Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession
A priest and author says religious leaders aren't paying attention to older people hit by recession.
September 17th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Sooner or later, it happens to each of us, Richard Rohr says.

“There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand,” the Franciscan priest said.

Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce. Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: You suddenly realized that you’ll never have the life you dreamed of living.

Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if, as Rohr puts it, a person learns how to “fall upward.”

Rohr, a 68-year-old Roman Catholic author and internationally known speaker, says older Americans face a problem: Religious leaders aren’t paying much attention to them.

Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families. Rohr calls it a “goal-oriented” spirituality.

Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone, he says.

Rohr’s new book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” is his attempt to fill that void. It also functions as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status.

Rohr says he coined the phrase “falling upward” to describe a paradox. Nearly everyone will fall in life because they'll confront some type of loss, he says. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions.

“I’ve met people who because of the loss of things and security have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons,” he said.

If you’re falling in any area of your life, Rohr says, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises.

He says it’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. He sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change.

“You start attacking anybody else who is not like you,” Rohr said. “If you don’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time you’re my age, you become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness.”

Why suffering is necessary

Rohr’s book may address contemporary issues, but the wisdom is old. He extracts insights from sources as varied as Greek mythology, Catholic mysticism and fairy tales like Cinderella.

Such stories often teach similar lessons about hard times: Suffering is necessary, the “false self” must be abandoned, and “everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.” Rohr, who has also written “Quest for the Grail,” a book on mythology, says people have learned these hard lessons for centuries through myth.

The heroes in mythological stories follow the same pattern. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.

No contemporary American is going to be asked to fight a monster, but an event like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force you to summon strength you didn’t know you had, Rohr says.

The key is not resisting the crisis.

“You have to allow the circumstances of God and life to break you out of your egocentric responses to everything,” he said. “If you allow ‘the other’ - other people, other events, other religions - to influence you, you just keep growing.”

That growth, though, is accompanied by death - the death of the “false self,” Rohr said. The false self is the part of your self tied to your achievements and possessions.

When your false self dies, you start learning how to base your happiness on more eternal sources, he says.

“You start drawing from your life within,” Rohr said. “You learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s window dressing.”

Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore “evil or stupid things,” he says.

It may sound esoteric, Rohr says, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess a “bright sadness”: they’ve suffered but they still smile and give.

“I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life,” Rohr says. “There’s a kind of gravitas they have. … There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter.”

Rohr says this bright sadness isn’t confined to older people.

“I've met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life,” he said in a recent interview with Amazon.com, “and I have met 68-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.”

Learning the ‘grace of failure’

Rohr’s book has found some fans in high places who were touched by his insights.

Father Gerry Blaszczak, a chaplain at Fairfield University in Connecticut, says Rohr’s book challenges the notion that success is a natural result of being religious.

“Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement,” he says. “Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth.”

Rohr’s book reminds people about the “grace of failure,” Blaszczak says.

“In the Christian tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity,” Blaszczak said.

He says he knows older people who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success.

“It is not that these professional or personal ideas were necessarily bad in themselves,” he said. “It is more that they proved inadequate. We invested way too much in them. We thought our identities could be formed by them.”

Jim Finley, a retreat leader and Catholic scholar, says Rohr is reminding people about the value of elders.

“Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented,” says Finley, author “The Contemplative Heart.” “But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce.”

Brian McLaren, author of “The Naked Spirituality,” says Rohr’s book touches on an important paradox that you probably won’t hear in a Sunday morning sermon: “Imperfect people” are sometimes more equipped than “perfect people” to help those who are struggling.

“The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a compassionless person, because he sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and he wonders what’s wrong with them,” he said. “But the person who feels that he has ruined his life often has more capacity for humility and compassion.”

McLaren says Rohr’s book helped reveal to him how much of his youthful spiritual energy was driven by narrow concerns.

“I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by ego and a win-lose mentality.”

Today Rohr seems driven by something else: The need for rest.

For years, his life has been a whirlwind. He’s traveled the globe speaking at retreats on everything from men’s spirituality to Catholic mysticism.

He also founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an organization that encourages acts of justice rooted in prayer and respect for other religious traditions.

Yet after almost seven decades of living, Rohr said,  “I am still a mystery to myself.”

Rohr plans on solving some of that mystery. He says he’s going to retire in two years to spend more time at his home in New Mexico. He says he needs more time for contemplation.

“The first half of life, you write the text,” he said. “The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.”

As Rohr withdraws from speaking and writing, he will be challenged to follow his own advice. He’ll spend less energy on his “false self” as his old identity dissolves.

He says he’s ready, though, to fall upward. If he lost his position as a priest, author and respected speaker, he says he would still feel secure.

“Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401(k). Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons,” he said. “I know who I am beyond my roles.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Economy

soundoff (1,015 Responses)
  1. Jim J

    If God isn't real, how did he create man in his own image?

    Checkmate, atheists!

    September 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Sue

      pretty laughable god you have made for yourself there, considering the image.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • rick perrytwit ... slack jawed bible thumper

      Who said he did that? "Checkmate"

      September 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Perfect? Complete with appendix, coccyx (from evolving from early man and primates), tonsils, gall bladder, webbing between fingers and toes (from evolving from amphibians). Sounds a bit less than perfect. So if we are created in something else's "image and likeness", it's something that is imperfect. But believers claim that their god is perfect. Seems like a paradox rather than a checkmate.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Man created gods in their own image brainiac.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Amistavia

      This is your brain on faith based logic.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • toadcreektom

      I'm on your side but you'll have to do a lot better than that. anyone who doesn't believe in God won't believe that He created anything much less man i n His own image.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Jack C King

      How do you know what god looks like?

      September 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • andybud

      I see satire is lost on many people.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • greg

      chexkmate? dude,thats what you got? too sad,what a shame,hoped you get enlightened sometime soon...

      September 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bill

      How do you know what God looks like? The pictures in the bible – if the bible isn't true (and I believe it is not) you build your premise on a falicy. Religion is the bane of man – responsible for more wars and deaths and holding us back from our true potential.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      in order to know that this happened we would have to have an accurate picture of this god...care to provide it for us please?

      September 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • bb

      Image of what? Humans and chimps share right at 99% of the same DNA. Does God resemble a chimp as well?

      September 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Fred1

      So does god have naughty bits he shouldn’t touch and can’t show in public too?

      September 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • 21k

      ha-ha!. so god gets cancer too?

      September 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      jimj.. you cant be serious? why would god need legs and arms... or organs.. does he eat as well then? and why could he not design a being as to not eat..he could have eliminated hunger and starvation with that simple plan....

      September 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  2. Rich

    Religion is delusion.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Bill

      Amen to that.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • bb

      Religion (man made set of rules) vs spirituality is a concept that is rarely learned in most people's life times.

      True – religion is nothing more than some guy telling you what to do – if people worship that, they are stupid enough to have fallen for anything.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  3. MW

    So ... is that all there is to the catholic church ... is this your best shot? Is there no life found in the church ... careful ...

    Everything man is involved in can and does get tainted with man made ways ... yes, there is a painful past and present ... but, that isn't all there is ...

    September 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  4. Glades2

    In the end each person as the Bible states will be judged on whether he or she believes in Jesus as God's Son and Savior – if a person refuses to believe, he or she will spend eternity in Hell, while the person who does believe, even if their belief comes in the final moment of their life, will be saved. As for what this priest wrote, he forgets that most Catholic parishes, at least in the USA, depend very heavily on retired men and women to help out with many parish duties, from helping to serve communion at daily Mass to assisting with the front office or helping out with various ministries, so to say seniors have been forgotten by the Church is not true...

    September 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Sue

      Seriously, what "loving god" would mete out eternal torture merely for someone who sincerely doesn't believe due to reason and evidence showing that reality is counter to what the bible claims? Such a god would have to be quite the vindictive, cruel jer-k.

      No thanks. You can keep your ass-hole of a god. To yourself. Silently, please.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • gager

      If god is real why would he put idiots in charge of spreading very scarry bs?

      September 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • BFree

      Sue, The message is real. It's the messengers who can be screwed up. All of creation was made with love by Love only. Evil is the absence of God. Sin against God and nature continues to beget misery upon the human family until we each make a concerted effort to lead lives worthy of a human being made in the image and likeness of their Creator. Hope is what makes the tribulations in this life tolerable. When the walls close in on those who find life meaningless, as they will, know that there is someone who cares enough to have paid the ultimate price that we might have that hope.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Sue

      BFree, no thanks for the usual religious drivel. Next time try posting something actually relevant to my comment, if you can. But wipe your mouth first.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • AGuest9

      "In the end", your heart stops, your brain dies. You cease to be. You begin to decompose. A mortician interferes with the natural process and either fills you with chemicals, or incinerates your body. The End.

      "The religious" have a real issue with death, because no matter how much they say they believe and want to go to some magical cloud-place in the sky, they fight like crazy to stay alive.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  5. blessings

    I enjoyed reading your comments against Richard Rohr with a smile on my face as I imagine he is smiling too. You prove his point.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Amistavia

      It's easy to be smug when all of your interpretations of reality are based on faith.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  6. Pepe Silvia

    The link to this article from google doesn't use the words "pens". Somebody want to fix that?

    September 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • lisa2010

      yeah, can somebody fix that.. that added an extra letter to it..

      September 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Catspajamas

      It was totally intentional. It made me click on the link, and skim through a lame article- at least one person at CNN has a sense of humor.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Just Me

      I have been trying for nine hours to have this corrected. Makes me question how this can happen.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  7. GAW

    Of course most of the responses (esp the Atheists) to this story have nothing to do with the story.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  8. TruthPrevails

    As much as I would prefer to see reasonable debates going on here, it is obvious that we might never see that. Christians/believers are not going to convince me that I have my facts wrong and I'm never going to convince them that they have their facts wrong.
    The only real cure for belief in any unknown deity is education.
    It does baffle me to a point that being close minded is so easy for some people. If we want change in this world, we will not see it by praying but instead by lending a helping hand. I understand why people believe though...the comfort measure is a warm fuzzy feeling that stops the questioning mind. However there are those of us who accept that we can't possibly have all the answers to the atrocities and unknown's in this world.
    I would much rather live in a world where we are constantly growing and taking responsibility for our own actions than a world where we stop growing in the light of a belief that if we can't solve it a deity will do so for us.
    I understand that asking for world peace is a pipe-dream but it's at least a dream with some realistic basis to it. I may never see the day where it happens but I have no intention of furthering my knowledge in order to help future generations strive for it.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      oops should have said I have no intention of not furthering

      September 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ TruthPrevails, You stated, "The only real cure for belief in any unknown deity is education."

      The studies of Cellestial Cosmology and Fractal Cosmology and Cellular Cosmology are educational yet are they being universalized? Is there not a universalism of sorts within these three studies? Or are today's theoretical professors keeping them separate and distant from each other? If so, why?

      September 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Unfortunately Richard, I can honestly say that I do not have enough knowledge of the things you have mentioned to give an opinion and as much as I could research them there is a race I intend to watch that takes precedence over that right now.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  9. LouAz

    What is all this spiritual crap ? When you run out of money . . . you die. That is all.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  10. LouAz

    Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.
    Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime.
    Give a man religion, he'll die praying for a fish.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  11. Douglas Roberts

    My mother faithfully served her church her whole life, generously donating her time and very large (and sacrificial) amounts of money. But when she became disabled and homebound, the church completely ignored her for the last decade-and-a-half of her life. Although her body was frail, her mind remained sharp and it hurt her deeply for the church she loved to treat her as a nonexistent person. There was just one time that the minister visited her; that was when he asked her to put his church in her will.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  12. Winston419

    Atheism is generally a road less traveled... It's because it's a non profit organization. Take out the $ in Christianity and see how it would dwindle to nothing... Maybe God is money. Because money keeps God alive.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  13. John Galt

    If there was no God why would we need Atheist?

    Cap "A" because you guys are a religion too

    September 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Winston419

      Cap the A because it's a noun.....

      September 18, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Winston419

      Better yet... Cap the A because you were told to.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Amistavia

      The real John Galt wouldn't approve of your sheepish ways.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • John Galt

      A religion doesn’t have to posit a god who must be identified or worshiped. Some religions are polytheistic (Hinduism, Mormonism), some monotheistic (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), some non-theistic (Buddhism). I’d say the new atheists and their religion are “anti-theistic.” But their atheism is religious nonetheless and my proof is as follows

      1: one of the definitions of religion: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

      2: They have their own worldview. Materialism (the view that the material world is all there is) is the lens through which atheists view the world. Far from being the open-minded, follow-the-evidence-wherever thinkers they claim to be, they interpret all data ONLY within the very narrow worldview of materialism. They are like a guy wearing dark sunglasses who chides all others for thinking the sun is out.

      3: They have their own orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is a set of beliefs acceptable to a faith community. Just as there are orthodox Christian beliefs, there is an atheist orthodoxy as well. In brief, it is that EVERYTHING can be explained as the product of unintentional, undirected, purposeless evolution. No truth claim is acceptable if it cannot be subjected to scientific scrutiny.

      4: They have their own brand of apostasy. Apostasy is to abandon one’s former religious faith. Antony Flew was for many years one of the world’s most prominent atheists. And then he did the unthinkable: he changed his mind. You can imagine the response of the “open-minded, tolerant” New Atheist movement. Flew was vilified. Richard Dawkins accused Flew of “tergiversation.” It’s a fancy word for apostasy. By their own admission, then, Flew abandoned their “faith.”

      5: They have faith. That’s right, faith. They would have you believe the opposite. Their writings ridicule faith, condemn faith. Harris’s book is called The End of Faith. But theirs is a faith-based enterprise. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. To deny it takes faith. Evolution has no explanation for why our universe is orderly, predictable, measurable. In fact (atheistic) evolutionary theory has no rational explanation for why there is such a thing as rational explanation. There is no accounting for the things they hope you won’t ask: Why do we have self-awareness? What makes us conscious? From what source is there a universal sense of right and wrong? They just take such unexplained things by … faith.

      6: They have their own preachers and evangelists. And boy, are they “evangelistic.” Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens (Speaking of which, our prayers goes out to Christopher Hitchens in hopes of a speedy recovery for his cancer, we need more time with him Lord) are NOT out to ask that atheism be given respect. They are seeking converts. They are preaching a “gospel” calling for the end of theism.

      7: They have their own messiah: He is, of course, Charles Darwin. Darwin – in their view – drove the definitive stake through the heart of theism by providing a comprehensive explanation of life that never needs God as a cause or explanation. Daniel Dennett has even written a book seeking to define religious faith itself as merely an evolutionary development.

      8: They have their own prophets: Nietzsche, Russell, Feuerbach, Lenin, Marx.

      Not only is Atheism a religion, the entire premise is a negative proof fallacy.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Wtlnxtyr

      To believe in "nothing" is to believe in something. Despite any effort to spin this as otherwise, it is an inevitable truth. What that "something" is, however, needs to be open to question, and is always up for debate...

      September 18, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • gager

      Your new speak is obvious nonsense. Atheism is a lack of belief requireing no faith.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • gager

      Jon Galt. If you call that reason you need to get an education or get your money back from the one you have.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • John Galt

      Coming from a guy that can't produce an intelligent rebuttal.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • John Galt

      And you are wrong sir.
      Atheism is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities

      September 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • John Galt

      the nineteenth-century English philosopher Herbert Spencer has a chapter on "Ultimate Religious Ideas" in which he writes that, as regards the origin of the universe, three hypotheses are possible:

      self-existence (atheism),

      self-creation (pantheism)

      creation by an external agency (theism).

      Analyzing these three hypotheses, however, Spencer finds that, "differing so widely as they seem to do", they all "contain the same ultimate element. It is impossible to avoid making the assumption of self-existence somewhere", whether with regard to a part of the universe (atheism), the universe as a whole (pantheism), or an external creator (theism). Furthermore, the idea of self-existence is not merely inescapable but "rigorously inconceivable; and this holds true whatever be the nature of the object of which it is predicated". For Spencer, therefore, atheism, pantheism and theism alike, despite "seeming to their adherents quite rational, turn out, when critically examined, to be literally unthinkable". In view of its inability to evade assuming self-existence somewhere, "even that which is commonly regarded as the negation of all religion – even positive Atheism comes within the definition" of religion

      September 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Quite simply you are dead wrong. Atheism is the rejection of theistic claims, not religious ones or we would be labelled Areligionists. The fact that all theists fall within the umbrella of religion is superfluous. Your attempt to broaden the definition of Atheism fails miserably because you assume too much.

      "1.one of the definitions of religion: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"
      As noted above Atheism is none of these things. Further since faith is required to accept religion, Atheism in rejecting faith is the default position.

      "2: They have their own worldview"
      Atheism proposes no worldview. Materialism is not Atheism. Again you attempt to broaden the definition thus undermining your claim that Atheism is a religion.

      "3: They have their own orthodoxy"
      Now you're really stretching. While it is true that Atheists in general do support reason, logic, science and skepticism to arrive at a perception of reality, not all do. Some Atheists while rejecting the God concept still cling to irrational or supersti.tious beliefs. Further what you are attempting to classify as orthodoxy is simply common sense.

      "4: They have their own brand of apostasy."
      True in my case perhaps but many are raised in secular household so this fails too.

      "5: They have faith."
      Love this one. Faith is acceptance without reason(ie. gullibility). I accept nothing on faith. I have reasonable expectations based on principles that have demonstrable evidence.

      "6: They have their own preachers and evangelists"
      Now you're just grasping at straws. I accept the conclusions of experts who have peer-reviewed evidence and even then I may disagree if I have evidence to the contrary.

      Your last 2 statements are too preposterous to even acknowledge. Overall you have shown you don't understand Atheism at all, especially when you are basically conflating secular humanism into your definition. Secular humanism by your definition would be classified as a religion, but that isn't what you originally set out to show. So in conclusion and just as I began you are wrong.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • lisa2010

      because opposit attracts..

      September 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      where is faith defined as "acceptance without reason?


      1. how is Atheism not a system of beliefs? do you not believe there are no deities?

      2. Not a worldview? ( the way someone thinks about the world) Do you no view people of the world with Inherent existence; existence possessed by virtue of a being's own nature, and independent of any other being or cause?

      3. conforming to established doctrine... A doctrine of disbelief and Heliocentrism

      4. the point of this was faith if you can't prove that a change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species happened ( i.e. the missing link ) then you are using a faith system

      5.again where is faith defined as "acceptance without reason"? absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and is very different then reason

      rea·son – noun /ˈrēzən/
      a.Think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic – humans do not reason entirely from facts
      b.Find an answer to a problem by considering various possible solutions
      c.Persuade (someone) with rational argument – I tried to reason with her, but without success
      " I accept nothing on faith" can you prove we evolved from primates or that life started by random chance? and do you believe we did? what came first the plant or the animal, ( the bee or the flower ) and how did the other evolve from the first prokaryotes?

      6. Do you think that Christians believe every preachers and evangelists? or people see them as experts on their beliefs and even then may disagree.

      You have yet to prove anything I stated as incorrect and even added proof by admiting to fitting into the definitions of a religion

      "Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity"

      September 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @The Mad Hatter

      Definition: Faith
      Faith is trust, hope and belief in the goodness, trustworthiness or reliability of a person, concept or ent.ity. It can also refer to beliefs that are not based on proof

      Clear enough? Faith is trust...given without substantiation otherwise we wouldn't call it faith, we would call it knowledge.

      The rest of your rant is moot since you are doing exactly what John Galt did in conflating the definition of Atheism.

      Atheism is not a belief system...it is the rejection of a theist belief system.

      Atheism is not a worldview...my worldview would be secular humanism.

      Atheism has no doctrine...no dogma, no tenets, no holy books, no stance on morality, no anything similar to religions.

      Atheism is not in any way dependent upon accepting evolution. Many theists accept evolution as true. The Theory of Evolution is scientific fact supported by 150 years of collected data.

      Your entire argument is akin to saying that since I don't believe in unicorns, thus labelling me as an Aunicornist means that being an Aunicornist is a belief system. By your own definition we are all holders of an infinite number of belief systems for every conceivable or yet to be conceived unknown.

      Nice try though.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      you are still trying to say not believing in god is not a belief itself and you are wrong
      anytime you take a stance on a subject you are making a choice in a belief
      you believe god is not real true or false? and can you prove he isn't?

      also invest in a dictionary you are confused about the definitions of few words when you can come back maybe you will have stopped trying to change the meanings of words and not make a fool of yourself in public again.

      have a good day 🙂

      September 19, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      you do realize it's called the "Theory of Evolution" don't you?

      September 19, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Colin

      Mad Hatter- you do realize it's called the theory of gravity, right? Jump out a window and see how unambigious theories can be.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • AtheistSteve


      Funny that you accuse me of not understanding definitions when you are bending over backwards to redefine the word Atheist. The final paragraph in my last post exposes your error. Not believing in God is no more a belief system than not stamp collecting is a hobby. Also Atheist doesn't restrict itself to not believing in your God but all includes all gods. Finally your denial of scientific fact with respect to evolution just demonstrates your ignorance.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      Newton's law of universal gravitation

      Gravitation is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, along with electromagnetism, and the nuclear strong force and weak force. Modern physics describes gravitation using the general theory of relativity by Einstein, in which it is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime governing the motion of inertial objects. The simpler Newton's law of universal gravitation provides an accurate approximation for most physical situations.

      Try again...

      I have not changed the definition of Atheist ( unbelief in God or deities: disbelief in the existence of God or deities ) I have stated only that it falls under the definition of a religion

      if you do not belive something exist then you belive it is not in existence and that is a belief in itself, sorry you still fail to disprove my point

      Try again sport.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Colin

      Mad Hatter, to get a gauge of just how inane the belief in Adam and Eve is in the 21st Century, here are some areas fundamentalists must ignore, any one of which proves beyond rational argument that, not surprisingly, the World did not start about 6,000 years ago at the behest of the Judeo-Christian god, with one man, one woman and a talking snake.

      First and most obviously is the fossil record. The fossil record is much, much more than just dinosaurs. Indeed, dinosaurs only get the press because of their size, but they make up less than 1% of the entire fossil record. Life had been evolving on Earth for over 3 thousand million years before dinosaurs evolved and has gone on evolving for 65 million years after the Chicxulub meteor wiped them out.

      The fossil record includes the Stromatolites, colonies of prokaryotic bacteria, that range in age going back to about 3 billion years, the Ediacara fossils from South Australia, widely regarded as among the earliest multi-celled organisms, the Cambrian species of the Burgess shale in Canada (circa – 450 million years) the giant scorpions of the Silurian Period, the giant, wingless insects of the Devonian period, the insects, amphibians, reptiles; fishes, clams, crustaceans of the Carboniferous Period, the many precursors to the dinosaurs, the dinosaurs themselves, the subsequent dominant mammals, including the saber tooth tiger, the mammoths of North America and Asia, the fossils of early man in Africa and the Neanderthals of Europe.

      The fossil record shows a consistent and worldwide evolution of life on Earth dating back to about 3,500,000,000 years ago. There are literally millions of fossils that have been recovered, of thousands of different species and they are all located where they would be in the geological record if life evolved slowly over billions of years. None of them can be explained by a 6,000 year old Earth and Noah’s flood. Were they all on the ark? What happened to them when it docked?

      A Tyrannosaurus Rex ate a lot of food – meat- which means its food would itself have to have been fed, like the food of every other carnivore on the ark. A bit of “back of the envelope” math quickly shows that “Noah’s Ark” would actually have to have been an armada of ships bigger than the D Day invasion force, manned by thousands and thousands of people – and this is without including the World’s 300,000 current species of plants, none of which could walk merrily in twos onto the Ark.

      Secondly, there are those little things we call oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels. Their mere existence is another, independent and fatal blow to the creationists. Speak to any geologist who works for Exxon Mobil, Shell or any of the thousands of mining, oil or natural gas related companies that make a living finding fossil fuels. They will tell you these fossil fuels take millions of years to develop from the remains of large forests (in the case of coal) or tiny marine creatures (in the case of oil). That’s why they are called fossil fuels. Have a close look at coal, you can often see the fossilized leaves in it. The geologists know exactly what rocks to look for fossil fuels in, because they know how to date the rocks to millions of years ago. Creationists have no credible explanation for this (nor for why most of it was “given to the Muslims”).

      Thirdly, most of astronomy and cosmology would be wrong if the creationists were right. In short, as Einstein showed, light travels at a set speed. Space is so large that light from distant stars takes many years to reach the Earth. In some cases, this is millions or billions of years. The fact that we can see light from such far away stars means it began its journey billions of years ago. The Universe must be billions of years old. We can currently see galaxies whose light left home 13.7 billion years ago. Indeed, on a clear night, one can see many stars more than 6,000 light years away with the naked eye, shining down like tiny silent witnesses against the nonsense of creationism.

      Fourthly, we have not just carbon dating, but also all other methods used by scientists to date wood, rocks, fossils, and other artifacts. These comprehensively disprove the Bible’s claims. They include uranium-lead dating, potassium-argon dating as well as other non-radioactive methods such as pollen dating, dendrochronology and ice core dating. In order for any particular rock, fossil or other artifact to be aged, generally two or more samples are dated independently by two or more laboratories in order to ensure an accurate result. If results were random, as creationists claim, the two independent results would rarely agree. They generally do. They regularly reveal ages much older than Genesis. Indeed, the Earth is about 750,000 times older than the Bible claims.

      Fifthly, the relatively new field of DNA mapping not only convicts criminals, it shows in undeniable, full detail how we differ from other life forms on the planet. For example, about 98.4% of human DNA is identical to that of chimpanzees, about 97% of human DNA is identical to that of gorillas, and slightly less again of human DNA is identical to the DNA of monkeys. This gradual divergence in DNA can only be rationally explained by the two species diverging from a common ancestor, and coincides perfectly with the fossil record. Indeed, scientists can use the percentage of DNA that two animal share (such as humans and bears, or domestic dogs and wolves) to get an idea of how long ago the last common ancestor of both species lived. It perfectly corroborates the fossil record and is completely independently developed. It acts as yet another fatal blow to the “talking snake” theory.

      Sixthly, the entire field of historical linguistics would have to be rewritten to accommodate the Bible. This discipline studies how languages develop and diverge over time. For example, Spanish and Italian are very similar and have a recent common “ancestor” language, Latin, as most people know. However, Russian is quite different and therefore either did not share a common root, or branched off much earlier in time. No respected linguist anywhere in the World traces languages back to the Tower of Babel, the creationists’ explanation for different languages. Indeed, American Indians, Australian Aboriginals, “true” Indians, Chinese, Mongols, Ja.panese, Sub-Saharan Africans and the Celts and other tribes of ancient Europe were speaking thousands of different languages thousands of years before the date creationist say the Tower of Babel occurred – and even well before the date they claim for the Garden of Eden.

      Seventhly, lactose intolerance is also a clear vestige of human evolution. Most mammals only consume milk as infants. After infancy, they no longer produce the enzyme “lactase” that digests the lactose in milk and so become lactose intolerant. Humans are an exception and can drink milk as adults – but not all humans – some humans remain lactose intolerant. So which humans are no longer lactose intolerant? The answer is those who evolved over the past few thousand years raising cows. They evolved slightly to keep producing lactase as adults so as to allow the consumption of milk as adults. This includes most Europeans and some Africans, notably the Tutsi of Rwanda. On the other hand, most Chinese, native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, whose ancestors did not raise cattle, remain lactose intolerant.

      I could go on and elaborate on a number of other disciplines or facts that creationists have to pretend into oblivion to retain their faith, including the Ice Ages, cavemen and early hominids, much of microbiology, paleontology and archeology, continental drift and plate tectonics, even large parts of medical research (medical research on monkeys and mice only works because they share a common ancestor with us and therefore our fundamental cell biology and basic body architecture is identical to theirs).

      In short, and not surprisingly, the World’s most gifted evolutionary biologists, astronomers, cosmologists, geologists, archeologists, paleontologists, historians, modern medical researchers and linguists (and about 2,000 years of accu.mulated knowledge) are right and a handful of Iron Age Middle Eastern goat herders were wrong.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      And how does that change what I have stated and that Atheism is a religion?

      and there has yet to be definitive proof of ape evolving into human if you have it please by all means post it the world would like to see it, oh and you forgot to put in how evolution has as many gaps as any religion
      like Genesis Park describes a number of images drawn by Neanderthals and by humans in the Middle East which resemble dinosaurs. The suggestion is that the artists were drawing pictures of dinosaurs from memory of having seen the animals.

      But to my point that Atheism is a religion by definition
      Religion: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
      Faith: belief or trust: belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without proof
      Atheism: unbelief in God or deities: disbelief in the existence of God or deities

      Again, can you prove there is no god? then you use faith in your beliefs the same as any religion
      and yes you do have a belief it is that there is no god, that is not absence of believing that is the presence of a belief system

      September 19, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Mad Hatter

      Boy are you dense. It's even present in the words you yourself typed.

      "Atheism: unbelief in God or deities: disbelief in the existence of God or deities"

      Unbelief or disbelief is the suspension of belief, not a belief itself. You don't get to decide what words actually mean.
      Secondly there is absolutely nothing in that definition of Atheism that speaks to a "system" of beliefs or any extra descriptions of it being a religion or worldview. You're just making all that crap up. Get it?
      Third your pathetic Discovery Insti.tute intelligent design anti-evolution arguments have all been debunked many times. Quite simply you, me and everybody else evolved from a common ape ancestor despite what you believe. Finally your magic man in the sky belief calls into question your ability to make any rational choices whatsoever.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      it's simple...
      do you believe there is not a god?
      yes or no

      prove man evolved from ape not just say it
      you talk a lot I use information, web links along with word definitions
      your insults just reinforce that you can't prove anything and must resort to insults
      so again...
      Try again sport 😉

      September 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      I believe you believe in a god. Your question is loaded and the presupposition you start with is flawed. I am not the one proposing Gods existence...you are. I might easily turn your question back on you and ask do you believe in unicorns, fairies or the flying spagetti monster. If you answer NO to any of the above then you are a believer in the non-existence of unicorns, fairies and the flying spagetti monster. Plus you have an entire religion based on your disbelief of unicorns, fairies and the flying spagetti monster.
      Now do you see how inane your stance is? Probably not but I wouldn't expect you to anyway.
      As to links or references to information and definitions i fail to see the point. Colin provided extensive info on evolution which you ignored anyway. And you can't even decipher the definitions you yourself provided. Plus you only consider I.D. pseudoscience as valid.
      And last it was you who first began the insults by calling me fool. I was just following suit.

      September 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      yes or no...
      can you not answer?

      and yes I am a believer that those things do not exits and I'm not debating if there is a god only that Atheism falls under the same rules and is a religion.
      like the old saying "choosing not to chose is making a choice"
      not believing something exist is a belief that said object does not exist

      1:acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty
      2:confidence that somebody or something is good or will be effective
      3:something that somebody believes in: a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true

      Does Atheism not fall under a principle that a person accepts as true?
      I keep answering your question but you don't answer mine why is that?

      September 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      I did answer. I told you it was a loaded question. If I were to attempt to answer your asinine question I would just be falling into your trap. Exactly like I trapped you into admitting you have a belief in the non-existence of unicorns, fairies and the flying spagetti monster. Further proving your belief that unicorns, fairies and the flying spagetti monster do not exist is if fact a religion.
      So if you want me to acknowledge your original argument " Atheism is a religion " then you must concede the point that you being an Aunicornist, Afairyist and an Aflying spagetti monsterist possess all these as your religion too.
      More than that you have a whole series of religions for everything else you don't believe in.

      Finally it isn't my job to provide proof for anything concerning evolution. The facts are freely available to all who are interested. Try a science text instead of creationist propaganda for starters to get better results.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      okay they can be a religion also
      which would mean by your own admission that Atheism is a religion
      I'm cool with being a anti-unicornist, I don't like them anyways
      thank you, was that so hard to admit?

      you sir are practicing a religion one that means so much to you that you use it as your online name
      also please show me where I call you a fool
      or is telling someone not to make a fool of themself the same as calling them a fool which would mean you are very religious
      as far as Colin he said nothing that related to the debate I was in with you...
      we are talking about Atheism as a religious view not debating the existence of God
      now look over the definitions I have shown you and please explain how Atheism does not fit into the said definitions
      And you claim that evolution is true so the burden of proof falls in your lap as it is the base of your religion.
      so again lets see this proof of evolution between ape and man

      September 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      quick question...

      1: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe
      2: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
      3: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

      just wondering how the unicorn thing fits in
      it's easy to see how Atheism fits

      September 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Mad Hatter

      If you want the REAL definition of religion, here it is:
      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.
      - Clearly not atheist because in order to be an atheist you have to believe the most logical way the universe was created was NOT by a superhuman agency, and there are neither devotional or ritual observances
      a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
      - Doesn't fit considering there aren't a set of beliefs and practices that all atheists agree upon, the only thing that all atheists agree upon is disbelief in god, thats it, nothing else.
      the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
      - We are not a single body of people nor is there a particular set of beliefs AND practices. I know your going to nitpick this so I want to emphasize this. You can't not say we have a set of beliefs and ignore the practices part to prove that atheism is a religion in of itself. There are no specific practices that atheists ascribe to, so this doesn't apply

      the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
      –Do I need to explain this?
      the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
      This definition I know you will probably nitpick as well, so let me head you off before you do. There are no practices or ritual observances of atheism, the only way to be an atheist is to have a disbelief in god, other than that there are no rules, no practices, no observances, no nothing

      The definitions you have used are wrong or only half-right, go look on webster.com, the official site that is the final word on the matter. I also don't think I need to point out to you that using only part of a definition fundamentally changes the word and definition itself, so to take only parts out to prove what atheism does do as "religious" is flawed and destroys your argument.

      Sorry bud, but atheism is as much of a religion as you calling yourself amuslim instead of a christian. It doesn't make sense.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      1. are you not devoted to the disbelief of a god?

      2. you all believe there is no god how is that not a specific fundamental beliefe considering you have to believe there is not God to be defined as Atheist otherwise you would be agnostic.

      3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.... all Atheist believe there is no god and and most practice telling everybody you can like coming here to religion.blogs.cnn.com... why? other then trying to disprove God.

      4. just because your not a Monk it doesn't change you fit in other definitions of religion

      September 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      you also share a belief in evolution...

      September 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      last but not least
      I rather enjoy debating and even though we have different views of how the world works it's been fun
      all in all it was nice meeting you in the online sence and hope we can have another long drawn out debate in the future
      have a good night Steve

      September 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Mad Hatter

      To debate is fine but to stick to ideas that are shown to be in error is not debate, it's pig-headed.

      Let's try a hypothetical. Suppose every single person on Earth held a positive belief in a god or gods. Everybody believed because it was blatantly obvious. For example a large number of stars would assemble like pixels to spell out "You are all my children" All the variety of man made religions based off of this heavenly spectacle would be theists. The dictionary would state: Theist-One who believes in a god or gods responsible for writing with stars. Nobody would be an Atheist since it would be folly to deny what is obviously true. The word Atheist would be absent from all dictionaries.

      OK? Now try the opposite. On this next hypothetical world nobody believes in a god or gods. The concept has never occurred to anyone. The word Theist is absent from the dictionary thus it follows that the word Atheist would also be missing.
      In both these worlds Atheism doesn't exist. That's because nobody goes around professing belief in things they think are false...they only profess belief in things they think are true. Atheism cannot stand on its own as a belief because it isn't one. You are under the false impression that Atheism is the positive affirmation of the non existence of god.... It's not. It is simply the rejection of YOUR positive affirmation that a god does exist.
      This brings me to what you said about agnosticism. Gnostic/Agnostic refers to knowledge...what you can know or not know. Theist/Atheist refers to belief....what you believe or not believe. Notice that while you may be correct about Atheist falling under the category of belief it is still an unbelief,non-belief, anti-belief etc. If we try to define belief the way you propose then absolutely everything, true or false, is a belief and you end up with the word belief becoming meaningless.
      I am an Agnostic Atheist. Agnostic because is is impossible to prove a negative( the non-existence of god isn't falsifiable) and Atheist because I find your belief in a god unjustifiable and so I can't assign it a "true" value. I haven't assigned gods non-existence a "true" value because that would be dishonest.
      Finally you seem(and I'm making an assumption here) to think that gods existence or non-existence is a 50-50 proposition. It's not. Of all the 34.000 different christian sects and countless other deities throughout history, your own belief just within believers is only a tiny fraction of possibly being true. Add to that the complete lack of any verifiable evidence to the existence of ANY deity and the odds of you being right are vanishingly small.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      "Notice that while you may be correct about Atheist falling under the category of belief it is still an unbelief,non-belief, anti-belief etc. If we try to define belief the way you propose then absolutely everything, true or false, is a belief and you end up with the word belief becoming meaningless."

      All things you think true or false is a belief, you either believe it to be true or you believe it to be false.
      The defining part is the first part of the definition of religion that would seperate just believing something as true or false and it being your religious type view

      First I want to say that I'm not saying Atheist is a religion in a bad sence or to try and produce some sort of shame only that it falls under the definition of a religion and wondering how it would change your feelings\view of Atheism even if everybody considered it a religous view, if it's something you believe to be true (that there is no god) what does it matter if someone labels it as your world view? agnostic I do not consider a religion because ones agnostic view can change from one to the other but all Atheist believe there is no God and that evolution is absolutely true.

      For me I see evolution the same as you see God not enough proof to say I believe it and see God as how all things started, in my view evolution of man can be true just that it has not been proven where God I can see because there is no other logical explanation for how the matter in the universe came to be from nothing, a higher power for now can be the only possible answer if science was to prove the creation of the universe in some other way I would not deny that truth.

      Back to my point...
      a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, if I believe unicorn exist that does not effect the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe the same as if I don't like McDonalds hamburgers it doesn't effect the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe even though I believe that they are not very good it would not apply to my religous viewpoint because it won't change how I see the world working.

      At no point did I condemn you for your view (unlike I received from some) only labeled it as a world view that in no way effects the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.
      And for the pig headed thing we both fall in that group, we both appear to be very stubborn in our viewpoint.

      Most talks about said subjects turn into non-stop insults but for what reason?
      It is what has lead me to my veiw that Atheism as a religion, the passion most Atheist have for their point of view from the start you may not fall in this category but I'm sure you know someone that does.The same applies to Christians that freak out on someone and start forcing their view on others, I see that as wrong also if someone asks or brings the debate to you then by all means debate but why be rude how does it help?

      well sir I guess we can call an end to this and agree to disagree and let's do this again sometime.
      Have a good one.

      September 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "All things you think true or false is a belief, you either believe it to be true or you believe it to be false."

      I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall. Look below to the definition that you yourself posted for belief. Because how that line above should read is like this.

      "All things you think are true (not false)is a belief, you either believe it to be true or you don't believe it"

      1:acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty
      2:confidence that somebody or something is good or will be effective
      3:something that somebody believes in: a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true

      Nowhere does it say accepting something to be false. You are wrong sir.
      Now I'm done...it's been fun.

      September 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      agreed and sorry about that
      I left some of what I was trying to say out

      I was trying to express that even a belief that something is false is still the addition of a belief

      you believe the existence of a God to be false
      it is a positive because it means you believe a God does not exist, and that you believe your view to be true
      so you still have the addition of a belief in the belief that something is not true
      that your belief of disbelief is correct

      Still not sure if I stated that correctly I've had a long day

      September 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      And it's been a long day for me too.

      You wrote: "you believe the existence of a God to be false
      it is a positive because it means you believe a God does not exist, and that you believe your view to be true."

      I already explained to you in depth, several times, that what you said above is NOT what I believe.
      You keep trying to tell me what I believe and I keep telling you that I DON'T believe that.
      You keep saying I believe that a god doesn't exist...I DON'T believe that.
      At BEST you could say...I believe it is unlikely that a god exists. That's a VERY different thing since I am not assigning gods nonexistence a "true" value thus rendering it incomplete as a belief.
      Our entire conversation has been plagued by what appears to be a failure to communicate. Many of the points I raised you have ignored and you continue to make statements that are false.

      It is like taking a simple true statement like "the sky is blue" and then you come back saying I believe something like " the sky is not plaid" or "the sky is not polka dotted". It makes no difference if it's true it is still nonsense. The sky is not many things...it isn't cotton candy, swiss cheese or pink elephants. Calling any of these things a belief is downright silly.

      Here is an example of what I am trying to say if I turn it around to ask you about your belief.

      Do you believe God exists?
      I will jump in here for you and assume you will answer "yes".
      This means you have a concept "God" and that you accept it as being "true".
      Of course I would answer "no".
      This means I am looking at YOUR concept "God" and I reject it as being "false". Which shows only that I am rejecting your belief, not overriding it with my own.
      I am not putting forth a concept of "No God" and accepting it as being "true". I can't because it is impossible to prove a negative.

      Now if I change the question to introduce an element of doubt the change becomes obvious.
      Do you believe it is possible that God exists?
      Now here your answer would remain the same "yes"
      And surprise, surprise my answer would change to "yes" as well. Certainly I would give it a very low probability, but could not in all honesty rule it out completely.

      And next the question as proposed by you.
      Do you believe no God exists?
      Of course I will jump in again and assume you answer "no". Not a problem since you are rejecting the belief as not being one of your own. You disbelieve this statement... meaning it is not your belief.
      However for me at this point answering the question gets problematic. I can't offer a "Yes or No" answer and remain logically consistent. The best I could say is "probably or very likely"

      Finally the question that puts this to rest.
      Do you believe it is possible that no God exists?
      Again I introduce an element of doubt and at this point I would be VERY interested in how you respond.
      If you say "No" then you are declaring absolute unwavering certainty that God does in fact exist. By dismissing the possibility that God doesn't exist you are taking a Gnostic stance. You are claiming to "know" without doubt that God exists. This of course opens up an entirely separate set of questions about how you could possibly prove your claim. Your only honest response is an Agnostic one where you answer "yes" with a qualifier of "but unlikely" to remain consistent with your beliefs.
      Of course I would answer "yes" with or without a qualifier of "very likely" without compromising my beliefs.

      The entire problem we have here stems from the beginning premise of your original argument. It all revolves around the "concept" of God. You are making an error by trying to make "no God" a concept. It isn't...it is the fall back position in the absence of your "God" concept. It is the default position.

      Since you seem to be mixed up about what Agnostic/Gnostic and Atheist/Theist mean I will repeat so you don't confuse those terms again.
      Agnostic/Gnostic isn't about "belief", it's about "knowledge".
      If you are a Theist then you "believe" God exists, if you are Atheist you don't.
      You are Agnostic if you admit you cannot "know" for certain that God exists. This applies to both Atheists and Theists.
      You are Gnostic if you "know" God exists or if you "know" God doesn't exist. Again it applies to both Atheists and Theists.
      Being Agnostic is the only reasonable stance to take since it is impossible to prove Gods existence either way.
      Thus I am an Agnostic Atheist and if you're being honest then you are an Agnostic Theist.

      Since I've now demonstrated that Atheism is NOT a belief in "no God" then your entire idea of Atheism is a "religion" falls apart. Throughout you have twisted and confused the definitions of words like religion, belief, faith, Agnostic and Atheist with faulty logic and broken arguments. Good Day.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      "you" in a general sense not directly at you.

      first why are you in this debate you aren't a "Atheist" your "Agnostic Atheist"

      "...I believe it is unlikely that a god exists. That's a VERY different thing since I am not assigning gods nonexistence a "true" value thus rendering it incomplete as a belief."

      That means you no longer fit in the definition of Atheism by itself so my statement would not apply to you and what you believe. Since from what you say "not assigning gods nonexistence a "true"" you aren't rejecting the possibility of a God only it can't be proven which like you said would be Agnostic Atheist and is not the same as someone who claims there is no god and rejects the possibility of it. I have spoke with many Atheist with this exact view.

      "You are making an error by trying to make "no god" a concept" that is incorrect.
      I am making the "belief in no god" a concept that a Atheist (not a Agnostic Atheist) would view as true but can not prove so their view would fall under the definition of faith.

      If you have view at all about any subject you have a belief about that subject.
      what would define it as religion is if it effects cause, nature, and purpose of the universe

      Belief in God would mean you ( again, not you personally but in general ) believe God has everything to do with the universe it can't be proven so requires faith but if God was proven to not exist it would effect your view of cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.... correct?

      Atheist reject the idea of a god and believe their view to be true or they would be agnostic unless they choose no stance at all of a god that of which would require unknowing of what the term "god" means so it would fall under a belief and since they can't prove that a god doesn't exist then by definition it requires faith for their view, meaning it would effect their view of the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe if a god was proven to be true.
      making Atheism not Agnostic Atheism a religious view.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Because once and for all I'm telling you that what you think Atheist is is WRONG. You don't know and keep getting wrong what the word Atheist actually means.

      Atheist: One who DISbelieves in the existence of a god or gods.
      NOT: One who BELIEVES in the non existence of a god or gods. I challenge you to find that definition in any dictionary.

      You can't change what Atheist means just to make it fit your argument. If as you say you have talked to others who claim to be Atheist the way you describe it then they are IDIOTS who also don't understand Atheism and yes at that point since they are claiming "no God" to be true, then by all means call their point of view a "religion". What I'm telling you is that the VAST majority of Atheists are not that STUPID.

      So much for trying to reason with you.

      I'm going to ask you 2 simple questions.

      1) Do you believe in God?

      2) Do you know(without a doubt) that God exists?

      Give me a quick reply to both those questions and I'll respond with a description of what you hold as your beliefs based on how you answer. OK?

      September 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Also I have to comment on the other part of your last post.
      "If you have view at all about any subject you have a belief about that subject.
      what would define it as religion is if it effects cause, nature, and purpose of the universe"
      If you are a Theist then the statement above makes sense. Theism IS a religion and the reason it affects the cause, nature and purpose of the universe is because all those things are contained in your Bible. Creation, morality, sin, mans reason for being...etc. All those things are laid out as dogma and tenets of your faith. You define the universe based on the teachings of your religion. In other words you are stuck having to accept ALL that stuff because it is directly tied into your belief that God exists. Belief in God comes with a HUGE pile of baggage. You can't simply believe in God and toss out all the associated information.
      But Atheism is different. Atheists reject your idea of God being real. When that happens all the associated stuff that is taught in your Bible becomes totally meaningless. This is where your biggest mistake is made. The Atheist point of view speaks ONLY to the case of your God being real or not. All the rest is NOT in any way linked to Atheism. Atheism says absolutely NOTHING about the cause, nature and purpose of universe, mankind or purposeness.
      The error you are making is since your faith has all this extra stuff attached then if someone rejects your faith then all that stuff must somehow get replaced by some other type of dogma. It doesn't.
      Questions about the cause or nature of the universe then become entirely different subjects like philosophy and science.
      Questions about purpose become meaningless since there is no longer an intelligence or guiding hand giving inherent meaning to anything that occurs in nature.
      Questions about lifes origins become the area of biogenesis.
      Questions about lifes diversity become the area of evolution.(note: many Atheists accept this as the best explanation based on available data, not because they are Atheists, but because it makes the most sense based on current knowledge)
      etc. etc. All these things are based on reason, logic and skepticism....NOT Atheism.
      None of those things have any direct link to Atheism the way they do in your Theist perspective. And Atheists views are all over the map when it comes to what they accept as true about those different things. That is because Atheists don't have a HOLY book to define a worldview. We are therefore forced to piece together whatever we think makes sense to answer those questions. And if we don't have an answer for something then we simply accept that we don't know. Plus if new information surfaces to redefine any of these things then we can change our view to accept it. You on the other hand will say "God did it" for anything that you don't understand and your views are fixed(written in stone as it were) since your scriptures don't change.
      You are looking at the world through a BELIEVERS perspective and you can't seem to ditch the attached Theist worldview when you look at Atheists. Atheists have widely different worldviews because there is no Atheist Bible dictating one. That's because they are not connected. You are just assuming a connection because in your theist worldview they ARE connected.
      So to sum up I will tell you what I am and what I believe based on ALL the different criteria that are separate in and of themselves but combine to form my view.
      I am an Atheist because I reject your "God" concept. (that is all that is required to be an atheist PERIOD)
      I am an Agnostic because I cannot "know" if your "God" exists or not.(And you are one too unless you have been to every corner of the universe to prove it one way or the other)
      Nothing else has anything at all to do with a God being real or not.
      The universe began with the Big Bang. (best explanation so far and what happened to cause it is unknown and unimportant)

      September 22, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • AtheistSteve


      The universe is 13.7 billion years old(cosmology: best estimate based on available data) -nothing to do with Atheism
      The earth is 4.5 billion years old(cosmology: best estimate based on available data) -nothing to do with Atheism
      Life emerged from non-life(Biogenesis theory...cause and process unknown) -nothing to do with Atheism
      Life spread and diversified through evolution(best available explanation) -nothing to do with Atheism
      Man evolved from common ape ancestor(evolution science) -nothing to do with Atheism
      Consciousness is an emergent property of the brain(neuroscience) -nothing to do with Atheism
      Emotions, memories and intelligence are functions of the brain(neuroscience) -nothing to do with Atheism
      Morals are emergent qualities of social animals(natural science) -nothing to do with Atheism

      See a pattern here?
      Now these:
      Soul, afterlife, heaven, hell, ghosts, miracles, prayer, Jesus, prophesy, Satan, angels, demons, spirits, etc. (supersti.tions: no evidence that they exist) -yup...you guessed it... -nothing to do with Atheism

      September 22, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • The Mad Hatter

      short on time but will respond fully after work

      "I challenge you to find that definition in any dictionary."

      September 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      and please explain how a disbelief in a god is diferent then a belief that there is no god...

      September 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "and please explain how a disbelief in a god is diferent then a belief that there is no god..."

      Nah...I can't be bothered to explain it for the nth time since you just ignore everything I write anyway.
      Maintain your thickheaded belief that Atheism is a religion if your want. Diminish the word religion to meaning nothing in the process. I could care less. All I know is you believe in myths based on no facts with magical stories told by sheep herders from 2000 years ago. I am not that gullible. I accept nothing on faith and have evidence to back up everything I hold to be true with zero supernatural forces or agents involved. Enjoy your delusions and goodbye.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      It's "couldn't" care less...

      Interesting how a person can criticize someone else not realizing that their Disbelief in a god or gods is no different then a belief in no god or gods.

      >~~ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism ~~<

      hate to say I told you so, but...

      September 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yeah whatever. Your not seeing the difference between the words belief and disbelief speaks to your ignorance, not mine. So some idiot who thinks like you do puts an erroneous definition into some random online dictionary. Big deal...a trusted dictionary like Websters says differently so you're wrong. And unless Websters also said religion was part of the definition of Atheism then you're still wrong about that too. And lastly actually being an Atheist myself makes ME, not you, the expert on the subject. And fellow Atheists, many of whom are famous authors, TV personalities, philosophers, scientists or YouTube stars agree with me and have already refuted your ridiculous argument countless times over. Oh and if you want to have interesting debates in the future with people and not get labelled as a troll then learn how to form logical arguments. Throughout these posts I've formed extensive explanations with examples for each of the points you raised and instead of trying to form logical counter-arguments you just barf out the same blind a.ssertions over and over like a broken record with no thought or insight. However I'm not really that surprised. Given the tripe you already believe to be true(aka your religion) this tells me you aren't that selective in discovering the difference between truth and fiction in the first place.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • The Mad Hatter

      It looks a lot like you disbelief is like you not caring...

      You disbelive enough to keep coming back to argue you don't believe anything, just like you not caring enough to keep coming back..
      Hmmm very interesting, wonder what Sigmund Freud would say?
      Some mother issues perhaps?

      September 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm |


    September 18, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Amistavia

      Guess so since he's ALL CAPITALS worthy.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      He is making a fool out of your child-like mentality... and making a nice little profit. Keep worshiping his philosophy for children and try not to post in all CAPS, it makes you come across as a screaming little kid.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Loved Like All

      I'm Catholic and don't necessarily believe in all the things he has written and said. I do, however, have the utmost respect for his dedication to a life of service to God and others. Many people just do not have the ability to understand the idea of sacrifice, service, and selflessness. Thank you, Father!

      September 18, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Wtlnxtyr

      Just from reading his comments, I can easily agree with you.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      any support of the catholic church right now just seems so wrong...there has been enough evidence as of late to prove the church is not worthy of support...until they convict all the pedophiles and supporters there of the church should be shut down or at least made to pay taxes

      September 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  15. rick perrytwit ... slack jawed bible thumper

    I feel I'm qualified to be president because afterall, I did grow up in the same trailer park as Sarah Palin.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  16. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    People do not need a spiritual survival guide. They need a physical one.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  17. maniacmudd

    prodding your behind all the while their hands are in the purse....

    September 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  18. J. Hill

    Long-haired preachers come out every night
    To tell you what's wrong and what's right
    But when asked about something to eat
    They will answer in voices so sweet
    You will eat bye and bye,
    In that glorious land above the sky.
    Work and pray, live on hay,
    You'll get pie in the sky when you die

    September 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • LouAz

      Just GREAT !

      September 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  19. tim

    OR: is that the elderly are running out of money!
    they have no use for the elderly other than to keep this charade going.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  20. angelosdaughter

    I visited my father in the nursing home every night after work. He was 90 years old, and he just went uncomplainingly with this last season of his life. In the end, like it or not, we all have to let go of ego. At the end, we really own nothing, but we still have a few lessons to teach those who walk this last journey with us. His was to live in the moment and to accept life and death gracefully. Near the end, Papa could barely see, but whenever he was outside at night (we often went for rides singing his favorite Italian songs as we rode) he would raise his eyes to the heavens looking for stars, as he had all his life. I was with him at the end. If a death could be said to be beautiful, his was. I hope I can follow his example when my time comes.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • kimsland

      I held my father's hand when he passed away.
      It was raining outside and I thought, I wished he had a better day to look at outside his window.
      But he said to me, look at the rain, isn't it beautiful.

      Life is beautiful and very short, we should all make the best of it, and not waste our time with religion.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • gager

      Nice sentiment. It sounds like he had a secular end. That is what I want.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • kimsland

      Wow, I've never mentioned that before to anyone.

      I can't laugh at the moment, I'll have to exit out of this religious 'belief' blog.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Anonymous

      Wow. Thank you for your deep, honest and meaningful comment about your father. Reading something like this really gives this story the proper perspective.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
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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.