesced in one spot and began a reaction/explosion that began the universe and continues to expand today? Have you ever blown smoke into a container and seen how the smoke particles become evenly distributed? Can you explain why all the mass and energy in the universe was not evenly distributed? Also, can you tell me where this mass and energy came from in the first place?

        Science is just the study of God's creation and how He made everything work.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:22 am |
        • Athy

          Scott, can you explain how god created the universe? What tools did he use? Where did he get the raw materials? Where was he when he performed this "miracle?" Who made god, some super god? You dumbass creationists have no answers at all, do you? Just too damn dumb to see the truth (or recognize the bullshit).

          July 16, 2013 at 12:44 am |
        • ScottLL

          Atty, you never answered my question to you. Could it be because you are clueless and don't have an answer. Is science a subject you did do very well in? You resort to name calling instead of having any kind of discussion. Why is that. Don't you have anything intellectual to add? It appears that you think being called a creationist is an insult. I believe in the Bible's short rendition of creation. I also believe that "creation" has taken 16 billion years, not just six 24 hour days. The translation of "day" that I use is "era." Back to my question for you. How and why did all of the matter and energy coalesce into one point in the universe, i.e. The Big Bang Theory? (I'll give you a hint, it was God's starting point of Creation.)

          July 16, 2013 at 1:26 am |
        • Edward

          Smoke in a container only disperses evenly because it is a closed system. You are assuming the universe is a closed system despite all our findings that it is not. Gravitation pull is why the galaxies dispersed as they did.

          September 2, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • devin

        Athy

        Existing independently, apart from any other cause or being.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:27 am |
        • Athy

          Great scientific explanation, Devin. Thanks for clearing that up for us.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:45 am |
        • devin

          Athy

          I do what I can. My apologies it wasn't in the form of a mathematical equation or chemical reaction, knowing that a "great scientific explanation" is the only format that is valid in your eyes.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:01 am |
        • Observer

          devin

          "knowing that a "great scientific explanation" is the only format that is valid in your eyes."

          Having eyes open is a good thing. Having them closed means you can ignore unicorns, talking nonhumans, non-scientific nonsense, discrimination, beating children, etc.

          Open your eyes.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:06 am |
        • Athy

          A scientific explanation is far more convincing than 2000-year-old legends. At least it is to me. Apparently not for you.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:11 am |
        • devin

          Athy
          And yet, your "scientific explanation",(and let me interject here that I am both educated in and employed by "the sciences" ) has absolutely no clue as to first cause.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:23 am |
        • redzoa

          Regardless of what the first cause may or may not have been, there is no logic in inserting agency in the absence of any reasonable evidence. Furthermore, the argument that God is eternal, independent, etc, is simply special pleading by definitional fiat to escape the requirements of the premise that everything has a cause, i.e. everything has a cause, except my preferred explanation . . .

          July 16, 2013 at 1:28 am |
        • devin

          Red

          I simply reject your premise that our knowledge is limited to only that which can be observed in a natural system. That is a construct you, et al ,have created, it is not, however, definitive.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:38 am |
        • Steve

          Observer
          Open your heart, NOT your eyes. Open your heart and you will be able to see and feel the Spirit of God.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
      • Steve

        God exists outside the created realms and always existed. It is possible God can create things from nothingness such as spirits. We don't fully understand the created realms so it would be impossible to grasp what the uncreated realms is like. Every thing you have has a creator and you can't deny that. What is true for human creation is also true for nonhuman creation. That how science explains the unexplainable. Or would you say gravity on other worlds doesn't have the same properties it does on this world...

        July 16, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
        • Oregon Jeff

          "God exists outside the created realms and always existed."

          Prove it.

          "It is possible God can create things from nothingness such as spirits."

          Prove it.

          "We don’t fully understand the created realms so it would be impossible to grasp what the uncreated realms is like."

          Prove that there's such a thing as "uncreated realms".

          "Every thing you have has a creator and you can’t deny that."

          The Teleological argument is a weak argument.

          July 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
        • Steve

          Oregon Jeff
          The only thing that is weak is your faith.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
      • Steve

        By saying the word and it came into being.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Ken

      Steve
      So, by your definition, if God didn't have a creator then he would be "nonexistent". However, if humans created God, then everything fits, right?

      July 16, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  9. jsketcham

    How about the 'arithmetic atheist' category? One plus one equals two. That I can easily see, but the existence of God (since he never calls) simply does not add up.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm |

    • Because you can't count on God, arithmetic just doesn't apply.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
  10. Heaven or Hell

    There are at least six types of believers:

    1) Inculcated from birth in a particular religion.

    2) Unmoving/militant. (Puts his/her beliefs ahead of reasoning, science, and respect for other views.)

    3) Casual believer.

    4) Faith that there is something, but not as defined by any organized religion.

    5) Con artist. (May or may not believe, but knows how to reach into another's pocketbook through religion.)

    6) Mystics.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • faith

      H or H

      let's simplify, shall we?

      we know for certain

      # 1

      a christian cannot be sincere, sane, enthusiastic, real, kind, loving, humble, generous, without guile, intelligent, open-minded, good-hearted, fun, well off, hard working, ethical, caring, decisive, dedicated to helping others without seeking something in return, well-read, well-educated, well-rounded, good-looking, a good parent, child, sibling, friend, creative, deep, goofy

      July 16, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  11. faith

    jesus christ was ?

    July 15, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Are you looking for mad libs here?

      July 15, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
      • faith

        you don't know who he was?

        I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
        Akira
        Dyslexic doG
        another good reason to ignore Christians
        Candiano
        another good reason to ignore Christians
        On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers
        This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again
        Christian Motto
        Wasp
        Rory
        Open the pod bay door
        Agnostickids
        Rodents for Romney
        Polonius
        FYI
        Oberver
        skytag
        Cpt. Obvious
        Judica
        Open the pod bay door
        Rodents for Romney
        FYI
        Polonius
        Satan
        skytag
        Cpt. Obvious
        Judica
        Rodents for Romney
        Righteo
        Johnnyboy
        My Dog is a jealous Dog
        howabouthat

        July 15, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
        • Akira

          Hey, is this a list of people to ignore, like Live4Him's famous list?

          July 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • Johnny Noir

          It's an enemies list. All the great haters in history had them.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • Elise

      ...not an athiest?

      July 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • Dippy

        Atheist, not athiest.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
        • Elise

          Sorry, Dip. I am usually better than that. Sig heil.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:37 am |
      • Johnny Noir

        It's the superlative of athy. I'm athy, you're athier, he's athiest.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:12 am |
        • Dippy

          Sorry. My bad!

          July 16, 2013 at 12:14 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Apparently you're not. It's "sieg"

        July 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      a jew?

      July 15, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      a Galillean rabble rouser?

      July 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The only begotten son of the living God, begotten of his Father before all worlds. Very God of very God...

      Or just this guy, you know?

      July 15, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Agnostic Pope

      There is a strong argument to be made that Jesus Christ was a total invention of St. Paul, who never actually met the real Jesus (presuming that such a person actually existed). Without Paul, Christianity would never have existed as a major religion. And Paul only converted to Christianity some years after the death of Jesus, about whom we know almost literally nothing from a historical perspective. I find it hard to attribute godhood to a near-myth which is nearly indistinguishable from total fantasy.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
      • Elise

        I think Jesus most likely existed, but Saul of Tarsus most definitely skewed the religion that became Christianity. Saul, from the many accounts I have read about his life before conversion, was not the most pleasant person, and a lot of his biases and prejudices made its way into the early Christian writings. His misogyny is extremely evident, contrary to what Jesus most likely believed.
        Paul knew a good thing when he saw it. He glommed onto the Jesus Divinity myth very quickly.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:00 am |
      • Steve

        Jesus didn't come into this world to prove he was God but to show us what God is like. Your problem is you can't believe a perfect being walked upon this earth therefor you believe it's made up.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:04 am |
        • Agnostic Pope

          Honestly, for somebody as important as Jesus is alleged to be, I can't believe there is utterly no historical record of said Jesus prior to the probably forged short references in Josephus.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:10 am |
        • Peteyroo

          Stove, what do you mean by perfect? Jesus never swore or cheated at backgammon? He never farted in public? Perfect is a value-laden word that means different things to different people.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:14 am |
        • tallulah13

          Steve, there's no real evidence that Jesus actually existed. I guess it's easier to be perfect if you're a fictional character.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:53 am |
        • Steve

          Perfect as in he never sinned.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
        • Edward

          Steve, pretty sure Jesus asked forgiveness from god in the bible for sinning.

          September 2, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Obiwan

      Jewish

      July 16, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  12. Frank A

    I certainly would classify myself as an anti-theist. A deist, maybe, but an anti-theist, certainly. As Robert DeNiro's character Cypher says in Angel Heart – "They say there's enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough to make them love." So much hatred, murder and devastation has been promulgated in the name of religion.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Nicole

      A diest believes in god (albeit, a slightly more rational god). If you are an atheist, you cannot be a diest. You can be an agnostic diest, though.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • Dippy's Aide

        Nicole,

        It's "deist"... from "deus"=god, deity. For fun, see the "most athy" banter below on this page.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:31 am |
      • Athy

        Can you be an "adeist?"

        July 16, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  13. Name

    I would suggest that #5 is one of the largest groups, not the smallest. I could be wrong, but most people these days seem to spend no time thinking about any reality deeper than reality TV.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • jmischley

      This has been my experience too.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  14. coderjones

    how about truth seeker?

    i just want to know the truth – mohammed was jthe product of an unfaithful father, jesus is the product of a cheating wife and moses was looking for a way to cross the desert

    July 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  15. Derek

    Though it does sound a bit harsh in the author's description, I find my opinions lining up mostly with number 4, the Anti-Thiest. I feel as if many of the problems in our world today could be prevented by the elimination of religion. While it at times has presented some good to this world, it's draw-backs outweigh it's positives. It is the anchor that holds back progression, especially in America.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
  16. Imagine No Religion

    Behold, the 40,000+ xian denominations!

    -–
    "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
    Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

    July 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • The Believer

      John Lennon knows he was wrong the moment he was shot and killed. But it was too late for him...it's not too late for you though. Whether you choose to deny it or not, Jesus is coming!

      July 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
      • Elise

        You know this....how?
        You don't. No one does.
        Although I have the distinct feeling you cheered when Lennon died; it would seem to suit your personality.
        I'm glad that you are a believer; however, you cannot speak with 100% authority where JL is, or where you will be, after you die. You only believe you know

        July 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • Peteyroo

        BaloneyBeliever, nonsense through and through. Jesus is not coming back now or in a million years. He was never here in the first place.

        July 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
      • Charles The NonThiest

        OH SHUT THE F+CK UP!

        July 16, 2013 at 12:02 am |
      • John Lennon

        No. I just stopped, like everyone else.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:15 am |
      • Athy

        Jesus has been due to come for 2000 years. Is he having a problem reading the train schedules? Maybe he needs a travel agent. I'm tired of waiting so I'm going to bed. Maybe he'll knock on the door tomorrow.

        July 16, 2013 at 1:03 am |
  17. Steven CaboWabo

    "seeker-agnostic". Agnostic is not athiest.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      But they have no god, either.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Dippy

      Stevie, it's atheist, not athiest.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Steve's not just athy he's the athiest.

        July 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
      • Steven CaboWabo

        Good catch. TY.

        July 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
      • Dippy

        Well, when it comes down to athiness, I'm athier than the most athy person you know. You know?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:18 am |
        • liveinpeace7

          At least Atheists have a good sense of humor! It makes this comments section a real hoot. 🙂

          July 16, 2013 at 12:26 am |
      • Dippy

        I'm so athy the rest of you appear to be athless. My athiness is legendary. No one can outath me.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • Agnostic Pope

      I am a militant agnostic, asserting that "I don't know and you don't either," when it comes to the so-called origins question. However, when we get to more-specific definitions of the word god, I'm also a militant atheist. I am thus personally more in the first category of the intellectual atheist/agnostic. And I personally prefer to view agnosticism as an epistemological stance, while atheism is a metaphysical stance about the concept of god as commonly understood by mankind. Philosophy professor Ted Drange wrote an article that asserted it is only with a specific definition of the word god that you can have a meaningful understanding of your stance towards god. Virtually all Christians would be atheists with respect to the Greek god, Zeus. I am atheist with respect to the Christian god Jesus. But when you get down to the deep philosophical questions that religions grapple with, then I am fully and completely agnostic, as it is manifestly impossible for humanity to know anything whatsoever about the creation of our universe or anything that might be "outside" of that universe (whatever the word "outside" can possibly mean in a context where the word "universe" is supposed to mean "all that exists").

      The bottom line is that you cannot truly say that "agnostic is not atheist" without giving context to that assertion.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
      • I Like this guy

        very good point kudos 2 you

        July 16, 2013 at 12:05 am |
      • iconoclast1

        I agree with the importance of the definition of god. Like you, I consider myself to be an atheist with respect to the god of the Bible but an agnostic with respect to the origin of our known universe. We can't possibly know if there is a creator of our universe and what that creator might be like, but we can know that the Bible's god doesn't comport with what we know about the world. In other words, there is no reason to believe the Bible tells the true story of the creator and there is plenty to contradict that story.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:12 am |
        • faith

          "iconoclast1
          I agree with the importance of the definition of god. Like you, I consider myself to be an atheist with respect to the god of the Bible but an agnostic with respect to the origin of our known universe. We can't possibly know if there is a creator of our universe and what that creator might be like"

          we cannot possible know

          why is it impossible?

          July 16, 2013 at 2:31 am |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        Agnostics are like lawyers...you cant prove it? no ? well then... my client walks.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:19 am |
  18. TAK

    Interesting. We have to prove to you that which is obvious to anyone with open eyes and open mind. But if we ask you to prove the ridiculously fantastic, you say that it is a matter of faith and that faith is a gift. Faith is a curse, an anchor on thought and progress.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Johnny Noir

      Faith is never having to provide evidence.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      If an idea has proof, no faith is needed. Faith is what you use when you've got no other reason to believe and no good reason to pretend to believe, but you just want to anyway.

      July 16, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  19. diestel

    I for one, having read Dawkins' "The God Delusion", feel that I am a Pantheist. I do not believe in a god, but rather sort of a "mother nature" sort of power out there. It is a more scientific viewpoint, suggesting that there are rules and regulations for all things in the universe. We can use science to understand gravity, light, electricity. But the question of "why" will always remain. Why is there gravity? We know how it works, but what made particles want to group together in the first place? This list isn't really about types of atheists, just about levels of commitment.

    July 15, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Look into Spinoza's God. Einstein was keen on that idea.

      The article is about atheists – not deists.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
      • diestel

        To some extent there are similarities with how I feel about Spinozism, except for the parts about a soul. So perhaps there is a middle ground between the two where I might find myself. But just as with any person and any religion, there really should be no labels, because each and every person has there own view on it. Even the Flying Spaghetti Monster has quite a following!

        July 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
        • Saraswati

          You might relate to Scientific Pantheism. I find them a little overly committed to the material viewpoint, but you should probably check out the beliefs to see if it sits well with you.

          July 16, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      diestel, I think we are only seeing a very thin "slice" of reality. What we are observing is similar to ripples on the surface of a pond. Where the mass is gathering is where there are "dips" in the space time continuum which simply causes the universe itself to "bunch together" into the matter and energy we observe. When we look out into the cosmos, we are basically seeing the tiny flecks of foam tossed up by jagged "ocean" waves.

      July 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
      • diestel

        -CPT. Obvious, yes I understand where you are coming from, there is so much out there that we have yet to even fathom. What we know as true today, in 50 or 100 years may be vastly different. I appreciate the universe for it's immensely deep "ocean" or information. But for the people out there who think that there is a magical all-knowing bearded god in the sky granting wishes, they need to wake up. I appreciate the teachings of religion, and the need to strive for good, but most religions base themselves on the afterlife, because people are just to scared to face nothing after death.

        July 15, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Nice ocean metaphors in both comments. I tend to view the universe in a similar way but have occasionally read good arguments against this continuous view. It does have an appeal, however, in such familiar analogies which, like it or not, is what draws us to one competing view over another. I'm not too worried about being wrong since I start with the assumption we only know a spec ... or less ... of what there is to know.

        July 16, 2013 at 6:48 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.