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.


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.

Daniel Burke

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Holidays • Lost faith • Nones • Spirituality • Trends • United States

soundoff (9,518 Responses)
  1. Ralph Monkman

    C.S. Lewis said to 'beware the Fundamentalists'. It's impossible to discuss religion with a fundamentalist whether he is an Evangelical, Muslim, cult follower or atheist. He believes he is right and refuses to even listen to another point of view. He has a closed mind, is arrogant in his beliefs and at times, is the angriest of believers. His ideology doesn't allow him to challenge it or question it. A truly spiritual person is tolerant of others. He realizes that we are all at different levels of spiritual development according to our understanding and personal quest for Truth. He is constantly seeking and questioning his relationship with the Universe.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • lol??

      You a Chevy man??

      July 18, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Athy

      Sounds like the typical religie to me, Ralph.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      What evidence do you have for a god? Why would you expect an atheist to reconsider without evidence?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:46 am |
  2. ClosetAtheist

    Well there has to be at least 7 types, because I do not fit any of the six categories. I do not believe in God but my parents are extremely religous. Though I am 25, I still have to pretend to believe in God. My parents have told me that if I do not believe in God then it will break their hearts. I find it strange that my relationship with my parents would be forever altered just because I do not believe in an imaginary being. It would be funny, if it were not so sad.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Dude or Dudette... We have Gays and Lesbians coming out of the closets to their parents so, at 25 you should have already been out of the closet with your Atheism. As a Christian, I would still highly recommending, that unless they have a mega millions trust fund or inheritance, hanging over your head....you are way into the adult stage and should be out of the closet with being a Athiest or anything.

      Fight for yourself and let the chips fall where they may.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • Cherilyn B

      I agree. There are many downsides to "coming out" as an atheist especially if you live in a conservative area. Being branded with that scarlet "A" for atheist , well, I look good in red. Being hounded by the self-righteous threats of hell could be ignored. Being snubbed by the holy rollers would actually be a relief. It's the loss of my job that keeps me in that closet.t

      July 18, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Cherilyn B

      Clarification: I agree with Closet Atheist as I am in the closet, too, with good reason. So, yes, that means more than six types of atheists fot the list.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  3. BMJ

    I would submit there is a 7th... Those who wished they believed...

    July 18, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Ken

      Why would they want to?

      July 18, 2013 at 12:15 am |
      • Dan

        Because ignorance is bliss

        July 18, 2013 at 12:30 am |
        • Yoon

          Ignorance seems blissful only to non-ignorant people. People always have problems relative to his or her respective level of education/enlightenment/knowledge/etc.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • lol??

      Sorry, ran out of quarts. You'll have to settle for a fifth. Just one and pleading will get you nowhere.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Elise

        Hitting the bottle again, I see.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • Doobs

      So are there people who wish they believed in Santa Claus?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  4. lolCAT2000

    Given the sheer amount of journalistic coverage, Atheists must clearly be the most interesting group of people in the whole wide world! :P :)

    July 18, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • lolCAT2000

      Oh, I forgot, Atheists aren't really "a group of people" – they're also ABSOLUTELY not a religion, that one is for ABSOLUTELY sure.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:09 am |
      • skytag

        What's your definition of "religion?" I don't believe in Santa Claus either. Is that a religion too?

        July 18, 2013 at 2:10 am |
        • lolCAT2000

          What do you mean "you don't believe in santa clause" don't you have presents for your kids on christmas?
          Or are you an anti-christmassist?

          July 18, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • Sue

      If atheism is a religion then abstinence is a se xual position.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • devin

      Yes, the entire 2 %

      July 18, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  5. damn John

    Be very careful where you choose to hang out ...on this planet my son the life forms have fantastical belief systems that range from the strange to the Ba-zaarO! So ALWAYS ...ALWAYS ...AVOID the FNpnkAssh0les (who always get away with it ) who'll track you down and shoot you point blank for wearing your 4skin up over your dome while carrying Skittles and Watermelon flavored ice tea and scaring the KRaP out of him with your cat-like moves.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  6. damn John

    Be very careful where you choose to hang out ...on this planet my son the life forms have fantastical belief systems that range from the strange to the Ba-zaarO! So ALWAYS ...ALWAYS ...AVOID the FNpnkAssh0les (who always get away with it ) who'll track you down and shoot you point blank for wearing your 4-skin up over your dome while carrying Skittles and Watermelon flavored ice tea and scaring the KRaP out of him with your cat-like moves.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  7. damn John

    Be very careful where you choose to hang out ...on this planet my son the life forms have fantastical belief systems that range from the strange to the Ba-zaarO! So ALWAYS ...ALWAYS ...AVOID the FNpnkAssh0les (who always get away with it ) who'll track you down and shoot you point blank for wearing your foreskin up over your dome while carrying Skittles and Watermelon flavored ice tea and scaring the KRaP out of him with your cat-like moves.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  8. The Creator

    First... Who says there are six types of atheists? Second... For anyone to call themselves "Non-Theist," they would be entering the fray that you describe them as avoiding altogether (and STILL accepting some label). Third... I am not religious, nor do I call myself an Atheist, refusing to wear a "uniform" in a war I refuse to fight. I am simply a man. I came into this world a whole human being as Nature "intends" me to be, complete with fears and strengths and the quality of compassion, WITHOUT the need of a cosmic babysitter. Not theist, atheist, OR non-theist, just a man... COMPLETELY devoid of any theory OR faith about anything beyond this place. Yet I am as close to "god" as any one can be. Whatever this existence is, I am here just the same as you. Why do you all struggle for a knowledge you couldn't possibly comprehend? And then fight -even kill- over your sliver of myopia.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Joshua

      you are just a man who does not believe in a cosmic baby sitter. Therefore you are an atheist. get over it. this isn't such a complex issue or such a constraining ideological position to take a position on. Its not.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  9. Scott

    Pro-tip: When discussing an atheist's lack of belief, do not say it like "They do not believe in God". It just shows your bias in a couple different ways. What you should say is "They do not believe in any gods". The latter is more correct because it's not just your deity that we don't believe in. Also, the word "god" should only be capitalized if speaking about a particular one as a proper noun. I get the impression most members of Abrahamic religions don't even know their deity's name, hence why they act like they have a copyright on the word "God". The CNN Religion blog is heavily biased in this way. An article about Vishnu wouldn't just use "God", even though Hindus have every right to that word as well.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  10. Eman

    Sorry, but you need to stop grouping agnostics with us. Agnostics are too afraid to pick a side. Atheists firmly believe your little "god" is a fairy tail that many of you take far too literally in stories meant for moral guidance only. Atheism is not Agnosticism, stop grouping those cowards with us. Thank you.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • devin

      Though I have no dog in this fight, were I an agnostic I would resent being lumped in with the atheist crowd. As a theist, I can on some level respect the agnostic viewpoint, atheism on the other hand, not so much.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • Athy

        Keep working on it, devin. You could possibly get there yet.

        July 17, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
        • devin

          Nope, I like to think I'm evolving as opposed to devolving.:)

          July 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • Athy

          Actually, you're doing neither one. Live with it. I do.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
      • David

        Really? You can't even respect it? Both Agnostics and Athiests are going set for eternal damnation per your belief system. I don't know why you would show deference to Agnostics, unless in some twisted way you think they are easier to be "saved" or converted to your belief system.

        Clearly you should have as much respect for Muslims and Hindus as you do for Agnostics, right? If not more? Those other religions believe in some sort of higher power, where as Agnostics are not sure if they do or don't. And remember, Agnostic does not necessarily mean "Christian" Agnostic. You could just as easily be Agnostic towards Hinduism and Atheistic towards Christianity.

        July 17, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
        • devin

          Yep, really. I'll tell you why. Even as a christian theist, I recognize the fact that there is an element of my faith that is irrational. That a loving, sovereign God would even ALLOW evil into the world is a concept I will never be able to wrap my brain around in this life. Combine this with the fact that I have never physically seen, touched, or talked to this being who I worship and follow, and I can understand ones journey to uncertainty. On the other hand, to brazenly state that there is absolutely no God ( I'm referring to strong atheism here) is at best naive and at worst simply foolish.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:00 am |
        • sam stone

          "On the other hand, to brazenly state that there is absolutely no God ( I'm referring to strong atheism here) is at best naive and at worst simply foolish."

          I agree. The same goes for those who brazenly state not only IS there a god, but it is THEIR version is the correct one.

          Same goes to those who brazenly

          July 18, 2013 at 6:29 am |
      • skytag

        Why wouldn't you respect atheists? Do you not respect people who don't believe in Santa Claus or leprechauns? Do you respect people who just aren't sure if Santa Claus is real or not more?

        July 17, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
        • devin

          Here's why I cut agnostics a little slack. Any honest, thinking christian will in the course of their life experience this tension between faith and doubt. To deny it is simply intellectual dishonesty. For me this doubt has never manifested itself in doubting the existence of a super natural being who has brought us and the universe into being. There have been times however, when I have contemplated the veracity of the specific christian dogma and plan of redemption ( Let me state here that I fully embrace it by faith). Knowing doubt has existed in my own self, I tend to be understanding of, although not condoning, those who simply feel they can't be sure.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:15 am |
        • skytag

          Seems kind of closed-minded to only respect people who think the way you do or have thought.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:33 am |
        • devin

          I reject the practice of pedophilia and have never thought about it, as a result I do not respect it. You see, the criteria is not whether I accept something or have thought about something, the criteria is the CONTENT. FYI, I'm not at all comparing pedophilia with atheism, just using it to illustrate a point.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:46 am |
        • Elise

          That has got to be the crappiest analogy I've ever seen. Pedophilia hurts children, it's a crime, not a belief system.
          You put that out there as a subliminal allegory, and you know it.
          Shame on you.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:19 am |
        • devin


          I don't know how else to say it, so I'll just say it: you are simply wrong. I have no desire or need to send a 'subliminal "m essage. You completely missed the point. I realize however, knowing human nature, if this is what you choose to believe, nothing I say will change your mind.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:34 am |
      • David

        Devin, you stated "On the other hand, to brazenly state that there is absolutely no God ( I'm referring to strong atheism here) is at best naive and at worst simply foolish."

        Let's fix that for you: On the other hand, to brazenly state that there is absolutely One True God ( I'm referring to strong Christians here) is at best naive and at worst simply foolish.

        See what I did? It sounds like the people you'd most respect are people who simply are not sure, one way or the other. You might consider Agnosticism for yourself going forward. Perhaps it will help you deal with some of the issues of things you irrationally believe (your words, not mine).

        July 18, 2013 at 12:04 am |
        • devin

          First, you fail to grasp the intent of what " irrational" means within the context of my faith . I don't fault you for this, it's complicated. Second, neither of us can ultimately prove or disprove the existence of God. I'm of the opinion that the burden of proof upon you for His non-existence is far greater.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • chupaloche4

      You certainly don't want these type of people to be lumped in with you. Neil deGrasse Tyson on why he is agnostic...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzSMC5rWvos

      July 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Scott

      Study the root words. Gnostic means knowledge. All agnostic means is "we have no knowledge". Atheist means "without belief". Most atheists are agnostic, and most agnostics are atheists. Why? Because most atheists realize that negatives can't be proven, and most agnostics don't currently believe in a deity.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Sue

      Agnosticism is just taking the position that you can't be certain whether gods exist or not. One can be an atheist, meaning that you don't believe that any god exists, and still be agnostic about it because you don't claim to "know" for certain that no gods exist. See how that works?

      July 18, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  11. Jenna Chou

    I hate when sites throw around the term Agnostic with the term Atheist. Too many people don't know the difference and often get them confused. Makes for a lot of explaining after I tell someone I am an Agnostic-theist, and their brain instantly jumps to "Atheist".

    July 17, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Athy

      Why don't you just go with the truth, Jenna? Admit you're an atheist. I am. And I'm damn proud of it.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • skytag

      Agnostics are just would-be atheists afraid to take the plunge. They see no evidence of a God but are afraid to take a stand and say there isn't one.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  12. Dave

    So, now we have our own denominations. Hmmm.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  13. lionlylamb2013

    The CIA's World Factbook gives the world population as 7,021,836,029 (July 2012 est.) and the distribution of religions as Christian 31.59% (of which Roman Catholic 18.85%, Protestant 8.15%, Orthodox 4.96%, Anglican 1.26%), Muslim 23.2%, Hindu 15.0%, Buddhist 7.1%, Sikh 0.35%, Jewish 0.22%, Baha'i 0.11%, other religions 10.95%, non-religious 9.66%, atheists 2.01%. (2010 est.).


    Atheists being but around 2% our the world populace is quite alarming! Why with all these atheists clamoring for attention here it comes as little surprise they are an alarming group of subversive misfits frolicking and bantering their bigotry ever the louder to enhance their low percentage values.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Elise

      The squeaky wheel gets the grease. People should stay quiet just to please you? Pshaw.

      And as for bigotry, you have just shown yours loud and clear, o, elitist prig.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013


        So... Atheism has you hogtied does it now? What are the odds against you being a religionist in wolf fur? HooowwwLLL at any noon moon lately?

        July 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
        • Elise

          Could you BE any more patronizing?

          July 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • devin

      And yet, if ones world of information was derived strictly from CNN belief blogs, you would get the impression it was the " sky fairy/goat herder/spaghetti monster" crowd that was the small minority.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      LL is just another panicked Christian running scared as his fantasy faith disintegrates around him with every science and geological discovery we make. They keep revising their understanding on so many scriptures I have trouble keeping up with their excuses. "Adam and Eve were real and God created all things in 6 days, except now that we know that didn't happen Adam and Eve were just allegories representing the first group of humans who evolved after 4.5 billion years of earth history...oh, and that global flood was just regional and stuff, don't look to closely please, nothing to see here, move along, Love Jesus and you are saved, don't read any of the other nasty bits, they aren't needed anymore, you know, law fulfilled and stuff, soooo, want to come to Church on Sunday?..."

      July 17, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Reality

      By the numbers with a different result:


      Religion………………………… Adherents

      Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

      Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

      Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion

      Hinduism 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion 394 million
      Buddhism 376 million
      Animist religions 300 million
      African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
      Sikhism 23 million
      Juche 19 million
      Spiritism 15 million

      Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

      Baha'i 7 million
      Jainism 4.2 million
      Shinto 4 million
      Cao Dai 4 million
      Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo 2 million
      Neo-Paganism 1 million
      Unitarian Universalism 800,000
      Rastafari Movement 600,000

      July 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
      • Dippy's 'lil helper

        I thought that Catholicism alone had 2.1 billion adherents. I believe these numbers may be off.

        July 17, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
        • skytag

          You were mistaken. It's not even close.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
        • Elise

          Maybe you're dyslexic. The figure is 1.2 billion Catholics.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:04 am |
      • FYI

        Dippy's 'lil helper,

        Catholics = slightly less than 1.1 billion as of 2010, according to a comprehensive demographic study by the Pew Research Center.


        July 18, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • skytag

      What a load of hateful tripe. Are you a Christian trying to convince yourself you're superior to atheists? So what if only 2% of the world's population are atheists? What do you think that proves? 2% of the population has an IQ over 130 too. Does only making up 2% of the population mean people with IQs over 130 are inferior to the rest?

      Over 98% of the world's population once believed the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around it. Being in the majority, even a very large majority, doesn't mean you're right.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • Reality

      Considering the hatred Sunnis have for Shiites and vice versa, the Islam count should be split in two separate religions, 80-90% Sunni, 20-10 % Shiite.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  14. Austin

    hey watch this trick man.......................NOW YOU ARE GOING TO BE MY FRIEND.!

    July 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  15. Austin

    atheists want proof from God. ok so even though the resurrection was the greates gift, and proof, you say, I want my own proof. basically, you demand that God do a trick in front of you.

    is that not what a circus animal is for?

    He is risen, and you want more tricks?

    July 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Observer


      PATHETIC excuse. God could prove his existence to everyone in less than 5 seconds, but that's too much to ask of him. You'd think he could take time out from the football games he watches while deciding whether to answer the prayers of the Christians on offense or the Christians on defense.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
      • Austin

        no really, he knows your heart. you don't want Him..

        July 17, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
        • Austin

          im sorry.

          maybe you really do want God in your life.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
      • Observer


        I'd have no problem accepting there is a God if there was evidence one existed. So far: zilch, zip, zero, nada, nothing, nil.

        July 17, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
        • Austin

          observer. i love you brother. and you don't need evidence. the proof is nothing.. when you open up to the Holy Spirit, He alone is the burden of proof. it is nothing outside in the physical realm, although it can come to that. but it doesn't have to.

          if you think it does. you are down playing the seal of the spirit. faith is a supernatural gift. you get it from God, not physical evidence. besides, you allready know that the only diety form of God was Jesus and that was 2000 years ago. now we look to the Paraclete. The Helper, the Holy Spirit.

          do you have the want or need to search for this spirit?

          July 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
        • skytag

          "observer. i love you brother. and you don't need evidence. the proof is nothing."

          Austin, this is what you've been brainwashed to believe because the creators of religions know they have no proof. Knowing they have no proof they teach it's unnecessary, and that even asking for it is a bad thing. In so doing they ensure you'll just accept everything they teach you without questioning it, like a sheep.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Atheist Dictator

      Wow Austin, that's deep!

      July 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • Austin

        by Jack Handy

        July 17, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
        • Wade

          I join you in prayer for the unbelievers.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
        • Athy

          Quote me your prayer for atheists, Wade. Just for a laugh.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • Elise

      Austin. SOME atheists want proof. Others don't care. If you insist on lumping all atheists together, do not be surprised if you get represented as the kind of Christian that is racist, bigoted, snake-handling, KKK cross-burning kind.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
      • Austin

        come on elise, I am sorry. as I said so, sorry, maybe you really do want God in your life. and I will pray for you. i am not struck up, I was just being frank with skytag. he was asking about why if I experienced revelation why dont more people.

        and i really believe the answer is because faith is the miracle that God gives us that matters, not a sign. because proof of God is not faith.

        true faith, the authentic baptism of the Holy Spirit, is a supernatural birth where the Holy Spirit communicates within you. you can have this, without the sign or proof. and this is above all earthly things. you will NEVER NEED ANYTHING ELSE. The Holy Spirit is sufficient in everything for you . the sign will not do it.

        July 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
        • Elise

          Address skytag then.
          It's easy. Use the rply button.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
        • skytag

          "I was just being frank with skytag. he was asking about why if I experienced revelation why dont more people.

          and i really believe the answer is because faith is the miracle that God gives us that matters, not a sign. because proof of God is not faith."

          You completely ignored my real question. You say faith is required to be given proof, but why would any rational person develop such a strong belief in something prior to having any evidence it's real?

          Here's what's happened. At some point in your life you heard the Christian narrative from someone you respected. Maybe you heard it from your parents as a small child, or maybe later in life from someone else. Whenever you heard it, you found that narrative very appealing. It tells you that you won't die, the people you love go to a better place when they die and that you'll see them again, that an all powerful being will protect you and your loved ones, hear and answer your prayers, give you a greater capacity to handle life's challenges, a guarantee that justice will always prevail eventually, forgiveness for all the mistakes and bad things you've ever done, and so on, and I readily admit it's an appealing narrative.

          Finding this narrative more appealing than the alternatives, you wanted to believe it was true. And since you probably heard it from someone you respected and whose respect you wanted, that gave you even more incentive to believe it. But as I explained earlier, once you want to believe something that injects a strong bias in your evaluation of potential arguments and evidence and as a result you'll almost always find a way to justify believing it.

          I'm willling to believe it, but I don't want to believe it, so unlike you I'm not looking for opportunities to justify believing it. I'm willling to believe it if I see a reason to believe it, and so far I see no such reason.

          The other issue you didn't address is why, if we're all God's children created by this perfect God of yours and he loves us all so much, why do only such a tiny percentage of us seem to possess what it takes to arrive at the point where you claim to be?

          July 18, 2013 at 12:31 am |
      • lol??

        Are you an XX?? You sure speak like one.

        July 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
        • Elise

          Are you the Christian that is racist, bigoted, snake-handling, KKK cross-burning kind? You sure speak like one.
          Must be XXY, huh?

          July 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
        • lol??

          Well some XX's look like a Lotus Elise, but speak like Christine, a 1958 Plymouth Fury.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • David

      Austin, thought experiment: try proving that God doesn't exist. Just work it out in your mind. We're playing Devil's Advocate, shoe on the other foot, etc. So, think about it, and then try to make a case that God doesn't exist. Then, try to make the case that God does exist. Then compare your two cases, and see how they compare. I think you'll now see the difference between proof/absolute truth and a belief/faith. And, hopefully, you'll realize that a belief in God is no different, factually, than a non-belief or simple lack of belief. They both have their merits and neither can be proven or disproven. If you still choose to believe one way or the other, know that it's something that cannot be proven, and as such, probably shouldn't be forced on others in the form of laws and other invasive means. Let people believe what they want to - or nothing at all - and we can all live our lives with a little less conflict. What you choose to do in your own home at night (e.g. praying/worshiping) or at a building on Sunday morning is none of our business, just as what we choose not to do, or reject being forced to adhere to legally, is none of your business.

      Got it? Good.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • skytag

      "so even though the resurrection was the greates gift, and proof"

      More evidence religion makes people stupid. The resurrection isn't proof of anything unless you can prove it actually happened, which we both know you can't. If God loves you so much why does he let you make such a fool of yourself saying stupid stuff like this? Why hasn't he given you a dream in which he taught you some common sense critical thinking skills and logic?

      July 18, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • proud atheist

      Atheists do not want proof from a god. We don't believe in them. Period. If you say a god exists, it rests on your shoulders to prove it. As it stands, you cannot prove it with solid facts and evidence. We know that.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • Ken

      Do you know how many half gods returned from the underworld in just Greek myth. Jesus is anything but unique in mythology.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:22 am |
  16. There. Are. No. Gods!

    I am sorry religitards, but without actual proof, your belief in god and jesus is just nonsense. There is no actual proof that jesus existed, there is no evidence that there is or was a god, and you know it. If you believe in the spiritual you are basically saying that you believe in fairy tales and need no evidence to back up your beliefs. There are no gods, and you know it.

    July 17, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Heads up

      Be prepared for an Austin "I have experienced spiritual revelation" lecture to shortly follow.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
      • Austin

        yes, I have and it would be obsurd if I didn't tell you about it. I am not ashamed.

        July 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
        • Dippy's 'lil helper


          July 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
        • Dippy

          Thank you, helper. There'll be a bonus in your next paycheck.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  17. JanG

    I don't see any difference between type #2 and type #4. Both are confrontational. Also, the majority of people who support "gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals" that are not atheists. These causes are not incompatible at all with a loving God who gave us a really good planet on which to live. Tell me, if your loving father gives you a brand new car, does he want you to crash it fast so that he can give you another?? Is there a commandment: "Though shalt guess who I love best and be mean to the rest?" I don't think so, and neither do a lot of free thinking Christians. (BTW, I'm a Type #1 Atheist.)

    July 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      There is a very subtle difference between 2 and 4.

      Anti-theists see religion as dangerous and would like to see it end.

      Activists promote atheism as an alternative.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • TheBob

      You're an "atheist" the way S. E. Cupp is an atheist, i.e. a shill and a fraud.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Ryan

      As you make judgments of these kinds of atheists, remember that "evangelism"is basically another name for confrontational. Any religion that actively recruits and claims it's right and others are wrong are every bit as confrontational and far larger, wealthier and more influential. Atheists of any stripe deserve at least as much respect as these kinds of religious people, yet almost never get it.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  18. Get Ready to Have Your Mind Fkd

    God is an atheist.

    July 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Bingo!

      Love it!

      July 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, hell yes! Why would god believe in another god? That would be contrary with his own commandment!

      July 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  19. Poclevius

    I happily have both a belief and disbelief (read up on the Yin and Yang symbol if you like). And when I do believe, I think that He would rather see us use our brains as he watches how well we can manage to get along with each other. This as opposed to being ~impressed~ at how well we can be His "warriors". There are too many people signing onto a dogma and then feeling that they need to be God's little warriors. I really hope that God isn't impressed by sycophants.

    July 17, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • truthin369

      That is nonsense, you either believe in god/s or don't. Taijitu is a different story, thats great and all but god is a whole different subject. You think gods hoping we just get along so nobody gets hurt while thousands of innocent children pray for food and water everyday but die. Sweet........ as the candyland you're living in. God committed genocide and killed himself and his son through Jesus, wait this is all making a whole lot of sense...... now don't get excited pun intended......

      July 18, 2013 at 2:12 am |
  20. Tom Wilson

    If anyone is interested in some good reading, try these two sites


    Let me know what you think of the sites!


    July 17, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • JimK57

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for the links. I feel I have the ability to comment on the NDE information mentioned since I had one.
      Before my NDE I had NDE like experiences. Once due to illegal drugs and once due to gas at a dentists office. Both of these had a hazey feeling not unlike a dream and I also knew they were not real when I awoke, again just like a dream.
      My NDE was different, it felt more real. I do accept that not all NDEs are real, but to discount them all would be foolhardy.

      July 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
      • There. Are. No. Gods!

        To accept your "NDE" as real is even more foolhardy. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-near-death-experience-isnt-proof-heaven

        July 17, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
        • JimK57

          I agree that it is a personal experience and very difficult for someone else to understand.

          July 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Sounds like the article did a fine job explaining.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
        • JimK57

          It is a subjective experience.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Every person who believes they have experienced alien abduction has the same absolute conviction that they experienced something otherworldly as you do, despite the fact that their "abduction" can be replicated in a laboratory setting. Look up sleep paralysis. It's actually not that far removed from NDE experiences.

          Test pilots and astronauts training at high Gs have also reported experiences similar to NDEs, despite the fact that their lives were in no danger. The brain is a complex organ and reacts to stress with equal complexity.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • truthin369

      Don't forget this one http://www.provingthenegative.com/2008/05/100-reasons-to-believe-that-god-does.html

      July 18, 2013 at 12:57 am |
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About this blog

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.