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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. Shavon Steffensen

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    August 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
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    August 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  4. Dick Brandlon

    If I state categorically, "There is no God," I am an ass. There is no way of knowing this since no one was around at the time of the Big Bang. The same goes, BTW, for the person who states the opposite. However, if I say "I do not believe in God," this is an expression of an opinion and no one has the right to dispute it – and the same goes for the person who states the opposite.
    In an infinite number of universes, there's enough room for all beliefs. It's only when one view is declared the One, True Version that we get into trouble.

    August 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • photografr7

      Why are atheists who categorically say "THERE IS NO GOD" called "asses" but those who categorically say "THERE IS A GOD" are called "Saints"?

      August 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
      • { ! }

        "Why are atheists who categorically say "THERE IS NO GOD" called "asses" but those who categorically say "THERE IS A GOD" are called "Saints"?

        Actually, photografr7, the majority of bloggers here refer to believers as "stupid", "evil", "ignorant", or "hypocrites".

        August 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • sam stone

          and the majority of the christians refer to athiests as stupid or blather empty threats between scripture

          August 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Saraswati

      'However, if I say "I do not believe in God," this is an expression of an opinion and no one has the right to dispute it'

      When you refer to "rights" you need to clarify whether youmeanalegal or moral right. Clearly we all have the legal right to dispute or argue anything we want. Let me ask you morally, do you think I have the "right" to argue or debate with you if you say you don't believe in cat's? (dispute makes no sense with regard to belief...unless you mean THAT one believes...which would be weird)

      How about if you sayyou don't believe in string theory? God? Ithink for some theists they genuinely believe they are as sure, or nearly as sure of the existence of god(s) as of cats. So how is debating this morally different?

      August 10, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • photografr7

        BELIEVERS: Are you absolutely certain there is a God? If not, you are an agnostic. Welcome to the club.

        August 10, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  5. Cheeeeesssseee

    You can't have faith without doubt. It wouldn't be called faith, it would be knowing.

    August 7, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • photografr7

      So all Christians are really agnostics? Cool!!!

      August 7, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Ugnostic

      The opposite of doubt is certainty.

      August 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
      • photografr7

        That's not right either. There are usually two certainties; at polar ends of the spectrum. Doubt is somewhere in-between. For example you can be certain that God exists or He doesn't exist. In-between are the agnostics. But being an agnostic doesn't mean you are dead in the middle. You can be a 10% agnostic, a 50% agnostic or a 90% agnostic, but most don't assign numbers to their level of belief.

        August 8, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • { ! }

      Ultimately, everything we think we know is based on some assumption. Believers have faith. Atheists "assume." Example: atheists assume that scientific method has anything at all to say about God.

      August 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
      • photografr7

        I don't think the "scientific method" has anything to do with it. Besides, I don't think you know what the scientific method is. Yes, SCIENCE has a lot to do with it because science is true everywhere in the universe.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Dandintac

      "Faith" is the word people use to claim that they "know" when they have no evidence, or even in spite of evidence against.

      August 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    a few mornings ago there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

    John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

    Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

    John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

    John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

    Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

    Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

    Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

    John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

    Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

    Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

    John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

    Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

    Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

    Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

    John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

    Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

    John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

    Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

    Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

    Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

    John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

    Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

    John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

    Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

    Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

    John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

    Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

    Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

    John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

    From the Desk of Karl
    1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don't use alcohol.
    10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

    Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

    Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

    Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

    John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

    Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

    Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

    Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

    Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

    Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

    Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

    John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

    Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

    John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

    Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

    Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

    Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

    John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

    Me: "We do?"

    Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

    Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

    John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

    Me: "But...oh, never mind.

    from Jhuger.com

    August 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      a few mornings ago there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

      John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

      Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

      Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

      John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

      Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

      John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

      Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

      Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

      Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

      John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

      Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

      Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

      Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

      John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

      Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

      Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

      Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

      John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

      Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

      John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

      Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

      Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

      Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

      John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

      Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

      John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

      Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

      Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

      Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

      John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

      Me: "Who's Karl?"

      Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

      Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

      John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

      From the Desk of Karl
      1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
      2. Use alcohol in moderation.
      3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
      4. Eat right.
      5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
      6. The moon is made of green cheese.
      7. Everything Hank says is right.
      8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
      9. Don't use alcohol.
      10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
      11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

      Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

      Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

      Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

      John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

      Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

      Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

      Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

      Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

      Me: "How do you figure that?"

      Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

      Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

      John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

      Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

      John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

      Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

      Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

      Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

      John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

      Me: "We do?"

      Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

      Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

      John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

      Me: "But...oh, never mind.

      from Jhuger.com

      August 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      few mornings ago there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

      John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

      Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

      Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

      John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

      Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

      John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

      Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

      Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

      Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

      John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

      Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

      Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

      Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

      John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

      Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

      Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

      Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

      John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

      Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

      John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

      Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

      Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

      Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

      John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

      Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

      John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

      Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

      Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

      Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

      John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

      Me: "Who's Karl?"

      Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

      Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

      John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

      From the Desk of Karl
      1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
      2. Use alcohol in moderation.
      3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
      4. Eat right.
      5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
      6. The moon is made of green cheese.
      7. Everything Hank says is right.
      8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
      9. Don't use alcohol.
      10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
      11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

      Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

      Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

      Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

      John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

      Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

      Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

      Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

      Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

      Me: "How do you figure that?"

      Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

      Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

      John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

      Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

      John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

      Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

      Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

      Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

      John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

      Me: "We do?"

      Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

      Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

      John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

      Me: "But...oh, never mind.

      from Jhuger.com

      August 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Keith

      The really mind boggling thing is that John and Mary actually exist by the million.
      Great story.

      August 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • amelia

      my neighbor's step-aunt makes $76/hr on the laptop. She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay check was $19305 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more-> W­W­W.C­N­N­3­2.C­O­M

      August 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Maani

      You have now posted this on at least half a dozen blogs here. Sometimes more than once. It just goes to show that you truly cannot teach an old dyslexic dog new tricks. LOL.

      August 7, 2013 at 12:46 am |
      • Keith

        Do you know how many times I have heard the same old stupid idiotic arguments about god. They are everywhere and yet YOU complain when someone posts a story on a half dozen sites. READ the story it is VERY apropo it is exactly what happens when the sheep start proselytizing.
        You are a pathetic lame brain, go grovel in the dirt in front of your dog.

        August 7, 2013 at 1:51 am |
        • Maani

          Uh...I have no problem with your disagreeing with me. And I have no problem with your atheism. However, you are obviously a VERY angry person, or you would not need to resort to the kind of mud-slinging and mean-spiritedness with which you respond. I have NEVER engaged in the same, with anyone here, including those with whom I disagree strongest. Yet you seem not to be able to control yourself, even given that what you TYPE is a conscious, active choice (unlike responding vocally, which can be "knee-jerk," and sometimes lack the "filters" that exist when writing).

          If you can't play nice in the sandbox, perhaps you should take your pail and go home. LOL.

          August 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  7. Tiberius Zebulon

    This seems to me to be a way to confuse conversations even more. Why not just leave it how it has always been? Agnostic theist, or agnostic atheist, or gnostic theist, or gnostic atheist. Creating definitions for words, in my opinion, will not help anything.

    August 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  8. DWN

    Faithful Christians need to understand the enormous problems presented by modern Catholic theology. Its most esteemed scholar of the 20th Century, Karl Rahner, invented a new category of Christian, the Anonymous Christian, which can include atheists. So I am sure the Vatican is quite content with atheism. Recent comments from Francis I confirm this. He wants atheists to embrace him. Belief in a God who intervenes in human affairs is not really what the Vatican wants. The Vatican wants to be the highest power in the world. Its sins have reached unto heaven because it says that it can even change the commands given by Christ and change any of his laws that he likes. This has been going on for nearly 200 years. It has killed countless millions of people who wouldn't submit their consciences to the them.

    August 6, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  9. peevee

    The study is flawed:
    1) First, categories 2 and 4 describe exactly the same ("vocal") group.
    2) "Category 1" is a subset of category 2/4, there is nothing in the description of either which excludes any part of another.
    3) I don't fit in any of the groups. My opinion is "obviously only complete morons can believe in reality of god/gods, but religions are useful to identify and herd the idiots".

    August 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • photografr7

      I agree the study is flawed. It is absolutely impossible to divide any large sample into six distinct groups without there being at lease a few "others." Pee Vee is an "other" and so am I, so I am sure there are tens of thousand of "others" in America.

      August 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • chrisnfolsom

      @ peevee
      > “obviously only complete morons can believe in reality of god/gods, but religions are useful to identify and herd the idiots”.
      – I agree, but would be more diplomatic in my statement (the masses have even less tolerance for sarcasm...). I also would add a caveat for Children as I believe all children need to have rules based on fact, but as they can't really understand yet they just need to believe, or do what is right.

      /There is an old saying that goes something like:
      When one is young righteousness is instilled by fear.
      When one is an adult righteousness is performed by choice.
      When one is older one is righteous by understanding.

      August 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  10. SIMI CRUZ

    Humanism claims that we do not need to believe in God in order to have a working moral system. I am not an intellectual and I do not pretend to have a solution to the problem of the existence of God. I just wonder that if God is removed completely from our social consciousness (as some people prefers to be), we really would have a morally working society.
    I realize that many crimes have been committed in the name of God, but it would be interesting for a scholar to dedicate time on a study to see what is the net benefit (or net drawback) of the belief in God.
    I hope in the future would be possible to populate other planets and have the option of living in one where where people think alike about this and also would be interesting to see how that particular society develops.
    in the meantime we spend countless hours and effort to this discussion , mainly in the well-off societies, while we could be dedicating some effort on alleviating the plight of many other human beings. How? there it is a good starting point.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Keith Grove

      You make some excellent points, I have always questioned the morality of the millions of dollars spent on churches when many citizens are homeless. I live in central TN and constantly see signs proclaiming yet another new church is being built, we have more new church starts than housing starts.
      After all exactly how much worship do gods need or deserve, these churches are built and maintained with TAX FREE MONEY, money that would be far better spent on aid to the homeless. The excuses that the flocks use to justify the outrageous amounts spent on these churches would turn your stomach.

      August 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • Maani

        I am very confused by your comment. It is Christian organizations – including the Salvation Army, and local churches – who do more for the homeless than any other group, including the U.S. government. In fact, that is why the U.S. government has been talking about "outsourcing" some of its social services (particularly re the homeless) to faith-based groups and churches.

        After all, one needs to BUILD a church in order for there to be a church to help the homeless, including (in some cases) running shelter that actually put a roof over their heads, as well as soup kitchens and food pantries.

        August 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • keith

          You seem like a typical believer, easily confused. Where I live it seems that every other building is a church or the site of yet another church and yet when I drive by these churches are empty 90% of the time. There are many poor and homeless people in this area so why don't these churches open their doors to them and house them. Oh no that would spoil the look of the church and its manicured grounds. I have written to many of these churches asking for details of their GENUINE charitable works. I get either NO REPLY or a very curt message saying MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
          Charitable works does NOT mean building or refurbishing with the intent of attracting new converts. These places for the most part pay lip service to charity but claim their full TAX EXEMPTIONS.
          In any case there are more churches than you can shake a stick at so WHY BUILD MORE. Surely your god would look VERY FAVOURABLY on those who use the money for REAL CHARITABLE works rather than a new useless church

          August 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • photografr7

          That was a Hitchslap if I ever heard one!

          August 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • Maani

          I obviously cannot speak to what is happening in your particular area. It does sound odd. It is simply not what I have found to be true of most churches. Still, if you say it is happening, I cannot suggest otherwise. That said, re outreach, you may not be aware of the outreach that members of those churches are doing to the homeless. With respect to actually housing the homeless, have you checked to see whether there are local ordinances that would prevent a given church from actually housing them? I do know that such ordinances exist in various municipalities throughout the country.

          August 7, 2013 at 12:44 am |
        • Keith

          You are pathetic those churches HOUSE a god or is it a dog, so why not human beings. Why spend millions on buildings that are useless why not build housing for the poor, isn't that what Jesus wanted you to do. JC got mad at a wealthy man who bought him a jar of expensive ointment, he told the man to sell the ointment and give the money to the poor. So why don't you sell the churches and use the money to help the poor.

          August 7, 2013 at 1:47 am |
        • Maani

          Keith: You have your scripture backward. It was Mary Magdalene who used expensive oil on Jesus. When Judas Iscariot complained that the oil could have been sold for money for the poor, Jesus responded, "The poor you have with you always; but Me you do not have always."

          Thus, Jesus did NOT ALWAYS support selling everything and giving it to the poor.

          As for churches housing people, I repeat that many municipalities have very strict regulations about housing people, particularly in "non-residences." I know this because I have worked with the homeless, including finding housing and social services for them, for over a decade. I do not know what the regs are where you live, but your comment that just because a church "houses" God it should be able to house people is simply ignorant. Find out what the regs are in your municipality. If they permit churches to house people, and they are not doing so, THEN you would have cause to be incensed. And I would join you in your outrage.

          August 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  11. Redrum

    I feel like a lot of people are missing on here. Religion was always supposed to be used as a guidance. Some sort of teaching that would help pass you through the doorway to inner peace or a "peaceful afterlife." Although, most people who fall into this category end up becoming pantheists. It's missing the people who are still looking to religion for its spiritual essence. I don't believe this falls under the category of "ritual" either, because the teachings and what you take from religion are two totally different things. Just an opinion of course. Is anything else missing?

    August 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • photografr7

      I half-jokingly said recently that I realized I was, not an atheist, but a Buddhist. I've since learned that Buddhism is a religion that does not believe in a God. Maybe an ideal to strive for, but a Judao-Christian God. I'm a lot more comfortable calling myself a Buddhist than a Jew, Christian or Muslim who are just dead wrong on the basics, such as a "first man" and the age of the universe.

      August 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
      • chrisnfolsom

        @photografr7 – As a atheist I am at odds with what I believe, and what I feel the masses should believe. Just because it makes sense to me does not mean it will make sense for all and to a certain extent I would rather have someone do the right thing for the "wrong" reason than being confused and doing nothing, or the wrong thing.

        It's fine to be an idealist, but in relation to humanity you have to make compromises – which is the issue that religions always run into as the more rules they make, the more rules get broken by reality which is always a messy business and of course since no religion is truly divine or correct they soon choke on their own dogma, or are killed by corruption.

        So, what can replace the religions or Deity's for the bulk of society – right or wrong – that will be the best for humanity moving forward?

        August 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • Maani

        With respect, you are not a Buddhist. What you are is someone who agrees with SOME of the Buddhist philosophy; i.e., you are doing what all too many believers do – cherry-picking what works for you. If you actually understood Buddhism – i.e., it's complete belief system – I can all but guarantee you would not call yourself a Buddhist.

        August 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
        • photografr7

          Until then, I'll call myself an atheist because I am one.

          August 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  12. Timmy

    I have to laugh every time I hear someone talk about the evils of science. Of course, then they pull out their cellphone which, of course, would not be here if it wasn't for science. Growing up in the 70's/80's I was heavily influenced by the relatively recent space race and all the scientific knowledge it created. I think Carl Sagan had the most influence upon my life and is why I'm now an engineer. Science is truly what creates the beauty around us.

    August 4, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • chrisnfolsom

      > I have to laugh every time I hear someone talk about the evils of science.
      – Yes it was much better when we had fire, water, air and fire and demons made us sick...

      > Of course, then they pull out their cellphone which, of course, would not be here if it wasn’t for science.
      – The problem is "theists" believe things "just happen", and many don't realize that much of the progress that we have, what has made America great after WWII were innovations from people educated on the GI Bill by heavily subsidized schools and much of the technology was from Government projects, NASA, Military, NSA and yes private companies made a big difference, but until the 90's if a U.S. company performed well they had to hire U.S. workers and keep much of the manufacturing in the U.S. so when U.S. companies performed well we all did well. Now that is not the case unless you own stock..... And many companies are not investing in R&D, while the government is not investing as much in basic science in our schools (yeah, wasting all that money.......)

      > Growing up in the 70′s/80′s I was heavily influenced by the relatively recent space race and all the scientific knowledge it created. I think Carl Sagan had the most influence upon my life and is why I’m now an engineer. Science is truly what creates the beauty around us.
      – BIG Ditto on that – watched Apollo in my PJ's in my bunny feet 😉 and studied books about the Space Shuttle... Reminds me of a few of Carl Sagan's great quotes which apply here:
      1. You can have your own "truth"; you cannot have your own facts. – Carl Sagan
      2. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. – Carl Sagan
      3. If you wan to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. – Carl Sagan
      4. It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, howeever satisfying and reassuring. – Carl Sagan
      5. It's better to light a candle then to curse the darkness. – Carl Sagan
      6. You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe. – Carl Sagan

      August 4, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Keith

      Thank god for a voice of sanity, did I say "thank god" well you know what I mean.

      August 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  13. Terri

    Narcissism is a human trait. There's some people who just believe that they're better than anyone else. The Aryan nation kind of religious persecution of others is very destructive. Their church is better than yours, their family is better than yours, their lifestyle, profession, gender, race, etc. I think many people have been turned off by church groups because of bigotry, and then go back because of the bigotry of atheists. It's a vicious cycle. Bullies and pompous people seem to exist in every group. It's almost like nazis are in battle with communists. When politics get involved and slander becomes the norm as a win at all costs philosophy, innocent people get hurt.

    August 4, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • chrisnfolsom

      @Terri
      >I think many people have been turned off by church groups because of bigotry, and then go back because of the bigotry of atheists.
      – This makes no sense
      1. The people "turned off" does that mean they stop being Christians, or change churches or denominations – they certainly don't become Atheists – perhaps non-denominational or something.

      2. There are only 16.1% of US citizens that are "unaffiliated" – of that Atheists (1.6%), Agnostic (2.4%), Secular Unaffiliated (6.4%), Religious Unaffiliated(5.8%). I don't see atheists as a group really doing much – you see comments here, but you are asking for them. Chances are you won't know an Atheist unless you spend some time talking to them and they don't have any political party.

      Atheist just want to keep Christians to their word that there should be a separation of Church and State which is now becoming a problem as Conservative Christians (Believe in 6000 year earth, Climate Change deniers, Creationists in general) are feeling the pressure as at this point 57% of Americans believe in evolution and 69% believe in climate change. Instead of fighting with facts and knowledge Conservative Christians are trying to use control of the government to push their beliefs on others – this is the only reason I have a problem with any religion, or belief.

      August 4, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  14. Carrie Harry

    Could atheists form their own tax-free church-like center? One of the major draws of religion is a sense of community. Atheists should have a place to socialize too. If atheism can offer people all the benefits of a religion without the mythology, bigotry, and child molestation, religion would quickly become obsolete.

    Theists talk a lot about faith, but then try to back up their faith with evidence. I would respect theists more if they simply admitted there was no logical explanation for their faith.

    August 4, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • chrisnfolsom

      @ Carrie Harry
      > Could atheists form their own tax-free church-like center. One of the major draws of religion is a sense of community. Atheists should have a place to socialize too.?
      – This needs to happen. To say religion is not important would be non-scientific as all human races have a religion of some kind and you have to assume there was a reason – even if you don't believe in a deity – having common beliefs and a structure is important for any society – just as having languages, foods, customs ect. A religion helps to create some common norms which allow for society to work together to benefit society (or hurt it).

      > If atheism can offer people all the benefits of a religion without the mythology, bigotry, and child molestation, religion would quickly become obsolete.
      – It was not religion by itself that creates the "problems" of humans – religions have created a net benefit over time as there was no other explanation for things. Having rules and correct behaviors are important to society – I just don't believe that there is a God orchestrating everything. If Atheists abused their power, or developed corrupt rules which were negative then that would be negative no matter how "factual" their beliefs were.

      This was a quote I heard log ago relating to this subject:
      When one is young righteousness is instilled by fear.
      When one is middle aged righteousness is performed by choice.
      When one is older you righteous by understanding.

      The youth aspect is a question to me although there are many solutions out there, and I don't think you need to have the "fear of god", but you cannot make a child understand the complex aspects of being good, or bad. Sometimes you just have to do things "because" that is the right way. Later you "may" understand.

      August 4, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Maani

      Atheist church? Already being done. Go to the following link:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/us/in-the-bible-belt-offering-atheists-a-spiritual-home.html?_r=0

      Peace.

      August 6, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • photografr7

        Atheist churches are called universities, and their god is science and evidence. Although they do let believers in. We're like that.

        August 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Maani

          "Atheist churches are called universities, and their god is science and evidence. Although they do let believers in. We're like that."

          Believers' churches are called "churches," and our God is Jesus Christ. Although we do let atheists in. We're like THAT. LOL.

          August 7, 2013 at 12:48 am |
        • Keith

          you also let morons in.

          August 7, 2013 at 1:52 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          and it sounds like you have never been to one (a University that is). Christians go to college!? Omg, I though they were all ignorant fairy tale beleiving children.......(sarcasm).

          August 7, 2013 at 8:38 am |
        • photografr7

          Christians go to college, but they must not listen to what was taught. Here's a typical comment by a Christian student as he emerged from a biology and/or cosmology class, "Can you believe what my professor just said? He said that man evolved from lower animals when we know for certain that God created man, and woman from one of man's ribs. He is such an idiot. Then guess what he said?!?!? The universe is billions of years old. I know for a fact the universe is 10,000 years old and the earth is 6,000 years old. Friar Mark told me, and I believe everything he says. After all, it comes from the Bible and was written by an infallible God. Can you believe how stupid these professors are? You know what? After I receive my degree, I'm going to become a professional blogger and post the Word of God on CNN and other sites. And when I tell them that Christians actually go to college, they'll have to believe me!!!"

          August 7, 2013 at 8:47 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          That's the same as saying "I'm a friggin genious because I have a PhD, and I am sooooo smart that I know everything, or at least this paper says I do. So, there must not be a God, because I have never met him or talked to him. And John is an idiot because he has met a God that I can't see. What an idiot John is. I am so much smarter than John. Even though I really have never made the effort to meet God and haven't had the experience John has, he is still an idiot. But John is happy. I need to find more people to be like me and hate John and make him not happy any more. Because that will make me feel like I am right. And my narcisitic PhD genuis a$$ needs to fill that unhappy void by making John feel stupid."

          August 7, 2013 at 8:58 am |
        • photografr7

          Possibly... or, the professor is right and the student is an ignorant hick that believes in fairy tales told by ancient men who didn't even know the earth revolved around the sun, or that genes exist and they are in ALL animals, including man. Get over it, man is an animal.... GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

          August 7, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          See, there is that sterreotype again. Christians are idiots. You might want to check and see how many college proffessors are chrisitians.

          August 7, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • photografr7

          That's OK, go check for me. I'm sure you'll exaggerate the number. Besides, if a professor at a Christian university (Such as my alma mater, St. John's University in New York) confessed to being an agnostic, he'd be out of a job. That's like a Nazi general admitting he was Jewish during WWII.

          August 7, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          Also, did you know that Harvard was started to train ministers?! OMG, then Harvard must create idiot hicks, also.

          August 7, 2013 at 9:17 am |
        • photografr7

          Yes, some universities were established by religious men. But most grew out of that phase. Harvard is hardly Brigham Young.

          August 7, 2013 at 10:09 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          "OMG, over 50% of college proffesors are christian!? That means 50% of graduates must be hicks that beleive in fairy tales. We are all animals that eat our own extrement nothing more....." Really?

          August 7, 2013 at 9:20 am |
        • photografr7

          Pretty much. Just because you are a college professor, it doesn't mean you are't an idiot. An educated idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

          August 7, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          I'd rather be a God loving red kneck hick that's happy than a misserable ping pong playing athiest yankee. Maybe we should seperate the christians from the athiests geographically. Let see who has a more productive society. You can have the northeast and we can have the rest of the country.

          Darn tootin, the south is gonna rise again (spit), yeehaw!

          August 7, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • photografr7

          The VAST majority of scientists are atheists. And without scientists, you wouldn't have your precious Internet to call atheists fools.

          August 7, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          and if it weren't for christians you wouldn't be free.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • photografr7

          I'm not free. I charge. But I would offer you a discount.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:40 am |
        • Keith

          Who told you that garbage? the RC church?

          August 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          Read some history. How about some recent history. MLK was a huge christian and the leader of the civil rights movement.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:32 am |
        • keith

          And your point IS?
          Just because MLK was a brave and dedicated man and a minister DOES NOT PROVE ANYTHING.
          I have read some of your other postings, you sir a very disturbed and confused individual.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • photografr7

          A person can be a great civil leader, a great political leader, even a great physicist or mathematician, and know diddlysquat about cosmology or genetics. Don't throw MLK's name around so you look important. You ain't.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • keith

          What on Earth are you talking about? I did NOT BRING UP MLK IN THE FIRST PLACE.
          In fact I admire the man greatly and always use his name respectfully. He was a great orator and the phrase "do not judge a man on the color of his skin but on the content of is character" is worthy of the greatest writer of all time, William Shakespeare.
          So stop and THINK before making accusations.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • photografr7

          I was responding to whomever said that MLK was a minister, suggesting somehow that he was therefore an expert in science.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          Not all athiests are fools. Just the ones on this blog. Most athiests don't give a crap about this article.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • photografr7

          They care about this article but they won't wait their breath blogging about it. You are right, I am a fool in that way.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Keith

          We are glad that you are a red neck god/gun loving hick, it means that you can live with all the other lame brained sheep and leave us happy intelligent atheists alone. You can be happy in your self delusion just stay away from us.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          So, you mean to tell me, that by chance, the infinite universe all in which there is no other life forms (unless you beleive in aliens and if you believe in aliens then you are contradicting every argument against God) randomly created the only life supporting rock and on this rock random atoms combined to create what has evolved to be an inteligent human race? That would be like a tornado hitting a beach and creating the Taj Mahal. If science is your argument than statistically (math) it is impossible for the creation of the earth and man to be random.

          Also, would you feel good for contributing to the loss of a mans faith? That's a pretty dark goal. Some people only have their faith. It's what keeps them going, but then you mock them and call them ignorant.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • photografr7

          Actually Cheeeeeeeeeeees, if that's your real name, man's existence is not as random as you suggest.

          Man is here due to evolution. About 99.9% of all life on earth is already extinct. Man, who evolved, did so from a creature that managed to survive floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, starvation and other natural disasters. Man's predecessor was intelligent enough to survive. Once modern man arrived, he built civilizations, language, weapons, and yes, the internet.

          I personally believe that life might exist on 1% of all planets, but much of that life has long died out or is so distant from earth we'll never know about it, unless they have discovered the radio transmitter. The likelihood of that is so small, it's practically zero. And if that planet with radios is 100,000 light year away. They might have killed themselves off in war long before we heard their message.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          Understand the evoluation theory and I don't argue evolution. There are different types of christians just like there are different types of athiests. There are literalists that believe the literal message in the bible (ie Adam and Eve) and then there are the folks like me that believe in science but at the same time am a christian. The bible was written a long long time ago when man couldn't come close to comprehending evolution. So, God put it in terms that man could understand.

          BUT, evoluation had to start on earth, which is not an infinite place. Space is infinite, and for there to be a random collision and the creation of life is statistically impossible. There had to have been something to create it.

          Maybe it was aliens? OMG, what if God is an Alien? BOOM, mind blown. This argument has been fun. See you guys on the Global Warming Blog.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • photografr7

          I don't follow you. Why is evolution to man impossible? Yes, it's rare, very rare, but obviously not impossible since it happened at least once.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          Evoluation to man isn't impossible. Putting the pieces together in the infinite universe for this creation without some type of external influence is statistacally impossible.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:43 am |
        • photografr7

          Have you ever studied statistics? I have. I've taken at least five courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. You can't call something statistically impossible without a mathematical proof. Do the math (statistics is math) and get back to me. Otherwise, I have to say, "It's very possible, statistically or otherwise."

          August 8, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • keith

          BINGO, my thoughts EXACTLY.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          You're a genius. You convinced me!

          Do me a favor, go buy a 3,000 piece puzzle, shake up the box, and throw the pieces on the table. Do this over and over until the puzzle falls into place by itself. Then I will be convinced on your theory.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • photografr7

          Bad analogy. Did that come from that nut-job actor turned evangelist? Puzzle pieces never interact except when a person (intelligence) puts them together. That's not true of matter. Atoms of one kind interact with atoms of other kinds all the time. Every chemical on earth is a combination of atoms, and many of those combinations occurred inside the earth or in rivers or in volcanoes without the aid of a man or a god. Then, after a billion years of all of those interconnections, more and more complex chemicals result, until amino acids are formed. And unless I'm mistaken, amino acids later formed genetic material which had the property of self-replication. Throw in mutations and natural selection, and you get man........ that's if you are willing to stand around for billions of years to watch this all happen. Personally, I have better things to do with my time.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • keith

          Your admirable reasoning is lost on someone as far gone as this guy, I suspect that he uses that name as description of what is inside his cranium.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • keith

          Most people who "only have their faith" only have their faith because they have been TOLD BY OTHERS that their faith is the only thing they have.
          These poor people have been so abused that they are now incapable of thinking rationally, they are TERRIFIED that all the things that they have been told will happen to them, will in fact happen to them. These things will of course NOT happen to them
          If you try to talk sense to them the fall to their knees in terror, THIS IS FAITH. Getting rid of it would be the greatest gift to mankind I can think of.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • photografr7

          "Most people who 'only have their faith' only have their faith because they have been TOLD BY OTHERS that their faith is the only thing they have." Can I quote you, and what's your normal fee for a great line like that?

          August 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • keith

          Thanks, it's free.
          I also like this, STOP PRAYING AND START THINKING.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Evangeline

          Praying is like journalling.....it MAKES you stop and think!!! It clears away the distractions so you CAN think clearly. God says to "meditate" on My Word.....read it & then "think" about what you've read. Prayer clarifies things. It's an acknowledgement that God is real.....a reminder I need sometimes. Why does my praying offend you?

          August 9, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • photografr7

          Since there is no God, praying is actually talking to yourself. Or maybe it's silently wishing or dreaming or hoping. It might be a lot of things, but it is certainly NOT speaking to God... unless you think that God and the Universe are one and the same, which is not Christianity. It might be Buddhism. So, you Buddhists out there, stop going to church and start chanting.

          August 9, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • Evangeline

          What are you guys so afraid of? My beliefs are my own, just as yours are....so why do you feel the need to "ridicule" others???

          August 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • photografr7

          If the religious kept their beliefs to themselves there wouldn't be a church on every corner and a TV ministry on every channel. When you take all of them down, we'll stop ridiculing believers.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • keith

          Hallelujah, my sentiments EXACTLY.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Evangeline

          Do you even know what Hallelujah means? It means "praise Jehovah".....the God of the Bible. I'm sure you wouldn't deliberately "mock" God....would you? He says He "won't be mocked". I'd take Him at His word.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • photografr7

          He must have an enormous vocal chord.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • photografr7

          ... or is it "vocal cord"?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • keith

          Yes I do know what it means, it is also a common word in the English language. If your dog thinks I am mocking him I probably am, there is NO LAW AGAINST IT.
          When you say your dog will not be mocked well he has NO CHOICE as this is a free country with freedom of speech. In any case your dog has offended me for most of my life so he should expect mockery in return.
          As for taking him at his word, well the word of your dog is worth NOTHING, he is in fact the biggest liar in the history of mankind.
          Here I go again getting all riled up about a mythical figure that does NOT ACTUALLY EXIST.
          However I am open to an apology for all the vile things your church has said about me for millenia.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          I am sure a lot more people have riduculed you besides the church.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • keith

          Oh that's a simple question to answer, I every believer was like you and just kept their "faith" to themselves then there would be NO PROBLEMS. However there appear to be millions of FAITHFUL who are bent on slamming those of us who DO NOT BELIEVE.
          For all of my life I have been bombarded by hatred, threats, threats of actually bodily harm, intolerance, slander and RIDICULE to name just a few. This pours out of christian radio and TV stations as well as bill boards on churches. But you want us to SHUT UP, this works both ways, when the religion industry shuts up and show us ATHEISTS some respect then maybe they will some respect as well.
          I am not afraid of you, except for the loonies who can do actual bodily harm, I am SORRY FOR YOU. You have NO FREE WILL you are told what to say, what to do and what to believe or you will go to HELL. If you think that is free will then you need to see a doctor.
          Now do you understand? it is you who is doing the RIDICULING not us.
          STOP PRAYING START THINKING.
          Apologies are always welcome.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • Evangeline

          Bodily harm???? Are you kidding? What kind of church were you involved with?? Never saw one like that in my entire life! TV ministries sometimes fail to represent the God of the Bible at all. They just see dollar signs. I get that. I stay far away from them. Any decent ministry does NOT hurt the people who are watching....as you said. That's just not true.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • keith

          Ever heard of Peter Popoff, he was very popular a few years ago. He employed people tp provide protection which actuall meant roughing up those who tried to expose this piece of garbage.
          The RC church was burning heretics at the stake until almost 1800, the Spanish inquisition tortured people by the tens of thousands. Religious groups today shun members who have offended them and use corporal punishment on other members usually the young. Shunning involves literally throwing people out of their community with no money no food or any form of support.
          Now I am still open to apologies.
          Remember, STOP PRAYING AND START THINKING.
          You do not appear to be THINKING.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          That is man doing those things, not God. Look at governments. They do the same thing every day.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Evangeline

          Never heard of Peter Popoff, and I agree those ungodly acts should never have taken place. Religion often strays far from the God they claim to follow. You and I can both agree on that, can't we? The problem is....you're blaming God instead of them. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater....it would be a grave mistake! . Yes, I am VERY sorry for your bad experiences with organized religion! Remember....they're only human!

          August 9, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • Evangeline

          For an Unbeliever, you sure have a lot to say about "faith". Where did you get this information???? LOL

          August 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • photografr7

          Evangeline. Keith knows what he's talking about. I have faith in him.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Evangeline

          Don't put your faith in fools, lest you become one.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • photografr7

          Who says, "lest"?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • Evangeline

          I do! Didn't I just use it in a sentence?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • photografr7

          Who are thou to use "lest"? I bet you weren't born in the middle-ages. In fact, you might be a lot more "recent" than that. If your world view wasn't so distorted, I might ask you out. (I've asked out worse!)

          August 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • Cheeeeesssseee

          Why am I not surprised.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • Maani

          photog: "The VAST majority of scientists are atheists. And without scientists, you wouldn't have your precious Internet to call atheists fools."

          Nope. In every study done over the past 90 years – the first in 1916, the most recent in 2006 – the number of scientists who self-proclaim as believers has remained steady at 40%. HOWEVER, another 10%-20% consider themselves "spiritual"; and many of those are deists. So AT BEST, it is an even split: ~50% of scientists do not believe in God, and ~50% do. Might want to look at the actual research before you make unsupportable claims.

          August 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • photografr7

          As a scientist once said, "Scientists can believe whatever they want, but don't bring it into the laboratory."

          August 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
        • Maani

          Keith: "You also let morons in." Actually, yes. Because unlike you, we do not have anything personal against people with diminished mental capacity. They need love, compassion, etc. like everyone else. Your mean-spiritedness knows absolutely no bounds.

          August 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  15. chrisnfolsom

    Can I say it again, this comment system sucks!!!

    August 4, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Yep

      Yep, it is broken, and it seems like CNN either doesn't know how to or refuses to fix it.

      Drop a note to "Contact Us" below, and one to Editor daniel.burke@cnn.com

      August 4, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Maani

      I, too, have contacted them, to no avail. What SHOULD be happening is two things. First, they need to create a better "filter" so that innocuous word chains that just HAPPEN to create "off-limits" words are not so ridiculously sensitive. Second, they need to make it so that once a comment IS accepted, it returns the person to that (posted) comment, so they can decide where to go next. Instead, the system returns you, seemingly haphazardly, to (i) your comment, (ii) the next page, (iii) the last page, or (iv) the article. VERY annoying.

      August 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  16. GOOD NEWS

    "1" True REMEDY for all "6" types of Atheism:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    August 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • photografr7

      Is that like the Inquisition II?

      August 3, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  17. M. A. Weeden

    I read this article with no small amount of interest, considering how many popular news outlets prefer to refrain from commenting on this topic altogether. Unfortunately, I expected intelligent discourse on the topic after discovering that those responsible for the information contained in the article were encouraging readers to pick their brains. I should have expected that yet another close-minded, cyclic, and altogether predictable shouting match would commence. It is shameful that time and again, we fail to acknowledge or even read someone else's ideas before forcing our own upon others. Granted, this does not apply to everyone who posted here (for the record, I did not read every single post in the comment section) but it does for those of you who were arguing the same point without realizing it, reiterating your point several times, forcing someone to reiterate by not responding to their queries, or posting the same idea as dozens of other people simply because you failed to read any posts before you chimed in with your 'unique' point of view. While it may be true the internet can be blamed for allowing our inner narcissist out (ah, the imperviousness of anonymity) the examples found here and in many other theistic or religious debates across the web are particularly troubling. If we refuse to listen to each other, how then can progress be made? We are supposed to be a nation of many faiths, which is supposed to include the lack thereof if that is the case. As has been stated, throwing bible verses at us agnostic or atheist types (Pragmatic Agnosticism for myself, for the curious) is as futile our misguided attempts to convince you that you are a half-brained fool who clearly does not have a grip on logic. Can we get past the embarrassing futility of our pointless arguments and discuss the matters we all really want to talk about? I'll start with this non-hypothetical question: How do you view humanity? Sounds simple, but give it some thought before posting. We can spend from now until whatever afterlife you do, refuse to, or don't believe in debating how we view the existence – or lack thereof – of God but the true crux of the matter is how you view your fellow man through the lens of your particular belief system. If you view everyone who believes differently from you as being stupid or ignorant, then please refrain from sharing your ideas with us. You are either self-absorbed or uneducated and neither has a place in this discussion as both lead to the examples of what not to do mentioned previously in this post. Finally, to address the topic at hand, in my opinion, this study misses the mark entirely despite the good intentions of its proprietors. Likely, it is somewhere between the truth of atheism/agnosticism and how we view ourselves. If we take a moment to be honest with ourselves, we might discover that if we can be lumped into groups they are likely as follows – 1: Those who have never believed. 2: Those who believed once, but the events of life have changed such notions. 3: Those who tried to believe due to social or familial pressure (to fit in) but were living a lie. 4: Those that refuse to believe because of principal, fear, or hate. 5: And finally, those that have never been exposed to the teachings of a religion. Being honest with myself, I like to define myself as a Pragmatic Agnostic, but really, that definition just makes me feel good as someone who was forced to believe something as a child despite never truly doing so.

    August 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • chrisnfolsom

      Thank you for your input – I would like to say that this particular comment format makes it difficult to work in as you are limited in levels for response, have no ranking, will not tell you if a message will not be posted for different reasons, and I cannot get it to work from my mobile phone (iphone) – at least the links don't work correctly....

      Beyond that – there are some very important aspects to this ranking in that we have to know that there is no "pure" categories, and that it is all a spectrum of beliefs – on many different levels, but there are some rough divisions that can be made. It is important that we discuss this issue as due to the religious bias of the past most people were not allowed to be Atheist, or Agnostic and be respected by others. That needs to change, and seems to be. Hopefully we can all look at the beliefs we have together and see that we have more similarities than not as the more you study religion the more you realize they are much the same and the more you travel and see the world the more you realize we really are all the same and really just want the chance to live and enjoy life with our family along with some security, and perhaps be able to enjoy seeing our grand children.

      August 4, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Maani

      Thank you for your excellent post. You ask: How do you view humanity? I know I will get castigated for saying so, but Christianity probably view humanity as more "equal" than any other belief system. What I mean is that Jesus' teachings, if followed as He gave them, lead to treating every single person the same way: with love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, selflessness, charity, service, justice and truth. As well, since Jesus saw every person as simply "a body with a soul (spirit) inside," He did not treat anyone based on anything except that premise.

      Yes, yes – all too many Christians do NOT live a truly "Christ-like" life. Some attempt to, and for those who are self-aware, they "repent" for the errors they make in the way they treat people, and try to correct those errors. For others, their errors are a matter of "bad theology," and they are unlikely to recognize, much less correct, those errors. (These are the ones that I jokingly say would not know Jesus if He bit them on the ear. LOL.) The second group make the mistake of following some of the dogma and doctrine that would seem to contradict the idea that "all people are created equal" (as Jesus believed).

      As at least one other believer on this thread noted, the only thing that REALLY matters – the absolute primary doctrine, if one is going to self-proclaim as a "Christ"-ian – is what Jesus Himself actually said and did. Everything else is secondary, and is subordinate to that.

      I would add Paul's comment here that, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

      It is in these regards that Christianity – as taught and practiced by its "founder" – views every single person as "equal."

      August 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  18. TheSnail

    Atheist is a religion & if you don't like Christianity Government shall become your God because it gets stronger every year

    August 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • chrisnfolsom

      >Atheist is a religion
      – No it's a belief – just as if you are a "theist" you believe in a God, but there is no religion specified. Generally the "rules" of a certain religion require or want you to believe in a God – some do not.

      > & if you don't like Christianity Government shall become your God because it gets stronger every year
      – Interesting and makes no sense, although I understand what you are trying to say and No, the government does not have to get stronger. There are many Libertarian (many) Atheists – who are "anti" government. Many of "us" looking at the facts see that a balance is needed with regulations especially for those willing to use the system, the government for their own purpose, and not for "the people".

      August 4, 2013 at 4:58 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.