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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. Believer

    I'm not an atheist. I believe in love and all love comes from God. Jesus is my friend. Really. I am open minded and do not shove my beliefs down other's throats. I will not tread on other's religious beliefs or lack of faith. If one wants to believe there is no God, then so be it. I also believe in evolution, natural selection. Like God's love, evidence of evolution is everywhere. A roommate of mine from long ago told me I could not believe in both God and evolution. I countered that I can believe in whatever I want and so can every individual on the face of this planet. I am not a fan of organized religion.

    July 16, 2013 at 3:55 am |
  2. DMJ

    I'd say that I fall into category 5 for the most part. I don't care if you're religious or not, as long as you aren't throwing your beliefs or lack of them (I find it irritating from both sides) in my face I won't say anything. Granted I go to the University of Alabama so sometimes things get thrown in my face. Take the massive anti-abortion rally that took place last year. I combated the day of unborn fetus pictures in the only way I know how. Throw on my bad religion cross buster t-shirt and have some fun.

    Also where is Greg Graffin in the notable atheist list. He is the lead singer of arguably the most renowned punk band ever, a professor at UCLA, and has written or co-written a few books on the topic of atheism, and evolution.

    July 16, 2013 at 3:41 am |
  3. Barbie

    I just don't consider religion in my day to day life. Whether or not it is real or not isn't a question I even care about. It's pretty liberating really.

    July 16, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • Johnny Noir

      Actually I don't either, until I run across religious dingbats, and then I get more anti-theist. Though truthfully I'm actually an anti-moron more than an anti-theist.

      July 16, 2013 at 3:37 am |
  4. Barry Bailey

    Actually, I pretty much tick each of those boxes depending on the space I am in at the time. I am sorry, but I simply can not be categorized that way. This is a gross oversimplification. Unlike the religious, atheists are not bound by any form of set belief structure. We are not obliged to fit such stereotypical compartmentalizing. It is one of the many joys of being an atheist.

    July 16, 2013 at 3:11 am |
    • Saraswati

      Unless you change your beliefs daily these is some categorization system that would work to fit you with others with similar beliefs. Behaviors and atti.tudes may be more variable, but I suspect you are still more one or two or three of these than others.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:50 am |
  5. Jo Black

    Atheists believe in God. The Ungod, it's like the uncola but tastes more neutral.

    July 16, 2013 at 3:05 am |
    • Johnny Noir

      What a stupid thing to say.

      July 16, 2013 at 3:07 am |
      • John B.

        Believers simply cannot grasp the concept of non-belief. It's too much of a mental stretch, and there is not a whole lot to stretch.

        July 16, 2013 at 3:11 am |
        • devin

          "too much of a mental stretch". Not at all, we just recognize it as foolish.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:41 am |
      • devin

        Junior or Senior High?

        July 16, 2013 at 3:42 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          There's that ugly and immature thing again. At least you are consistent, Devin.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:44 am |
        • Observer

          devin,

          Still stumped? Do you believe and support all the things I've listed or are you just ducking the question?

          July 16, 2013 at 3:45 am |
        • devin

          Johnny

          It's time to put the big boy pants on. If you can initiate conversation with phrases like " How old are you?" and, " you debate like a teenager" then you should anticipate the same.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:51 am |
        • devin

          Observer

          Why would I be "stumped" ? Antagonists of the faith have been taking biblical passages out of context for ages in order to promote their agenda.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:55 am |
        • Observer

          devin,

          It's late and you're obviously afraid to answer my question so let's call it quits for tonight.

          Maybe after some sleep you can figure out which parts of the Bible you CHOOSE to believe and support and which parts you CHOOSE to not believe.

          Good luck.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:57 am |
  6. Howard33

    I think I'm a theist. I don't know what God is but there is something. I happen to have a real good relationship with my higher power. I am definitely VERY anti-religion. Religion is the most destructive force on the planet. And I know for a fact that there is NO God in any religion. Religion has nothing to do with God or spirit. They are ALL about domination, dehumanization and power.
    But I guess I would give the Quakers a break.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • TheBob

      There are a lot of "somethings" in the universe. What makes you think any of them is a god?

      July 16, 2013 at 2:49 am |
  7. Gary

    Interesting that atheists have as many sect's as other religious groups and their attendant belief systems.

    Ever look up the Tenets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam....they all have sects that vary slightly around a different set of Tenets which seem to be developed by the early leaders of the sect and the followers all buy-in and will fight to the death in some well know cases for their belief system and Tenets.

    Just a slight difference in the Tenets are enough to define the sect and followers will kill members of other sects just because they believe some insignificant difference.

    It is also what I believe atheists hold out as their truth and you can see these slight differences in Tenets in the groups above ...so really it's seems like it's just a matter of degree on the spectrum of religious (time tested moral codes and principles) that guide you through your life.

    Suggest you find the best one for your future success.

    Sure isn't something to kill each other over though is it.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      These categories aren't technically sects as they aren't organized and don't have a listed dogma. Part of what is here is a list of belief clusters and part a list of behavior clusters. There certainly are groups which have atheism as a belief, but as atheism isn't itself a belief cluster, just one belief, it can never technically have sects.

      Really I'm probably just quibbling on terminology here, but I wanted to point out that while atheists as people are diverse and may belong to groups with dogmas, atheism itself is just a belief stance on gods that can mean a few different things, but isn't a rich enough concept to have sects, any more than a-unicornism can.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  8. MCO808

    Some slight editorial work, and "Behold, the six types of theists". Match the types, put them in a room together with video cameras, and "Behold, six new reality shows". How droll. How predictable. How boring.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:21 am |
  9. Redoran

    I became atheist at age 14. I used to attend Presbyterian church and pray that my father would recover from his illness. Well, the more I prayed, the more my father entered screaming agony. So, I cut back on the praying. That is exactly why I specifically know that any god is a fantasy of the mind/the mental state. We are here one day, and gone the next. Our molecules may bring us back as a spider or a fly to be caught in a spider's web. Just consider that and tell me if you still believe in a Fantasy god.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • devin

      So basically, your conclusion is that if God dos not respond to you like a magic genie with a lamp, he is therefore non-existent? Does that pretty much sum up your position?

      July 16, 2013 at 2:26 am |
      • Lenny

        He's still smarter than anyone who believes in religion or god.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:37 am |
      • Boss

        More like if God doesn't respond like a magic genie, then what good is he (or she). Sounds like more trouble than he's worth.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:37 am |
      • Johnny Noir

        Devin, you are just asserting without support. Nothing you have said or believe has any support.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • devin

          And you are making a statement that has no relevance to my reply.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:43 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          How old are you? You debate like a teenager.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • Brigget

      Everyone has to face their struggles in life and your dad had to go through what God needed him to. Your task on this earth is to learn from what you have been through to help others. God does answer prayers but make sure your prayers are not of a selfish nature. I prayed when my daddy died and afterwards questioned my faith but come to find out I wanted him here more because I didn't want to lose him and that was a selfish thought. God is real and his love for you is stronger than your disbelief at the moment. Don't wait too long to come back to him. I wasted a lot of time and regret it but thank God everyday I didn't die during the times I was questioning. Just my thoughts.

      July 16, 2013 at 3:10 am |
      • Barbie

        what a bunch of malarkey. Religious people find it so very important to impress their beliefs upon others in order to make themselves feel more secure in their own belief systems. Lighten up. Some of us just don't believe it. Period.

        July 16, 2013 at 3:26 am |
      • Tracy

        His dad had to go through what god needed him to go through? What a SICK, ridiculous thought.

        July 16, 2013 at 3:33 am |
        • UncleM

          Tracy
          His dad had to go through what god needed him to go through? What a SICK, ridiculous thought.
          ---------------------------------------
          What a SICK, ridiculous god.

          July 16, 2013 at 6:25 am |
      • OTOH

        Brigget,
        " thank God everyday I didn't die during the times I was questioning. "

        What would've happened to you if that had been the case? And what is your verified evidence that it would have?

        July 16, 2013 at 3:34 am |
  10. Fuzzy

    My evolution to atheism is, I think, somewhat out of the ordinary, which reflects the category I best fit in. I grew up Catholic, but with the help of ‘friends’ during a period of personal strife, I became a born again christian for 20 + years. It was a culmination of events and personal growth, which combined with working in the biological industry and actually reading the bible several times, eventually brought me to the realization that there is no god, and I become an atheist. For the most part I’ve been a non-theist for several years, but after having been subjected to so much religious bias and provocation by fundamentalist believers I’m becoming an intellectual atheist. I’ve reached a limit of having my weekend outings ruined by fundamentalist’s who are intent on witnessing to me, and others trying to convince me that the earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that evolution is evil, and . . . . which has caused me to evolve into an intellectual atheist out of retaliation. Because I’m willing to engage the topic in person as well as on-line I might also be considered an anti-theist when provoked.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Major Tom

      I've always said the fastest route to atheism is a good, thorough read of the Bible. Provided of course you're being honest to thine own self.

      July 16, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • devin

      "intellectual atheist" If that's not the epitome of an oxymoron. Now I am not inferring that atheists are inherently stupid, quite the contrary. As a lot, I find them to be rather intelligent and, for the most part, somewhat brighter than the average bulb. However, in the context of first cause belief systems, I find them nonsensical.

      July 16, 2013 at 2:34 am |
      • Observer

        devin

        Do you believe every word of the Bible or do you just HYPOCRITICALLY pick-and-choose?

        July 16, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • devin

          I realize the "hypocrisy" mantra is a popular tool for you non theist fellows, but please tell me, exactly wherein is my hypocrisy?

          July 16, 2013 at 2:47 am |
        • Observer

          devin

          "I realize the "hypocrisy" mantra is a popular tool for you non theist fellows, but please tell me, exactly wherein is my hypocrisy?"

          Are you telling people they should believe all of a book that you don't believe all of?

          Do you criticize the much larger number of Christian adulterers as much as you criticize gays?

          July 16, 2013 at 2:53 am |
        • devin

          Observer

          You make it easy when you build your logic on false premises. First, I do believe all of a book, just not your particular take on certain portions of that book. Second, I am an equal opportunity criticizer, gay sin is no more or less egregious than h et er os ex ual sin. I'll go even further, I've been married for 20+ years and have been outwardly faithful to my wife. I have, however, not been faithful to her in my thoughts. I consider this action no more or no less a sin than any outward h o m o s e x u a l expression. I fully believe we are all in the same spiritual boat.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:12 am |
        • Observer

          Observer

          "You make it easy when you build your logic on false premises. First, I do believe all of a book, just not your particular take on certain portions of that book"

          Nothing false about this:

          So you believe that slavery is okay and that you can break the arms and legs of female slaves without punishment?
          Do you believe that women should not be allowed to teach men?
          Do you believe that handicapped men (like with crushed testicles) shouldn't be allowed in church?
          Do you believe that children should be beaten with rods?

          Get serious. Skip the HYPOCRISY.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:20 am |
      • TheBob

        The correct word here is "implying", not "inferring". You must be a "religious scholar".

        July 16, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • devin

          Thanks for the grammatical precision, your mom would be proud.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:49 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          Ad hominem is an automatic fail in debate, Devin, and I don't think Jesus was much in favor of it. Thou shalt mouth off when proven wrong is not exactly in your bible.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:51 am |
        • devin

          A couple of points in no particular order;

          First, you are self deluding if you think you have proven me wrong on any matter.
          Second, Jesus calls me to love my enemies, not be Casper Milquetoast.
          Third, you obviously do not understand the meaning of ad hominem.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:59 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          "Your mom would be proud" is ad hominem. You can pretend that it isn't, but that doesn't change the fact of it.

          I haven't proven you wrong? Are you not understanding the conversation? You haven't proven anything at all, and that's the point.

          You love your enemies in an ugly, immature way. I again ask how old you are, because you behave like a teenager.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • Observer

          devin

          Speaking about hypocrisy:

          Are you telling people they should believe all of a book that you don't believe all of?

          Do you criticize the much larger number of Christian adulterers as much as you criticize gays?

          July 16, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • devin

          Johnny

          My statement was directed at his mother. It was an ad mominum

          You just find my statements ugly and immature because you can't handle biting responses that cut through your lack of logic. Again, I'm an anomaly in this CNN atheistic blog environment, it requires me to be in both attack and defensive modes.
          Do you not get it yet? I realize I cannot "prove" my theory of first cause, no more than you can yours.This comes down to presuppositions. Mine is that there is a being who has both caused us to be and who has created the universe and that faith is a plausible vehicle to truth.Your is that a sense of rationalism and ability to observe data is the only criteria for knowing truth. We will just need to peacefully disagree on this fundamental difference.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:29 am |
        • Observer

          devin

          "My statement was directed at his mother. It was an ad mominum"

          Cheap shot. I never talked about whether your mother had a smart son or not.

          Let me guess. You said "ad mominum" to be funny rather than just ignorant.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:34 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          That's the ugly and immature thing I was talking about, O.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:42 am |
        • devin

          Observer

          Loosen up. It doesn't have to be all caustic and hateful banter. I was playing.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:45 am |
        • Observer

          devin

          "Loosen up. It doesn't have to be all caustic and hateful banter. I was playing.'

          Now that you're in a good mood, maybe you can answer my question about you hypocritically picking-and-choosing from the Bible.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:49 am |
        • A Frayed Knot

          devin,
          " I'm an anomaly in this CNN atheistic blog environment, it requires me to be in both attack and defensive modes."

          No, folks like you are on here all the time. Dime a dozen.

          Maybe you mean that it is anomalous behavior for you; because, when in your normal milieu, you can stick to pontificating and preaching to your captive audience.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:50 am |
        • Johnny Noir

          So when you get cornered on ad hominem, you weasel out by calling it "playing."

          I think that is a nice example of the hypocrisy O was talking about.

          Well you all have fun now. I'm off.

          July 16, 2013 at 3:51 am |
        • devin

          Frayed

          " I'm an anomaly in THIS CNN..." . Scroll through the last few pages since I've been posting and you will understand. Words have meaning, please read with precision before jumping in and making yourself look foolish.

          July 16, 2013 at 4:04 am |
      • Johnny Noir

        You obviously cannot deal with the concept of infinite. The amount of matter/energy in the universe was always there. There is no beginning. Religious people often claim that the Big Bang was the beginning, but it was only the beginning of this universe. The energy/matter was always there. When you get all hung up on the concept of a beginning, you are always stuck with the problem of what happened before the beginning. That's why the "first cause" concept does not work in explaining the universe, and it flops at explaining god too. The first cause itself must have a first cause, and that first cause itself must have a first cause. It's called infinite regression.

        If you can accept that god was always there, then why is it impossible for you to believe that they matter/energy way not always there too?

        And as I said above, your assertions are totally without any hint of evidence. It's assertion without any evidence, assertion without evidence, assertion without evidence. You have to support your assertions, buddy. Otherwise they are pure fantasy.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:49 am |
      • Observer

        devin

        " I'm an anomaly in THIS CNN..." .

        No, you're not at all. There are plenty of Christians who come on here and tell everyone to follow the Bible and then when you ask them questions about it, they won't answer.

        You're no different. The "dime a dozen" comment was accurate. Good luck.

        July 16, 2013 at 4:09 am |
  11. Rationalist

    My belief system evolved as follows:

    I was raised a Muslim, in a moderately Muslim family. I was a staunch believer through my mid-teens. By age 18 I was a deist. By age 28 I had become agnostic. By age 35 I was an atheist. And since age 41 I've been a proud anti-theist, though I can easily count myself in categories 1 and 2 above.

    Personally, I don't think the six classifications above are the right way to categorize atheists. A true classification would be one where the categories are mutually exclusive. The categories listed here hardly meet that criterion. There is far too much overlap and commonality among them.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:04 am |
    • Bec

      I was looking for the "like" button 🙂

      July 16, 2013 at 3:30 am |
    • Saraswati

      I think if they categorized just on belief they might come close to that, but behavior is a sloppier subject in which there will always be more overlap. This is more of a behavioral than theoretical categorization.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  12. Anon

    The correct definition is actually only number 5. If number 5 fits you, your an atheist, the others, whether they apply to you or not, don't impact your atheism at all.

    Why do you need the term "non-theist" when that's what "atheist" means anyway.

    July 16, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Saraswati

      They are categorizing behaviors and social characteristics, not intellectual positions.

      They need the term non-theist for the same reason we regularly change the terms we use for various social groups or mental illnesses. The term atheist has come to take on a particular meaning in society and many who aren't militant would rather not be associated with that term. If, in fact, you look at the history of atheism the term has always had some of those connections, which is why historically terms like "free thinker" have been used. Most older atheists or those not rebelling against religion shy away from the loaded term.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  13. johnderosa

    Wow no BIll Maher? The Godfather of this trend?

    July 16, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Observer

      Bill Maher is NOT an atheist.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:57 am |
      • Major Tom

        What do you think Bill Maher is, if not atheist?

        July 16, 2013 at 2:07 am |
        • Observer

          "I'm not an atheist. There's a really big difference between an atheist and someone who just doesn't believe in religion. Religion to me is a bureaucracy between man and God that I don't need. But I'm not an atheist, no." – Bill Maher

          He has referred to himself as an "apatheist".

          July 16, 2013 at 2:15 am |
      • Deanna

        According to this article, I guess Bill Maher would be classified as a seeker-agnostic.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:08 am |
        • TheBob

          Bill Maher is an atheist. A little bit of 1, 2 and 4.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:15 am |
        • Observer

          TheBob,

          Nope. Read above.

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

          Seeker Agnostic isn't an atheist.

          Atheist = no gods, god driven forces – creation

          Agnostic = don't know for sure, cannot prove or disprove

          VERY different animals.

          The Sciences today have advanced to the point you can safely state a hard opinion on the existence of God.

          As an atheist, I wish Agnostics would stick to saying THEY cant prove either way...I am capable of putting the whole picture together even if they aren't. The science, Humanity and its history, its tendencies Time itself,...

          July 16, 2013 at 3:17 am |
    • va

      Being an Atheist is not a trend. I am like most Atheists, even sitting in church growing up we thought it was all silly.

      July 16, 2013 at 2:24 am |
      • Boss

        that pretty much sums it up for all of us. If you were somehow immune to the endless indoctrination of family and authority figures, then you grew up to be an atheist, or an agnostic if your timid or indecisive.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:44 am |
      • Observer

        Boss

        "If you were somehow immune to the endless indoctrination of family and authority figures, then you grew up to be an atheist, or an agnostic if your timid or indecisive."

        "timid and indecisive" is better than "arrogantly without proof".

        July 16, 2013 at 2:47 am |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        Observer,

        "conscious creator" god...is a human concept...the concept of a beginning as we know it is exactly that. The more math I do...the more I learn from a couple astronomer fiends of mine, the clearer its becoming to me. Whats been going on has been happening for at least 13 billion years..probably much longer (repeating cycle). when we focus on the science – we are what really is...humans, no human...it happens , has been happening and will continue to happen.

        In contrast, look at our creation stories....stories from ancient peoples...going off their perception of time, their laws...and basing the whole universe of that concept? ....your average person cant even keep a century straight ..let alone 4,5 billion years (earth) ..13.7 billion years, universe so far...the continuous cycle of destruction and rebuilding in the cosmos.

        July 16, 2013 at 4:01 am |
      • Observer

        R.M. Goodswell.

        One of my all-time favorite comments on a blog was when a Christian insisted that the wisdom of God could be shown because God made the day EXACTLY 24 hours long.

        July 16, 2013 at 4:04 am |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        Yes, and also bananas perfect fit for the hand...

        The thing that most of the agnostic crowd fail to grasp is science is advancing ever faster...Its common for them to say we don't know....yeah maybe 30 years ago... but with our new multispectrum telescopes and our expanding understanding of
        astrophysics its starting to make perfect sense....it actually always has, it just that human beings are just now starting to pay attention.

        July 16, 2013 at 4:17 am |
  14. johnderosa

    Wow no Bill Maher? The Godfather of this trend? Really?

    July 16, 2013 at 1:56 am |
  15. karen

    I'd say this was the largest group

    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.

    July 16, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Saraswati

      Yes, it's an issue with the way the survey was done which resulted in more southerners and more activist types than in the general population. Hopefully the next round will hire Gallup or Pew or someone to get a more representative sample.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  16. Javi

    I totally dislike the concept of outspoken non-believers, atheist, etc as being "aggressive". I would not mind it if the constant preaching and evangelising of religious people, going door-to-door, holding rallies against gay rights and so forth was ALSO considered "aggressive". But since it is not, then my being outspoken about my complete and absolute dislike for religion (all of them) should also not be considered "aggressive". I am just as outspoken as they are. If they weren't, then maybe I would not feel the need to be myself. But since they won't clamp it ...

    July 16, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      The double standard is a religious tradition.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Fuzzy

      I can relate. I wonder if people Richard Dawkins maybe reached their limit of being bullied by religious beliefs, which might have prompted them to finally push back.

      July 16, 2013 at 2:19 am |
  17. dorb

    Being an atheist is scary wherever you are. I was raised as an atheist in Iran and over there I would never say it to strangers. In America I have been treated aggressively and/or rudely when I told strangers, and I never say it unless someone explicitly asks anyway! I find it amazing that I never ever felt discrimination because of being Iranian in California, but I felt discrimination because of being an atheist!!!

    July 16, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • Antigone

      I can't even imagine what it would have been like to grow up atheist in Iran, but one would think that California would have been kinder to you...

      July 16, 2013 at 1:51 am |
      • Major Tom

        Southern California is almost as religious as Texas. Almost.

        July 16, 2013 at 2:10 am |
        • Boss

          True.

          July 16, 2013 at 2:47 am |
    • Saraswati

      I almost never have any problem and have lived in the northeast, south and west (and a few other countries). Really as long as you just say "not religious" instead of atheist and then when questioned express that you don't feel there's a god people don't get too worked up. Also, when people ask about you're religion they often aren't really as concerned with your belief in god but your ethics. So answering "I'm a rule utilitarian and work for the greatest welfare of the earth's sentient beings" is often more the type of answer they are looking for. Simply answering "I'm an atheist" not only doesn't answer their question but can be seen as combative.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  18. Phil

    Where are the Christopher-Coleman study results published? What's the reference? The categories of atheist make sense and seem to get at the variety of types but Merica's report should give readers a handle for following up.

    July 16, 2013 at 1:43 am |
  19. Persephone

    It really wasn't that big a deal to get a half-black man into the office of president of the USA. You think you could elect an atheist to that office? Not this decade sister, we're a repressed minority, but just wait, our time will come.....{grabs his gun and vanishes into the void}

    July 16, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • Antigone

      Isn't Persephone a chick?

      July 16, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Athy

      Antigone is.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • tallulah13

      Persephone is the reluctant wife of Hades.

      July 16, 2013 at 2:11 am |
  20. Stone Cold Steve Astin

    I think deists in general really really do not like the 'probable fact' that when death comes, its over. Most of the fairy tale of religions revolve around the promise of a better life (read eternal). It is massively illogical for humans to think their is a 'soul' that can outlast corporeal death, and if there was, this Christ religion is what we get?? PLEEEEEASE, what an awful load of outdated tripe. Bibles make good fire starters, just be glad that you live in a part of the world where you can use this drivel to start a cook-out, imagine trying that with a Koran, you'd probably have some nut job want to chop off your hands and blind your eyes (STONE AGE MONKEYS 🙂 oops, bed time, hugs and kisses....

    July 16, 2013 at 1:38 am |
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About this blog

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