April 11th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Leading atheist publishes secular Bible

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

The question arose early in British academic A.C. Grayling’s career: What if those ancient compilers who’d made Bibles, the collected religious texts that were translated, edited, arranged and published en masse, had focused instead on assembling the non-religious teachings of civilization’s greatest thinkers?

What if the book that billions have turned to for ethical guidance wasn’t tied to commandments from God or any one particular tradition but instead included the writings of Aristotle, the reflections of Confucius, the poetry of Baudelaire? What would that book look like, and what would it mean?

Decades after he started asking such questions, what Grayling calls “a lifetime’s work” has hit bookshelves. “The Good Book: A Humanist Bible,” subtitled “A Secular Bible” in the United Kingdom, was published this month. Grayling crafted it by using more than a thousand texts representing several hundred authors, collections and traditions.

The Bible would have been “a very different book and may have produced a very different history for mankind,” had it drawn on the work of philosophers and writers as opposed to prophets and apostles, says Grayling, a philosopher and professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, who is an atheist.

“Humanist ethics didn’t claim to be derived from a deity," he says. "(They) tended to start from a sympathetic understanding of human nature and accept that there’s a responsibility that each individual has to work out the values they live by and especially to recognize that the best of our good lives revolve around having good relationships with people.” 

Humanists rely on human reason as an alternative to religion or belief in God in attempting to find meaning and purpose in life.

Determined to make his material accessible, Grayling arranged his nearly 600-page "Good Book" much like the Bible, with double columns, chapters (the first is even called Genesis) and short verses. And much like the best-selling King James Bible, which is celebrating its 400th year, his book is written in a type of English that transcends time.

Like the Bible, "The Good Book," opens with a garden scene. But instead of Adam and Eve, Grayling's Genesis invokes Isaac Newton, the British scientist who pioneered the study of gravity.

"It was from the fall of fruit from such a tree that new inspiration came for inquiry into the nature of things," reads a verse from "The Good Book's" first chapter.

"When Newton sat in his garden, and saw what no one had seen before: that an apple draws the earth to itself, and the earth the apple," the verse continues, "Through a mutual force of nature that holds all things, from the planets to the stars, in unifying embrace."

The book's final chapter features a secular humanist version of the Ten Commandments: "Love well, seek the good in all things, harm no others, think for yourself, take responsibility, respect nature, do your utmost, be informed, be kind, be courageous: at least, sincerely try."

Grayling, reached Friday at a New York hotel just as he began his U.S. book tour, has been dubbed by some a “velvet atheist” or an “acceptable face of atheism,” he says, in contrast to more stridently anti-religious writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, both of whom he counts as friends.

In other contexts, Grayling - who will soon take over as president of the British Humanist Association - admits he’s written critically about religion. But not in "The Good Book."

“It’s not part of a quarrel,” he says of his latest work. “It’s a modest offering… another contribution to the conversation that mankind must have with itself,” and one he says he wrote for everyone, Bible lovers included.

Given where society is today, inviting that conversation is all the more important, he says.

More than 16% of Americans say they are unaffiliated religiously, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Even so, Grayling says the hunger for a spiritual connection continues. That yearning, he argues , can be satisfied for many by taking a walk in the country, curling up with a beautiful book of poetry or even in falling in love.

“In all different ways, we can celebrate the good in the world,” he says.

While many intellectual traditions – religious and otherwise – teach that there’s “one right way to live,” Grayling says he hopes “The Good Book” will encourage people to “go beyond your teachers, your text” to understand that “we have to respect and relate to one another.”

Early sales indicate that people are open to what this new "Bible" teaches. On Monday, Grayling’s book was number 41 on Amazon’s UK bestseller list and number 1 in the philosophy and spirituality categories.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • Bible • Books • Culture & Science • Ethics

soundoff (3,021 Responses)
  1. Me

    If there is not God and no afterlife, then who would even care? Besides, this book is just one person's opinion.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Ken

    Reading all of the comments here from atheists calling believers crazy, mentally ill, insane, whackjobs, delusional, mentally defective . . .

    If all this is true, shouldn't the government step in and take children away from any of these insane parents who believe in God, so they do not inflict their insanity upon their innocent children and thereby harm these children's mental health? I mean, isn't that what we would do with any other mentally diseased or insane parents who are harming their children's mental health? Right?

    What say ye, oh atheist?

    April 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • The LORD

      Personally I prefer to use floods, fire, and pestilence to get rid of those types! You know, destroy entire civilizations for the crimes of a few is the only way to ensure you REALLY get them all.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • bp

      Not at all,
      we simply are trying to engage you in debate to get you to research your own claims. in the end if you decide to belief in god thats fine. We just worry that your beliefs are used to dictate rules and laws on everyone else who does not share your faith and worse you end up starting wars over which according to history makes us a bit worried. Also we think your churches steal your money and then don't pay taxes....

      April 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Ken


      Why would one engage in debate those who be belives are mentally ill, insane, delusional, feeble-minded, etc? And what form of debate is it to call them mentally ill, insane, delusional, feeble-minded, etc?

      Anyway, you totally dodged my question. Why leave children in the custody of insane believers? Would you support that for any other insane people?

      BTW, laws are made for a LOT of reasons, Who is to say which reasons are "better" than others? You??? If you want a certain law because your values tell you that law will make things better (as you define better in your atheist value system) then why is that "better" than if I want a law because my values tell me that law will make things better (as I define better based on Christian faith)?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • bp

      I had a long answer for you Ken but awaiting moderation killed it.
      Ill try to keep it short this time.

      I don't think believers are insane or crazy. As an ex believer religion is something hard to remove yourself from but belief in a higher power does not make you insane, maybe just misguided or unwilling to learn outside the paradigm. As what makes on set of beliefs to dictate whats right or wrong, thats not an easy question, to answer, and probably will never be. I usually rely on the seperation of church and state since America is founded on that prnciple. From my point of view anyways laws that prohibit somone from practicing their ones own beliefs are fundamentally wrong. best example I can give you is abortion. This is an example and not meant to start a debate about abortion. So abortion is legal right now and there are many religious groups who actively try to make it illegal ( I think we can agree on that). My point in this argument is that not everyone say is a christian who agrees with "god condemns killing babies" however if made illegal by these christians groups everyone else in america would be subject to the christian point of view. Where as say keeping it legal allows for both sides to practice their beliefs. IE is you disagree with it then don;t have one performed. I hope that the point of the argument is understandable

      April 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  3. BnB

    You hate God because He is holy and you are not and you know He is and you know you are not... You hate Him because He is God and you know your ways are wrong.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  4. unless

    Sounds like a great read. Oh, and it's not call the King James version for nothing.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  5. Illalung

    Running out of time are you?

    April 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  6. Helene

    I don't understand Grayling's intent...if atheists don't believe in religion and religious order, why make his own "Bible"? Sounds like a lead up to an organized religion...that's how Scientology started. To call his book a Bible inflects that it is a religion. It sounds like Grayling himself is yearning for some spiritual focus despite calling himself an atheist...

    April 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • bp

      Not at all Helene, while I would agree with you if this actually was a bible

      What it realy is though is just a collection of philosphical writings, many which contradict each other.
      All in all this really is not a bible. Just CNN playing on words

      April 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  7. square

    Thank God that Grayling has the free will to clip together others' writings to call it his own.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Eric

    It's nice to see someone creating something that is uplifting and reasonable to fill the void of human yearning, the yearning to shed ourselves of our Western Mythology of Religion. We don't need God, Jesus, or the Saints to be a good human being and now there is a book that can get people, at least, discussing this matter.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  9. CR Geary

    Atheism does not need a bible. Atheist is not a religion. If one looks at this logically, to be an Athesit means one believes in the possibility of a supreme being because one cannot logically disbelieve or believe in something that one does not consider the possiblity of existence. If one were to use logic to determine if God exist in world where evil exist, one would have to conclude that either God or evil does not exist since the two cannot logically exist together.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  10. mrsmoothalways

    You have got to be a very stupid Atheist, if you spend your time trying to counter a persons religious belief, logic or non. It's a No win situation.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Lindsey

      Ah, yes, but it is rather fun.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • bp

      It might be stupid agreeded, but it sure is funny as ****
      Kinda of like watching a kid throw a temper at the store cause the grown ups said no you can't have that candy

      April 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  11. Azuma


    I choose to use my life in the service of others who share this beautiful planet with me. I choose to make it as wonderful for future generations as it has been for me. I choose to live this life as fully as possible, and make this the best life I'll ever have. I will do it will a full heart and a smiling conscience.

    I am a humanist.

    How about you?

    April 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Helene

      Right on!

      April 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  12. azuma

    I choose to use my life in the service of others who share this beautiful planet with me. I choose to make it as wonderful for future generations as it has been for me. I choose to live this life as fully as possible, and make this the best life I'll ever have. I will do it will a full heart and a smiling conscience.

    How about you?

    April 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  13. square

    If Grayling believes the Bible to be false, would would he call his own book "...Bible?

    April 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Bob

      You apparently aren't aware of all the "bibles" out there. There are plenty for computer programming language and computer "bibles". A bible is just used in a sense that it is meant to explain a particular subject. For your interprettation to be true, then it would mean that people don't believe in programming languages or computers.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  14. david crandall

    God is a figment of your imagination.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  15. Chris2

    I don't know if most people who actually know what religion is just tend to stay out of arguments like these, or if they are simply that rare, but it's just ridiculous to see so many people completely clueless as to what they are debating. Religion is metaphysics – a branch of the philosophical tree – that explains the supernatural origins of man. Supernatural, meaning unexplained as of yet. If a dog were to attempt to acquire the same level of comprehension as man, it would be the single most worthwhile achievement possible. Greater than love, life, death, and politics. That is the point of religion. We all, invariably, will get religion wrong. It is akin to thinking of a color you have never seen. "What exists that is beyond my understanding?" As dangerous, powerful, and complex as religion is, we all must attempt to expand our consciousnesses, even if it means death.

    Though, these traditions, customs, rituals, and bizarre practices that result from religious beliefs are sometimes harmful, they are necessary. We all must aspire for the sake of progress. Participating in rituals or not is not religion. Believing God is a man in the sky is not religion. These things are ignorance, which is what people actually mean when they say religion is dangerous or thoughtless. Do not try to oppress religion, but the ignorance which plagues all good things.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Terram

      Interesting. Thank you for adding this viewpoint.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Ryan A - Florida

      Sorry man, but supernatural does not mean "unexplained as of yet", it actually refers to phenomenon that fall outside of the laws of the natural world. I think you may be confusing supernatural with UFO's. The difference is somewhat subtle I will grant you, but there is a difference, and it is relevant and worthy of proper consideration.

      April 12, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  16. Terry

    This book means nothing to God and his people. If it is not of God, it is of the devil whether you are aware of it or not. Even by human reasoning, this book already fails when you start off with Issac Newton. People/scientific minds came before him even from a scientific perspective. Once again, this book is NOTHING to the eyes of the Lord!

    April 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Rob

      That's a nice way of closing your mind to the rest of the world.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Bob

      Terry, You should show your disbelief in science by not using anything that has been invented since before Isaac Newton's time.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Cameron

      of the devil...you're insane

      April 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • SF Aaron

      Honestly if you believe that then stop using the internet, stop driving your internal combustion engine car, stop cooking in the oven, preserving your food in the refrigerator, going to the doctor, and even watching your TV! Why? Because all of THOSE things and pretty much everything around that is man made or even has been remotely altered by man is based on laws and theories of science!!!!!! May I be the first to welcome you to the 21st Century

      April 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • bp

      Im sorry I have to laugh at this comment Terry. You ovbiously know very little of your own religion. I don't care if you believe but you should research your own religion first and at least know something of it.

      ITerry – "If it is not of God, it is of the devil whether you are aware of it or not. Even by human reasoning, this book already fails when you start off with Issac Newton. People/scientific minds came before him even from a scientific perspective. Once again, this book is NOTHING to the eyes of the Lord!"

      You do realize Terry that the Church through the philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas basically plagerized Socrates philosphical view and argument of the world? And Socrates was around way before Christianity. All Aquinas did was change the "Perfect Good" with "God."
      But I regress, Aquinas plagerized Socrates and according to you reasoning since it did not come from god it is from the devil. So your bible is the work of the devil then? lol

      April 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  17. Onel

    We have British people in Phoenix?

    April 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  18. Chakka

    This is what christians have to look forward to: A Heaven that gives every comfort imaginable and everlasting life. They get to dwell on and on and watch all the people that they may have had contact with (friends, relatives, their pastors, etc.) burn in Hell and twist and writhe in a sea of fire. Also, why would a god create a world that would one day be populated by billions of people that will never worship him because they believe in some other religion? Aren't these billions of people destined for 'hell'? What a huge waste of time. Way to go, god.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Terry

      The father created hell for Satan and his angels. Because man rejected him, sin cannot enter heaven and therefore man who dies a sinner enters hell. We now live in Satans world, Christians or people who ask for God must ask Christ for repentence and deliverence from Satan. This is why Satan has devised so many schemes to trick people in believing in other religions. Did you know that Islam, Buddhism and every other religion besides Christianity and followers of the old testament don't believe in talking to a deity until they die? The latter two are the only beliefs where you can pray and talk to God. See Satan's trap yet?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Chakka

      This is a story. If you believe it–fine. Please don't insist that I have to believe in it also or that I'm less enlightened because I don't believe in your fairy tales. Belief is not truth.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • bp

      What if its really Odin who will not allow you to enter Valhalla cause at your death you wern't burned in a ship set off to see?
      That probably sounds stupid to you, as it does to me, so why doesn't the biblical story sound just as stupid to you too? There just as much proof for either one to be true. (which is zero)

      April 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • TomSanJose


      Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhist are specifically taught to question the teaching of Buddhas. Buddhists are not allowed to blindly follow his words and actions without deep understandings.

      Buddhism has no supreme being like a "God". Buddhism is actually a way of living. Buddha, its founder, considered and discovered a view on life that gives rise to a system of living. The view hinges on the human "desire".

      The "desire" to believe. The desire to evangelize. The desire to possess. The desire to win, desire for wealth, for respect, for fame, for material gain, for prosperity, for peace, for a life after death, for going to heaven instead of terrible hell, the desire to be believed, etc.

      All such desires induces emotional responses and as we respond and act out our emotional state, we inadvertently impact those around us. As they respond to us and others like us, they suffer from their own emotional responses and in acting out their responses, they further impact others.

      Buddhism focuses on understanding that this world is pack full of such actions and reactions. Thus our emotional state created our current state of existence in which we have laws, government, behavioral standards and all such things all created based on our emotional states.

      Buddha taught then his students how to recognize this in their daily life and live in such a way so as to do no harm to others. A buddhist who lives this way strives to not participate in this action and reaction cycle. His or her action must be neutral at worst and positive at worst.

      Screaming insults at atheist is certainly not neutral or positive. Atheist screaming insults at the religious is certainly not compassionate.

      Buddhism has no God to speak to. Buddhists are required to be responsible for all the consequences of their actions or inactions. There is no free lunch as in certain religion where sins can be cleansed by one person. Buddhism has a rather solid logical underpinning in its analysis of human psychology.

      Please do not summarily and erroneously clump Buddhism as just another "religion".

      April 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  19. The all potent one

    What's really funny is that today when you hear voices you go get a physc check up. In 0 BC you claimed those voices were god and you got to contribute to the bible. Is god only talking to crazy people or does his talking make you crazy?

    April 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Colin

      I guess god only talks and appears to crazy people for the same reason that UFOs only kidnap drunken fisherman in Mississippi.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Tristis

      If I were god, I'd only talk to crazy people. The only thing I'd have to say to non-crazy people is "Treat those crazy people with a little more dignity, please."

      I might also add: "Don't sit in front of the long-haired one on the bus. He's got a machete." Gotta be fair.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  20. Triad

    I can sum up the whole Religious Nutjobs vs. Atheist Zealots argument right here:

    The Religious Nutjob Says: You cannot disprove God exists, therefore He exists.
    The Atheist Zealot Says: You cannot prove god exists, therefore he does not exist.

    That's it. That's all either side has. And you know what? When you really look at it... I mean really, really look at it... The two sides really aren't all that different. They both believe something. The only difference is the "what" of the matter. Each side thinks it's better than the other. Each side tries to force its ways on other people. Each side ridicules the other for its beliefs. I mean, if you're stepping back and watching both sides from the outside of the argument like I am, you'll just see two identical twins arguing about which one has prettier hair using the exact same tactics.

    At least it's sometimes amusing to watch.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • DB

      So what do you believe? If someone asks you, do you believe in god, what would be your answer? Is there any other answer than a yes or no?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Colin

      And would you say the same thing about two people arguing over whether leprechauns exist? Of course not. Just because two sides believe they are right, does not make their respective arguments of = validity. I prefer the atheists side. They argue from logic, not emotion.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Chris

      The "religious nutjob" starts wars and commits terrorist attacks.
      The "atheist zealot" insults you on the internet.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Rob

      Actually, there's a big difference. The religious zealot is committing the fallacy of "Argument from ignorance," while the atheist is living up to the standards of logic by demanding evidence for a claim. One argument is illogical, the other is logical, and that makes all the difference in the world.

      If you disagree, try inventing a new logic. I'll bet you're neither up to the task, nor would you want to be.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • mrsmoothalways

      LMBO!!!!!!!!!! Never thought of it that way

      April 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • JR

      Meh, wrong.

      Atheists REJECT the belief in everything not substantiated by empirical evidence (i.e. deities). There are an infinite number of gods you cannot disprove. The burden of proof is on the believer, not the atheist.


      April 11, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • mrsmoothalways

      LMBO!!!!!!! Triad, Never thought of it that way. You are right about the Atheist part

      April 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Triad

      JR, you can pretty it up all you want to, but an atheist's clinging to "logic and reason" is no different from a non-secular's clinging to "faith and emotion." Just because you, personally, happen to believe one is more real than the other doesn't mean that another person isn't allowed to believe the opposite. To a non-secular, since God created logic and reason, he can bend them to his own will. To an atheist, well, that just goes against all... logic and reason. Both sides will vehemently say that the other is wrong, pointing fingers, spitting, challenging the intelligence of the other, etc., ad nausem.

      Human beings are capable of both thinking and feeling. Who is anyone to say that doing one more than the other makes a person wrong?

      April 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • TomSanJose


      Atheist : n., someone who denies the existence of god.

      An atheist does not "believe" because there is nothing to "believe". You are still stuck in the world of religious believe or not-believe so you write in terms of "belief". That in itself is already a contradiction.

      An atheist who subscribes to the Scientific Process has no belief. Proving something is not the same as "believing" in something. You are still seeing the world through your religiously oriented "belief" filter.

      Science requires fact, data, evidence, logic, analysis, experimentations and peer reviews and independent verifications and finally acceptance based on a logically constructed argument that serves as a proof. Where is the "believe" in this?

      I do not "believe" in existence of Gravity; I accept that Gravity exists because of scientific proof.
      I do not "believe" in carbon dating; I accept that carbon dating is true because of scientific proof.
      I do not "believe" in Evolution, I accept that the THeory of Evolution is true because of scientific proof.

      Do you understand yet the difference between "believe" and scientific proof? If anything, atheism is much better than religious fundamentalism. Religious Fundamentalism leads to the Dark Ages while atheism can often lead to age of discoveries and enlightenment. Show me a religious fundamentalist who contributed to our scientific understanding of the natural world?

      Finally, while extremists exists in all camps, atheists in general do not bother evangelizing their denial of God's existence. They do not care, they do not think about it and they focus on more important things in life. The only time an average atheist become agitated is when the religious try to impose religious dogma into our government or force religious-beliefs into our private lives.

      Atheist prefer a live and let-live approach. As long as the religious can respect us and leave us alone, you will get the same respect and courtesy. If the religious try to coerce or attack us for our way of life, then they have better expect a strong push-back.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Rob.... You position posits that everything must be empirically testable. Thus you limit what you accept based on the test you have available. Consider M-theory. There is no direct manner to observe sub-quark action at this time. There have been no indirect proofs found from collider data. And yet it and the standard model are accepted. By your standard, you must reject M-theory until it has "evidence". I submit that there are many more things that are not now and likely never will be testable, but are real none the less. Your thoughts?

      April 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • bp

      Triad – I can sum up the whole Religious Nutjobs vs. Atheist Zealots argument right here:
      The Religious Nutjob Says: You cannot disprove God exists, therefore He exists.
      The Atheist Zealot Says: You cannot prove god exists, therefore he does not exist.

      Allow me to rephrase this so it is more accurate:
      The Religious Nutjob Says: You cannot disprove god exists, therefore he exists.
      The Atheist Zealot Says: You have not shown proof god exists, therefore your claim that he does exist is unfounded and illogical until solid undisputable evidence can be shown.

      Or mathematically
      Religious: 0 = 1 (no evidence = god) this makes no sense
      Atheist: 0 = 0 (no evidence = no evidence) This ones mathmatically correct

      April 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Ammon

      I agree. Both sides can easily find themselves making petty unintelligent arguments. I don't understand why people have to take an extreme stand on their beliefs. I think the overall idea of this book is a good idea- but why take the extremist idea of making it look like the Christian Bible? That's just an argument, and arguments rarely rely on logic, but rather emotion.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Kevin

      Well, there are some atheists that are a bit rude I think. Most of them tend to be kids and say things like "God doesn't exist!!!" just to get a rise out of people. It makes us look bad. All in all, I think atheists tend to have a much more coherent philosophy. Contrary to what many Christians would say, we don't worship the devil or wish everyone would die. The world is just how we see and feel it – full of beauty, ugliness, love, and hate. The good Christians would be good people without religion. The bad atheists would be bad people with it.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Casey

      Actually you're wrong about atheists. Religion is quite simply illogical. There is no formally logical argument that ends with god(s) as the conclusion. At some point you either have to assume what you're trying to prove, or make take an illogical step in your reasoning. Atheists are not willing to believe in something that is illogical.

      Now you might say that non-belief is just as illogical, but that's actually wrong. We know that there are forces of nature in the universe such as gravity and electro-magnetism. It is not illogical to believe that these are merely rules that govern the nature of matter in the universe. It is entirely logical to suppose that "rules" can exist without actually needing the universe. Wouldn't 2+2=4 even if there was no universe? It's actually a debate worth having, but its a much more logical conclusion to believe that the laws of physics would still be around, even if the universe wasn't. So atheists put their belief in physical laws, which we know exists and control the motion of particles in the universe currently. Religious people put their belief in a magical man in the sky. Seriously, which one is more logical?

      Adding, the search for "proof" is a red herring. Of course you can't prove it either way. But that's not the issue. It's all about what is logical. Religion is not logical, whereas atheism is logical. There's really no denying that. Unless you want to tell me that there's no such thing as gravity...

      April 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Yossarian

      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Stephen Roberts

      April 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Dr. John H. Watson

      You have absolutely zero idea what you're talking about It's a cute philosophy that you made up in your head though.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • TomSanJose


      You do not understand logic.

      Logic cannot be bent by anyone or anything. The fact that you claim that "God created Logic" is in itself subject to a logical examination.

      Can you supply a logical proof showing clearly and conclusively that God created Logic? No? Then it is illogical.

      You further claim that "God can bend Logic to its will". Can you supply a Logical proof that God can bend anything to His will?

      This is the key difference between your "belief" system versus the "Logical" system.

      The "Belief" system is completely random. Anyone can believe in anything and when there are disagreements about who believes in what, people end up arguing and start warring upon each other.

      The "Logic" system is completely logical and not open to personal interpretation or subjective manipulation of God's manipulation. It either "is" because of systematic proof or it is "not" because of systematic proof.

      Logic is not about whether one believes or disbelieves, it is a systematic way of examining an issue, whatever that issue may be.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • NotQuite

      The argument that atheists "believe" that god does not exist because he can't be proved is usually trotted out by the religious attempting to win an argument by semantics.

      More accurately, atheists generally think that, because god's existence isn't provable, that god or a concept of god is no more relevant to our existence than invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, Cthulhu, or whether we are really a butterfly dreaming we are a person.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Tristis

      I agree with you, Triad.

      I would side with the very rational sounding Atheists, except that I have heard them behave very irrationally during points of distress. I would side with those who seek the divine, but I've seen them reflect the very things they say they reject. I find both sides to be dogmatic and unwilling to weigh possibilities beyond what they have already decided.

      What am I? Agnostic. I do not believe that, we wee mortal things are able to prove a darn thing one way or the other about immortality. Every substantial statement we make of that distinctly insubstantial state can only be conjecture–faith in a paradigm, if you will.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Triad

      Must we all think in such bland, binary terms? Any time there exists a belief or a following or a movement, it seems that there can never be a substantial group of people who settle somewhere in between.

      This world would be a whole lot less argumentative if more people were willing to take a step back, look at an entire situation and simply, eloquently state "I don't know."

      Sure, when queried about the existence of god, many people will say "I don't know," but use it as a preface to some theory or some comment about how they were raised or what they were taught to believe in by X, Y or Z, or what they "feel" deep down in their "hearts." Nobody can leave it at "I don't know." This is a problem with the human animal. We, as a whole, MUST know. And if we don't, we simply fill in the gaps with "logic and reason" or "faith and emotion" and call anyone who fills in the gaps differently wrong, stupid, ignorant, sinful, etc.

      Some gaps are best left unfilled...

      April 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "More accurately, atheists generally think that, because god's existence isn't provable, that god or a concept of god is no more relevant to our existence than.."

      Or another way to look at it is that an atheist believes that someone at some point in history began the belief in God. Can they prove through science who did? No. Why they did? No. How they did it? No.

      In the end they have a belief that they cannot anymore prove that those that believe in God.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • TlD

      @TRiad, that is a classic logical fallacy. Those who disbelieve don't have a "belief" of disbelief. Absence of evidence is just that. Essentially there is as much evidence for the monotheistic "god" as there is for polytheistic gods.
      By your logic, there is no evidence that a group of purple dinosaurs named Barney didn't create the universe, and therefore people who disbelieve that are not rational.

      Epicurus said all you need to know on this issue 2400 years ago disproving monotheism once and for all. If god is good and omnipotent why all the evil?

      April 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      A zealot is a believer, so applying the term to a nonbeliever makes no sense. Since we don't know much of all there is to know, we can't function without beliefs, which are things we make up to explain what we don't understand. Zealots continue to believe their dogma even after facts disprove it. Followers of literal-translation dogma used to deny the earth revolved around the sun, that the world was round. Now they deny evolution. Same fools, different century. It would be humorous if they weren't so dangerous. Remember... these same zealots started the civil war by claiming the new testament advocated slavery as a natural part of life. Thankfully other religions are always willing to stand up for the truth. Otherwise, mixed race marriages would still be illegal, and slavery would still exist.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • joe

      put another way, although christians "believe" something does exist without being able to prove that it does, athiests "believe" something does not exist, even though it is impossible to prove that it does not.

      The other option? being honest that you do not know if it exists or not, since you cannot prove it one way or the other. Agnostic.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Triad

      It's all belief. No matter what the Christian Believe Quarterly or Atheist Weekly (or whatever you people read) says. The lack of belief in the existence of god is the belief in the nonexistence of god. Neither side has proven anything, and that is why I oppose both sides. They think they have all of the answers, when nobody really does. I know I don't, and knowing that I don't have the answers always seems to present its self as a problem for someone... usually an atheist. Usually several.

      What amuses me almost as much as Christians who take the bible literally are atheists to come up with abhorrently ridiculous examples of things that also happen to be disprovable (invisible pink unicorns, purple dinosaur created universe, etc.) as if it proves some point about god. It doesn't. It only proves that we, as people, don't know much about anything. Which is why we CAN'T disprove even these ridiculous things. If we can't disprove that purple dinosaurs DIDN'T create the universe, what business have we to try to prove god didn't?

      April 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • joe

      @ all the people claiming atheism is not a "belief in the nonexistence" because it is based on logic:
      a seemingly logical conclusion based on limited information is easily erroneous. "Being based on logic" is not the same thing as "truth". So yes, even though you are using logic to reach a conclusion, it is not necessarily correct, you simply pose a solution which fits the available evidence – exactly what religion does.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • joe

      although religion's solution is somewhat ham-handed. "the earth is exactly 4000 years old, but it appears older because that's the way it was made..... 4000 years ago."

      Technically, it fits the evidence.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • 800n

      @Triad pt 2: don't let the Elitists and Philosophers get you down. They're too busy sniffing their own farts and fondling their cerebrum to realize we don't have all the answers, that the world does not work in digital/binary coding formats, and that logic, at times, limits one's perception of reality. Cheers, and keep fighting the good fight.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Otherwise, mixed race marriages would still be illegal, and slavery would still exist."

      Well that's just a lie now isn't it?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:01 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.