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Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

The Street Corner Prophet

When the Belief Blog ran a recent article on a television host who declared that atheists “don’t have to live here,” a commenter identified as “Karie” got into a heated exchange with someone who called themselves “Bible Clown.”

Karie called Bible Clown a “disgusting, deviant perverted virus,” and a “Bozo,” before ending with this prediction:

Hell is coming for you love. Special dungeon just for u and u won’t be able to die. LOL.LOL.”

The street corner prophets often act as if they’re deeply concerned about the fate of souls they disagree with, but you can tell that they relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

“We change no one’s mind by attacking,” said Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City.

Camosy has made a career out of bridging religious differences. He’s part of a “Contending Modernites” group, which finds common ground between Christians and Muslims. He’s also the co-founder of a website devoted to dialing down the heat in religious arguments entitled, “Catholic Moral Theology.”

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

The Provoker

There isn’t any notion of “embodied trust” with the next online character: The provoker.

The provoker doesn’t even pretend to care about the final destination for someone’s soul. They come out punching, and they love to say things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone in person.

In the recent article on Warren, a reader who went by the surname of “Just the Facts Ma’am,” tells another:

“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.”

In an article about millennials leaving the church, a reader who identified herself as “Jenna,” tells another: “Jesus never said any of that mess. You are a false prophet if I’ve ever seen one.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a provoker:

No one will listen to you if they don’t like you, said Joe Carter, an evangelical blogger and author of “How to Argue like Jesus,” a book that explores how Jesus verbally tangled with his enemies and persuaded his friends.

Carter said Jesus was such an excellent communicator because he told stories that provoked emotions, took surprising twists and forced people to draw their own conclusions. But he also connected with people because of a simple reason: he cared about them.

“When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to be persuaded by you,” Carter said. “We tend to be persuaded by people we like and trust. Jesus had that in spades.”

The Atheist

One of my best friends was an atheist. Whenever we ran into one other, we’d launch into these long, philosophical discussions about religion.  I loved it. Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious.

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script. In fact, they have some of the nastiest religious arguments I’ve witnessed online.

A sample:

In a recent Belief Blog article about atheism, a reader identifying himself as “Sam Stone” says to another: “Free people do not need a savior, Kate. Only slaves need saviors.”

Another reader who identifies himself as “CamDEn1” tells a Christian, “You are an uneducated fool. Ever you heard of Richard Dawkins? Sam Harris? Atheists have more respected scholars than Christianity…”

I get the source of frustration for some atheists. They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Here’s how to argue over religion if you’re an atheist:

Get beyond the stereotypes and actually spend time with a person of faith. And if you’re a person of faith, do the same with an atheist. You might be surprised.

That’s what happened when Camosy, the Fordham University ethics professor, embarked on a speaking tour with the renowned atheist and philosopher, Peter Singer, who is seen by many as the founder of the animal rights movement.

Camosy said the speaking tour forced him to read and pay attention to Singer’s arguments. He discovered that they share concerns over global poverty. He saw Singer as a person of good will.

“That created the space for us to have an honest, open and fruitful exchange with one another rather than exchanging barbs,” Camosy said.

It also created the space for personal transformation.

“Actually reading him converted me to being a vegetarian,” Camosy said. “But it was only being open to his arguments that made me see.”

The Scholar

I have a friend who is smart – scary smart.  He’s a genial, funny guy who happens to be a theology professor. I try to hang with him when we talk religion, but there’s always a point in the conversation when he loses me. I compare that moment to watching the starship Enterprise go into warp drive. He just goes into hyperspace and my brain just isn’t big enough to follow.

There a lot of big brains in our blog’s comment sections. I call these readers “the scholars.”

Some of them are self-appointed biblical experts. They talk as if they have God’s cell phone number: God has revealed great mysteries to them. They know the divine plan.

In a recent article I wrote about contemporary Christians feeling as if they were persecuted, a reader identified as “Tom Skylark” let me know what all this persecution was really about.

 Skylark said:

“Christians will face continued persecution then 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will happen right before the 7 year tribulation when Israel burns Russia’s weapons for 7 years. (Ezekiel 39:9). Those who are not taken in the rapture will have the opportunity to receive Christ during the 7 year tribulation but will be beheaded for their testimony. (Revelation 20:4). How far is Russia towards its prophetic position which means the rapture (! Thessalonians 4:16-17) is even closer?

Actually, I did not know that, and I’m still not sure what it means.

Sometimes the scholar is someone who believes all religion is hopelessly derivative: it’s all based on something that came before.

A reader by the name of “Seyedibar” responded to my article on Christian persecution with this:

“A little study of history and comparative religion goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Israel. Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, one of a hairdresser and carpenter. .. And if you back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren’t aware that the creator of the Garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.”

 Like I said, hyperspace. I just can’t go where “Seyedibar” has gone before. I love the scholar’s passion for religion, but some of them lose me when they try to deploy all their knowledge of history and religion in any effort to change someone else’ beliefs.

How to argue about religion if you’re a scholar:

Accept that there is a limit to knowledge. I’ve never seen anyone say in response to a religious argument: “You are right. Your argument is irrefutable. I’m going to jettison a lifetime of beliefs on the spot right now because I obviously have no coherent reply.”

It just doesn’t happen.

Gordon Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University, said most people change religious beliefs “not because of one argument” but only after long conversations and intimate exposure to another faith.

“Logical arguments are nice but they're not going to change someone’s life,” Newby said. “We’re way too complicated for that. We’re not programmed machines. We have this whole limbic system of emotions and appetites and everything else.”

The Peacemaker

There are some readers who give me hope when I go to the comment section. They are the “peacemakers,” and they surely bless me with their attitudes.

Peacemakers try to keep arguments from getting personal. They are the online referees.  They turn the other cheek.

An exchange between someone called “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” shows a peacemaker in action.

“Bootyfunk”  gets upset with “KatieRose” because she says  “we must respect all ideas in the world, no matter how crazy.”

Bootyfunk says people don’t have to respect all ideas, and tells Katie Rose she shouldn't tell people not to debate religion on a blog about religion.

What does KatieRose say in response? She doesn’t go to war. She makes the peace:

“Okay! That works for me,” KatieRose said. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue: I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion.”

“Bootyfunk” ends the discussion with a smiley-face symbol and a “smooches, Katie.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a peacemaker:

Keep on doing what you’re doing.

If only the rest of the comment section had more peacemakers. I actually e-mailed readers like “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” to get their perspective, but all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story. Only one person – an atheist – responded to my invitations to chat, and he didn’t want his name used.

But I have a feeling I’ll hear again from these holy trollers when I scan the comment section of Belief Blog. So will you, even if you don’t read that much about religion. These holy trollers show up in our lives and our workplaces. Many of them will sit next to us at the dinner table when families and friends get together for the upcoming holidays.

When the conversation turns to religion, you may meet your holy troller, and you will have to make a choice.

Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?

What kind of holy troller will you be?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

soundoff (3,856 Responses)
  1. unbeliever

    I don't match wits with religionists. I wouldn't battle with an unarmed opponent.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • jbcal

      That's old and weak. try again.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • unbeliever

        your religion is old and weak and full of plot holes. try again.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  2. gman

    how about just saying what jesus did. " unless ye are born again you will NOT enter the kingdom of heaven " ,

    put JESUS on the cross between your sins and GOD and ask to be saved.

    JOHN 3:16 for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever shall
    believe in him shall not perish , but have eternal ( ever lasting ) life.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • don't lie to yourself

      witchcraft works/ Didn't know that

      October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  3. don't lie to yourself

    what would you expect.. You reduce small children by calling them sinners, you teach them of a fiery hell that will give you painful 3rrd degree burns, you tell them there are monsters in hell and you show a gory picture of a bloodied guy on a cross.

    yes,, this WILL change the development of a child and a child WILL fear opening his mind to access reasoning.

    I believe I just described the religious here and why they block out common sense and reasoning,, fear as a result of childhood brainwashing.

    Sad.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @don't lie to yourself : they block out common sense and reasoning,, fear as a result of childhood brainwashing.

      You're the result of evolving from a primate, similar to a monkey. In a billion years, nothing you do will mean anything. So, do whatever pleases yourself while you can. No one will care what you did in a hundred years.

      IS this the message you want to send to children?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Man evolved from man into modern man and man has existed since the last mass extinction. The whole monkey to man story is about racism and was intended to be a means to deny another's humanity and that worked in millions of cases. Trayvon is an outcome of teaching the monkey to man story is public schools.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • Chris Sadler

          What garbage. Look what religions does to these minds.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • nmats353

      I came to Christianity when I was 13 years old. I was not led by anyone. Therefore, the criticism that people are brainwashed as a young child would not refer to someone like myself (especially those that come to religion later on in life). However, let us assume that someone was brainwashed into a life of morality and happiness? What exactly is the harm in this? There are people that grow up in a dysfunctional home that are brainwashed into thinking all of society holds these violent and/or addict worlds. There are people that grow up in an atheist home that are brainwashed into thinking Science is the answer for everything; which unfortunately is untrue. Before condemning someone on one end of the spectrum as being brainwashed how about looking at the other end as well.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  4. Roy Marquez

    I enjoyed Blake's comments in this article, and I've seen each type he's described in many online conversations over the years. I just wish some of the people commenting in this thread would have read what Blake wrote and taken it to heart. I know I do.

    I'm a lifelong atheist. I'm an atheist because I try to be careful about the kinds of knowledge claims I make - I'm a teacher and a scholar - and after examining most (surely not all) of the arguments for God's existence, I don't find there to be sufficient evidence.

    However, I recognize that I haven't gone over every argument. I don't know every piece of evidence out there. And there's plenty I don't know about cosmology and the nature of the universe. So I have to be humble about the statements I make.

    When I talk to friends who are Christian or Muslim or Hindu - or any other faith - I just try to be respectful of their beliefs. I like to learn about their religions because I'm a curious person interested in other human beings and the world. I realize that everyone doesn't sustain that kind of curiosity, and I don't judge them for that.

    I do understand that violence has been committed in the name of various faiths, just like violence has been committed for any number of rationales. But I rarely encounter people willing to do violence against others for reasons of faith. I realize that those people are out there, and it's necessary to protect ourselves against them sometimes, but we can also become obsessive about threats that aren't as imminent as we might think. I like to keep it in perspective.

    I wish we could talk to each other - atheists, believers, and everyone in between - with a little more respect, understanding, and dignity. Alas, that's a hard sell. And that's why I don't usually engage people online about these matters. Better just to do it in person, where it's easier to acknowledge the other person's humanity.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  5. Yared Ben Ysrael

    Athiest, get over it Religion is here to stay.. Yes religions are false. but the Bible is not. If if you believe that there is no possible life after death. THEN WHY WOULD YOU SPEND HOURS DEBATING WITH PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE? it's sounds like what the Rappers call being a "hater" LOL!!! Stop worring about what others believe go teach your kids to live any way they want and prepare them to Die.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Excellent point!

      October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • unbeliever

      If people like you who believe weren't insinuating your stupidity into laws, schools and society overall, we wouldn't care less what you believe. Take your primitive voodoo back to your backwoods and live like the neanderthals that you are, and leave society alone.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • nmats353

        Why would someone who believes in Science which is never proven only postulated, condemn someone for believing in "voo doo" religion? That seems rather hypocritical. I once read an article about the element organization on planets such as saturn and jupiter without us ever having been there to actually test these compositions. Yet, scientists stake their careers, beliefs, and lives on information such as these. Science is fraudulent when it comes to the 100% veracity of the subject. Take the Higgs Boson for instance. We can never prove that it exists, but we will believe it's there because data points to it. What the heck kind of logic is that? Data pointed to many events in history that never took place including flying cars in the '90's and Y2K. Science is crap; religion is the only other way to live a life of happiness.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Moh Mad

      I agree but Pislam needs to be eradicated. It is like the HIV virus.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      When there are opposing views there can be debate. When there is a danger that the view you would oppose can spread and inspire people to steer society in a way you don't want it to go, then you should debate.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • K. A.

      If religions are false, then, by your very own definition, the Bible is also. The Bible is the basis of both the Christian and Jewish religion. Try again.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Dylan

      actually, religion is on its way out. The world has steadily gotten less and less religious in the last 40 years, and eventually religion will die out. It's not even about the existence of higher powers or anything, just a fact.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Pfft

      We'll stop debating when you stop hating. Sound like a deal?

      October 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  6. Martin Michael

    Do things selflessly and don't let them catch you. They might follow you home. And some seem to make lieng and cheating stealing a way of life. Some lay and wait or work in groups.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  7. Gatorfan

    Don't argue it at all.

    People who believe in invisible sky daddies can't be reasoned with anyway.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Granite Hope

      Modal Ontological Argument proves conclusively that God exists. When one uses reason, it always leads to God, because there are multiple ways where you can show that the absence of God would be a logical contradiction. There are many deductive and inductive arguments one can make.
      There's not a single valid and easily dismissable argument (i.e. dismissed by something that ISN'T logically fallacious or contradictory) for God not existing.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • Gatorfan

        See, it's that kind of brainwashed nonsense that makes you religious nuts so easy to dismiss.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          Atheists just love to change the definitions of things they are talking about.
          "Brainwashed nonsense" now means "A reasonable argument that disagrees with my view."
          Stop slobbering.
          Start thinking.
          If you don't have anything to add, then you can take your leave. In the case of atheists, it's every one of them.
          85% of people on Earth believe in a creator. Our personal testimony of God is proof to his existence. To even be asked to provide evidence for God's existence is a laugh because the answer is one of the easiest ones you'll find. God didn't make it hard for us, lol.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • Pfft

          85% of the earth might or might not believe in a creator (source?), but 85% of the earth definitely doesn't believe in your Christian God.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          I love the fact that you say "your Christian God." I never spoke of my beliefs. In fact, I don't believe in organized religion. It leads us in many wrong directions and puts the focus in improper places.
          My source is the CIA World Factbook.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Goddog : Sorry, while I am all for civilized discourse, the subject of invisible beings who make stuff and need to be worshipped is not one that deserves respect.

      So, you don't feel the need to be respectful of opposing beliefs. Got it. You just want clones of your own beliefs.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • Robert

        As atheist we get tired of reminding theists that atheism if not a belief. It is lack of believing in something unproven.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Robert : As atheist we get tired of reminding theists that atheism if not a belief. It is lack of believing in something unproven.

          Well, the Supreme Court sees it otherwise. A religion could be a belief in a deity or belief in the lack of a deity.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • Robert

          I am happy or the Supreme Court... most of who are theists. The Supreme Court .... of which you speak speaks for < 5% of the worlds population ... and I believe they only did it in the framework of discrimination and trying to put it in the terms that theist may understand.

          Atheism is not a belief system. We do not believe in the lack of a diety. That would be foolish. We simply know there are no deities. It is not a belief.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          Atheism is a position. "lack of belief" is no position. If atheists had no position on the existence of God, they wouldn't be in blogs, wouldn't form groups or band together in any way. When you form a group, you usually represent something. Bands represent music. Unions represent workers. Cults represent beliefs. Corporations represent products and services.
          Of course, I can point out many fallacies with the way atheists define what they believe, but the biggest one is that they call themselves "atheists."
          As Neil Degrasse Tyson said "We don't have names for people who don't collect stamps ... people who don't play golf."
          He's an agnostic (i.e. he neither believes nor disbelieves God).

          October 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Robert

          I love how theists try to shoe-horn atheists. We have no "position" on the existence of god no more than we have a "position" on fairies and other make believe things. It is like asking us if we have a position on whether Harry Potter is real or not.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  8. Goddog

    Sorry, while I am all for civilized discourse, the subject of invisible beings who make stuff and need to be worshipped is not one that deserves respect. This article is just an attempt to give that respect where none is earned. It's hard enough to navigate the physical aspect of humanity much less the whimsical nature of the imaginary. If reason doesn't convince you, then how about this; My god created your god and he is the god of all gods and he says for me to tell you all that all of the gods don't exist, including him. There, now you all know the truth. No rituals. No animal sacrifice. No talking to yourself. Just life. Enjoy.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Goddog : Sorry, while I am all for civilized discourse, the subject of invisible beings who make stuff and need to be worshipped is not one that deserves respect.

      So, you don't feel the need to be respectful of opposing beliefs. Got it. You just want clones of your own beliefs.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • unbeliever

        Why would anyone have respecty for primitive belief systems that encourage and commit horrendous crimes and atrocities? Religion has done more harm than good.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
      • Goddog

        Yea... because that's what I said, right? Just because I don't respect the magic invisible man drivel that most religions claim doesn't mean I don't respect different philosophical opinions in regard to the impact of religions on society.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • Goddog

        ... and wanting clones is a religious endeavor, isn't it?; One god, one way... right? THE god, THE way, yes?

        October 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  9. Moh Mad

    I only insult the people from the cult that is responsible for terrorism in this world.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • mb2010a

      I see...all religions can be viewed as cults and in one way or another support terrorism.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Martin Michael

    And if these individuals are not bright to begin with?

    October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  11. SmartLawyer

    " For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" 1 Corinthians 1:18

    October 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Pfft

      Yeah, I guess if someone said that, it must be true, huh?

      October 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  12. Martin Michael

    The danger in the street is some people are that emotionally damaged like a war flashback and are to help because they trust no one.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  13. rogercottonsr

    There is no god, so there's nothing to argue about.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Live4Him

      And your evidence for this is ?????? I'm waiting, still waiting, still waiting, STILL waiting

      October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Ben

        Some gods, like the typical Christian one, are just too illogical to be real. Other gods could exist, but we don't have any good evidence for that. The time to believe in something is when you have good evidence for it, not before.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Gatorfan

        Where is your evidence FOR god? The burden of proof is on those who claim one exists.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • Entropic Truth

        The burden of proof is on the side of person who is positing the facts. Please proof the existence of your God.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • awasis

        Do you need evidence that Santa Claus doesn't exist to know he doesn't? On the other hand there is no proof that he does. Same with God.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • kch

        The evidence is there is no evidence of one existing, except inside your head that can be cured with the right medication!

        October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • Hayburner

        The responsibility is yours, Live4, to provide evidence of the existence of God. Maintaining that he does not exist because there is no evidence for his existence is the starting point. You can choose to believe on faith. Faith is required because of a lack of evidence, and this is why religions consider faith a virtue. Faith is what the Apostle Thomas lacked, when he said, "I will not believe until I place my hand in his wounds". Today Thomas would be an atheist because he required evidence. We atheists are like the Apostle Thomas in that way, we require evidence.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • unbeliever

        Once you realize why you dismiss all other religions other than your own, you will realize wy I dismiss yours as well.

        so you believe in god? which one? Brahma? Yahweh? Ishtar? Ahura Mazda? Baal? Zeus? Wotan? The Great Raven? Ametarasu? Amida Buddha? Papa Gueda? Michtlantechutli? El?

        Pick one primitive belief system built on fairy tales and mythology and stick with it til you die. After all, it's a "matter of faith"

        October 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • BobW

        God does exist, after all we invented him.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Unknowian

        The more important question here is "and 'your' evidence is? No disrespect for those who need to have something to believe in to fulfill their lives, as long as they keep it to themselves, and don't preach it to me. The only thing even closely resembling a God that I have seen in my entire life, are people talking into empty space, (called praying) and getting no reply. The silliest word in religion is "faith". That word can be used in a sales pitch for religion, real-estate prices, investments....etc. It means nothing, except you "hope" it's true. Religion was invented to keep humanity in line, and keep the local natives from raping their wives and daughters. It certainly has its advantages in that department. But then there is the flip side of the coin. The side that kills in the name of a God they have never met, but is supposed to be a good guy. Then why do they "Kill" in his name? Very perplexing to say the least.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • I'm Garbage

        And you will perish if you continue waiting because no divine food or water is coming.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Moh Mad

      I agree and Moh Mad was a actually a psychotic murderer and should be have tried for genocide.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Moh Mad

        Mullah Omar== Moh Mad == thugs== barbarians.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • jbcal

      And yet here you are.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  14. Granite Hope

    The only reason these religious discussions even exist is simple: Atheists cannot defend their world view, so they have to go on the attack. Rather than being uncaring about religious symbols, they whine at any religious reference by any government in the United States (even though NOWHERE in the first amendment does it state that government cannot recognize religion in any way).

    October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Granite Hope : Atheists cannot defend their world view, so they have to go on the attack.

      Exactly. They claim much and show nothing.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Ben

        We claim nothing.

        We merely reject claims that gods exist based on a lack of evidence.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Ben : We claim nothing. We merely reject claims that gods exist based on a lack of evidence.

          You're only twisting your words around without changing the meaning.

          You're CLAIMING that no gods exist, but don't have any evidence to support that claim so you "reject" another postulate.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          Exactly: You claim nothing, so you have no reason to even argue or discuss religion. You have no evidence that God does or does not exist. Therefore, you have no point in any religious discussion to begin with because you have nothing to add.
          Butt out, Agnostic.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Ben

          I, for one, never claim to know that no gods exist anywhere. What I do say is that the 1000s of claims of gods here on this planet are as unsubstantiated as claims of mermaids. That's primarily the reason why 99.99% of all gods have lost their worshippers, and the remaining few are losing theirs as well.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Ben

          Granite Hope
          Sure, I'm agnostic. I'm also an atheist because I don't actually believe in any gods. I can't see how you can be "agnostic" any other way. You either believe in gods (theist), or you don't (atheist).

          If you claim to know that gods exist, then you are claiming some gnostic knowledge that isn't available to be tested, or authenticated in any way.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          @Ben If you are an agnostic, you cannot hold the position of atheist. Atheism is a position, agnosticism is the complete lack of position. Agnosticism does not mean you cannot know anything for certain, it means you can't know anything at all about a particular thing. By claiming an agnostic, you waive your right to take part in any discussion because you have nothing to add. Atheism is complete rejection of claims of God. An agnostic cannot reject anything about God because nothing is (or perhaps can be) known about God's existence or nonexistence.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • Gatorfan

        Live4Him is obviously not bright – you can't PROVE nonexistence.

        Fortunately, we don't have to. The burden of proof lies on those who claim god does exist. And after a few thousand years, they still have NOTHING.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          Square circles can't be disproven.
          You can't prove that there are no Muslims in the US Senate.
          You can't prove that 2+2 doesn't equal 5.
          The "you can't prove nonexistence" isn't even a good amateur argument. YOu can prove lots of things to be incorrect.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • Robert

          Take some basic philosophy and/or logic and come back to us.

          – A circle is a definition ... so the square/circle comment was meaningless
          – 2+2 = 4 by definition
          – Muslims in the senate is a bounded problem but you do not understand proving a negative either. You are asking someone if they are a muslim .... which actually again is a definition with only two highly verifiable states.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Ben

          Granite Hope
          Square circles cannot exist, by definition. If you can't see the logical fallacy of thinking that "anything is possible", then something like the Christian god probably makes sense to you, right?

          October 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          @Ben I was discounting the "can't prove nonexistence" idiocy. Yes, you definitely can prove that some things don't exist, and not just by definition.
          I also never stated that anything was possible. There are many impossible things.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  15. God is either dead or a manipulative coward

    otherwise he would have shown himself. i don't think there is any lack of demand from human race for his appearance once in a while, the fact that he didn't show up all those year implies that he isn't a real being. a delusion created by man to satisfy their hunger for control, to give a platform to assert their power over the other gullible human, and ultimately get the outcome the person wanted. i am sure almost everyone realize this by now, God in today's world will not last 1 month with himself exposed, because someone will kill him for his lies all those thousands of years.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • SmartLawyer

      As if man needs religion to control. Stalin and Hitler did just fine without it, thank you very much. And God has shown himself, o you of little faith.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • God is either dead or a manipulative coward

        right, but religion is a control. hilter used religion. stalin did not, but that doesn't imply religion is not useful as being the control. otherwise the entire russia nowadays would be an atheistic nation, its not however, it is a christian nation with other minor religions.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Moh Mad

      Moh Mad was a murderer.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  16. Martin Michael

    If you lost someone on 911 and there funeral is celebrated every year. Well......

    October 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  17. Loathstheright

    Atheists simply use logic and reason to make their decisions.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Okay, using logic, where did matter, energy and time come from?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • sybaris

        What made your god?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Live4Him

          Afraid to answer any questions. Got it.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Loathstheright

        Typical reply from the uneducated religious types.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • NYDxCreeps

        Ok so using your logic of "He created it all" since you just wanna argue how did one being create all matter and life? Time is nothing but an invention of man to deal with the sun not being risen during the older eras that's that. That's why we spring forward and fall back, cause man decided too. I want to see proof of this god. Yes they can't disprove it but with all the amazing and important discoveries that have been proven why hasn't he shown himself except for the "10 Commandments"? Religion isn't a bad thing it's people who are so blindly following its every word without using common sense. All religion was, was a simple quick explanation to explain the events happening they didn't understand like the weather, illnesses and death. It's also a TOOL it provide hope to those who need it, yet people bury their heads so deep in it they can't tell the reality from fantasy.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • EL Diego

        last time I checked, matter and stuff could be found in the Bible's apendix E, under: " things that one day we may have to make a story about"

        October 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
      • unbeliever

        "God of the gaps" is an illogical attempt to insert god into whatever is unknown. Science has come far and may ultimately answer these questions as well. Many things once atributted to god, gods, or spirits are now known to be natural forces, explainable through science. But if you prefer to think Zeus is throwing thunderbolts, go ahead. The mind of a child is a wonderous thing.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • SmartLawyer

      The facts are not in dispute. Jesus lived, was crucified and rose on the third day. It's the conclusions that differ.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        The facts and the dispute you declared over must have happened entirely in your imagination. You have a rich inner life, my friend. The Jesus you know did not live, or at least, did not live as you think he lived. He did die. His experiences after death were most likely like yours and mine will be – nil.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • NYDxCreeps

        Rofl "smartlawyer" rrrrriiigggghhhhhttttt. Ok so by that logic since I was dead for a halfhour but revived I must be a reincarnation of Christ right? Oh wait.... did I just mix religions do chrisitans even believe in reincarnation?..... That's right!!!! Who cares they're all the same in the end.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • evo-biologist

        @gliblawyer: the facts may not be up for dispute, but stories are.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Oh, and how did life start?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Food fight

        How do you know it did?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Live4Him

          We don't but evolution is based upon such an event. After all, no life existed prior to the creation of the earth and life is here now.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Granite Hope

      Atheists don't use logic and reasoning. In fact, atheism, by definition, is the complete absence of logic and reason. They don't use any logic to say God doesn't exist, or to live their lives as such. Theirs is COMPLETE faith, as nothing in their experience says that God doesn't exist.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • sybaris

        That may be the latest buzz description circulating the pulpits but it is patently wrong and doesn't even resemble anything in Websters.

        Conco.cting seemingly semi-intellectual negative descriptions of Atheists devoid of fact or even honest interpretations of docu.mentation only detracts from your intent though it probably goes over well with the other sheep.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Granite Hope

          You have no evidence that God does not exist, yet you live your life as if he does not. That is faith, not living your life based on things you can prove. As far as my intent, I don't think my intent is what you think it is. The point of me being here and many other communities is simple: to expose atheism for what it is, to strip it of its positive intellectual stereotypes, and to show others who love God that atheists are not the intimidating people they put themselves out to be. When you press an atheist on logical and reasonable arguments, they quickly fall apart. That's what William Lane Craig does (and why Dawkins refuses to debate him). That's what I believe in doing.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  18. Chelsey

    How to Argue About Religion Online: You Don't.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Very true...the best thing to do is just ignore it. Eventually it will just fade away...

      October 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  19. Martin Michael

    I invite you to look at my page. As funny as it may seem. The truth is there. Some people are under the belief that War is inevitable based on history. Hard to argue when people lose people or things they love. War always insures from there if the individuals education or past experience makes it hard to forget. Over time forgiveness comes. With remembrances of Wars this seems futile. Labor Day Memorial Day and several other holidays commemorating death.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:39 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.