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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. Warrior For God

    "When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept, all the people shall be subject to forced labor for you. If they refuse and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord delivers it into your hand, take the women, children, the livestock and everything else in the city. You may take these as plunder for yourselves and you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. "

    Deuteronomy 20:10-14

    October 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Pfft

      If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. - Deuteronomy 21:18-21

      October 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  2. ScottCA

    A more sensible place to begin questioning is with the subject we have evidence of existing, and that is the universe. We can see the unviverse, we can measure it, we can explore it in many methods.

    We can begin with a question such as:

    1. Does the universe display signs of being designed or constructed? Or Is there evidence to support that the universe has been designed or constructed by a sentient being?

    This is where our innate psychology often leads people astray, we see signs of design where they do not exist, simply because we see signs of order or balance.

    The fact is that there are utterly no signs of the universe being designed or constructed by any purposeful being.
    There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the universe was designed or constructed.

    Thus there is no logical reason to begin searching for a designer.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • counter

      Just the fact that you see order and don't see a creator means that no conversation can happen. Your "logic" escapes me, that is for sure. This is the very reason we have a chasm between radical atheists and believers.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • ScottCA

        you have fallen for the trap of your innate psychology. the human brain sees signs of design where they do not exist.
        There is nothing in this universe that required a designer, and actually displays clear signs that it was not designed, as designed objects display very different properties from those displayed in nature and the ordering of the universe.

        There is no evidence to support a designer. Your lack of knowledge in this area does not serve as evidence.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Scott CA...

      You write pertaining to a singular universe being all there is within the infinite spatial relativities of nothingness... Why could there not be unfathomable quantities of big bang universes within spatial nothingness..?

      October 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
      • ScottCA

        Current evidence does lead us to believe that there is a high degree of probability that other dimensional universes and other big bangs have occurred.

        None of which provides the slightest evidence for design or a designer and in fact just lends more evidence to the contrary.

        October 6, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • RCDC

      These will explain to you that Universe is not made by man but by God. Universe is older than man. Who else will make such magnificent heaven but by God alone. Praise be to God. God is good all the time.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • unbeliever

      Apophenia – seeing designs and meaning where none exist.

      All of religion is Apophenia.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
      • ScottCA

        Indeed. Thank you for applying the correct term for this phenomena I was attempting to explain.

        October 6, 2013 at 4:00 am |
  3. Whoopty Doo

    You can't argue with atheists any more than you can the religionistas. Both sides are so entrenched in their dogma that they can't or won't bother to see the fallacies in their own arguments. The religious can't begin to entertain the thought that there might not be a god, or at least no god as they recognize it, and the atheists absolutely refuse to entertain the thought that someone else might be as intelligent or rational as they. Both sides engage in ad hominems; the religion crowd just uses their god as the ultimate putdown while the atheists resort to, "Yeah? Well, u r teh stoopidz! loooooooooooooooooolz!" or other such intelligent witticisms. I enjoy being an agnostic with an open mind to being shown the truth either way, but more than that, I enjoy watching you brain-dead victims of your own rhetoric try to outwit each other.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • ScottCA

      You see one side saying : "Zues is the all powerful, he created all!!!"
      And the other saying: "What? Are you out of your fricken mind? zues is a historical fictional story, where is your evidence to support his existence? Oh you have none except for a warm fuzzy feeling... I see so your a lunatic."

      And you think those sides are the same? Being sane is not the same as lunatics worshiping ancient superst-itions.

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

        And there it is again. You call believers lunatics. No conversation can happen.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  4. Foxhole Atheist

    "...weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales."

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  5. Lionly Lamb

    1. The Atomic Cosmologies

    2. The Celestial Cosmologies

    3. The Cellular Cosmologies

    Any questions..?

    October 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  6. noillusion

    Who would the believer be, without the unbeliever? Nobody, and the ego (false sense of self) is extremely afraid of becoming nothing.

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

      so, by your logic, because I don't believe in invisible pink unicorns, someone somewhere does believe in invisible pink unicorns, and their belief is not only justified but strengthened by my disbelief?

      one wonders where the definition of insanity reckons in that line of reasoning....

      October 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  7. Hoang

    I am your mother's holy troller.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Warrior For God

      Some Bible Wisdom:

      "When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her."
      Deuteronomy 21:10-14

      October 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
      • Betty

        Deuteronomy?? They don't even use that as a good laxative anymore.

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

          yeah – that's almost as bad as Lamentations – well unless you're having trouble sleeping

          October 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  8. mike

    Eternity might be some grand illusory force -so anything Outside The Brain Box s possible.
    Religions that we have tho, are jejune, sedimentary options.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  9. TonyF

    Yeah. I only post a comment when I'm trying to be supportive of an author or if I hear someone misquote the meaning of a scripture. When I find a misinterpreted scripture quote, I don't post a comment, I send an email to the article author who I feel misquoted for a chance to clarify their statement. To date, I've never gotten an article response which tells me a lot about the author's possible intentions. I find it hard to believe some would misrepresent the scriptures for political purposes but I'm seeing more of that lately. Sad.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      You mean like when FDR read from Timothy to get SS passed?

      October 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  10. John Gant

    Doh...hit send too quickly. Here's the same content...with fewer grammatical errors.

    There is another type of atheist which never seems to be mentioned in this type of article....of which I am one.
    That is the type of atheist where thoughts of religion simply don't enter our minds...at all. Except perhaps when we are reminded that we are atheists, by articles such as this one.

    What provides our moral compass? Simple logic.... No need for anything else to justify acting in a certain way.

    So, do atheists like us hate religion or do we actively seek out confrontation. Not at all....to us religion is like a heavy winter jacket would be to a resident of the equator....it simply isn't a part of our life, so never enters our mind,

    October 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  11. rollybobo

    How did the author pick through all the nasty comments people leave and manage to come up with an article that was one sided?

    Contrary to what this author said – the most knowledgable about religion are those that graduated from divinity school- usually with a Doctorate.

    I've met some informed athiests, but there is nothing like dedicating your life to a subject for building knowledge.

    I know he was comparing a few athiests he met in his life to some phantom 'person that claims to be religious' – what a wonderful comparison.

    There's your sarcastic complement – mr. fisher of complements.

    This article just didn't add anything to the discussion and was troll bait.

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

      You cannot study a "subject" that cannot be examined in any way.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • rollybobo

        Wrong.

        Just look up the definition of study, and you'll find that you can study religion. Even if you think its all made up, you can study the history of it, and how certain things came to be.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • tony

        No. You are studying other peoples guesswork – much of which was guessed by our uneducated ancients, thousands of years ago. And maybe adding some more modern guesses of your own.

        That's not a "subject". It's recording guesswork. And the only material is thoughts in other peoples minds.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  12. Rich V

    Amen.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  13. aaron

    For the most part I stopped arguing religion because I discovered the central flaw in my approach. I always assumed that if I crafted the cleanest, purest fact-based argument, that no one could refute it. The reductionist in me wrongly believed that everyone cared about logic and reason as deeply as I did. Faced with pure, simple fact, no one could possibly refute it because to do so would require them to ignore fact, logic and reason... and no one could do that, right?

    I was very wrong. Many people are all too happy to throw logic and reason out the window the first time is causes a problem. For them, logic and reason are fair-weather friends. Anytime logic presents a problem for their belief system (like how did Jesus walk on water or turn water into wine) they shrug their shoulders and say, "it's magic, god can do anything".

    The religious have the ultimate conundrum get-out-of-jail-free card. Every you craft a logical argument, ultimately they just shrug it off and say, "God did it". Why waste time talking logic and reason with a person who has no respect for it? And more than that, fundamentally, it doesn't work. It's pointless.

    And this truly isn't directed at the religious. God love you. I wish you well. Whatever. I'm talking to my fellow agnostic and atheists. Stop arguing with them. You can't win. They don't care about logic and reason the way you do. It's more that just pointless. It's impossible to craft a logical argument to sway someone who has to respect for logic. It's like trying to travel faster than the speed of light – can't be done. People who don't care about logic can't be swayed by it. It's why I stopped going to religious forums or talking religion with my friends. I stopped reading their books. I stopped watching their videos. I stopped because I discovered it was a one-sided argument and only one of us cared about logic and reason.

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

      I 100% agree with you that religious people dont' base their face on logic.

      Now where we might disagree, is the idea that athiests or agnostic base their faith on logic. They don't.

      It's just the very rare oddball that lives for logic. But – I really like arguing logic, so I have full sympathy for anyone that does as well.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • DisconsolateChimera

        "...that atheists base their faith on logic."

        Ack. One of the big problems in this debate, in my view, is that atheism is being defined as a belief. It is not. It is the lack of a belief.

        Yes, I know that the very loud voices of atheism act just like evangelicals, preaching their religion to try to convert the masses to their faith. However, look beyond the noise and appearances to the reality, please.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Pfft

      It isn't about winning the argument. Debates between people with differing belief systems are not pointless. I find it fascinating that so many people are divided about so many things. I believe it's just the way peoples brains are wired, and it's natural human behavior. And when you look at it from that angle, and how the collective human consciousness forms beliefs and opinions regarding culture, it is quite fascinating and obviously serves a purpose. Even you chimed in, with at least some argument regarding the material, which is completely valid. Having no debate at all is ludicrous.

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

        agreed.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • mikeaceshadow

      Agreed with Aaron. Only thing is you have to keep arguing with the religious nuts till something sinks into their sheepish brain! Even is one of them gets unbrainwashed, it is worthwhile!

      October 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Sara

      I fully agree with you that logic is not all that important to most people, but I disagree with the way you seem to believe most atheists and agnostics are above the irrational thinking of the religious. Yes, there may be a tiny difference on average, but as a non-believer I've got to say I see almost as much irrational behavior on the atheist side as on the religious side.

      I also think logical adherence can be scaled. some folks, lets take the religious as an example, are willing to be logical in most areas but have a blind spot for, say, the bible. It's still quite possible to argue some other areas of religion that do have a very real affect on their beliefs, and even, one day, may lead to some enlightening thoughts about the areas they hold too sacred for logic. The same goes for naive materialists or any other belief system with its particular blind spots.

      The trick is in knowing what areas are open for debate and sticking to those with any particular individual.

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

      You could write the most elegant thesis compose of pristine logic, and religionists would dispute it, saying "it's a matter of faith".

      Their brains have been elaborately indoctrinated and immunized against logic and reason.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  14. Grouchoman

    If I share that it is only through Jesus that we can be saved and you reject that. That is up to you. But if I don't share that with you, then shame on me.

    October 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Tom mccoy

    Wow! Did you know that GOD loves you all. No matter what. Life will soften your heart and you will be able to know HIM sometime before or after you pass away from this life. I hope before ,rather than later for your sake.

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

      I probably love you just as much. There is no evidence to show otherwise. Why not put that money in my personal collection plate?

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

      which god? Sooooo many to choose from, just depends what part of Earth you dwell on and what the society you are born into requires from you. But to get right to the end of it all, your god is a false belief. NOT REAL. No, no, not angry or full of hate, you theists DO get confused with that one 🙂 Just simple facts...no god(s), all false. No soul, a fiction to keep you in line. No after life, simply another control mechanism to keep you in line. ...and the love of Jesus that you have taken into your heart? Just what you tell yourself to keep that smile on your face, a smug smile since all those around you who do not care to acknowledge your fictional deity will, in your eyes, burn in torture for trillions and trillions of years. COOOOOOL! Nice god you have there....but wait, how can I be saved? Oh, I can "take Jesus into my heart"? COOOOOOL! Thanks for the heads up, my "eternal soul" should be just fine now, thanks.

      -NOT ANGRY (but if your god's son comes back again in the guise of a mortal, getting nailed to a tree for telling people to be nice to each other will probably be the least of his worries)

      October 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • unbeliever

      It must be comforting to believe your invisible sky friend loves you. I suppose your life has been so terrible, and noone loves you, that you have become desperate enough to believe some external universal force has your best interests at heart. Pray Hard, young faithful one, Jeebus loves the sheep the most...

      October 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  16. PortlandDan

    I had hoped to see some discussion of the primary problem: religionists making secular law. In America, where I live, we cannot tolerate being forced to endure legal actions based on punitive religion. THIS, then, is the primary challenge: as an atheist, and recovering Catholic, I've been more than willing to meet believers halfway. But we will not sit by and allow fundamentalists to create a theocracy. That dog won't hunt.

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

      But we give them tax-exemption. So they have an easier job of influencing law.

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

      That is a good question. I am an ex-Catholic myself but I am a Christian. I do not want to force my beliefs on others. That is not New Testament Christianity. We see from the Old Testament that Law only creates lawbreakers and convinces no one that the Law is right. Jesus fulfilled the Law and we can see that the way He lived His life that the Law is good. It seems to me for instance that God is pro-choice in that He allows us to make choices right or wrong but shows us the right way and that is His desire for us. Obviously, there are some laws we have to have in place but I am for liberty even if it is something I personally disagree with. I still have an old T-shirt that says "No Compromise" and there are some things that remain but as I have gotten older, I am more willing to say let's compromise. I only wish that the Dems and Reps would be willing to say that more often for the good of the country.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  17. John Gant

    There is another type of atheist which never seems to be mentioned in this type of article....of which I am one.
    That is the atheist where thoughts of religion simply don't enter our minds...at all. Except perhaps when we are reminded that we are a atheists, by articles such as this one.
    What provides our moral compass? Simple logic.... No need for anything else to justify acting in a certain way.
    So, do types like us hate religion or do we actively search out confrontation. Not at all....to us religion is like a heavy winter jacket to a resident of the equator....it simply isn't a part of our life, so never in enters our mind,

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

      And yet here you are, posting away on a belief blog

      October 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • John Gant

        You see a belief blog...I see a blog about comments and character types.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Shannon

          I see an opportunity for sarcasm. Hail Loki 😉

          October 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      If simple logic could provide a foundation for morals the world is waiting to hear what that may be.

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

        Here is a simple logic – you reap what you sow! If you act dumb, dumb things will happen to you – like after you die...you will spend the rest of eternity looking for heysoos (as in Jesus!)

        October 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Sara

      You might want to look at the Six Tribes of Atheism story posted here a moth or so ago.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  18. tony

    tony

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

    And the new customers they target, who will get addicted easiest, are everyone elses children.

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

      And like tobacco, many people in the western world are finding their product poisonous and so markets are sought in third world countries.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Except that one addiction is life and the other is death.

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

        I think you missed the obvious point.

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

        They are both selling death as a pleasure.

        October 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • lagergeld

          Religion is no more death than any other mistaken, misguided belief, assuming it is mistaken and misguided. You have quite a penchant for gross exaggeration. Cigarette tobacco has been chemically engineered to be far more addictive than it once was. How does that remotely compare with religion, other than that you have a strong personal hostility against religion which reeks in your words?

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

      Tony, there is no such thing as religion addiction. As such, at least be decent enough to not use such exaggerated and inflammatory remarks.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • mikeaceshadow

        Let the priests molest more children of god!!

        October 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  19. tarod

    The biggest problem with any mythology is not whether to prove or disprove but, the issue over "my god is better than your god" argument. History is filled with those seeking to force their views on others by any means necessary, and therein lies the failure... any view always has an opposing view as well, and in direct conflict to each other. (personally, I would not want to reside in a world where we all believe in the same thing. And while we will not always agree with one-another, still, I do hope that we become civilized enough to accept and respect each others views without said conflict...this is MY BELIEF.)

    October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  20. brian

    LOL – Live4Him is talking UPC codes again. I think I remember this from before. LOLOLOLOL!

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

      Yeah, that was some good stuff. Someone stuck a flier on my windshield warning me about that one last year.

      October 5, 2013 at 4:33 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.