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.

Follow CNN’s Belief Blog on Twitter

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. TruthSquid

    Jesus, Dave... did you write this under pressure ("Hi, Mr Silverman. this is the CNN religion editor. If you can have a piece on the rapture to us in an hour, we'll print it.") or super tired or ??? I realize that unlike the religious leaders, you do not have millions to hire a staff of speechwriters but I suspect this is far from your best work. At least have a friend read it over next time.

    I hope this current rapture nonsense will help the thousands of seriously ill bipolar folks see they are being robbed and fed false anxieties and false hope of a cure by the televangelists. Also that once and for all, the general public will realize that the crystal cathedrals do not deserve the tax breaks and other freebees and free passes from corrupt, brainwashed, vote whure politicians that place such a burden on municipal infrastructures facing police and fire layoffs, not to mention struggling individual homeowners whether they buy into this insanity or not.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  2. YourSoul

    I dont know how all you Atheists sleep well at nigh knowing IF ... and thats a BIG IF ... Hell does exists .. you are headed straight to HELL. And IF and another BIG IF .. there is a GOD and Heaven .. all these religious people are headed that way. I can tell you that it does not effect me one bit to believe that if and when I die .. I sure hope there is a Heaven because I am headed straight for it ...

    Good Nite..,... hope your right Atheists and hope they sell sun tan lotion after death for your sake.
    Cheers Mate

    May 20, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Pete

      See? Just atrocious writing skills. They never seem to pay attention in school. Maybe that's why they keep making up answers...

      May 20, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • TruthSquid

      I guess we'll find out by this Monday... d-head.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Pete

      I don't pray because... well, when I want something done, I do it.

      However, I do "pray" for you that you wake up on Sunday and think to yourself, "Wow, this really is all a lie. I'm gonna go outside and enjoy nature, wave to my neighbors, and maybe find some information on how I can help people around the world who have it worse than I do."

      May 20, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • Relictus

      If there is a God, I accept that He has forsaken me. I am one of the Damned – not just when I die, but right here, right now. Because God's love is denied to me in this life, and I have no hope of better in the Afterlife, I do not fear my damnation. I am not eager to die, but as God's unwilling enemy I will forsake him even from the depths of Hell. Those of you who are religious, I would have known God's love through you all. Through all of you, I recognize my fate. Unto that fate I am delivered. Service for service. As your God has judged, so has He been judged in return. Amen.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  3. Pete

    I love how religious people always have awful spelling, capitalization, and grammar when these sorts of topics are open for comment.

    -A literate human/atheist

    May 20, 2011 at 2:24 am |
    • EdPaul

      Condescending a bit? Ass.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • TruthSquid

      He was just speaking the gods' honest truth... or do you dispute that throughout history the poorest and least educated have been the most fervent believers in the pap handed them by the church aristocracy? Tell you what – pay your gdmnd property taxes and fire/EMT assessments on that crystal cathedral social club of yours and I'll never bytche at you again.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • Kara

      I thought I was the only one that noticed!

      May 20, 2011 at 2:43 am |
    • Relictus

      Exactly right. The biggest problem of religious people is their tendency for magical thinking. Education and critical thinking skills make a lot of Atheists. Go figure 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • YourSoul

      I cant spell for crap ... I dont have a degree ... I really dont like people ... but I will tell you the truth and no sense lying to make a sin ... I do make $250k per yr... not bad for an un-edumacated person no?

      So before you try and make yourself seem better than other people and look down upon the undergrads.. remember there is someone always better .. your proper english maybe better than mine but my take home is better that yours....
      Cheers Mate

      May 20, 2011 at 2:53 am |
    • Cherish Marie

      Wow, I know there has been a lot of name calling and rude comments, as can be expected in a religious debate. But throwing out how much money you make in a year? Thats in bad taste. Your Soul, no one cares about money so there is no point in mentioning. Usually it is the case that money is inconsequential to some groups in comparison to the mind, and well you are currently talking to a bunch of people that makes up a bit of that entire group.

      I don't care how much money you make; condecension is irritating.

      May 20, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • TruthSquid

      I think it's pretty clear now that YourSoul is in the religion biz... minister at a small church most likely because if s/he was a televangelist the rake would be in the millions ...

      May 20, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  4. Mark

    Your argument can be summed up as "I don't understand how the world works", therefore a god must have created it. Who's God's daddy, if complexity requires a creator, as you claim? You find yourself in an infinite loop when you seriously consider the question. The evolution of life on planet earth, on the other hand, starts from very simple beginnings, with complexity increasing with time. There's no need for a creator in this case, which avoids the infinite loop.

    into an infinite loop by seriously considering that question.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Seemstyle

      You are in an infinite loop anyway, you die and the next generation is born to reconsider all the things you have already considered and argue all the points you have already argued. You cannot create, only claim what already is and present your best argument as fact instead of being realistic about the flaws in it. That is fine, continue your path and I will continue mine for the benefit of those to come after me.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Mark

      Seemstyle, your comment is nonsense. We've learned a lot since the time the bible was written, some 2000 years ago. Many of the things attributed to deities in the past, have been explained by science, such as how disease spreads for instance. The evolution of life with short reproductive cycles, can be observed in real time, and used to explains how bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics. Christians confirm that they think science works better than prayer, every time they visit a hospital for treatment of an aliment.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Will

      Heck, guys, give 'em some credit. At least they don't believe in a whole peck of Gods, nor druids, sprites, talking bunnies, etc. We're making progress with them, just not a lot recently. Besides, religion is ingrained in societal processes. It's not just some dude in the sky who knows everything, can do anything, but lets children die anyway. He's a model of moral responsibility. I mean, not the letting kids die part....

      May 20, 2011 at 3:13 am |
  5. Jeff

    This is not so much an opinion as it is a prejudice. From the content of the statement it is obvious that the author has only a superficial understanding of the tenants of any religion, especially Christianity. There is more to what the broad swath of religious faith has to say than what can be summed up in the media. I would refer the author to more complex and subtle writers like Thomas Merton than to worrying about fringe groups that make the headlines and distort what the term religion encompasses.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Mark

      According to a recent survey by the Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life, atheists and agnostics knew more about religion than members of most faiths. Why? Because they tend to be better educated in general. A survey of the members of the National Academy of Sciences in 1998, who are among the top scientists in the world, found that only 7% profess a belief in a god.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Will

      Does it take an understanding of Fairy lore to deem it inane?

      May 20, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  6. Seemstyle

    Theories are still theories and claiming to have created something you discovered is arrogant. Math, science and the foundation of consciousness all discovered and none completely understood or explained. I believe in discovery, but how about creating one new thing... anyone? Why is it so hard to make something out of nothing? When a scientist can do that instead of just moving things around that are already there I will give them more credence and when they quit proclaiming hypothesis as theory and theory as law I will give them more regard. Explore, discover, but stop pretending you are the ones that have unveiled reality. Can anyone here tell me where just one of your thoughts comes from, your own consciousness, how did that come into being? Anyone who thinks that religion is the most destructive force in the world should brush up on their history, the largest number of atrocities have always been done by men that have no belief other than the benefit they can gain in their own lifetime.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Kara

      Most atrocities have been commited/carried out in the name of religion! What are you talking about?

      May 20, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • Cherish Marie

      Well scientifically I can explain why you are thinking right now, but I'm sure that that is not what you are looking for. If you want a muddled theory as to why you are a concious being might I suggest the " Hard problem of Conciousness" by Nagel? Its philosophy, so it should be as abstract as would like it to be; it is philosophy afterall.

      Theories are not taking something a scientist fancies to make true. One does not say " I think I want the square root of a watermelon to equal pi" and then divise a way to make that fact. If one actually discovers anti matter, then the scientist did not CREATE antimatter, they discovered it. And they will try to explain it.

      Science is the qunatifiable and empirical explanation of the natural world, quit abusing it people. Science and religion do not mix. Atheists find it reasonable that there is no god, that does not make science our religion. Science and religion explain differnt phenomenon where one is observable and the other mysterious element is subjective an abstract.


      May 20, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Relictus

      True arrogance is the sophistry of the religious. Science humbly brings us honest results like a vaccination for polio and antibiotics. Religion makes bonfires of reasonable men.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • OneAtheistUnderGod


      You nailed it!! argument over, U said it how it is and theres facts and/or common sense to prove it

      May 20, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  7. Faiyyaz

    Surely, 21st May will not be a doomsday, and the sign of dooms days are yet to emerge.

    ***To Atheists:- How do you say there is no God? How can you deny the whole universe is working perfectly without being controlled by somebody? If you say there is no God, then can do avoid your natural death or can you do anything or everything as you desire? NEVER !!! There are very few things given in control to Humans.

    Who is the Creator of People and Plants?

    To those arrogant people who deny the existence of God, Allah questions them about His creatures. Who is the creator of sperm and plant? People or God the All Wise Creator?

    “Have ye seen that which ye emit?
    Do ye create it or are We the creator?” [Quran 56:58-59]

    “Have ye seen that which ye cultivate?
    Is it ye who foster it, or are We the Fosterer?” [Quran 56:63-64]
    “Was it ye who made the tree thereof to grow, or were We the grower?” [Quran 56:72]

    Can Men Create a Fly?

    In another verse, Allah challenges others to create a fly if they could do it. Men may be could make robots from things that created by Allah. Yet, none could make a fly from nothing nor thing that could reproduce except Allah:

    “…Lo! Those on whom ye call beside Allah will never create a fly though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly took something from them, they could not rescue it from him. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought!” [Quran 22:73]

    There are many other Quran verses that describe the existence of God and God is the All Wise Creator.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • answer

      A hundred years ago we were looking at the moon as a god fatma.......now we can fit that moon in a potato chip. 100 more years and we will have an army of flys...
      your argument is invalid....nice try

      May 20, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • david55

      How can you claim the universe is working perfectly. have you looked at the news?

      what will you say in 50 years when science can create a fly?

      May 20, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Pete

      Every time a religious person quotes their text, they make themselves seem more ignorant.

      Just because it was written in a book a long time ago does not mean it is real.

      Also, just because you don't understand the world does not mean you should make things up about it.

      Man made God.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Al

      It is not Allah. It was the Hopi Spider God. She is the creator of all mankind. 🙂

      May 20, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • OneAtheistUnderGod

      Can U fly?? Seriously, U ask that question?? Obviously cause your religion flew U into buildings. Now

      U want to.sit here and praise it? Religion is the root to all evil, Religion starts war, Religion kills people and

      your Religion tops that list. All Gods are fake, made up for the purpose of controlling one's mind and

      apparently its still working cause idiots like U still love your fairytales. I'll just leave it at this, that once it's all

      said and done I can guarantee there aint 72 virgins waiting for U!!

      May 20, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • Will

      So, I never understood. I mean, what if you're an old dude? Do you still get virgins? Are they old virgins? Are THEY in hell? Or are they somehow brainwashed that the crazy polygamist dude they are with is SUPER. Beides, that's a lot of virgins for God to knock off. I mean, do the math. 72 virgins times each crazy dude. There are a LOT of crazy dudes. Say for arguments sake there are 1,000 virgin-deserving crazies, not to mention the almost-virgin-deserving crazy dudes (If I were running the show, I'd give those guys 36 virgins). That's 72,000 virgins, assuming a stingy God. Sheesh. A lot of those guys hate Americans, so it's probably not any of OUR dead virgins. And what happens if God runs out of virgins? Maybe He has a stockpile somewhere? Besides, what if the crazy dude isn't into virgins? Maybe I'm weird, but that's not MY thing. Do they STAY virgins? Ooo, maybe he can re-virginate them. That'd be kinda cheap, though – "Oh no, she's a virgin, all right." "Not to question you or anything, Lord, but she doesn't SEEM that virginal...." "No, no, I have the papers right here: Certified Virgin, it says."

      May 20, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  8. answer

    The question that kills the argument every time is............................................

    Who created god??? Or was it a really just some cosmic soup of right materials? I have this pond in back yard that has some real funky stuff growing in it, some of which might be new life. huh

    religion is a tool used and used again even after us need it now Americans forget in sec.............................................

    May 20, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Sawyer

      Here's a thought – no one or nothing created God. You seem to ask that question inferring that God exists in some tangible, measurable or visible way. What if God isn't tangible? What if God is simply intelligence? Let me ask you a question – how does a fertilized cell produce or create intelligence? Back up for a second and ask the question on a much greater scale. How does intelligence exist in the universe? That's a question you need to think about.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • answer

      Well the last time I was in 5th grade science class I am pretty sure Mrs Crabitze said that it reproduces a copy of itself that inherits the "what" (if you will) was learned from previous copy...........? but that was 5th grade sooooo long ago.....

      invalid try again..

      May 20, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • Q

      @Sawyer – Can you please define "intelligence"?

      May 20, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  9. OneAtheistUnderGod

    Jesus is Santa Claus for grown ups.

    Religion= Nothing more then Grown men fighting and killing eachother over whos imaginary friend is better

    Science flies you to the moon, Religion flies you into buildings

    Im not a slave to a god that doesnt exist

    May 20, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • GMB

      Amen! (so to speak)....

      May 20, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  10. Brian

    Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. That is it. It does not provide for me anything other than seeing others as humans that must be responsible to and for themselves and one another, and not imaginary beings and books written 3000 years ago by uneducated desert nomads. It also does not constrain me from having an open mind about science, history and other people, like the belief in god does. God, just like leprechauns, have not been proven to exist, therefore I have no reason to believe in them.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  11. Leewei

    While I'm all for bashing fringe nut cases, I will say that, as an atheist, I think there is a bigger issue than the evils of religion. This would be the evils of hubris and intolerance. We shouldn't forget the lessons of countless 'holy' wars fought in the name of a god, but by the same token, we should also learn from modern pogroms executed by atheist movements such as those led by Mao Zedong and Josef Stalin.

    While I do not practice religion, I appreciate the good I see being done by several principled foundations and churches. Evangelical-originated movements such as the Salvation Army and Homes Within Reach have a very profound and positive impact in our culture.

    By all means, call out the slimebags who prey on people who think with their hearts instead of their prefrontal lobes. Afford these people the dignity and respect they merit by allowing them to practice their beliefs. Atheism is at its best when focused on humanistic ends rather than on being an anti-religion.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Pete

      From one atheist to another- I agree.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • JanaThePiranha

      I wish I could agree with you. I used to, and I know it "feels right" intuitively- but I don't. Let me make my case.

      Follow it out to its logical conclusion. What we are dealing with now is religious legislation, not personal religious belief. And it's getting louder. And it's moved boldly into our schools and military. Have you been sleeping?

      Nobody cares what their fellow man believes in the privacy of his own head, but our very REAL civil rights are vanishing- because we don't acknowledge goblins and monsters! If you don't care about that, you'd rather be "nice", then how do you feel about civil war? Personally, I'd rather fight a battle of words. Egos heal easier than bones. Honestly, it only feels otherwise.

      May 20, 2011 at 4:24 am |
    • Leewei

      @JanaThePiranha: Which actions and pieces of legislation have you concerned? Which rights have been taken away? Anti-gay marriage legislation fits the bill, however I know of several churches in my area who actively oppose this legislation. The idea of approaching something looking for tolerance and moderation rather than exclusive correctness seems far more productive.

      May 20, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  12. 11Bravo

    This man has some nerve to call all religions a lie. Just because he doesn't believe in it himself, he like most Atheists will take potshots and ridicule all religious people. One could just as easily theorize Atheists as being a threat to humanity as well. Wouldn't one agree that the Ten Commandments would promote society as a whole? Can anyone find anything evil within them? Then why oppose them? The fact that Atheists, Satanists, Pagans and Evolutionists all seem united against Christianity is proof in itself that there is indeed a God and there are forces of evil working against God, Christ and Christianity. There are of course Christians who beg to differ with May 21 as being doomsday. It may however, be a Biblical landmark in some respects.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Veritas

      Satanists would be those who believe in the bible, and thus are christians more than atheists, right? Evolutionists would be another name for biologists/scientists?

      May 20, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Al

      I don't know how the ten commandments "promotes society as a whole". For instance, I don't think that it really matters much if you find your neighbor's wife to be attractive or if you take god's name in vain or if you work on Sunday or if you don't honor your mom and dad...

      May 20, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Jason

      First, which ten commandments are you talking about, Protestant, Catholic, Hebrew?

      And do you believe in the traditional forms of punishment for anybody who breaks these commandments?

      May 20, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • SOS

      "The fact that Atheists, Satanists, Pagans and Evolutionists all seem united against Christianity is proof in itself that there is indeed a God and there are forces of evil working against God, Christ and Christianity."

      That is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in weeks, thank you. So what you're saying is that something "seems united" and is therefore proof? Do you understand the concept of scientific deduction or basic establishment of fact? "Seems" and "Proof" are mutually exclusive.

      And that's just a start...what you're saying is the virtual equal of the following statement: The fact that people who don't believe in ghosts are united against people who are is proof that there are ghosts.

      No, what it proves is that more than one group of people see you as certifiably, yet functionally, insane.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • david55

      evolutionist is a term the fundamentalist christians came up with to suggest those who believe in evolution arent mainstream scientists. In fact there are tens of thousands of peer reviewed articles, books, journals, studies, etc. all supporting evolution, while there is not a single valid study ever done that in any way supports intelligent design, which is merely the latest rebranding of biblical creationism. I believe life emerged and evolved in the way that the fossil record, dna, and the many many many studies suggests. The bible says God made a flat earth with all species in 7 days, and this all happened 6000 years ago. Science has been eroding the bibles claims for the past 2000 years, apparently we need a few thousand more for you guys to figure out jesus isnt coming back because he never was the son of God in the first place. maybe a few thousand later your descendents might be ready to give up on the idea of God altogether, though i wouldnt bet on it.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Pete

      "This man has some nerve to call all religions a lie."

      And religious people have some nerve in constantly insisting that religion is truth.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Patrick

      "Like most atheists"?

      I'm sorry, but have you met and spoken to "most atheists" or just the ones who post aggressive comments on message boards? I don't presume to know what "most" Christians do and think, so don't trivialize my beliefs (yes, belief in the strength of humankind alone is still a belief) with your sweeping generalizations.

      Notice how I'm getting a point across without openly insulting a religion? It is possible!

      May 20, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Jen

      That would make Satanist the complete opposite of Christians. If you follow Christ you are following love. If you follow Satan you are following hate. That's according to the the Bible you speak of. Not all Scientist and Biologist believe in Evolution so that is also false.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  13. Pete

    "One thing that science can not do is give an ACCURATE account of our origin."

    Not yet maybe.

    But religion most certainly cannot and will not.

    People are too obsessed with how we got here. The fact is; we are here. There is no certainty of where we came from or where we will end up but what is certain is that we are here right now. Appreciate the people and the world around you and learn as much as you can; respect different cultures and ways of life and you will truly live happily and content.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Corbijn

      I don't know. An old codger on a throne clicking his fingers and making humans just so that he can have something worship him seem perfectly solid to me. Don't forget all the stipulations on his conditional love too, makes perfect sense.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Pete


      Not sure why you replied to me. I'm atheist and my entire post was pretty blatant about that...

      May 20, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  14. Spencer Harrell

    All I have to say is that I disagree with most of what you said, particularly the part where you said that religion is based on fear. I would submit that it's not based on fear. I'm not afraid of death. Even if I didn't believe in a divine being or an afterlife, I still wouldn't fear death. Religion, in my opinion, is based on hope. Hope that there is some greater force guiding our overall insignificant lives. Hope that we have more to look forward to than eighty something years of mostly unhappiness spent here on Earth. Many of the atheists that I've met have echoed the same words: "Do you honestly think that someone created all of this?" To them, I would pose this challenge. Spend a day out in nature, and then ask yourself this: Do you honestly think this is all just an accident?

    May 20, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Jason

      Very well put. Thanks for your insights. Myself along with MILLIONS of others have shared, share, or will share exactly what you have stated here. We are destined for so much more than just this life, as great as it is. Some might not believe in God, but He still believes in them. Many people have given everything they possibly could because of their faith and hope and they did not fear but they had felt that which is most powerful. God is all powerful and almighty and His son is the Savior of all, whether they know it or not.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Halkes

      In my opinion, to adhere to a religion through hope seems closer to agnosticism. Of course, that's just my own definition of faith. If you hope there's a God, there's enough doubt to reasonably allow that there isn't a God, and I think that's what agnosticism is all about. The difference is really whether or not one embraces that doubt. Just my two cents...

      May 20, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Observer

      "Do you honestly think that someone created all of this?"

      Do you honestly think that NOTHING created God?

      May 20, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Jay

      What you call hope I see as little more than wishful thinking. There can be no serious argument that religion does not and has not exploited fear for millenia. And yes, I can look around me and not have to only conclude that everything was designed with purpose, though I wouldn't call it an accident, it just is – because the illusion does not fool me.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Pete

      Religious people are never happy with the world that "God" gave them.

      Atheists are happy just to be here and show it by being good to others.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  15. Scott

    A round of drinks on me for everybody on the 22nd to celebrate the crazies leaving us.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Al

      LOL. I explained this point today too. My GF called me and asked me if I had heard. I told her yes. She expressed disappointment that she is out of town and won't be back till next week so we'll never see each other again. I pointed out that it does not work that way. Instead, all the christians leave and we get the world to ourselves. I told her that this is fantastic news and that she really needs to wish all her chrisitan friends well as they go on their ways...

      May 20, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Mark

      AI: According to Christian theology, those who claim May 21, 2011 is Judgement Day, believe that Atheists will be tortured starting then for five months on earth, and then will be taken to hell for eternal torture, on October 21, 2011. Those "nice" Christians, worship a god, they claim will torture anyone who doesn't join their club, forever.

      Reminds me of this bumper sticker: Worship me or I will torture you forever. Have a nice day, God

      May 20, 2011 at 3:31 am |
  16. Halkes

    Hey guys, I'm just wondering if I'm alone on this one....

    When a God forces you to love him under threat of eternal hellfire, does that not immediately and instinctively make you want to love him less?

    May 20, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Pete

      Hmmm, yeah. That always turned me off to religion. That and the whole "making answers up when you don't want to take the time to learn the truth" thing.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Chris

      Not only that, but I'll take it one step further. According to the the morals attributed to God in the Bible, WE ARE ALL MORE MORAL THAN GOD. Who among us would eternally damn our own flesh and blood just becuase they chose not to listen and adhere to everything we say. Or do everything we tell them. If you would not eternally damn your child for this, than you are more loving, kind, patient, understanding, and moral than GOD. So I would argue, even if the Bible is right, and is a true reflection of God, I still wouldn't give God my allegiance or worship.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  17. Stomach

    Religion keeps the poor from killing the rich.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Kara

      Wow!!! Couldn't have put it better myself, exactly what I have always been thinking. Religion is a way to control the poor, uneducated and gullible masses.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • david55

      thats why the roman empire decided to force conversion to christianity. Render to caesar that which is caesars. Poverty and suffering are marks of honor and glory, just wait until you die and you'll benefit from your awful life. Certainly dont try to make your life better, that would be selfish and ungodly.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  18. Free Thinker Seeking Reason

    Wow!! FANTASTIC article from Mr. Silverman!! Extremely well written and very much welcomed.

    Thanks also to CNN for finally allowing voices of reason to speak their mind here on the Belief Blog. We need many, many, many more positive articles like this. Perhaps someday man will at last throw off the shackles of religion in exchange for rational thought that relies on science to best explain natural phenomena. Our evolved secular values provide compassion for others and for the humble planet upon which we live, moral and ethical leadership without any supernatural invocation, and deeper curiosity for the universe at large.

    Our species is capable of so much more if we could just outgrow the insanity of supersti-tion.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  19. Liberated

    yeah pretty swarmy. Let's be honest, Camping is an easy target for people like you to take cheep shots at... way to ignore the foundation of western concepts of ethics and morality, justice, self sacrifice, and 2000 years of self sacrifice for the benefit of others on a global scale. "Love your enemy".... i love guys like you because you make it a challenge to live up to my Savior's mandate to love you.

    side note... ever think scientifically enough to realize that in the completely naturalistic world view that atheists espouse, there is absolutely no room for the concept of free will?... I never understood why atheists get so mad at religious people... they have no choice but to be that was from your perspective... then again, I guess you have no choice but to be hateful towards us.

    Think about it.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • Liberated

      to put it into practice, David i just wrote you in my book on my prayer list for the rest of the month. I hope that God blesses you and your family and is close to you in a way you've never imagined before.

      Philippians 2:9-11

      May 20, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Jason

      First, lets look at your argument from the bottom up. Noting that atheist somehow don't believe in free will is dishonest. Having a finite amount of experiences, genetic difference, and just plain innate IQ, gives each person a unique outlook on life. And seeing how that works with chaos theory, its quite easy to see that free will is innate in nature. Now, believing that the world is going to end, and Armageddon is upon us, and there are those who will be raptured and those that will not. And for all of them, not really having a choice in the matter, seems like a kick in the nuts to free will to me.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Pete

      Atheists are not being "hateful" toward religious folks. They want more people to realize that religion can be dangerous and it is not truthful.

      Also, there are many, many sacred texts. Many of which have very useful and wise things in them. You should study the Quran and the Vedas and the Analects before truly believing that the Bible is "the word of God".

      These books were all written by man and have value but they are old and outdated and they claim supernatural stories that should not be taken seriously.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • stan

      religion isnt the foundation for 'western' concepts like morality and self sacrifice. religion adopted what was good in society at the time and made it into the law. thats all.

      it's not that athiests think there is no room for free will, thus religion. athiests think religious are gullible and fooling themselves and the world would be much better off if the time energy and effort wasted on religion was directed elsewhere.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Pete

      Instead of writing in a book of prayers, why not stop being so closed off and get to know people and understand the way they think?

      May 20, 2011 at 2:14 am |
    • Observer


      "Love your enemy"....

      Now that's where the HATRED is. You view atheists and agnostics as ENEMIES. Pretty strong words for people that don't HATE you. Nonbelievers just want you to stay out of their business and respect other people's rights. In other words, actually practice the Golden Rule instead of just preaching it.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  20. LookandSEE

    One thing that science can not do is give an ACCURATE account of our origin.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • stan

      today it might not be able to, but science works towards that goal every day. thats something religion will NEVER do.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Mr Mark

      And religion can give us an accurate account of our origin?

      Give me a break.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • BK

      Then it has something in common with religion then, doesn't it.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Cherish Marie

      Well science is pretty close, if one will give them the leeway of not yet knowing the small extraneous details. But models and genetic mapping, as well as fossil evidence and so much more scientific data, it is safe to say that hominids first appeared on the earth about 2.5 million years ago. It is safe to say that science has pinpointed a round about point of our ancestors origin. Through divergence and adaptive radiation, as well as a whole bunch of other mechanisms I can explain for ya, we eventually arose. About 10,000 (give or take a 5% error)years ago if you would like some numbers.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Gio

      It's not that it can't, just that it hasn't yet. It's coming...eventually.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • True

      At least science comes up with theories and immediately asks all scientists to challenge it. In contrast religion gives you the most unreasonable explanation of how the world and life came about, and says that you can't question it. It's amazing that all those who blindly believe in the books (Bible, Quran, ...) enjoy all the benefits of science in their lives, but discount it as soon as it comes to explaining the origins of life. Is science absolutely accurate about the origins of life? Most likely not, but scientists have no problem with the theory being challenged and a better theory being proposed. How about the gravitational theory when it came out first? It explains why earth goes around the sun an doesn't fall into it, or why the moon goes around the earth and doesn't crash into it. I guess that must be incorrect too. I guess the earth must be flat. Or, it's really the sun that goes around the earth........... Having said all that, I still prefer the masses to believe in God and be afraid of it. Why, you ask? See what they do now even as they practice their religion and believe in a supreme being. Can you imagine what they would do if they realized that there is no God? Just let them play and be happy....... as long as they keep it to themselves and do not affect my life.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Q

      Excellent replies...

      May 20, 2011 at 2:45 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
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.