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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. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    from wiki,

    ".....................The word antichrist is made up of two roots: αντί + Χριστός (anti + Christos). "Αντί" can mean not only "against" and "opposite of", but also "in place of",[3]............................."

    Evil's always evil/2.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  2. J Alex

    You are missing my point. I dont hate these people, I cant, I dont even know them and their life's options are inconsequential to mine. That is why I say that it is interesting how their point of view is put on display just because they are celebs...Look at most of their lives and how they end up....So much for being decent human!?!?!? At least God give you and option to be better....It is up to you to decide....G B

    July 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Athy

      Were you replying to someone?

      July 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'J Alex.....'I dont hate these people, I cant, I dont even know them and their life's options are inconsequential to mine.'

      And yet you, in your non-hate and ignorance of their lives, stated.......
      '90% of them are lesb/gays who need to justify their insecurity and confusion. Faith and God would mean that they have to accept their devious behavior and they can not even do that. So better to not have a God than admitting their weak pathetic minds. '

      'Look at most of their lives and how they end up....So much for being decent human!?!?!? '
      And how do 'most' of them end up? any different from any other group of humanity?

      You just continue to bear false witness with this post, and again show your hate with the 'so much for decent human' statement at the end.
      You condemn yourself with your own words.

      July 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • skytag

      You don't need God to "give" you the option to be a better person. Such an option exists automatically as long as there is nothing preventing you from being a better person. As for how those people end up, as with members of any other group on the planet some end up better than others.

      July 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  3. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    "In psychology, the false-consensus effect or false-consensus bias is a cognitive bias whereby a person tends to overestimate how much other people agree with him or her. There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are 'normal' and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a 'false consensus'. This false consensus is significant because it increases self-esteem. The need to be "normal" and fit in with other people is underlined by a desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment." – wiki

    I believe Christians in America (who a majority of have been shown to be woefully ignorant of their own bible) are prime examples of false-consensus bias.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Although many biased Christians are, fundamentally obscured in their books teachings wholesomeness consecrations, their little faith subdues their social inadequacies making them as being sheepish within the mainframes of societal conditionings.

      Beliefs of any individualized mannerisms are as an abundances of glint and glamor within socialized understudies.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  4. Tom Wilson

    I have faith!

    I believe in Santa Clause! Just because there is no way to prove or disprove of Santa Clause does't mean he does not exist!
    I believe in the Easter Bunny! Just because you have never seen a bunny lay colored eggs does not mean there is no Easter Bunny!

    Even better than faith is the promises made by Jesus.. They are wonderful, ask and ye shall receive!

    1) And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Matthew 21:21-22 NAS)

    2) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NAB)

    3) Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:19-20 NAS)

    4) Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. (Mark 11:24-25 NAB)

    5) And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-13 NAB)

    6) And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 NAB)

    7) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 NAB)

    8) It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (John 15:16 NAB)

    9) On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24 NAB)

    I am still waiting, I asked for a new Harley Davidson and a New Cessna Turbo-Centurion and I am still waiting but I do have faith that it will happen as Jesus has stated.

    Anyone on here know how long it takes to received the things you ask for in Jesus's name?

    Have faith!

    Faith my friends, Faith!

    July 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • sam

      Um...

      July 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Tom Wilson

        Yes? You were going to say something?

        July 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • sam

          Yeah, as soon as you post something that adds to the conversation instead of a bunch of bible quotes.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • Observer

          "Santa Clause"? Missed that in English grammar.

          Santa Claus and the Easter bunny fit in fine with unicorns and talking non-humans.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • JimK57

      If you want to read words attributed to jesus I suggest the gospel of thomas.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • A Conversation

      Cute. All verses taken completely out of context, but cute.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      According to the scripture, god answers prayers. It states that ANYTHING you ask for, you will receive. There were no stipulations beside faith.

      Tell me, when was the last time you saw someone pray for a limb to grow back, and that prayer was answered?

      Exactly. NEVER.

      Therefore, the single verse that promises ANYTHING you ask for proves the entire cult false.

      July 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • A Conversation

        Except, of course, that any one line of scripture was never meant to be read in a void. If you don't apply all of the scriptures in their proper context, then you (as you have) will obviously miss the point.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • skytag

          There is no evidence any prayer ever uttered in the history of the world has been answered by a supernatural power. Your response to a valid observation is just typical Christian rationalizing. Christians expend a considerable amount of effort trying to rationalize why the real world doesn't match what they believe.

          July 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • silvawebdev

      Those quotes seems to reenforce the narcissistic tendencies of many of Americas Evangelical Christians – Growing up Catholic we never prayed for any THING – we prayed for health and for other people to do well, but not for presents and such – I think the Church was old enough, the oldest Christian Church that they got tired of the common folk praying for things that would never come.... Now our new fangled American Christians pray to win the Lottery and justify wealth and prosperity – over others – as something Jesus would want, or even "God has favored me, who am I to not enjoy his gift?"

      It's crazy to me that the Republicans attaching religion to their platform have millions of Americans voting for rich people to get more money so they can live off of what trickles down their legs.... Only the ability to believe beyond reality would allow you to believe in that fallacy...and they are the deceivers. Beware, not of those who profess to be different, but those who profess to be the same, but are different – the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.

      July 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  5. manif0ld

    If I had to pick one of these categories, I would say I'm closest to the non-theist. However – there are features described in the 'Ritual atheist' that apply to me, although I do not consider them ritual, nor do I find them to be 'of religion' (although they may have originated there.)

    The world's religions have indeed discovered some facts about the universe that they explain in theological/supernatural terms, but these facts actually, independently exist in the universe whether the theological/supernatural backstory is there or not, for instance:

    Meditation. I believe it is real and can do all the things it is purported to do (promote peace of mind, relaxation, centeredness, resiliency, etc.) because it affects the biological mechanisms that I perceive as my emotions. I don't do it because I find it spiritually comforting, or because of any inherent symbolism. I do it because it has a real effect.

    Altruism. I believe I will be happier when my neighbors are happy. Not for any spiritual reason, but because I believe that, once critical mass is reached (a key point), the pay-it-forward algorithm reaps more dividends than the take-what-you-can algorithm. There is always an element of self-interest in helping your neighbor, giving to charity, being kind, etc. 🙂

    I do not equate 'belief' with religion or spirituality. Everyone believes: I believe there is no god. You may believe there is. The difference is the *source* of those beliefs. I arrived at my beliefs by observing the world around me carefully and following the scientific method to try and determine what 'objective reality' exists around me. You may have gotten your beliefs from a book, your parents, a spouse or a priest.

    The scientific method is neither a religion nor a belief system. It is a tried-and-true recipe for figuring out how things work *despite* how we feel about them. I believe in the 'miracles' of science because I can see them around me, consistent and reproducible, but the miracles of supernatural origin are only visible through belief. That is why I came to the conclusion that they do not exist.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • sam

      How dare you come in here and make a good, thoughtful post?? This is a CNN comment section!

      Anyway, good job.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • manif0ld

        My most sincere apologies...

        July 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
        • sam

          Just make sure you don't do it again until you've made at least two posts containing abusive hyperbole!

          July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Well said.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • faithful

      What if the existence of an omnipotent being became clearly known to you. How do you think it would affect your daily life?

      July 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • skytag

        What value do you see in such a hypothetical question? If evidence of vampires became known to you, how would it affect your daily life?

        July 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  6. f carter

    I saw this head stone in a German Cemetery, next to an SS officer, half sunken into the ground: Here lies an atheist from the third Reich all dressed up and no where to march to!!

    July 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • sly

      There is a little Red Man with horns holding a pitchfork and he lives in the Center of the Earth.

      Seriously. Little. Red. Holds some farm equipment. Has horns. Likes the Earth's mantle.

      And a big fat White Man living in the clouds who spends all day sewing tiny wings on tiny butterflies.

      Seriously!

      July 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • skytag

      In Nazi Germany members of the German Wehrmacht wore belt buckles embossed with the phrase, "Gott Mit Uns," German for "God is with us." Back then the people of Germany were overwhelmingly Christian, primarily Catholic. I would not assume a member of the SS was an atheist.

      July 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  7. Cronus

    Condescending atheists, what's new.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam

      Bitchy whining about atheists; what's new.

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

      I try really hard not to condescend when holding rational discussions with seemingly ignorant people.

      Seriously – has anyone had an intelligent conversation with someone who believes there is a little Red Man with Horns holding a pitchfork and he lives in the middle of the Earth.

      Wow ... some folks did a bit too much LSD when they were young .... sorry folks, there ain't no little red man. Or a green man. Or a martian. Or purple people eaters. Wow ...

      July 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      Certainly not condescending, pompous christians

      July 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • skytag

      Are you a condescending Christian?

      July 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  8. jdun

    Agnostic/atheist, these are just people who realize that there are very few proven facts about our existence, where we came from or where are we going. Darwin had more provable info than any church about our existence. I always wonder about the funny men in the funny hats and robes and what they are doing.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  9. Mark

    There must be some evolutionary advantage to believing in God. People have believed in God throughout recorded history. I'm not aware of any civilization that was atheistic through and through. Why go against evolution? So I believe in God.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, because that's sound reasoning.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      But which God ?
      We are selfish creatures by nature, yet our survival depends on cooperation.
      In order to balance these conflicting instincts, mankind has had to develop rules that allow room for both.
      These rules are not the same for all communities – hence we've had so many different types of religion and government throughout history.
      Religion binds communities by giving a common frame of reference. Shared fears (like divine retribution), hopes (like going to heaven) and rituals allow the instinct for self preservation to extend beyond one's self and immediate family.
      This is why the great majority of evolutionary biologists find no conflict between religion and science – as long as religion is recognized solely as a social adaptation.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'There must be some evolutionary advantage to believing in God.'

      Huh? Do what now? How on earth does that argument work? You trolling us?

      ' People have believed in God throughout recorded history. I'm not aware of any civilization that was atheistic through and through. Why go against evolution? So I believe in God.'

      Actually people have believed in hundreds of different gods so your argument makes the claim that believing in a deity in general is the norm, not that believing in a specific one is. And that fact makes it more likely that the current ones are just as made up as the previous ones.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the supernatural was invented to answer the questions that humans did not have the tools to answer.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      This subject has been discussed in scientific communities. They believe it may have provided humans with an evolutionary advantage, but the necessity to believe in imaginary beings has since become obsolete.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • brads2sense

      I wouldn't say it was evolutionary per se, but it is something humans have done since they had the capacity to do so. Although I would argue its our wish to maintain a parent. That is, people feel the need to have a higher power out of fear for losing someone/something to guide them..to be an omniscient parent. So, we create whatever images we have that make sense to us and call them gods. Plus it provides the illusion that random events are actually pre-planned (controlled) signals from god such as plague, famine, etc.. Bad crops, we did something wrong to anger the gods. Rather than bad crops, stuff happens.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • skytag

      That may be the dumbest argument for believing in God I've ever heard. Some of those societies believed in multiple gods. Do you believe in the Greek and Egyptian gods? Those societies were some of the greatest in history.

      The benefits of religion come from its ability to create a bond among a group of people and get them to put the good of the group ahead of their own self interest. This allows groups of people with common beliefs to accomplish more than individuals driven only by self interest. Religion gives people an extra incentive to be good members of societies.

      So while I acknowledge that religions have tended to be a force for good, it doesn't prove that the God or gods on which they've been based were real.

      July 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  10. Mark

    I think that this section should be called the CNN "Non-Belief" blog. CNN currently calls it the "Belief Blog." With all the articles on atheism I imagine CNN would fit under number 2!

    July 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you not seeing all the religious articles at the top then?

      July 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • ME II

      "With all the articles on atheism I imagine CNN would fit under number 2!"

      If I'm counting right, only 1 of the 10 articles listed on the main page are about atheists.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • sam

      How many times is someone going to make this stupid remark like it's LOL HILARIOUSLY CLEVER?

      It's an opinion blog relating to belief; it's not THE TOTALLY CHRISTIAN ONLY BLOG.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Do you think the pope is an atheist?

      July 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Peter

      it's called two sides of the story. if you want one sided religious debate, there'e far more biased sources for you.

      July 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  11. ShadowAngel

    I think this is a good categorization of several types of atheists. As a Christian, I have very different experiences with different atheists. For instance, one of my best friends is an atheist, but we never talk about religion, and we don't argue about it. A similar, non-religious/social categorization of Christians would also be helpful. For instance, we range from the quiet, faithful type to the vocal fundamentalists, and everything in between.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  12. Kay

    This was necessary research? Atheism and agnosticism needed subcategories – and may need more? Why, exactly?

    When I was first starting grad school and figuring out what I wanted to study (and who might give me grant money to study it), a professor told me that if you can't answer the question, "so what?" about your research, it either doesn't need doing, or shouldn't be done by you. So, Mr. Silver and Mr. Coleman – so what? Is there any benefit to this "research", or is this just one of those "what kind of kisser are you?" Cosmo articles all dressed up in academic language?

    July 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      If this is "so what?" material to you, then why did you feel it necessary to reply?

      July 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • Kay

        Because people talking out their backsides while claiming to be doing Ph.D.-level research isn't "so what" material to me. If the authors of this study can give a good answer, more power to them.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • Dark Itch

          If I have read correctly, the material covered is "so what?" material. But the fact that someone has taken the time to cover "so what?" material at an academic level is enough for you to post an empty, pointless complaint about it? Or was it just an excuse to mention to others that you once went to grad school and have a superior opinion on the matter?

          Wow, you really showed the author of this article who's boss. I really hope someone at the University of Tennessee gets your message. It would be awful if more people started writing about subjects you don't approve of.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  13. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    "Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: "Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don't read it. And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates." How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it's worse than most could imagine.

    Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments. "No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don't know what they are," said George Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? "Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate." [see Barna Group's web site]

    Multiple surveys reveal the problem in stark terms. According to 82 percent of Americans, "God helps those who help themselves," is a Bible verse. Those identified as born-again Christians did better–by one percent. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one's family.

    Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble." – christianity.com

    July 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Melissa

      Just shows that these aren't people that should have so much say in this country.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Christianity Melissa, has in irreproachable history and was and still is the lumbering log within spiteful eyes...

        July 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Dark Itch

          Your sentence structure is the lumbering log in my toilet.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • Melissa

          lol. Christianity is responsible for the crusades, the witch hunts, and more. Nice try but christianity is just as bad as islam or as any of the ancient pagan religions. Christianity even performed sacrifice. Heck, members have flogged themselves in the past. So don't try to talk about how wonderful it is when it just isn't. Get educated.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • Athy

          Look up Hypatia and read about what the christians did to her for not being a christian.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Melissa...

          Are not one's children irreproachable despite their ill-done deeds? The same issuances of a reprehensible passing of ancient Christendom should avail itself is sameness considerations should it not Melissa? We all have done harm towards other haven't we? Where then does one draw upon when one considers Life's dissatisfactions? Should we all revolt and find condemnation the driving forces from which to annihilate each others stances?

          July 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • snowboarder

      pretty humorous.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      sad

      July 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Bob

      And atheists believe the universe created itself....

      One group is clearly much, much dumber than the other (hint: it's not the one that misquotes trivia).

      July 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'One group is clearly much, much dumber than the other'

        Hint: its the group that thinks the atheists view is that the universe made itself.

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

        Atheists are the first to admit they don't know. You must have been one of those people described in JTFM's post to get your little feathers in such a ruffle.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Elise wrote, "Atheists are the first to admit they don't know."

          If atheists don't truly know then why are they insisting the Cosmos was created by a "Big Bang"? And then evolved into becoming that which many humanists conjecture in theories but nothing factual?

          July 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
        • Dark Itch

          The term "theory" is not synonymous with the word "hunch" in the scientific community. If you and your ilk knew this, the "it's just a theory!" debate would finally get flushed down the toilet where it belongs.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Athy

          Atheists don't "insist" that the cosmos was created by a "Big Bang". We just observe that all the scientific evidence available points to that conclusion. There is absolutely no evidence of any kind pointing to some supernatural cause for the universe's origin.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Loving Athy...

          Our being but as livestock building structures of the atomically ordained is of my reasoned nurturing natures. Science has culminated many "theories" most of which are as sounding boards for anyone to give and get and even begotten. This Big Bang conundrum would be rightly more connotative "IF" there would be an innumerable amount of Big Bangs being far too numerous for science and anyone to intellectually digest. If this may be considered then one may be shown that our cosmos is made up of many universes each beginning with a Big Bang and spaced so far apart it would take eons of Time for their lights emissions to venture towards us.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • sam

        Bob, you can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times until you have no feet left. FYI.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • brads2sense

      Wasn't that Noah/Joan of Arc thing in the movie, "Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure?" Besides, I dont think the lack of Bible knowledge is a problem. Its more indicative of a passing fad. Much like the slow disolving of greek/roman mythos or any other religion. We used to call anything but monotheism "primitive." Maybe now Christianity is becoming the new primative. And not something to be feared, but an opportunity to build some newer, more relevent theologies?

      July 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      The comment from the researchers should read: Stupid "Americans" think they "revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don't" because they don't actually know what it contains. "And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of" hypocritical "biblical illiterates."

      July 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • Dan B

        Very good point. Most folks think they already know. The problem with that is subconsciously they change the facts to suite their own personal gain. Like the basic need TO BE RIGHT!!!

        July 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "And atheists believe the universe created itself....One group is clearly much, much dumber than the other (hint: it's not the one that misquotes trivia)."

      First, it's good to know that you consider the 10 commandments trivial. Then I would like to point out the glaring hole in your logic. You say we believe the universe created itself, I assume because you cannot accept that it might have always existed in some form, and yet you have no problem accepting that God either created himself or always existed. You seem to use logic to get to the "complex universe must have been created by something more complex" but then skip the next logical step of "a complex God must have been created by something more complex".

      July 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • JonnyHero

        And.... you just exploded his head.

        Better lay low for a few weeks.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Hello there Ma'am...

      While I am in agreement with your biblical illiteracy insight the many of Christendom are, many so called and self declared Christians have become barterers for emotionalisms forsaking their intellectual able-ness of which they seem unable to rightfully fathom nor fully become aware of. The Lord God has told us in scripture that He too is of flesh and bone and will live but 120 years then die. It is with much somber displeasures that the Judaic scribes of old were unable to keep track of God's ongoing generations here among our divisional social ambiences.

      I do so love God's teachings but hate his deeds done to our ancestors. Our socialistically permeating dementias of dominated diminutives inherited connotations seem to lack moral sustenance and civilities of righteous ambiguities. Yet, civilizations have flourished into many billions. God One and mankind billions. Go Figure!

      July 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Ultimately this study just shows that more than half of Christians likely do not know what they actually believe or why, they just say they know and will fight to the death defending those bible principles they know virtually nothing about. That to me is the definition of stupid.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @ma'm, the vast majority of the religious never apply critical thought to their beliefs or they wouldn't have them in the first place.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • skytag

      This doesn't surprise me a bit. The primary purpose of Christianity is to make its followers feel good about themselves. You don't need to know what the Bible says to feel good about yourself.

      July 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  14. brads2sense

    Humans are more powerful than religion. How often do humans rationalize killing despite edicts to not kill? How often do humans lie, cheat, steal and rationalize it away even though they consider themselves religious? Right now buddhists are killing moslems and vice versa. I dont need to continue to provide examples. But I am saying that given the preponderance of evidence, people act on their impulses despite religious mores. Therefore, humans are more powerful than religion. If it were otherwise, we would think twice, not do evil. Perhaps religion is simply an idealistic guidebook that we blow off and then use to condemn others who also blow it off..lets be real.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  15. faithful

    Everyone has FAITH (confidence, trust, belief that has no proof) in something. Even if that "something" can be summed up in the statement "there is no God". So, calling an atheist a "nonbeliever" is not entirely accurate, is it? I personally think that it takes a person of very strong FAITH to be an atheist.

    July 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      personally i think that it doesnt take much 'faith'.
      But trying to claim a religious faith is like an atheist's 'faith' is disingenuous. they are not the same style of faith at all. I have 'faith' that the sun will rise tomorrow but that doesnt mean i think its holy and i should worship it.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • faithful

        Actually it's a well known FACT that the earth rotates and, depending upon where you are on the planet, and the weather patterns, the sun will "rise" in your area each day. No FAITH required here...

        July 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          you seem fairly sure in your faith that it will rise based on the facts.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Elise

      I think you need to revisit a dictionary, myself.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • faithful

        Elise, the words confidence, trust, and belief where there is no proof actually came from the dictionary.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Mark

      I think it takes a stronger WILL to be atheist! Atheism is more of a problem of the will than the intellect.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • faithful

        Mark, do you think that a person exerts her WILL based on where their FAITH is? In other words, if "there is no God", then things that are "right or wrong" for me are really determined by me. Need I be concerned about the choices I make and how they may affect others, if it is my WILL to make those choices?

        July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Mark

          Read Romans 1:19-21. Obviously both will and intellect are important. Together both make up the soul. As people we don't completely reason purely, our wants, addictions, desires influence our decisions profoundly. Many parents refuse to believe their child did anything wrong even when the evidence is overwhelming. We do the same thing with God.

          July 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      faith/feɪθ/ Show Spelled [feyth] Show IPA
      noun
      1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
      2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
      3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
      4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
      5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

      There you have it. There can be no faith in something that doesn't exist. There is no ability to gather evidence in something that does not exist. To have faith is to believe in something you think exists but haven't gathered evidence for proof of existence. Since deities do not exist, there is no need for faith in them.

      For further example, if I were to state that there is a rogue black hole in our solar system and had zero evidence to verify my claim, one would have to take that on faith. However, if I were to state that there is no rogue black hole in our solar system, one need not take that on faith. Had a black hole been floating through our solar system, there would be evidence of its gravitational effects on the planets, moons of those planets, the sun, etc. There would also be evidence in the form of gravitational lensing around it.

      If god existed, there would be evidence of it. The bible makes it clear that when god is angry, it lets everyone know how angry it is. Like a little temper tantrum. That deity showed off its powers to the cavemen thousands of years ago, but stopped doing it when people became more technologically advanced. ANY such evidence further disappeared with the invention of the camera.

      This observation leads me to the certain conclusion that there is no deity or deities. Natural phenomenon previously attributed to the angry sky hostess has been proven to be just that, natural phenomenon, through science.

      And this concludes your schooling.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • faithful

        Thanks for the definition. Actually item #2 in your dictionary excerpt states exactly my point, and yours if I read your synopsis correctly. "If god existed there would be evidence", you say. If there were evidence, then belief would cease being FAITH and become FACT. So we agree.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • Dark Itch

          No, we do not agree. Belief in the scientific community is deffered to evidence. Postulation is not equal to belief. An idea is not equal to belief. That is why it is not called belief in the first place.

          What you are attempting to do is twist the definition to fit your argument, much like what what every christian does with the bible. It does not work. So sorry, but you are incorrect. The end.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Doobs

      So it takes faith to say "I don't believe in Zeus, Allah or the tooth fairy."?

      July 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My one article of faith is that while many things are unknown, nothing is ultimately uknowable.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • skytag

      Kind of like not believing in Santa Claus takes a lot of faith?

      It's arguments like yours that cause me to believe religion makes people stupid. When there is no rational reason to believe something exists it doesn't take much faith to not believe it doesn't exist.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  16. Amy

    I believe the smallest group is indeed #7 – "Non-condescending."

    July 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Hal

      Still, probably a larger group than the Christian "non-condensending" group.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Colin

      Amy, I hear that a lot, but, with respect, how is it possible to debate with people who take Greco-Roman Jewish mythology for fact and not appear condescending? I mean, come on....

      If you want to believe childish, weird things ,do not complain if people call your beliefs childish and weird.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • devin

        "Greco Roman Jewish mythology" that's your definition, not the correct one, just yours. I thought I'd clarify in case it caused confusion, something that often results when arguments are predicated upon a false premise.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      You mean like the wonderful non-condescending Christian J Alex: "What relevance any of these people have. 90% of them are lesb/gays who need to justify their insecurity and confusion. Faith and God would mean that they have to accept their devious behavior and they can not even do that. So better to not have a God than admitting their weak pathetic minds. It like the alcoholic, "Who's drunk? Not me ?" God bless them though. They will eventually see the light, but it might be to late...."

      July 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      Yeah, I can understand how one would view criticisms of their illogical, unproven, and archaic beliefs as condescending.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Amy
      These topics are touchy and it is difficult to address them without coming off as offensive or condescending.
      Once a given proposition is accepted on faith, it can no longer be examined in the light of reason.
      Faith is arguably the most powerful of all emotions – and there is no acceptable rational response to an emotional argument.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  17. J Alex

    What relevance any of these people have. 90% of them are lesb/gays who need to justify their insecurity and confusion. Faith and God would mean that they have to accept their devious behavior and they can not even do that. So better to not have a God than admitting their weak pathetic minds. It like the alcoholic, "Who's drunk? Not me ?" God bless them though. They will eventually see the light, but it might be to late....

    July 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Observer

      J Alex,

      Skip all the HYPOCRISY. When Christian heteros no longer engage in any "devious behavior", then you will begin to have credibility.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Hal

      J Alex
      And faith in reincarnation would put you in trouble too, but I doubt that you worry much about your karma, so why should we worry about something we don't believe in either?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Monique

      Right. Seems like they all have issues and want to be gods of this world.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      And with that statement J Alex you have shown that you are a false christian.
      You have both hate and you bear false witness.
      Both specific no-nos in the christian faith.
      Pack light, it'll be warm in your future apparently.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • Doobs

        Actually, he's like many of the "true" christians I've encountered.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      really, monique? as opposed to all the jeebus followers who blather on endlessly with their iron age comic book quotes?

      July 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • skytag

      What a load of delusional claptrap. So much for not bearing false witness.

      July 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  18. Shockandahh

    If you are anything less than 100% sure that here is a god, you are an atheist. That's it. There are no sub-sets, no categories, etc. It's one position on one question, no other philosophy, world view or political strife is involved.

    July 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  19. Vic

    Following up on an earlier comment:

    We are sentient beings. The scientific community has established that we have a universal impulse for God and belief. Therefore, we can not be born atheists!

    July 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Colin

      I've never heard that, but even if it is true, we also have a universal impulse for violence. That doesn't mean we have t o give into our primitive desire. Some rise above it.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • snowboarder

      a person is born without any context of gods, so the default would certainly be atheistic?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      You mischaracterize. Why would a child believe in a god unless their parents tell them. Why do we need ancient superstitions when we know that capricious gods don't use thunder to show displeasure, eclipses to send a sign, etc.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • JimK57

      I saw an episode of Through the Wormhole and they spoke of a god gene.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Vic,

      We have a desire to find ANY explanation for the unknown. Pretending that means we are looking for God in particular is ridiculous.

      You never heard of God or Zeus until someone TOLD you.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "The scientific community has established that we have a universal impulse for God " LOL

      Vic proves once again how his slippery grip on reallity has him inventing his own scientific studies to prove his anti-science world view. This would be like saying "Well science has shown how the universe is only 6000 years old just like the bible says." Making stuff up that "feels" right to you does not make it true.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I'll bet if a researcher suggested we have a long term 30 year study of a few thousand newborns who we attempt to never push or inform with any religous ideology the religious right would be up in arms screaming child abuse. My personal opinion is that any and all religious indoctrination IS childabuse, not the other way around. If just exposed to a secular world free of religous ideology I believe the children would thrive and find no reason to invent invisible beings to talk to and have no problem accepting the answers science provides about the universe which at the moment ultimately ends with "We just don't know for sure how everything happened, but we will keep on searching to find out which is better than making up a conclusion based on illogic and fantasy."

      July 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Doobs

      "The scientific community has established that we have a universal impulse for God and belief. "

      This is a lie. The "scientific community" has espoused no such thing.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • lol??

        Proof, doobie??

        July 18, 2013 at 3:05 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.