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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. Rachel

    I suppose I am closest to the intellectual one. I know more about the bible then most christians/catholics do. Not because I ever believed in it, but because I feel it is important to know culture and what people believe in for educational purposes. I studied and read that bible from beginning to end, as well as with other religions. I believe that being educated in math is so important as well but if you dont understand culture then you can be a bit lost in the world. I wanted to understand what the purpose of shrines were and why prayer is so important, so I learned. Ido find it sad that as an athiest I am more educated about most peoples religions then they are. In the process of studting different religions I found so many similarities, especially with one god religions, which leads me to believe further that we are all just human. Not christian, catholic, athiest, muslim.... But simply just human. I am respectful to others and their religions but do not want a person to be on a "quest for god" to save me. I ask that my beliefs be respected the same way i treat others with respect. On the other hand, I am pretty vocal about gay/female/human rights. I dont feel like its fair for the religious to tell others how to live their lives.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Tim

      You may enjoy this: http://youtu.be/d9fC3flXY5g Please listen with an open mind and heart 🙂

      July 16, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Hi Rachel,

      You wrote, "I know more about the bible then most christians/catholics do. Not because I ever believed in it, but because I feel it is important to know culture and what people believe in for educational purposes."

      Did you ever read within any Gospel where it is written that God is as mortal as we are and He will live but a 120 yearsthen die? Did you ever also read that one should "seek first" the kingdom domains of God and not be seeking the written blemishes of the Gospels meat to be as stories? Also, have you not read that the kingdom domains of God are inside our bodies and our bodies are literally God's buildings and they(our built bodies) were of Gods husbandries and wee all do labor equally with the Gods and their ongoing generations?

      July 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
      • G to the T

        There you are! Now back into your padded room LL. We don't want you upsetting the other guests...

        July 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Adam

    Why do religious people (which the author of the study is) have to categorise Atheists? "six types"? Ridiculous. None of these categories describes my Atheism. I find it humorous that religious people usually just can't understand normal people.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  3. TKB

    They really should have done a top ten. I fall under not believing in organized religion that is based around a book that has been interpreted and misinterpreted multiple times. I do find some of the customs of certain religions comforting and I do believe in faith. I just don't believe it has to be in a "god". I'd rather just live like there is one, live by the golden rule and be an asset to society.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  4. Type 7

    Lets not forget the de-converted Christians. I wanted to believe, I still want to believe I just realized one day much to my displeasure that religion just didn't make any sense. I spent that holiday season listening to "Don't know what you've got till it's gone" by Cinderella and staring into my eggnog.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  5. christi lee myers

    I'm the activist/anti theist HARD CORE

    July 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  6. Kamran

    To be an atheist is like a robot which is made by some one and that robot refused to recognize its owner/creator.....imagine how u feel when u created such robot....in the same manner God will feel when i become an atheist. In this case u will feel not ashamed to destroy your robot.....in the same way Almighty God can destroy us if we become an atheist.....If some one doesn't recognize his creature his all knowledge and all his achievement is in vein.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Athy

      Crazy beyond description. And it's vain, not vein.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • hozo1

      we simply don't believe in his existence ... rendering your entire argument useless ... it amazes me how narrow minded some believers are to have no concept that there can be other points of view in the world ... they simply cannot conceive that other views are possible ... sheep, sheep, sheep

      July 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Oh really. How many believers were destroyed in tornadoes this year ?
      Grow up.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
      • MARK

        Either tornadoes are caused by the magic sky wizard or not. It is amazing how the survivors are taken as miracles but the dead are never mentioned. They have been sent to heaven. The god myth never loses. If he is all powerful why did he not prevent it especially in the bible belt. Churches destroyed with their god aerial on the roof and jewish torture equipment everywhere and no pretection.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Peter

      I must be smarter than could because if I made a robot to kiss my backside it would kiss my backside that way I wouldn't have to torture it for all of eternity due to a design flaw caused by the creator.

      July 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  7. Kamran

    The Story of a Scholar and an Atheist
    There is one story of a Scholar and an Atheist. Long ago an Atheist did not believe the existence of God. He asked a scholar for a debate about the existence of God. Among the questions are: “Does God exist?” and “If God exists then where is God?”
    Then they decided when and where the debate takes place.
    The Atheist and the villagers were waiting for the scholar, but the scholar did not come right on time. When the Atheist and the villagers thought that the scholar will not come for the debate, then the scholar showed up.
    “I am sorry to keep you waiting for so long. But the rain is so heavy so the river floods. The bridge drifted away so I could not cross it. Thank God suddenly there was a big tree fell down. Then the branches cut out by themselves so the trunk was branchless. After that the trunk was cut and a hole was created so it became a boat. So I used the boat and crossed the river,” said the scholar.
    The Atheist and the villagers were laughing. The Atheist said to the villagers, “This scholar is mad. How can a tree became a boat by itself with no one made it? How can a boat exist with no maker who made it?”
    The villagers were laughing out loud.
    After the people calmed down, the scholar said, “If you believe that the boat could not exist without its maker, then how could you believe the earth, sky, and its contents exist without its creator? Which is the most difficult to make? Making a boat or creating the earth, sky, and its contents?
    Hearing that, they realized that they trapped with their own statement.
    “Then answer my second question,” said the Atheist. “If God exists, why can’t He be seen? Where is God?” The Atheist thought since he cannot see God then God does not exist.
    The scholar slapped the Atheist’s cheek hardly so the Atheist felt so much pain.
    “Why did you slap me? It’s very painful”
    The scholar asked, “There is no pain. I cannot see pain. Where is pain?”
    “The pain is here,” the Atheist pointed his cheek.
    “No, I cannot see pain. Do you see the pain?” asked the scholar to the villagers.
    The villagers said, “No!”
    “So, though we cannot see the pain does not mean that the pain does not exist. So is the God. Just because we cannot see the God does not mean that God does not exist. Though we cannot see Him, but we can see His creations.” Said the scholar.
    The argument of the scholar is very simple. Yet, the argument that God does not exist just because human’s sense could not sense the existence of God is very wrong.
    How many things that could not be seen or heard by people but exist?
    We cannot see the Wind but the Wind exists. We cannot see electricity (what you can see is wire) but electricity exist.
    How many things in the sky that billions light years away, even trillions light years away that could not be seen by people yet the things exist?
    How many molecular things even nucleus (hair divided in millions) that cannot be seen by people yet exist? People could only see those things by using a very powerful microscope.
    How many waves (radio, electromagnetic, electricity, etc) that cannot be seen yet exist?
    Those things exist, yet the human sense is very limited so it cannot sense their existence.
    The human ability to see colors limited to certain frequencies. People only could hear limited frequencies. Sometimes the light not only very dazzling but also could make people blind. So is the sound. Certain sound could not be heard by human sense while other sound which is very loud could destroy human‘s hearing.
    If to sense the creatures of God, sometimes people could not do it, even more to sense the Creator: God!

    July 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Athy

      Wow. Just wow. I'm rendered speechless. Somebody else take this one, please.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Kamran's God is pain, perhaps even a pain.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
      • patricia

        i've read the thing twice and still can't get my head around the concept of whatever this person is trying to convey.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • hozo1

      I can't ... I'm with you speechless

      July 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Great story.
      But needs more dragons.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • devin

      Smells of a set up by another poster using another name.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Nice

      July 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • Athy

        You really didn't think that was nice, did you, Robert?

        July 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • You're Not A Thinker

      So the religious scholar lied about the boat? Sounds like most religious scholars. Lying to keep their pockets full.
      We can see wind, (in pressure readings), we can see electricity, (an electron being moved from one atom to another), we can see distant stars, (via telescopes). All the things you have mentioned we can see through scientific discovery including pain.
      For many centuries scientific discovery has been regulated by religion, and now the science has made secular, these discoveries are being given to the people of the world, instead of hidden away.
      Any scientific discovery to those that don't understand, is indistinguishable from magic. White or black smoke coming from the chimney of conclave is a great example. We know today it is an additive to the burning ballot papers which gives the colour of the smoke, but in years gone by, it was seen as divine. Religion for years have been abusing scientific discovery to sure up their claims on divinity. Religion no longer regulates how it is to be used and their base of support is dwindling. I cannot prove God does not exist. You cannot prove it does. But in the absence of proof either way, I rather be on the side of proven science instead of debunked magic.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  8. faith

    this is the best they have to offer. well, this and blocking and deleting

    Elise
    tallulah13
    I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
    Akira
    Dyslexic doG
    another good reason to ignore Christians
    Candiano
    another good reason to ignore Christians
    On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers
    This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again
    Christian Motto
    Wasp
    Rory
    Open the pod bay door
    Agnostickids
    Rodents for Romney
    Polonius
    FYI
    Oberver
    skytag
    Cpt. Obvious
    Judica
    Open the pod bay door
    Rodents for Romney
    FYI
    Polonius
    Satan
    skytag
    Cpt. Obvious
    Judica
    Rodents for Romney
    Righteo
    Johnnyboy
    My Dog is a jealous Dog
    howabouthat
    Realist
    Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

    Our lord is a conflation of this story

    One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the Emperor's knees, and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the God Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superst'itions

    they use these kinds of arguments because they insist christians have no evidence

    July 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Yet you never even try to post yours. Why is that ? Are you unable ?

      July 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
      • FAITH

        ask observer

        Elise
        tallulah13
        I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
        Akira
        Dyslexic doG
        another good reason to ignore Christians
        Candiano
        another good reason to ignore Christians
        On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers
        This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again
        Christian Motto
        Wasp
        Rory
        Open the pod bay door
        Agnostickids
        Rodents for Romney
        Polonius
        FYI
        Oberver
        skytag
        Cpt. Obvious
        Judica
        Open the pod bay door
        Rodents for Romney
        FYI
        Polonius
        Satan
        skytag
        Cpt. Obvious
        Judica
        Rodents for Romney
        Righteo
        Johnnyboy
        My Dog is a jealous Dog
        howabouthat
        Realist
        Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear
        realbuckyball

        July 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
        • faith

          30 minutes and a few posts remain!

          a world's record!

          July 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
      • MARK

        I am being overwhelmed here. Lost in comments.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Oregon Jeff

      "they insist christians have no evidence"

      It requires no insisting. It's a statement of fact. Christians have *no* evidence.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • G to the T

      Awwww... now I feel kinda left out...

      July 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  9. Nina Rudd

    I'm #3, and used to be a true believer. Too much in the Bible I just don't agree with anymore.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  10. NameHaver

    I'm unconvinced that this is a representative categorization of atheism, seems more like a false hexachotomy. The diversity of opinion and philosophy among my fellow atheists and skeptics is completely lost with these simplified categories. There are as many different types of atheism as there are atheists.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The labels are artifacts of the study goals and have many overlaps – as indicated by the huge volume of posters who recognize themselves in multiple categories.

      The study appears to have an agenda to demonstrate that anti-theists are a minority of non-believers. This is an attempt to dispell the notion promoted by the religious right that all atheists are hateful anti-religionists.

      The study demonstrates that about 15% of the non-believers surveyed self-identified as 'anti-theist'.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • David

      I totally agree. I find it frustrating to be confronted with specific of belief/non-belief this way. I am not represented accurately by any of these categories, or combination of any of them.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The categories measure behaviors more than they measure different 'schools of unbelief'.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  11. RemcovanG.

    Great story, but i count only a max of 4 types of atheists. Point 3 are agnostics. Agnostic and atheists are not the same. Point 4 are against any for of religion. You dont need religion of any kind to be able the believe of a God or Creator. Deists are believing in a Creator without any form of religion. So point 4 are Deists and also they are not atheists.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Type 4 are certainly not deists.

      Arguably there is little distinction between type 2 and type 4. It is present, but it is very subtle. It mostly appears in the psychometric analysis performed during the study.

      Anti-theists are focused on the danger of religion and would destroy it if possible.

      Activists are more focused on the promotion and recognition of atheism as a legitimate alternative.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Oregon Jeff

      "Agnostic and atheists are not the same."

      The labels "agnostic" and "atheist" are on different continuums. Atheists and theists are also agnostic or gnostic.

      http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/

      July 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • AM in NM

      Good points. Pure atheism, in my experience anyway, is very rare. If you read your horoscope and take it even an inkling seriously, you are not an atheist as you believe in some power beyond your own. There are many other examples of course.
      I get into this with someone I know, he says he's an atheist, then he'll say stuff like "I don't really feel I need God". I told him that statement is different from saying you don't believe there is one. That could go be interpretted as "yeah there maybe a God, but I personally don't want to follow him." There are other statements too that have led me to tell him that maybe he may not believe or follow the Judeo-Christian God as I do, but I wouldn't label him a true atheist. I think I've met one or two people in my life that I would absolutely say they were true atheists. The others have actually fit into the categories you highlighted.

      July 20, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  12. faith

    this is the best they have to offer. well, this and blocking and deleting

    Elise
    tallulah13
    I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
    Akira
    Dyslexic doG
    another good reason to ignore Christians
    Candiano
    another good reason to ignore Christians
    On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers
    This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again
    Christian Motto
    Wasp
    Rory
    Open the pod bay door
    Agnostickids
    Rodents for Romney
    Polonius
    FYI
    Oberver
    skytag
    Cpt. Obvious
    Judica
    Open the pod bay door
    Rodents for Romney
    FYI
    Polonius
    Satan
    skytag
    Cpt. Obvious
    Judica
    Rodents for Romney
    Righteo
    Johnnyboy
    My Dog is a jealous Dog
    howabouthat
    Realist
    Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

    Our lord is a conflation of this story

    One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the Emperor's knees, and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the God Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superst'itions

    July 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  13. truth

    1) Anti-theist
    2) Hypocrite
    3) Hypocrite
    4) Hypocrite
    5) Hypocrite
    6) Anti-theist

    July 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      People are born atheist. Which applies to a young child, hypocrite or anti-theist?

      July 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
      • faith

        you lie or provide proof

        lol

        July 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
        • MARK

          Look it up yourself if you dare, do not go to your religious liars. They love to invent these stories to keep them going. They do not advertise how the bible was made. I can list 6 historians at the time of this jesus myth and they noticed nothing. Was there any historian at the time of jesus that notice him or his miracles:? NONE. The bible was written decades later on passed on stories.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • a

          now thars proof 4 ya

          lol

          Elise
          mark
          tallulah13
          I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
          Akira
          Dyslexic doG
          another good reason to ignore Christians
          Candiano
          another good reason to ignore Christians
          On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers
          This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again
          Christian Motto
          Wasp
          Rory
          Open the pod bay door
          Agnostickids
          Rodents for Romney
          Polonius
          FYI
          Oberver
          skytag
          Cpt. Obvious
          Judica
          Open the pod bay door
          Rodents for Romney
          FYI
          Polonius
          Satan
          skytag
          Cpt. Obvious
          Judica
          Rodents for Romney
          Righteo
          Johnnyboy
          My Dog is a jealous Dog
          howabouthat
          Realist
          Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear
          realbuckyball
          Thor

          July 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
      • a

        tombo baby, i love talking to marcus, but i called u a liar or provide proof. nothin

        He begged Vespasian that he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eye-balls with his spittle. (conflated to become god soon, very soon. who were the other conflatables, btw, observer?) lol

        tomtomtomtomtomtom
        tell me, is it conceivable that you will send a nazi god-hating fascist wanna be my way that knows who jesus christ is?

        July 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  14. faith

    Our lord is a conflation of this story

    One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the Emperor's knees, and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the God Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superst'itions

    July 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • faith

      our resources have been available and proudly on display for thousands of years

      July 16, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
      • You're Not A Thinker

        What? A book written by man? You call that proof?
        There are books written about Smurfs. Surely you don't believe Smurfs are real?

        July 16, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  15. Fadz

    Personally I believe these are not fine listed kinds of atheism. For instance, I am not limited by just being an intellectual atheist, I find debates and discussions very enjoyable with Theists or fellow Atheists. I think of myself as an activist as well, because, to some point, religion does affect politics directly and affects human rights, and I believe we all must be active for the sake of others who are discriminated for some socially unaccepted difference they have/acquired. And finally, some what I'm an anti-theist, because one simply can not ignore the fallacies of religion be it the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Jihadists; all are points that religious apologists seem to leave out when they are stressing other, unimportant matter in comparison.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • faith

      this is the best they can do

      July 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • faith

      get my letter?

      July 16, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  16. Malicia Brody

    I am an atheist but I think I fit into more than one category. I express my opinion when someone is wrong about what atheism is or when someone tells me that atheists have no moral values because they don't follow any kind of religious teachings, or that my children are going to be horrible people because they have no religious values or belief in a supreme being. I respect people's choice to believe in a God or a religion, but please be respectful of me and keep your opinions to yourself. I don't care what you think, I don't need to be saved. When I die, I go where everyone else who has died before me goes. I will decompose or be cremated, either way, I don't go off to some supposed afterlife. I was given this one life and I need to make the most of it because there is nothing after this. I do the right thing because it is the right thing not because some deity told me or some book told me. We should know in our hearts to treat other people with love and respect without needing to read it in a book full of contradictions, death and rage. Now, if you keep your soul saving to yourself, I will keep my non god fearing opinions to myself. It seems fair, but it seldom works that way.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Hello Malicia B.

      I applaud your lustered words of needled atheistic soundings and am somewhat bemused as to your candor. I love God and all of God's first born and you need not show them your loving natures for my love toward them are enough to satisfy their wantonness pleasures. Be good for the sakes of goodness and try hard not to be in compromising positions that might come back to haunt you as is the cases of many.... Peace to you Malicia B.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  17. chayann

    I would say i am a #5. I just don't believe in anything, even though I was baptized in a Catholic church.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  18. js

    I wonder how this survey was conducted. I'm guessing it might be biased towards intellectual atheism somewhat. It might be more accurate to hook them up to a brain monitor and ask them why they are atheists, or to try and convince them that god exists and get their reaction. If they start talking about the evils of religion, then they probably aren't really intellectual atheists, at least not totally. All I'm saying is that many atheists might attempt to classify themselves as an intellectual atheist when their primary emotional (whether conscious or unconscious) motivation for their belief (or lack there-of) is not some deep intellectual reasoning.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Saraswati

      http://www.atheismresearch.com/

      July 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Fundamentally it requires access to people who already self-identify as a non-believer in a manner that was accessible to the researcher.

      This population bias will skew the results. If someone like Gallup or Pew did this (assuming they use mobile telephone numbers) and applied a survey to all the 'nones' I suspect you would see a much higher percentage self-identify as non-theist.

      They are the silent group in the set of non-believers.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  19. Thinker

    Dear non-believers:
    The reason why you choose to be so is not because the existence of God is unreasonable, but because you want to live your life the way you want to live. There are plenty of reasons why it is completely reasonable to say God exists. You already know this. In other words, it is not due to scientific or philosophical reason, but due to moral reason.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • JJ

      Lol...and you choose "thinker" as your name...lol..how comical.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Observer

      Thinker

      "Dear non-believers: The reason why you choose to be so is not because the existence of God is unreasonable"

      Wrong. Have you actually read the Bible? Get serious.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
      • Thinker

        Existence of matters and energy is far less reasonable than complete non-existence. So we can think of God as the cause, etc etc...there are a long list of possible reasons. The question is: Is God reasonable? The answer: of course it is.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
      • Observer

        Thinker,

        "So we can think of God as the cause, etc etc...there are a long list of possible reasons"

        We can also think of an infinite number of other "causes" like Zeus or a committee of zombies or the Three Stooges before they came to earth. By the way, we can PROVE that they existed.

        Meanwhile, keep claiming that people aren't turned off by a book saying that unicorns and talking nonhumans exist or that it's fine to break the bones of slaves (if they don't die in a day or so) and beating children.

        THINK.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • You are Incorrect

      Nope.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Harry

      You couldn't be more wrong in you're reasoning if you tried.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      That would be a possible explanation (for which you would still have no evidence, however) if the only god options were ones which limited our actions in inconvenient ways and the only atheism was a wild hedonistic one. However, many of us live lives according to codes every bit as strict and demanding as most religions, and there are plenty of religions available which allow anything under the sun. Your assumption is that the two choices are whatever form of restrictive religion you belong to and some wild and unrestrained atheism you imagine is common. The reality of world is very different from what you imagine it to be, but I'm guessing you won't bother to figure that out because it would challenge you cozy little simplifications that allow you to feel sure you are right.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
      • Thinker

        The fact that you want to live your life with some strict code, a moral code, is another evidence some objective moral giver appears to exist. So there is another reason for God. If there is no God, your moral code is a total illusion. There is no Good no Evil, we would be nothing more than DNA copiers.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
        • Observer

          Thinker,

          Believers aren't nearly as stupid as you think they are. Most of them are bright enough to figure out that going around killing everyone is not a good idea without needing a 2,000-year-old book to tell them not to do it. Don't put them down so much.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          The fact that you want to live your life with some strict code, a moral code, is another evidence some objective moral giver appears to exist.

          Of course it does. Our moral giver is our society – our community of like thinkers. It is objective in the sense that it is essentially (though not strictly) consensus based. It is relative. It is not absolute.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
        • Thinker

          Observer,
          Again, where did your moral codes come from? The point I am making is people live AS IF God exists, while claiming there is not. This is the painful dilemma of Atheism.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • Observer

          Thinker

          "Again, where did your moral codes come from? The point I am making is people live AS IF God exists, while claiming there is not. This is the painful dilemma of Atheism."

          The painful dilemma of believers is that the same God that supposedly created morals (as bad as they are in the Bible) also created Satan and all of the evil in the world. You can't have it both ways. Even fantasy has to face reality at times.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
        • Thinker

          Observer,

          You are shifting into theology. What is good, what is evil etc. You see, this is why my original claim was the reason for Atheism was due to moral reason, not scientific or philosophical as the pop culture wants to claim.

          A reason for the existence of evil? Could human be responsible? of course could. A good father can both love and punish you, etc. etc. many possible reasons.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
        • Observer

          Thinker,

          THINK this through. If God gave us morals, how could we decide that so much of the Bible is "immoral"?

          July 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
        • Thinker

          Observer,

          With all my due respect, is Bible truly the reason for your un-belief? ...Or is Bible the mere excuse? There are plenty of answers for questions for the Bible over the web... So you agree this is mostly moral reason?

          July 16, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
        • Oregon Jeff

          "With all my due respect, is Bible truly the reason for your un-belief?"

          If it's not, it should be.

          " …Or is Bible the mere excuse?"

          Full of excuses? Yes it is.

          "There are plenty of answers for questions for the Bible over the web… "

          Rationalizations, you mean.

          "So you agree this is mostly moral reason?"

          Do you stone anyone that breaks the Ten Commandments? No? Then you don't get your morality from the Bible.

          July 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Observer

          Thinker

          "Observer, With all my due respect, is Bible truly the reason for your un-belief? .."

          Yes.. As I read more and more from the Bible, the less respect I have for it. There is no way I could even pretend I support a book that supports slavery or killing people for working on the Sabbath or beating slaves or beating children or killing every child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth.

          "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." – Mark Twain (?)

          July 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
        • Thinker

          Observer:

          If everything you read from the Bible sounds good to you, would you then believe in God?

          July 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Thinker, A moreal code is a moral code – a set of rules...how the heck can a set of rules be an "illusion"?

          "The fact that you want to live your life with some strict code, a moral code, is another evidence some objective moral giver appears to exist."

          No, it isn't. It is evidence that humans have evolved to be social beings for the better survival of the community.

          July 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Thinker,

          "The point I am making is people live AS IF God exists, while claiming there is not. This is the painful dilemma of Atheism."

          Again, no. And btw, you might want to get out and actually meet some atheists. We act AS IF we care about the happiness of other people because...guess what...we do! If you haven't evolved that capacity you will proably live a fairly miserable life since much of joy is what we live through others happiness. This is all you need to start looking at creating ethical systems as a society to promote general wellbeing. I can understand that people who are deficient in the genetics or socialization needed to care about others might find this confusing, but such deviants are likely to be imprisoned during most of their reproductive years.

          July 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • Thinker

          Saraswati,

          I say "illusion" because claiming we OUGHT TO live certain way is meaningless and completely arbitrary, if there is no moral giver. Why say we ought to strive for survival? Why? Who told you so? Your moral code literally came out of thin air if not from a moral giver. Can you still claim good and evil exist if you decided it yourself? Where is your moral baseline come from?

          July 16, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Thinker, Language is a social construct and all words are defined by us as humans. Good I define as that wheich increased the overall conscious happiness of sentient beings and evil that which increases the overall conscious miser or pain of sentient beings. Good and evil acts are those which act to achieve those ends. These are definitions and as such cannot be illusions any more than saying than a category such as "profitable business" is an illusion. We have a reality and a word to describe it.

          As for your other questions those are again your words, not mine. I never said you 'ought to strive for survival". You are using the terms of your own morality to try and describe mine.

          July 17, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • realbuckyball

      "Judge not, lest ye be judged".
      "No one shall come to me, UNLESS the Father draw him".
      "For many are called, but few are chosen".

      Unable To Think,

      Imposing and projecting your ignorant assumptions on others is exactly what Jebus told you NOT to do.
      You position is one that developed in the US in the early 20th Century with the rise of Fundamentalism.
      In traditional European Christianity, there always was room for "free thinkers".

      Unbelief has NOTHING to do with morality. You have no proof that atheists are any less moral than believers.
      Is you god SO completely, utterly stupid, that she wouldn't know that someone was saying they believed, if they really didn't ? No. Belief in an ancient angry war-god deity (Yahweh), who required his son to die so he could feel better, is 110 % UNreasonable.

      I do realize you NEED, more than anything, to explain a complex, confusing, tragic world with your simplistic infantile, uneducated syllogisms. However they do not really serve you well.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • hozo1

      The reason you choose to believe in God is because that is how you want to live your live ... that is fine and we accept that. What we categorically will never accept is that you must convince as many of us as possible that the existence of God is reasonable ... solely to justify your faith. We have no issue with your faith, because we do not need to repudiate your believe to justify our non-belief, unlike yourself. Something you might want to consider thinking about Thinker.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Jebus told you :
      "Judge NOT, lest ye be judged".
      "No one shall come to me unless the Father draw him".
      "For many are called but few are chosen".

      I see you know more about things than Jebus, Mr. Unable-To-Think.
      Is your god SO utterly stupid she would not knwo someone said they believed if they really didn't.
      (There is not a shred of evidence that atheists are any more or less moral than theists).
      If you have some, produce it. Now.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Projecting your simplistic untested, unverified infantile as'sumptions does not serve you.
      Jesus told you :
      "Judge NOT, lest ye be judged".
      "No one shall come to me unless the Father draw him".
      "For many are called but few are chosen".

      I see you know more about things than Jesus, Mr. Unable-To-Think.
      Is your god SO utterly stupid she would not know someone said they believed if they really didn't.
      (There is not a shred of evidence that atheists are any more or less moral than theists).
      If you have some, produce it. Now.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Shannon

      I consider an aversion to hypocrisy to be one of the fundamentals of living a moral life. Put as simply as possible, I have neither been convinced by evidence nor struck by the "spirit of god" in any way that would lead me to having honest faith in a deity. Pretending that I have that religious faith and worshipping a deity would ring hollow to me; it would be hypocritical and therefore immoral to me. It puzzles me why people with your viewpoint would want to force me into a belief that I don't honestly embrace.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • You're Not A Thinker

      It is not a reasonable assumption to believe in magic. Three hundred years ago, with a simple Bic cigarette lighter, you could make yourself a God like status. Creating fire, from virtually thin air, in the palm of your hand. Any scientific discovery to those that don't understand, is indistinguishable from magic. White or black smoke coming from the chimney of conclave is a great example. We know today it is an additive to the burning ballot papers which gives the colour of the smoke, but in years gone by, it was seen as divine. Religion for years have been abusing scientific discovery to sure up their claims on divinity. Now that scientific discovery is now realm of the non believer, religion no longer regulates how it is to be used and their base of support is dwindling. I cannot prove God does not exist. You cannot prove it does. But in the absence of proof either way, I rather be on the side of proven science instead of debunked magic.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Oregon Jeff

      "Dear non-believers:
      The reason why you choose to be so is not because the existence of God is unreasonable, but because you want to live your life the way you want to live."

      'Dear believers:

      The reason why you choose to be so is not because the existence of any god is so reasonable (in your eyes), but because you want to live your life the way you want to live.'

      It makes much more sense directed at yourself than it does at non-believers.

      "There are plenty of reasons why it is completely reasonable to say God exists."

      Name one.

      "You already know this. In other words, it is not due to scientific or philosophical reason, but due to moral reason."

      Morals do not come from religion or god(s).

      Keep trying.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  20. Observer

    The most fascinating part of this whole story is the huge number of people who are declaring what type of atheist they are. It would appear that a lot of people seldom previously being heard from on this site are now wanting their opinions known.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • JJ

      I think we also need a number system of those of us who do not believe in fairies.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's still on the front page of CNN.com for the second day now. (Slow news week.)

      Anytime a Belief Blog item is on the front page, lots of non-regulars post.

      It's a refreshing change from the usual trolling that goes on here.

      July 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I found that interesting too. You have to wonder whether the survey might have had a more representative sample had the authors had this type of more mainstream platform for distribution. Still, hopefully whoever does it next will be able to do a reall national survey with Gallup or Pew or a similar organization next time.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:12 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.