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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. tannim

    An agnostic is not an atheist. An atheist denies deistic existence; an agnostic neither denies nor confirms it.

    In reality, the atheists are just like the theists–both sides do not know if their position is accurate because neither is provable in an empirical and reproducible fashion.

    As such, the only true answer is agnosticism, which is not a "coward's atheism." In fact, both atheism and theism are the coward's agnosticism.

    July 16, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Atheist/Theist only define belief, agnostic/gnostic define knowledge. So one can be an Agnostic Atheist or Agnostic Theist. The most honest stance for someone claiming to believe or disbelieve is to state Agnostic Atheist or Theist.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Ted

      Actually, this is incorrect.

      Atheism is talking about belief. Agnosticism is talking about knowledge.

      An atheist is one that doesn't believe in a God or set of gods. That includes those that believe that there can't be a God or set of gods, as well as those that simply have no belief IN a God or set of gods.

      An agnostic is one that simply doesn't know if there is a God or set of gods. Note, you can believe and say that you don't know and you can not believe and say that you don't know. Therefore, there are both agnostic theists and atheists. A gnostic is one that claims to know whether one exists or not. There are also gnostic theists and gnostic atheists.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      True, we don't know for sure and probably never will. What we do know is that the creation myths of all religions are incorrect and therefore the foundation of all religions are built on sand. How likely is the only logical conclusion for a god – that it initiated the Big Bang and moved on? There is no evidence of a god. The omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being claimed by religions has so many escape clauses in its use of power that it is just not credible.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  2. Derek

    Interesting article, but I don't think that forming these distinct buckets is quite accurate. Personally, I would split myself into buckets 3, 5 and 6. While I don't think that God exists, I won't 100% rule it out (bucket 3). Given that I don't believe that God exists, religion and religious ceremonies don't regularly enter my thoughts (more of bucket 5). However, I do celebrate Christmas and other "religious" holidays (albeit in a mainly non-religious way) and respect religious ceremonies, rituals, prayers as I come in contact with them - weddings, funerals, grace at meals, etc (bucket 6).

    July 16, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Closet Atheist

      Exactly... this article is pretty stupid. I'd easily fit into several of the categories also.

      Now I'm so confused and don't know my place in this world. 😦

      July 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      It's in the closet

      July 16, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  3. janer52

    And man created God...Religion is a cloak for violence and hatred as evidenced by the majority of wars over time. I believe that if you live your life according to the golden rule, you're good with whatever comes later (if anything).

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

      Even the Golden Rule can backfire because people don't always like the same things. Take a very proud person, for example. They may never give to charity because they personally would never want anyone to treat them as a "charity case".

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

        Who ever said there had to be one 'rule' small enough to fit on a fortune cookie that explains everything?
        Are you suggesting that any advice that doesn't apply to absolutely all situations should be discarded?

        July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Hi Ken... Where's Barbie?

        Just kidding Kenworth trucker...

        To me, charity begins at home starting with one's spouse and then leading toward the children. But within the boundaries of socialisms charities for the least rich and homelessness issues should be a governing estuary to be acknowledged should they not Ken?

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

      There are (or were) a lot of rules that helped one culture compete with others. Those rules were meant to promote health, wealth, and racial cohesion... but a lot of them ran contrary to our biology, rationality, and emotions, so they had to be codified under an authority that people had to accept.

      There's still a place for many of those rules in today's civilization, even if the underlying premise and systems are easy to tear apart. Maybe when our society overall works okay without religion, it will be worth stamping out, but for the foreseeable future, it does more good than ill.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  4. JAM

    I believe in Brian!

    July 16, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Bwian

      July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • JAM

        Blessed are the Cheesemakers!

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

        Follow the gourd!!

        July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      he's not the messiah, he's just a very naughty boy!

      July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  5. myweightinwords

    I think this is an awfully small sample size, and the article itself doesn't offer any real insight into the study's methodology or what other data they collected so it's difficult to take it as much more than a fluff piece.

    That said, I think it's fair to assume that if we were to look at atheists as a group, understanding that the only thing uniting them is their lack of belief, we might find this kind of grouping, the same as we would if we looked at Christianity as a whole or Islam as a whole, or any other "group" that is essentially only bound to one another by one thing.

    People are unique, and while I may believe X that doesn't make me the same as everyone else who believes X. Other parts of who I am and what I believe may align me with a group of other people who believe X, but still doesn't define who I am and the totality of what I believe.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  6. not my chair

    Thulsa Doom: My child, you have come to me, my son. For who now is your father if it is not me? I am the well spring, from which you flow. When I am gone, you will have never been. What would your world be, without me? My son.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Lisa

      Even "well springs" are part of the water cycle, so they are not really a source of water any more than any other part of the cycle. Well springs are fed their water from the rain that was evaporated from the rivers, lakes and oceans. Perhaps you missed that in science class?

      July 16, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  7. Jeff

    I'm actually a little of all these, depending on my mood. There are elements in many religions that have value and the community cohesiveness can be good, but anyone who really gives it some thought will quickly realize that there is zero evidence of any god. It's a wholly man made construct.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  8. History Bear

    Religion began as an attempt to explain natural phenomon, and became -eventually- a means of power and coercion. I respect your right to practice your beliefs, and I would appreciate it if you would leave me to practice mine free of your interference. My stance. I'm a Diest by the way.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  9. Birdyboyz

    How can you believe in God and that we've only been here for a mere 7,500 years with not a shred of physical evidence Christ existed ,when you can hold a dinosaur bone from millions of years ago ,in your hand?Scientists are actually doing tests on a baby Wooly Mamoth right as we post. Besides, where do all the Religious people go when they're sick? To a hospital...for MEDICAL SCIENCE

    July 16, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      don't talk logic and facts to the Christians, it upsets them!

      July 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Please link information about the "Wooly Mamoth" scientists are performing test on. Thanjks.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
      • Ben

        Here is a link about a wooly mammoth estimated to have lived 10-15,000 years ago. It still has liquid blood in it.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57586854/woolly-mammoth-containing-liquid-blood-discovered-in-russia/

        July 16, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Birdyboyz

        YOUTUBE -Baby Wooly Mammoth found 2012 in Siberia.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Reading Comprehension

        Try researching for yourself. Googling ‘wooly mammoth’ has several hits on the first results page related to a mammoth carcass uncovered in Russia that researchers intend to perform blood tests on.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • Ben

        Here is another

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/woolly-mammoth-siberia-display-tokyo-fur-hair_n_3575340.html

        July 16, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Derek Osman

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jul/14/wooly-mammoth-extinct-cloning-dna

        July 16, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Let's talk Science: Albert Einstein said "God must exist, because the universe and the natural world is too ordered and beautiful for this to all just happen randomly and spontaneously". Also Georges LeMetre was a Catholic Priest and Scientist – and, fact, he was the formulator of the Big Bang theory that so many atheists reference. LeMetre proves religion and science don't have to be mutually exclusive. Read these great writers on both sides.. Don't just follow the anti religious groupthink that's all over the media and society today...

      July 16, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Einstein believed in Spinoza's god, and if you were really concerned about his thoughts on any sort of personal god, you should look up many of his other quotations on god that are much more atheistic. Why hasn't science proven god's existence yet, by the way? How has science made all the discoveries about the atom and chemistry and biology, but hasn't been able to find a god anywhere? Why don't god-believing scientists agree on god? Hmm.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:12 am |
      • theist

        They won't read, don't waste your time.
        "What would Einstein know, I am the master of science for I have read internet articles on how conveniently everything has fallen into place. So I the great Human is declaring, the world has created itself cuz I am just so awesome"
        While I have full respect for Agnostics, I don't bother talking to Atheists. From my experience, Reason for Atheism = Arrogance.
        Hilarious how they quote Charles Darwin while he himself said he wasn't atheist but just fallen out of Christianity.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Rev Dr Bob Marrone

      I am an ordained pastor and you conflate all Christians into one group, which is foolish. I have no problem with science, I do not believe the world is 5 or 7 thousand years old. I think the big bang is the best current theory on the origins of the universe, and that evolution in no way goes against my faith.
      My denomination – the UCC – has a long history of firsts being the first to ordain blacks, women, gays, we stood against slavery, we stood up for marriage equality when everyone else was still opposed, and this month voted to be come the first major group of our kind to divest from fossil fuel companies. Most of the cultural and social progress of the past 2000 years can be traced to Christians who do not fit into your neat little package of Christians you consider worthy of your ire.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Unfortunately it is a human trait to lump all people who claim a particular label or group by the most outrageous and outspoken of that group. These are the people the media hold up as representatives. These are the ones who are militant and in the faces of those not like them.

        It isn't fair, but it is not much different than how all atheists are judged my Christian people, or how gay men are judged by straight conservatives.

        We revile what is not like us and we hold it up for ridicule in an effort to make ourselves feel more powerful.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • Birdyboyz

        "Christian"???!!! "Christ" ??? Hello???

        July 16, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Birdyboyz

      *Mammoth*

      July 16, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Ijiwaru Sensei

      What "shred of physical evidence" do you have that Caesar or Xerxes or Jimmu ever existed?

      July 16, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      The Beast and it's special sons have taken over medical care. The two sides are the false prophets and the antichrist Beasts.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
      Austin
      and obviously they will try to deceive as many believers as possible. There will be a "great falling away."

      If you read revelations there will be rampant misdeed in the church, and the spirit calls for us to overcome. Help us follow your righteous heart oh Lord.

      These wayward demonic spirits and lies have a serious grip of death on this world, here and there, they vex the minds of helpless voids.

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

      Come on now, the devil put dinosaurs here!

      July 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  10. Natrldiver

    Well look, it is the it list of atheists. So did anyone notice that it is all Hollywood elites who are so full of themselves. These people are nothing more than self absorbed people who think they are of a better status because they make a lot of money through the entertainment industry. Has society become so shallow that we need to put people who are shallow and self centered on a pedestal? These people are no better than the Church of Scientology, another farce. LRH must be rolling in his grave knowing that he duped the Hollywood elites who are nothing more than feeble minded sheep who have little to no faith at all.

    Atheists only help prove the point that there is a God. Just because you cannot see him does not mean he does not exist. The same could be said about the air we breath.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      The air we breathe is testable, your god is not.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Candiano

      What in the HELL does Hollywood ot LRH have to do with this??? If you believe in God, fine...but the reast of your post is unsupported gibberish.

      Do you think the advent of atheism started with Hollywood? Really? SMH.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Christianity is just the Church of Scientology with a 2,000 year head start.

      All religions are equally laughably foolish.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • ME II

      1) Atheists are not just "Hollywood elites". In fact I wonder if atheists even rank in the top 10 "Hollywood elite" beliefs.
      2) Scientology is almost the exact opposite of Atheism, as with most religions.
      3) We can detect the transparent gas called "air". The same cannot be said of your God.

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

      We can't see air because it's a gas but it's there because we can prove that something is there such as measurable amounts of Oxygen, Nitrogen and so on... get it?

      July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Josh

      How very Christian of you, name calling and stone throwing. Did you know there's a specific spot in hell reserved for people like you?

      I'm an atheist that just doesn't care. I can't stand "in your face" religious types.. most who contradict what the Bible says on a daily basis. FWIW, I was raised in a Catholic family. At the same time, I hate the agressive atheists that are always looking for a fight. I really don't care what you want to practice, just leave me out of it. God did not sell your home, nor did he bring the sunshine today.

      Ironically, my infant son attends a day care run by the christian school in town. I can recognize when they do a good job caring for the young ones. I have no plan to keep him there past the age of 3, though. Not going to force him into indoctrination.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • chuck

      If you click through the list, there are scientists and authors. But nice diatribe you got going there. I bet you thought you had a great point.

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

      "I like your Christ, but not your Christians. Your Christians are nothing like your Christ."...Ghandi

      July 16, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  11. ME II

    (Repost)
    Not sure if this has been pointed out already, but the "a new study" link references this article when it probably should be pointed to this: http://www.atheismresearch.com/

    July 16, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  12. KQ

    While Christians rely on faith that there is a God, Atheists rely on faith that there isn't. Since both belief systems require faith, it seems senseless to belittle each other for believing one or the other- unless it just makes you feel better about your beliefs.

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

      You really think atheism is a belief?
      I almost feel as sorry for people like you as I do for humanity as a whole.

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

        Belief- a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing. Atheism is a belief no matter how you spin it. No need to feel sorry for someone providing you with common sense insight, but your sentiment is not overlooked.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Atheism can only be considered a belief if you "spin it" completely out of frame. Stupid. Atheism is a lack of belief. If I tell you I have an invisible space ship and there's no way I can prove it to you, you might lack belief in my space ship's existence. That would be disbelief of my a.s.sertion. You don't have a belief, you lack a belief I have.

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

          Atheists don't have faith in atheism any more than you have faith that the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist.

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

        Yes, believe it or not, both Atheists and Christians rely on faith. Both believe that they have strong evidence supporting their beliefs, and their faith is manifested in their ability to maintain their decision to affirm the evidence they once felt inclined to accept as truth. No atheist has irrefutable proof that God does not exist. The majority of major atheistic scientists will admit this. Any claim that does not have 100% irrefutable proof that it is true requires faith. As for evidence for Christianity, it does exist. I suggest taking a look at this site: http://www.evidenceunseen.com which takes a intellectual approach to addressing Christian claims.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          No, atheism does not rely upon faith. That's stupid. Atheists don't need faith. You can't prove that Santa doesn't exist, but you don't believe he does because you recognize that it's a stupid hypothesis. Same deal with god. Stupid hypothesis requires a lack of belief. You're the one saying something exists, not the atheist. Prove what you say exists, or we are right to disbelieve in your invisible and undetectable deity.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Knuckles Nuclear

          The most scientific approach is agnostic.
          There is insufficient data for or against a supreme deity. There is no observable data and experimentation at this time to objectively study the subject.
          Rationally, it just remains an open question.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • parvo00

          "No atheist has irrefutable proof that God does not exist. The majority of major atheistic scientists will admit this."

          No, *all* atheistic scientists will admit this. Because that's not how science works.

          Science inherently cannot really prove the nonexistence of *anything*. See: Russell's Teapot.

          However, the lack of scientific evidence *supporting* the existence of God, while not rendering the possibility absolutely 100% impossible, will, to those atheistic scientists, reduce the perceived probability of his existence to something approaching 0%.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • ME II

      "Atheists rely on faith that there isn't [a God]"

      Actually, many atheists simple rely on evidence.

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

        Thank you!

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

        There is no evidence to support either opinion. However every family in the bible is traceable to the begining of the tribe described within the Bible.

        July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • ME II

          @Ron,
          Which opinion? God exists? or lack of belief in that?

          How exactly are these families supposedly traced back?

          July 16, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • David Strapko

      Where do you see faith in atheism? I believe in science, fact and physical evidence. Children have faith that santa will bring them presents and that the Easter bunny lays chocolate eggs. Faith requires no proof, just belief.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Atheism is a belief like bald is a hair color!

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

      So by your standard not believing in unicorns is a belief system?

      so you have another faith...not believing in unicorns...

      Your logic is absurd.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Atheism is a belief like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby!

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

      If there no people making the claim that a god exists, there would be no reason for vocal atheists. People wouldn't go around saying "there is no god" unless someone made the claim that there was a god. Everyone was born an atheist. Childhood indoctrination is the reason most people believe in one god or another. Atheists simply dispute the god story for the simple and logical reason that there has been no indisputable evidence of a god ever produced.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Dougals

      Not all atheists "rely" on there being no God, and thus only for *some* atheists, it forms a type of faith.

      For some, they are blithely ignoring the possibility of a God, and thus have no skin in the game. For others, those vocal ones that you are addressing, that declare that there can't be a God, they show a form of faith that they will rarely admit to – against the logic that it takes as much faith to declare the un-provable in a negative connotation as it does in the positive.

      Mental exercise: presume the mind of God for a minute, and you’ve declared that faith is more important than knowledge (knowledge would be easy to accomplish). So what would this proof of your existence do to that faith if not ruin it? Would you not take steps to make that faith “sacred” by making it more of a challenge to believe than to disbelieve? Would you not make it impossible to prove your existence, and even lay trails of evidence that would shake that believe with doubt and contradiction?

      This “argument” itself is not a form of proof, nor any recognized form of logic (other than circular reasoning), but it’s interesting to me that so many people are so *certain* that God doesn’t exist, and use (of all things), evidence that leaves just as much doubt as it does contradiction towards any specific claim, as if proving that a specific religion is wrong (in any way, no matter how limited), is enough to prove that they are all fundamentally wrong. What’s more, that because religion is wrong, God can’t exist. That’s more than just a stretch of logic, that’s flawed reasoning – unless it’s faith.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Woody

      If there no people making the claim that a god exists, there would be no reason for vocal atheists. People wouldn't go around saying "there is no god" unless someone made the claim that there WAS a god. Everyone is born an atheist. Childhood indo-ctrination is the reason most people believe in one god or another. Atheists simply dispute the god story for the simple and logical reason that there has been no indisputable evidence of a god ever produced.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Woody

      If there no people making the claim that a god exists, there would be no reason for vocal atheists. People wouldn't go around saying "there is no god" unless someone made the claim that there WAS a god. Everyone is born an atheist. Childhood indoctr-nation is the reason most people believe in one god or another. Atheists simply dispute the god story for the simple and logical reason that there has been no indisputable evidence of a god ever produced.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Woody

      If there no people making the claim that a god exists, there would be no reason for vocal atheists. People wouldn't go around saying "there is no god" unless someone made the claim that there WAS a god. Everyone is born an atheist. Childhood indoctrination is the reason most people believe in one god or another. Atheists simply dispute the god story for the simple and logical reason that there has been no indis-putable evidence of a god ever produced.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Woody

      If there no people making the claim that a god exists, there would be no reason for vocal atheists. People wouldn't go around saying "there is no god" unless someone made the claim that there WAS a god. Everyone is born an atheist. Childhood ind-octrination is the reason most people believe in one god or another. Atheists simply dispute the god story for the simple and logical reason that there has been no indisputable evidence of a god ever produced.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  13. NorthVanCan

    I continued to believe in Santa years after I figured out religion was bunk.
    Probably cuz Santa gave me stuff.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Chris Hitchens was furious that a humble little religious woman (Mother Teresa) got honest true recognition (from world leaders and the Nobel prize committee) for her being the greatest leader to stand up for and help the poor. Hitchens and the New Atheists wanted some atheist / or communist hero to emerge but that never happened. So Hitchens tried to discredit Mother Teresa (and his insane critical writings on her were laughable, even the leftist Village Voice totally disagreed with Hitchens and called his book on her an obvious personal attack with no sources or proof). So where are your hero's who've helped other people- Atheists? There are none – because they're too busy being self involved to focus on others.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Duck, your posts proves that you are too ignorant of the situation with Hitch and Terese to even comment intelligently on the proceedings and the motives. How about you educate yourself on the actual event and the reasons and the arguments. Too much work for you?

        July 16, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  14. ME II

    Not sure if this has been pointed out already, but the "a new study" link references this article when it probably should be pointed to this: http://www.atheismresearch.com/

    July 16, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Vic

      I noticed that right away. Anyway, the study comes from the University Of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:45 am |
      • ME II

        I think both the article and the link I provided stated as much.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  15. Richard

    Why is this article in a section called 'Belief Blog'? It should be in the factual news section.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  16. RS

    Let's see??????? There are dozens of "religions" most of which strongly disagree with all the others and that the rest of them are not listening to God "corrrectly". In fact some believe it is God's will that they kill other people and/or arbitrarily take what they have. Just read a few pages of the Old Testament, or listen to Osama Ben Laden for a few seconds.
    So if I am a Catholic and therefore do not believe in someone elses version of God.....am I included in the author's defilnition of an atheist??????: The reality is that the word "athiest" is a meaningless term just as the word God is a meaningless term except to those who have made the personal "decision" to use the term. But even at that, they find but a small minority of all who have chosen to make such a personal decision, who have any clue as to what their decision, in terms of specifics, really was????
    Am I a Nascar Atheist because I have never had any motivation or reason to run a car at 200 miles an hour on lthe bumper of another? Am I a mountain climbing atheist because I have never had any motivation or reason to climb Mount Everest?????? Or am I, to the authors, a high wire atheist, because I have never had any motivation or interest in deciding to walk across the Colorado River. And if they chose to write an article on such different types of "atheist" does it have any less meaning than thlis article?

    July 16, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  17. JMO

    Cthulhu Saves!. enuf said.

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

      Could Cthulhu be the anti-FSM?

      It would explain a lot.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • JMO

        Cthulhu saves because he likes leftovers.

        July 16, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  18. NorthVanCan

    Actually, I find it scary, that a seminally intelligent person can believe something so clearly to be nonsense .

    July 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      University studies?

      July 16, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Silly1

      II find it a little scary you think there are more than a handful of intelligent people on the planet.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Alias

      It is amamzing what you can believe when you taughtt from birth and are surrounded by people who all claim to believe it too. Why do you think so many people send their kids to religious schools and want to censor science in the public schools.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Saraswati

      Relationship between analytical thinking and non-belief.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-critical-thinkers-lose-faith-god

      July 16, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  19. Livelystone

    Richard Branson said it well with the words, "It is very comforting to believe".

    Having already experienced the other side after being declared dead and seeing what the Bible describes as the resurrection of the dead is only a small part of why I know God is real. It also only a small part of how I know modern day religion aka the church is for the most part clueless to the truth beyond the name of Jesus Christ.

    Everyone will experience a resurrection when life as we know it comes to an end but there are no mansions on streets made of gold anymore then there is life living in a perpetual napalm environment where time and torture has no end.

    One thing for sure is there are no atheists in the life that follows this one. On the other hand we will all be held accountable for the life we have lived and things we have or have not done but should have done.

    July 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • JMO

      Do you have any idea how delusional that sounds?

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

      No. What you experienced was your brain's reaction to chemicals that are released during death. People who have religious beliefs or are subjected to the ideas of what the afterlife are like tend to hallucinate these things. It happens in every region amongst differing societies. This has been studied extensively.

      Also, if a soul actually existed and left the body, your brain would not record any memory of events taking place outside of the body. It is not possible.

      You have been debunked.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I have no information on Mr. Branson's beliefs but I find his phrase on comfort, or similar ones to come from the non-believer side more than I do the believer. A great deal of Christian witness isn't about comfort at all. Rather, it is about a struggle, a death and then a victory.

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

      How do you account for all the people who 'went to the other side' but remember a very different place?
      There must be dozens of heavens.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • not my chair

      wait are you a Zombie?

      July 16, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • JimK57

      Hi Livelystone,
      I had an NDE too. Do not try to convince people here. What we had was a personal experience that cannot be proven.
      I know it is true what happened to me. Just use what you learned to help others when needed.

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

        Helping others is pretty much all that I do these days.

        Ironically what I experienced is not what I believed in prior to being declared dead. I told the same story for 5 years of what I had experienced while being declared dead before I found out that it is spoken of in the Book of Revelations by the Apostle John who also witnessed the resurrection of the dead

        Had it been something I believed in before my car accident, or had at least been a Christian then there could some support for what atheists here have to say.

        Not that I need anymore convincing but the reactions of the medical persons present that ranged from babbling incoherently to covering their faces and running from what they witnessed proves something happened far more than just having someones heart restarted had taken place.

        When I came back to life as we know it there was man rubbing oil on my chest whom I found out later was someone praying over my dead body. There are some people today who walk in the same awareness of the truth the Apostles walked in healing the sick and raising the dead........ you just do not find them in churches

        Google has free previews for books and you can read a fairly detailed account of what happened in the free preview of the first chapter for the book "Modern Day Prophet"......... a book that the church condemns for being a modern day heresy

        I hope you have learned well from your experience. There are web-sites that deal with NDE accounts but will not deal with anything that has to do with anything in the Bible. Then at the opposite end there is the church who refuse to believe anything different from what they already teach.

        Consequently the truth is only found by a few but there are some out there. Fortunately (although I do not believe by coincidence) one happened to appear at the scene of the accident I was in

        July 16, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Good point, and : Atheism is actually like a Drug to try to mask the deep psychological and spiritual need we all feel that won't be satisfied by worldly things – which is why so many who've achieved much on their own, but then are miserable and crash and burn – because they are not grounded or centered in anything that help them find inner peace – like God does.

      July 16, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Sean

      Because something is comforting doesn't mean it's true. Your near death experience is subjective and that is all. You saying that you KNOW God is real is intellectual dishonesty. By the way, which God? How do you know?

      July 16, 2013 at 11:09 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.