home
RSS
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. Chris Highland

    Even while I was a minister slowly losing exclusivist faith, I took my daughter to many "brands" of church, synagogue and temple. When she got a bit older and asked me, "Dad, what faith ARE we?", I simply told her it would be her choice. She's now a freethinker like her father not worshipping but working beside people of many faiths and no faiths. Doesn't this make more sense in a pluralistic world?

    December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  2. Gary

    @Ben. There are some very angry people here. Some are giving Christians a bad name. Some are giving atheists a bad name. You have to make up your own mind. Then ponder this question, What if you are wrong?

    December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Worst......question......ever

      What if YOU'RE wrong? And I'm not just saying, what if atheism is right? What if Zeus is real and you go to Hades? What if Odin is real and you go to Val Halla. Get my drift?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      If there is a god you only have a small chance of getting it right anyway so you may as well give the whole thing a miss and live your life the best way you can and hope for the best.

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

      Apparently Gary likes to make Pascal's Wager. Let's hope he bets on the "right" answer!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • MarcTTF

      Oh C'mon Chuckles, everybody knows that Zeus and Odin are just myths.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      Marc: So you're an atheist too? Because you find it awfully easy to discount other people's gods. Why not just make it one more and be done with it? It's easy.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  3. tony

    It is wise not to make religion a "forbidden" choice. Like Alcohol and Drugs, that only makes kids think it's something nice they are being cheated out of by "authority" until they are too old to enjoy it as much.

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

      I have an open dialog with my children about all mind altering vices. Narcotics, alcohol and religion. We can but educate and hope they make the right choices.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  4. D

    Sorry Ms Ecklund, but you have a bit of FAIL showing. Atheists are not "very against religious people". They support the people, just not the ideas. It's a lot like "hate the sin, not the sinner", if that helps you understand!

    December 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  5. soso

    Scientist expose their children to all sort of ideas because scientist are not religious. We believe in choice!!!

    December 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  6. BlaBla

    Man, do you guys need editors.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  7. mouse

    I cringe for you devout christians, living your lives in fear and hate only to die and.....well that's it, you die.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Dan

      And I feel sad for you, if your understanding of the devout is so limited as to think we live our lives filled with fear and hate. Mine is filled with compassion, joy, and hope, even for those that disagree with me.

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

      That's great, Dan. Keep telling yourself that when they burn you at the stake for heresy.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Snorlax@mouse

      I cringe for you deluded athiests, living your lives in fear and hate only to die and.....well that's it, you die and wind up in hell.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Madtown

      well that's it, you die and wind up in hell.
      ------
      "Wind up in hell" for what reason? For doing, or not doing, what?

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

      mouse – Please don't try to help.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Praise God

    God keeps finding ways to get people into church ! Despite our own pride and arrogance. There is absolutely, positively nothing in science against God. To the contrary there is great evidence for a creator. The non-scientific belief held by some atheist scientists is called "materialism." It is just the (again non-scientific) view that if something cannot be observed then it doesn't exist. Isn't it obvious how unscientific that is?! I mean really. Science doesn't say that at all. Science would just say it is beyond science. So it's not science that has anything against God. So why are scientists atheists? As a prideful person myself I suppose I shouldn't really answer that. Suffice it to say I think some of us begin to rely and trust a bit too much in our own knowledge – thinking we know a bit more than we do. God bless.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      yeah, right. Really?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Praise God

      Thanks for your question, Markin. Yes, really ! You're welcome. Let me know if you have any other questions. Have a great day 🙂

      December 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Science disproves that the earth was created in 6 days about 8000 years ago. That's the difference between faith and reason.

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

      @Praise God
      That is one scary post!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Not All Docs, see right there you demonstrate the problem. What you quote is a straw man. Don't you know what Christians and Jews think? Genesis was in Aramaic and the word we translate as "day" means period of time. Didn't you know the Big Bang theory was put forward first by a catholic priest?! Georges LeMaitre ! My goodness no one believes the earth is 8000 years old except a small group of fundamentalists who interpret the bible what they think is literally but really comes from a misunderstanding of the words.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Tony

      Let me guess: you learned science in Texas? In a perfect situation, assuming of course you grew up in America, I would have about a 1 in 50 chance of getting that right (excluding US territories, of course). The sad truth is, it's more like a 1 in 10 chance.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Praise God

      @streetsmt, why does it scare you? The truth need not scare you. Buck up, young man 🙂

      December 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Tony, you guess wrong. I studied cosmology under Alan Guth. Look him up, it will tell you where I did my undergrad. Oh, I'll save you the trouble, it was MIT. I'm a published biologist for the cloning of a gene – the article is in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It's peer review, Tony, they don't let in just anything 😉

      December 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • The one true God

      Although I appreciate the praise, science is based solely on observation. Also, I specifically deleted all physical evidence of my existence so people would have to accept me on faith alone. Now, just because I expect your obedience, does not mean I want you to be a moron. So please, stop dissing the awesome material world and scientific principles that I created.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Observer

      Science says that much of the Bible calls for the suspension of the known laws of physics, astronomy, biology, etc. There is nothing in the Bible that promotes science, only contradicts it.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      You use the word evidence yet you decry science as narrowly requiring "materialistic data". Just what is your "evidence"? A feeling? It could just be gas or the result of too many drinks. The brain can make up anything and make it seem real. Until the "creator" shows a little physical evidence in this physical universe it supposedly went to the trouble of creating I'll still have to lump it with Santa, the bunny and little green men from Mars.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Science cannot prove a lot of things, like what I did yesterday. All science does is help us learn more about the world around us and how it works. God created everything and people are still trying to figure out how? Big Bang is the biggest farce out there

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

      @Praise God.
      I bet you didn't mention any of this stuff on your MIT application 😉

      December 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Tony

      @PraiseGod What? Seriously? You are a published biologist? Where can I find your work? I would love to find a thesis, written by you, based on your statement "To the contrary there is great evidence for a creator." I suppose you wouldn't happen to have something like that available on the shelves?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Praise God

      @The One True God, Liar, liar pants on fire! Such sarcasm, such pretense all in your own mistaken lack of knowledge. God already let us know there is evidence for Him by observing nature. It's found in the book of Wisdom, right in the bible. If you knew that, you'd know your post was false. And there is indeed evidence for God in nature. Now quit impersonating my God.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Observer, not at all. A lot of people (like you) misunderstand scripture. Look up midrash, and you can learn to understand many things in the old testament. Besides, it is understood God could well perform a miracle if He chose.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Markin, thank you for your further inquiry, you would like me to point you to evidence. Most certainly, let us start with world-leading physicists. Stephen Barr shows that order comes from greater order. Roger Penrose shows the universe began with a low entropy and high order unlikely to the tune of 10^123. (That's very unlikely). Many many more physicists agree on the finely-tuned constants of the universe that allow and support life. Dr. John Lennox notes the semiotic meaning in DNA. You're welcome again. Have a great day. 🙂

      December 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Praise God

      @streetsmt, my application? I wrote an application when I was 17 years old. I was an agnostic at the time. Why do you ask? 😉

      December 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • The one true God

      My dear, sad confused child. It pains me to hear you say such things. As your God I allow you to have free will and believe whatever you like, but know that the path you take is leading you, with certainty, to hell. I unfortunately do not take kindly to those who worship false idols. There is still time for you, but not much (hint hint). Yea, I hope you one day will see the light.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Madtown

      It's found in the book of Wisdom, right in the bible...
      -–
      What about the fact that human beings wrote, edited, and selected the individual works that comprise the bible? Doesn't that invalidate it as the infallible word of God, as we're so often told it is? Not that there isn't some material in there very worthy of study, but to suggest that the words rolled directly off the tongue of God?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • OK

      So what is the citation for the Biology paper you wrote?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • BR

      Praise god – It's all in the phrasing, isn't it? "...nothing in science against god" is just another way of of saying, "You can't prove he doesn't exist." And again, science would not say it's "beyond" science. Scientists simply say we don't know yet. Emphasis on yet.

      And feel free to present this evidence for a creator. There is certainly a Nobel in it for you Mr. MIT.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Madtown, I do not have training in theology, but I know some about the books of the bible. If you simply go to US council of catholic bishops website, they have online the NAB or New American Bible. Each chapter has an introduction. The introductions are concise and excellent in my opinion. They tell you the current scholarship on when the book is believed to be written, who are the authors, and are open enough to include controversies and disagreements. You're absolutely right, any understanding of a book of the bible should include its proper understanding which may include context. Many people for example don't realize the book of Job is didactic and not historical.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Praise God

      @One true, I have no message for you from God directly, but as to your "sad and confused" I'd say it applies surely to you. You haven't taken the time to know what I believe. And you are most certainly not my judge. Only God is, yes the one true God in heaven.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Praise God

      @OK Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 88, pp. 976-980, February 1991

      December 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • The one true God

      I am God, I don't need to take the time to know what you believe because I know what you believe already. You are partially right, I feel your sadness and confusion as if it were my own...just like I feel the sadness and confusion of all my children. Know that when I, God, found you personally worthy of my message that you ignored it and treated it with disdain. You have thus demonstrated that you are no longer worthy of my wisdom. Yea, I cast you back out into the abyss. May I have mercy on your soul.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • OK

      So you are Ya-Ming Hou? Because that is the author of said paper.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Praise God

      @OK, I am one of the other co-authors and that is as much as you need to know. I don't know who you are and what your intentions are but I don't care to give out any further personal information that can allow someone over the internet with at best questionable intentions to know more about me. I am not Dr. Ya-Ming Hou but she is a close personal friend of mine. She is a professor of biochemistry now at Jefferson and she attended my wedding. That's far more than you need to know. Have a great day.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • OK

      The only possible person on that paper that you could be is Christopher Mottes. You are not Kiyotaka Shiba, and certainly not Paul Schimmel (who I've met). I am sorry, but to claim that you are a published bioogist is a bit fraudulent when you are only a 3rd author on some 1991 publication. You may have a Bachelor's in Biology, but there is no way you'd have anything higher than that with no other first-author publications. Usually a Master's requires at least one first-author pub, and a PhD requires at least three first-author pubs.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Praise God

      @OK, well you really take the cake. No, I'm a published author in PNAS exactly as I said. If you know enough to know about lead authorship and 3rd authorship you ought to well know enough that it is 100% accurate to say I am published and an author. I was a major contributor to the research. And I am also personal friends with Paul Schimmel who if you actually knew anything more than having once met him are more than welcome to walk up to him and ask him my contribution. He's given talks on the publication and given me much credit. The very fact that you know enough to even realize I'm 3rd author on a paper means you know I am published. You, sir, are the one who just made a fraudulent claim, one which you knew better.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • OK

      I know that a third author has certainly contributed intellectual property to a publication, most likely via creating data that was used in the publication, and I'm sure your contribution was significant. However, no academic I know would call themselves a "published biologist" without A) having written the paper themselves (which is what a first author does), and B) only having a Bachelor's in biology. Spin it however you'd like, this is you self-aggrandizing. And, btw, why do you bring up the fact that you are a friend to these other people as if that matters somehow? That doesn't imply that they agree with what you're saying at all.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Praise God

      @OK, wow, really don't know how to help you. Look at any CV. Under "publications" you will see that anyone lists papers on which they were lead author, OR co-author. They wouldn't call it "co-author" if you weren't one of the authors. It means your published. And yes, I'm a biologist and now an MD. I've also done other research. But so what. You're trying now to play semantic games to try to discredit a simple fact that I claimed. And yes, my friends and co-authors would back me up I'm quite sure in the common semantic definition of the word. I'm sure my friend Paul Schimmel would call himself an "author" of that "publication" even though he was not lead author. I'm really so glad we could have this little talk. I feel there's hardly anything left to say about it. God bless you and have a great day.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Praise God, @OK,
      Let's not get into an academic p.issing contest here, please.

      @Praise,
      If you consider the so-called "fine-tuning" to be evidence of God or gods, then perhaps you care to explain how said "fine-tuning" actually supports god(s) vs. *any* other situation?

      December 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Nonimus, thank you and @OK, I am sorry truly I never imagined getting into such a thing. If you go back to the context you'll quite see I was accused of being some backwards fundamentalist (don't know why they singled out Texas, maybe they watch too much King of the Hill). I never claimed to be widely published, I never claimed to be any more than I am. Perhaps I said it with some pride and for that I do regret and am sorry, but I will say sometimes I am so bothered by leading scientists like Hawking or Krauss who clearly are great scientists leaping beyond science to claim it says something it does not. I do want to make clear these people in my opinion potentially mislead others, because it is just their opinion they are promoting not science. Einstein at least was humble enough to say he did not want to be called an atheist you could at least call him agnostic.

      Nonimus, as far as your question I'm afraid I read it a few times and still don't understand what you mean by any other situation. What are you talking about? If you mean alternative explanations for why there is order, that could apply to Roger Penrose. In fact Penrose himself looks at the order in the early universe and extreme unlikelihood for it and suggests it may mean the universe is cyclical with many big reboots following big crunches – he offers this as one way to explain how the universe could have started with so much order. Few scientists agree with him. So it's not like his conjecture is a good interpretation, but if that is what you're getting at, it is one other (very unlikely) way of explaining the order. I find Stephen Barr's argument trumps this and any other claim you could make. Barr is a leading physicist – he shows order comes from greater order. It's laid out in his 2003 book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. I highly recommend it. Specifically to the anthropic finely-tuned argument, sure some scientists dispute it like Victor Stenger claims the universe could have had other values and just not supported human life, perhaps it would have supported silicon life. But you know what, not only do many scientists question that claim (that silicon life could be supported) but it is pure conjecture on Stenger's part. Here are people (I'm presuming you're one of them) who would say oh but its just conjecture to say the fine-tuning of the universe means it was created by God. It's evidence. I find a creator perhaps the single most likely explanation. And if you say that is conjecture, well the "alternatives" are far less-likely, certainly unprovable conjecture as well.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • OK

      @Praise God: Yes, we tell our undergrads to put that on their CVs too. On the CV the full citation is given so it is clear whether or not that person was the main author. No ambiguity in that case. I'm not trying to discredit your work, I'm merely pointing out that you are being extremely misleading when you call yourself a published biologist–especially when using that to support the idea that you are some sort of expert. In a technical sense, yes, work you have contributed to was published. And you have an undergraduate Biology degree. Good for you! Calling yourself a published biologist on a job application looks great and you can argue your point if it ever comes up. However, all you've done is found a way to make this mediocre accomplishment sound much better than it actually is. It may even be technically correct, but it is still dishonest. That's the very definition of spin. Also, if you are still doing research, then why is the item you chose to cite a 20 year old PNAS paper where you're 3rd author? It's because you haven't had any other peer-reviewed publications in 20 years, but ok, yeah, you're still the expert published biologist...right. Oh and you also studied cosmology under Alan Guth, wow! Oh, you mean all you did was take a class from him as an undergraduate...like thousands of other people. Yet another statement that tries to make you look like the expert that you are not. How is this not dishonest and fraudulent?

      December 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Praise God

      @OK, look you're the one who is spinning what I said and proceeding to have a problem with it. I didn't say I did any more than take a class from Alan Guth. I did not say anything more than that. I did not mislead anyone you are the one trying to somehow make it sound like I said more than that I never did. Nevertheless I believe I had adequately demonstrated to the poster who tried to paint me as a young-earth intelligent design creationist that he was wrong. I made my point. Why you have a problem with that I don't know. And I see nothing misleading about what I said. It is you who are reading into it that in the midst of the conversation I should somehow have spelled out the details of my CV. What in the world? Why didn't you just ask how many publications? It's you who's spinning it to make it sound like I claimed more than I have done. I haven't. Give it a rest already.

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

      Your post:
      "@Tony, you guess wrong. I studied cosmology under Alan Guth. Look him up, it will tell you where I did my undergrad. Oh, I'll save you the trouble, it was MIT. I'm a published biologist for the cloning of a gene – the article is in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It's peer review, Tony, they don't let in just anything ;)"

      Now, really, what picture does that paint? Why does this annoy me? Because I've dealt all week with trumped-up honors student applications that are so packaged and spun that I can't discern what anything on them means in reality. That's why I'm livid about this stuff. And yeah, I took that out on you when I read your post because it was the same style of writing I've had to mull through all week to find one or two decent candidates. Now that wasn't really fair of me...but I can't vent on a student now can I?

      December 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Praise God

      @OK, thank you I appreciate your post and hold nothing against you. I am sure I have pride. I am sorry if I in any way misled anyone or self-aggrandized or made myself sound any more accomplished than I am. If you do read the post from Tony to which I was responding, though frankly it didn't really make sense – there's many a great NASA scientist and other scientists in the great state of Texas – I was quite sure I was being told I was a young-earth Michael Behe supporting creationist. I did take a little liberty in my response, perhaps I even wanted to annoy Tony by my response but it was likely my own pride, for which again I do apologize. But mixed in there is a sincere issue as well that I take very seriously. And that is I see many great scientists who's science I have the utmost respect for taking it upon themselves to make opinionated claims against Christianity. Krauss, Dawkins, Hawking are prime examples. I truly worry that such has an influence on people simply because their credentials cannot compare and so they think they cannot refute the claim. Hence it is my very point to come here and state, as is beautifully stated by world-leading physicist Stephen Barr, that this opinion is called "materialism" and it is not based at all in science. It is opinion. And I feel there is great basis to support even in science the evidence for an ordered creation. At the very least if one is to believe that science does not prove one way or the other, it should be understood that these scientists are beyond the scope of their discipline to speak against religion.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • OK

      Fair enough.

      As for God and science, if you want my opinion... There is science–which deals with the natural, call it material, world–and there is the idea of God–which by most definitions supposes that there is something greater, beyond the natural realm. If there actually exists some intersection of the two, that is, if God interferes in the material world, then theoretically the principles of science should be able to detect it in some way. As a career scientist I have not seen any satisfactory evidence nor been privy to logical discourse that would suggest such an intersection has been discovered. Science, however, is infinitely incomplete. There will always be something new to learn. Therefore, science may never be able to find such an intersection, if one even exists. What does this say about the possibility of a God? Well, nothing. If the original premise is correct then science would never discover a God. That is, they wouldn't share turf.

      Do I personally believe in a God? No. If I can't support a theory with the tools I have at my disposal (logic and scientific evidence) then I can't really consider that theory anything more than speculation. That theory goes onto the "currently untestable" shelf where it receives little attention until something changes that requires reevaluation. Do I believe in specific, mainstream versions of God? Also no. To this date every specific version of a God that I've heard has either been internally inconsistent or defies scientific evidence. Theories such as those go into the "reject" shelf and receive no further evaluation.

      That is my take on God/Gods.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Praise God

      I appreciate and respect your views. If I may I'd like to briefly respond but first say my experience changed greatly around the age of 30 I was driving and had what is to me personal direct communication that was very clear. In the church this is called "private revelation" and there is no reason for you or anyone else to accept it. In fact, I hate saying it sometimes for I fear it may make you or someone else think then why haven't you had such an experience. I can't answer that. I could ask the same question why I had it at 30 but not at 20 when others had. I believe God makes Himself known in His time. I also believe (which you may as a scientist find unlikeable to the utmost) that faith is a virtue and as Jesus said to the Apostle Thomas blessed are those who believe without seeing. Though it may settle everyone's doubts in an instant if God just appeared to everyone plainly every day, there may be a reason (I even have metaphysical musings as to why) it may be greater for us to not be shown. Again I apologize if this is entirely unhelpful. Take from it what you will.

      Specifically when you speak of an "intersection" part of the issue is you are looking in science for something that is repeatable, verifiable. That is an ongoing process. If God miraculously intervened at points in the past, we may indeed not find it. I do recommend to you the book though by Stephen Barr. I think you would appreciate it as a scientist. Barr is a leading physicist. He is no slouch and this is no Michael Behe type effort. His basis is from physics and order in the universe. And along those lines I also recommend exploring if you are not as familiar Roger Penrose's specific argument as to the low entropy of the early universe. Penrose has all but nailed that the early universe began from a highly ordered state, and this happens to fit well with Barr who argues order comes from higher order. Penrose to explain it has sort of put himself in a corner by suggesting it is because of a cyclic universe – many big crunches and big reboots – for that would explain how it began with such order. By chance alone he calculates the odds at 1 in 10^123. Now for scientists who base acceptance of theories on probabilities and measuring things accurately (such as Feynman measuring the magnetic dipole of an electron to a hair's width between New York and LA as evidence for QED) that is beyond stunning probability. That is almost slam dunk proof of something – order came from somewhere, not by chance.

      But you put many things well. I agree of course on science being incomplete. At minimum, I am only saying I hope people realize when a Dawkins or Krauss talk about their atheism it is just their belief, not from having proven no intersection.

      And when you state as a scientist you have not proven God, I can only say similarly for 30 years I considered myself an agnostic and even now I do not offer science as the reason I came to believe in the God of Abraham. I don't think the bible conflicts with anything in science – and two points here are key. One is the old testament (and possibly the gospels) make use of midrash – a form of exegesis not to be taken literally. Things that "defy science" even such as the sun standing still in the old testament may be examples of this. Second is I am not a fundamentalist. The catholic church is open to evolution. As far as being "internally inconsistent" I hope you will consider re-examining that. I would recommend if you have specific concerns even to speak with a priest or rabbi who can answer your questions. EWTN has a good site you can ask a priest a question. As a non-fundamentalist, again, I can tell you I believe the gospels were eye-witness accounts, but may have inaccuracies. I have corresponded with people who will say well there are contradictions in the gospels. But to me this is precise evidence of the truth of the gospels. For the gospels agree on the major events, yet have discrepancies in minor details. This is exactly what one might expect from eye-witnesses. And it shows further that they were not copied one directly from another and also the near consistency is evidence they were not "whisper down the lane" or "telephone game" examples of wildly disagreeing accounts which would be expected if they were not nearly first person accounts.

      Well I am sorry for being so long winded. I do respect your opinion. I hope at minimum you might read Stephen Barr. It is an interesting read.

      December 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Praise God,
      Could you explain more about the probabilities and Barr's ideas? I'll admit that I'm not familiar with Barr or the details of those aspects of Penrose. However, I generally, have problems when hearing people claim that statistically God is more or less likely than something else, or that evolution is statistically next to impossible. Mainly this is because, in the past I have found that these claims generally come down to some guesstimated calculations that are at a minimum misleading. I'm not saying that that is the case with Barr, but making that claim is not sufficient for me unless I see more detail.

      Primarily, statistical analysis only works when all the variables are known, which is not the case with God, evolution, etc.
      Secondarily, as stated, "order comes from higher order", seems incomplete to me. Of course, order can come from higher order, but *must* it come from higher order?
      Thirdly, entropy is almost always misunderstood, myself being no exception, and a statement like the early universe had low entropy, is hardly definitive to anything, e.g. Penrose could have been wrong, he could have misunderstood the cause, we could be misunderstanding what Penrose actually said, etc.

      So while your statements sound interesting, they don't, in themselves, actually state much at all.
      I may look into Barr though.

      I have to leave now, thank you for the information.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Bob

      Praise Sh!t, stop distorting what Roger Penrose says. His present view of time cycles is totally at odds with what your pathetic bible claims about creation.

      Get past your sick ancient Christian supersti-tions and get with the modern world.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Nominus, thank you for your response and you're welcome. I thank God for whatever is good. First as far as Barr, he does indeed make at least the suggestion and then presents his evidence that order comes from higher order – at least in this natural world. I've had discussions with people in information science who work on emergent complexity. Barr's claim is quite interesting. I do recommend his book and this particular claim is one part of his book. He uses crystals as a primary example and interestingly it was just this area that the discussion I had with someone who works with emergence in complex systems claimed is "emergent." But it's really not like that – it's not a chaotic system as Barr shows. Underlying the emergence of crystals is the order contained in the molecules – their properties. Barr is a world-leading physicist. He tries to cut the technical details and i confess some was still over my head. But he goes then to particle physics and quantum states. He shows that there is clearly evidence for underlying order – such as the groupings of subatomic particles in octets and quantum groupings. Simply put, he is showing that while many are imagining complexity to simply "emerge" from chaotic systems, observable order derives from greater order. The full implications of this are not given. But Barr is writing specifically in support of a universe created by a higher order.

      As far as Penrose and entropy, a few responses. First you're certainly right – I don't claim to understand entropy much myself and take comfort in that one of the most brilliant minds of the 1900s, von Neumann, said entropy is something no one understands. But no, it's not just a mistake by Penrose, who is again a world-leading physicist on par with Stephen Hawking and of course the two worked together on black holes. The story starts long before Penrose. Back in the 1890's Boltzmann, who had indeed much to contribute to entropy and the 2nd law of thermodynamics, puzzled over the very question. How could it possibly be that the universe is "still going" after all this time and looking to "keep going" for a long time more. You see this isn't just somebody's mistaken idea. It's fact. And by the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it's a fact that is an incredibly stunning mystery. For what it's worth, it's been called the most underrated discovery in the history of physics. Penrose simply does some (very sound) calculations and comes up with 10^123 to 1 that a universe "by chance" (as some claim) would pop into being with this low entropy. Again, science is a discipline where theories are many times supported, accepted and/or rejected by reference to their support by accuracy or probability. That is simply put unimaginably high probably that this universe did not simply pop into being by chance as some would have you believe. What does it show? It fits with Barr in fact – it started from high order. How? One explanation indeed is a creator. Another is the order came from somewhere else. Even if it came from somewhere else, it pushes it back but doesn't explain it. Penrose himself has kind of put himself into a corner – he's explained it by claiming the universe is a series of big crunches and reboots and the order comes from the previous cycle. Few agree with his interpretation, leaving other interpretations wide open. But what it does not agree with is those who claim the big bang simply by random chance popped up this way. An alternative theory many propose is that to explain away this order there are countless other universes with higher starting entropy and we see this one because it supported life. Ok, that's a theory. But you know what? Even though many leading scientists (Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, Victor Stenger) use that to explain our universe, guess what – it's not observable, it's conjecture, there's no proof for it. And what stuns me perhaps the most is that what is science, what is observable is this universe. We only see one. We observe it. That's science. And yet scientists try to "explain away" what they see by conjecture in order to explain it. That's something isn't it.

      December 8, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Praise God

      @Bob Real quick, you're completely ignorant of Penrose. His theory of the cyclic crunches and reboots is just his own theory (not at all supported by most and he fully acknowledges just conjecture) for why there is order in the early universe. Penrose has gone on Christian radio to respond to Stephen Hawking, for example, when Hawking claimed that science has shown the universe is explained without God. Penrose refuted that. Penrose well supports the fact of the low entropy start of the universe is consistent with other explanations. You just show your ignorance to wrongly think he has ever said his cyclic theory is the only explanation. Real quick on Christianity, you show your ignorance again. Jesus Christ taught timeless truths that apply every bit today as they did in the past. Jesus Christ taught people, Bob. He didn't tell technology what was good for technology. He told people what was good for people. Technology has changed in 2000 years but people are very much the same. His teachings are just as true today. God bless and please watch the language here on these boards, k?

      December 8, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Nonimus

      @PG,
      Again, I'm not sure what Barr specifically claims but unless order is *required* to come from higher order, then the claim is moot, becuase order can still come from lower/lesser order. In addition, order is not necessarily the opposite of entropy nor is entropy equivalent to chaos. For example, heated gas particles are chaotic in that there individual paths are complicated and unpredicable, but if they are contained in say a boiler, then the boiler system has a low entropy, or a high amount of useful energy. Once that heated gas is used to do work, or whatever, the entropy of the system rises, or a lower amount of useful enegry, but the gas particles have cooled and are less chaotic, especially if it has cooled enough for a phase change. And speaking of phase changes, back to Barr's claim of order from higher order and cyrstals. One form of cyrstal is ice and water cooling enough will produce ice, given the right pressure, of course. Now I can see how someone migh say that the only reason ice crystals form is because of the properties of the water molecule, and they would be correct. However, emergent properties, as I understand the concept is generating new properties with the use of simple rules, fractals come to mind, although I'm not certain those qualify. My point is that ice crystals form because of properties of the water molecules along with the mechanisms of bonding molecules together, in this case in a crystaline structure. So in this scenario, the water has a certain amount "order" based on the individual molecules and yet when it cools and crystalizes into ice then you have the that same molecular "order" plus the crystaline matrixes "order" as well. This seems to me to be an overall increase in "order."

      Now Penrose on the other hand, after reading over an excerpt of his work, at http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/, and if that was an accurate representation of his work, does claim 10^10^123 as an estimate. However, the estimate is not a probability "that this universe did not simply pop into being by chance." If I understand the excerpt that I read, it is a comparison of the domain size that is being considered, i.e. the entire volume, with the comparment volume, i.e. the size of that which is being targeted. Essentially, I think, he is defining the size of the hay stack in which our little needle of a universe is buried. Or as Penrose puts it, "an accuracy of one [needle] in 10^10^123 [pieces of hay]." (Penrose) This does not say that there is a 1 in 10^10^123 *chance* of there being a universe like ours it is just saying that it is 1 out of 10^10^123 possible varitations.

      What is the difference, you ask? Well for starters, we don't know for certain how many other needles are in the hay stack, i.e. perhaps there are other possible configurations that would also support life, maybe like ours but maybe not. "Recently physicists at MIT have shown that in theory, alternate universes could be quite congenial to life, even if their physical laws are very different from our own." (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/multiple-universes.html) Also, we do not understand all the rules that would apply in the selection of the needle, say we had a leaf blower or a magnet to use against the hay stack or we had sufficient time to wait for the hay to rot and decompose, just to take the analogy a little too far. And finally, even though it is only one option out of 10^10^123, the probability that one will be selected is 1 out of 1, or 100%. In other words, the probability that a royal flush will be dealt in a poker hand is roughly 4 out of 311,875,200, but you will be dealt a hand. Interestingly, even if you are dealt the worst hand possible 1h,2h,3h,4h,6d there was still a 1 in 311,875,200 chance that you would be dealt that exact hand, the same chance as any other specific hand. So, the chances that one will be selected is 100%, and the chance that a universe like ours *does* is also 100%, we are here after all, means to me that, while ultimately don't know the probability of a universe like ours coming into existence the chances may not be as unimaginable as one might think.

      December 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Praise God

      @Nominus, thank you for your response. I hope you don't find me rude, but my primary answer to you will be to explain Barr and Penrose to you so you get their points. Really my answer remains unchanged. I'm glad to see you exploring each of them and hope you continue to.

      As far as Barr, yes, I quite understood you the first time that a question you ask is always vs sometimes. Does order always come from higher order or sometimes. As I said before, if you read Barr, first of all the scope of his discussion is limited to this universe. The claim is not being made outside of it, so let us already say the answer does not have to be "always." But is it "required" or "always" in this universe. Frankly, one doesn't even have to answer that. Even if the answer was "most often" it's still a worthy point to demonstrate the value of what types of explanations can be looked at. But no, in the natural world, Barr is making the case it is at least pretty much nearly always. You ought to look at his book. As far as crystals, no, that's exactly his point, of course forces are involved, there may or may not be phase changes – sometimes it is simply pressure going from one solid to another – but his point is that the order is not greater but less than the order in the underlying molecules. The order is a manifestation of greater underlying order. That's his point. And yes, as I said, I've had this conversation with someone who actually knows complexity theory and emergence in chaotic systems. So you allude to that, but I've talked with someone well versed in it. It's not my topic either. Without too much detail since neither of us seem to be much experts in the field, at least some order in crystals is not an example of emergence of complexity in a chaotic system. It would seem almost preposterous to suggest that the specific alignment of molecules in a diamond that occurs over and over again is emergent complexity for it is always, excepting flaws of course, the same. So that is obviously as Barr says determined by the greater order existing in the molecules. As another example, just take ball bearings in a shoe box. Tilt the box and they form an array by hexagonal packing. Sure, you have gravity, and force from the sides of the box. But the hexagonal packing is determined by (in addition to the forces acting) the underlying order of uniform sized spheres. Is there "greater order" in the hexagonal packing? I'm not here for a semantic debate. If all you want to say is there is order now that wasn't there before when they were loosely arranged, fine. But that's besides the point. The point is there is not emergent order from complexity. The hexagonal packing is a manifestation of greater existing order.

      As far as Penrose, I'm afraid you misunderstood him, and I simply quite go back to my original point. No, Penrose when he gives 10^123 is indeed giving the odds of the universe popping into being with that much order. It's great of you to quote my alma mater's website – I'm on it frequently – but your quote only deals with exactly what I already talked about. Victor Stenger – you can go read him, I already said it – that's exactly his point and sorry I don't mean to be rude but there is absolutely no point explaining pulling a royal flush I know exactly and better than you are describing what the claim is. As I said, we see one universe, this one. It's like you only get one hand in cards. That's science. That's observation. The odds of pulling the royal flush by your example given one hand, quite lucky. But nothing even remotely conceivably imaginably close to 10^123. And yes, as I already said, you can read Victor Stenger, that's what he and many other scientists argue for – a multiverse, other existing universes. Again not to be rude but this is a little insulting that you are explaining to me what I already stated very clearly. So if you get it, go back and read my earlier post – its what I said. It's pure conjecture. We don't observe any of these other universes, we observe one. And hence exactly as Penrose said, if this is the only universe the odds of it popping into being with that much order are 10^123 to 1. Some scientists "explain away" that unimaginably low probability by saying there are many other universes (in your weak analogy, other hands dealt) and those other universes are no life sustaining, that's why we see this one. But again it's conjecture. And yes, Stenger and some suggest some of those other ones are life-sustaining but for other forms of life. Again, unproven conjecture. Stenger varies the strong and weak forces and comes up with a model for other universes and says perhaps they could support silicon based life. Well perhaps they don't exist at all. And perhaps if they had those constants, Stenger's model missed something like perhaps they didn't have enough matter. Or perhaps they had enough matter but silicon based life is unfeasible. Again, I already explained it, please go back and understand I already know probability while you're explaining royal flushes that was something like step one in what I outlined. When you're explaining the existence of other life-sustaining universes that was like step 3 in what I already said. The point is it's conjecture. Not science. They are imagining an explanation that explains away the unlikelihood, the order of this universe. And that is the beauty of what Penrose is saying. Look at this universe. That's science. That's observable. That's the one we see. It is ordered. It is low entropy. The odds against it springing up like that are 10^123 to 1. (That's what he says if you don't understand that you should read him more because he says it quite plainly). So order came from somewhere. And look at that – fits quite perfectly with Barr's point – order comes from greater order. The only question then is from where. From big crunches and big reboots as Penrose has offered up but is obviously aware is only one explanation and few others support. From higher order in a multiverse? Ok but then where did that order come from? From an intelligent creator? Indeed perhaps.

      So not to be rude, but this was a bit tedious and tiring. I quite gave you a good explanation of Penrose, you went and misunderstood him which is ok, but then turn around and proceed to tell me your wrong explanation even with "what's the difference you ask" when I quite didn't ask. I'm not up for explaining it again, really not, and definitely not up for arguing what Penrose is saying with someone intent on simply argumentatively claiming what Penrose is not saying. Again I've already told you scientists like Victor Stenger propose as an answer the possibility of other life-sustaining universes as an explanation, and you turn around and explain royal flushes to me and quote my alma mater's website to do no more than allude to this. If you want, please read Barr. If you like, go back and reread Penrose. If you like the quote you found on the MIT website, please read Victor Stenger, then go back and read my earlier post which was a response to claims he and others make. Otherwise, time to wrap up this conversation. Thanks for your time. Mine is indeed valuable too and I wish you peace and best wishes.

      December 9, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Nonimus

      @PG,
      My apologies for insulting such an esteemed graduate of MIT, by questioning the conclusions of one with such an Alma mater. Obviously, if you don't think that is what an author is saying, then obviously it cannot not be what they are saying, since after all your Alma mater is MIT.

      First, my discussion about cards actually had nothing to do with multiverses, although I can see how it might be taken that way. My point was generally that regardless of how minute the *chance* of something happening, it can still happen, hence the term "chance".
      Second, my opinion on what Penrose is saying, in the link I provided since I don't have your source material, seems valid to me, you are free to disagree, but simply stating "I'm afraid you misunderstood him" is not convincing. By the way, neither is the claim, whether true or not, that "I've had this conversation with someone who actually knows complexity theory and emergence in chaotic systems." More importantly, though, my point is that, because we don't know all the conditions how can we possibly know the true "chances" of it happening. How do you calculate the odds of winning a hand if you don't know how many cards are in the deck or how many cards are dealt.
      Thirdly, my discussion of ice was about order from order not "emergence of complexity."
      Finally, your main argument seems, to me, to be that a multiverse is pure conjecture and therefore cannot be the answer, at least in a scientific way. And I agree that it is but one hypothesis, not fact or scientific theory. However, that alone does not make it untrue. But then, you go on to speculate that the answer may be an intelligent creator when that is just as much conjecture, if not more so, than a multiverse hypothesis. In fact, as far as I'm aware, the intelligent designer concept has no scientific basis at all. Why is one conjecture preferable to another? (rhetorical)

      Anyway, I may look into Barr's work more, it might be interesting.
      Thanks for the discussion.

      December 9, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  9. Devout Christian

    I cringe for your souls, atheistic heathens. May God in all His glory have mercy upon your souls.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ben

      This is why I can't jump on board with God. People like this. Why say that? How can you think that?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • pt6071

      You forgot about Vishnu. And Zeus. And Osiris. And Thor!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Which "god?" There have been thousands of "gods" in the history of mankind. Oh, you must be talking about YOUR god. That's right, the one and only true religion. Yours.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Nate

      Why would you let someone saying something so wrong influence your decision? Doesn't make sense to me. I'm a strong Christian and I thought it was tasteless. One of the main beliefs of Christians is that humans fall way short of God, so they are going to do and say things they shouldn't. I wouldn't let one person affect your opinions of God that much.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  10. SJSC

    I saw an old western once. Something about a group of nuns running a convent or church or something in the middle of nowhere. Two men were in the movie, one a loner cowboy, the other a black guy hired by the church as a handyman.

    The handyman says to the cowboy after the two built a new church, "I'm not sure I believe in God".

    The cowboy says, "Then why are you here?"

    Handyman says, "insurance".

    December 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      HMO or PPO?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  11. Atheist Hunter

    Did you know? The Bible was Written over a 1600 year span, By over 40 seperate authors, From a dungeon, A wilderness and a palace, At different times: war and peace, On three continents: Africa, Asia & Europe, In three languages: Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic, In different moods: joy, sorrow & despair; YET, the Entire Bible Reads As One Book written by One Author from Beginning to End? Hmmmmm.............

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

      Um..... no, no it doesn't

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Madtown

      It was also edited over time by human beings, to convey the message that they wanted to convey.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • LostNomad

      One book to rule them all, one book to bind them...
      It does read as a unified book but that's mostly because the style of the narrative is pretty much the same all the way through. It's an easy mistake to make (thinking it's written by one person). The continuity of the style over such an expanse of time and authors is actually pretty impressive.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Commenter

      "Entire Bible Reads As One Book written by One Author from Beginning to End?"

      Perhaps someday you will read how the different old-time writings were selected to be included in the 'final' version of the Bible. ... hint: voted on by early church leaders as to which ones best followed the 'party line'.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      All 4 of the major gospels were written about 100 years after Christ's actual life, by people that never even met or knew him, not by the apostles themselves. If you've ever heard a fishing story, you know how different is will be by 100 years later, and a lot of hand-me-down verbal tradition.

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

      Besides all of the incongruencies and contradictions and omitions from one gospel to the next, scientifically incorrect observations...Even the most rudimentary textual analysis shows thousands of indications of different authors. Reads as one author? Not remotely.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Jeff

      What bible are you reading? Certainly not the bible I have read.

      December 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  12. marsmotel

    We will never have peace in this world until all religion has gone away. Thou shall not kill, what a bunch of BS.

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

      Amen!!! TEE! HEE!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Chris

      If you read the last book in the bible Revelation you will get your wish. After the rapture of the church all the Christina will be gone. There will be a one world currency, one world gov't and one world global leader from Europe. It will be anything but peace but hell on earth and the one works leader/anti Christ will unleash oppression on all. Be careful what you wish for. Where God is there is peace, without God it's hell.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • D

      @Chris,
      That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  13. Tony

    Umm, scientists bringing kids to church to expose them to alternative ideas to the creation of our universe is incredibly unthoughtful and not at all scientific, assuming that by "kids" you are including those under 13 years of age. Never mind the fact that most religions have no scientific basis for their answers to the most difficult questions science has yet to fully answer; the mind of a child is not capable of tackling such complex ideas. Just like a child is not ready to proclaim his or her allegiance to the Republican or Democratic party, a child is not yet capable of understanding the sciences that attribute to our understanding of the universe and how it came to be. Religion, on the other hand, seems as though it was made for a child's mind. The concept of the three Abrahamic religions is simple: we have but one creator, a magical god that is all-powerful and all-knowing, and he created the universe and everything in it, and if you believe in him and follow his rules you will we rewarded and go to heaven and if you don't you will be punished and sent to hell...forever. In science there are no rules or punishment. If a child is taken to church to learn religion and to school to learn what science teaches us, then religion has the unfair advantage in that it promises a reward (positive reinforcement) if they drink the punch and eternal suffering (negative reinforcement) if they don't. A child would have to be truly courageous or very intelligent to side with science. My father was a preacher for some period of his life and his parents were life-long missionaries. I grew up talking to god every day, though I did ask a lot of questions. By the time I was 14, I was sure religions were all bogus and I was no longer scared of calling myself an atheist (though now I consider myself a non-theist). I would have had a pretty big pair of balls to defy god as a child, given the punishment I was taught to believe existed. Bottom-line, children believe anything you tell them. Spend more time teaching them math and love when their that young. They'll have plenty of time to ponder the big questions when their brains are more developed.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      The early indoctrination of the young with religious faith is complexly woven with music, pop-up books, the magic of childhood Christmas memories...it's hard for some to shake off that early "imprinting." Add to that the "guilt" taught us in the parable of the Doubting Thomas, and it's no wonder people "believe" these things all their lives without questioning.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Beja

      Hey! Just wanted to inform you that the three Abrahamic faiths do not believe that you get to heaven by following rules. The actual way to that is righteousness AKA faith/believing. You don't have to do anything but believe. Since Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have Abraham, let's use their holy book to show that this is what they believe-
      Genesis 15:6- "Abram [Abraham] believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." I am not as familiar with the Quran, but Christianity explains it further the Hebrew notion of faith/belief being the righteousness by reiterating what this Genesis verse says and what Jewish people were taught- "So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law." and "And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: 'Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.' He was even called the friend of God."

      Not preaching, but rather just teaching that following rules to get to Heaven is not what these Faiths believe. In Judaism and Christianity, the law is what is given to the Jews because they are the people who are the biological offspring of Abraham, and it's from his line of people who the Messiah would come. This is why they were asked to follow the law, but Jesus sums up the law in a statement that makes specific laws subject to loving the Lord with all your heart and love others as yourself.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Beja

      Also, just for clarification, I know that the Jews, Christians and Muslim do have separate holy books, but when I say "let's go to their holy book", I am referring to scripture that all three faiths will be familiar.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  14. EnjaySea

    That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens.

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

      yeah and since 'evolution' has absolutely NO EVIDENCE-we dismiss it as totally absurd

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

      Evolution has no evidence? You need to get out of your church and into a real classroom.

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

      arthurrrrr – "No evidence" Not sure where you get that idea outside of plugging your ears and eyes. Fossil record is filling in nicely, thank you. Evidence for god?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Arthur dismisses peer reviewed scientific data as evidence becuase he prefers to get his information from talking snakes. The day a trilobite fossil bursts into flames and start talking, he'll believe Darwin was right.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      @Arthurr, your emphasis of the phrase "no evidence" suggests you're experiencing some anger and frustration that non-believers have preempted your bible's timeline with another presumably conflicting account.

      I'm sorry about your anger. But evidence is devoid of emotion, and the evidence for evolution can be seen and touched, and when analyzed with a sober mind, makes perfect sense as well. I'd be happy to hear the evidence that you have uncovered for god's existence.

      I'll listen politely. It won't make me angry.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  15. Gary

    @you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies.

    Wow. SO much anger. And I bet you think you are a good person too.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I can be a virtuous, moral person who helps others and does good for mankind without having to beleive that a guy named Noah loaded 2 of every microbial organism onto his 300-cubit ark when God flooded the "whole world" out of anger and killed all, including children and the unborn in wombs, ...or that a guy names Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a whale...or that Jesus ascended into heaven before people's eyes, or for that matter a single line of the Bible. Religion does not have a monopoly on good.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Sorry, you are wrong. Everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God. No matter how good you try and be, it will not save you. Jesus is the Only Way. Read your Bible. You might learn about God more and how he loves you.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • BR

      So Jeremy...homage to a mob boss in the sky saves you, but striving to be a decent person condemns you? Got it.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  17. Concerned Thinker

    I have to disagree with Atheists bringing their kids to church on a routine. Sure, its just good community to occansionally participate in diverse cultural events, but all this "let the kids make up their own mind" stuff concerns me. Kids are not rational thinkers who have personally pondered lifes greates mysteries and seen complicated questions asked and answered. They are not yet educated as to the diversity in human thought and they can barley contemplate the questions Faith sets out to answer, much less the implications of Faith based answers. In other words, they are incapable of actually choosing. Atheism usually requires a great degree of education (the two are highly coorelated) and the ability to reason, Theism requires only faith/belief. Which is a child most capable of?

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

      Yes, so let's brainwash them early to imprison their minds in fear.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      Great. Now you tell me.

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

      As a non-Theist and non-parent, I would say exposure to diverse ideas is good, but the children shouldn't "choose" until the reach the age or majority.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Mrbluiis

      On the other hand I'd like to see Christians expose their children to atheism. Seems only fair!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Joanna

      For whatever reason the children are brought to the church, let us give thanks that they are exposed to the presence of God, and may God grant His mercies on their parents for not holding back because of their own unbelief.

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

      My parents identify as atheist. They sent my sister and me to Bible School in the summers til we were about 10, and we went to church with Grandma on special occasions. My sister, when she was about fifteen, began to identify as a Christian. I identify as an agnostic. My sister married an atheist, I married a Christian.

      Anecdotal evidence that exposing children to religion at a young age, within the context of personal choice, can produce different results. 🙂

      December 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • openminded

      We consider ourselves an educated scientific family, and I’m betting the majority of you would consider us "atheist”. We have already decided that even if we don’t believe in when out child comes of age he will attend a Christian church, if he so wishes. There is nothing wrong to exposing our child to different beliefs, especially since there is no “right” religion. And when he’s old enough he will decide what religion to follow, then he will do so with our blessing.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Joanna,
      "...let us give thanks that they are exposed to the presence of God..."
      I thought you believed God was everywhere, why does a child need church to find God?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Concerned Thinker

      My point was that children are more susceptible to Faith based belief, exposing them is often enough to convince them. Religion provides temptingly simple answers to life's greatest questions when compared to complex answers offered by chemistry, physics and other "boring" studies kids learn. Religion also offers more "feel good" answers, such as an afterlife (death easier to explain if we don't really cease to exist), and "because its God's will" . Kids are all too tempted by these simplifications.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  18. Gary

    @Ben. Check out a book called "THe Case for Christ". It might help you. Or at least look it up on amazon.

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

      Gary - You are not finished if you haven't read rebuttals to that book:

      Here's just one of them:
      http://www.bidstrup.com/apologetics.htm

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Commentor,
      Thanks for the link.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  19. serdich

    Will never let my kids in church..ever, but we go regularly to the Museum of Natural History..they also have religious sections..

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

      So when atheists say they don't want their kids indoctrinated... they just mean by something they don't like then?

      Cause forcing your child to a museum every sunday is no different than forcing them to a pew every sunday.
      Not letting them ever go to church, is no different than never letting them enter a science fair.

      LOL. Atheists...

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

      Well in MUSEUM people have thoughts..and than by itself can fk the religious thing....ask any catholic priest..

      December 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      putting up walls and restrictions is what creats angst. This is why we athiests get angry at religion. I think being exposed to all ideas is positive. Blinders make you dumb, just caution against blind faith. Sheep are kept for the slaughter but wolves are ruthlessly hunted.

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

      well the kids do not have to go to church to gain knowledge in religion..am atheist and I am interested in bronze age literature like bible, koran and dead see scrolls etc..etc..The paining on the wall of the churches are rather violent and I dont want my kids exposed to it..you know ... crusifictions, torture, whippings, zombies..etc..etc..

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

      Exposing a child to *fact* is not indoctrination. A natural science museum is filled with scientific fact. Dinosaurs existed between 65-250 mya. That is a fact. Humans evolved over a few million years from a common ancestor to apes. We are, in fact, biologically STILL apes. Those are facts. 3 + 3 = 6. That is a fact. Math and science is about the presentation of what we as a species have observed and proven. Believing the Cubs to be a superior team to the rest of MLB is an opinion (one that I was indoctrinated into at an early age). Believing that a magic man in the clouds created the earth in a blink is no different. There is no evidence, thus when you force your children into such beliefs, you are indoctrinating them, not teaching them fact.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • BR

      Religiousnessness – The difference is a museum exhibits evidence of the findings of science. Religion exhibits unsubstantiated dogma.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Religiousnessness,
      The idea behind a Natural History Museum is that every thing there should be back by evidence, although in reality that is not always the case, it is one of the principles. Church on the other is based on faith, as I understand it.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  20. you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies

    I AM an angry hatefull athiest. i hate religion as a whole and christianity specificially. there are millions of people whove died terrible deaths both directly and indirectly at the behest of your terrible reign. you people have cause mass suicides and have inspired child killing. you have isolated whole sections of society and justified their persecution. so ya i hate you in your entirity, and if you think that you can say "well that was the old way" save it. it isnt the old way. you conspire to tell people who live "immoral" lives that they are going to hell. you think its okay to openly hate them and make laws that are DIRECTLY against them. if someone does this to you its persecution of the christians when you do it its caring the message of god. shame on you! it is my hope that someday you and all your ilk can suffer the same way. oh wait youre already suffering and you dont even know it. you believe in a fairy godfather that both hates and loves you. that level of dichotomy is so distorted that i couldnt bare to live with that kind of confusion. and if youre claim to be christian but dont live a christian lifestyle its guilt by association. if you dont practice the tenants of christianity then you are not a christian and need to drop the lable. with that being said i have to end this. I TRULY HOPE FOR YOUR DOWNFALL

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

      You tell 'em!!! Personally, I have never suffered any type of discrimination EXCEPT from Christians! Once they find out you are an Atheist it's all over. They are prejudice of those not of their "kind".

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

      I agree, chrisitians interrupt me with prayers on sunday. I just want to watch some Me damn football!!!!!!

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

      Nice blanket statement. Way to paint everyone with a broad brush. I think you need a hug.

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

      You know what religious person hates most: a smile from an atheist...

      December 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • The one true God

      Hey buddy, chillax. I am here to tell you that yes, Christianity is bogus, but there is still a God...and it's me! Don't worry, it turns out that I only send the total dbags to hell. You know, like people who don't believe I exist, or who people who don't do what I say, or people who don't drink beer. You can still be saved...with a simple biweekly $5 donation to my Paypal account. Now praise me!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Get Real

      @you shoulda paid closer attention to your lies,

      What a waste of time and bandwidth, herbie the troll.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jeremy

      You need to read the Bible. God is love, and loves you. Many people call themselves christians, but they are not following Christ or what he taught. Only God knows the True Christians because he looks at everyones hearts and thoughts. Everyone sins and no matter how many good deeds you do, it will not save you. I hope you will learn more about God and find more meaning in your life other than hating others.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Get Real

      Jeremy,

      @you shoula is a troll - he's a christian (and a very lame troll)

      December 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Advertisement
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.