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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. ReligionSUX

    What a bunch of dirtbag towelhead rednecks on this board. Can you say Trollville USA? Just sayin' Bwaaahaaa!

    October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Pfft

      And you just got elected Mayor. Congratulations.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • James

      towelhead rednecks?

      October 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  2. Marie

    I feel that there is no need to "argue" it's a waste of breath. Let people believe what they want, as long as they are not hurting others! Being labeled as anything, including an atheist, is ridiculous. Just move along! I refuse to waste my time with trying to convert, change or discuss my personal understanding of "belief" or "non-belief" with anyone!

    October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • GadgetCanada

      I agree with you to a point. I want to have other people believe in my Christian beliefs but I respect all whether they do or not. For me, I just try to lead a good life structured around my beliefs and hopefully others around me will find that attractive. I have many friends who do not believe in God and we have great conversations about religion. My hope is God will ultimately change their mind but I don't believe that it's my job to force my beliefs onto someone. That is the wrong approach and does more harm than good.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      The Bible does not say faith in Christ is PERSONAL, He said tell others about Him. Your lost in your SIN, you must accept Jesus & be cleansed, then TELL people about the Lord... don't keep your candle under a pail friend !

      October 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  3. Olaf Big

    The only reason I look through comments in this section is to pick good jokes. Aside from that, every possible argument for and against religion has been made thousands of times. It's quite simple: the more you read, the less you pray. Good education will straighten everybody out – possilby not during my lifetime though.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Duggerdog

      You get the door prize. Good message for everyone.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  4. Aaron

    Uh..."going to war" as a Holy roller is like entering a battlefield without any ammunition.

    The reason people troll you guys is because it's incredibly easy, and because the only attachment you have to God is belief, which the majority of you clearly lack confidence in.

    It's also humorous to watch Holy rollers attempt to argue when the foundation has no factual or logical underpinnings.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      welcome seeker.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      right, you have all figured eh ? Keep it simple PUTZ ! Did Jesus die for YOUR Sin ? Will you accept that and repent ? As for me ,i will Serve the Lord. Jesus Is Lord !

      October 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        There is no evidence for a divine jesus. No one died for my sins 'cause I am not a sinner 'cause I am not a member of the christian cult.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  5. John

    Attention Christian fundamentalists: WE'RE ALL GOD IN DISGUISE. GET OVER IT...

    Alan Watts: What to tell children about God and The Universe

    There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can’t have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn’t be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side by side with white, or white unless side by side with black.
    In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest forever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It’s also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it’s always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place.
    God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, He has no one but himself to play with. But He gets over this difficulty by pretending that He is not Himself. This is His way of hiding from Himself. He pretends that He is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way He has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when He wakes up they will disappear.
    Now when God plays hide and pretends that He is you and I, He does it so well that it takes Him a long time to remember where and how He hid Himself. But that’s the whole fun of it-just what He wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find Himself out too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be Himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self-the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.
    Of course, you must remember that God isn’t shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to Him. . . . The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘He’ and not ’she,’ God isn’t a man or a woman. I didn’t say ‘it’ because we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive.
    God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.
    You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that He isn’t really doing this to anyone but Himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.

    ~Alan Watts

    October 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      You are confusing Ego with God. Your ego not only has 24/7 access to you, it also has all the characteristics of a devil.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      you know ,you have a lot of Faith ! the problem is, it's all about !!! you must use the measure of Faith you have to accept the provision Jesus made for you when He died on the cross & shed His blood for your SIN. this blood if for you. reject Jesus if you will, but it will damn your SOUL little buddy, HONEST !

      October 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Live4Him

    @ObjectivityAnyone : There is no possible way that the Earth is as young as the book claims.

    Why not? After all, the evidence shows us that all living matter will decay in a few thousand years. In fact, in 1993 scientists went on record that DNA itself would decay with 10,000 years (or 100,000 when frozen). Yet, less than 20 years ago, paleo-scientist discovered dino soft tissue (i.e. stretchy tendons, blood vessels, and blood cells). There is no way possible that dinosaurs died out 65,000,000 years ago.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • ME II

      @Live4Him,
      Cite your source, please. I think that estimate was based on certain conditions.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @ME II : Cite your source, please. I think that estimate was based on certain conditions.

        Google Smithsonian Dino Soft Tissue.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Also:
        DNA could only survive 10,000 years in Temperate environment
        Lindahl, T. 1993. Instability and decay of the primary structure of DNA

        DNA could only survive 100,000 years in icy environment, but other proteins such as collagen probably completely degrade in less than 30,000 years
        Poinar, H. N., Höss, M., Bada, J. L., and Paabo, S. 1996. Amino acid racemization and the preservation of ancient DNA. Science 272:864-866
        Smith, C. I., et al., 2001. Neanderthal DNA: not just old but old and cold? Nature 410:771–772.
        Willerslev, E. and Cooper, A. 2005. Ancient DNA. Proc. R. Soc. B 272:3–16

        October 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
      • ME II

        @Live4Him,
        thanks

        October 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • ME II

        @Live4Him,
        It looks to me like what Schweitzer claims to have found is soft tissue, not DNA. In addition, even the article you cited state that DNA is inherently unstable and actually needs repair in vivo in order to remain usable.

        In essence, you are citing articles that give estimates of the longevity of material that wasn't found, i.e. not applicable.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Live4Him

      correction: no possible way

      October 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • sybaris

      Willful ignorance is the hallmark of religion.

      You need to take a course in biology. You obviously don't understand the difference between DNA and tissue

      October 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Let me think ... Isn't DNA inside of the cells that make soft tissue? DING, DING, DING! What's my prize?

        October 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • sybaris

          *facepalm*

          October 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • James

          Soft tissue and DNA are completely different things. Do some research moron.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Aaron

      Hahahaha...OMG. You could not be more confused.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Challyfever

      While modern science can analyze and predict just that what you say is impossible. Try and shift the thought more to how ancient times were and the people there. Keep in mind there wasnt really schools like now. Medicine wasnt the same. Gnawing on a root was advanced medicine then like an i/v is thought of now, but somewhat common knowledge.

      Think of them back then. If someone said in stories and later a book of those stories, that the earth was billions of years old, with no conceivable notion what a million was nor a billion, nor any science to even think of how its possible. Now God saying to an enlightened man "here's the cribs notes", now thats more explainable to me. If man could comprehend supernovas evolving over billions of years and gravity and the immulsion of gas rock and ice into planets for God to give us the grace of the heavens into the land we walk, then i think man could have handled the detailed explanation of how we came to be.

      Man back then was nearly mystified of the relative recent discovery of fire. You think astrophysics would have been enlightening?

      October 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
      • Calvin Patterson

        what will YOU do with Jesus ? mak Him Lord & Saviour or continue to spit in His face ?

        winning ! Jesus is Lord !

        October 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • Challyfever

          I dont see how i spit in his face. Do explain mr antagonist. I feel i am trying to enlighten the debate of old times vs modern times. I dont believe science has to be religious free. I also dont believe religion requires it to be void of science. Its like calculus and physics. One takes formulas and applies it to real life scenarios. The other takes real life scenarios and derives formulas.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
        • James

          Spit in his non-existent face.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • ObjectivityAnyone

      Yet can't you see your very argument is contradictory? Using science to refute other sciences? Also that is not entirely correct. There are other ways soft tissue can be preserved to vastly outlast that time frame. Also soft tissue encompasses a lot of different stuff, not just muscles and blood cells.

      Don't forget I was not making the argument, I was simply stating one that exists. I wasn't alive 10,000 years ago so I can't be completely sure. My point is that the very logic you are trying to use to backup your theory disputes them just the same depending on the angle you take.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Trolling4Heyzeus

      Read up on radiometric dating of the rock layers surrounding the fossils.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Robert

      You keep thinking that. I also suggest you look at newer evidence w.r.t. dna lifetime in completely inert environments. We have had well preserved items in amber for quite some time.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • James

      Carbon dating says that the earth is much much older than what some people think the bible says. The Bible is written by MAN, not your god, the people who wrote the bible did not have the knowledge to have any idea how old the earth is. There is also evidence of humans from over 20,000 years ago... so there's that. The earth is just not that young.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Where can we find your scholarly article successfully proving your thus far unfounded claims?

      October 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  7. Tony

    Atheism 'IS for the week minded'. People who believe in 'science' are misguided. Science IS HOW god made the universe. When atheists such as gays die they want no after-life and that IS what they will get. If god appeared to everyone and said obey life wouldn’t be a test for the after-life. Anything goes wouldn't be a test for the after-life. God made man and woman to love each other.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      I expect to see more Gays in heaven than pastors.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
      • Tony

        It IS gays that push their agenda against HOW god made the universe. God made man and woman to love each other.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Most preachers get paid and are disqualified as Christians, by Paul of Tarsus.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • Challyfever

        While it is ultimately Jesus' decision and judgement; sadly based on scripture, i dont think Gay minded people nor false prophet, sinning pedophile pastors will make it. They all as i do, any all others who may have or have sinned may repent and trily ask for forgiveness. Now pastors who walk the path and only are professing the message, live a celebate clean life; they are possible. But its whats in their heart and soul. Its just not the job they do. But man is still suscetable to sin as we all are. Its the will power to avoid it, resist it, that is important. I am not sin free. But i dont agree with one sin of scripture being more worthy than a overly zealous prejudicial, stereotypical thought of pastors.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Time For You To Grow Up...

      Science is the study of reality...

      Religion is the study of fantasy.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Saint John's interpretation of the universe is fully compatible with science.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
        • Time For You To Grow Up...

          Except for the 'god' part??

          October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Einstein's Copenhagen Interpretation postulates God as a necessary part of the universe.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Bullsh!t!! Einstein did not believe in a literal god.

          October 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • Calvin Patterson

        i guess that means you studied Christianity & the word of God eh ? your as real PUTZ !

        October 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • hal 9001

        Yes he did.

        October 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Sarah

      son, the closet door is right over there, come on out into the light 🙂

      October 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • GadgetCanada

      A Provoker pretending to be a Scholar

      October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Pfft

      I am of the week-minded. It is Saturday, and I'm looking forward to Sunday, and Monday as well.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Duggerdog

      Apparently Tony does not know any Atheist. Atheist's that I know are good moral people. They are more tolerant and probably a bit more educated on Religion. Get out and open your mind.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
      • Calvin Patterson

        yes, open your mind and loose your soul. there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end there of leads to the Lake or Fire !n HONEST, the Bible says so... Jesus is the ONLY way.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Cheryl

      You lost me at "when atheists and gays die"

      October 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • justageek

      "Atheism 'IS for the week minded'." – Sounds like a true Agnostic to me.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Aaron

      You are, quite clearly, insane.

      October 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  8. Calvin Patterson

    POUND SATAN INTO THE GROUND !!!

    October 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Beli'al is already there.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  9. J.D.

    I am a 65 year old atheist and have been since I was 13 years old. I simply don't argue with anyone about religion, virgin births or any supernatural events because I'm not going to change their mind and they're not going to change mine. The big difference between the religious crowd and the atheist crowd is that those who believe in God, Jesus, etc are taught that it is their duty to spread their "good news" to everyone and most of the atheists that I know (including myself) simply don't care what you choose to believe so we have NO reason to push our non-beliefs on anyone. Therein lies the problem.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      Jesus died for YOUR SIN friend, you've been given FREE will to accept or reject the Lord... reject Christ will damn your Soul to the Lake of Fire, Honest ! Jesus is Lord !

      Oh Boy, that tickles...

      October 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • GadgetCanada

        Street Corner Prophet

        October 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Pfft

        He only has one sin? He must be near Jesus-like.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • tony

      Religion and tobacco are both huge, highly profitable, addiction-based businesses. And to keep on growing they have to increase the customer base.

      And the target new customers who will get addicted easiest are everyone's children.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • GadgetCanada

      I am Christian and this atheist has nailed it on the head.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Trolling4Heyzeus

      Well stated.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Guest 1342131

      Is that true? Do you really believe that since someone is religious they must not be able to keep their faith to themselves? I am religious and I do not find the need to convert everyone to my faith. I also do not remember ever being taught to be a prophet. Honestly much of these things are just stereotypes as said in the article. I have a friend who is far more religious than I, and is even considering becoming a pastor, yet I do not see him running around preaching to everybody to become a christian. Actually he is currently reading the Koran to get a better understanding of Islam. You do not have to be closed minded if you are religious it depends more on the individual than the religion.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  10. What's cool is

    We get to have this argument. If you love religion or hate it I'm really happy you get to talk about it.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  11. my10cents

    A baseball slugger hammers the ball out of the park and points to the sky as he crosses home plate to thank God. Does this mean God loves him more than the pitcher wearing the Rosary and who said a prayer before he threw him the pitch? I believe there is a greater power but I also believe that organized religions spend far too much time trying to prove that their piousness is greater than the other religions and thus they are more worthy of God's attention. Based on the history of humanity (biblical included) it appears that this effort is short sighted and would be better used to break down the barriers of different peoples and unite under a common belief that this greater power only wants us to be good to other because regardless of the religion we all share some DNA and that is proof enough that we are all related.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  12. Ableza

    To me the "holy trollers" (great name by the way) are the people who must incessantly post about their religion. I get far too many "I'll pray for you" and "Jesus loves you" and "Go with god" and "Jesus will save you" and the annoyingly ubiquitous
    "John 3:16" roll posts on Facebook. I just report them all as spam. While I am happy for people that they feel happy about their religion, I wish they would just keep it to themselves because I don't care.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Ableza

      Sorry, I meant "troll posts" not roll posts. 🙂

      October 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      you have all figured out about Jesus eh ? Not ! Turn or burn friend !

      POUND SATAN INTO THE GROUD !!!

      October 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Ableza

        I know Jesus. I work with hmi, He's a nice guy from Guadalajara.

        October 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
        • Calvin Patterson

          yes, but what about the Jesus that is the son of God ? will you let His blood wash your SIN away ?

          October 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I know of no reason to believe in a divine jesus or his alleged ability to wash away sins.

          October 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • Calvin Patterson

          let me be clear friend, God tell us that man is lost in his SIN. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to atone for our SIN. to have it washed away by shedding His blood. the word of God say's ONLY Blood atones for our SIN. we must invite Christ into our heart where the Holy Spirit quite literally comes to live in our body. i pray you research this if you're not very familiar as there is life after death that is more real than your life on earth. thing is, if you reject Jesus you will be tormented for ever in the Lake of Fire the Bible tells us of.. it's you call, what you do with it is your choice. Choice Blessings ! 🙂

          In Jesus,

          Calvin

          October 5, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Now all you have to do is prove there are any gods and your jesus is a god.

          October 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  13. Mike

    Follow @atheistsunited on Instagram for great religious debates!

    October 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  14. ObjectivityAnyone

    Logical thinking shows us many things. To many Atheists and Agnostics (a nearly forgotten word it seems) it proves to us that religion could not possibly be correct. There is no possible way that the Earth is as young as the book claims. How could modern society still hold the beliefs that there is an all powerful deity that watches over us and governs our actions.

    To the pious the exact opposite is proven through the same thought process. How could such an amazing and complex universe exist without intelligent design?

    I stand by life. By ANY logical thought the very fact that we all exist here today is completely impossible. Be it from the big bang, from God, or any other ideas you may subscribe to. All have a beginning. All those beginnings must come from somewhere. How did God come to be? How did that singularity that spawned the entirety of the Universe come to be? Who/what made everything that is? Who or what made them? Existence is impossible yet here we all are. We should stop arguing and stand together with all our ideas. Rejoice in the life that none of us should have.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • justageek

      You cannot ump Atheists and Agnostics together. Atheists believe they know there is no God but Agnostics are smart enough to admit there is not enough data to make a correct decision. Most Agnostics believe Atheists are just as looney as a Theist.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • ObjectivityAnyone

        Well I cannot speak for the whole of either group, that is why I used the word many. However as whole I have found that to many from both groups their reasons for lack of faith stem from the same reasons. I made no comment as to their individual stance, that varies far too much from person to person within those 2 groups.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
      • ME II

        @justageek,
        I think that is just postive/strong Atheism, which most Atheists don't ascribe to, AFAIK.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • justageek

          Agreed.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • JenniferC

        I called myself an agnostic for many years before realizing I am actually an atheist. I still feel a connection to the spirituality of my childhood which may be a basic human impulse that is entirely dependent on my brain and being (I would stop feeling the way I do once dead because I would feel nothing once dead). I do believe in things I cannot see or feel– radio waves, light particles, the love that binds me to my children. So, there is something in the air that transcends us individually, of course, but I do not buy any of the existing religious explanations that have been offered.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Tony

      The bible is a dated book written by humans. Parts of it still apply. Thou shall not lie, cheat and steal.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  15. Alex

    3200 comments on this one ! we have a winner.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359999/response-richard-dawkins-dennis-prager

    October 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  16. Steven Gold

    It seems that it is important to understand what people are looking for when it comes to their beliefs.
    A person looking for some form of comfort and overall answers may tend to believe in their religion.
    A person looking for logic and checking for flaws in things may be more inclined to be secular.
    There are of course other driving forces for different people.
    It helps to know a person's goal in what they seek to be able to evaluate their reasoning and feelings.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  17. Sera

    Only the weakest parts of our brains and psyche allow for the belief in supernatural. Time to grow up kiddies...

    October 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      I love the synchronicity.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • justageek

      Yes...grow up...because that makes everything true and real then...pfft.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • GadgetCanada

      Tagged as a "Provoker". It's a good list of defined personalities in this article. I'm sure they will all come out in the comment section.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • James

      Not to be inflammatory, Sera, but someone goes throught the effort to write an entire article on trollers and how to argue effectively, and your comment seems to completely ignore everything presented above. Simple stating that intelligent, reasonable people cannot possibly believe in a higher power will neither change anyone's mind or provoke a relevant debate. If you truly have a vested interest in persuading us to "grow up, kiddies", you might want to consider reading the section about about atheist trolls, and apply some of the suggested tools.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  18. Mike

    I have a really good friend who is an Atheist, he doesn't try to prove me wrong, nor do I try to prove him wrong. The reason why we get along is because we respect each others' beliefs. If everyone did that, there would be less arguing, and more time for helping people in need.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      What about the tweaked out fools that knock on my door selling what their pastor said, when i have a perfectly good belief system of my own?

      October 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • justageek

        Fanatics maybe? Just like anyone else pushing their agenda no matter what the agenda is.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Usually pastors send folks that can't read to my door, with absurd interpretations of the Bible.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • justageek

          I had some college kid trying to sell learning materials stuff to me in a place they are not supposed to. I blame the kid not the company that pays them.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • JenniferC

          Religions and cults send out missionaries, street preachers and door to door proselytizers out for two self serving reasons. The more obvious is recruitment of new members. The less obvious reason is that most of the people solicited will reject the pitch either politely or rudely. Either way, the persistent rejection helps solidify a feeling of persecution within the faithful which deepens that persons connection to their church or cult as a safe haven from a harsh and evil outside world.

          October 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      you respect his belief ? do you respect someones decision to do Meth too, make up your mind Putz ! Jesus does not use people like you cause you don't know weather your coming or going. Serving Christ will cost you everything !

      October 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Meth is a demon.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  19. Anton Dubinski

    Religion is for the weak-minded who can't accept their own mortality.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Religion is the cure for normal human psychosis. If people had more faith we would not need death panels.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • justageek

      And is that a bad thing? To be afraid of something, and want to not be, is built into us.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Yes, it is the way we evolved.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Yeah

      Lets just accept death like a tough guy, shall we? No tears...stiff upper lip..that's a good cowboy.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        That, or chemicals to ease pain and cause comfort, or a combination of coping tools....perhaps stories of sky fairies and such?

        October 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Bill

    Good article, with one fairly major issue. While correct about some atheists, not all atheists are like that. All the other categories could fit any religion – Christianity, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. However, atheist cannot not and implies that all atheists are like this. Now, while I do not totally fit into the category of peacemaker I come closer to that than any other – and I am an atheist. Just adding an adjective in front of atheist to show this does not apply to all atheists would have been good. One of my pet peeves is when anyone, whether atheist or theist, treats the other as if all are the same.

    October 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The science atheists are the worst, because they slow the progress of science.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • Bill

        Interesting John. How do you define Science Atheist and why do they slow the progress of science?

        October 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.