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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. MplsSteve

    At the end of the day, all of this is irrelevant... People spew so much hatred towards each other, the religious person says you' ll burn in hell, the atheist says that you're an ignorant fool, but what does it accomplish? There are certainly people on both sides who do damage to this world, but trying to knock each other down seems to only make the problem worse. Be comfortable with who you are but don't tell other people how they should think or feel. Try listening for a change, be constructive in your criticism, life is precious no matter which side your on. We all struggle in together in this place we call Earth.

    July 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • niknak

      It depends on one's skin color and before birth if life is precious or not.
      To a large segment of our population, life is only precious if it is still in the womb or if it has white skin.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  2. bostontola

    I notice some atheists defining atheism as "lacking a belief in god". I would think that definition contains both atheists and agnostics. Doesn't an atheist go further and believe that there is no god?

    July 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • niknak

      Maybe some atheists see it that way, but most that I know only believe in what can be proven with facts, and nothing more.
      I am in that group.
      There is no way to prove god(s) with fact, that is why it is called faith.
      Therefore, I don't believe in it (them).

      If it can't be proven, then it is just an unproven hypothesis and not worthy of any more attention.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
      • bostontola

        Again, how is your position different than agnostic?

        July 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • niknak

          I guess all of these "categories" are just the difference in shades of the same color.
          As long as religion is not forced on me, I won't go out and seek to have a confrontation with it.
          Another reason I am so happy not to have the misfortune of being born in some religious theocracy.
          I am sure there are many non believers in the middle east, but they will be stoned to death if they let that out.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • faith

        niknak
        Maybe some atheists see it that way, but most that I know only believe in what can be proven with facts, and nothing more.
        I am in that group.
        There is no way to prove god(s) with fact, that is why it is called faith.
        Therefore, I don't believe in it (them).
        If it can't be proven, then it is just an unproven hypothesis and not worthy of any more attention.

        pady wak, r u sure there is nothing that proves gods is real?

        July 18, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @bostonola,

      the simple answer is 'no'.

      Here's the online OED definition for atheist. It is simple and concise:

      One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God

      The tricky definition is agnostic. Again from the online OED:

      A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of immaterial things, especially of the existence or nature of God

      This is much more abstract. Arguably I can see how even people with strong faith in God would logically be agnostic when their belief is truly based on faith.

      Atheism and agnosticism are independent variables. A poster "Oregon Jeff" used this model:

      F............... gnostic ..............F
      .......................|........................
      .......................|........................
      theist ---+--– atheist
      .......................|........................
      .......................|........................
      ............... agnostic .............X

      It is possible to be both. In fact people can be in any quadrant. "X" marks me. I marked what I'll label as 'fundamentalists' with an "F". Arguably there is no such thing as an atheist fundamentalist but their behavior is indistinguishable from a fundamentalist theist. Most of those who self-identify as 'anti-theist' would be in this corner.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Weird font subst!tution there:

        F............... gnostic ..............F
        .......................|........................
        .......................|........................
        theist =====+===== atheist
        .......................|........................
        .......................|........................
        ............... agnostic .............X

        July 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        You either believe in God, or you don't.

        theist / atheist is a binary outcome.

        If you really can't even form an opinion because the anwer is unknowable, then agnostic is fine, but I see most people who want the 'agnostic' label somewhat speciously.

        It's a bit like the non-committal "spiritual but not religious" label claiming to reject religion, but not the supernatural. I think it's more intellectually honest for people to say "I am a deist, I think there is a higher power, even if I can't describe it exactly" rather than the wishy washy SBNR.

        Many people use 'agnostic' the same amorphous way to prevent having to take an intellectual stand.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  3. nomad82

    I'll believe it when I see it...

    July 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  4. Jean M

    Well, I'll be waiting for the typology of 32 types since none of these 6 fit me perfectly.

    From 1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic – This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism. YES. – However I am not well-versed in books and articles about religion because I believe that would be a waste of my time.

    From 2) Activist – This type does not match me at all. I let other people speak who are more loquacious about such things and enjoy these types of debates.

    From 3) Seeker-agnostic – This type does not match me at all.

    From 4) Anti-theist – This type does not match me at all. Again, I could care less about religion.

    From 5) Non-theist – This small type matches me the closest, however the statement "nor does a Non-Theist have concern for the atheist movement" is not true for me. I support all of the closet atheists feeling more comfortable in the future stating their opinions.

    From 6) Ritual atheist – I do agree with this type in theory, (as I'm a moral person and do like sparkly Xmas trees) however this type would not be my first choice.

    So that makes me an intellectual atheist who does not care about religion but does support other atheists (hidden and outspoken) and does like certain religious traditions.

    July 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  5. ben

    I find 3 and 6 can combine. They both go in the "open mind" or "live and let live" category

    July 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  6. faith

    when i was a christian, i pondered how i might fare if i tried to create a story like the new t. the true account about god and his son, but just a fiction, of course. how would i make it both credible and audacious?

    first, i wouldn't start out by putting the big guy in a barn

    July 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Akira

      You are a Christian. Why are you persisting in this absurd game?

      July 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  7. dontbow

    I always knew cnn was # 2 lol

    July 17, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  8. Another confession

    I had to stop being friends with someone when I told them I didn't believe in their religion. They acted as though they had the utmost pity for me all because of pointing out some logic. I don't want to bash all religious people but man that was nuts.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Saraswati

      That's crazy. A coworker of mine just mentioned to me today in passing in the hall that he was an atheist. I don't think it occurred to him to consider anyone might care. I'm so glad to live in a fairly sane area.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
      • mzh

        I worked under a manager and she is Chinese American... and we have very good relationship between us... she is married and she has kids and she is happy...

        So one day she was asking me about faith and then i was telling her all i know about diff faith and so on ... and when i said to her that for example at Atheist is testifying in front of the world that there is no God... and so on... then she told me that she is an Atheist... I did not pause but i said its okay and what i am telling is not making it up... she helped me a lot... i worked under her for may be 5 years... still she would hire me if she has any opportunity...

        Peace...

        July 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • niknak

        Problem is, people do care.
        I work with fundies and believe me, they care deeply, and if you want to be ostracized, tell them you don't believe in their fairy tale.
        It is ok to them if you believe in some other fairy tale, as long as it is not the Islamic one.

        They also get really upset if you don't eat what they eat.
        I am a vegan, have been for many years, and they get a bone up theirs anytime they see I won't eat meat.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
        • Akira

          Nik, I don't know if you saw my post yesterday, but welcome back.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
        • mzh

          I am a Muslim and I am proud to be an American Muslim and I have very good relationship with my co-workers regardless of their faiths... I have no issues with them going to gym or play tennis and I explain to them that I respect what you believe but i do not believe what you believe and you do not believe what i believe, so you do your religion and I do mine and this is the line i draw when it comes to my religion other than that we are good coworker, neighbor or friends...

          July 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
        • niknak

          I did, and responded to you.
          But maybe this new format did not let you see it.
          Kinda annoying to have to post, then having to go and find it.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • niknak

          At MZH,
          So going to the gym and playing tennis are also banned in your backwards religion?
          What can one do, other than reading the Koran and blowing people up, in it?

          July 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
        • Saraswati

          I remember that atti tudeude that any religion was OK but just not atheism whenI lived in the south and I have heard that it's similar in Texas. But what I really found was that when people wanted to know your religion they weren't asking for a myth, necessarily, but for your driving motivation, world view and ethical system. Saying you weree a unitarian, humanist or even utilitatian was better than saying atheist. In large part because atheist doesn't tell anyone anything. So many atheist like to say that it should be trivial, but then when asked their religion they say "atheist". What the heck does that tell anyone?!?! It doesn't tell them what you believe is right or wrong. it gives people theimpression that you define yourself and your life in the negative, and that's really what upsets them. That's why they'd rather you were a Buddhist than an atheist.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Another confession

      What's crazier is I'm not an atheist even. I'm agnostic. I was trying to explain the difference between knowledge and belief and how belief does not affect the external environment otherwise how would the element of surprise exist. My ex friend thought I was mocking their belief system. I honestly wasn't.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
      • niknak

        Then I say go ahead and mock it.
        If they are going to be upset, at least make it fun for you.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  9. MplsSteve

    Interesting article.. I guess I would be categorized as seeker-agnostic. I personally cannot say if there is a god or any omnipotent being out there but when I read books about the world of quantum physics I feel that I cannot rule out the possibility of some kind of higher being. The universe is much larger and more complex than any of us can conceive; the potential for 11 different dimensions, the multiverse, and a vast array of other phenomena that we can barely understand make it very hard for me to say definitively that there cannot be a god.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Saraswati

      When you get right down to it there's little or anything you can say definitively beyond (perhaps) describing your own immediate sensory experiences. Believe in him/her or not,God isn't too special in that regard.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  10. lionlylamb2013

    A bit off topic but everyone seems to be so...

    "If our embodied atomically constructed cellular essences need a source of sustenance to sustain their molecular environments than just exactly how far downward and/or inward do the supposed food chains entail these trans-migratory involvements of food source separations and by what means does any atom need to be fed"? Even an evolved atom needs a food source to remain as an occupying force within any and all confinements of the many cellular variations within all celestially committed life forms and living formations of all life upon this world’s celestially terrestrial domain.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • .

      LL is the belief blog pseudo intellect, don't bother reading their posts because of their poor writing skills, just laugh and move on.

      A pseudo intellect is someone who writes pretentiously and wishes to impress, rather than modestly trying to communicate effectively uses rhetoric over content.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Subversive connotations coming from a dotted labeler bares its all in its namesake. This Copy-N-paste celebrity needs his strength of character coming from the words of others instead of finding its own words to stand upon.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Yup, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Your magnificence in convolutions can only be labeled with another's scripts. Make up your own pomposities and try reducing your capricious undertones of ridiculous reductionism. Your sinusoids may burst and arterial hemorrhage might ensue if you continue on...

          July 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul,

          Here's a 14-letter word you won't ever see LL use:

          SESQUIPEDALIAN

          July 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          My sesquipedalian natures comes from a result of traditionalized summoning around my educated sustenance when I was in my youthful years. Long winded are many of my worded phraseologies but alas all the good people seek their way around and away from confrontational summations for they fear the reprisals of blowhards who won't even give one the day's time and date!

          July 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Hey look Observer you were correct in your evaluation of their comments again.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
        • Yo!

          Guys..guys...Lion's comments aren't about ego. Lion is suffering from low self esteem issues and this is how they make themselves feel better about who they are by trying to sound smarter than they actually are, give the poor sap a break.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          paul Paul PAul PAUl PAUL,

          Grow up will you" Quit it already with your copy-&-paste connotations! Your copy and paste it words are becoming very foolish! Not to mention quite asinine!

          July 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
        • Paul

          "words are becoming very foolish! Not to mention quite asinine!"

          That's a great way to express what you post thanks for that one. Awesome!

          July 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          YoYo mama...

          Hey Yo, could you please tell me as to how much psychoanalytical teaching you are versed in? I've spent the last 25 years being an understudy of psychiatric manifestations. And you yoyo, what are your qualifications to make a psychoanalysis of me and my mindedness ways? Or are you just being a bigoted fool just wanting to fit in with this blog's blowhards?

          July 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Hey look, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments yet again.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
        • Yo!

          "Long winded are many of my worded phraseologies but alas all the good people seek their way around and away from confrontational summations"

          This is a great example of what I mean by someone who suffers from low self esteem they can't handle confrontation so they are hiding behind their long winded posts.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Words of Wisdom

      Apocrypha: "Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.'"

      Christopher Buckley: "The best advice on writing I've ever received was from William Zinsser: 'Be grateful for every word you can cut.'"

      Truman Capote: "I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."

      Rachel Carson: "[Writing is] largely a matter of application and hard work, or writing and rewriting endlessly until you are satisfied that you have said what you want to say as clearly and simply as possible."

      Winston Churchill: "Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words when short are best of all."

      Cicero: "When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind."

      Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "Words in prose ought to express the intended meaning; if they attract attention to themselves, it is a fault; in the very best styles you read page after page without noticing the medium."

      Leonardo da Vinci: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

      Albert Einstein: "If you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well."

      Albert Einstein: "Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone."

      Albert Einstein: "Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius–and a lot of courage–to move in the opposite direction."

      George Eliot: "The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words."

      Wilson Follett: "Whenever we can make 25 words do the work of 50, we halve the area in which looseness and disorganization can flourish."

      H.W. Fowler: "Any one who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid."

      July 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • Words of Love

        Except when you are in love with God, then you want more.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
        • Robert

          The best way to communicate is short and concise but lionly's ego and self promotion get's in the way. That is a sin according to the bible but of course you didn't read the bible to comprehend that did you.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          What are you promoting Paul or Robert whoever?

          Your magnificence in convolutions can only be labeled with another's scripts. Make up your own pomposities and try reducing your capricious undertones of ridiculously invoked vane reductionism. Your sinusoids may burst and arterial hemorrhage might ensue if you continue on...

          July 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments again.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        WoW...

        What grandness in grandstanding other words! What's the matter WoW, can't find it in you to write your own copy so instead you have to resort to others words to give comfort to your downtrodden diminutive scruples of written plagiarism?

        July 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
        • Robert

          "can't find it in you to write your own copy so instead you have to resort to others words to give comfort to your downtrodden diminutive scruples of written plagiarism?"

          I think all those famous people have explained what it means to be a good writer but obviously you are to self absorbed to understand the meaning. It's why you need to take a writing class.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Robert...wrote, "I think all those famous people have explained what it means to be a good writer but obviously you are to self absorbed to understand the meaning. It's why you need to take a writing class."

          I don't seek fame nor its riches. I could care less one way or the other what idolaters of the rich and famous do! Your dogged ambition to relieve me of my posturing may lead you toward a personalized form of psychoanalytical dementia. Believe you me, I know quite well many a psychiatrist's analytical reverberations. I've been an understudy of their ways since I was 33. Now 58, I've spent 25 years gathering up all like manners of psychoanalysis.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Yup, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments yet again.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Pablo Paul,

          I don't seek fame nor its riches. I could care less one way or the other what idolaters of the rich and famous do! Your dogged ambition to relieve me of my posturing may lead you toward a personalized form of psychoanalytical dementia. Believe you me, I know quite well many a psychiatrist's analytical reverberations. I've been an understudy of their ways since I was 33. Now 58, I've spent 25 years gathering up all like manners of psychoanalysis.

          SEE!!! I can copy-N-paste too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          July 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Yup; Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments.

          July 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Words of Wisdom

      Anatole France: "The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you can't understand them."

      Anatole France: "The best sentence? The shortest."

      Learned Hand: "The language of law must not be foreign to the ears of those who are to obey it."

      Robert Heinlein: "The most important lesson in the writing trade is that any manuscript is improved if you cut away the fat."

      Hippocrates: "The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words."

      Thomas Jefferson: "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."

      Samuel Johnson: "Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters."

      Samuel Johnson: "A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who instead of aiming a single stone at an object takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit."

      Joseph Joubert: "Words, like glasses, obscure everything they do not make clear."

      James J. Kilpatrick: "Use familiar words–words that your readers will understand, and not words they will have to look up. No advice is more elementary, and no advice is more difficult to accept. When we feel an impulse to use a marvelously exotic word, let us lie down until the impulse goes away."

      C.S. Lewis: "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

      July 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • Words of Love

        Wisdom – brief, to the point, exacting, compartmentalized, final.

        Love – as much as you can find, always searching, wanting, missing someone, always in mind.

        That is what you get with God. This is why atheists are unhappy, they are missing out on the love of God.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
        • Robert

          "Wisdom – brief, to the point, exacting, compartmentalized, final.

          Love – as much as you can find, always searching, wanting, missing someone, always in mind.

          That is what you get with God"

          Keep demonstrating you don't understand the God of the bible or did you not comprehend that the God in the bible is the final wisdom and the Christian definition of God is love. The best way to communicate is short and concise but lionly's ego and self promotion get's in the way. That is a sin according to the bible but of course you didn't read the bible to comprehend that did you.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
        • Words of Love

          They are unhappy because they scanned the surface breifly with little interest.

          There is immense depth and interconnection in what the bible says and what God said within it. It is that searching, wanting, love of God that gets someone there, to him, and Jesus to you, to save you.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
        • Observer

          Words of Love

          "That is what you get with God. This is why atheists are unhappy, they are missing out on the love of God."

          Yep, they miss out on God's love for gays and pro-choice people as he supposedly sends them to hell.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          In the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was with God. For of forever-ness will Gods' words ever be among us all! Therefore to stop with one's learning of Godly words shows one to be as a fool, ever to end their sessions with new Godly words that manifest themselves at a moments whim.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • mariosphere

          How come babies know about love and they are born without religious belief? How come your dog loves you yet the dog has no religious beliefs? Words of Love's comment is pretty much a muddle of misinformation about the nature of love or happiness.

          If anyone feels he/she needs a belief in the supernatural to be happy, by all means, let him/her be. But don't make it a rule for the rest of us. The more you try to convince me that I need a god to be happy, the more I think your religion is fascist.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
        • Robert

          "Therefore to stop with one's learning of Godly words shows one to be as a fool, ever to end their sessions with new Godly words that manifest themselves at a moments whim."

          As many of the quotes have stated you can learn new words, but being short and to the point shows you are a good writer.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • Words of Wisdom

      William Strunk: "A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."

      Mark Twain: "I never write metropolis for seven cents when I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman when I can get the same money for cop."

      Mark Twain: "As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out."

      Mark Twain: "Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."

      E.B. White: "Use the smallest word that does the job."

      William Butler Yeats: "Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people."

      William Zinsser: "Writing improves in direct ratio to the things we can keep out of it that shouldn't be there."

      July 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
      • Observer

        Words of Wisdom,

        Thanks for putting in something intelligent and comprehensible to a thread started by ll.

        And you did it without sounding like a pompous, self-centered windbag.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          UN Observant obserrer...

          All that I see you fathoming is but a means to flock together one's risky behaviorisms of feeble minded dementias that might wind up one day as being full blown schizophrenia maybe even becoming a very paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar emotionalized dysfunctional attributes. The markings are there Observer. It's your choice to refrain from deleterious and quite obnoxious behaviorisms that can only lead one towards a psychosis unworthy for anyone to have.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • Paul

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Yup, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments once more.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Paul

      I just wanted to share this comment from Observer because it's so true about lionlylamb.

      "Words of Wisdom,

      Great advice for lionlylamb, but his ego will likely not let him absorb it. POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others."

      July 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  11. faith

    i was born hungry

    i'm half irish and half drunk

    hitler was a believer. he said so. god exists? hitler said so.

    bill deacon. i'm ruined! again. what to do?

    July 17, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Get yourself to rehab.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Elise

      When you say you're Christian, should we think you're a liar? When you say God exists, should we think you're lying?

      Hitler was a Christian. Get over it. It doesn't say anything more about Christianity as a religion than you saying you're a Christian does.

      I don't know what your point is, actually, unless you really ARE drunk.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  12. Reality

    Only for those who still believe in angels:

    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 do 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 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  13. Jenny

    I'm so tired of seeing these kinds of stories under "Belief." It isn't.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Just because we do not believe in gods does not mean we have no belief's.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • sam

      Again, it's the belief/opinion blog, not the 'super happy fun time religious only' blog.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      A discussion about lack of belief is valid in the belief section for the same reasons that a story about lack of money is valid in a Money section.

      Additionally, some atheists (not all) actively *believe* there is no god. And others have specific beliefs about the role of belief. All of these are valid topics of belief.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  14. ArchiesBoy

    I'm pretty much a Seeker-Agnostic with overtones of Ritual Atheist. As a child I had an experience that forever destroyed any belief I had in the God concepts of holy books - of any religion. Further I've come to believe that we'll never know one way or the other for the same reason that a dog will never learn to read the sports page: we just don't have what it takes. In the meantime, as Buddha says, "Better than worshipping gods is following the ways of goodness."

    July 17, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "I've come to believe that we'll never know one way or the other for the same reason that a dog will never learn to read the sports page: we just don't have what it takes."

      Nicely put!

      July 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
      • Russian Blue

        That is really well put. I was reading the other day about people trying to comprehend a fourth dimension (unless you consider time a fourth dimension). The idea was that it just isn't possible for the mind to imagine it.

        July 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  15. Luis Diaz de Villegas

    Interesting that the majority if not all are narcissistic pseudo intellectual actors, what arrogance. To say you are agnostic would garner more respect, to arbitrarily decide nope.....no God could have done this, well, at the end of the day, they call themselves entertainers.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Akira

      What's interesting about it? They don't speak for all atheists any more than you speak for all those that believe in God.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Where on earth are you getting this demographic information? Just because this is the majority of people you hear about does not make it the majority by any means.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Chris

      Most engineers and scientists are atheists. We understand our world, so we don't need fairy stories to make sense of it.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Many (41%) not quite most, according to Pew. 18% of scientists believe in a higher power. (Einstein fits here.)

        Scientists are ten times more likely to be an atheist than the general population.

        http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Scientists-and-Belief.aspx

        July 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      In séances are mankind's wordage usages which conjure up all festive mannerisms from the good to the downright bad. I find multiples of rationalisms in many socialist commodities hampering and needlessly sharp. I too am sometimes found out as being way too temperamental with my Word of contrite mannerisms that makes way for maniacal deprivations from other folks who see my words as being mere follies of an old man who is addressed being of little knowledge worthy of contemplating. Still, I flounder around and take due considerations of others marked commentaries and mold my perceptions duly and seemingly justly.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • .

        LL is the belief blog pseudo intellect, don't bother reading their poorly written posts, just laugh and move on.

        A pseudo intellect is someone who acts pretentiously and wishes to impress, rather than modestly trying to communicate effectively uses rhetoric over content.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Oh look ma it's puppy dot! Can I keep him ma? Please! I'll feed him and train him to go out when he needs to poop and pee! Honest to gospel ma I will train him and if I have to I will use a rolled up newspaper to make him learn ma! Thank you ma for letting him tag along!

          July 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  16. Joel

    Personally, I find it foolish that so many of us think that God's existence and purpose is too complex for humanity to possibly understand. It isn't hard to argue that as a species, we have grown exponentially smarter throughout our history. Scientists are now capable of capturing antimatter and grow ever closer to proving dark matter's existence as well. Yet we ignore the fact that with alternate forms of matter comes the very real possibility of alternate realms of material existence. What could these realms be? Some kind of alternate dimensions like we see in the movies? Maybe. But why can't these realms be the very same we were told about so many years ago through our various religions? Why can't it be that humanity has grown so much that we are on the verge of proving God's existence, even if we don't yet understand his purpose for us?

    July 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • bostontola

      Men in Black may be an accurate depiction of reality?

      July 17, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
      • Joel

        Funny! But I doubt it...just my opinion.

        July 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  17. mzh

    No human born as an Atheist... i don't understand what makes a human to be like that... is it because they become untouchable, or too rich, or too much knowledge which could be used to serve mankind, or ???

    I understand about richness as Korah and Pherroh. They went to extreme by calling themselves a God...

    July 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • bostontola

      Do you think you were born believing in god?

      July 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • mzh

        Quran teaches everything in the universe are submitted to The Almighty and this is the meaning of the word Muslim, when a human comes out of the womb of a mother (may The Almighty keep my mom and all other moms in good health), he/she is submitted to the Almighty and it remains as long as that human reach to the age of making decision...

        So it that case yes i was born as a Muslim as any other child and Thanks God that I was raised by wonderful parent who raised me as a Muslim and now i am proud to be a Muslim because I am not going thru what others goes thru in order to believe The Creator...

        Peace be upon you...

        July 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Most atheists define atheism as lacking a belief in god. On that definition, all persons are born atheists, as well as a-chairists, a-jet-plane-ists and a-unicornists. One the alternate definition in which one believes there is no god (positive atheists), no, no one is born thinking that, but neither are they born a theist, thinking there is a god. They are rather born completely lacking a god concept.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
      • Russian Blue

        I like the second definition. Under the first definition my towel is an atheist.

        July 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
        • Saraswati

          While I actually agree that the second definition should be used for atheist, you have to be aware that more people calling themselves atheists in the US use the other definition.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Just so long as you know where your towel is ...

        July 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  18. Juanito

    As a Believer, I think their assessment was interesting.

    As with many others here who have professed their faith, there was scathing and insulting opinions from the anti thiest camp.

    And yes, there were quite a number of equally insulting retorts coming from the anti athiest camp as well.

    And I agree we should not box people into categories. We're all capable of crossing lines from passive seekers to militant anti tendencies, and back again.

    Regardless, may God bless you all.

    In His Love, Juanito.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think that using words to describe things with fuzzy borders isn't necessarily boxing people in. If you describe someone as "outgoing" or "polite" or "trendy", those are all ideas that mean something, even if the person doesn't always fit those categories and it sometimes reclusive, rude and unfashionable. If still makes sense to have a starting point to discuss outgoing people as a group and to attach that label to a friend you might be introducing to others.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • Juanito

        That's a good way of looking at it.

        We could also just say: "this is Mike, a real good friend of mine", and let their discussion be one of discovery. Regardless of personal beliefs, opinions, and/or other differences, there is a lot we may find in common with one another.

        I have very close friends who don't share my belief in Christ, but it doesn't stop our mutual trust and love for one another.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  19. Lost

    I believe in a GOD (a feminine deity), but I'm fed up with religion.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • mzh

      Lost...

      You sounds like you really are lost...

      July 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
      • Akira

        Is there some reason God couldn't be female? Unless, of course, you believe females are inferior.

        July 17, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • mzh

          I believe one completes the other and not one is better than other as I am a Muslim...

          As of Feminine God – I believe in Oneness of God Almighty who has no partners, sons, daughters or associates and who of course is Unseen and who knows everything that we conceal in our heart and of course what we reveal... God Almighty did not reveal Himself to any human and we do not know... its just human's imagination due to lack of knowledge with due respect...

          Peace be upon you Akira...

          July 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
        • lol??

          Nuthin' worse than uppity help metes.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
        • lol??

          mzh, how could your prophet get it so wrong?? I don't trust you.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  20. TheObserver

    Behold, another article to incite disagreement among the populace. Blah blah racial issue!!!!! Blah blah religious issue!!!!!!

    What do these stories have in common? They're all there to keep the conversation away from the criminals in Washington.

    By the way, college interest rates doubled for a ton of people because.... get this.... congress COULDN'T come up with a joint reform. The story was about 3 sentences long.

    And also, the riot in Turkey was a lot more violent than any mainstream news outlet ever said or showed.

    And btw it's hot as hell everywhere in the US, and the last time the USA had a colder than average month of weather was...... 1983. But it's all good now there are new oil shipping routes through the Arctic ocean, so, that's great too!

    Anyone feel like discussing anything important, besides what celebrities said at parties?

    July 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • CW

      Everywhere? I love how Beltway/NE US people think the world revolves around them. It has been below normal out west.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
      • lol??

        "Cut the red tape!! Masters don't care 'bout no stinkin' cwooks! Our hurricanes be the most impotent!!"

        July 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Athy

      And very nice here at the beach. Koppen climate Csb.

      July 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
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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.