Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion
Construction workers move steel beam pulled from ground zero rubble into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
September 3rd, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Four ways 9/11 changed America's attitude toward religion

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - David O'Brien couldn't help himself. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, he became obsessed.

O'Brien read the stories of 9/11 victims over and over, stunned by what he was discovering.

He read about the firefighters who marched up the smoke-choked stairwells of the World Trade Center, though many knew they could die; the beloved priest killed while giving last rites as the twin towers collapsed; the passengers on hijacked planes who called their families one last time to say, "I love you."

"I was obsessed with these stories," says O'Brien, a Catholic historian at the University of Dayton in Ohio. "There were so many stories of self-sacrifice, not just by the first responders, but by people fleeing the building. There was this revelation of goodness."

O'Brien saw an Easter message in 9/11 - good rising out of the ashes of evil. Yet there were other religious messages sent that day, and afterward, that are more troubling, religious leaders and scholars say.

September 11 didn't just change America, they say. It changed the nation's attitude toward religion. Here are four ways:

1: A chosen nation becomes a humbled one.

One man died because he arrived early to work. A woman died because she decided to take a later flight. The arbitrary nature of some of the deaths on 9/11 still sticks with many Americans today.

Yet this is what life is like for billions of people on the planet today, some religious leaders say. A random event - a car bomb, a stray bullet - can end their lives at any minute.

Most Americans had not lived with this vulnerability until 9/11, says Mathew Schmalz, a religion professor at the College of the Holy Cross  in Massachusetts, who once lived in Karachi, Pakistan.

"We had this sense of specialness and invulnerability that 9/11 shattered," he says. "Given that a large section of the world's population deals with random violence every day, one of the outcomes of 9/11 should be a greater feeling of solidarity with people who live in cities like Karachi in which violence is a part of everyday life."

Recognizing that vulnerability, though, is difficult for some Americans because of how they see their country, Schmalz and others say.

They say Americans have long had a triumphalist view of their place in history. Certain beliefs have been engrained: Tomorrow will always be better; we're number one. The term "American" even reflects a certain arrogance. It casually discounts millions of people living in Central and Latin America.

The 9/11 attacks, though, forced many Americans to confront their limitations, says Rev. Thomas Long, a nationally known pastor who has been active in post 9/11 interfaith efforts.

"We're losing the power of the American empire and becoming more a nation among nations," says Long, a religion professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "The world is a much more dangerous and fragile place economically."

How Americans cope with their loss of power is ultimately a theological question, Long says. It's the same question the ancient Hebrews confronted in the Old and New Testaments when they faced national calamities.

The chosen people had to learn how to be humble people, Long says. Americans face the same test today.

"The challenge for every faith tradition is going to be helping people grieve the loss of an image of America that they once had," he says, "and acquire a modern understanding of ourselves on the world's stage."

2: The re-emergence of "Christo-Americanism."

Before 9/11, if you asked the average American about Ramadan or sharia law, they probably would have given you a blank look.

Not anymore. The 9/11 attacks prompted more Americans to learn about Islam. Books on the subject became best-sellers. Colleges started offering more courses on Islam. Every cable news show suddenly had their stable of "Muslim experts."

More Americans know about Islam than ever before, but that hasn't stopped the post-9/11 Muslim backlash. The outrage over plans to build an Islamic prayer and community center near ground zero; the pastor who threatened to burn the Quran; conservative Christian leaders who called Islam evil - all occurred as knowledge of Islam spread throughout America, scholars says.

"One of the sobering lessons of the decade since 9/11 is that religious prejudice is not always rooted in raw ignorance," says Thomas Kidd, author of "American Christians and Islam."

"Some of America's most vociferous anti-Muslim critics know quite a lot about Muslim beliefs, but they often use their knowledge to construe Islam in the worst possible light."

Many of these public attacks against Islam were encouraged by conservative Christian leaders such as Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, who called Islam "wicked," and Pat Robertson, the Christian broadcaster who declared that "Islam is not a religion," says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Kammer says Graham and Robertson helped fuel the rise of "Christo-Americanism," a distorted form of Christianity that blends nationalism, conservative paranoia and Christian rhetoric.

"A segment of the religious community in the United States has been at the forefront of an anti-Islamic crusade that has helped to generate a climate of hatred and distrust toward all Muslims," says Kammer.

Other strains of Christo-Americanism have swept through America before.

After 9/11, some political leaders said terrorists hated the U.S. because of "our freedoms." But America's record on granting those freedoms to its citizens is mixed, says Lynn Neal, co-editor of the book, "Religious Intolerance in America."

In the 19th century, the U.S government passed numerous laws preventing Native American tribes from practicing their religion. Mormons were persecuted. Roman Catholics were once described as disloyal, sexual deviants, Neal says.

"Religious intolerance is not a new feature of the American landscape. Despite being the most religiously diverse nation on earth, despite having a first amendment that protects religious rights...we as a nation and as citizens have often failed to live up to those ideas."

3: Interfaith becomes cool.

Interfaith dialogue - it's not the type of term that makes the heart beat faster.

Before 9/11, interfaith efforts were dismissed as feel-good affairs that rarely got media coverage. The 9/11 attacks changed that.

Interfaith events spread across the country. Mosques and temples held joint worship services. Every college campus seemed to have an interfaith dialogue. The Obama White House launched a college interfaith program.

Becoming an interfaith leader is now hip, some say.

"A generation of students is saying that they want to be interfaith leaders, just like previous generations said they wanted to be human rights activists or environmentalists," says Eboo Patel, who founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 2002.

Patel says at least 250 colleges have signed up for the White House interfaith program, which he helped design. The program encourages students of different faiths to work together on service projects.

"These young leaders will make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America, similar to multiculturalism and volunteerism," Patel says.

These new leaders include people like Sarrah Shahawy, a Muslim-American medical student at Harvard University and the daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

After 9/11, Shahawy says she felt the responsibility to educate people about Islam. She became an interfaith leader at the University of Southern California,  where she noticed a steady increase in student participation in the years after the attacks.

Shahawy says her generation is drawn to interfaith efforts because 9/11 showed the destructive potential of any exclusive claims to religious truth. The 9/11 hijackers carried out their attacks in the name of Islam, but Muslim religious leaders and scholars said that the terrorists' actions did not reflect Islamic teachings.

"For one religious group to claim a monopoly on truth should be obsolete," she says. The interfaith movement doesn't teach people that all religions are the same, she says.

Shahawy calls herself a proud Muslim. "But for me, there's beauty and truth to be found in many different religions."

4: Atheists come out of the closet.

There's one group, however, that sees little beauty in any religion.

Before 9/11, many atheists kept a low profile. Something changed, though, after 9/11. They got loud.

Atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," and Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith," wrote best-selling books. Atheist groups launched national media campaigns with bold billboard messages such as "Christmas is a myth."

The pugnacious journalist Christopher Hitchens became the public face of a more combative form of atheism as he went on talk shows and lectures to defend not believing in God.

Criticism of all religion, not just fanatical cults, was no longer taboo after 9/11, says Daniel Dennett, a philosophy professor with Tufts University in Massachusetts.

"Atheist-bashing is now, like gay-bashing, no longer an activity that can be indulged in with impunity by politicians or commentators," Dennett says.

Atheists were driven to become more vocal because of the 9/11 attacks and America's reaction, says David Silverman, president of American Atheists. He says many atheists were disgusted when President George W. Bush and leaders in the religious right reacted to the attack by invoking "God is on our side" rhetoric while launching a "war on terror."

They adopted one form of religious extremism while condemning another, he says.

"It really showed atheists why religion should not be in power. Religion is dangerous, even our own religion," Silverman says.

Atheists are still the most disparaged group in America, but there's less stigma attached to being one, he says.

"The more noise that we make, the easier it us to accept us," Silverman says. "Most people know atheists now. They knew them before, but didn't know they were atheists."

Many Americans knew the people who perished on 9/11 as well, but they didn't know they were heroes until later, says David O'Brien, the Catholic historian who compulsively read the 9/11 obituaries.

O'Brien was so moved by the stories he read that he decided to write an essay for America magazine, a national Catholic weekly, entitled, "9/11 Then and Now."

He wrote: On 9/11, "Our people, my people, were tested and, for a shining moment ... they were found worthy."

He said many 9/11 victims didn't panic as their end drew near. They "thought not of themselves, but others ... when the chips were down." They saw themselves not as individuals, but as members of a "single human family."

So should we, he says, as we face new challenges 10 years later. The 9/11 victims aren't just heroes; they're our guides for the future, he says.

"The story is not over, not by a long shot," O'Brien wrote. "Look at all the love that day. Love can still write another chapter and keep hope alive for a better future. The meaning of 9/11 lies ahead, and it's in our hands, and maybe in our hearts.'

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 9/11 • Atheism • Christianity • Faith • Interfaith issues

soundoff (2,180 Responses)
  1. hpw

    Did any one ever explain the molten steel in the wreckage, that burned up to 8wks. after the building came down?!?!

    September 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  2. reader 2010

    Enough of this.Now go to Saoudi Arabia,Pakistan,and all other Moslim country and write and preach there about Christianity see how far you get.I hope you don't get stone to death.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • vel

      It's always hilarious to see Christians claim that the Muslim countries are so bad but then turn around and want to do the same to the US, to make their personal version of Christianity be the only one followed.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  3. Julie

    Religion, religion religion or lack of religion, on and on. Same old s–t!

    September 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • J.W

      You have contributed a lot to the conversation. Maybe you should give your brain a rest.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  4. Skyler

    Religious faith is all about hope.

    Without hope, people cease to live (if even just on the inside). Religious faith fills the void where one perceives there is no hope. We see this in convicts serving life sentences, for example. Or in someone who has experienced what he or she perceives to be a horrendous, life-altering event and desperately needs to make sense of it where no rational sense can be made.

    Religious faith provides hope to people who don't otherwise have any. You might say it's a survival instinct. To question people's hope is to question the one thing that keeps them alive. No wonder they're so defensive. Hope is powerful. People who find none often take their own life, or need to be medicated (not that there's anything wrong with medication).

    Hope is so powerful that people will believe the most ludicrous writings from eons past. Mega evangelists recognize this. They know the kind of money that can be made by preying on those struggling for hope. Just as a drug dealer knows that an addict will do anything for the next fix.

    But the best news is that religious faith is, by far, not the only source of hope. We can find examples of human achievement and actions that we can all strive to emulate. The sacrifices of DDay. The selflessness of passengers on UA flight 93. The innate compassion in a 9-year-old human citizen who is undeterred in sending half his piggy bank savings to help people in Haiti. Just because. No religion involved.

    We're all the same. If you look beyond today's headlines (which are mostly filled with everything that is wrong with humanity) you will find acts of sacrifice by people like you and me that are truly humbling and make you glad you're merely a human.

    There is hope to be found in humans. That's where your faith should be. That's where true immortality resides.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Excellent, Skyler. Thank you.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • LuisWu

      Wish there was a like button. You're exactly right.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • pt6071


      September 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  5. PC Geek

    Sigh...the theism vs. atheism debate never changes – why does everyone insist on repeating the same debates over and over again....

    A good site that deals with some of the delusional crap floating around....http://www.tektonics.org/

    September 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • GAW

      It will never end. I do admit there is a type of Group Think mentality that many of the Atheists show here. So many of their posts sound like they're from the same person and they think very much like the Fundamentalists that they so disdain which is why so many people avoid both groups.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  6. GAW

    Let's admit it Atheists need for religion to exist. Without it most of you wold have nothing to complain about here on CNNs Belief Blog. Same applies for Religion it needs Atheism.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • pt6071

      Well without it there wouldn't be a Belief Blog for one...

      September 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  7. Al

    Religion is an excellent method of social control. Nothing better to start a war and make profits than to appeal to the passionate irrational beliefs of the masses. Works every time. It's the 21st century. It's power is wielding away. The elites are scared.

    September 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • pt6071

      Opiate of the masses...

      September 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Duane

      You got that right, 100%

      September 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  8. Mick

    I don't think 9-11 had much to do with atheists coming out of the closet. A much bigger factor was the Internet: Media had been dominated by believers for thousands of years. Then suddenly there was this new medium where the atheist's voice could be heard, and the Church's less-than-spotless history could be easily researched. And, most damaging of all for religion, the Bible and Koran could now be instantly accessed. Sure, prior to the Internet nothing was stopping us from picking up those books, but here is a medium where you can instantly find a specific passage, compare different translations of it, and search for backup information. I went to Catholic school for eight years, but only in the age of the Internet did I learn about the horrible things God did in the Old Testament, the numerous self-contradictions in the Bible, and, that the book contained a story of a talking donkey. A TALKING FREAKING DONKEY!

    September 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Mort

      A donkey? Srsly? Talking? What did it say?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • SciGuy

      For a book that is actually 66 separate books written over a span of 1600 years on several continents by men from vastly different backgrounds, the internal consistency of the book is amazing. Everything in it either points forward to or back to Jesus the Savior, the Messiah. Show some of these inconsistencies of which you speak.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • LuisWu

      I agree up to a point. I do think 9/11 had at least a small part in it. It did cause a lot of evangelical Christian types to become more vocal and of course for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Atheists became just as loud as the evangelicals to counteract them. Given their way, evangelicals would vote politicians into office that would push the evangelical agenda – forced prayer in school, eliminating a woman's right to choose, banning gay marriage and even persecuting gay people. They'd fund religious schools with vouchers, etc. etc. That kind of thing has to be stopped.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      When you are doing your science, where you presuppose the existance of god(s), do you use The Babble's value for pi or do you use the real value?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Even funnier is the number of people who scoff at a talking donkey but giddily believe amoeba can morph into men.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • SciGuy

      HotAir, in equations I often use the exact value pi, but for calculations we always must use a rounded version. 3.14 is not uncommon, nor is 3.1. Sometimes I use the approximation of 3, as the Bible does. It depends on the required accuracy.

      Sometimes I use power series to express it when it's convenient for a mathematical point, or to reduce the complexity of an otherwise difficult situation.

      What do you use?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • alan

      my cat talks to me all the time. she told me that i was the messiah and i should go kill everyone who doesn't agree.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • pt6071

      Two of the four gospels don't recount the whole virgin birth thing. That's an awfully big point to forget or throw out on the editing room floor.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey Sciguy.

      I have a friend who is on an archeological dig in the Republic of Georgia (former part of the USSR, between the Black and Caspian seas). He emailed me about how they had found the remains of the earliest hominoid outside of Africa, dating to a couple of hundred thousand years ago. There is an entire research team there from Oxford University’s paleontology department, the most respected in the World.

      Fortunately, you have informed me that the entire World began only 6,000 years ago with man already totally evolved (and with a talking snake). So, I am going to write to the team and tell them to all fold up their tents and go home and read their Bibles. The answers to the natural history of the human species are all in there.

      Thanks Sciguy, you have made me really smart!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Real Deal

      SciGuy, "For a book that is actually 66 separate books written over a span of 1600 years on several continents by men from vastly different backgrounds, the internal consistency of the book is amazing."

      Ummm, that's what the early church leaders had in mind when they VOTED which writings to include. Have you studied all of the ones which didn't make the cut... or the ones which hadn't been discovered yet?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Colin, not sure what you mean by "the entire World." Nowhere have I addressed the age of the universe or of the earth or solar system. As to the team of archaeologists, I heartily recommend they continue their digs, and that they read the Bible as well...there is value in both!

      Regarding their dating of the hominid, how did they determine the 200,000 year age?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Realdeal, what is what they had in mind. Speak clearly, man.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      So the value of pi in The Babble is just an approximation. I'll have to remember to use that word the next time I need to explain being wrong...

      September 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Mick

      SciGuy, one only needs to Google the words "bible" and "contradiction" to find dozens of them, so there's no point getting into a lengthy discussion on the subject here. But I will point out one major, glaring contradiction:

      During the Great Flood he murdered every man, woman, child, baby, and unborn – except for eight people – because they were supposedly wicked. He kills Egyptian citizens with plagues and then muders all their firstborn, just because they had a cruel leader. He has a problem with David ordering a census so he sends a plague that kills thousands.

      Then, after all these heinous acts, he's described as "merciful" and "loving". If that's not a contradiction, what is?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Mick

      I kid you not about the talking donkey, Mort – it's in there. Check out Numbers 22:28.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Real Deal


      The writings which the early church leaders chose to include in their Bible were only the ones which backed up their preconceived party line. How convenient.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      wow ,colin uses the same lies in different posts and with different people.His lying problem runs even deeper than suspected!

      September 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • pProf

      hotAir: do you know about irrational numbers? Are you aware that no "value" of pi that you write down is "correct?" How accurate do you want to be? You cannot express pi "correctly" with a decimal representation. 3.14159 is closer that 3.1416 is closer than 3.142 is closer than 3.14 is closer than 3.1 is closer than 3, but none of them is "correct."

      There are an infinite number of rational numbers, and there are an infinite number of irrational numbers, but there are infinitely more irrational numbers than rational numbers. Did you know this?

      What really is your point? That because the Bible uses the approximation of 3 for pi that the Bible is clearly not correct? Is this the best you can do? If in 66 books written by 40 men over 1600 years this is the best shot you have at an internal inconsistency, you have just made my point!

      September 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Real Deal

      p.s. It would be like reporting the results of a scientific experiment with only the 10 instances which prove your hypothesis and excluding the 90 instances which don't.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Yes, I understand irrational numbers. The point is, The Babble doesn't! It is in error. If there is just one error in The Babble, it is not the infallable work of god.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Realdeal, you can't have it both ways. My reply was to one claiming the bible is full of contradictions, now you're claiming it has no contradictions by virtue of how it was assembled. Which is it?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Pprof, agreed.

      HotAir, you really don't get it do you. Please explain the one error that you think you've exposed.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Real Deal

      SciGuy, They came as close as they could in choosing appropriate confirmatory texts. If they saw any contradictions, they mumbo-jumboed their way around them, as is done now.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Real Deal

      pProf, "66 books written by 40 men."

      The authorship of many of those writings is not authenticated... some were probably written by multiple authors... some were simply compilations of stories told orally for many years and eventually written down...

      September 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Nobody believes that amoebas can morph into men, SciGuy. Just because you devote your life to defending a book of silly fables doesn't mean you can just make up more fables to suit your rhetorical purposes.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Realdeal, are you at all familiar with textual criticism and with the criteria that were used to determine the canonical books. It was not about putting together those with fewest contradictions.

      In any case, the 66 books that made the cut were written over 1500 years by over 40 authors on different continents from sheep herders to kings. The level of internal consistency is phenomenal under these conditions, no matter who assembled them into a single book years later. Don't you agree?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Speaking of talking donkeys, I see that herbert has made his usual hate-filled post.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • pProf

      JR: the laughable just-so stories of the evolutionists are far more entertaining!

      September 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Fred1

      @SciGuy : Here’s a few of the inconsistencies you asked for. I have pages and pages of them

      1. God is satisfied with his works
      Gen 1:31
      God is dissatisfied with his works.
      Gen 6:6
      2. God dwells in chosen temples
      2 Chron 7:12,16
      God dwells not in temples
      Acts 7:48
      3. God dwells in light
      Tim 6:16
      God dwells in darkness
      1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
      4. God is seen and heard
      Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
      Ex 24:9-11
      God is invisible and cannot be heard
      John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
      5. God is tired and rests
      Ex 31:17
      God is never tired and never rests
      Is 40:28
      6. God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
      Prov 15:3/ Ps 139:7-10/ Job 34:22,21
      God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all
      Gen 11:5/ Gen 18:20,21/ Gen 3:8
      7. God knows the hearts of men
      Acts 1:24/ Ps 139:2,3
      God tries men to find out what is in their heart
      Deut 13:3/ Deut 8:2/ Gen 22:12
      8. God is all powerful
      Jer 32:27/ Matt 19:26
      God is not all powerful
      Judg 1:19
      9. God is unchangeable
      James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
      God is changeable
      Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
      Ex 33:1,3,17,14
      10. God is just and impartial
      Ps 92:15/ Gen 18:25/ Deut 32:4/ Rom 2:11/ Ezek 18:25
      God is unjust and partial
      Gen 9:25/ Ex 20:5/ Rom 9:11-13/ Matt 13:12

      September 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I think it's pretty obvious that The Babble presents an erroneous value for the ratio of circumference to diameter. Any learned person, especially a god, would be able to better express this value, even without going into the details of irrational numbers.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • pProf

      @Fred1: if your first one is any indication of the quality of the rest, you FAIL bigtime.

      In Gen 1 we read that immediately after God's creation he is pleased with it all, while in Gen 6, we read of his displeasure with men because of their wickedness many years later. This is clearly not a contradiction.

      Such a blatant loser as your number 1 listing does not greatly motivate me to investigate the others. You might want to pare it (at least) from your list.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • pProf

      @HotAir: Are you aware of the concept of significant digits?

      To one significant digit, pi = 3. To two sig digits, pi = 3.1. To three sig digits, pi = 3.14. Etc.

      So, the Bible specifying pi to one significant digit is only "wrong" in the sense of being a wider approximation to pi. If the Bible had said pi was 2, or 2.9, or 3.0, or 3.2, or 4 then you would have a case. But it didn't. It says pi is 3, and it is 3 to one significant digit, just like it is 3.14 to three significant digits.

      You really need to move to your next point; this one is not working for you.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • pProf

      @HotAir: I'd recommend you drop your cutesy reference to the Bible as the Babble, if you hope to have any impact on those who believe it is God's word.

      September 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Real Deal

      SciGuy, "The level of internal consistency is phenomenal under these conditions,"

      Not phenomenal at all. Those primitive people were nomadic, and traveled all over Africa and the Middle East. There is no mystery how these stories were propagated.

      Nordic myths have a lot of consistencies throughout Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland.

      Polynesian myths have a lot of consistencies throughout indigenous Australia and the South Pacific.

      There are consistencies in myths in closely-localized areas all over the world.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Yup! Know about significant digits too!! In fact, I've implemented a C++ class to perform calculations and keep track of significant digits and errors in parallel.

      You can bluster all you like about approximations – any actual enginering or science done using the value of pi from The Babble will be in error.

      September 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @pProf: Some of the evolutionary 'just so" stories are pretty entertaining, Some quite laughable. Others quite illuminating. But none claimed that amebas can morph into men. There's a lot to criticize in the details of evolutionary theory and evolutionary theorists are very good at criticizing each other's and sometimes even their own work. That's how real science is done. Only religious idiots, meanwhile, refer to amoebas morphing into men.

      Here's my own favorite pi fact. Actually, let me offer it as a question: Pi is the sum of what infinite set of numbers?

      September 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  9. Bibletruth

    "For one religious group to claim a monopoly on truth should be obsolete," she says. The interfaith movement doesn't teach people that all religions are the same, she says.

    It is rather meaningless to claim a monopoly on truth. On the other hand, it is very meaningful to let others know that this or that aspect of their religion is false. In fact, if there is proof (and about the only proof area is their own scriptures/book, except one thing does show if thier "God" is a true God or a false god), you are doing a positive service to them to let them know. One follows a particular god because they believe that their god is the true god, otherwise what is the point. Religion has to do with eternal realities, and understand when people, especially those claiming education, come up with nonsense like everyone worhips the same god, etc., the least educated person has read them right when they label them "fool" in their mind.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Tohrm

      Did you have a point you were shooting for or are you just wasting time before you have to perform more religious fraud in front of a live audience?

      September 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Steve

      "It is rather meaningless to claim a monopoly on truth." What? Are you saying one cannot know an absolute personal truth? If this is absoulutly true, then it is false if it is your personal truth.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  10. Andrew

    9/11 made american Christianity into a repository of hate and politics.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Dan Holiday

      You are a moron.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • thinker

      I think Dan just proved your point.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Yoshi T

      American "Christianity" has ALWAYS been filled to the brim with politics, hate, intolerance, etc. Such things fill every religion to the brim and overflow into daily life, not just Christianity.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • thinker

      You are so right!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Duane


      September 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Fred1

      Oh no! Christianity was already a vast repository of hate and politics before 9/11. Remember when Pat Robertson was running for president?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  11. Dennis

    There is a reason our forefathers believed in separation of church and state. That's in dire jeopardy these days and very disturbing.
    Even Einstein believed in Spinoza's god which is an agnostic approach to religion.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  12. sybaris

    9/11.......... proving once again the absurdity in following fairy tales and invisible sky daddies.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Hmmm

      May God help you.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • LuisWu

      Exactly. All religions are just ancient mythology. Period. This is the 21st century. Science, logic and reason should be our guide, not an ancient book of mythology.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Ken

    Everytime I'm tempted to think that agnostic or atheistic thinking is a more rational or kind alternative to earnest faith, all I have to do is browse the commentary on the Belief Blog. The level of vitriol, hate, and even cruelty is ample evidence that skepticism has done little to foster greater peace and kindness. The comments are sadly predictable, and the thinking is seldom fresh or academic. If skepticism guides your thinking, fine. However, if that skepticism produces the bitter fruit of hate and condescension, you might want to rethink its value. Granted, the constructs of the faithful have also contributed to some troubled waters over the years, but the tennis match of insults is doing little to foster understanding on either side. The idea that the tiniest shred of Canon or Old Testament Law derails the entirety of religion is absurdly simplistic and adolescent. Fortunately, I believe that God far exceeds the capacity of man to define him in writing. Biblical concepts reflect man's limited insight, so it's limitations reflect man, not God. It also encompasses a huge history of changing social values. Therefore, it is silly to simply take a 3000 year old Levitical law to point out a contemporary inequity. Regardless of that continuing diatribe, I still struggle to understand why the comments on this blog continue to lapse from topic and return to such tired and thoughtless mudslinging. Even further puzzling is the ubiquitous presence of hate filled rhetoric from non-believers on a belief blog. Why return to the discussion if it violates your sensibilities so much?

    September 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      Someone said ".............we all know that religion when it comes to believing in a Deity is come to a end. The world, especially the young generation is becoming more science based then religious based, it is a matter of time....."

      Keep alert as the exact opposite is happening. First of all there is nothing in true religion that goes against science except when ignorant folks attempt to define evolutiion as science, which it is not...Does the bible for example become entangled when placed against the scientific fields of physics, chemistry, botany, anatomy, how about mathematics, etc.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • vel

      always good to see a Christian lying like Bibletruth here. The hypocrisy is so amusing, when a Christian claims that evolution isn't science but they use the results of this science everyday as long as it makes them comfy. They ignorantly attack science only when it shows their myths to be the nonsense they are.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Ben

      "Bibletruth" is a different kind of truth. It isn't truth in the normal, real sense of the word, nor is there any substance behind it. It's just the line that the person behind it demands that you believe, much like the oligarchy did in Orwell's 1984.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • pt6071

      Religious fanaticism was a contributing factor to 9/11. Rather than fighting the religious physically it's better to fight them ideologically.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Fred1

      “The idea that the tiniest shred of Canon or Old Testament Law derails the entirety of religion is absurdly simplistic and adolescent.” How about the idea that if the bible is from god and god is perfect then its shreds should at least be consistent. Or if you decide that some of the shreds aren’t quite up to scratch; but, they don’t invalidate the majority of the work how do you tell the false parts from the true ones?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  14. John10:10

    All the commentary in the world can't change the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • sybaris

      That is hearsay, not fact.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Yaright

      you were there? you saw that? you must of video recorded or took some pictures... Can i see it? Please......

      September 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      When it is all said and done, this is probably the defining comment.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      Yaright believes nothing he was not personally present to see, except unless its videotaped...lol...He of course depending on his age believes nothing in the history books that does not fit the above three criteria for believing something..lol

      September 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Yoshi T

      All the commentary in the world cannot change the fact that every religion is based on lies and fraud and that Jesus, if he even existed, is surely dead. He does nothing no matter who prays or how. There is no god out there, just emotional echoes in a schizoid projection that does nothing provable. Nothing. Not even spiritually. No proof anywhere. Just more lies and misdirection.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Real Deal


      What comment? That for the purported most earthshaking event since the beginning of time we are given the flimsiest evidence of hearsay?

      September 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • thinker

      Jesus was just a hippy who was killed for saying we should all be nice to each other.
      He can be an inspiration, but he was not a god.
      God is an invention that serves to comfort (and exploit) those who lack the courage to take responsibility for their own success/failure, and who cannot accept that we are just mortal animals who will die and rot just like a dog or cat.
      Life is too short to waste on religion! Get out there and enjoy making the world a better place!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Yaright

      bibletruth i personally like to see things in person to believe them. Do i believe in history books, yes to the degree of recent history.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  15. Sunday

    'Do Good is what you say without invoking God,' then what Good have you done for the day, other than being up here spewing hate on Christians??

    September 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • kimsland

      I'm helping all children realize that all religions are false.
      I do feel good for this, actually thanks.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Yaright

      i protect the American people 176 hours a month.... You?

      September 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Hypocrisy 101


      "Having a form of Godliness, but denying His power."

      May His return come soon!

      September 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  16. Chad

    One of the most amazing impacts of 9/11 is the rise of secularism. Atheists have used an attack by extremest Muslims to condemn Judeo-Christianity as they are both "religions". We see increased usage of terms "Orthodox" and "Fundamentalist" when referring to Christian organizations in an attempt to smear them with the mud of 9/11.
    The problem is not that religions polarize and encourage violence, the problem lies with the fundamental guiding belief of one religion in particular.

    We need to completely understand the underlying belief system of every religion, and make judgements based on that. Painting all religions with the brush of 9/11 extremist violence (secularism) is not the answer.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Yaright

      exactly.... If i told you i was a conservative republican, what view would you have of me? Maybe i am a teabagger or a crazy religious nut. You probably would never think that i consider myself a agnostic or that the reality of a true republican means, " i know what is right for myself and my family, not you or the gov." Somehow along the way in our recent history, Democrats have become what Republican used to be and now Republicans are just right wing zealot nutters. Strange......

      September 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • LOL religion

      We don't need to understand any more about religion than that it is a load of supernatural claptrap. If we all understood that nobody would be flying airplanes into buildings or shooting abortion doctors.

      We gave up on Santa Claus. Let's give up on the invisible sky fairies as well.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Yaright

    Although i am a Agnostic, I also am religious.... I religiously watch the trailblazers.... People misinterpret the word religious constantly... Again, that is why the belief that there is no belief system or to not believe in Theism is fundamentally a religious view. Granted, when you ask someone if they're "religious" the very first thing they think is; "are you asking me if i believe in god". Which I also would assume if someone was asking me this question.

    The main thing is that any extreme views has extreme consequences. But without extremes how do we know what is extreme?

    September 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  18. DiscipleofElijah

    From the article; "For one religious group to claim a monopoly on truth should be obsolete," she says. The interfaith movement doesn't teach people that all religions are the same, she says."

    Interfaith is another name for new age religion. The new age movement doesn't teach that all RELIGIONS are the same, it teaches all GODS are the same.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  19. Religious Sects

    This Atheist finds beauty in religion. The buildings, the ceremony, the deep faith that touches many so deeply ... but I also see the inherent danger that empowerment of these beliefs gives one group over others. As became apparent from 911, empowerment beyond personal belief & supersttion is a dangerous thing.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • LOL religion

      Beauty? No. Horrific waste of capital, lives, and time? Certainly

      September 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  20. GAW

    One of the reasons Atheists can be so vocal on the internet is that they can still remain anonymous. No one knows where they live, what their real name is, what their gender is, How old they are ect. It's easy to hide behind the protective shield of anonymity (Just like the rest of us)

    September 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • kimsland

      Thankyou for being vocal for atheists
      Its true religion is ludicrous
      kimsland, well known across the Internet

      September 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Shawn Irwin

      Funny, I am an agnostic, and practically everyone that knows me is aware of it. . . . you make it sound like some kind of stigma . . . I am proud of it, because I do not make ASSumptions about things that cannot be proven.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • LOL religion

      We're anonymous because we don't want some kook murdering us because we insulted his Imaginary Friend. Duh.

      September 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Yaright

      Your right, we all know that religion when it comes to believing in a Deity is come to a end. The world, especially the young generation is becoming more science based then religious based, it is a matter of time.....

      September 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Shaun, are you an agnostic atheist, or agnostic theist?

      September 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • thinker

      When people are vocal anonymously, it's usually because they are being truthful. They are concerned about the repercussions from those who think goodness can exist only within the religious.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:12 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.