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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. kenneth

    I'm type 3 , 6 and a little bit of 2

    July 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  2. Kara

    2, 4, and 6.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  3. vehementgoat

    You can't be non-theist anymore and expect future generations to have the same right. With organized and well funded interfaith pluralism taking away our government stance on neutrality towards faith the wall of separation is getting destroyed. What used to be a non-theist is now an accommodationalist. What is now an accommodationalist will turn into a member of a Christian nationalist Government.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  4. Existence

    Where did the past go?

    July 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • noillusion

      There is no past.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
      • Existence

        Well there is my post which is in support of it having existed once. Granted when it existed it was the present but that moment had been and now isn't so where did it go? Really these things keep me awake.

        July 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Existence

    Will someone please explain to me what existence means? Does existence exist?

    July 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Existence

      Also is it's opposite non existence because as soon as you think about non existence it exists as a thought. What is non existence?

      July 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • nomological

        Existence is a quantifier, you can't treat it as a predicate.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
        • Existence

          So is asking if existence exists like asking if beauty exists?

          July 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
      • Blurrr

        and you reply to yourself, creating existence-ception...

        July 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  6. Tom Wilson

    Is there any proof of God ? A single piece of evidence ? Or does God require FAITH to believe in ? How big is the universe ? Does one God run the whole universe ? What about other Galaxy's ? Are all the Galaxy's and universes run by 1 God ? How can a perfect God create imperfect humans ? Would that not mean the perfect God failed in a creation ?

    Think I will go to the Dairy Queen and think about this !

    July 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • *

      *galaxies

      July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • Tom Wilson

        *
        I have an old radio called a Galaxy and that is the reason I spelled it the way I did... I was wrong, but so what.. It did not change anything in space that I know of other than me sending out signals that will go for a very long time.

        73 de W5QI

        July 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
        • *

          * sorry, was just trying to do it fyi ...

          July 22, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Mmmm. Peanut Buster Parfait.

      July 23, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  7. mzh

    Hello there,

    Peace be upon you all,

    I would like to ask you following questions and I am interested to know your comments/answers on this:

    1. Where did we come from?
    2. Why are we here?
    3. Where are we heading to?

    If possible please specify the references of your answers… please think before you say something…

    July 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Monty

      Great questions. No doubt the person who discovers the answers to the first two would be given a Nobel Peace Prize for finally ending humanity's religious squabbles. If you put some time into researching astronomy and galactic positioning you could possibly come across Earth's forecasted positioning in the universe. Sorry if these answers are too rational for you but I choose not to use 2000 year old, refurbished fables to justify my existence.

      July 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • John

      I assume you're asking for literal answers to these questions, rather than philosophical answers, so I only had to think for about one nanosecond to get to the correct answers.

      1. No one knows.
      2. No one knows.
      3. No one knows.

      And those who claim to know the answers to these questions are charlatans. So I will turn the questions back to you, because I get the feeling you think you know the answers.

      July 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        1. Either "we don't know" or "Big invisible and undetectable sky wizard chanting magic spells"
        2. Either "we don't know" or "Big invisible and undetectable sky wizard chanting magic spells"
        3. Either "we don't know" or "Big invisible and undetectable sky wizard chanting magic spells"

        July 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • secular

      Where did we come from?
      -Biology text

      Why are we here?
      -There is no purpose, life is just programed to stay alive, it can and it will take advantage of any other form of life to achieve that goal, survival of the fittest, again refer to any college level biology text

      Where are we heading to?
      Refer to the answer to your second question.

      I believe in science and as the humans evolve there are more answers to the origin of everything. Now lets look at the answer from the opposite side, the creationists explanation for the universe is "Let There Be Light" in a mere 4 words you explain everything in the universe; if you want to believe in that then be my guest but this is outright comical and absurd.
      Religion and god is a by product of fear, Isn't killing people in the name of God from the beginning of man kind up to now a pretty good definition of insanity.

      Religion and god is often used as a justification of prohibition and Silences Free Speech and stops humans to seek for real answers.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Tom Wilson

      Every year there are new forms of life on this planet, most are at very primitive levels.. All life today has evolved from earlier life. And the simplest single cell life can be created from a mixture of proper chemicals in the presence of specific heat, light, radiation,

      I think, along with others, think the proper mixture was in the proper place and time when a lightning strike occured in the very near vicinity and the first living cell was living and starting to divided and evolve..

      JMHO

      July 23, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  8. Sean

    What about "spiritual atheists", such as many Buddhists or Daoists? My own position is that I think that religions, including my own, are beautiful myths that help me treat others with respect and decency. I don't believe the stories about celestial Buddhas and all the things in the sutras, but I find them beautiful and useful.

    July 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Good point

      I do not think a literal Krishna exists but I love hearing stories about him because I find the symbolism useful. I am also a Taoist as that symbolism is also useful to me.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • noillusion

      So without the myths, you wouldn't treat others with respect and decency?

      July 22, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  9. Jake

    types 2 and 4 sound like the same thing

    and to a lesser extent, 1 as well

    July 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  10. Rhaj - Haja Raza

    I am an atheist since the age of about 12: I did not "feel" the existence of God. These time, I had hard time arguing with believers about my non-"feeling" of God, and about any other related questions, like where do we come from or where are we going (the human being and the universe). Makes me frustrated.

    But now, I do not also "feel" the necessity of having an answer to these questions. I am absolutely comfortable with my non-belief, my zero feeling about this matter.

    For me, God and the Bible and any "laws" that come with them are just a "social convention" and the "understanding of the universe" (of the time). I am comfortable to follow (or to tolerate) the "social convention" and the "understanding of the universe" (of the majority), even though I do not "feel" the "reason" of the convention and the understanding.

    I do not need a "superpower" (God), nor the stick (Hell) and carrot (Heaven) to follow a "social convention". As for the "understanding of the universe", I feel that any answer anybody have yesterday or today will be corrected tomorrow.

    So... what kind of Atheist am I ?

    July 22, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Don't worry about it. It is just an attempt to define and pigeon hole people. I am an atheist but do not confrom to any of the "six types" so I am the seventh type. The ones who don't fit into their definitions and don't like being type cast.
      Just ignore them, you know what you are, they don't.

      July 22, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • Rhaj - Haja Raza

        I don't but sometime I want to (or vice-versa)
        – debate or argue (1)
        – to be vocal (2)
        – ask questions about my own beliefs (3)
        – speak out against religion (4)
        – be involved (5)
        – follow some rituals (6)

        I agree I just should not worry about being typecasted.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:59 am |
        • John 78

          As with nearly every attempt to catagorize, the human mind is more of a continuum rather than a finite block. If someone did not have characteristics of many, than they are eiter decieving themselves or are so centralized in their position that they would have trouble interfacing across boundaries.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
      • noillusion

        Didn't you just pigeon-hole yourself by saying "I'm an atheist"?

        July 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      A Rational Atheist...

      July 22, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        No fanaticism. No antagonism. Just atheism through rational thought.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • Rhaj - Haja Raza

          If it is just for myself, I can be "rational", "not fanatic", "need no antagonism".

          But ... for my case, I come from underdeveloped country (Madagascar). And I "feel" really bad for seeing people getting too deep in religion. (maybe because) people are desperate or vulnerable. And I see "irrational", "fanatic" and "antagonistic". But then, what is the alternative ? And what/how should I...

          July 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Rocksolid34

      Could not of said it better myself. I haven't believed in God since I was six. I am a real atheist. I don't care if you put a cross or a Xmas tree on the lawn of the town hall. I don't care if says In God we thrust on money. This is America. I believe. In that.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  11. Henryo

    I do NOT belong to any religion, because I DO think.

    However, for all the atheists on these opinion/belief boards that troll, day and night, telling people that they are trying to make the world a better place by knocking down anything that resembles a belief...they are doing NOTHING.

    If you're an atheist and you THINK you want to make a difference consider this: You have this life, and this life ONLY. Live it. get out there and get off your computer and make your ONE life all that it can be, but stop being hypocrites doing nothing but trolling and attacking people. You are making the world a worse place to live; a place that you have to eventually go out into and be greeted by people as nasty as you've made them.

    Good luck with that......

    July 22, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Ummmm

      "but stop being hypocrites doing nothing but trolling and attacking people. "

      That's why you're doing the very same thing hypocrite.

      July 22, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  12. ReasonIfYouCan

    Intellectual Athiest I am. It will take all types of Atheist and types not mentioned here to put religion where it belongs. Mythology.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  13. ap stylebook telephone numbers

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I'll certainly be back.

    July 22, 2013 at 6:34 am |
  14. Wendy

    I am all 6 of those types...so it should be listed as a continuum, not as separate types. Atheist means you don't believe in god or gods, would you separately label all of the traits and behaviors of people who believe that blue as their favorite color? No, you would not. People get caught up in semantics because they feel they need to water it down for their so called friends and family, so as not to offend anyone. .People should be proud to be an atheist and a believer of science, just as any other belief they hold. Also, I'd love to know if the researchers are in the 1-6, or god believers, and if so, which one? Science requires a control for bias. I would like it if one was a theist and one was an atheist or both agnostic. Also MORE interviews needed, small data sample, HUGE room for error. Looking forward to more articles and studies like this!

    July 22, 2013 at 2:17 am |
    • Evangeline

      Christians also believe in science....they just don't accept "theory" as "proven fact"....that would require a huge leap of faith. Much of science is based on theory, and it changes over time tremendously. Yet the common misconception today is that "scientific" discoveries are "written in stone". Nothing could be further from the truth. How many "scientific" studies showed that coffee is "bad" for us one day, actually "good" for us the next? There are so many conflicting stories, we can't keep it all straight. The Black Hole, the "God particle"? Theories change, God does not. The evidence is clearly is His favor.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        Evolution for example explains what we see in DNA, fossil records, geographical distribution, etc. whereas the bible is wrong. Why believe in ancient superstitions when we have knowledge? There is no evidence of any god.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Maani

          "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." Stephen Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist

          August 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "they just don't accept "theory" as "proven fact"....that would require a huge leap of faith. Much of science is based on theory, and it changes over time tremendously."

        Here we have another prime example of a Christian who doesn't understand the difference between a scientific theory and just a theory. A "scientific theory" is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. A "Theory" is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking, or the results of such thinking.

        I have seen several Christians make this logical error so I don't know if it's an intentional misrepresentation or if they really are that dumb. My theory is that it's the latter.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:52 am |
        • Evangeline

          I don't feel the need to insult others by calling them "dumb", but my theory is that you appear to be smarter than you really are. I think you're bluffing.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • Gh0st

        It's obvious that you don't know what theory means. Also, I have no problem calling you an idiot, because you are. Have fun with your ditch digging.

        July 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
      • Big Al

        "Theories change, God does not".
        Really?
        Just how many religions are there, anyway?
        And wouldn't you need to say "God/Gods/Godesses & Goblens do not"?

        July 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
        • Evangeline

          I think you're confusing "religion" with "God". There have been many religions over time, but only ONE God. People have chosen to worship everything under (& including) the Sun, Moon, & stars..... trees, animals, statues made of wood, metal & stone. They even worshipped people (much like our infatuation with celebs!). The God of the Bible said not to put your faith in things that have no power. Put your faith in the ONLY God there is...He said. He said He is unchangeable....He is the same God who was there at the beginning, and when the Pharaoh's were on the throne in Eqypt, and when YOUR great-great-grandparents prayed to Him. Who are you going to thank for those blessings?

          July 23, 2013 at 12:38 am |
        • Evangeline

          I believe it's "religion" that's tarnished God's name....take Him at His Word instead. People have chosen to worship everything under (& including) the Sun, Moon, & stars..... trees, animals, statues made of wood, metal & stone. They even worshipped people (much like our infatuation with celebs!). The God of the Bible said not to put your faith in things that have no power. Put your faith in the ONLY God there is...He said. He said He is unchangeable....He is the same God who was there at the beginning, and when the Pharaohs were on the throne in Eqypt, and when YOUR great-great-grandparents prayed to Him. Who are you going to thank for those blessings?

          July 23, 2013 at 12:59 am |
        • tallulah13

          Evangeline, true believers of every one of the thousands of gods that humanity has worshiped all felt the same conviction that you do. And they all had the exact same amount of evidence that you do that their god existed: None whatsoever.

          And I notice you mentioned Egypt. Were you aware that a major piece of the bible has been debunked? There was no exodus from Egypt. There was never even a large population of jewish slaves in Egypt. The entire story was made up. Kind of makes you wonder what else in the bible was made up, that is, if you have the courage to question.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:06 am |
        • Evangeline

          Fear not...I have no trouble questioning anything....in fact God encourages us to question....doesn't He? What did He tell "doubting Thomas" to do, to put his mind at ease?

          I've heard that rumor about the Exodus, but where's the evidence? The archeological digs have never failed to back up the Bible, even the rumors that cities mentioned in the Bible never existed.....were eventually been proven false. The fossil record couldn't be much clearer, since it's "written in stone"! The scientists can't explain why it doesn't display any evidence of evolving species. The evidence is there, yet they close their eyes to it. Who's the one lacking the courage to question?

          July 23, 2013 at 1:42 am |
        • redzoa

          @evangeline – The evidence for evolution in the fossil record consists of intermediate/transitional forms bridging various taxonomic groups and more generally, the progressive order of the major classes of vertebrates (fish, then amphibians, then reptiles, then mammals, then birds). Note that an important piece here is that the relative relationships match what we see when comparing the genes of living organisms. Furthermore, there aren't any forms that are out of place, e.g. no humans alongside dinosaurs or rabbits in the pre-Cambrian; in fact, we keep finding more and more intermediate/transitional forms pretty much just where evolution predicts we should find them. If you were really interested in this topic, I'd suggest you compare your arguments against Evolution to this database of responses:
          http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

          As noted before, you are misapplying the general use of "theory" with a "scientific theory." A scientific theory is the highest level a scientific proposition can reach (yes, even higher than a "law") and only reaches this status after many, many years of testing. Evolution is supported by every relevant branch of science: physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, biology, ecology and even astronomy. If Evolution were false, then the entire practice of science itself would need to be so fundamentally flawed as to be effectively useless (clearly, this isn't the case given our respective reliance on science in virtually every sphere of modern life). Evolution is taught in public science classes because it is the only explanation for observable biodiversity (including humans and our hominid ancestors) supported by physical evidence. It's the only scientific explanation because it is the only one that is testable and falsifiable. For example, we can test the predictions of evolution by looking for particular fossils in particular geologic strata; if we saw a human fossil alongside a dinosaur, then that would falsify what we understand about the history of life on this planet. Creationism/Intelligent Design, however, are not scientific because: 1) neither has any supporting physical evidence; 2) there is no testable mechanism; and 3) they are both unfalsifiable because "God did it" can explain any and every possible observation and thereby effectively explains nothing.

          Lastly, Evolution is the clear consensus among scientists practicing in the relevant fields. There is no controversy. The very, very small minority of scientists (less than 1% by most accounts) that reject Evolution do so for religious, not scientific reasons.

          July 23, 2013 at 2:23 am |
        • Evangeline

          I may not have the advantage of a stellar education, but even one as simple as I can see the flaws in your arguments. First of all, to say that only 1% of scientists don't believe in evolution and that they only believe on religious grounds....what evidence do you have to support either of those statements? I think you're wrong on both counts.

          You say that "scientific theory" is "falsifiable"....which is like saying "we'll say it's true, until we know it's false"....."just trust us...we never lie". Hmm! Sounds illogical to me.

          Explain to me how a "scientific theory" can possibly be higher than a Law? Maybe our "understanding" of the Laws changes, but the Laws themselves are unflappable....they were set in motion long before we were around. Don't you agree?

          July 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • redzoa

          @evangeline – P.S. It's not a "rumor" about Exodus. Like the many, many futile searches for Noah's Ark, none have been even remotely successful. There comes a point at which a complete lack of evidence in support of a proposition, despite significant and repeated efforts to produce it, becomes reasonable evidence against the proposition.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Archaeology

          July 23, 2013 at 2:58 am |
        • Evangeline

          I disagree completely....the preponderance of evidence in God's favor. Even if you boarded Noah's Ark, I still don't think you'd believe because the archeologists have only confirmed what God revealed long ago. They haven't caught Him in one single lie. If they have, please show me. Don't you wonder why the fossils are in layers where they don't belong? And why they died so suddenly? If we'll stop fighting and examine things together....then we'll find the truth. Isn't that really what we all want? I'm not suggesting you & I are fighting....not for a moment! Have an awesome day!

          July 23, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • Maani

          Redzoa:

          "The evidence for evolution in the fossil record consists of intermediate/transitional forms bridging various taxonomic groups..."

          Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould dopes not agree: "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." And he is not the only respected scientist to believe this.

          "A scientific theory is the highest level a scientific proposition can reach (yes, even higher than a "law")"

          Really?! So you're saying that the Theory of Evolution is a "higher level" than the First Law of Thermodynamics? And where, exactly, did you learn this patently ridiculous concept?

          "Evolution is supported by every relevant branch of science: physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, biology, ecology and even astronomy."

          Really?! How, exactly, do physics and astronomy apply here? Or even geology (which may serve to prove the Earth is more than 6,000 years old, but has ZERO to do with evolution, except that fossils and other evidence are found in geologic strata – but that is a part of paleontology, not geology)? Again, you must have had some TRULY poor science teachers.

          "Evolution is taught in public science classes because it is the only explanation for observable biodiversity (including humans and our hominid ancestors) supported by physical evidence."

          No, it is not the "only" explanation. It simply may or may not be the one for which we have the largest amount of supporting evidence.

          For someone who obviously values science and accuracy, you are not particularly accurate in your statements.

          August 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
      • Tom Wilson

        What evidence ?

        July 23, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • Charles Ashe

      Wendy,

      It sorrows my heart to hear anyone believe your way. If you came to know Jesus the way I know him, your world would
      be a lot happier. The empty place in your heart would be filled and you wouldn't have to try to consistantly prove your point. God loves you, wants you to believe in him so that he can show you the things you are missing.
      I am not trying to make you mad. I will pray for you, ask God to bless you and ask Him to show Himself to you.

      July 22, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • Pete

        " If you came to know Jesus the way I know him, your world would
        be a lot happier. "

        It has nothing to do with your belief in Jesus, and a lot to do with your brain. We can all get that feeling of love and enlightenment simply by meditating. Your brain releases a chemical that makes you feel good about yourself. You need to believe in your invisible friend to have self confidence about who you are, atheist's don't need that crutch.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • Akira

        Why do you assume that Wendy is unhappy and has an empty place in her heart? Rather arrogant assumption.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:50 am |
      • Tom Wilson

        Does prayer work ? Our Govt did a double blind test in how effective praying is, they used two groups, One group were Christians and the other group we atheist, the results were pretty much the same for both groups, They could show no effect from praying. None, Nada...

        If you think prayer works, then show us, pray for all the starving kids in the world, pray that from here on out they all get plenty of healthy food to eat.. Let me know how it turns out..

        July 23, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  15. Graham Epp

    The researchers say this is their first stab at this and that they conducted 59 interviews and that they're pretty sure there are six types which could blossom into many more types. That there are so many types should indicate to them that they are on the wrong track, and to mention a number like 32 based on 59 interviews is not just preposterous but a disservice to atheists. It makes them look like they can't agree on anything.

    The correct answer was arrived at many decades ago. Atheism is associable to reason-bias and types of atheism are therefore analogous to two R-bias functions and two connecting Non-bias markers. All other supposed types of atheist reflect periods of transition and aren't worth naming. I wish I could post the necessary diagram explaining this.

    July 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • tony

      How many ways can you not believe in faeries?

      July 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  16. Mack

    The fact that there are more and more articles about atheism shows that it's more of a force to be reckoned with and accepted in society. The numbers are only growing. Much like unionization took a deep dive yet still hangs around and is certainly far from gone, religion and the belief in a God may be headed down the same path. I truly think it will be only the last faithful holdouts who still preach this stuff in the next 100, 200, 500 years.

    July 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • tony

      And the belief Blog is helping enormously. Keep fighting the god squad trying to get into childrens' classrooms.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
      • Evangeline

        Hate to tell you this....but the "God-squads" are the ones who started the school system in this country. Parents sacrificed to build schools so their children would be able to read the Bible, an advantage many of them didn't have. Government will never have the "heart" these people had, that's the real difference now. Government is like a rich uncle who feels nothing for someone else's child, but just keeps showering them with money to make up for it.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Why is the "god squad" so scared of education? Because knowledge and critical thinking are incompatible with the ancient superstitions that are so lucrative for the various religions.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Evangeline

          Disagree with a college professor and see how much "critical thinking" has been lost. As long as you agree completely with what is being taught....everything is fine. Think outside the box and you'll be ridiculed. Play devil's advocate sometime & see for yourself. Brainwashing is a very subtle thing sometimes, our side is not the enemy. We're told by God to "test everything".

          July 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • tony

      And the belief Blog is helping enormously. Keep fighting the god squad trying to get into childrens' classrooms..

      July 21, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Evangeline

      God calls them the "remnant"....glad you agree with Him.

      July 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  17. Mark Morss

    How many ways are there to believe in ridiculous, non-existent dieties? Infinitely many:

    each of the innumerable strands of Christianity
    the several strands of Judaism
    the several strands of Islam
    Buddism and its variants
    Hinduism
    the classical religion (the gods of Olympus)
    the old norse religion
    the various religions of the native Americans, e.g. Aztec, etc, etc
    the gods of Egypt
    Voodooism
    Baalism
    Zoroastranism
    the Bahai religion
    the Flying Spaghetti Monster (blessed be His Holy Name)
    the Gread Jub-Jub at the Bottom of the Sea
    the Little Green God in the Center of the Sun
    the Turtle that Surpasseth all Understanding
    and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on...

    July 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • headinhome7

      Atheists are without hope in this world and the world to come.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  18. siggis94

    Why do people even argue this stuff? I'm a devoted Christian and I honestly wish people, religious and not religious would just say "I get what you believe in and you understand what I believe in. Now lets go live life as we were meant to and not worry about stuff like this." NOT oh this is real and this is fake and I hate people who believe in this and that!? Atheists and Believers alike are wasting their lives and money trying to prove each other false. Spend your time trying to find cures for cancer and solve world hunger. Sheeshhhh – _ –

    July 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • wcardiac

      I'm an atheist and the reason I speak out is because I don't want Evangelical Christians setting public policy. And there are a number of people trying to cure cancer, except Christians are setting public policy on stem cell research because they believe an invisible god somewhere wants them to. Certain sects of evangelicals have openly stated they want the United States to be a Christian theocracy. I don't want to live in a theocracy and I would like to see a world where religion no longer was respected as some sort of path to truth. I think we have much better methods that don't rely on imaginary beings.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • Fuzzy

        Splendidly put! Religious intervention in the sciences and in public school science classrooms have become intolerable. I recently had to deal with a public elementary teacher who, in my daughter’s 3rd grade geology class, insisted that the rocks the children were studying were no more than 10,000 years old (a creationist view). If the U.S. expects to compete on the global market it will undoubtedly be within the science and technology fields, and if teachers are allowed to express their religious views in the public classroom our children can expect a future in telemarketing.

        July 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Evangeline

          The problem I have with evolution is that it is taught as "fact" instead of "theory" (which it unquestionably is). Even on PBS they talk about it as though it's a "given", and "marketed" that way...why wouldn't children accept it as truth? That upsets me. There's no need to "lie" about it....teach what is "fact" & what is "theory". If there was undisputed evidence, scientists would all agree....they clearly do not....even the most brilliant among them disagree on it. Those who refuse to "follow the party line" are unmercifully "mocked". I respect them even more for providing that "evidence" of their courage.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Evangeline, Evolution is a scientific theory based on verifiable observations; DNA, geographic distribution, fossil records, etc support that. There is no evidence for any creation myth. Why believe stories based upon ancient superstition when you could have knowledge?
          I'd be surprised if you led the rest of your life guided only by blind faith, e.g. buying property, autos, investments, etc.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Evangeline

      Arguing does waste a lot of valuable time, but as a "devoted Christian" you know Jesus commanded you to tell others about the Good News. You would not have a relationship with God if someone had not told you. It is true that no one comes to Christ after being "beaten up" by His followers, but how many funerals have you attended where the whole room is shocked to discover a Christian lying in the casket....they never suspected at all. Sharing is sometimes caring.

      July 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  19. rdeych

    As an atheist since the age of 6, I can tell you that these "types" can overlap. I fit into 4 of these categories.

    July 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • kmonkmon

      You must have been one intellectual six-year-old.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        Or not indoctrinated with ancient superstitions. When did you stop believing in Santa?

        July 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  20. Graham Epp

    I would say there are four kinds of atheist: this being based on ascendant potential to reconcile two sentient ideals in reasonability and desirability, and in context of a conjoint topic in hopeful reality:

    1) Doubter (R minus D) Those exhibiting animosity towards hopeful reality statements
    2) Dabbler (D does not equal R) Those mistakenly thinking ideals justice is achieved
    3) Scholar (D divided by R) Those having exhausted (R) and intent on integrating (D)
    4) Master (D equals R) Those fully ascended and able to enjoy a religious experience

    There would also be transitioning periods preceding each of these perceptual levels (or markers).

    July 21, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
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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.