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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. Justin

    See we got a few 1's and 2's in here that feel their opinion NEEDS to be ehard 😉

    July 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • .

      Exactly how e-hard are you, Justin?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • Jinx

        Lol....

        July 18, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I believe you get e-hard from e-pron...

      July 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  2. Question for the atheist

    There are six types that disbelieve in God and then there is another type that claim that there is no God?!?

    Now atheists just disbelieve in God while some others categorically claim there is no God?

    Which one is it atheists? Do you just 'disbelieve' in God or do you make a 'claim' that there is no God?

    July 18, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Saraswati

      'Disbelieve' is a tricky word so lets put that aside. As most in the atheist community (active self-described atheists who were in this study) use the term it refers to all those who lack a belief in gods. Those who actively believe there is no god are a subset. I agree that is confusing, not the least because it doesn't match common usage, but there you have it. In practice I find most people who are atheists in the broadest sense don't use the term because of this problem of va.gueness, and because it relays little about what a person *does* believe. It is mostly a useful grouping for those recovering from an oppressively religious upbringing.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Levine

      It is must be hard for an atheist as their 'unbelief' cannot be defined. Their philosophy ranges between unbelief to disbelief to being Godless to finally making a claim that there is no God. Sad, sadder & saddest!
      They are probably far, farther and farthest from the truth as they begin to define their 'unbelief'

      July 18, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Jinx

        Do you believe in Thor? Why not? Same concept. Except it's YOUR God. Simple.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Which one is it atheists? Do you just 'disbelieve' in God or do you make a 'claim' that there is no God?

      The answer is both and Saraswati answered it well.

      This is why you see an increase in the use of the term 'non-believer'.

      Look at it this way. Theists believe in God or a higher power. The opposite of that (atheist) is everyone else (non-believers) the people who don't believe in God.

      This encompasses people who categorically say there is no God, people who lack belief and people who are not sure.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • ME II

      Atheist, meaning "without" god(s) can be either.
      Some break the difference into strong/positve (no god(s)) and weak/negative (lack of belief in god(s)).
      It really depends on the person and their views / claims.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      Question for the Christians – Many Christians do not strictly adhere to the bible, such as killing your wife if she commits adultery. So which is it Christians? How can two different people be described as Christians if they are not both strictly adhering to the bible?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • skytag

      What a pathetic attempt to convince yourself you've trapped atheists in some kind of inconsistency. Atheists believe there is no god. I've never heard one say he "disbelieved" in god. Agnostics aren't sure if there is a god or not. It's really very simple.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  3. mzh

    Question to all:

    Is there different God (s)?

    Like ~
    Christian – Trinity (also different denominations have different deities, like Catholic believes Marry or Saints who is dead human besides trinity and many more), Christianity was pure monotheistic during the time of Jesus but after that they have come up with these deities.
    Hindu – Thousands of idols, (there is a temple is south India where there are thousands of idols around the temple which represent different deities)
    Buddhism – Buddha the big statue,
    Muslim – AL ILAH (Only Pure Monotheistic on the phase of earth)
    Jews – Yahweh, Arab Jews says ‘Rabbi Musa – Lord of Moses’ (they believe that they are the chosen one which totally wrong though for current days, they were chosen during the time of Moses to get out of the tyrant of egypt and also they used to believe that God has a son “Uzair”)
    Jain – believes they have different deities
    Sikh – they have different deities too, little bit mixing of both Hindu and Islam
    Zoroastrianism – whatever they do (Sun God may be, I m not sure)
    Persians – Fire worshippers
    Atheism – None, no deities but may be superpower
    And many more…

    Are there really these many Gods/Deities?

    July 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      You should clarify the point your're trying to make. Obviously an atheist would say no to any and all, but there are people that do or have believed in those gods, and that belief denounces any other gods. So no, in fact, no one believes all those gods exist.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • JimK57

      One god worshiped by different cultures in different ways.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • skytag

        Even in cultures that worship multiple gods?

        July 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Bill

      First off, it's important to know that Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share the same God and trace their roots to Abraham. They are both monothesistic. My viewpoint is that I believe in one God and those religions that have multiple gods are worshipping different aspects of God, which is fine as far as I'm concerned. Some ancient religons even believed that different gods would fight with each other. That thought intrigues me because, from my perspective, it would mean that God is sometimes conflicted. I think learning about different religons helps one understand their own and even opens up very interesting possibilities.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • skytag

        Believers are masters of rationalization. The simplest explanation is the correct one: None of them are real.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • Bill

          That's your belief and not mine. It is perfectly okay for someone not to believe. I choose to view the universe we live in with as broad of a perspective as possible. That means believing in the possibility that there is something bigger than all of us out there. Something that can explain why the universe is the way it is. Call it Mother Nature if you want. I choose to call that force "God". It's an unseen force that controls everything and gave us the gifts to do great things.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Damocles

      @jim

      And there lies one of the main problems I have with a belief in a deity.

      I've seen many believers say something along these lines 'oh, everyone has worshipped the same deity, they just didn't know it'. Really? So this deity allowed some cultures to believe that sacrificing people would lead to better crop yields? It allowed its mouthpieces to kill innocents on trumped up charges of witchcraft?

      How could a perfect, loving deity allow even one innocent person to die in its name?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • JimK57

        There is an after life so death is really not a big deal. Good and evil are human ideas not gods.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • Damocles

          Ahhhh... ok I'm with you... so 1) you have seen this afterlife, yes? and 2) murderers should be praised for keeping the deity's hands clean and doing its good works, correct?

          July 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • JimK57

          1) yes, I had an NDE

          2) I would not praise a murderer and I do not think anyone should. But that is my choice, you might think differently.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Damocles

          Strange... you say death is no biggie, yet do not wish to praise those that send people to an afterlife.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • JimK57

          Killing someone takes away their freedom to enjoy this world. That is wrong in my opinion.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'Good and evil are human ideas not gods.'

          The bible begs to differ, especially in the whole punished by god when you die parts.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • JimK57

          I do not follow the bible.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
        • mzh

          Jim:
          I think what you are saying is based on what is your background in terms of the knowledge of human life and death… or you have very incomplete information about the hereafter…

          I would prefer to know from what all the books says about hereafter and then will come to a conclusion…
          And also none of the books including Bible (both OT and NT) give as good picture as Quran about life here and hereafter… my humble request to you to know some from Quran and you might find some interesting information and you might discover something which you have never thought of it…

          July 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • JimK57

          Hi mzh,

          I would very much like to read books on the Quran. Are there any books available that help someone understand the text as they read it? Thanks.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • skytag

      There are a lot more than that. None of them are real.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  4. Arnold

    Did you atheists ever hear the song, “The devil went down to Georgia?”

    How can someone go down to Georgia if they don’t exist?

    July 18, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      It's figurative based upon the prevailing supersttions.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • Arnold

        Oh… I wish I would have been able to figure that out on my own and not have embarrassed myself for the world to see. Too bad CNN doesn’t have delete buttons.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          "I wish I would have been able to figure that out on my own and not have embarrassed myself for the world to see"

          Agree

          July 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Jinx

      Ever hear the song "Jesus just left Chicago"? Do you think he really did, and is now bound for New Orleans? Hey, hey.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Rich

      Excellent point.

      I don't care what anybody says, I thought the devil's song was WAY better than Johnny's.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • JJ

      You ever heard "Santa Claus is coming to town"? You have a problem with that too?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • skytag

      More proof religion makes people stupid. Have you ever heard the song Puff the Magic Dragon?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Lore

    Behold! The two types of the religious, the con man and the fools. Now that is fair. Categorizing the non-religious is like categorizing people who don't think the earth is flat. You're basically talking about people able to grasp one minor and obvious fact.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  6. Louie

    And there are two types of journalism. One is factual and number two is to sarcasm! Same thing with religion some can keep their faith even if their life is at sake, some just go to church just to maybe to mingle with other believers, some seek religion as a way for enlightenment, some just to fit in with their society, some just join their family when attending the church and some truly hold to their religion as their keep in this very hostile life, Please no offense to the writer, I promise I can appreciate the fun and see the point of this article and I can say anything negative about it.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  7. mojomom2013

    Well I am a number 3

    July 18, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  8. Vince

    Until recent times, non-believers were ostricized, villified, imprisoned, tortured and executed, however, in some countries, it's still happening. The human race has a long way to go but it's going in the right direction, which is freedom of thought.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  9. Michael David

    A wise man told me that he had figured it out.
    He became very angry at well meaning freinds and family trying to consol him after a personal tragedy with its just God's way". "How could such a benelevant God allow a tragic tortuous thing to happen to such an innocent?"
    Then it came to him in a simple equation.

    God = 0

    Apply this equation to all those questions and they will be answered.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • skytag

      Believers expend considerable effort trying why the world doesn't match what their beliefs predict. They rationalize why tragedies happen, why Hitler could get his followers to slaughter six million Jews, why natural disasters kill tens of thousands of innocent people, why there's no evidence of God or that prayers are answered and so on. It's a lot of effort given that all of these questions have the same simple answer: There is no god.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  10. Sarah

    I was once told by a believer that I clearly wasn't a "free-thinker" because atheism must have a doctrine. I was so incredibly blown-away by his utter stupidity I was quite literally speechless for several minutes, until I was able to explain to him that atheism isn't a religion like Christianity and there isn't a doctrine.

    He had no idea how to understand that concept – he couldn't imagine his life without a doctrine, because he continued arguing that I must live my life by a doctrine. I couldn't tell you how many IQ points the room dropped by his presence.

    Now he was a particularly thick one, but it does sort of show just how utterly clueless and sealed off from the world some of these people can be. I feel sorry for him, and the things he will never know nor understand in his short time on Earth. I fear meeting him again that he might start talking and send me into a coma.

    I'm glad not all believers are like that. You can believe in whatever character you like, just don't start trying to convert me.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • James

      I'd say it depends on how you define "doctrine". If you think of it like the Ten Commandments, then yeah, atheism doesn't really have that.

      However, if you think of it as a set of beliefs that define an individual or group's outlook then everyone by definition would have to have a doctrine of some type.

      Of course, much like religious doctrines, atheism has so many possible permutations(i.e., you could actually be an atheist and still in theory believe in faeries) that trying to link atheism with a particular doctrine can never be 100% correct(but with that said, assuming an atheist is a scientific materialist tends to be a pretty safe bet).

      July 18, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • skytag

      I often say that religion makes people stupid. I say that because in their desperation to show their beliefs have a logical basis they'll offer some of the dumbest arguments I've ever heard.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  11. David Despain

    I don't identify with any of these; I imagine a lot of others don't either. "Secular humanism" would be a good one to add to the list http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=secular%20humanist

    July 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  12. Thomas

    This article is nonsensical. There are not 6 types as listed. The word Agnostic has a definition. It means you don't believe that mankind will ever know if there is or is not a God. They believe the logic made by either side are plausible and therefore make no theist affiliation choice in their lives. You take no position on the issue at all. Atheist means you believe there is NOT a God. Theist means you subscribe to some form of God or Gods. In this list of 6 types of Agnostic, a couple are Anti-Theist (which means Atheist) and that is not Agnostic....they do have a position on God if they are against the concept of it and have taken a side. So, the 6 types of Agnostic on this list are factually incorrect. You can't claim different atheist or theist views as forms of Agnostic. There is no way to be Agnostic and come to a belief that is either for or against the concept of a God. You can understand and concede the points either way, but you must equally weigh the counter-argument point to be Agnostic. Once you side one way in your personal belief, you are no longer Agnostic; instead either a type of Atheist or Theist. It is as simple as the definition of the words you are using in this article. Please look them up before claiming there are types of Agnostics that are anti-Theist. That makes no sense. Agnostics may argue against somebody trying to convince them either way, but they are only arguing because they are not convinced by either side of the debate sufficiently. They do not believe in either in their world view.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The word Agnostic has a definition. It means you don't believe that mankind will ever know if there is or is not a God.

      You can be both agnostic and atheist at the same time. Agnosticism is about knowledge. Atheism is about belief.

      The agnostic atheist doesn't believe in God but can't prove non-existence.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • JimK57

      You can also be agnostic-theist

      An agnostic theist believes in the existence of at least one deity, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • jim

      Well said, I'm sure grant money was given to try to undersatnd why one believes one way or the other. But God or no God religion is currently the only place teaching morality and the difference (or setting a boundry of )what is percieved as right or wrong

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

        So sure are you ...

        "The project was funded entirely out of the pockets of the researchers and through the volunteer time of student assistants. No tax dollars were exploited to fund this project.

        From the web page linked at the top of the CNN article.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        religion is currently the only place teaching morality and ... what is percieved as right or wrong

        Blatent sophistry

        (BS)

        July 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  13. NorCalMojo

    Call the activists what they are, evangelists. They're just as preachy as any born again and twice as mean spirited.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Logic and reason are not "mean" – but then you may believe that science is "evil".

      July 18, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • bc64

        No, logic and reason are not "mean". but, the activists/evangelists who "preach' about it often are.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  14. J. Davis in Knoxville, TN

    I would hate to think where I would be in my life if I didn't believe in God. These atheists, of whatever kind, seem like people without hope at all.

    On the hand, the religious right (Tea Party, etc.) turns me off–any religious fundamentalism is offensive to me. I enjoy being a part of the Anglican community (Episcopal Church in America) because the church does not tell people how to think and there is a spirit of allowing questioning of certain things. However, the Episcopal Church does place a strong emphasis on the Bible and all the many good lessons we can learn from it.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • snowboarder

      @davis, i don't understand why you think atheists would be without hope? our lives are the same as everyone else's.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      If you believed in Odin, Zues or RA... you would be exactly in the same place that you are right now... and 'hope' is a condition of humanity, it is not the inclusive right of a believer.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Reason

      You have hope for what? For living another life after this one? Why not focus on living this one to the fullest. This is the ONLY one we are sure of. Why focus on what most likely doesn't even exist. The Bible is a book. Fortunately there are billions of others and you might try a few of them that include all religion, science, and history. After you do I doubt you'll hold so tight to that "hope".

      July 18, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • ou812

        Why not focus on both?

        July 18, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Saraswati

      Many atheists I know have hope for the species in thousands of years. Dreams of intergalactic travel and progressive evolution of our species and culture into the future. Some atheists are even spiritual and may be Buddhists.

      Most Christians, however, have a very pessimistic view of the ends of the earth and what happens to large numbers of or species...for an eternity, no less.

      Who has more hope for humanity as awhole?

      July 18, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Agnostickids

      @ J. Davis...what impels you to believe that people without your god are miserable or sad or lost? In actuality, it would seem that people who scramble for a punishment/reward system would be the sad and lost people on the earth. Why do you need an invisible god to speak through men to tell you if you're being a good boy or a bad boy? Really.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Patrick

      Jay,
      I guess we can't fault your backwards thinking, since you're from the Bible Belt. Why on earth would anyone w/ any sort of intellectual sense believe that some ecclesiastical being that no one has ever seen "magically" waved his hands and created everything. Please give me a solid explanation, and not some reference to the book of ancient folk stories that you all reference every time these discussions come up. I can appreciate the Bible and the Quran as pretty decent literature and collections of folk stories, but that's about as far as I'll go w/ that. I won't be molding my life based on "teachings" from uneducated people w/ ancient mentalities. These people were afraid of lightning for Pete's sake....

      July 18, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • coja28

      No hope? What an ignorant comment. Atheists and agnostics do have hope. Most tend to apply hope to things they know are real, like other people for example. Here's a little suggestion: stop being a hypocrite and don't judge others. Apparently that wasn't something you learned from the Bible's so called good lessons.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • skytag

      You don't need God to have hope unless you're talking about hoping to get into Heaven or something of that sort. A big reason people choose to believe in God is that it allows them to deny harsh realities, such as not existing beyond death. You believe a lot of fairytales that allow you to deny such realities, and I'm sure that is a source of great comfort and encouragement to you, just as little children feel good thinking about Santa Claus.

      Just as Santa Claus doesn't have to be real for a child who believes in him to feel good thinking about getting presents from him, what you believe about God doesn't have to be true for you to feel good thinking about God.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  15. lolCAT2000

    A cool, another opportunity for one of these "atheism vs. not-atheist" debates!
    X-)

    July 18, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • yellowshark3

      Yep. If there's any place to have a respectful, meaningful conversation about religion, atheism, etc., I always go to the CNN comment section!

      July 18, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • Thinker...

        Sir or Madame,

        You have just broken my Sarcasmometer 2000. I request that you please pay for the damage.

        Thank you

        July 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  16. Seattle L

    Still missing you Hitch x

    July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  17. Pat

    I wonder where I would fit? I don't know if there is a god and don't particular care but I have great respect for the forces of nature with which all of our "consciousness" (the energy produced by our brains) merges when we die. Remember – energy is neither created nor destroyed so has to "go" somewhere when we pass.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • snowboarder

      the energy is released by decomposition.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And therein lies our true immortality.
      Upon death, our consciousness is no more but our conti/tuent atoms remain.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • JimK57

      Maybe agnostic-thiest.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "the energy produced by our brains"

      is electrical and is converted from other latent sources in the metabolic processs. It stops when you die, but the latent sources are all still there.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  18. Theadore Realist

    Simply admit that ...

    ... http://www.GODisIMAGINARY ...

    ... and that is a good thing because ...

    the judeo-christian-islamic god emanates from ...

    ... the http://www.EVILbible.com

    July 18, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  19. Embracing Uncertainty

    I was raised in the LDS church. On Sundays I would hear members say that they know God exists and while as a child I said I knew as well (mimicking their behavior). As I grew older the I know really started to bother me because I did not know. To me knowledge required tangible proof, not feelings. Everyone told me to have faith, but faith is not knowing it is believing despite lack of proof. On the other hand I cannot say with true knowledge that God(s) do not exist either.

    For now I am going to live my life, trying to live it as honestly as I can and honestly I don't know about God. I am just gonna be the best person I can be, but not out of fear of some eternal punishment, but because its the right thing to do.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • JJ

      Congratulations on using logic and losing the delusion you were indoctrinated in. Yes, a deity, fairies or leprechauns might exist but it's a waste of time to concern yourself with it.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • JimK57

      Sounds like a great way to live.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • lol??

      Tell us how Mormons believe they have genetic blood lines to Jews, like it means something.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Saraswati

      It would be interesting to know what percentage of god believers are lying whenthey express their level of certainty. While I wouldn't trust traditional lie detector tests, there are newer technologies that can better detect lies right in the brain. Maybe someday we'll get an answer.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • silvawebdev

        The way so many Christians kick and scream about death "going to be with Jesus in that batter place" they can't believe too deeply – tough litmus test, but few pass it. They (American Christians) keep tripping over themselves as they profess more and more devout "gimmicks" like the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) wrist bands they used to wear – as they judge others, vote to kill criminals and curse and not respect others, or the promise rings – as bible belt teens have more pregnancies than non-religious youths of the same demographic....if all that praying was paying off why is the bible belt so damn poor, uneducated and hit by tornadoes?

        July 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  20. Mike S

    #3 is wrong. Atheists believe there is not God, Agnostics do not. Agnostics believe there is no proof either way. That is not a "type" of Atheism.

    July 18, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Dark Itch

      You really cracked this one wide open, Sherlock.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • Mike S

        What is this, 5th grader comeback?

        July 18, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Dark Itch

          Fourth grade, and it still got your undesired attention.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • JJ

      Agnostics are also atheists since they lack a belief in a deity. People call themselves "agnostics" since they are less likely to be vilified by Christians, suffer bodily harm or get fired from their job than if they were to call themselves what they really are – an atheist.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • Jeff

        That isn't true–an aetheist believes there is no god, while an agnostic simply believes it is unknowable if god exists. Aethiests actually operate on a degree of faith, not unlike religious folks as they have no proof god doesn't exist. I'm agnostic I know it's a wasted endeavor on both sides of the issue so I don't worry about god or religion.

        July 18, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • fintastic

          Actually an atheist lacks belief in god.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • Peter

          Belief and Knowledge are two different things. One can say they don't believe in a god or gods while not knowing if there are any.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • illusive

          Peter is right, the two terms are not mutually exclusive

          Atheism and theism is a statement of god belief "I believe god does not exist" and "I believe god does exist"
          Agnosticism and gnosticism is a statement of knowledge "I know" or "I don't know"

          Most people are agnostic theists or agnostic atheists "I believe......., but i don't know for sure"

          July 18, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • fintastic

          WRONG!............ ""I believe god does not exist" = I believe that I don't believe.... how ridiculous.

          All hail the word twisters!

          July 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "Aethiests actually operate on a degree of faith, not unlike religious folks as they have no proof god doesn't exist."

        They operate on faith as much as a non-believer in leprechauns does. Do I have "faith" leprechauns don't exist? I guess you could call it faith since I have no evidence that they don't exist, but it certainly doesn't feel like faith, as the definition states: firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust. It is more of a passing belief to me since I feel building a "firm belief" that they don't exist is not worth my time for something that has zero evidence of existing. It's not even really worth forming a solid opinion about because no one is in my face trying to get me to believe in leprechauns. As with God, there are too many people in my face on a daily basis pushing their God agenda with the same zero evidence. So it is really the religious zealots who try to push their faith and force non-believers into accepting or rejecting it, which when rejected they turn around and claim the non-believer must be using "faith" in order to reject their baseless claims. I find that dishonest and disingenuous, but then again that doesn't surprise me coming from the religious.

        July 18, 2013 at 10:43 am |
      • Woody

        Atheists fail to believe the claims of theists. They simply ask theists to provide proof of the claims. So far, no proof has ever been produced. Bible quotes and ancient hand-me-down stories aren't proof of anything except that the gullible and supersti-tious will buy anything.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:03 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.