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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. types of believers

    1) one who refuses to keep his own counsel and drives even believers nuts with self-righteousness.
    2) one who must convert others – usually a fear of being alone or wrong or wrong AND alone.
    3) The political believer, who doesn't care if you are converted, and gets a thrill from changing the laws to fit his beliefs that YOU have to live by.
    4) The car believer. He believes that if he goes to church then he is a believer. Is worried about sleeping in a garage as he might turn into a car.
    5) the great white whale believer – he who believes and lives his own life and leaves the rest of us alone.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  2. Dave

    What about a 7th type; religion is childish and silly. They missed that one.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  3. Maria Guerrero

    Yes, God doesn't exist. He is all, including the atheists .

    July 16, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I suppose you might be able to build an argument for the non-existence of God using ZFC theory if you define God as the set of all sets.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • William Demuth

      So your God has elements of himself that refute himself?

      That makes your God a lunatic by any rational measure

      July 16, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  4. Ty

    Atheist here. Good morning to everyone. I'm not sure I agree that there are multiple types of atheistic people. You either enjoy having a religion, are unsure of religion, or enjoy not having a religion. As to the degree of how you present your ideas to others, that really just indicates what kind of a person you are.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • lionlylamb2013

      A good morning to you as well Ty, you "typical atheist"... 🙂

      I am more a religious man in that I wholeheartedly believe in higher powers, but not necessarily "immortal beings". I believe death is a commonality within many of most realms enduring cosmologic relativisms aptly able to support systemic life growths and their bio-systemic atmospheres.

      I struggle really hard in not wanting to use this term "God(s)" whenever I talk/write on accounts of being respectful in this world of ours that has endured so much without but little to hardly any relative interferences from intellectual life form beings other than ourselves of whom we know have little godliness virtues to enunciate with much regularities...

      July 16, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • Just the facts mam

        "I struggle really hard in not wanting to use this term "God(s)" whenever I talk/write on accounts of being respectful in this world of ours that has endured so much without but little to hardly any relative interferences from intellectual life form beings other than ourselves of whom we know have little godliness virtues to enunciate with much regularities..."

        que?!?!

        July 16, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Miniman03

      I'm not sure that I agree with you. I personally have a religion (Christianity), and sometimes I'm not sure whether or not I enjoy it. It's just what I believe in, and it has nothing to do with whether or not I enjoy it. In fact, a lot of times I find my belief forcing me into situations that I wouldn't generally be in, but I understand why and believe that it is what I must do. I respect that you put your thoughts up for all to see and criticize, and I just want to give a bit of constructive criticism. Good Day.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Miniman, By definition, an atheist is a materialist. For them, the question is always about the benefit. So choices are made based on pleasure or happiness. The path to holiness eludes them.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:23 am |
      • Saraswati

        Bill, by definition an atheist either doesn't believe in gods or disbelieves in gods. There is no requirement for materialism. Many Buddhists and non-materialist monists are atheistic along with a lot of idealists. Don't pull a Chad and start adding things to the atheist definition that aren't there. It's just as annoying as when atheists tell Christians what all Christians believe.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:29 am |
      • tallulah13

        Bill, atheists are no more materialistic than christians. We simply don't believe in any god. You are simply judging people by how you want to see them, not by what is true. In essence, you are lying. Do you have such little respect for your own god, that you think it's fine to break his commandments?

        July 16, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  5. Dave

    "Atheists and Christians I trust. Agnostics I don't. Picking indecision as a personal faith is like picking immobility as a mode of transportation." -The Life of Pi

    I've been an atheist since 9th grade when I took biology and learned about evolution. Later in physics when I learned about the big bang, the existence of any sort of god continued to make less and less sense to me. It seemed to me that god was essentially a means to fill a hole when something was inexplicable at the moment and that as humans continued to discover new things and prove new theories, the need for god dissolve.

    Having said that, I would never assume that what's right for me is right for every one else. As my atheism has matured over the last 20 years, I have realized the importance that faith plays in people's lives. While I personally am not of faith and don't find comfort from it or need for it in my life, I understand that many people do find comfort in faith and spirituality and that's ok...for them. My issues with religion/faith are really with people/organizations who insist that their way is the right way and all should follow the same path. No religion has a monopoly on morality (especially given the bloody pasts of nearly all religions), religion and politics should never mingle (we are not and never have been a Christian nation), and no one should ever assume that their beliefs are above every one else's.

    Sincerely,
    A 1-2-6ish type atheist

    July 16, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • William Demuth

      Dave

      In your journey you seemed to have missed one key point

      The majority of this worlds cruelty and injustice is directly attributable to religion.

      It is your right to be passive, but don't say no one ever warned you that either rationality or madness will win in the end, and destroy the other side.

      It is the logic of history.

      So sit by while zealots blow up buildings, behead people, reinforce racism and create underclasses, defraud the poor and promote war and aggressions. Hopefully, you can live your life above the fray.

      But then again, you might not. It's your call.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:47 am |
      • Dave

        Well atrocities performed by religions, governments, and individuals are all still atrocities. Doesn't matter the source. I would never condone sitting idly bye while any injustices are being committed. But I don't think it's fair to say all believers are inherently responsible for atrocities of the past/present, just as it's not fair to say that all atheists are inherently immoral.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • William Demuth

        Of course the source matters if one wants them to stop.

        If one lives life as a spectator fine, but remember it might be YOU that is in a burning tower while CNN films you jumping to your death.

        Reality has consequences.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • PEACE

        William I have to respectfully disagree. War and violence are an unfortunate part of our human nature and do not stem from religion. 1) Animals can be cruel and murderous (just look at some of the practices employed by ants and wasps) yet they have no religion- unless you believe there is some kind of secretive insect cult 🙂 2) Plenty of war and violence has been carried out by atheists. Stalin was one of the most notorious mass murderers of all time yet he was a staunch atheist. I'm sorry but for someone who (I would assume) values logic above all else- your belief about religion is not substantiated by the facts. The truth of the matter is humans can use anything (religion, politics, science) for good or bad. Saying that religion creates evil is just as bad of a generalization as saying that only religious people can be good. Some of the kindest and most loving people I have known were people of faith (and I'm not a religious person).

        July 16, 2013 at 9:19 am |
        • William Demuth

          Peace

          Ya do know Stalin learned his morality from his father right? A Christian alcoholic and sociopath who tried to murder his mother in front of him?

          I say again, Religion is the means men use to get others to kill for them. It is demonstrated every night, just turn on the TV

          July 16, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • Maani

        Mr. Demuth:

        There is a historian named Rudolph Rummel who is widely considered the world's leading authority on death throughout history. According to Rummel, the total number of people killed, murdered or dead as the result of holy wars, Crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts, etc., is ~75-100 million – in all of recorded history. Yet just three atheists – Lenin, Stalin and Mao – are responsible for the deaths of OVER 100 million people – in just 75 years. And yes, those deaths were caused by SPECIFICALLY anti-theist policies. And your comment about Stalin is about as backward as possible: Stalin REJECTED his parents' religious beliefs, and became a stalwart atheist. So you cannot attribute his murderousness to his parents.

        As an aside, if we add Hitler to this mix (since despite his use of Christian rhetoric and symbolism, he was a pagan, and an equal-opportunity murderer who killed 2 million Christians in addition to the 6 million Jews and 5 million elderly, disabled, etc.), we can add another 13 million to the atheists' side of the equation.

        In actual fact, atheism – and the specifically anti-theist policies of Stalin, Lenin and Mao – has caused FAR more death through history than "religion" has.

        Peace.

        July 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • Edward

          I see you have forgotten to include all the historical killings that pre-date the written histories. I would wager you are off by more than a billion people. Atheism does not equal murderous intent.

          September 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • william demuth knows all

      Dave, thank you for being respectful/understanding. There are people on both sides who agree that a respectful and considerate approach is much more welcomed. Others displaying disrespect and inconsideration are usually ignorant to the little effect they have on others.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Dave, nicely put (although I disagree with your opening quote, I agree with almost everything else)

      July 16, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • Dave

        Thank...I just thought that was a funny quote from an interesting book. I know agnostics are teased for being "indecisive" but really there's nothing wrong with uncertainty.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:00 am |
        • kt

          i don't think of my self as indecisive (as a seeker-agnostic), merely open and accepting that man does not have all the answers. i am perfectly ok with ambiguity in this area and completely accept the fact that i don't know. i don't need to know. it doesn't have to fit in a box. other than that i have to agree with you completely 🙂

          July 16, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Vic

      While you may be somehow right on some aspects, you are totally wrong about one major one!

      The United States Of America has always been of a Christian heritage, and remains a Christian Nation by the vast majority of its people (86%.)

      July 16, 2013 at 9:05 am |
      • Saraswati

        Since everyone over the age of 10 knows this is a majority Christian nation, I think you canassume that that is not the sensein which the term "Christian Nation" was used here, rather it was the sense used by many fundamentalists (that of a Christian structure and guiding principle) when arguing for insti tuting religious policies in government. It is the sense rejected unanimously by theUS senate in the Treaty of Tripoli: "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".

        July 16, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • tallulah13

        Actually, Vic, the United States is a secular nation with a population comprised of people of several different beliefs, even non-belief. We are all equally protected by the Constitution. All your posturing and posing does not change that fact.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • William Demuth

      Vic

      Your numbers are WAY off

      We Atheists are about 14 percent ourselves.

      With Mormons, Jews, Muslims et al, your cults cut has GREATLY diminished.

      On the curve of time, your faith has peaked and will erode away. Its just a question of how quickly.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  6. Jerry

    The religious among us apparently need a moral compass in order to know how to be good people.
    Atheists have a built-in direction finder and already know how to be good people.

    The religious among us apparently need their religious life-preserver in order to feel like they matter and that this fallacy they refer to as their "soul" will continue to float into eternity. Their "belief" is transactional. They give worship, they get eternal life. They apparently don't like living very much since they all can't wait to die and go to Heaven.
    Atheists are naturally buoyant, and we already know that, in the long run, none of us matter except to our friends and family. We don't delude ourselves with myths and imbecilic stories about things that we've never seen nor will ever see. We're OK just the way we are. Don't worry, be happy...

    July 16, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • lol??

      "..................Atheists are naturally buoyant.............." What is the meaning of this??

      hydrogen, or helium?? Pols give us plenty of methane.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  7. Cory

    This is my problem with sociologists: They always have to just shove things into little boxes. As a former christian, now athiest of some sort...I have gone through many of these different stages, (Yes that's how I see the categories listed here). Most of the time I just back off and don't care to voice what I think, but through discourse, I find that certain categories will present themselves more aggressively depending on the kind of person I am speaking to. For example: I become more aggressive when I encounter Born Again christians that are particularly aggressive, and fail to see their own hypocrisy. It helps discussions that I can cite different things from the Bible, and point out the large gaping holes, but in reality nothing will change mostly due to fear and conditioning. There's a lot of similar behaviours to be noted between the very religious and junkies actually. Note that a junkie will not change until he/she hits a wall, and even then sometimes they don't. One can tell a junkie they have a problem till they're blue in the face, but it won't make a difference until the junkie decides for themselves. So too with the ultra religious. (This can be for any religion not just limited to christianity). There is a lot of good, empirical data, that religion is detrimental to societies. (The Crusades for example). However, there is also lots of research stating that society has formed around religion due to the structures created within. (See Max Weber). The true answer lies somewhere in the middle. Let's be real, it's not like EVERYTHING from Christianity, or Islam, etc is all bad. It's also not all good either. What we should do as humans is quite simple: Find out what is a transcendental truth, extract it, and put it into a universal ethical code. Much like our founding fathers were trying to do.While doing this we can eliminate the bad parts, and move forward. If we do NOT do these things, we are ignoring our own consciousness, which is direct violation of being human. (You don't believe me? Go and read their personal works again. Pick up Ben Franklin's work. It will be good for you).

    July 16, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      The thing is that everyone shoves things into little boxes all the time. Sociologists and anthropologists just do it self-consciously and with checks and public scruitiny.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • Saraswati

        scrutiny

        July 16, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • lol??

        Public scrutiny?? Not nice to do your socie science experiments on the gullible public.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  8. traceya117

    Quite the in-depth study with 59 interviews. Geez!

    July 16, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Saraswati

      They derived the outline form 59 interviews, but surveyed 1153 people. It was only meant to be a preliminary study on which others could build. You need a lot of funding to really do this kind of study right; they may get it after this media attention.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:01 am |
      • lol??

        Hope it's private funding, but that would be a snow ball's chance in hell.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  9. Alex in NJ

    I'm a 3 and a 5, and I absolutely can't stand 1's and 2's. Atheists who preach against religion and look down their noses at those who think differently, are no better than the Pat Robertsons of the religious world.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • William Demuth

      Lets see if you feel the same way when your children are sent from Ft Dix to die in a third world religious war.

      Passive Atheists die.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:50 am |
      • Saraswati

        It's not a matter of being passive. I am definitely not passive, but I also don't think all religious people are idiots or tell them so. 'Religion' is not a single enti ty that can be treated as one mass of ignorance to be condescended to.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • Alex in NJ

        Type 1 & 2 Atheists are trying to force their views on others, and yes, sometimes they do step on religious liberty. I am for personal liberty, of all kinds. Tolerance is a two way street, and so is the First Amendment. We have separation and free exercise. If you want to preach live and let live, you have to actually live and let live.

        As for the wars. Religion is a way to trick people in to war. Governments cause wars, not religions. Even the Crusades were mearly a government seizure of property and wealth, and they used religion to trick the masses. Government kills more than any one force on Earth.

        July 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • J.C.

      5.5 here.
      Agree. No need to match obnoxiousness with the religious right. I never thought Atheists should be Jerry Springer material.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  10. Bubba

    Wow – what a pointless article. What was the purpose? A good-old homey laugh at atheists? "Which silly category of atheism do you belong to, sir or madam?"

    July 16, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  11. faith

    let us be clear, the god who spoke our universe into existence and causes our speck of nuclear fusion (the sun) to convert 600,000,000 tons of hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei releasing 4 million tons of energy per second in the form of light and heat, could never pause its movement, ever.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  12. naturalman

    I recommned Nancy Pearcy's "total truth" book. Expensive and and somewhat academic however very compelling teardown comparisison of all isms and religions and analysis on the existence of truth (2+2=4 that's true) and which truth is true. Also a very interesting mathematical and religious website / angelfall.com and 2300 pages for free to view. It gives some insight into the before and after of earth based.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  13. Saraswati

    I notice a lot of people are referring to this as a categorization of types of atheism, which it is not. This is a sociological categorization of characteristics of atti tude and behavior among people who self-identify as atheists. A categorization of atheists would be simpler:

    Atheism categories A.
    – those who believe there is/are no god(s)
    – those who lack a belief in god

    Really, theoretically, that's pretty much it. You might do it on belief level

    Atheism categories B:
    – 100% convinced
    – 90% convinced....

    Beyond that you could have categories of types of atheist ontological beliefs

    Atheist beliefs A:
    – atheistic Buddhist ontology
    – Spinozan pantheism
    – naive materialism
    – monism

    Or atheistic (secular) ethical beliefs
    – Unitarianism (some)
    – Humanism
    – Utilitarianism

    But this is not that. It is a very rough effort at social categories in the same tradition as this Catholic break down:

    http://withchrist.org/catholic.htm

    July 16, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      People challenge one another with questions on the existence or reality of God or gods without giving a useful definition of either, or else after they've tried to define them into or out of existence. It's hard to categorize believers, or disbelievers, without first classifying what is they claim to believe or disbelieve.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:39 am |
      • Saraswati

        Agreed. I always feel a bit sad watching people waste time arguing when I can see immediately they aren't even talking about the same thing. If there is one thing I believe would really help all these discussions, it would be increased understanding of how slippery language is. I think our discussions in the US suffer because as a still largely monolingual culture, people here don't have the inherent understanding of how words gain meaning that those who are multi-lingual have.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And as we have discussed earlier, there is really zero consensus on the word agnostic (by non-believers) and a heavily jaundiced use of the term atheist by believers.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  14. Lazarus

    Touche!

    July 16, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  15. John Caley

    The division between these six types seems very arbitrary, but then again, that's academics for you. They have to come to some conclusion, however trivial, in order to get published. No doubt if they'd used a bigger sample than 59 (perhaps that's all the atheists they could find in Tennessee!), they could have come up with 16 different types and arranged them in a pretty 4 x 4 matrix, so beloved of sociologists and their ilk.

    Like other commenters, I exhibit characteristics of all six 'types' and – in case you hadn't noticed from the above – am also deeply skeptical about the value of much social research!

    July 16, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • William Demuth

      I work numbers for a living.

      I can paint any stats any way you want.

      Just tricks to confuse you and take your money.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  16. Lazarus

    God is light. Light is good. God is Good.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • William Demuth

      God is Peanut Butter

      Peanut Butter is Good

      Satan is Jelly

      God is better with Satan

      July 16, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  17. Carmen

    Wow, so much hate, and negativity here, I will be praying for each and all of you, and may God have mercy on your souls!!!!

    July 16, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • William Demuth

      I don't have a soul, but I do have Bacon Egg and Cheese on a hard roll.

      Could you beg for ketchup instead?

      July 16, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • doughnuts

      Prayer: How to feel like you are helping while still doing nothing.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  18. Doug

    Yahweh, the god of the christian bible, is so repulsive. If you are a believer, then you fall into one of two catagories:
    1. You cherry pick from the bible, completely disregarding the brutality of Yahweh. Your eyes are closed and your fingers are in your ears. Or you are completely ignorant of who you worship.
    2. You are morally bankrupt. You have read the bible, understand all the brutality and repulsiveness of your god Yahweh, but justify it. This makes you morally inferior to an atheist and most other people on this planet.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Janter

      Oh Bite me Doug

      July 16, 2013 at 8:17 am |
      • Doug

        The truth hurts sometimes, huh Janter?

        July 16, 2013 at 8:18 am |
        • Janter

          Dougie, hell not one bit.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:20 am |
      • Doug from Seattle

        You hit the nail on the head, Doug!!!

        July 16, 2013 at 8:19 am |
        • Doug

          Thank you Doug from Seattle. There is no other way to describe a Christian.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Lazarus

      Hey Doug... Go jump in a lake.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:24 am |
      • Doug

        Lazarus – try to prove me wrong. Come up with a third way to describe a Christian that totally negates the first two.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • thekarl

      Don't forget that Yahweh is also the god of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All cherry pick, but at least the Jewish faith has a record of how and why their Yahweh evolved into a kinder gentler god. Unfortunately the need for evolving views and principles exposes the fallibility of god(s) and undermines the concept of an all knowing and all powerful being.

      I am a combination of all 6 types but least of all number 2, the activist. As we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a god to say absolutely there is not one is almost as big a leap of faith as that taken by believers. This is why I call myself and agnostic even though in my heart I am 100% atheist.

      You were a bit harsh in your categorization, but I cannot say you were wrong.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Justification

      doesn't equate to lower morality.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Doodlebug2222

      Not really... Some of us have had a life others could never imagine. The one thing that keeps us from striking out – is our faith and belief that there are consequences beyond this life if we do. Many like me would not fear being incarcerated – that is.. if we were caught. Many of us would feel – we are smart enough to find ways to take what we want when we want and etc... So think about that – maybe religion has it's place for keeping the dangerous aggressive believers – quiet... and believing that for every negative action there is punishment – for every good and kind action – reward.

      Or do you really want us to have nothing to believe in – and just do what we want? Think about all of the persons in prisons whose hearts and rage has quieted because they found God. You want to convince them you feel there is nothing there and see how fast they wring your neck and grab your wallet – or go back to doing as they did before and steal, kill and etc? You really think going back to the jail and prisons they practically grew up in would scare them?

      Maybe it's not a good idea to convice them there is nothing there for them.. and only what is here – what is now is ... it.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:32 am |
      • Doug

        There is a lot of truth to that, in not trying to convince people there is no God. Faith is not a virtue, however. Faith does not lead to truth.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:37 am |
  19. Unknown11

    Nice article. I have always found the more aggressive athiests/agnostics to be strange. They have actually taken their anti-religion and made it into a religion. There self diagnosed superiority always makes me think that they must be no fun to be around. Good article, anyway.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Janter

      LOL so true

      July 16, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Unknown11

      Yikes. Sorry for the spelling. It is too early for this. I am off for some coffee.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Jerry

      The religious among us love to suggest that atheism is also a religion. It is a transparent effort to make themselves feel better about their ignorance by reducing atheists to their level. Funny that I've never seen an atheist church, I never heard anyone being killed in the name of atheism and never had anyone come to my door preaching atheism. Get over it folks, we're not like you.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:23 am |
      • Saraswati

        It depends what you mean by 'religion', a word used in a diversity of ways. I'm a non-god-believer and yet I find many atheists religious in their conviction that they are right, their ideas about the universe that have nothing to do with atheism, and in their sense of community in which they bond to other atheists for company and ideological support?

        July 16, 2013 at 8:32 am |
      • Saraswati

        It depends what you mean by 'religion', a word used in a diversity of ways. I'm a non-god-believer and yet I find many atheists religious in their certainty that they are right, their ideas about the universe that have nothing to do with atheism, and in their sense of community in which they bon.d to other atheists for not only company but ideological support.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • William Demuth

      We wont miss you, but rest confident we will be nailing your wife when you are gone.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  20. Tim

    I didn't know that agnostic was considered atheist. I thought they were two totally different things.One doesn't believe in god and the other is not sure. Hmm....

    July 16, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • nemo0037

      Looking at the root meanings of the words, they refer to different aspects of the human experience. Atheism means no belief. Agnosticism means "no knowledge" - was a term coined by Huxley to refer to knowledge of God. So one can certainly be both.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:31 am |
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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.