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Study: Some atheists with children attend religious services
December 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Study: Some atheists with children attend religious services

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Nearly one in five atheist scientists with children involve their families with religious institutions, even if they personally do not agree with the institutions teachings, a recent study says.

The study, conducted by Rice University and the University at Buffalo, found that these scientists affiliate with churches for both social and personal reasons. Additionally, the scientists indicated a strong desire to prepare their children to make educated decisions about their personal religious preference.

“This was so surprising to us just because of all of the public discussion about the ways in which scientists are very against religions people,” said Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist at Rice. “When in fact, those we might most expect to be against religious people are sitting alongside them.”

Study participants also indicated they were involved in a religious institution because of the religious preferences of a spouse or partner.

One of the most interesting findings, according to Ecklund, was that some atheist scientists want to expose their children to religion due to scientific reasoning.

"We thought that these individuals might be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions, but we found the exact opposite to be true," Ecklund said. "They want their children to have choices, and it is more consistent with their science identity to expose their children to all sources of knowledge."

Ecklund said there were cases in which survey respondents identified that not only did they introduce their children to one church, but they also attended other religious services in the hope that the children would better understand each denomination.

"I think that understanding how nonreligious scientists utilize religion in family life demonstrates the important function they have in the U.S.," Ecklund said.

Sociologist Kristen Schultz Lee of University of Buffalo co-authored the study, which can be found in the December issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

The data was pulled from a survey of 2,198 tenured or tenure-track faculty at 21 U.S. research universities. Around half of survey respondents identified a form of religious identity, while the other half did not.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Church • Culture & Science

soundoff (2,129 Responses)
  1. Ric

    The article proves that atheists have some doubts about their faith in godless atheism.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Joe

      No, the article proves that scientists understand the benefits of examining multiple sides to an issue whereas Christians prefer the condescending path of "we're right, everyone else is wrong and we have nothing but our own religion manual to prove it." It's called expanding your world view. It has nothing to do with the validity of the belief system.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • angryAmerican

      No ones a atheist on their death bed... Ive worked in hospitals as a nurse for 18 years, never once have I seen someone on their death bed not turn to God...Not one single time and I have been with hundreds of people in their final moments.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Paul

      It proves no such thing.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Veritas

      As an atheist, to me sitting in a Church is equivalent to sitting in on a lecture about Greek myths. More amusing & entertaining than offensive or inspiring. Christians, you really give yourselves and your beliefs too much credit when you assume this means atheists are "secretly torn" about whether or not we follow your brand of mythology. When I read the bible, for instance, I have trouble focusing because I'm rolling my eyes half the time.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • scoto

      Is there another type of atheism that isnt "godless"?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • pattyo27

      You people need to read this article a bit more closely. What was said is that these scientists often show their children several different religions, in order for them to make an educated decision on what the right path for them is. It's referred to as "scientific reasoning." I am an atheist and I plan on exposing my children to religions, worldwide, to allow them to make their own decisions, instead of trying to brainwash them and force them to believe that a certain way is the only way. That's the difference between us and you. We actually utilize our abilities to think critically, instead of following the masses as sheep. If you believe in a god, then you should value the ability he afforded you.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Rick

      It's consistent adherance to scientific method and the only prudent way to go about it. The scientists let their children get all sides of an issue and then choose which side they find to be the most correct, which is good scientific thinking even if this is a rather unconventional subject for it..

      This stands in stark contrast to many religious homes, where the parents make the children attend the services of their religion and ONLY their religion. It has nothing to do with doubt. I'm a secular humanist with no doubt that there is no man in the sky, and if I have kids, I will let them have the same choice. If they become religious, I'll be a little disappointed, but I won't stop loving them. This is again opposed to many religious homes, where failure to adhere to the religion is cause for ostracizing the child from the family.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Alex

      No. You just see it through your point of view. I am athiest and both my kids went to Catholic school. Why, because my wife is Catholic and the school was good. I know they will make up thier minds on their own. My 16 year old son who went to Catholic school until 7th grade thinks it is a bunch of hogwash. And he decided on his own after being exposed to it.

      This article is definitely digging to show support for religion when all it is showing is tolerence. Forst it is "almost" 20%, so it shows over 80% do not involve religion. Then how many, like myself, are including their spouses beliefs? And I do think it is good to know about religion, because it is something that you have to deal with in this country. I went to an Episcopalian high school and attended church three times a week. I could discuss religion in great detail with my grandfather in law when I first met him. He thought I was great because I knew more about the bible than he did, and he had crosses and little Jesus grottos in his yard year round. I did omit that while I could discuss it with him, I viewed it like discussing a star wars movie, fiction.

      But having that knowledge of religion does not make one believe. In fact, I think for many athiests, knowing about religion is what makes them realize it is untrue.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • ThinkRationally

      angryAmerican said, "No ones a atheist on their death bed... Ive worked in hospitals as a nurse for 18 years, never once have I seen someone on their death bed not turn to God...Not one single time and I have been with hundreds of people in their final moments."

      Was there a point to go with your observation? I doubt this is universally true, in any case.

      Is this any kind of indicator as to whether God is real? Or is it just a sign of human frailty, weakness, or general fear of death? I think the latter, as it provides exactly zero evidence for or against the existence of God. We fear death, it's that simple–the most important things for living things are to live and reproduce. Faced with the loss of that, people become increasingly desperate.

      So again, was there a point to go along with your observation, or have I covered it?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Not really

      If I had to define myself I would claim to be an agnostic theist. It would be best for all people if they weren't raised predominantly in one religion. Most full atheists and religious zealots are ridiculous, each just as fanatical as the other and a detriment to society and productive thought. Those in this article are the exception, encouraging introspection and making spirituality their child's personal decision is, in my opinion, the only responsible way to settle the matter. Atheists are just as guilty of attempting to brainwash people as those religious folk they rail against.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  2. Gwyneth Paltrows Doggy Style Nippers

    I left some buttRockets in your vegetable crisper.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  3. kenw

    Taking your children to one particular church week after week "so they can make up their own minds about religion" just doesn't make sense. If these scientist thought about it for 5 seconds they would realize that there are something like 100 competing religions in the world. Just because you were born into a religion does not make it any more likely to be "right" then any other one.
    All these religions promise "power" or "eternal life" (after you are dead!) based on no evidence at all.
    Time to face up to the fact that your short life on earth is all you are going to get.
    Enjoy!

    December 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Jon

      You should have just quoted Stephen Hawking, saying the afterlife is 'a fairy tale for adults'. But alas... People believe what they want to believe.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Faithful

      What if you are wrong?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Jon

      Faithful, well, if any of the religions happen to be right by some ridiculous miracle, then the whole world besides that religion is doomed. Sort of a bad premise if you were god huh? Killing 9/10ths of your population because you didn't spread your word properly. Either way living forever sounds dull and unpleasant. Why anyone would want to live forever is ridiculous to me.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • angryAmerican

      Well it looks like you need some things cleared up for you. First off, God exists and you make him mighty angry when you deny it. Christianity is the true religion and Jesus died for our sins. The Bible is proof and beats out any science any day. You better raise your kids right and with God or when you pass you will not only be judged for your ignorance but the fact that you didnt do your job as a parent and raise your children to know Jesus.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Faithful

      What if you're wrong?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Chad

      "We [Leonard Mlodinow and Stephen Hawking] never said[in their book "A Briefer History of Time"] that science can prove God doesn't exist. Science starts with the existence of laws that govern the universe. Science by definition can and will never explain why those laws exist, science therefor can not ever disprove the existence of God." Leonard Mlodinow

      December 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Why? Why must you keep quoting that as if it holds any bearing whatsoever? What makes you think there's a point in there? Is you're brain broken?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      oops, it looks like my brain is broken, I meant to type *your*, in any case. Chad, please for the love of whatever god you think exists, if you want to try and prove that god exists by extrapolating meaning and infering with your bias opinion what this quote is supposed to imply, please show me why you think this quote is even remotely valid to be used by a christian aplogetist

      December 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Kana

      You are correct in that there are many different religions, but for the most part they all preach a similar message. Even in churces of the same faith you will find differing messages. Some religions have been around longer than others. So in my opinion there is no religion that is all knowing or is "the best" or has a guaranteed list of who's getting into Heaven's VIP room. I would commend those Atheist's who attend religious gatherings\ceremonies with family and friends who are keeping an open mind in order to make their own decision on their faith.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "Why? Why must you keep quoting that as if it holds any bearing whatsoever? What makes you think there's a point in there? Is you're brain broken?"

      =>first, atheists love to say that science proves there is no God, which is clearly NOT true as that quote demonstrates (yes, I am aware that that quote does NOT indicate that science acknowledges the existence of a god, or that god is the God of Abraham. What I am saying is that that quote CLEARLY demonstrates that science by definition can not disprove the existence of God, which is the claim that so many atheists make)

      =>second, atheists love to say that Jesus Christ never existed, which again is utter nonsense and I usually point out that the leading atheist currently (Richard Dawkins) is a member of "Atheists for Jesus".

      so, we know that Jesus Christ was a real person, and that science CAN NOT disprove God.
      That is why I keep quoting that.

      I don't actually know why most atheists can't seem to acknowledge that reality.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Awwwww chaddikins, lookey here. You use that quote as the basis for why science can't disprove religion ..... again, how? You're saying because science can't show why laws exist ..... religion has a chance of being correct. There's an issue there. Flesh it out more, why can't a person using scientific method show why issues in religion that claim to be fact are actually fiction ...... because [what you are implying] science can't show why laws behave the way they do? Like I've said before, this quote has literally zero bearing whatsoever on any conversaion about religion, or about science being used as a tool to debunk religion. All this quote that you have ade abundantly available to everyone, is that science has not yet shown why the universe obeys laws.
      Also, to stop you before you even start again, I am perfectly aware that I am disagree with Leonard, and considering his word is by now way infallible that does not make what I'm saying any less veracious.

      As for Jesus being a real person.... well thats a little bit of a different matter. Some may say jesus, or Yeshua Bar Joseph never existed. Maybe, maybe not. I would think he would have existed mostly because clearly as history has shone, there was a figure during that time period that people rallied behind and heard his message, why make up a fictional person when you have a living a breathing person already there? As for the acts, sayings, family history, etc.... that could all be false. The only true thing about this person is that his name could be Yeshua and his father was Joseph and everything else was made up.

      Also, using Dawkins as a reason why an atheist should or shouldn't believe in something holds no water. He's not a pope, a priest, a rabbi of atheism. At most he'd earn the ti.tle "imam" just because those are just random holy men who spout their interpretation of the koran and people rally behind them. Dawkins is spouting his brand of atheism and sometimes is used as a rally point, but he in no way speaks for atheists or does anything more than give words to long repressed frustrations felt by many.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Not really

      Fact is that neither the religious nor atheists can prove the existence or non-existence of a God. Let's pretend the religious are right, well, when you die atheism was a bad choice that will follow you forever. Now let's pretend atheists are right. Guess the religious wasted their lives, although they don't have to live with their choice and cannot regret it afterwards. So, the logical choice is to do what these kids are being allowed to do, explore religions. If there is a God, then God should have a method of letting the inquirer find a/the correct religion, unless predestination really exists and then it doesn't matter anyhow. And as far as life is concerned, no one is hurt by learning and meditating.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles ".. science has not yet shown why the universe obeys laws.."

      =>that's the part you always get wrong. Leonard Mlodinow was asked that EXACT question, his answer was "No, you don't understand; science by definition assumes that laws exist. If one would understand why a particular law existed, that understanding would be predicated on the existence of yet another law being adhered to. So, science can by definition NEVER explain why laws exist"

      It's a fundamental atheistic paradox; by definition an atheist believes God does not exist (that God can indeed be disproved), yet science by definition can do no such thing.

      This belief in atheism despite the existence of the paradox, is why I always (correctly) assert that it takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Must we, yet again do this? Really?

      First and most importantly, not being able to show why laws exist in NO WAY proves anything about god. That's one interpretation of the implication being made, but this is the flimsiest way to show why science can not disprove god, or religion. Secondly, atheism fundamentally rejects religion and theism, not god. Get it straight. god and God are two separate things that can get confused, but science may never be able to disprove there is a god in the universe, science CAN disprove the god of the bible most likely doesn't exist, or at least is not the god that might be whooshing around the universe, yes?

      "This belief in atheism despite the existence of the paradox, is why I always (correctly) assert that it takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian." – You know, just by saying you are correct in no way makes it so. You also don't understand the term faith and you bandy it around as it its a catchall. Atheists and scientists by extension don't have faith in natural laws because observation shows you don't have to have a lot of faith to know that dropping pen will fall towards the ground, or every object contains energy because of the law of energy conservation. There is slightly more faith in believing in a scientist because he presents something that people can chose to accept and reject. However, a scientist is also scrutinized by his peers, has to show all methodology and be able to back up any claim made against a theory, so the faith is lessened. Faith in religion, in God, in priests, the pope, etc.... those are things that when scrutinized have been shown to be contradictory and sometimes false.

      Chad, just try a minute for me to turn your criticism of atheism on yourself. Which one holds up better?
      The answer, of course is atheism, so you're welcome.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • J.W

      Yay Chad go Chad make me a member of Team Righto.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @JW

      Come back to team Chuckles......we have cookies

      December 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Chad

      @Leonard Mlodinow /Stephen Hawking: “Science by definition can NEVER disprove the existence of God”

      @Chad atheists love to say that science proves there is no God, which is clearly NOT true as the quote demonstrates (yes, I am aware that that quote does NOT indicate that science acknowledges the existence of a god, or that god is the God of Abraham. What I am saying is that that quote CLEARLY demonstrates that science by definition can not disprove the existence of God, which is the claim that so many atheists make)

      @Chuckles First and most importantly, not being able to show why laws exist in NO WAY proves anything about god.

      @Chad “err.. that’s what I explicitly noted, right? “I am aware that that quote does NOT indicate that science acknowledges the existence of a god, or that god is the God of Abraham”, aren't you just avoiding the question by stating what I already stated?

      @Chuckles “ Secondly, atheism fundamentally rejects religion and theism, not god”

      @Chad “err… then, you aren’t atheists..”
      Definition of ATHEISM a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity

      direct all future arguments on same to
      Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
      47 Federal St.
      Springfield, MA 01102

      @Chuckles “ Atheists and scientists by extension don't have faith in natural laws because observation shows you don't have to have a lot of faith to know that dropping pen will fall towards the ground, or every object contains energy because of the law of energy conservation.”

      @Chad “But, why does that law exist?”

      @Chuckles “It doesn’t matter why, that’s irrelevant, all that matter is that it does”

      @Chad “But, don’t you ever ask why the laws exist?”

      @Chuckles “I just don’t think about it, it’s irrelevant I’m concerned with science and science doesn’t ask that question”

      @Chad “hmm, what would you call belief in something that you cant explain?”

      December 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • J.W

      Oh yeah. Team Chuckles is funnier too. lol

      December 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      And that, ladies and gentlemen who are paying attention is the very definition of a strawman. Thank you chad for showing us what strawman fallacies look like by literally constructing one of myself. Bravo!

      You might be surprised to find I agree with your definition of atheism because there's disbelief in a diety NOT rejection....disbelief. (Your second definition is contrived and made up, but good try! if you have issues, please redirect that to http://www.dictionary.com, a magical page full of definitions!) Are we on the same page kiddo?

      Secondly, that last bit. Answer me this. Why are there colors on the spectrum arranged the way they are? Why is it that water molecules use hydrogen and oxygen instead of other elements? Why is Abraham's name Abraham? Why not Andrew, or Steve?

      These, my friend, are also nonesense questions akin to yuor "But, why does that law exist?”"
      The reason why all these questions are irrelevant is because when you use science, that obeys these laws, comes up with a result. The reasoning why laws are obeyed in no way invalidates other results. Get it? When science shows the earths age, do we know why half-life exists? No, but it still doesn't mean we can't use that to date the age of the earth. Which brings us back to the main point. I disbelieve in a diety so that makes me, for all intents and purposes, an atheist. I disbelieve because to date, there has been no definitive evidence that a god exists, especially the ones portrayed throughout history in all the various religions. Now, if we were to somehow come up with an experiment to show the "why" to the existance of laws and it did turn out there was some being that exists outside of time and space that conciously every nanosecond makes sure the universe obeys the laws, then I will stand corrected that some sort of "god" exists. If this god reveals itself and says "I am Yaweh and the bible is right, jesus was my son/me" I'll have to get over my shock and revise my current perception of the world around me, which is tough but entirely doable. However chad, the singlular quote you keep parading around has literally nothing to do with most discussions as it isn't relevant to any specific religion, it just casts doubt (or disbelief) on the complete non-existance of a god or gods. Have you followed along with me? I know I moved sort of quickly and your brain can only take so much. Let me know if I need to go back and go over a couple more things.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "You might be surprised to find I agree with your definition of atheism because there's disbelief in a diety NOT rejection....disbelief. (Your second definition is contrived and made up, but good try! if you have issues, please redirect that to http://www.dictionary.com, a magical page full of definitions!) Are we on the same page kiddo?"

      =>er.. apparently not 🙂
      http://www.dictionary.com
      a·the·ism noun
      1.the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
      2.disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
      disbelief: inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true
      rejection: to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose,

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/
      Definition of ATHEISM
      a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
      b : the doctrine that there is no deity

      why do you want to be known as an atheist, if you don't want to be an atheist?

      ============
      @Chuckles "These, my friend, are also nonesense questions akin to yuor "But, why does that law exist?”"

      =>I think I already captured that right?

      @Chad “But, why does that law exist?”

      @Chuckles “It doesn’t matter why, that’s irrelevant, all that matter is that it does”

      @Chad “But, don’t you ever ask why the laws exist?”

      @Chuckles “I just don’t think about it, it’s irrelevant I’m concerned with science and science doesn’t ask that question”

      @Chad “hmm, what would you call belief in something that you cant explain?”

      December 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @chad

      Repeating yourself doesn't make you any more right, especially when I specifically addressed the points you were making to show how you were wrong. I guess I did lose you, but I just can't believe it was from the first sentence.

      First, I'm as.suming you're what......13? 14 years old? Here's the kid definition:

      One entry found for atheism.

      Main Entry: athe·ism
      Pronunciation: -th-iz-m
      Function: noun
      : the belief that there is no God
      – athe·ist /-th-st/ noun
      – athe·is·tic /-th-is-tik/ adjective

      I, as an atheist, Do not believe in God.....thus I am an atheist. Are you with me at this point. If you aren't, please stop and reply with the sentence you are having issues with and I'll try to help you.

      Next. Pointing out why I think nonesense questions are irrelevant does not bolters your side because you think they are relevant. Explain to me why you think this is a relevant question, why finding the answer to your question will change any of the outcomes that have already been established. If the outcomes do not change even after you get the answer, then explain to me again why your question is not irrelevant?

      Again, let me stop here and ask if you are with me. How's it going? Is your brain tired, do you need a break?

      Last –> "@Chad “hmm, what would you call belief in something that you cant explain?”" What would I call a belief in something that can't be explained? Depends on what you mean, you see belief is such a general word. Are you saying what do I call unquestioning belief in something that doesn't have explanation other than the elusive "faith"?.... Idiocy, or religion, or schitzophrenia. Take your pick

      Now, if you are trying to ask "What do you call belief in something that has yet to be fully explained (such as big bang)?" Hopeful Optimism.

      December 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Team Righto

      @Chad-Right on!!!!

      🙂

      December 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Chad

      Main Entry: athe·ism Pronunciation: -th-iz-m Function: noun
      : the belief that there is no God
      – athe·ist /-th-st/ noun
      – athe·is·tic /-th-is-tik/ adjective

      @Chuckles "I, as an atheist, Do not believe in God"

      =>er... no... as an atheist, you must believe there is no God. Which is EXACTLY what I have been saying, and you have been denying, and the precise definition of which that I provided and you said was "contrived and made up, but good try" .. See definition you just provided 🙂

      ============
      =>updated:
      @Chad “But, why does that law exist?”

      @Chuckles “It doesn’t matter why, that’s irrelevant, all that matter is that it does”

      @Chad “But, don’t you ever ask why the laws exist?”

      @Chuckles “I just don’t think about it, it’s irrelevant I’m concerned with science and science doesn’t ask that question”

      @Chad “hmm, what would you call belief in something that you cant explain?”

      @Chuckles "What do you call belief in something that has yet to be fully explained (such as big bang)?" Hopeful Optimism.""

      @Chad er.. but when Leonard Mlodinow was asked that EXACT question, his answer was "No, you don't understand; science by definition assumes that laws exist. If one would understand why a particular law existed, that understanding would be predicated on the existence of yet another law being adhered to. So, science can by definition NEVER explain why laws exist"

      @Chuckles "ok, now I know the real answer"

      @Chad "what"

      @Chuckles "You're and idiot"

      December 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @chad

      Please, keep up the straw man, it really helps your case, not to mention patting yourself on the back. Bravo.

      Second, I stated I don't believe in god, are you happy? Do you want me to say it a different way or does this convince you? Next, I do think you're an idiot, now answer me this: My conclusion after having many debates about something useless – you're an idiot. Your question: why are my shoes blue? My answer: Irrelevant because I know you are an idiot from many different examples, your question has no bearing on the issue at hand. Your answer: well until you explain to me why my shoes are blue, I will keep posting this question believing there is great truth and meaning..... You see where I'm going with this? The quote you pose, continue to pose and stand by as if it's your only life raft has literally NOTHING to do with the existence of the god of abraham.

      Then again, you've also never explained to me why you ask this question time and time again and yet it doesn't say god (epescially the god to the bible) exists so it doesn't exactly make, or even help your case. So tell me chad, if you aren't too scared, show us what you're made of, you quote this Leonard fellow, now use logic, science, etc.... to show how this quote proves that god exists (by the way, inference or implication does not count, as you probably know)

      December 7, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Chad

      Chuckles "Please, keep up the straw man...."

      =>Actually the conversation above doesn't qualify as a strawman as your portion of the conversation is either direct quotes, or views you have acknowledged holding.

      "A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position" – wikipedia

      @Chuckles "Then again, you've also never explained to me why you ask this question time and time again and yet it doesn't say god (epescially the god to the bible) exists so it doesn't exactly make, or even help your case. So tell me chad, if you aren't too scared, show us what you're made of, you quote this Leonard fellow, now use logic, science, etc.... to show how this quote proves that god exists "

      =>as I have said more times than I care to remember and at least twice on this page alone, I DO NOT provide the quote from Leonard Mlodinow as proving that God exists. I provided the quote to refute atheist claims that science can prove there is no God or that science renders God unnecessary.

      How can you not understand that simple point? Repeatedly and consistently made?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      because, dear little chad, you aren't making your point. In fact it's pretty convoluted. Not only do you refuse to listen to arguments against it, but you hold it up as if it's holy writ, that since one scientist has said it, all should bow down and accept it as Truth. Aside from that, you refuse to answer questions that obviously are issues that you would rather avoid, all christian apologists do, so chad you throw a quote out that is designed to show that because the universe has laws and no one can explain, at the present time, why this is so thus science can't disprove god, not God of the bible which can and has been disproven using scientific means, but god the mysterious diety that apparently is implied to hold the universe together. If this is the case then there you have it, science can't disprove there is some sort of god roaming the universe, bravo chad, bravo.

      December 8, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "you refuse to answer questions that obviously are issues that you would rather avoid, all christian apologists do"
      >such as?

      @Chuckles "God of the bible which can and has been disproven using scientific means"
      =>oh man, I missed that press release apparently.. who did that and how? 🙂

      December 8, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  4. Chuck88888

    There seems to be premise that one cannot be both a Christian and a scientist. In other words, a Christian scientist is not an oxymoron, just ask Issac Newton.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Isaac Newton lived in a time when to publicly state you were not a believer could get you killed. Newton engaged in many activities, including alchemy, that he hid from the authorities and that he knew would get him into trouble with the church.

      December 8, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Even today, though it won't get you killed in most of the world, declaring your non-belief can be bad for your social and professional life in many places. Sometimes its just a matter of going along with the Mrs. Its best to marry compatibly.

      December 8, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  5. TAN

    Being free of a suffocating religious requirement is truly being free. I have been both and prefer this way of life much better. I would not expose my children(if I had any) to religion just as I would not lie about santa being real. There is no truth in religion or santa. Exposing them to fantasy for the sake of education is just dumb.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • angryAmerican

      Sending your kids to hell by your ignorance is just dumb.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • pattyo27

      @ angryAmerican: If you really believe that an Atheist raising Atheist children is condemning them to hell, then you haven't looked at the rest of the planet. By your account, the majority of the Earth will go to hell. This is by no fault of their own, of course. Especially, for those who live in areas not exposed to your organized religion. So, we call people like you ethnocentric. Look it up. And stop making you and your religion sound so ignorant.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • TAN

      I spent a great many years as a child believing my parents were going to hell because they were not saved. There was a bus for the local baptist church that used to pick up all of us kids so parents could spend their Sunday mornings alone. I loathed going and lived in fear of hell for years. I would have nightmares and became afraid of the dark. What kind of people do that to a child? Hell is not a place and it is not real. Heaven is not a place and is not real. If everyone in a room saw a black spot on the wall and I did not, I would not believe it was there. You could write a book about it and everything. I still wouldn't buy it.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  6. yboywonder

    This really isn't all that surprising to me. They should have mentioned that 50% of the religous society participate in the atheistic practice of not attending religious services on the sabbath. And while they're at it they should mention that 20% of the Rebulican party members are really Democrats that are infultrating the party just as the atheists in this story are trying to infultrate religious groups thus making them less stable (and weaker than before).

    December 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • patcee

      There we go – conspiracy theories again.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • pattyo27

      That's because we're smarter than you...Bet you wish you woulda thought of it before us, huh? Paranoid, much?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  7. don

    I think scientists with children are looking for help in teaching them the importance of humility and the importance of considering
    the needs of others. Our culture is breeding plenty of young narcissists and the church can be effective in training social rather than antisocial behavior.
    The fact that certain middle eastern mythologies are part of the package can usually be overlooked for the "greater good". I
    would guess these scientists gravitate toward congregations not force-feeding tests of faith.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  8. Code

    If you think that being a scientist and being an atheist are somehow correlated, you do not understand the nature of either one. I do not feel that the religious sector is competent to do the science, or that the scientists should do the religion. Science and engineering are a form of worship and adoration of God, but scientists and engineers should recognize their limitations and not try to comment as experts on the nature of religion. Neither is necessarily superior to the other

    December 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • AndyB

      They ARE correlated. Statistically speaking. Whether or not you like that or think that's how it should be is a different statement.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  9. Johnston J

    Heads up this study is about as real as miracles are::

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/elaine-ecklund-continues-to-whitewash-the-atheism-of-scientists/

    December 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  10. Faithful

    It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist...

    December 7, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Chuckles

      It takes a lot more to not be one......

      December 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Faithful

      @Chuckles – I disagree; too much is left unexplained without having someone to blame it on...

      December 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • ab

      Not really. It just takes reason. Although I'm agnostic.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Jon

      Faithful, what things do you find unexplainable? I'm just curious as to what holes in science you attribute religion to.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Faithful

      First and foremost, having faith in something simply because a book says so without any way to back it up takes a heck of a lot of faith, more so than believing a scientist after showing you his methodology, his conclusion and with the warning sticker that he might be wrong.

      Secondly, nothing is "left unexplained" it's just it hasn't been explained yet, big difference. You should also resolve yourself to the fact that as a human with a finite lifetime on earth, you will never know or be explained everything. Religion should never be used as the default explanation just to make you feel better.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • matt

      @Faith – you obviously don't know the definition of faith. It takes ZERO faith to be an atheist.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      What a stupid thing to say.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Fido

      It takes a lot of sand to be a swimmer.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Fido

      It takes a lot of food to starve.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Fido

      It takes a lot of poison to become a chef.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Faithful

      @Matt – faith – belief in something that is not based on proof.
      @Chuckles & Jon – my understanding of science is that most scientists start with a hypothesis that they try to prove to be accurate. Thus the "faith" in the hypothesis becomes "fact" when proven. With the lack of proof, all of the beliefs, including atheism, are a walk of faith. So if I am wrong (and by now it should be obvious that I am a Christ-follower), then I have treated folks with love and respect, tried not to do bad by anyone, and lived a good life. But if I am right (as I believe I am), the reward is even greater. I have nothing to lose.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Fido

      It takes a lot of brains to be brainless?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Faithful

      You're leaving out the fact that you could be wrong and it's Allah, or some other religion whose god will get even madder that you worshipped a false god. You have more to lose than me.

      Second, you have shown you don't understand sceintific experiment. There's a null hypothesis and an alternate hypothesis. The null is usually what is already commonly accepted and the alternative is what could happen to render the null hypothesis void. If the experiment proves the null hypothesis correct it's generally accepted HOWEVER that doesn't mean it becomes immune to sctrutiny and could one day be proven false. You don't begin trying to prove something is right, that's bias. Any experiement starts out trying to guage effects that will prove the Null or Alt. right and only one can be. For instance, when searching for god, the null hypothesis is there is no god, the alternative hypothesis is there is god/gods. Now, this experiment might manifest itself into trying to prove prayer, searching the skies for god, etc... but a good experiment, if done correctly, isn't designed to necessarily say "there is no god and here's why", rather the point should be "so far there's no evidence there is a god, let's see if that still is true or not" ... do you see the difference?

      December 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      That take a lot of faith on your part. In reality since it is common knowledge that God exists the null hypothesis is that God exists. As you apply scientific method the conclusion is that there is no proof God does not exist......................do you see the difference?

      December 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Fred

      I'm pretty certain I'm the only one who's allowed to be condescending here, ok champ? Next, your null hypothesis is that god exists (specifically the christian god), now design an experiement in which you can test god to prove he exists with verifiable, believable evidence. You also have to create an alternative hypothesis (such as god does not exist, zeus exists, ra exists, etc... choose one). Now perform the experiment and tell me how it goes.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      Is there a time limit on my experiment?

      December 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      What do you have in mind exactly? Generally there is but that's just because it's natural constraints. For instance if you want to prove prayer is real and has a physical effect. Do a double blind experiment and get a group of people to pray for something specific, say for the regrowth of a limb, or for someone to survive cancer without any treatement.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • fred

      I was hoping you would give me my lifetime or your lifetime to complete the experiment.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      Lay out the experiment, what do you intend on doing over the course of my or your lifetime that will prove the existance of god and how can it be accurately tested, retested and measured so that it can produce the same results if done by anyone else?

      December 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  11. Bible Clown

    Sounds like bunk to me. Someone's wishful thinking probably contaminated the samples. I hesitate to say "lie" or "fraud," but can you hear me thinking those words?

    December 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  12. SeanNJ

    I went to church twice this year, both for funerals. While I would like to avoid religious services completely, it's not always possible.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • RexCraigo

      My response and thoughts exactly.

      Go for funerals and weddings of friends and family. Nothing more. REAL Atheists understand that a church offers nothing to us.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • J.W

      Yeah these all are probably really agnostic

      December 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  13. HZD

    Haha, every time CNN posts an article that atheists don't like, they come out in force to rant about how CNN is stupid and that the findings can't possibly be scientific, because based on their own personal experience, this could never be true. Way to show your true colors, atheists. Keep it up!

    December 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Bible Clown

      If you look at the study, they are basing this on around a thousand people out of a sample that was just over twice that, and there's no control question about the spouse's preference. That's like surveying the congregation at a big Baptist church and deciding it proves all Christians are Baptists. Suppose they used a sample that small to 'prove' that most Christians tell their children not to believe what they hear in church? I bet you'd say that was stupid, and that based on your personal experience it would never happen. True colors? They are the same colors you are showing.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  14. Karen

    I go to church and I don't believe any of that stuff. I go to network for business..I'm in sales and believe me, these church going people will believe anything!

    December 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • scottwc33

      YOUR MY HERO

      December 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Bible Clown

      That's what everybody does.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Tony Beaver

      The callousness of your statements reveals the truth of your words and your heart....

      December 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Beaver Cleaver

      My feet are calloused, not my heart. How do you get callouses on your heart anyway?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • o.k.

      Karen...so what your really saying is that you are a liar. Setting religion aside, your ethics are deplorable. Here's an idea...when your sitting in church, thinking about closing your next deal (i.e. deceiving your pew buddy), why don't you take a second to wipe off the smirk, give up the pretense and realize that God is real, He loves you (unconditionally), but that he expects certain things from you...like, for instance, not being a liar.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • B-one

      Nothing wrong with that Karen! We go for the fellowship, food, and other perks. We do give a few dollars per week in the offering bin though. Not sure where exactly all the offering money goes to, but we don't want to look tightfisted. 🙂

      December 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  15. Maxine

    Each of you have the right to make your own choices. If you believe as Christians do – you have that right. If you choose to be an atheist – you also have that right. Arguing Christianity against atheism does absolutely no good. It just puts another person down. If you are Christian and wish for an atheist to become one – keep your mouth shut and pray for that person. If you are an atheist – believe what you want – but don't put someone else down because they don't see it your way. People all search for the right belief. So, none of you is better than the other. There is one theme that runs thru the Bible that says "don't do to someone else what you would not want them to do to you" I think that is a good theme to live by!

    December 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • scottwc33

      TELL THAT LINE TO THE HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF PRIESTS WHO MOLEST CHILDREN.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • ab

      So basically, live and let live.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Scott, we are talking about belief, not opportunistic criminals who sneak under the skirts of the church so they can get close to children. Defining terms is vital in a debate.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mike

      Athiests are clearly out in force here. Showing your true colors as always.
      Is it not enough to simply let others believe what they want? You expect us to allow you to NOT believe in a God so what does it hurt you that I do?
      Your name calling does nothing to detract from my faith. If I call you a kook, nutjob, or loser will that detract from your beliefs?
      I doubt it. So why even bother to try and do the same to me?
      There is no reasoning with someone who clearly has anger issues and tries to justify there is no God simply based on the lack of "proof."
      The proof is out there and it simply is a matter of whether you decide to embrace it and believe in it. If you choose not to then I will not try to convince you otherwise. Enjoy your life and "hope" that you are right because if you are not then the alternative is not that pleasant a thought.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Michaeltantino

      @ Mike,

      How are atheists "not letting you believe what you want"? How can you seriously pose such a question? When has any atheist said you cannot believe what you want? When has an atheist tried to take away your personal right to your personal faith? NEVER. It is downright laughable for you to make such a statement.

      So what ARE you aggrivated about? That atheists [in general] personally hold the opinion that Faith is intellectual laziness? Sorry, we [generally] do. It's why we are non-believers. If we believed that holding a religious belief were the intelligent choice we would be religious. The bottom line is that religion relies on Faith, and Faith is believing in something in which there is no evidence of. Not just of God, but of ANYTHING supernatural. God is just at the very pinnacle of supernaturality. The entire category of Supernatural simply does not exist within the evidence. In fact to make it worse everything that was once THOUGHT to be Supernatural but we later learned enough about turned out to be purely NATURAL. Therefore this "Faith" notion has tons going against it and nothing going for it in terms of logic and reason. Yet despite this it is still trumped as a good thing in religion. THAT is why we believe your position is intellectually lazy. Because you abandon the logic and reason you would otherwise use in regards to this particular subject only,

      It's not that religious people are stupid, many are smarter than me and other atheists. But that doesn't mean they are smarter in regards to everything, and on this particular subject I do not believe there is any intellectually honest reasoning to support their religious beliefs. If I thought there were, I'd be religious too. I ask all the time for the evidence that caused them to accept their religious belief and I have never been presented with a reasoned and logical answer. EVER. And I've done this thousands of times and researched it to death.

      So sorry if we think your faith is intellectually lazy and an inferior position. Why does this upset you though? Why do you care? Don't you hold the much more heinous position of believing you get to be God's buddy while us "fools" all burn in Hell for eternity? Seems if anyone should be offended it shoudl be us.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  16. Justin

    No true atheist would ever do this. Teaching your child to believe in any religion will retard their growth and progress throughout their life and is akin to child abuse. I question the validity of this poll, since no atheist I have ever met would do this and I know quite a few. If an atheist needs a way to impart morals to their child, they appeal to reason and rationality, not 1,700 year old works of fiction.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • scottwc33

      AGREED

      December 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Karen

      I understand what you are saying but look at gay priests....that's an ironic situation, too.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • ab

      I agree Justin.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • joe

      Atheist generally know more about various religions, than actually religious people do. Taking kids to church is a great idea, to understand the world around them. Don't be so isolationist, and ignorant.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • smb

      I'm an atheist and I took my son to Church. I was raised Catholic and took him because it was expected. But I also wanted him to have the religious foundation should he chose what he believed.
      We no longer go to church and he was able to make the decision for himself. At the moment he is studying Buddhism.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "Atheist" covers a lot of ground. I'm sure I don't have the same outlook as some teen rap fan hooked on cough syrup who also doesn't believe in a creator, and I'm sure neither of us would agree with the worldview of a triple murderer who hates mankind, doesn't believe in god, and is doing life in prison. A Catholic, a Jew, and a Coptic Christian don't agree on much except the primacy of Jehovah. Heck, I can't really claim to be 'atheist' because I cannot search the infinite universe for traces of God, who could be out there somewhere that I can't see; agnostic is really the only defensible position.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  17. scottwc33

    CNN COMES UP WITH THE BIGGEST LOADS OF CRAP NEWS OF THE WORLD TYPE STORIES...................BUT......... BUDDHISTS ARE ATHEISTS , THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN A CREATOR. AND THATS ALL IT MEANS...............AND I AGREE WHO BELIEVES IN THE BRONZE AGE SKY FAIRY ANY MORE.

    HANDS UP THOSE WHO NEED A BRONZE AGE BABY SITTER?

    December 7, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  18. patrick doyen

    You don't have to be a scientist to be an atheist, and you don't have to shun 'the church' if you are an atheist. The church does enhance community, and that can't be denied. Many of us have doubts about God, as our logic just can't accept the idea, but it's each individual who has to come to their decision-alone. That means not shoving our decision down the throats of our children.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  19. Simon E.

    The results of this study do not surprise me at all. As an athiest/agnostoc with children, I think it is very important to allow them to make their own decisions and choices about what to believe and how to live their lives. If they ask me what I think, I will tell them, but I will also make sure they get the exposure to religion they need to make an informed choice.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Jerry C

      Agree completely with Simon. I am as atheistic as one can be. Nevertheless,
      when my young daughters requested attending church with their childhood friends, I completely went along with it. I felt I should not impose my non-belief on them and wanted them to be in a position to make their own choices as to belief. They both attended several churches for several years.
      For what it may be worth, now in adulthood, neither one attends church. They made their own choices, without outside influence, and seem very content with their lives.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Patty

      Simon E. – I wonder do you also expose your children to the belief in big foot and the Loch Ness monster? How about the belief that the earth is flat or that we're are being invaded by Reptilian like beings. Are you going to give serious consideration to exposing your children to these beliefs as if they are legitimate? As an atheist, you inform your child about these beliefs because they will have to deal with it through out life, but hopefully you've taught your child that blind faith with no proof is an absolute dangerous thing to participate in, which is exactly what religion is.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  20. Joe

    Nonsense – no atheist would do this. We all KNOW religion is dangerous mumbo jumbo and subjecting impressionable children to it is the worst thing you can do. And that is quite apart from the rampant child abuse associated with most religions in the US

    December 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
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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.