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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. FSM

    WWFSMD?

    December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      R'amen!

      December 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Victor

    Not all churches are Christian, btw!

    December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Iconoclast

      Well Victor, Jews go to Synagogue or Schul, Muslims go to Mosques, Sikhs go to Gurdwaras, Buddhists have Temples and Monasteries. Not sure what Hindu's have. So yes I think Churches are uniquely Christian or Catholic, same thing to me.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  3. Brutus1234

    I am a devout Atheist and have my children in a private Lutheran school at significant expense for the very reason listed in the article. If they chose follow a religious path, it will be their choice and not mine and I will respect them and love them either way.

    It is not easy believing in Atheism. If believing in an afterlife gives you comfort, you're luckier than you know to be able to live with that peace of mind.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Victor

      Check out Unitarian Universalism. I think it will give you exactly what you are looking for. Your kids can learn about other religions and decide for themselves, and you won't feel out of place as an Athiest.

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

      "Believing in Atheism"?

      How do you believe in not believing?

      You either believe or you do not. There really is no choice in the matter.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Punjab83

      There is no such thing as being an "Atheist" – How can you NOT believe in something that doesn't exist? I also have a tough time believing there is a god... We simply exist and die. Discuss

      December 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Brutus1234

      To MarkinFL and Punjab83

      Come on guys, that's such an old worn out circular arguement. Not taking the bain. Atheism as you propose would be defined as a choice not to believe in God.

      Atheism isn't just a rejection of any diety, whether it's God, Buddha, Alla, Shiva, Icarus, Mythra, Zeus. It's a recognition that these beliefs are part of society just like belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Existance and self awareness came 1st. Religion came 2nd. Religion is a layer added to our existence, it's not origin or foundation of our existence as you would believe.

      So Atheism defines me and my daily actions as much as Religion defines the actions of those who follow it. It's a system of belief in man's existence and the obligations we have to one another, not rejection of your belief in a god.

      Assuming that my belief in Atheism is simply a rejection of your belief in a God is short sighted self centric view.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  4. OrionStyles

    Makes sense, nothing makes a sane person into an Atheist better than actually hanging out with the fundies.

    I guess they are concerned that their kids might experiment with religion later in life and take the bait.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • James H

      haha, fundies...

      December 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  5. Victor

    2 words: Unitarian Universalism! Check out UUA.ORG. All those Athiest and Agnostics actually can have a home that will give them what they want from a church without forcing Christianity down their throats.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • chefdugan

      Why waste a perfectly good Sunday morning listening to claptrap, no matter what they call the place?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Shawn

      I was just getting ready to post the same thing. I'm an atheist and a member of a UU congration.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  6. Christ

    It is like vaccination. It helps children build antibodies early on.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Author Howell Raines opened his book Fly Fishing Through The Midlife crisis with the line...."I was ruined for church at an early age by exposure to preachers." Amen.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Clay

    I guess I'm agnostic. My heart wants in, but my intellect won't allow me to go ALL in. I admire those who can be all IN or all OUT. Hard to let go of the idea that there isn't an all-loving God out there watching over us all! YMMV

    December 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • James H

      completely agree. It would be nice to blindly follow faith and not fear death, but it just seems like it ain't gonna happen for me.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • ThomasPaine

      This is why I'll always remain an Deist, belief in God but none of the religious filler and argument involved. Makes life very simple and I don't get a headache from the nonsense.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • streetsmt

      What's interesting about what the two of you just discussed is that it shows we really don't have a choice in what we believe. They may tell you that you will go to hell because you are choosing not to believe, but they don't understant that it is not a choice. For the rational thinker, he/she would helplessy fall in line with the believers if the evidence produced itself. For the "sheep" the total lack of evidence has no effect.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • joe

      yep, the santa claus idea or the loving father idea is hard to leave behind. I don't see why more people can't see that organized religion is just a reflection of our wants and desires not some being that actually exists. We want life to be fair, but it's not. We want bad people to suffer for their sins, but they don't. Life as a human animal is way easier if you can smile at the thieves, murderers, and rapists and think well they'll get their judgement in the end. The reality is they won't and that stinks.

      I have to identify as agnostic because I can't totally let go of the idea that maybe there is something, but if there is I can't imagine that being is going to be hardly anything like what we think it is.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Matt

      Definitely hear your point. Coming from one who is "all out" as you put it, I suppose I've decided at some point that religion, while not for me, does have its place in society and culture. While I would never believe in a deity or any kind, I think that the family unit and community dynamic is very church centric, which is why I attend a Unitarian Church – aka the 'one size fits all church'. We actually have an Atheist for a minister! Most of the congregation comes from backgrounds like Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, etc, but there area few Atheists and Agnostics there... I'd say though, if there was an alternative to be 'spiritually fulfilled' that didn't involve dogma, and was more focused on strengthening familial and community bonds, I'd be all for it.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • BR

      Admire your honesty Clay. In my experience that's a very common stage to be in. It's a bit like the grieving process...it will pass but you may never completely forget the loss.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Rock Reynolds

      I consider the "All or nothing" argument, used by both Christians and athiests, to be the biggest roadblock to understanding. Who came up with the "all or nothing" rule? (Answer: Nicene Council)
      There is truth in the Bible, there are lies in the Bible. The truth and the lies are not hard to distinguish from each other.
      Rock

      December 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  8. Jeff

    I do the same thing. I fit somewhere between atheism and agnosticism and support exposing my kids to church for the same reason. So they can make their own *informed* decisions. Granted we only go to church maybe 2 or 3x a yr but I still wouldn't have a problem with them going a few x more. Questions about the topic are answered in the form "Some people believe ..." instead of "Yes this is 100% factual and you MUST believe it or else be condemned", because that's just silly.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Victor

      You should look up your local Unitarian Universalist church. I think you'll find it will fit you well.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Riachard

      Jeff said: "Yes this is 100% factual and you MUST believe it or else be condemned", because that's just silly.

      Why is that silly? I have accepted what God has said based on a number of facts. You might not agree with my conclusion that God is right about those things but it is not silly. You are doing yourself and your children a disservice by not informing them that the Bible does say You MUST accept Christ or be condemned. You can then choose to ignore it but that is what it says.

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

      Riachard: I'm sure your Bible says what you say it says, but why do you live your life by a single book that's was edited by the Vatican and mistranslated multiple times? The Bible is a collection of stories...many of which were based on local folklore at the time. Most of the Bible is NOT a list of rules. It's amazing how many people pull quotes out of it, when, in fact, those were NOT the quotes of the original author.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Matt

      Victor, I'm an Atheist Unitarian 🙂 Never had a bad thing to say about the Unitarians, even though I don't go as often as I used to. Great bunch of people there.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • derp

      "I have accepted what God has said"

      No, you have accepted what some people wrote down, that they though some other people said, many years after any one of them may or may not have actually said anything.

      Unless you are telling us that you speak directly to god.

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

      Riachard – It's silly that you don't understand why it's silly.

      First, PEOPLE said and wrote those things you accept. Unless you're claiming a direct, two way conversation you're going off of broze age sheppards' understanding of the cosmos.

      Second, what atheists disagree with is isn't your conclusions but your ascertion that god exists...period. But your conclusion about condemnation is abhorrent. It's the mob boss forcing you to make a decision that isn't a real choice. 'Pay me 300% interest or your knees will cease to function' If this is an acceptable proposition to you then you've given a clear testimony why secular morals are superior.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  9. Faith

    Has there eva bin any thing used by man dat was not created(made by man),name one and i will tell u of a world created by God.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Justin

      water,oxygen,wind etc.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • A Nice Atheist

      Wait a second... didn't man write the Bible, ergo didn't man create
      god, ergo isn't what you are saying a fallacious statement?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I see your logic. Not new, but still fun anytime I hear it:

      My god created the universe.
      The universe exists.
      Therefore my god exists.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies

      lol i was going to say the same thing!

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies

      @ justin btw not the rest of the jesusy jesus stuff

      December 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • chefdugan

      The Jewish scribes got it allmost right. In the beginning God created evolution!

      December 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Riachard

      The Bible. Compare it to other books. Look at it historically. Beat it, bash it, laugh at it.... but it is true. I can offer lots of arguments but the most convincing to me will not convince you. I was blind but now I see. I can't put it into words and really, really don't want to argue but I do hope that someone reading this will honestly seek out God. Ask God to show up, He will.

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

      "Ask God to show up, He will"

      What dies he look like?

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

      @Riachard, I asked for god to show himself many times, for many years. I'm still waiting for this undeniable proof your friends keep talking about that supposedly happens when you just ask him to enter your life. Verfied as nonsense.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Jeff

      It would be easier to take you seriously if you spoke in English instead of ghetto text speak. Your point is garbage anyway, but at least it wouldn't sound like garbage spewed by a stupid person to boot.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  10. Justin

    Being a Christian is about faith. It is about a relationship with your creator that you do not deserve. To me it would be harder to look up at the sky and go man.... all of this created itself...God created it in his own majestic way. It is absolute and to imagine that nothing created something is impossible to grasp.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • marsmotel

      Who created god? Matter must be created by other particles of matter. So if he created all this, who in time created god. You can't just appear out of thin air. Right?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • streetsmt

      Then who created god. Don't cop out on this one.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • serdich

      I guess you can accept that all powerful creature can come from nothing but you cant accept the fact that Universe has come from nothing..FAIL..

      December 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Justin

      no one created God that is why it is so hard for people to accept... faith is the only way to accept Christianity, God is the creator the human mind cannot comprehend this...thus faith is the only way

      December 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • dollydocker

      so i ask you who created god ?,your clock make theology has a fundamental problem in that it falls apart buy reductive reasoning

      December 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Christ

      Some other things God created in his divine majesty: cancer, AIDS, parasites, droughts, famines, infant mortality and Michelle Bachman.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      You're absolutely correct Justin. Faith is the only way to accept christianity, and that's because we tried using logic, but it didn't work.

      As Carl Sagan once said: "An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof." Since there is no extraordinary proof, the only way to accept your extraordinary claim is to make-believe that it's true. And that's the basis of faith.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • marsmotel

      I have faith in myself. Why would I need a god to have faith in. Again, something must be created by something else, that is fact. Faith is not fact. You have no basis. So how did god come about?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • dollydocker

      who created santa clause ,his feats and gods are remarkably similar ,when we reach 6-8 years of age we find that santa clause is a mythical figure made by man and kick ole santa and those dumb powers he posessed to the curb ,we humanity would all be a lot better off if we could wean ourselves off the god thing in the same manner as was done to santa

      December 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • FreeTheMind

      What is nothing? The concept of "nothingness" is equivalent to that of infinity. Two abstractions used by many to associate extremes. Even in the vacuum of space, there is something. The whole idea of "something from nothing" is fallacious. We may approach infinity or nothing but never reach it. Something has always existed, in one form or another. Could we all agree on that?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • BR

      Justin – The universe exists. Solipsism aside that is a simple, observable, provable fact.
      God, on the other hand, has never been reliably demonstrated to exist at all. so...

      Either you accept that something we know to exist has simply always existed, or
      you make the leap that something which has never been proven to exist has always existed. This is the instanity of faith because those like you would take such a simple equasion, put your fingers in your ears yelling "la la la la la la la" and choose nonsense.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  11. Hypatia

    So are churches now going to slam their doors on all but 'vetted congregants'?

    December 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Most churches open their doors to anyone regardless of faith.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • serdich

      the doors are open except for taxes..the door is closed on that one..

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Don't forget the gays...

      December 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • derp

      "Most churches open their doors to anyone regardless of faith"

      Unless you are a mixed race couple, or gay, or muslim, or.........

      December 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  12. The one true God

    I am God.

    1) Atheist: No you're not, you're just a dbag posting on a message board

    2) Agnostic: Maybe you are...I guess I can't know for sure.

    3) Theist: Praise you! What shall I do to serve you, my Lord?

    So which one are you?

    If you answered 1), then screw you you're going to hell! If you answered 2), then that's ok, you can still make a small donation to my Paypal account (that's right, God uses Paypal, deal with it!) just in case. If you answered 3), then you can start with a large donation to my Paypal account. Afterward you can come over to my house and mow my lawn, take out my garbage, and kill the guy next door to me because he also claims he's God, but he's a dirty liar and needs to be destroyed! Would you do that for me please?

    December 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • NotBuyingIt

      God wouldn't need the "please" at the end.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • The one true God

      Au contraire, I am a polite God, at least to my believers. Although, if they don't do my bidding I will punish them...

      December 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Earthling

      Boring

      December 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  13. you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies

    heres the other interesting aspect of this article. athieists/scientists are wlling to expose their children to church to allow them choices. idk of any christians that are willing to do the same in opposite. most christians will preach against science and athiesm and demonize anyone who has a belief system differing from their own. thats what christianity breeds though mindless faith and no desire to explore.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • you shoulda paid closer attention in english classs

      perhaps then you would recognize that "shoulda" is not a word, you toolbag. Please don't speak out for anyone, particularly not "my" side. you sound like a moron.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Exactly. It goes to show that free thinkers are truly free and organized religion is just organized brainwashing.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • ckfox

      Dear Mr. English Class. You have apparently never participated in high level linguistic courses where we consider words like "shoulda" a natural part of the diversity of a living language. In fact, if it communicates its message it is a functional and correct word, regardless of your approval or disapproval. If you're talking about kindergarten and first grade English classes, then, yes, "shoulda" is incorrect English. (For future reference: You may also remember that standardized spelling is a modern invention and, while a cultural norm with high utility for formal global communication, really unenforceable on public forums.)

      December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Nice to see all the moniker nazis are out in full swing today. Anyone else want to derail the thread topic at hand?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"most Christians will preach against science "

      Your out of your mind. Ever compare the Science test scores Parochial vs Public schools?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  14. Mike

    I tell my children about religion and have even taken them to Church. It's important to let them see firsthand where all the cuckoos practice worship to imagined deities.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Silly

      Mike, let the grown-ups talk!

      December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  15. Not All Docs Play Golf

    In reality, many people show up at church because it is good for their car dealership or their insurance business to be seen there on Sunday. It is a socially-expected norm in that way, and it alos helps their business to use religion to promote it. Like the plumber who puts the Christian fish symbol in his yellow pages ad. There are a whole lot of people in church who may not buy into all the teachings, but are there out of the expected social convention.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  16. joe

    ..nothing wrong with taking your kids to the zoo from time to time.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • redragon

      ahahahaha...needed that:)

      December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Banksies

      ...a perfect example of close-mindedness...or a teenager. Disrespectful comments (going both ways) show a lack of open mindedness. Ah, you believe there's a god out there, how stupid. Likewise on the other side you have people trying to disprove the existence of dinosaurs because that doesn't "fit" into what they believe.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Nicely done.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Louie

      Best response....ever.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  17. God Where Art Thou. Part VIII

    Great idea. Everyone should be offered a full range of choice when it comes to learning. Scientists have shown that there are different kinds of people according to the way they think. Kids need to figure things out for themselves and struggle with the conflicting information provided. First the rhetoric of the New and Old Testament and then the high learning of college which will teach them with scrutiny that these works are myth and fiction. Not historic, not scientific not worthy of the History Channel.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  18. EvaLux4ever

    some atheists truly get on my nerves. Some are cool and respect other religions even if religion isn't their thing, but there are those who open their big yap and look at muslims going to mosque; jews going to templel; and Christians going to Church as "pathetic, brainwashed beings". Yeah, some of these guys walk into church and roll their eyes and even laugh (I've seen it once)....all is nice and good in their godless world until their world starts falling apart: an accident, death of a loved one, divorce/breakup;financial crisis, loss of job/home, a terminal disease. When these things happen, these angry atheists show their true pathetic side by running to chirch or temple and begging for a miracle. hahaha, yeah...tell me who the pathetic HYPOCRITE really is!!

    December 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • boocat

      Don't tell me...let me guess....you must be one of those "christians." Ever hear the phrase "judge not lest ye be judged?" Like I've said before, I would rather be an honest atheist than a hypocritical christian.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Lies

      We look at religous people as a normal person looks at a simpleton, with sympathy and compasion because we understand that mental disorders are a difficult disease to over come. Religion is accepted schizophrenia. Because just think about it. If in any other situation you told a therapist you believed there was an invisible man manipulating the world watching everything you do and judging you based upon your actions they would say well you have all the symptoms of schizophrenia. Religion is mass dilusion nothing more nothing less, it only becomes a problem with people want to force their dilusions on other people.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      You seem a little sensitive on the subject. What up with that?

      Does it truly bother you that there are people out there that equate your belief with Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny just because there is equal evidence for all of them?

      BTW, anyone that runs to the church due to tragedy after claiming to be an atheist was simply wrong or lying, certainly not an atheist.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • serdich

      I used to be prone to believe...but then my father died with cancer...and later my sister died with cancer at age of 30..as a physician I've seen many kids die from horrible disease as well..your god is cruel creature..no sir I am an ultra atheist and have absolute piece with the fact that A) life is finite B) sht happens and C) everything has an end..
      BTW witnessed any miracles lately..I have ...Chris Angel did few..and hey look at the name... Chris almost like Christ and Angel.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • damniel

      You are aware that you're saying an atheist who finds religion is pathetic. Isn't one of the tenants of a good Christian to help those non-believers find their way to Christ? Sounds like someone should re-examine their own beliefs.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      What does it matter to you whether an atheist converts any way? I would think that that church or temple would be GRATEFUL to have a new convert, not smug and snide about it. Your post is the perfect example as to why organized religion is a cancer on society.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • NotBuyingIt

      @EvaLux4ever
      Well as long as these places of worship are frequented with ignorant, judgemental, hypocritical, vindictive fools like yourself there will always be something for them to laugh at...

      December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • J

      No, the last thing I would ever do is start praying for a miracle. Life is life. What happens, happens, whether I like it or not. I actually stand by my morals and would probably get along with Jesus better than most self-proclaimed "Christians".

      December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • andy

      News flash, the world falls apart for religious folks too. Death, job loss, terminal illness, etc happen whether you believe in a god or not. Don't worry, you'll NEVER see me begging for a miracle, or praying to Santa Claus for adults (god). Good grief, when will we evolve to the point of realizing that religion is not helping our species?!? Sadly, not in my lifetime.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies

      lol i love people like you, turning to christianity when you need help and are in a crisis is a bad thing! right?! oh ya jesus said dont show up if you need help if you werent here before hand. i forgot about that being in gospel of hypocritical bs. btw the last place i would go to when my "world is falling apart" is a church etc. I wouldnt want to have someone muddling up the issue at hand. here are a few things to look at to understand these world falling apart events that maybe can help you
      this is following your list.
      accident: life is random, accidents are unavoidable and do happen
      death of a loved one: people die
      divorce/breakup: people dont always like one another enough to stick it out
      financial crisis: money isnt permanent anyways and you can always make more of it
      loss of job/home: you can always buy another or get another
      terminal disease: people die, maybe you shouldnt have smoked/drank/ate mcdonalds compulsively
      see not so hard to apply a bit of logic. no mysterious man in the sky or angry devil down below just logic and the nature of the universe.
      good luck btw, make sure you get your whole head in front of the shotgun

      December 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Louie

      I hate to break it to you but the death of some close family, the loss of a job, and 9/11 did not bring me any closer to God. In fact, it did the opposite. I accept that natural course of humanity and I look at the positive something that I learned on my own as an atheist. Now if you could kindly tell your fellow church goers to stop leaving those pamphlets at my door step....

      December 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Matt

      This is why as an Atheist I laugh. You don't even follow your own rules. Jesus said "Judge not lest ye be judged", and there you go, judging Atheists (and probably other religions too). Religion is silly because it's full of contradiction. God says "Thou shalt not kill", then turns around and says "Adulterous women are to be stoned to death".... God would make one hell of a politician!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Hal

      "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do..."

      December 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Ah, the famous "there are no atheists in foxholes" argument. Interesting choice for today's discussion.

      This saying is only repeated by christians, and is a classic strawman argument. Christians fabricate the premise that atheists will always turn to god when they are in trouble, then use this invented idea to prove that even atheists are believers.

      Fascinating! What else do have for us?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  19. you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies

    I may expose my children to christianity to some degree but i will deffinately draw a line if i start to see the self destructive and self hatred that a lot of the religion is based on.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  20. Ben

    As someone who is truly envious of those who blindly follow faith (no joke, eternal paradise sounds pretty badass), I have tried all my life to accept that God exists. In doing so, I have read some religious texts, attended multiple faith services and additionally have searched for academic sources on the subject. Basically, at this point in my young life (19), I question how any sane or rational person can adamantly say that, "I am right, a Christian God exists, the plethora of other religions are dead wrong," when there is no concrete proof either way of the existence of God. How do intensely religious people come to this conclusion? I was forced to attend church from ages 0-15, and I never jumped on board. I guess I just don't get religious fervor.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • shut_up

      IT IS CALLED FAITH. IF YOUR LACKING IN IT, YOU WILL NEVER SEE UNTIL YOUR OLD AND GRAY. I WAS THE SAME WAY AND WISH NOW I HAD DONE THINGS DIFFERENT. YOU STILL HAVE TIME. PRAY.........

      December 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • J.W

      Many have never studied any other faith. Some denominations teach that it is wrong to attend any other church or study other religious texts. I was once part of a church like that.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Believer

      Nothing is 100% certain, but here are some arguments for existence of God. http://www.mb-soft.com/believe/text/argument.htm

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • The one true God

      Thanks Believer, but it's cool...I'm here. Dear Ben, it is I, your God, and I assure you I exist.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Devout Devotee of Nothing

      Yay! You are real! Who will you have me kill in your name, oh Holy Digital Flying Monster in the Sky?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • The one true God

      @Devout Devotee of Nothing: I'm so glad you asked. I'd like you to start with Sarah Palin.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Matt

      Ben – I went down exactly the same path that you did when I was younger. There is no shame in accepting that God is a nice idea, but probably isn't there. What I learned from reading the bible, the quran, and the torah (old testament) is this: The texts do have some good advice in them. Other than that, there are better comic books to be reading. I take the good from what I read, and disregard the garbage (stuff like Leviticus is really mentally damaging I think). In the end, what life is truly about is being a good person, and try to do the best you can to stay that way.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • joe

      Ben, this just means you're a rational human being. Not like the rest of these sheep in here. Check the responses to your comment. Most of these "believers" only believe because they're scared of burning in a lake of fire after they die or something equally preposterous. They believe because they're afraid. It's simple psychology.

      Think about this:

      If you were to remove all these make believe, supernatural consequences of what will happen if you don't worship the deity and live a "good" life, would people continue to believe? What if they were told they'd get nothing out of it? What if they were told, "Hey, worship this guy because it's the right thing to do. But, if you don't want to, don't worry about it. We respect your decision"? How do you think people would react?

      Honestly, it's the fear that gets them. Nothing else. By the time they grow up and they've been force-fed all the B.S. for years, they actually grow to believe it. Then, they pass it on to their children. And that, young Padawan, is how religion stays alive, relevant, and will remain until the last human being dies. And it's all B.S.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.