Doomsdays throughout time
May 19th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

My Take: Doomsdayers show what’s wrong with all religion

Editor's Note: David Silverman, an atheist since age 6, is president of American Atheists.

By David Silverman, Special to CNN

Let nobody doubt that religion hurts people. Good, intelligent, caring people suffer every day and everywhere at the hands of religion, the happy lie.

Religion is used by dishonest people who claim to know the way to the one thing humans want most: immortality. To combat fear of death, religious people ignore their intellect, believe the lie, and follow the preacher, usually blindly and sometimes to the point of insanity.

We are witnessing one very good example of this right now, as a group led by Christian ministry leader Harold Camping prepares for the end of the world this Saturday, May 21.

Of course, the weekend will pass without incident and thousands of Camping's followers, having spent or donated huge amounts of money on his behalf, will be gravely disappointed. Victims will be broken. Families will be damaged. Lives will be ruined. All because someone made a good pitch, and followers believed.

Opinion: May 21 Doomsday movement harms Christianity

I am not sure if Camping is a liar, but I think so. He realized that religion is a great way to make tax-free money off the backs of well-meaning people, through donations to his ministry, all without fearing eternal damnation. You see, I suspect that he, like many others of his ilk, doesn’t believe in God at all.

It may seem odd that I would accuse this man of being an atheist like me, but rest assured that he is nothing like me.

Like most atheists, I’m a pretty nice person and would never scam someone out of his or her life savings or convince someone to quit a job just to line my pockets. The truth is that religion and ethics are completely independent of one another.

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Consider how Newt Gingrich could campaign against President Bill Clinton's adultery as the darling of the Religious Right while actually being an adulterer himself. Consider how evangelical superstar Ted Haggard could preach against homosexuality, in God’s name, while hiding a gay lover. And consider Camping, who can get donors to cough up what appears to be a lot of money in God’s name while ruining his followers’ real lives on Earth.

These are not people who fear God or hell. In my opinion, they know very well that gods are myths. They are just bad people. Atheists have bad people, too, the worst of whom feign religion for their own personal gain.

Next week, Camping’s victims will ask our forgiveness for being so foolish, and we will forgive them, because we’ve all done stupid things. They will ask for money and we will help them, because most people are charitable.

And then Camping victims will ask us to forget all about this whole ugly scam. That is something we must never do.

We must remember that Camping, atheist or not, is no different from any other preacher. Religion thrives on fear–the constant threat of any-time-now Judgment Day coupled with eternal punishment in hell for those who don’t believe strongly enough.

Since rational minds question irrational things, believers constantly have doubts, and therefore fear that they don't have enough faith to pass muster during the eventual Rapture, when the righteous will be saved and the unrighteous will be damned. Fear of hell makes believers desperate to ease those doubts so they can be sure to get into heaven. It’s a recipe for fear-based obedience, which is exactly what religion craves.

It’s the method used by Camping, and by the rest of Christianity, too.

If we forget about Camping, this apocalyptic madness will happen again. Next year is 2012 and, just as was supposed to happen in 2011, 2004, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994 and other years that the world is supposed to end, according to one religion or another.

What will we do in 2012? Will we sit still while preachers take advantage of the gullible again? Will we refrain from confronting the fools and continue to revere religion? Or will we, as a society, demand that people use their intellect and pay attention to their preachers, priests, rabbis or mullahs and see them as the scammers they really are?

This weekend, preachers from coast to coast will talk about why they are right and Camping is wrong, and I ask you all to listen closely. They will try to justify why one interpretation of the Bible (theirs) is right while the others are wrong. In the end, they are all interpreting the “perfect word of God” in their own imperfect way so that God agrees with their own agenda. It’s obvious if you look for it; no preacher ever says "God disagrees with me."

Yes, this weekend we will giggle at the fools who follow the preachers that earn their living spreading happy lies. Religion will have been proven wrong yet again.

But we all must remember that people have been hurt this weekend. We hope the victims of this year’s end-of-the-world will lift themselves back up, dust themselves off, and come out of this as better, less gullible people. Hopefully, they will use their experience to help others avoid future scams by shouting loudly at tomorrow’s victims, without fear of being irreverent about something which deserves no reverence at all.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Silverman.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • End times

soundoff (1,927 Responses)
  1. truthandmusic

    Christians get upset when you question their God just like children get upset when you say Santa is not real. Christians have their bible and children have their mall Santa, throw in some faith and a system for judging naughty or nice and they will believe anything.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Jim

      Actually most Christians do not get upset. Try it on a real Christian and not one looking for a hand-out. They will defend their faith as vigorously as you insult them. On the other hand have you noticed how atheists become arrogant, condescending and insulting when you question their "faith"?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Jesus Christ


      May 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • wzrd1

      I get upset only a few times and in a few very specific ways.
      When an atheist shows up in a religious blog (this being a rare exception, where it IS called for) and denigrates the faith of others, ignoring our first amendment and ninth amendment. In short, the right to free speech, free religion AND the prohibition to disparage the rights of another by forcing your right upon them.
      I get upset when a religious nut forces THEIR view when uncalled for, especially in news items totally divorced from religion, save for the delusional mind.
      I get upset when one forces or wishes to force their views upon others uninvited, wars have been fought over that very thing and they were horrific and bloody.
      Me? I have some Christian views, BUT know and acknowledge that the bible was heavily edited by Constantine and the Nicene Council. That does not destroy a message, only cloud it. To see the FULL message, one looks to every OTHER faith to see what is in common, as they suffer similar issues.
      What are the keys?
      Nothing an atheist would object to:
      Get along with each other.
      Accept each other.
      Don't mess with each other!
      Don't hurt anyone.
      Don't steal from anyone.
      For, with those few things, you find love of your neighbor. It's natural in that context and environment.
      And in that, there IS heaven. Right here on the turdhole that WE made and could unmake into a more perfect union.
      But then, I'm weird. I'm moderate in most things, heavily conservative in a few things, heavily liberal in others. Overall, middle of the road. I've dined with Bedouin in their tents, city Arabs in their homes, Iranians in their homes, Indians in their homes, Germans in their homes, Morrocans in their homes, Djiboutians in their homes, Romanians in their homes, British in their homes, Danes in their homes, Finns in their homes and the list goes on and on, even through the Pacific rim.
      I get along well with ALL.
      Save those who wanted trouble, a rare few. Then, we STILL got along. They wanted trouble, there I was, to either curse them out in their own language OR stomp on them as they'd try to do to me.
      But, 99.9% have simply been PEOPLE. So, we got along famously and we (my wife and I on some, my team and I on other occasions) were invited back.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • truthandmusic

      Jim, you can’t question an Atheists faith because they don’t have any. Faith is believing something with no evidence. A lack of faith is what makes an Atheists a rational thinker. If Christians had proof to back up their beliefs they would not need faith.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Jim

      truthandmusic, the day that science can answer ALL of life's questions, cure cancer and every other diseases, answer with finality whether coffee is really good or bad for you and not change their answers every year, and figure out how the universe works is the day that it becomes fact. Until then, atheistic view is still "faith". And it's faith based on 21st century science, which 25th century man will see as primitive.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • truthandmusic

      Jim, I know that not all science is perfect, but it is not faith because they give you evidence that can be validated by others in a lab or controlled situation. An ex of faith is your neighbor telling you that pink cats live on Mars and all you have to do is have faith he is telling you the truth. Can you not see the difference? Webster’s defines faith as, Firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      truthandmusic - actually the examples you're giving wouldn't be "science" in the sense of "certain-knowledge." If you've studied modern science and the scientific method, then you'll know about what we call "confounding variables." What this means is that there are almost always factors that we cannot completely eliminate in our quest for truth - for example, there is an experiment where you hang two balls close together to prove that gravity exists (this experiment in fact was used in part to determine the gravitational constant of the universe) - still we cannot "prove" for example, that the reason the balls seem to have an attraction to each other is because there aren't "invisible floating green creatures" pushing on the balls. How about that, what if invisible floating green creatures are responsible for gravity. You can't prove they don't exist. It's just that scientists consider it highly unlikely.

      The only thing that approaches what I would call "certain knowledge" are what we refer to as "eidetic" sciences - examples are arithmetic, geometry, logic, and thanks to the work of Edmund Husserl, Transcendental Phenomenology. Still, how do we really know that our minds are grasping real essences and that spiritual creatures aren't tricking our minds to believe that 2+2 MUST = 4.

      So you see, everything really does boil down to belief. Even those who say they can "prove" that air exists even though you can't see it will find themselves, in the end, in a place where they cannot explain away all the possibly confounding variables, and they will be forced to admit, "it's our best guess."

      May 19, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Jim

      truthandmusic, I am not referring to validated science, but rather to the specific question of whether God exist or not. We can quibble about what "faith" means but what I would like to point out is this: Using 21st century science as a basis to establish or disprove the existence of God, is unwise. It's like saying aliens from another planet do not exist because we do not have proof they exist. I do not think that 21st century science and human understanding can prove or disprove God's existence conclusively. Even Albert Einstein acknowledge as much. So for an atheist to say that God does not exist takes faith. That is my personal opinion.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • truthandmusic

      Jim, I see the point you are trying to make. I am actually an Agnostic for that very reason. I personally believe that saying there is absolutely no God is just as arrogant as saying there absolutely is. My problem is when people try to tell me they have a relationship with God and some how they know what God thinks. I am not against God I am against religions.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  2. mm

    Mr. atheist, God is coming but it won't be 5/21/11. And when he does come, I hope you won't be on the sorry side of eternity. You sound like someone in a lot of pain.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      When God comes I will have to be at my very best behavior. Because I dont want to go to Hell....No WAY!!!! I will be saved at the very last minute! but until then. I will live my life according to what I believe not what a stupid religion tells me to believe. I rather worship the pillbury doughboy. At least he provides me with a tangible product.....

      May 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • amma maw

      good grief.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • wzrd1

      mm, I'll obey my inner conscience AND the INTENT in many, many religious texts, all of which express the best that Christianity has to offer, but regrettably infrequently gives.
      Tolerance. Acceptance. Love of one's neighbor. Even love of one's enemy, even IF smiting them is necessary. (I didn't say I was a pacifist unto death!)
      Peaceful, until no other reasonable or even slightly unreasonable alternative is available.
      That said, YOUR opinion of a 6000 or so year old book that has been at least thrice translated (incorrectly in more than a few places), edited for content by the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Nicene Council, a book added by Constantine, a book disregarded at the time as one purely about the Roman Emperor Nero, but never mentioning him by name, as that would be an immediate death sentence to all that read it, held it or wrote it, but added at the ORDER of Emperor Constantine, overriding his Christian council, excuse me if I take a jaundiced view.
      Or is the King James version of the bible the VERBATIM word of God? Which would explain Noah's confusion, as Noah would've spoken Aramaic, not Middle English!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Gary C

      Oh noes! The invisible boogeyman is coming to get me! Must be sad living your life in fear of things out of your imagination.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  3. Believer in God AND Science

    Until we can get some comments here that can actually synthesize some things and not try to choose "God or science" or "God over science" or "science over God," this discussion will remain stagnant, producing no fruit. Until you can see how something like the theory of evolution is 100% compatible with Genesis, how are you supposed to prove anything about God's existence or non existence to me. First of all, read Genesis 1 then Genesis 2. You'll see in 1, that there was 'watery chaos' a huge mass of water and the creation story goes from there. Then in 2 there are four rivers, and this account of creation in chapter 2 can seem to be virtually the opposite of what we find in chapter 1. So does the Bible contradict itself in its first two chapters. Some would say yes - others would say that this synthesis of two creation stories from two different sources shows how God is working IN the actions of human beings to produce something that will make us reflect on things greater than ourselves, and our own pesky desires. Mr. Silverman, you say, you'll never find a Christian preacher who says, "God disagrees with me." - Well, evidently you've never met me, because that's pretty much my exact philosophy - haven't you ever heard the old saying, "If you want God to laugh at you, tell him your plans." I consider myself a fool, when I realize the exceeding wisdom of the One who is able to shatter my most trusted beliefs - so far, not one atheist has been that "One."

    May 19, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Genesis 1 and 2 are FAKE. Wikileaks proved it! Get a real hobby.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      Thank you Jesus - isn't that supposed to be the whole point when you read two things as radically different as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 ?? Ooop - J/K - I know this is one of your puzzling sayings, like "Since you don't believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?" (what did Moses ever write?) Jesus Christ is Lord!

      May 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      And by the way Jesus, thank you for disagreeing with me! Guess God really can prove my point, huh? :p

      May 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Why do priests molest children? That should be the question.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      Yes, I think that is a far more important question than anything Silverman put forth - perhaps Silverman's theory could be applied in some cases where priests who really don't believe in God are doing the abuse, but I think there are also priests who are so screwed up in the head about their beliefs that they actually believe God wants them to do perverse things. While many have pointed to the idea that the prevalence of molesters in general society is higher than with priests, I also believe that priests need to act as standards of excellence in morality and ethics - not that Christianity is simply about morals or ethics - rather it is the danger of scandalizing society if priests do not act 'morally' - you don't wan people saying, "well I couldn't trust this guy, why should I trust the Church?" That, after all, isn't much different than, "Well, the guy that beat me up was from Blapshamagia, I guess all Blapshamagians must be thugs, huh?" Still, since we know that this is the reality of the way people's minds work - priests should always be on their best behavior so as to avoid scandalizing society, and thus pushing people away from the Church, not to mention the damage that such actions do directly to the victims.

      I do know that the vast majority of priests do not engage in such activities, so it would be better to say "some priests."

      I think the only solution is education - educating priests explicitly on the wrongs of such actions, having safety measures in place, etc. Will we ever really solve it before the world ends? I don't know. I hope so, but I know that since our mission as Christians is to transform a fallen world - to lift it up and offer it to God to be re-created into something better, that we may be sadly disappointed if we get our hopes up for solving it in our lifetime - it's not to say we shouldn't do anything about it - we must act to improve the state of the world, but to me that's the whole point, we don't "throw out the baby with the bathwater." Rather, we put clean water in the bath, so it can actually serve its purpose.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • wzrd1

      In the beginning, there was the Field. The Field, out of boredom, loneliness and idle nature and lacking purpose otherwise, considered the though of making a bubble that would later be called a universe or even creation. After much pondering, the Field declared, LET THERE BE LIGHT. And so, after time and expansion, it was calm enough to be called light. Energy was energy, matter coalesced from other less stable in low energy environmental sub wave functions, time began to slow for that matter. Outside of the brane, time was irrelevant, partially immersed, time was variable.
      After much expansion, fine guidance was applied upon the 3rd to 5th generation galaxies, life was guided, by a bit, so that intelligent life could occur. Over the millions of years, time slowed further, with the expansion of the universe, eventually a day was a thousand years and that seemed a good number to start with as an example.
      Regrettably, the relative nature of time was lost to the people who recently learned how to smelt bronze and thought it literal. A few guiding suggestions were offered by the Field, on general behavior, to attempt societal self-governance over their baser instincts. Those societies called those suggestions religions and killed one another over them, against the suggestion of the Field.
      The Field threw up it's manipulators in disgust and decided, let them advance or destroy themselves, if they survive, they'll be worthy to talk to my loneliness. Otherwise, let them experience Red Giant, then, if they STILL survive, experience heat death.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Jim

      @Believer in God AND Science, this proves that too much power are bound to corrupt, even the most religious. Priests, or bishops, or the Pope are not God. In fact it is my opinion that the Catholic Church is more like a business enterprise that uses religion as a product – but that's for another topic. But why should the shenanigans of man be used a proof that God does or does not exist?

      May 20, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  4. mm

    IF this guy is an atheist, what does he know about religion hurting people. Just because marriages fail does not mean that marriage is a bad thing. He is the one who is hurting from his past and need to get over it and stop sounding so hateful.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • wzrd1

      I do not understand. This is a religion blog, a religion being a system of faith, hence, atheism IS a religion, a religion of non-religion.
      HOW is he hurting anyone? Has he said you are something harmful, which the weak of mind WOULD be upset and hurt by, not realizing words are harmless?
      Is he espousing removal of your rights in this society? THAT would be harm.
      Is he espousing violence?
      Then, HOW are you harmed? By hearing the author's OPINION on the matter of religion? If so, you do not belong in this nation and society. WE are a people of law. A people of discussion. A people of adult behavior. A people of reason.
      So, either grow up and join the rest of us adults OR depart this nation forever, renouncing your citizenship first.
      I'll honestly and truly pay for your one way ticket away, under those conditions.
      Otherwise, grow up. Accept that there are opinions that disagree with yours. Just as I KNOW that people hold opinions that disagree with my own opinions.
      It is called being an adult.
      Of course, I have limited experience in being an adult, I'm only a half century old and have traveled all over this world.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Gary C

      Atheism is a religion like "off" is a TV channel, or "bald" is a hair color.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • wzrd1

      Gary, so, religion is a system of beliefs and atheism is a system of beliefs, but not as good, so doesn't count?
      Very well, get the hell out of this country. WE HAVE SECULAR LAW, NOT RELIGIOUS LAW. Want the latter, move to Saudi or Iran.
      Otherwise, leave the author alone as well as MY religious views.
      Unless you think that your God can protect you and your holy army. The Taliban thought that, they that I met were rapidly disabused of that mistaken notion.
      I honestly consider anyone that wishes to force their religion upon this nation an equal threat.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  5. Kiana

    Their wouldnt be athiest if there werent believers. God will come like a burgular at night. Does a burgular come to you and say "I will steal your Television tonight"? NO. The same way God will come.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Mindrunner

      God steals TVs?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • wzrd1

      Only in the night, apparently.
      Not that it'll be unexpected, the poster HAD to stick with the dishonorable thief. Yet ANOTHER fine example of where transliteration fails in a completely different culture!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  6. Daniel

    You said. "Let nobody doubt that religion hurts people.." And as a christian i want to say: " This is absolutely not true. Prove it.
    Satan is hurting peoples. Sin hurting peoples. And only Christ says. I will give you MY PEACE.
    Ok. I personaly belive Harrold Camping is not right. But we need to remember, that Jesus Christ is coming any way. Sooner or later. And all atheist and non believers will meet Him in person... This is what Bible teach us, not man or men.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Satan is a poor excuse for a comic book villain. 🙁

      May 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • K

      Ever heard of the Crusades? Just one example of the thousands ways religion has hurt people.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Jim

      See, this is how atheist come to their conclusions, by basing it on half-baked understanding of the world. The crusades, K, is about land and power. It is waged by Roman Catholic Europe against Muslims. Same as the inquisition. If you want to blame someone, blame the Roman Catholic Church – which by the way, is a fiefdom more than a "religion". You don't see Jesus Christ wearing grand robes living in a palace with Swiss guards, do you?

      May 19, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Anotheridiot

      Hey K
      Ever heard of genocide. An atheist named Hitler

      May 20, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  7. Joe Hobby

    You paint with a very broad brush. The extreme views of a narrow minority are hardly the view of most middle of the road Christians, of which I am one. After years of searching and study with a slant towards atheism, I changed. my viewpoint It finally dawned on me that Christianity and Intelligent Design is the most logical outcome for creation and humanity. It seems far more likely than a random group of outcomes that are almost too small to even calculate individually, much less collectively. What you have with Christianity is like anything else in this world – it has been perverted by man. Even if you are not a believer, it's hard not to believe that to strive to live as Jesus Christ taught would make this world a much better place.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Jim

      Love one another. What's there not to like? Most atheists are as intolerant as some of the religious people they profess to hate. It's called hypocrisy. Some atheist also argue that without religion there will be no wars. I can assure you that human nature will ensure that there are other things that will be fought over. Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler – these are as atheists as they come. And before people say Hitler was raised a Catholic and was an altar boy – the fact that you're "raised" as a Catholic, or Christian, or whatever, doesn't automatically make you so. Just like when someone say they are Christians doesn't really mean that they really are.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  8. Josh

    These people are out of their minds! Yes the bible give us lots of prophecies and signs that will precede the return of Jesus Christ, but there's no date whatsoever!!! Where did they get this date from?

    May 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  9. godlessismore

    Destroy religion, before religion destroys us all.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  10. onlyJesussaves

    Nobody knows when God will come. Point blank.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  11. Jesus Christ

    My children...I advise those who are waiting upon my arrival Saturday to NOT hold their breath! Like I said before, I will be attending a bachelor party for my buddy St. Patrick. We have drinks to throw back and dollar bills to throw forth. If you catch my drift....We WILL MAKE IT RAIN.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      That sounds way more fun - wish I could "imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold" as partakers in that rockin' party, if you catch my drift.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Jim

      Shallow dude, very shallow. Your poor attempt at humor in several posts now reflects a rather weak intellect.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      Thanks Jim - you're proving my point so well - I didn't claim to be smart or witty or funny - so I hope you'll not try to disprove God's existence to me, as it would put you in a compromising position to not be able to disprove the thinking of a fool...

      May 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Believer in God AND Science

      Ooops, maybe you were talking to Jesus and not me. Either way - don't be hater - be a lover. 🙂

      May 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Jim

      I was referring to the poster, not you. His posts are, how should I say, mocking, so he should be able to take as good as he gives, no? 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  12. Lee Bartholomew

    kinda sick to call religion a lie. Especially coming from the atheist religion. which is a lie too. And oi are they far worse any any of the bad Christians. I'm acceptant of all religion except some Atheists. And this is a bad example. They wish to ban religion even if they themselves are a religion. Just about as sick as the doomsayers.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  13. Steven Davis

    The author is trying to prove why he is correct. Ironic, huh? No one knows – everyone needs to settle down. Live and let live. The after-life answer will manifest after life. Until then, let everyone believe what they want. I find his authorship incredibly arrogant and intellectually lacking. But, the author has the right to believe what he wants, even if it is equally or monumentally more naive.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  14. Patricia

    This atheist does not speak for all atheists. He can only speak for himself. Why can't people own their own opinions instead of bringing an entire group of individuals into their argument to give it weight. It's the same as quoting scripture. Don't quote scripture, just say what you believe and own it. Opinions get ignored when the writer tries to prove what they're saying. Your opinion is fine and should stand alone. There is too much generalizing from believers and non-believers – speak for yourself and leave others out of it.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Read the disclaimer at the bottom of the article:

      "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Silverman."

      May 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  15. cc

    I'd have to say– as I'm an atheist– that this was a horrible essay. There is so much that is important to discuss about why faith exists and how it's used. This opinion piece doesn't put forth anything constructive or interesting on the topic. This person doesn't speak for me. I have a more empathetic opinion about religion and I think that faith is a constructive force that has a potential to drive us to do good things– things that contribute to humanity. I do believe that this powerful psychological force gets exploited in situations like this. But I don't condemn faith. It is built into us whether we are devout or atheist. How, then, do we keep ourselves from being exploited? That would be a more worthy approach to this essay. Not the garbage that this author wrote.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  16. skeptic2

    Oooh, I want to get in on the money action. How do I get in touch with a rich believer? I mean if the jerk says the world as he/she knows it will end on Saturday, then he/she should have no problem signing over all their cash to me since they won't need it and if they're correct, neither will I. OK you believers out there, give me your e-mail addresses ASAP and let's cut a deal. Yowza.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  17. Juan

    ***to the Muslim Nick? What do the Muslims believe about the end times? &(–only if you care to share-) -are they/you waiting for a messiah? –are their prophecies about him in the Koran?

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • wzrd1

      I read the Quran, though I'm not of that faith. The general idea is, God is coming to take over, after everyone screws things up.
      Big judgement day on a plain of judgement.
      No man or prophet shall stand by any man, the man must stand alone for his judgement...
      Need I go on further? It's a rerun, for all intents and purposes. Only the faithful shall survive to get into heaven with God.

      May 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  18. Ann

    "Religion is used by dishonest people who claim to know the way to the one thing humans want most: immortality."

    For such an intelligent person, isn't this a pretty big generalization?! Are all religious people dishonest?
    Some of us try to just be as good as we can be and realize we are not perfect. We are not all out to tell everyone our way is best, but to try and make the world a little better. Not to say that atheists aren't doing the same thing, but some of us Christians are pretty good folks. I hope you are open enough to give some of us a chance.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • bananaspy

      He said religion was used by dishonest people, as a tool, but he did not state that all religious people are dishonest, nor would any intelligent atheist make such a claim. We recognize that not everyone who is religious is bad, but that religion can drive a good person to do something bad if he or she believes the authority of that decision belongs to an infallible being.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Renae

      He said dishonest people use religion, not all religious people are dishonest. Basically people who are ALREADY dishonest USE religion (most often a very sick/twisted version of it) to harm people.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • SUD

      He isn't saying that all religious people are dishonest. He is saying that a few dishonest people are able to take advantage of some people by preying on their fears. In this case, some people have concerns about mortality and such, and some of those people are particularly spiritual/religious and some of those are particularly gullible because they are desperate to deal with their angst about mortality. The few dishonest people are able to take advantage of these people by preying on their fears and weaving fantastic stories to convince the gullible to believe and donate their money to a scam cause. None of that reflects badly on the average religious person, except perhaps to imply that you may be more susceptible to being tricked because of the internal desire to believe..in something.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Ann

      bananaspy, renae and SUD, thank you for your thoughtful responses. I hear what you are saying. I know there is a God like I know there is gray hair on my head (did I just admit I have gray hair?), but I also know God is good, kind, forgiving and has an awesome sense of humor. Would he have created us otherwise?!

      May 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  19. Brian - Nj

    finally an article that makes some real sense. Everyday you hear people use the word of God to influence an opinion from politics to economics to just about anything else. I think this author really makes some fantastic points but of course those who are so convinced there is a God do nothing but slander the author just like they slander anyone else who doesn't believe in what they believe in which to me is typical.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  20. Lee Oates

    Basicly I am not religious, though I was in my youth, even studing for the Catholic Priesthood in my 20's. It provided a much needed sense of belonging and comfort in a dysfunctional violent home. Eventually, with more knowledge and an improving life, I grew out of it. We must all grow up eventually or miss a great deal of life. We believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, at one time, but few would believe it above 7-8 years of age.

    May 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • wzrd1

      Lee, I literally DO personally know a man who wanted to become a monk, he was guided toward the priesthood.
      His former career was as an FBI counterterrorism agent, BEFORE 9/11. He was wounded three times in the line of duty.
      He then sought the church.
      So, the knife cuts both ways. ESPECIALLY if you consider the educational requirement to become an FBI agent.
      Nice guy, wanted to talk about specifics, but family kept getting into the middle of things, so we had zero private time to discuss things classified in the code that we all learned how to speak...

      May 19, 2011 at 11:51 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.