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Atheists challenge ‘Heaven’ on New York City street sign
July 6th, 2011
04:47 PM ET

Atheists challenge ‘Heaven’ on New York City street sign

By Samantha Stamler, CNN

New York (CNN) - A new street sign that reads “Seven in Heaven Way,” and that was recently unveiled in Brooklyn, New York, to commemorate seven local firefighters who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 attacks has drawn the ire of some atheists, who say they’re prepared to go to court to have the sign taken down.

New York City Atheists, a group that opposes the public use of religious references, is challenging the new sign, which was erected in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

“We’re supposed to be a secular nation - there really should not be any religious symbolism or signage in public places,” said Kenneth Bronstein, President of New York City Atheists. “We feel that any and all people who died in 9-11 should be remembered and honored. That’s not the problem.”

Bronstein calls the sign a violation of the separation of church and state, arguing that the word “heaven” is a clear reference to Christianity.

Bronstein has contacted the city with his complaint and has proposed an alternative street name: “We Remember the 7-911.”

Groups dedicated to honoring 9/11 victims did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Bronstein’s campaign.

But some New Yorkers told CNN New York affiliate WPIX that they disagree with the New York City Atheists.

"That's nonsense,” said Anbriena Insausti, who lives in Manhattan. “The families should honor their loved ones anyway they want."

Bronstein says the group is prepared to sue the city over the sign and what it says are other unconstitutional government endorsements of religion.

“This is not a matter of faltering patriotism or public ignorance, but rather an effort to promote secularism,” he said. “We want [the sign] to be neutral. Anyone can believe whatever they want to believe.”

“We’ll die for the right to believe,” he continued. “Just don’t shove it down our throat.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • New York

soundoff (3,096 Responses)
  1. Flora

    Okay, now they're just being d i x about it. We get it, you're atheists, you don't like God, everybody's dumber than you. But seriously, seven good men are dead and this is the way that their families & community decided to honor them. Unless you are a relative or close friend, you have NO right to say anything. Unless you knew for a fact that the deceased wouldn't want to be honored this way, you have NO right to say anything.

    Whether it came from a religious group or these d – bags, lodging a complaint over a memorial because the word Heaven makes you 'uncomfortable' is the height of disrespect and @ $ $ holishness. These athesits groups are honestly getting to be almost as bad as the Westboro cult.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • momomiester

      Being they are atheist then I am sure they won't mind if some of the firefighter's familys club them to death with the sign. I mean after all, if there is not God, then outside of the law, there should be no re-morse. This is really stupid. They should just leave it alone. It is a freaking sign.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Now that's just not fair. If it's a public memorial, then strangers do get a say. How would you feel if an important, good atheist died, and their memorial was "God doesn't exist, and all of you are just deluded fools. When you die, you'll rot in the ground just like me!!! Bwah hahaha!!" Wouldn't YOU feel angry, and want to complain?

      As for westboro, that's nuts. Lodging a complaint against the religious use of tax dollars is really not in the same ballpark as picketing a funeral. Most of the atheists here are saying that we don't care (myself included). And, the ones who cared wouldn't care, if it were paid for with private funds, instead of tax dollars.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Cathy W: Excellent point. But more importantly, what would all of our god-fearing Christians say if their taxes went to pay for your excellent sign? They would freak out.

      July 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  2. MrHanson

    Imagin that. Atheists trying to spread their religion of a purposeless universe on everyone, again.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Reference please

      July 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • john

      there are factions of athiest, as in any religion. Most just dont care about any of this and live their lives, and the rest are gathering in forces to shut down re-runs of '7th heaven'

      July 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  3. John C

    It shows just how many of these people really are dirtbags.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Dude! If you want to take a look at dirtbags, look at the religious demographics of prisons. Atheists are WAY underrepresented.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Mink

      That's because before they commited their crime they were atheist, in prison they remorse and find God.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Ah yes... the old "if they aren't MY kind of Christian, then they aren't really Christian argument".

      July 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  4. Tg in SD

    I think naming a street after them is a slap in the face. These brave folk died helping others. Put up a real monument that memorializes their deeds and puts a human face on bravery and nobility of spirit, not a street sign that espouses some pie-in-the-sky religious tripe about them "being in a better place".

    July 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Unbeliever

      I am tired of the religious people in this country constantly putting their religious beliefs on display in public places and then telling anyone who points out that it's wrong for the government to advocate a religion is the one's "shoving it in their face." How? The religious have gotten so touchy with this so-called "culture war." Why is it that everything has to reference Jesus or God and if it doesn't, it's obviously oppressing them? You want to pray in school or recite the pledge with "under god" in it? Go ahead, just don't force my kids to do it. You want to read your book of fairy tales? Again, no one is stopping you, just don't try to recruit my kids. By the way, I know that their have been instances where kids have been told they can't have a bible or pray to themselves and that is very wrong to me. I do believe in religious freedom. I also believe that in order to keep religious freedom, we have to keep the government free from religion.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      You're right, maybe we could name an Agnostics Barbecue Pit after them? ding-o

      July 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  5. howie

    Dear atheists and agnostics, I will always and forever defend your right to be wrong. In GOD we trust.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Sara

      In Zeus, I mean Buddha, I mean Allah, we trust! All hail Santa Claus!

      July 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Gordon

      The day you can PROVE to me that there is a god, I will believe in him/her. Not once in human history has anyone proven that their god exists. The bible that so many quote is nothing more than a compilation of stories that are full of contradictions. The original bible, translated from Old Hebrew, is not even close to being a true translation. So, what you believe is what you believe, but belief does not make something fact.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • kevin

      as I will you, my friend. Just lets not make the government have any affiliation to any non-secular beliefs 😛 But some religious creations, like some awesome stories and some eye-dropping architecture, are pretty cool 😛

      July 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Gordon

      Are you the first, who doesn't know that God once visited the earth and did a lot of miracles. For example he made wine out of water.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Sybaris

      "he made wine out of water"

      There is no proof of that alleged event

      July 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Gordon

      Thank you for proving my point. No 'god' visited and no water was changed to wine. There was no flood that covered the earth. These are some of the many myths in the bible, which was written to support the views of churches and kings in the olden days. That is where there power originated from, but to believe what you read in that bible is foolishness, or ignorance. Here is something for you to think about, but I don't expect that it will change your beliefs, nor is it my intention to attempt to do so. If there was a god, it is this god that is killing, for example, millions of children in Africa and other countries. People who have a baby that survived a plague or event where thousands died, will say that god saved my baby. Using that argument, okay, god saved your baby, which means that this same god killed all the others. You can't have it both ways. And the age old argument that god moves in mysterious ways is just another way of admitting that you are wrong.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Sybaris

      Jesus' disciples attended the wedding together with him, where he made the wine. They wrote down parts of the New Testament, among others the report of the wedding in Kana. Do you guess, they were all liers???

      July 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Rainer Braendlein

    Sometimes it looks like the atheists would think, faith would be necessary to accept the existence of any creator. That is wrong. The sane reason or commen sense is enough to realize God's existence. The creation is the proof for a creator. Thus, atheists are outlandish people. They don't follow their reason. Why? Probably it is a matter of the will. Atheists have a concept, in which God doesn't fit in. God would disturb the "belief system" of the atheists, hence they deny him. China imprisons opponents, and makes them not existing in a way. Atheists do the same with God. They imprison him in their jail of disbelief.

    Solely by faith we can grasp that Jesus Christ is The Creator. That is beyond reason.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Eric D

      No thanks

      July 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Gordon

      Quote "The sane reason or commen sense is enough to realize God's existence. The creation is the proof for a creator." end quote. Your argument is specious at best. Reason or common sense is not proof, nor is creation. If any 'believer' took the trouble to actually read their bible, they would find it loaded with inconsistencies. But 'believers' do not want to read anything that does not support their entrenched beliefs. You believe because you want to believe, but that doesn't make it true. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; show me PROOF that your god exists, and I'll believe. But don't tell me that because we exist, there must be a god. PROOF is indisputable facts, and does not include hypothesis in any form.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Lucy

      And who created your creator?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Sara

      And the Earth is 6000 years old. And Adam and Eve are real and procreated with their kids (yuck, incest). And the Big Bang never happened.

      Wow...I would love to do a study on the average IQ of the atheists vs. the non.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Gordon

      Beside the creation the miracles, Jesus did, are an evidence for God's existence (now you may claim, the Bible would be a lousy job, but take in account that the Bible was confirmed by a lot of witnesses, not solely by a single man. Furthermore there is no ancient scripture, better survived than the Bible).

      By his miracles Jesus proved that he was God's Son or God himself. What do you want more?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Sara

      Rainer are you for real? What miracles? People also claimed that lightning and thunder were produced by Gods! Many believed that for thousands of years!

      We know, for a fact, that most of the bible is just flat out wrong. There are numerous religions around the world...which is right? They have all been put forth by people trying to explain the world around them before they knew, for instance, that lightning is just an electric breakdown or that thunder is the sound of that breakdown.

      It's just all based in ignorance.

      Travel around the world a bit and you'll get a different perspective of your religions.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Rainer is a dork.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Sara

      Christianity is historical. Jesus was mentioned by non-biblical chroniclers like Tacitus and Flavius Josephus. Even the Jewish Talmud reports of Jesus' crucifixion.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Sara

      Even the wicked Muhammad mentions Jesus in his unholy Koran (I admit, he lived some centuries after Christ, but obviously he saw no reason do doubt in Christ's existence).

      July 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Rainer
      The Epic of Gilgamesh pre-dates Christiantiy by hundreds and hundreds of years and is, if I'm not mistaken, actually referenced in the bible.
      His presence was witnessed by countless people (he was a king, after all) and his deeds have been docu.mented by many people throughout history.

      Does that mean you believe in 3/4 divine ancient Babylonian king who ruled for more than a hundred years?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  7. Andrew

    As an Atheist, I could care less about the name of this street. To me it's just a name and holds no significant value other than to tell me the location of someplace.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • mdc

      Agreed.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      Thank you for being logical and allowing for a varied difference in opinion. I promise to stand beside you if you decide to name your street "self reliance". To each his own.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  8. Eric D

    Since when is "everyone" or "most" people religious? I'd say a majority of the US has probably lost its "faith" in religion...next to the government, its probably the most popular form orginized crime in the world.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Flora

      You're most definately wrong on that one. Recent polls have shown that over 2/3 of citizens U.S. adhere to some type of belief system. Our laws might be secular (and it's best they remain that way), but our people are not.

      Nice try, though.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Sara

      The trend is definitely toward less religious, and yes the U.S. is still primarily religious (somewhere around 70% depending on what statistic you believe) but around the world it's less than 50% with Sweden being "top" amonst non-religious.

      I think, in a few hundred years, people will look back on us and see how simple our thought processes were with regard to a mythical figure in the sky, just like we look at the ancient Greeks. It's really quite ridiculous to think about it when you get outside of it. When I was going to church I thought there was no other way and then after I got out and started thinking for myself I realized I was just part of a mainstream cult that was...well, sorry, but stupid.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Auticus

      Being a part of a herd or pack does not make you more right or wrong.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Flora, you are almost right. The proportion of religious folks is greater than 2/3rds though. It's just shy of 80%, according to info reased by the most recent census. About 21% are atheist/agnostic/no religion/refuse to say/don't know. 76% are Christian, and the remaining 4% are Jewish/Muslim/Buddhist/etc.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • TruthandJustice

      Everyone is religious. Look up 'religious' in the dictionary, it says "regarding the origins and purpose of the universe and humanity", or something similar. Being religious does not distinguish in a belief or unbelief in God, we already have words for that, theist and atheist. "God does not exist" is just as religious as saying "God does exist", and non-expression of God in government is just as religious as expressions of God in government. With all these atheist claiming they're so "rational" and "logical", you'd think they pick up the dictionary once in a while.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Cathy W

      T&J: You said "Look up 'religious' in the dictionary, it says "regarding the origins and purpose of the universe and humanity", or something similar." The irony of your statement is so huge, I don't quite know what to say. Go to http://www.merriam-webster.com look it up.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • TruthandJustice

      Try a real dictionary next time:

      re·li·gion
         [ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA
      noun
      1.
      a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

      July 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  9. Lucy

    I am an atheist and I think the sign should stay. Heaven is a cultural reference and a common word, as well as a religious idea and shouldn't be barred just because some part of the population doesn't believe in it. There is nothing in the sign that demands anyone walking or driving down this street embrace the Christian ethos. It's very different to putting up the 10 commandments in a public building or making children say prayers in school. Every time I hear the words "sin" or "damnation" or "saintly" or "holy," I don't jump up and yell "there's no such thing!" Pick your battles, people. This one is just silly.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  10. QS

    “We Remember the 7-911.”

    This would be more appropriate I think...at the very least it wouldn't be as corny as the current one!

    If for no other reason than there are non-religious people and people of other religious affiliation in this area who perhaps would also like to honor these people, I don't think this particular sign is the right way to do it.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  11. Someone

    Eff the atheists. Who cares what they approve of or disapprove of. All six of them can go hold a rally.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Sybaris

      There are a lot more of us than you think. Do you believe in Zeus?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Actually, you should do a bit of research. Search for the phrase "demographics of the United States." According to the most recent census, atheists and agnostics make up about 1.6% of the US population. Those that refused to reply or who claimed not to know what their religion was to that question made up about 5%. And those that claimed to have no religion made up about 15%. So non religious people comprise approximately 17-21% of the population.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Chad

      I think I was pretty clear in saying "Ivy league professors" regarding the 80-90% statistic. This just proves my point about the high IQ however.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  12. Sara

    All hail Zeus!

    July 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  13. Free Thinker

    I am SICK of the majority thinking its their right to shove religion down everyone's throats when they get the chance. America is NOT and was NOT founded a christian nation. Our founding fathers started America because the king of England was forcing 1 religion on his subjects. Something the right is trying to do, here in America, today! Michelle O'Bachmann wants the nation to study intelligent design. Nothing intelligent about the bible. Nothing intelligent about her as a matter of fact. America needs to stop thinking with the bible and religion first. We are in a religious war with Islam started by King George (dad and son..) You christians must have forgotten about the crusades that the catholic church went on the in 1500s to kill ANYONE who didn't bow down to them, that includes, non believers and muslims.. What are the religious right trying to do today? Wipe out Muslims!! Religion is the root of ALL that ills America and the world today.. Hey GOP you claim to love America, yet you p!ss on those on the homeland and instead spend trillions fighting failed wars, invading other nations and then rebuilding them. Rebuild America and make US and this nation the shining beacon we can be... Religion is and will be the downfall of America.. Those who can think for themselves are the ones who know right from wrong. Good from bad.. We don't need to be scolded every sunday, telling us how bad we are, what we should do, how we should act and how much money to give to the billion dollar churches. The babble is full of lies and religions segregate and isolate people!

    July 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • non-athiest

      Read the Declaration of Independence. There are 3 references to religion and a higher power.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • o.k.

      Free Thinker...please take a sedative and stop the hyperbole (its in the dictionary, under "h"). Religion is the root of ALL that ills America? Really? Casey Anthony got off because of religion? Rampant drug use is caused by religion? Illiteracy is caused by religion? Wall street profiteering is caused by religion? Really? You're probably right though. We should correct the problem. Let's start by shutting down that ridiculous Salvation Army. The backpack programs springing up through out the country by churches (google it)–can't have that. Shut it down! Anyway, thanks for proving once again that the atheists (most, but not all–some are reasonable) who participate on this board are just petty, angry people.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Stevie7

      The Declaration of Indepence that was written by Thomas Jefferson? Who authored the phrase "se.paration of church and state"? Who took out all of the hocus pocus of the new testament and was left with a much shorter book that included only moral teachings? The same Thomas Jefferson that wrote "Question with boldness even the exi.stence of a god"?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Have you stopped to think that the religious are just as sick of atheists like you trying to shove secularism and atheism down their throats? With this particular sign, "heaven" isn't a specifically Christian term, it's a term used by many world religions to mean different things, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Bahai, Hinduism, Confucianism, and some forms of Judaism. You can argue it has religious meaning, but you can't argue it endorses any particular religion.

      Anyway, how on earth have you arrived at the conclusion that the American Revolution was fought over religion? It was for economic and political reasons, not religious ones. You'd better have a whole bunch of facts and sources to back up a wild assertion like that. War against Muslims started by King George (dad and son)? Which Georges? There have been six King Georges of Britain, and none declared war on Muslims. As for churches being evil, consider the thousands of church-sponsored hospitals in this country, hundreds of church-affiliated adoption agencies, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens, and the billions of dollars churches distribute in charity and disaster relief each year.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  14. steve

    What's important about this is that the seven who died in service for their country should be remembered how THEY want to be remembered. If they are Christians, then they deserve a Christian reference. If they were Buddhist or Muslim, they should be remembered with those religious references. The Atheists just want to control everybody else. It's none of their business.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Free Thinker

      Steve, You are wrong. Its the religious wrong who want EVERYONE in America to attend church, learn the bible and bow to jesus. They want to rule with the iron fists of Christiandom... The gop want to rule with a bible in 1 hand and an automatic assault rifle in the other.. Michelle O'Bachmann wants all the public education system to teach intelligent design..,. But yeah, Athiests want to rule to land. Country first. Not jesus and not a god!

      July 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • steve

      "Free" Thinker – No, you are the one ruling with an iron fist. You are the one demanding that we ignore the beliefs of the very ones we want to honor: the fallen heroes. You are the one who wants to force your beliefs on the seven dead heroes. What do you want next? To remove references to religion on cemetery headstones?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  15. Nancy

    Atheists:
    I would like for you to prove (scientifically) that those seven are not in heaven.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Nancy:
      I would like for you to prove (scientifically OR religiously) that those seven ARE in heaven.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Nancy

      You are stupid, sorry for being blunt. You first start with the assumption that heaven exists. And secondly, please read, I don't know maybe EVERY comment board post about proving a negative, you can't

      Please prove they are in heaven, or rather, that heaven exists.

      Thanks

      July 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Laughing, the "you can't prove a negative" is a weak argument. It may be logically true, but it holds no weight, and rarely adds anything to the discussion. Yeah, the religious may have the burden of proof, since they are making the claims in the first place, but the proving a negative is a little like godwin's law – it's a conversation stopper and strawman.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "I would like for you to prove (scientifically) that there are no mermaids are not in heaven."
      ---------
      This statement is as ridiculous as the first.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Laughing

      Cathy

      I agree that its a conversation stopper, but how is it weak? When someone like Nancy says, prove this doesn't exist or prove that doesn't exist, what would you rather have me say instead? I could use what most other people say and ask "ok, prove unicorns/leprachauns/flying spaghetti monster ect, ect don't exist" but isn't that just saying the "you can't prove a negative" in a different way?

      You asked nancy to prove heaven scientifically or religiously. Well I can answer for her, religiously it's proven because the bible says so and the bible is the word of god, conversation stopper enough for ya? Scientifically, well as a believer I could say, we can't prove it because it's in gods realm so science holds no water. You might not like the "you can't prove a negative argument" but just because you don't like it doesn't mean that it's not a good one, you dig?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Laughing, I appreciate you not taking offence, and engaging on this, instead of being angry/defensive.

      Anyway, it's weak and a strawman (which is why I think it should be avoided), because it diverts the attention from the actual claim being made, and instead nitpicks on the QUALITY of their logical (or lackthereof) argument. The real answer to Nancy, is "I cannot prove they aren't in heaven. No one can. But we didn't make a claim that they are anywhere, YOU did. So YOU prove that they ARE in heaven."

      The thing is, the bible DOESN'T prove they are there. According to the bible, humans clearly don't all go to heaven. They might go to hell. How do we mere mortals know where these guys went? To claim to know where they are, is to make the claim that that they know the mind of god, right? Isn't that blasphemous?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Lucy

      I know you are but what am I?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Artist

      Cathy W

      Laughing, the "you can't prove a negative" is a weak argument. It may be logically true, but it holds no weight, and rarely adds anything to the discussion. Yeah, the religious may have the burden of proof, since they are making the claims in the first place, but the proving a negative is a little like godwin's law – it's a conversation stopper and strawman.
      ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
      I agree it is a conversation stopper. Kind of like talking about the existence of TinkerBell. Is there a difference talking about gods? We have to accept each group has faith that TinerBell exists, Zues exists etc. However, it is interesting/entertaining to still see christians attempting to discuss such things. Kind of like watching talk about how real Santa is and how he ate the cookies and left gifts. lol

      July 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Artist

      Nancy

      Atheists:
      I would like for you to prove (scientifically) that those seven are not in heaven.

      ----------
      See what I mean....you can't beat entertainment like this folks. Okay Nancy, just walk to the end of the stage and get your finger paints.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Laughing

      Cathy

      You are completely right, I got a little ahead of myself when I said the bible says so, I guess I was proving with that quote more that heaven exists and not so much that those people went there. You are also right that the prove a negative argument ultimately comes down to a strawman, but isn't it equally as bad as saying, "no, you prove it" When you say you don't know and you can't prove it, that's just affirming you can't prove a negative in your own words.

      As for proving those people are in heaven, I'm not sure, so correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't sacrifice fast track you into heaven. No one can deny these people were brave and saved lives so you can theologically jump to the conclusion that of course these people are in heaven (if a heaven exists)

      July 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Nancy

      I can prove scientifically that water is not rock, that calcium is not magnesium, that a tree is not a fish, etc. So don't feed me that nonsense that you cannot prove a negative.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Artist

      Nancy

      I can prove scientifically that water is not rock, that calcium is not magnesium, that a tree is not a fish, etc. So don't feed me that nonsense that you cannot prove a negative.
      -------
      Before we jump to whether they are in heaven, lets first prove heaven exists. I await your proof. ...whats that? You don't say???? You can't prove heaven exists....okay lets just file heaven with the rest unproven....tinerbell, santa, zues etc. Thank you for playing,,,,your prize awaits you at the end of the stage.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Lost Sheep

    Hey New York Athiests- maybe choose your battles? Picking nits isn't going to help get your name out in a positive fashion.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Cathy W

      I agree that it's a dumb battle to have chosen. But there IS no way for atheists to get their name out in a positive fashion. There are many out there who feel that to deny god is as an evil act as that of murder. How ARE we supposed to contradict that? Matters not that proportionally, atheists have a far lower representation in jails and prisons, for violent or any other type of crime. We are evil, and that's that.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  17. memerycd

    I consider myself agnostic .... God is much like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.. be cool if it were true but really? No hard evidence after all this time?? Come on... that being said, I don't give a hoot what others believe – if they need an imaginary friend hovering over them to be happy who am I to take that from them? These NY atheists are as bad as religious people... believe what you want and let others do the same... if everyone stopped minding everyone else's business the world would be a better place...

    July 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Saysme

      Well said! It's a WORD, get over yourselves atheists.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • not quite agnostic . . .

      Amen, brother!

      July 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  18. sam

    chll out. It's afreaking street sign. atheist are as arrogant as born again christians. They "KNOW' there's no God.

    Christianity is stupid, but nobody KNOWS if there is a God or not.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • JOSEPH

      THAT IS WHAT RELIGION IS ALL ABOUT,BELIEVING ..... WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE LIKE THEIR IS A GOD AND AT YOUR DEATH FIND OUT THERE IS NO SUCH PERSON THAN FINDING OUT THE OTHER WAY.... ???????

      July 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Ah yes, Pascals Wager.

      One of the many problems with PW is that where you are born and raised, for that matter, what period in history you lived, determines to a great extent what diety you believe in, hence my Hindu friend says you believe in the wrong god.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • FYI

      JOSEPH,

      This is Pascal's Wager. It has been refuted and destroyed for hundreds of years. Look it up.

      - What if you have chosen the wrong god? Tens of thousands have been dreamed up and some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will smite you thoroughly for not worshipping them?

      - What if the real god prefers and rewards people who use logic and reason and don't blindly worship a myth?

      - What if the real god punishes you severely for believing just to cover your butt?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Mily

      EXCUSE ME Christianity is NOT stupid . HOW DO YOU THINK YOU ARE SAYING THAT!!!?!? You will certainly go to Hell!

      July 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  19. Karla

    Why so much hatred for something you don't even believe in? I don't believe in unicorns, but wouldn't have a fit over a sign about them. Freedom of speech gave atheists the right to put up a billboard that was offensive to the majority of the people living in this country and I agreed that though it offended me, they had the right to do it. They have the right to promote their hatred of God and we have the right to promote our love for God. Atheists are elitists. They think they are above everyone else, regardless of the fact that they are STILL a minority. Regardless of that, I don't hate them. I feel sorry for them, but I'll take a stand against them to protect the right to freedom of speech as well as religion. The word "Heaven" freaks them out. Talk about paranoia!

    July 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Stevie7

      No one is trying to put unicorn-centric dogma into our schools. I don't hate god, just as I don't hate unicorns. I don't like paying for religious expressions. Would you be ok with putting 'in Krishna we trust' onto US currency?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Cathy W

      Atheists don't hate god. We are ambivalent about god. On the other hand, most of us disapprove of organized religion and the violence, bigotry, and paranoia that many religions espouse. "You said "Atheists are elitists." I have yet to meet a religious person who wasn't also elitist – feeling they were superior to those of us who don't belive in god.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  20. Cathy W

    As an atheist, I've got no problem with the signs. As much as I would prefer that the world be secular and non-regligious, it's not worth fighting over a street sign. Most people ARE religious. Deal with it. It's only worth fighting for secularism in very specific places – where favoring any specific religion is inappropriate, such as in schools and government buildings which should be fair and unbiased toward any and all religions.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:08 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.