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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. Ken

    This article is ridiculous and only reiterates the ignorance of THESE atheists. Sure, I've heard some much more logical statements from other.. but to be clear.. all are refutable and essentially able to be spoken down to nonsense.

    But for example... Penn's comment of wiping out all religion and it will change, but science remains true in all things and if wiped out, someone would figure it out. .... Here's the ignorance.

    Penn is speaking as one who does not believe in God. But for those of us who can logically explain God's existence there is no wiping it out. And Biblically speaking, 1 of two things would happen if people stopped spreading the Gospel. The work of God would have been completed and therefore, the return of Christ would be upon us.. every single one.. whether you believe it or not. OR 2. God would reveal himself to the righteous... but thats not Biblical so I can only assume the earlier. And.. what Penn fails to realize... it that science is physical. it was created with a beginning. God created those laws and put them into effect. To claim coincidence would be statistically illogical in any other instance.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Cassie

      Please Ken, logically explain God. Could you also use facts that can be proven? Yeah, didn't think so.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • Ken

        I can logically explain physical time and space, a finite universe, statistical probabilities against evolution, the uniqueness and complexity of just one human cell and the machines that run inside those cells... that carry a digital form of code... shall I go on because all I ever seem to hear is "well can you prove" while, you yourself can't disprove.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • porthos01

          They are organelles, not machines. Why try so hard to act intelligent?

          July 16, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • Ken

          ... you using the term organelle is clearly you trying harder. I was speaking layman

          July 16, 2013 at 11:29 am |
        • illusive

          His statement still applies, technically the term "Machines" does not apply to cells and its parts. The word "machine" implies in its own sneaky way "created/ manufactured" which has not been proven.

          And your best response was an insult? That is as low as spelling corrections when the statement it was contained in was valid.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Ken

          No his statement doesn't apply. A machine is by definition, "An apparatus using or applying mechanical power to perform a particular task." and thats exactly what they are. nothing sneaky about it.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • illusive

          1. If that is the definition you want to apply then fine, but by doing so you are using too broad a term that has its own problems. Like It's like calling a rose a "plant". And not all of the organelles utilize mechanical energy, most use chemical(therefore avoiding your definition entirely) Just call them what they are...organelles.

          2. Were you getting around to actually proving anything?

          July 16, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • not my chair

      wait i a little fuzzy on which religion is correct because and which word of god it true?

      July 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • illusive

      Oh wow the ignorance is great with you, let me attempt to clear some things up.

      1. You say you can "logically explain gods existence", please expand on this point, because this has never been done before...ever. Using any of the following is not logical:
      Ontological, Teleological, cosmological, Transcendental, Kalam, watchmaker, Pascal's Wager, are all riddled with holes and fallacies.

      2.Science is observation and discovery of facts....that is really the simplest way to define it. No matter how much time passes facts will always be facts.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:46 am |
      • Ken

        you can refer to my reply above. 🙂

        July 16, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • illusive

          the statement you are referring to is unclear, you did not actually logically explain gods existence with any of those things , all you did was say you could...

          Please actually logically explain god existence by whatever means you can (preferably using you singular best argument to save time), I'm listening.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • Ken

          Well Im no expert so bare with me.

          It is scientifically proven that our Universe is finite. It is also proven that as our universe expands, it increases velocity the further it goes... which is backwards. which means an outside force greater than the force of universe brought it into being. You could even say the big bang is what that force was.. but it was still a physical happening that by our laws of science and physics, could not have happened from nothing. There had to be a point of origin with something that had the ability to 'create' physical matter.

          And I keep talking probabilities because Science uses them all the time. If something is statistically improbable... it is not considered to be true until proven otherwise. In the case of evolution, science ignores itself just so the God question does not arise. Seems odd to me. It also seems so odd to me that so much work goes into trying to find ways to explain a God that does not exist away... as if anything they say can change someone's heart once they've experienced God.

          If somehow you think my talking would change your mind.. than please continue.. I, however am at work... and this must be my end for now.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • illusive

          1. Actually the universe is not scientifically proven to be finite, all evidence points to an infinite universe so far....
          2. For the something from nothing argument you have many problems. First, for the scientific definition and idea of "Nothing" see Lawarence Krauss's "universe from nothing", it actually explains it quite well. And second, if such a complicated and vast thing cannot ever come from nothing where does an infinitely intelligent and complicated "being" such as god come from? Be careful you are treading very closely to many logical fallacies, especially "special pleading" and "Argument from ignorance".

          July 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • illusive

          Oh and science does not do extensive work to avoid god, Science does extensive work to find the truth, and the answer has always been something else.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • illusive

          And yes talking could change my mind, if you can do what you say (Logically prove gods existence) then I would want to know. Of course even if I knew for a fact that any god existed, I would not worship it.

          July 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      To invoke god without verifying that it exists is ignorance. What Penn Jillete stated in basic terms was that if christianity dies off (and it will), another belief system would takes it place. It's not ignorance to question a god or anything supernatural. What is ignorant is accepting things based on faith alone. Some of us happen to care that what we believe is true and verifiable.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Kyler

      So riddle me this, If God created all of the rules for science so they would always be the same, then why did he not do the same for religion? Why does religion constantly change with the views of society, yet science remains constant?

      July 16, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • SkepticalOne

      Don't try using logic Ken, you're not good at it. That comment was a wandering, incoherent pile of nonsense. I don't personally care if you believe but don't pretend it has a basis in reason.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:57 am |
      • Ken

        It's actually quite coherent. Don't be mad if you don't understand something beyond yourself.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Sean

      If everything has a beginning, what created God?

      July 16, 2013 at 11:17 am |
      • Ken

        Everything physical has a beginning. God is not physical and there is no way I can wrap my head around that. It's silly to even try and explain something not physical. Which is why I can only use physical evidence to decide which is more probable, something from nothing, or creation.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Johnny

          This is a perfect example of a religious person just making stuff up.

          July 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  2. jean

    I would disagree with the statement that Christians are happier than atheists,( at least on Twitter) I worked with, and know so called Christians who are rigid, narrow minded, and convinced everyone who doesn't believe exactly as they do. Although I know a few religious people who are happy, most of those I know are not.
    I was raised a Catholic. I still have a lot of reverence for the church traditions, and especially for Pope Frances. However I consider myself an agnostic. I believe in a higher power, but I also believe he/she are beyond our capability to understand.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • jean

      Oops. Me again. I didn't finish my statement. These rigid "Christians" think everyone who doesn't believer exactly as they do are going straight to hell.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Please allow me to invite you back to the mass Jean.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • lol??

      1)Train up children. Raising is for vegetables.
      2)Worshiping a church and it's flock is not worshiping God.
      3) Educratists worship their insti*tutions.
      4) take it or leave it, 1-3.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Gandolph The French

      All of my believer facebook friends and family seem awfully miserable. Life is always in a downward spiral. Their cars never run. Nothing ever goes right for them. And they LOVE to post inspiriational drivel about claiming victory over their tribulations by making their sky dad take responsibility for their failures. It would be wonderful if they actually took it upon themselves to, you know, work on their issues rather than pretend they'll just go away with empty prayers.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Ryan

      Saying religious people are generally happier is like saying that people unaware that their spouse is cheating on them are generally happier. Of course they are, its tougher to face reality than believing blindly.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • not my chair

        i am sorry but i disagree. normally like you said ignorance is bliss, but that would be saying that the lack of belief is a scary idea or would be painful in some way. also while they are ignorant, the supplement it with the idea that all humans suck and that all pain an suffering were brought upon us by us and the only way to get past this is to beg for forgiveness, which is bleaker to me. i think a better analogy would be a person that thinks their wife is cheating and begging her to stop mean while she is not cheating

        July 16, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • lol??

        God is very generous. He rains on the parades of the righteous and nonrighteous.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:56 am |
      • lol??

        People pay big money to catch their spouse cheatin'. Maybe some get a freebie.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • illusive

      So you are an agnostic theist, congratulations...so is every other theist whether they admit it or not.

      FYI agnosticism is not mutually exclusive with theism or atheism
      gnosticism/ agnosticism is a statement of knowledge, "I know" or "I don't know"
      theism/ atheism is a statement of belief, "I believe" or "I don't believe"
      personally I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible, so far "higher powers" or "gods" have not been proven in any regard, and until they are i will remain in the default position of non-belief.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  3. HamsterDancer

    Conan: What gods do you pray to?

    Subotai: I pray to the four winds... and you?

    Conan: To Crom... but I seldom pray to him, he doesn't listen.

    Subotai: [chuckles] What good is he then? Ah, it's just as I've always said.

    Conan: He is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, "What is the riddle of steel?" If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That's Crom, strong on his mountain!

    Subotai: Ah, my god is greater.

    Conan: [chuckles] Crom laughs at your four winds. He laughs from his mountain.

    Subotai: My god is stronger. He is the everlasting sky! Your god lives underneath him.

    [Conan shoots Subotai a skeptical look. Subotai laughs]

    – Conan the Barbarian 1982

    July 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Thulsa Du'um

      There was a time when I prayed to steel...

      July 16, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  4. Reality

    Becoming an atheist is easy. How easy?

    Only for the new non-atheists of this blog:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Ken

      ... Reference?
      All you did was say things that you can't prove?

      July 16, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • The Reverend

        Can you prove any of those people lived? Can you prove any of the hokey BS that your cosmic comic relates actually happened?

        No?

        Hypocrite.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • Ken

          Hypocrite really doesnt apply to your statement.. or mine. ... can you prove they didn't is what I'm asking. You're the one who posted "factual" statements.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:58 am |
        • illusive

          Ken,
          the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim, AKA the theists

          He did not say any of those things were true, he said "If ....does not exist/happen"...that is an "if" statement
          You say (presumably) "god does exist" "...did exist/happen", you have made the positive claim, the burden of proof is on you.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Ken

          I can accept that. But no one can prove that these people did or did not live. Just like no one can physically prove there is or is not a God. But if you're talking about probabilities.. the affirmative lies with God.

          Based on our anatomy, our universe and the laws in place... it's staggering to me that intelligent people can look at research done hundreds of years old that has been explained away by its own accord... and yet still claim it to be true. It's a heart issue.. not a mind issue. and no amount of speaking can change your heart. In my opinion.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Mathews

          can you prove your great , great, great, great grand parents, 100 generations ago existed?

          July 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • illusive

          Yes the people of the bible cannot be proven to exist...why then side with one of the 2 unprovable sides? I will keep my position of the null-hypothesis/ default position of non-belief, until either sides burden of proof is met.

          How does the affirmative probability lie with god? If you are referring to pascal's wager then please do some basic research as to why pascal was wrong and failed to include all possibilities.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • illusive

          Also all the heart does is pump blood, emotions and thoughts are in the brain. If you have evidence otherwise let me know.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • illusive

          Oh one more thing...What centuries old research? There has been no evidence saying characters such as Moses, Abraham, Noah, Adam, and Jesus actually existed.
          Although a few cities and kings have been proven to exist outside of the bible, but not bible important ones, (Mostly in Kings 1 and 2) and when they are mentioned the dates are off according to archeological findings. But that is no more proof of Jesus, Abraham, etc... than the existence of New York is proof of Spiderman. (In the comics he lived in New York)

          July 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Reality

      Added details as requested:

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

      New Torah For Modern Minds

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

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

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

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

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

      July 16, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
      • Reality

        More details:

        AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

        Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

        "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

        Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

        Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

        Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

        The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

        Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

        July 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
      • Reality

        More details:

        2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

        The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

        earlychristianwritings.com/

        For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

        Current RCC problems:

        Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

        2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

        Current problems:
        Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

        3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

        This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, the Filipino “koranics”and the Boston Marthon bombers.

        And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

        Current crises:

        The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

        4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

        The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

        Current problems:

        The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

        5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

        "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

        Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

        Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

        Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

        July 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  5. david bockman

    'Two researchers'= 2 college kids

    July 16, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  6. Logic led me to atheism

    I agree. I’ve always felt there is no such thing as an “agnostic”. Atheism is the position that there is no proof that any god exists. An atheist does not claim that “no gods exist”, simply that there is no proof and lives his life accordingly. An atheist holds out the possibility that a god may exist, just to the same extent that the tooth fairy may exist therefore for all practical purposes god(s) don’t exist. In my experience people who claim to be agnostic are just afraid to use the word atheist (see Neil deGrasse Tyson)

    July 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Logic led me to atheism

      whoops...meant as a response to Eric

      July 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • wbpaish

      logic tells me there is NOT some sort of administrator running the universe, BUT, I sure wish there was.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • illusive

      I agree and disagree, the people using "agnostic" as a middle ground of sorts are uncommitted and in reality are lying to themselves about something.

      using "agnostic" as it really is, a statement of "i don't know" is perfectly fine, All theists and atheists are agnostic, no one knows for sure if there is a god or not.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  7. nazareno32

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYDCMg4d7ks&w=640&h=390]

    July 16, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  8. Stacie

    I'm an atheist too.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  9. Pdawg

    Finally, an article that makes sense and shines a light on the educated folks. No longer will will be held to bronze age fairy tails beliefs.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • lol??

      How 'bout the pwogwessives let the people keep enuff of their own money so they can bring back the parlor in the home?? Let's get the important things in life closer to home and out of the streets.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  10. singletrack74

    Atheists–STOP BELIEVING IN WHAT I DON'T BELIEVE IN!!!

    July 16, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Ernest T Bass

      Religious = believe what I believe and be saved from my imagination.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  11. lionlylamb2013

    Life is insanity...

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

    July 16, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Alias

      This movie clip has exactly as much reality as your god.
      Keep it up, you're learning.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Yo Alias,

        Your inhalable vespers of "dia-tribunalisms" are as a mockery fragranced with an alchemist's aroma enhanced flavor of serendipity hoopla. Hooray for the Midi Chlorians and the forces of their wielded powers which will not be foraged via mankind until their futures resonate the lusters of meager rationalisms giving rises to unforeseen powers of unifying supremacies beyond our now known of inferior complexities taunts.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • lionlylamb2013

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

      July 16, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • The Reverend

        Like your god, this video does not exist.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Oh thank you kindly for your worded wondering ways oh Reverend of...?

          July 16, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  12. Alias

    This is still a pointless and stupid article.
    Let's try to divide men into 6 groups based on 59 interviews. Then we can divied vegans. Then I want to know how many types of philanthropists there are in the south.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Saraswati

      Actually I think those are all interesting questions. No one talks to every member of every group and everyone classifies...at least if they want to function in society. This is where you start in figuringout what questions to ask to learn the most.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • Alias

        The problem is that the article assumes athiests are a seperate, distinct group of people. One belief, opinion, or lack thereof, does not make a group of people unique.
        Athiests are just people. A study of athiests is just a study of people.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:24 am |
        • Saraswati

          We already know that there are demographic differences beween atheists and other beleif grops. They vary on age, ethic origin, education level, IQ, income and more. Certainly it is not a distinct group, but it is distinctive. And if you look at the author"s description of the study it was of the "atheist community". This is really no different than any other sociological or anthropological study. Few, if any, groups exist any longer that are entirely cut off from other cultures. Do you suggest all study is worthless?

          July 16, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • Alias

          I said nothing to suggest that all study is worthless. Why ask such a question?
          My point is that athiests are not a distinct group. Studying people based on their favorite color seem like a good iea too? It could provide insight or lead to a reason to discriminate, especially if we find that more young people like black more than orange.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • guest

      Your arrogance is showing. You seem to fit in very nicely with groups 1, and 2.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  13. Erin

    They forgot one major class of atheist, the one who's atheist until they need something and then pray like hell or ask their friends to....

    July 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • The Reverend

      You're confused or stupid.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • Major

        So are you. I thought it was quite funny.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:34 am |
        • The Reverend

          "I thought"

          No, you didn't.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      No, they didn't. They interviewed atheists, not Christians who have much doubt.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Great point Erin ! I've heard from soldiers who've been in battle say – when directly confronted with intense fear, the atheists always call out to God..

      July 16, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • Which God?

        You heard, Duckyboy? You are full of schitt. I have never heard an atheist call out to god, while under fire. I know, I was with them, and I'm one of them, you freaking azzhat bullschitt artist.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
        • Major

          What he has stated is VERY true. I have seen and heard them when in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. So maybe you just don't want to believe it, but FACT is it is true.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • The Only GOD

          So, do you really need to resort to name calling.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Gandolph The French

          Wrong major. None of the people I was deployed with ever considered the thought of some imaginary being saving us. Had the imaginary being existed, we wouldn't have been in such a dump to begin with. There goes your theory.

          And by the way, I don't recall anyone above the pay grade of O-1 ever getting his hands dirty.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Mr. Duckworth

          Yeah boy – the Truth hurts and makes you give an emotional response right? There are no Atheists in Foxholes – this is a fact of life son. Deal with it.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • Major

          @ Frenchy,
          So because maybe you never heard it makes someone else a liar? I served in the Marine Corps and heard it quite a bit, for example: one of my riflemen in my squad was wounded by an IED, as he lay on the ground with part of his leg blown off, he kept screaming " Oh God please help me". Perhaps you served in the Navy on a ship, don't know and don't care. Don't call someone a liar. btw I don't believe I stated that I was a Major.. It is called a screen name. FYI I was an E-4 squad leader.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • Candiano

        Baloney. Yours is another take on the "there are no atheists in the foxhole." I've heard from soldiers stating "Christians curse God in the foxhole for landing them in the hell hole", so I guess it's a wash.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • rational minnesota

        "I've heard", therefore it's true. Sounds kinda like religion.
        "when directly confronted with intense fear", which is hardly the time a human being is likely to act rationally. Using fear to instill/justify beliefs sounds a lot like religion, too.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
      • lol??

        Yup, I end up doin' the cursing thing too much. Which god do most people curse??

        July 16, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Saying "Oh my God!" is not calling out to any god, but a cultural expression which indicates surprise, amazement, or an overwhelming experience.

        I doubt any atheists were actually calling out to god. They were using a culturally accepted phrase to express themselves.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Saraswati

          I'm not sure what it would say even if some atheists did want a god in their final hours. Sometimes I want a piece of watermelon and sometimes I want a slice of pizza. Sometimes I just want a drink. Does wanting any of these things at a certain time mean I want them all the time or should engage in them?

          Just because I want a drink on Friday night after a long week does that mean I should want a drink every morning when I wake up? I should want to drink alcohol all day every day? Really, why do theists think this argument would mean anything?

          July 16, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Patty

      Erin, that's not an atheist. That's an agnostic at best. Don't try to take that stance that there are no atheists because you can't wrap your head around the idea of no gods, that's just your problem.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • WilltheFree

      That actually sounds like religious people as well, who are basically atheists but want to have that option.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • joe

      I always see this argument used. You do realize you're talking about coercion, right? You put a gun to an atheist's head and they break down and start begging "god" for forgiveness DOES NOT validate your argument. A water boarded prisoner will tell you that god is a great big flying zebra. It in no way reflects the person's true beliefs, only that under great stress or trauma they will grasp at anything they can to find relief.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • tallulah13

      Fear makes people irrational. I guess christians are a little more fearful than atheists.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  14. Robert Holt

    "I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it's here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man." John 5:24-27.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • The Reverend

      Quoting your cosmic comic book only makes you look even more feeble minded.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • Toms345

        Ey, Mr. Reverend: Let me reply to that with "The fool speaks in his heart: There is no God". According to the cosmic comic book that divides atheists into 6 classes of chumps.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:18 am |
        • Jefe El Guapo

          A book proven to be false cannot be used to prove itself to be true.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • The Reverend

          Hmm...so, using your limited intelligence, you determined from this article that the bible defines these 6 types of atheists.

          This is why people think you're stupid.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  15. Alias

    This is still a stupid article.
    Let's try to divide men into 6 groups based on 59 interviews. Then we can divied vegans. Then I want to know how many types of philanthropists there are west of the Mississippi.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  16. Scott

    I had an encouter with Jesus Christ in 1974 and became Born Agian at that time, so I know Jesus is real and alive.

    Sadly, there are no dead Athiests.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • The Reverend

      You had an hallucination, since your holy bunny rabbit does not exist.

      This makes you a liar, or simply mentally ill, like the rest of your friends.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Which God?

      So, Scott, what were you smoking/on, that caused you to have such a mind alterating hallucination? Jesus never existed outside of the booble book, and those who claim he is real. Dream on, Scott, your aberations will catch up to you, sooner or later.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • JimK57

      Hi Scott,
      What you had was a personal experience that affected you in a positive way. There is no need to prove it to anyone. What is important is what you do now. I had an NDE that changed me, I feel no need to prove what I experienced, but I do feel I have a duty to try to help others because that is my true purpose. I hope you follow your heart and believe.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Alias

      So how do you account fo rall the people who had a personal encounter with Mohamad, Buddah, or the IPU?
      They have just as much faith in their religion as you have in yours.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Toms345

      I have experienced a couple of miracles in my life, for example supernatural healing. It is impossible that God is not. Also, he cares much about us and responds when we talk to Him. One of the characteristics of His being is pure love.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  17. JimAgain

    Okay, I was gonna leave this alone but some of the atheists here produce such self-congratulatory, triumphalist drivel that I thought maybe I'd add my own from a somewhat different perspective. For what it's worth, I'm closest to a 3.
    Play back a lot of the acerbic and hostile assertions like Julia Dunphy's and you see the converse of what they criticize - arrogantly certain, doctrinaire, and wanting to indoctrinate the next generation (tha lst being an inevitable and gernally beneficial result of "raising," in my view.) A high percentage of the atheists in the quotes and in my experience make claims of certainty and knowledge analogous to theology, based in their case on absolute confidence in the certainty of scientific analysis– dubious at best. In my wanderings in that "community" I haeard more hostility and shrill denunciations than ever I did among the religious people I know (even the fundamentalists, whoin my experience come closest).
    FOr me, I have simply not found a compelling reason in atheism to do what Katherine Hepburn said about being kind and helping– I read several attempts at an atheist ethical and moreal system and they all fell way short of compelling. It usually comes doen to "we all need this becuase we are social beings." But taken individually, a single person would end up best off by taking every advantage of his/her neighbor. A pragmatic arguent against atheism for me is that if everyone embraced and practiced the actual meaning of atheism, the society that would inevitably result over time would not be pretty.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Candiano

      BS. You're playing an atheist for the purpose of posting. You aren't an atheist, and you whole post is an exercise in self-congratulations.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Bravo

      July 16, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Candy is THE authority on Scotsmen

      July 16, 2013 at 10:13 am |
      • Candiano

        Bill Deacon, it's Candiano or Mr. Candiano. And no, I don't believe is an atheist, his whole post drips of the pomposity of religion thinly disguised at an attempt to appear agnostic.

        Is your opinion more valid than mine?

        July 16, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Saraswati

      I find it problematic that those with both lack of belief in gods and a positive disbelief are given the same term. For this reason, the broader society has adopted the separate terms atheism and agnosticism for these two categories. I generally find the atheist community's rejection of that terminology disingenuous. The claim is that the terms are not etymologically appropriate, but then what language really is? The problem of lumping these two very different groups together under one term, as most in the atheist community" want to do, is much more problematic. In my experience most use this as an excuse to hide their more extreme position under a guise of open-mindedness. The ambiguity saves people from having to state explicitly where they really stand. Personally,in public, I make clear I don't believe in god, but I avoid the word "atheist" as meaningless, at best, and more often misleading, to anyone not in the "community". And realistically, Ithinkmanyofthesefolksmislead themselves.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • JimK57

      There are good and bad on both sides. There are athiests who are racist claiming science can prove they are superior. There are also christians that believe they are the superior race.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Vic

      Wow, I was afraid to mention before but you set the stage for it:

      Atheism is increasingly viewed as or associated with nihilism!

      July 16, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • The Reverend

        You mean "viewed" that way by people who believe in a bronze-age book of myths written by simple minded people, for simple minded people?

        I thought so.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:45 am |
      • Saraswati

        Who are these "viewers"?

        July 16, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Alias

      Nothing like starting with the conclusion you want to reach and then attempting to rationalize a path to it.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Saraswati

      And yet the most atheistic countries in the world are also the safest. A little flaw somewhere in your theory.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Hahahaha. Do tell. What is the "actual meaning of atheism" that you reference?

      July 16, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  18. Viceofreason

    here you go:
    Science on Religion:
    https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7654891008/h79F1FFD9/
    More religious science:
    https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7654853632/hF78A0B09/

    July 16, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Candiano

      In your case, reason is a vice, as your name suggests.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  19. Bobby

    God, please forgive this once-great nation. "One nation under God" is no longer, and worse yet, we proudly flaunt our blasphemy in your face. Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing on the USA.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • God

      God, so he drowns he entire world except for a chosen few..that's called murder. Adam and Eve had two sons and they started the human race, that's called incest. Jesus was a Jew yet he is the symbol for Christianity..that's called stupidity

      July 16, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Alias

      If god will forgive all the little jokes we play on him we will forgive the great big joke he played on us.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Candiano

      "One Nation Under God" was added much later.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • fintastic

      "The Pledge of Allegiance was first written in 1892 for a magazine contest, and it read: "I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The Pledge became part of the US Flag Code in 1942, and in 1954 President Eisenhower and Congress added the phrase "under God” into the Pledge"

      July 16, 2013 at 10:39 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.