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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. Grumpster

    This is all fine, but when you are in a room with people all doing on thing, and you want to do another, you feel ridiculed our worse for not complying. Ask yourself this...or try it...if the elevator door opened and there were 10 people standing inside facing the rear of the elevator, would you also face the rear so-as to not feel out of place? 9 of 10 do in studies. Same if they all had hats and took them off...9 of 10 people would take them off. This is the mind-set of religion....be the sheep...don't make waves...don't second guess this 2000 year old story that was made up before we had rational explanations for things that happened around us...and scientific explanations too. This is why so many religions will kill people to make people comply (looking toward the middle east right now)...control your flock and you can do pretty much anything you want with them. Give them an independent mind...you see progress.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Not really

      You had a legitimate post going until the "blah 2000 year blah untrue blah" part... Until you learn to seperate your emotion and irrational hatred of religion from your reason you'll be just as ignorant as the people you rail against.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Charlotte M.

      Well, he has a point...that's why it's called "the Gospel"...you're not supposed to question it, ever.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Robert Dennis

      @Charlotte M. Gospel just means acount, as in the gospel according to (someone). The whole point of beginning the New Testiment with different gospels is to show that different persons see things differently, even in the same events, but the truth remains the same.
      @Grumpster The article was not about being a sheep. It's about allowing persons to make up their own minds, even an athiests child can be a good Catholic. It's no different than a Catholic going to Synagogue for a Jewish service for a Jewish relative. People can really repect the beliefs of others and still keep their own. It happens more than zealots wish to believe.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  2. Gary

    My faith and fact are the same.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Yeah....you hold onto that, there. My fact and scientific evidence will lead me to the truth.

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

      Then you don't understand either.

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

      Blind faith and facts don't necessarily have anything in common.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Tyrone

      Gary's a little slow because he's a snail.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • bill.x

      that's right gary – and no one else has to agree to make or validate it so.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  3. brian

    People need to stop and think outside the box for a second and realize that your beliefs generally depend on your location. Would you believe what you do if you were not born in a christian country? Society, friends and family, community etc all shape your thoughts and ultimately your opinions.

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

      Great point. Are human beings born into a primitive African tribe "going to hell" for not accepting the teachings of christianity? No, they've never heard of Jesus or the bible.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  4. tony

    When we have a CNN "disbelief blog" along with this "belief blog", Atheists may not be quite as anti-religion as religious people seem to think they are.

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

      Well, the closest thing CNN has to the anti-belief page is TECH...should have SCIENCE too. I agree...why the belief, but nothing to offset it?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Charlotte M.

      Atheists aren't a group with anything whatsoever to say unless there are theists bent on restricting freedoms and imposing their ideology on society through laws and customs and restrictions to scientific discovery. When that happens, atheists will voice their opposition.

      Religion should be a private matter; you believe what you want to believe, let others do the same, and keep all of it out of government and public schools.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  5. Untruth

    What's with the atheist / scientist connection implied here? Put it straight – most atheists are not actual scientist, they claim to "think more scientifically", but in retrospect, the most profound scientists (those who actually study a discipline) are inclined more to believe there IS a God. Even Einstein himself believed in a "God who reveals Himself in the harmony of all that exists."
    The Big Bang theory actually requires divine intervention to break the singularity of nothingness. Being a physicist, and having degrees in biology, it was the inherent design that taught this scientist that there is knowledge beyond the creature itself, and that something understood the intricate world of molecules and electromagnetism to be able to put together this ultimate "free lunch" in a sustainable (14 Billion years at least) way.
    All the Atheists I know that claim to be "scientifically minded" can not recite the four fundamental forces of nature, let alone know classifications of particles, even the very elementary standard model, let alone understand quarks and their influence. If you are an Atheist, and count yourself as a "scientist", I ask you, truthfully...without Googling any of the prescribed info, can you recite, or do you understand each of these basic principles? Honestly, as if you would have to answer for that dishonesty some day...(humor me).

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

      "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."
      - Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine, 09/11/1930

      “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.".
      - Albert Einstein, 1929

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

      I've watched many docs and read many books about Einstein. He did not believe in god.
      Given that, I can't trust anything else you've written.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Thinkster

      You need to spend more time reading about Einstien – he didn't believe in the God you're thinking off – he believed in the Cosmos – it was his God. As for religion, Einstien despised it – he though it was one of the worst things we do to ourselves.

      Further, it has already been shown that most Scientists DO NOT believe in GOD, in direct contradiction to your invalid statement.

      As for Atheists being Scientists – well, of course not – we're regular people who just don't believe in dieties or demons. I for one, while not a Scientist mysaelf, CSAN indeed recite the basics of physics, I follow high energy research with great interest, and I try to inform and educate those around me about the facts of Science – no religion, or dieties, required at all.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • HellBent

      You certainly don't think like a physicist.
      "The Big Bang theory actually requires divine intervention to break the singularity of nothingness." Clearly you're not a quantum physicist, unless you think that virtual particles require divine intervention.

      And Einstein believed in Spinoza's god – that the universe was god. As he himself said, from the viewpoint of a preist, he was an atheist.

      90% of the members of the Academy of Sciences are atheists. What's with the connection between scientists and atheists? Cold hard data. I would expect a physicist to grasp that.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Jay

      I'll bite. Atheists don't need to understand every detail of quantum physics to be atheists, just like Christians don't need to know every word of the Bible to be Christian. Also, do you have any sources to back up your argument that "the most profound scientists (those who actually study a discipline) are inclined more to believe there IS a God"? There is a fairly well-known study showing that 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences don't believe in a god:
      http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

      Also, to claim a god must have created the Big Bang also means that something must have created said god. If you are going to claim that a god must always have existed, why not just skip a step and claim the universe must always have existed? There is no credible evidence for any god, so why invent one?

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

      But, he did believe in a God, that all of this wasn't created by one big accident. Don't trust me. Trust what you find with your own inspection. But, learn reality first. Learn what we actually know about what is. Don't regurgitate blog posts and others ideas. I stand by my direct quote from Einstein. I didn't say he was a "saved man" or had a personal relationship with his creator. But the man DID believe there was a creator. He saw the evidence in everything he studied.

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

      @ Jay
      Nope, God is ETERNAL. Nothing created him. That's the fallacy that many bring up, and a strawman argument. God was not created, he is the creator. You can be IN time, and create it to. Yet, time exists. It amazes me that organisms that were given reasoning to contemplate the cosmos with this amazing brain that attaches to consciousness can do so againts the very thing that gave them this ability in the first place. Ok, YOU create a human. I'll give you 4 billions years to figure it out. Go.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Untruth,

      Einstein didn't believe in the same god you believe in. You don't believe in Zeus that others believed in. So what was your point?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Untruth

      @ Observer
      Oh, he believes in the same God, just not in the same way. My point is, even he, having no relationship with his creator, knew there was one, as evidenced in everything he studied. My point is, also, that most non-believing people use science as the "excuse", but most actual physicists / biologist / cosmologist do see this inherent created order, and recognize it. How about those that DO have a degree in one of the aforementioned chime in. What do YOU believe, as a professional scientist? (Please, someone that actually practices...)

      December 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Patrick

      You don't know a lot of atheists then. Most atheists are not scientists because most people are not scientists. Scientists however are much more likely to atheistic or strong agnostic beliefs than the general population.

      As there are many different reasons and motivations for why certain people come to have religious beliefs, there are many reasons why people don't. Some treat it with a scientific approach, wherein there is no credible evidence for the existance of a meaningful and personal deity (or even any form of deity), so why choose to believe in one? Others hold the belief in an antagonistic reaction to a religion which they feel has betrayed or harmed them in some way. Still others don't believe simply because the idea that they should was never drilled into them.

      Because of this they all have differing ideologies, opinions, cultural preferances, moral codes and such. They are just like religious people with the exception of not believing in a supernatural diety.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Michaeltantino

      Untruth is an apt name, because what you spew is not the truth. Science does not need a God to intiate the Big Bang, that's what you just made up. The Singularity is a product of Einsteins General Theory of Relativity not taking into account Quantum Mechanics. Applying QM a Singularity isn't even necessary, not in the sense you are implying.

      "Nothing" may not even exist. Even if you take empty space and remove every particle from it, there are still virtual particles popping in and out of existence where there should be "nothing". In fact most of the energy in our Universe doesn't come from the "somethings" but from the empty space between them, from things we cannot see.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Wait ... you're using causality to make an argument that divine intervention was needed for the big bang? Causality necessarily requires time, and requires is to be moving in a particular direction. The concept is meaningless when referring to a singularity. Logic fail.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • GodPot

      Well you all should have noticed this supposed physicists handle is "Untruth" so it's likely it's just HS trolling. And thats about the only truth from the post is that it's labeled "Untruth".

      December 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • christina knight

      i am not aprofessional scientist (i am a member of MENSA) however, i do know what the 4 fundamental forces are (at least what is currently believed to be the fundamental forces- gravity, electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear forces- a number which may eventually grow, incidentally). i am an atheist and so are many prominent astrophysicists and cosmologists including stephen hawking. there is not a shred of evidence, nor is there a rational argument that can demonstrate the existence of a deity (at least none that can stand up to critical scrutiny). nevertheless, i have attended churches as an unbeliever for purely social reasons-to meet people. i do not hold their religious beliefs against people (unless they attempt to force them on others via legislation), and i recognize that the psychological and sociocultural influences they have been exposed to are difficult to overcome.

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

      Untruth,

      You are just ONE scientist. No doubt you can find supporters and you can find opponents.

      Sun-worshippers believe in ONE god too, so apparently you think they are just like you. Mix apples and oranges.

      Believing in some creator for the universe does not, in any way, require a "god" to create it. For all we know, the universe could have been created by a committee of zombies.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Untruth

      @ Patrick
      Ahh...but there you go, brining Moral code up...do you understand the whole God thing behind any personal "moral code" we have? A lion kills because it's hungry. It has no moral code. Nothing does, aside of man. Why? Because we were created in his image, and HE has a moral code. It's not because of social factors, it's because He placed it there. Studies have been done on this, even upon individuals that lived in isolation their whole lives, but still had a moral code. Why not adopt the moral code of the animals which surrounded them? Because they, even without sociality at all, understood right from wrong.

      You say there is no evidence for a God. I say it is all around us, even everything we do, see, and above all....*think*. A though is coursing through your brain this very second, and you have no idea how that process really, really works. Yet, the though itself defies it's very reason for existence.

      And, I know many, many Atheist. My ex-wife, for one. 😉
      But, still, we want to hear from the practicing scientific community. Would one that doesn't believe that all they study is a "big accident" step forward please?

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

      Untruth,

      If God gave everyone morals, he also gave everyone all the evil we see in the world. If you believe that God created everything, then he created the devil and Hell. Brag about that when you brag about morals.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Michaeltantino

      Untruth, you are truly living up to your name. A Lion DOES have a moral code. They live in PRIDES which is their own mini "society". They fill certain roles within the Pride and adhere to certain behaviors. Keep talking, you're quite the entertainment.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Untruth

      @ christina knight
      Not one shred of evidence? How can one so "smart" be so blind. How can you seriously look at everything from the Universe down to the two quarks that make up everything you have or ever will know, and say there is no intelligence behind it? I know...standard answer "just give it billions and billions of years...".

      We just found that neutrinos may have just shattered E=MC2, the deeper we look, the more sophisticated and well-planned things seem. But it all ordered itself accidentally, in a sustainable way that spans eons and gives rise to life, and creatures that can contemplate the meaning behind it all. And we choose to ignore the very fact that creation reverberates in the very fabric of existence? Even the latest consciousness studies are going to blow people away when they start going mainstream...that our "spirit" or consciousness actually exists in the EM field of your body, not in the body itself...and that your brain is a device to interface the consciousness with a physical body and world.

      Read up on the double slit experiment...particles, not just photons, behave differently when they are being observed...when the only thing that is "different" is that a human is watching. Put THAT in your reality pipe and smoke it.
      How does "dumb" matter know when you are watching? Answer that, and I'll shut up. Actually, I'm all done...nothing more to say.
      The truth is there. It's in your heart, it's in your soul. If you choose to ignore it and hide behind a veil of "there is no evidence", you are only deluding yourself, and to your own end.

      You don't "have" a spirit. You ARE a spirit. You "have" a body. A body that will be gone, but the spirit will remain.
      If you can't feel that truth, you may be too hardened already. I hope not.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Brad

      I'm a molecular biologist with training in neuroscience (my PhD), mathematics, computer science, molecular genetics and chemistry. I became a Christian as an adult after living most of my life as an agnostic-atheist. I have to say that I find order in the universe astounding, but it's not compelling evidence of a creator that takes an interest in the everyday lives of people in a small corner of the universe. Evidence of that came to me in a more direct way. I found that my life and my world-view were changed – somewhat gradually, but very completely – after I became familiar with Christian thought. Belief came into being. I was not persuaded to believe. I am not sure that anyone can be persuaded to believe. I can say that once belief arises it does resonate with truths that arise from the natural world.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Untruth

      @ Brad
      Thank you Brad. My experience was very much the same. I didn't have it shoved down my throat, (nor am I trying to do that..just replying to tell what I have found...hopefully someone will find it resonates somehow).

      I just want to throw some stuff out there to chew on. It's not as cut n dried as many make believe, and our own scientific findings are now starting to somewhat align. New breakthroughs in particle physics and consciousness studies are going to bring up some VERY interesting topics and truths.

      To others, no, I'm not a HS troll. Almost 50 and have done a lot of scientific and theology study, especially how it tends to go hand in hand.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Michaeltantino

      Untruth, you continue to amuse me with your arguments. *IF* evidence out there exists for the existence of a God, we haven't found it. We haven't even found evidence of people resurrecting, of ghosts, of souls, and even the very minute aspects that could be attributed to your religion. So when it is said that you do not have evidence, it applies to what YOU-the assertor-have. You have NO EVIDENCE. What that allows me to do is see what it is you are basing YOUR assertions on. In regards to evidence, you are basing your assertions on NOTHING. If what I just said is wrong, by all means cite your falsifiable evidence. I know you don't have it, no one does. No one has EVER been able to provide evidence... hence the whole "Faith is cool guys!" approach. It is an acknowledgement that there is no evidence in your possession and that you believe anyway.

      So bringing up particles we didn't know about is laughable. Of course there are things we don't know about. Some things we can predict may be true if it fits within the Standard Model (or ideas) such as the Higgs Boson. Not yet having evidence of it (outside of predictions based on proven theory) and later finding evidence for it is not a good argument to be applied to something purely based upon wishful thinking. Your position is more akin to the belief in the Abominal Snowman than belief in a Higgs Boson. If you understand the framework supporting these two ideas you would see the difference.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Michaeltantino

      @ Brad,

      I have complete respect for your education and the job you fill. Thank you for the work you have done. Having said that and moving on to your religious beliefs. I am sure you will acknowledge that the Scientific Method principals you apply in your job and in your every day life is not what you allowed guide you in your decision to become Christian. I think you would admit that following the Scientific Method-the single best known path to learning truths of our Universe-you could not be led to the conclusions you have drawn regarding religion.

      You said it yourself, you see "order" in the Universe and you take what you see and draw your own conclusions about what that means. How you went from "order-therefore God" (order being debatable) to "Christ is God" is something you didn't really get into and requires a much greater divergence from the Scientific Method. At this point you are drawing VERY SPECIFIC CONCLUSIONS without being led there by the evidence. You're being led there emotionally, not logically. If you're fine with that, great, but I feel it worth pointing out anytime a scientist comes in and says that they are a believer. Many will take that as meaning you found some scientific path to religious belief when it does not exist.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • christina knight

      actually, i think it is most reasonable to believe that the universe is self-caused and self perpetuating (are you familiar with cyclic models of the universe?). yes i am familiar with the two slit experiments (and quantum entanglement and quantum tunneling, etc.), but what that, or anthing else you have said has to do with demonstrating the existence of a deity escapes me. incidentally quantum theory (as well as general relativity) is incomplete and until a more developed theory is produced the results of the two slit experience (as well as wave/particle duality, quantum entanglement, and quantum tunneling) will continue to appear mysterious. the great thing about science is that it never stops, and our state of knowledge continuously evolves (actually everything evolves-a pattern that is ubiquitous and demonstrable). it seems as our knowledge grows there is an ever decreasing number of gaps for the god of the gaps to fill (another way of saying that there is a potential, plausible nonreligious explanation for every conceivable phenomenon).

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

      christina knight

      So, you believe that matter behaving differently depending on if it's being observed or not means nothing? That in itself implies the matter is "aware". How does a photon perceive when it's being observed?
      We are either living in The Matrix, or there is something very fundamental we still have to learn about the nature of the universe itself.
      Matter that is aware it's being observed. That has no implications to you?

      December 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • HellBent

      "So, you believe that matter behaving differently depending on if it's being observed or not means nothing? That in itself implies the matter is "aware". How does a photon perceive when it's being observed?"

      A true physicist would have learned the basics of the uncertainty principle as an undergrad. You either slept through an entire class or aren't a physicist. Here's a clue: The uncertainty principle does not, in any way, require awareness. Ask any junior physics student – they should easily be able to explain this to you.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Untruth

      HellBent
      The Heisenberg principle doesn't apply in th-s regard. I was well awake. Whey don't YOU explain how it does, if any undergrad can?

      December 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Untruth – your 'evidence' of god basically boils down too – I can't explain exactly how this happens, so god must have done it. Funny how we look at our ancestors who did the same with the tides and the rising of the sun and see them as naive and ignorant. Your arguments are intellectually lazy.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • HellBent

      "So, you believe that matter behaving differently depending on if it's being observed or not means nothing? That in itself implies the matter is "aware".

      What you describe is the uncertainty principle – that in measuring something, we necessarily change it – thus it behaves differently. If you were referring to, say, quantum entanglement, you describe it rather poorly. But the collapsing of a wave function most certainly does not require divine intervention – nor does two objects being linked. Just because you don't know how they're linked doesn't mean that god is linking them.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Untruth

      No, it's not. The HUP doesn't apply to these experiments...we're not determining the position of an electron, this is an observable wave pattern vs particle pattern based only on detection (A/B). Loosely, maybe, only in the sense that we are observing, but using it THAT loosely, we could never get around any experiments results by virtue of we must observe it to determine an outcome. No detectors, interference wave pattern...detectors in place, particle pattern. Off / On. Not HUP (other than, as any experiment, the HUP applies...it's awful hard to draw a conclusion if you don't observe results).
      Using in that regard aligns more with Zeno's paradoxes.
      Who was asleep, did you say?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  6. vel

    it might be an atheist in the pew watching everyone as if they were lions on a Nat Geo adventure. However, most atheists are willing to allow their kids to experience things and then explain why they are ridiculous.

    And taht might be an atheist on the seat on the bus next to you, or in the next cubicle over. Theists or atheist, people can be jerks or nice people. Theism gives the jerks an excuse.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  7. Robert Johnson

    Not surprising at all. Scientists are into learning, factual investigation and intellectual choice. Giving children exposure and choice is far better than dogmatic brainwashing.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  8. stu

    wow, people who look at things realistically and with an open mind allowing their children to do the same. Who would have guessed?

    December 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Robert Dennis

      Nobody who reads the news. I am suprised to see any website/new orginization admit people actually do usually think for themselves.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  9. Buzz Aldrin

    "....Nearly one in five atheist scientists......"

    Thanks for lumping us all together in some very odd moniker. You like to label people don't you, Religious (or should I say Zealot) blog writer?

    Why is this surprising? We no more believe in your invisible bearded dude in the sky than we do santa claus, yet every year there is a tree, and presents, and family gathering. It's just a social construct.

    In this society, Zealots like you persecute us atheists. They only want to fit in, even if they think you are just crazy for believing in invisible, non-existent, un-provable things.

    Much like the ancient Greeks with their Mount Olympus. Oh hey here's something unexplainable happening, the sun is traversing the sky. No, it's the sun god Apollo! Similarly, you can't define what happens after death (among other things), so you make up a story so you're not scared of the dark any more.

    Religion is nothing but a 2000 year old game of "Telephone" gone horribly wrong. Take 30 people in a room, tell one person one thing, and have them tell it to the next, and so on, until you get to the 30th person. The 30th person says something so completely distant from what was actually said to almost be unrecognizable. Now take the "bible" and it's various chapters, written and re-written over the centuries. And what do you have today?

    A lump of turd.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Binky42

      Did you actually read the article, or are you using this as an excuse to rant?

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

      A tale that grew in the telling – and we're all supposed to believe it as fact.

      I agree – it's a pants load.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Not really

      "Zealots like you persecute us atheists." This may be true, but your rant makes you a hypocrite on top of being just as fanatical as zealots. Well done.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Sheepleherder

      Your comment is just silly. I hardly think that the comment "....Nearly one in five atheist scientists......" is "lumping" anyone together. It's certainly a long way from "persecution" ... statistics, perhaps is boring but not really persecution.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  10. tedley

    As a christian, I frequently ask myself "really"?...Then I realize what is tought is "faith"...I learn to quit asking and just have "faith" when in doubt.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • brian

      You also need to ask yourself does faith equal fact? because it doesn't.

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

      convincing yourself that a god exist when there is no proof for his existence is not called faith. That is a word made up by christians to make themselves feel better about being delusional.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Just saying

      Christ wouldn't agree with your assessment. John 7:17 is encouraging you to put the doctrine to the test. Blind faith is not what Christ preached.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Faithful

      @brian: faith – belief in something that is not based on proof. Atheism is a walk of faith, just as any other religious pursuit is.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • it's all in the interpretation

      hey ted. Send me all your money. I'll return it tenfold. Trust me. Have faith.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  11. Gary

    I DO know where I'm going.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Deej

      How "DO" you know where you are going? Is your conclusion based on fact or faith?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  12. Carol

    This shouldn't surprise anyone. Church membership carries plus'es socially, especially when couples have children. Atheists are searching, as all of us. It's only when they become radical as some Christians do that they become annoying. The words of Jesus will only help anyone, but not so with all Pastors interpreting His words.

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

      you mean "all theists" interpreting his words according to what they want and hate. There's no one true "inerpretation" of the bible. IF there were, why so many sects wh really don't like each other at all?

      December 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  13. Luke

    Every single person in church is an atheist, actually. I simply believe in one fewer god than you do.

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

      I hope a lot of readers were looking UP since that probably went over most of their heads.....

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

      This is always an eye opening argument to theists.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Charlotte M.

      Technically, that's not true, as an atheist believes in zero gods (a = "not" + theist = "god"), not merely fewer than you do. But, the sentiment is certainly worthwhile, if only to get the faithful to start examining the root cause of their beliefs vis-a-vis others'.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  14. B-one

    You do not have to be religious to go to church. As many people have stated, you can go for the social aspects, and business opportunities. If anything, it's a great place to network (and my personal favorite, potlucks!) 🙂

    December 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • bill.x

      we always go there to network, with god.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • B-one

      That's fine. We go there to network with people and have just as much right as the next church member. We pay offerings every week.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • o.k.

      B-one...can't fault you there. If there is anyplace that needs to be inviting to everyone, and especially nonbelievers, it is a church. If you enjoy the social and networking benefits of attending church, that's cool. If you were at my church, you would be as welcome as any believer. However, my assumption is that your true position is not known to the believers around you. (If you have made your position known, then you're walking a straight line (I may disagree with you as to where that line is headed), so I really can't fault you.) Assuming my assumption is correct, however, your being dishonest. Your friends at church may find a need to place a trust in you that is only placed in you because they believe you share a similar faith. If you haven't already done so (sorry for the analogy), it's time to come out of the closet.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • bill.x

      always after the buck. throw the buck to make the buck. there is more to life – and church than the buck, but it's good to see you have some use. if you see a guy with a long white robe and a beard come at you as you pass the buck to grease the palm, duck. its only jesus messing with you.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  15. MawcDrums

    I am an atheist living in the midst of a Pentacostal Christian family (I tried it out for a while, got married to my wife, then realized that I really didn't have all of the answers, and neither did Christianity). I consider myself agnostic about the question "Does God exist?" but I do not believe that he does, therefore I consider myself an atheist.

    I currently play drums on the music team at my wifes church. I don't agree with everything they teach, there are some horrible sermons where it's all I can do to not cringe with what's being said (especially about evolution...) But overall the Pastor has a great head on his shoulders and teaches applicable life lessons through relating Bible stories to real-life scenarios.

    Many people may call me a hypocrite. I do not let any of the church people know that I am an atheist, and I don't let many of my atheist friends know that I go to church.

    In my opinion, agnosticism to the question of whether God exists or not is the only feasible option. I think that the probability of God existing is very low, but I can't say I know for sure.

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

      I wonder, are outright lies "good life lessons"? Because I don't find a man who can lie to be much of a teacher at all.

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

      Vel,
      I'll tell you that some of the lessons may not be considered "good", it's very important to apply an intellectual filter over everything being said. I don't agree with the dogma that comes with most of these "life lessons" but there are certainly some good things that do come out of it. However, not EVERY message is good, in fact I probably do more inellectual filtering than blind following if you will, and I will encourage my children to do the same.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Charlotte M.

      As someone who went to church regularly in my earlier life, but who was a skeptic since age 8, I have to admit that organized religion is a very mixed bag. You get some really worthwhile lessons about how to treat other people, but then you also get some really outrageous lessons about how to treat other people. All told, I don't see why we need religion to figure out how to treat other people, especially when there's so much crap mixed in with the good stuff. It's kind of like cereal: would you buy crap flakes if you had to pick out mouse turds before you ate the OK parts?

      December 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  16. bob34

    Seems like the premise is wrong. I'm a scientist and most scientists I interact with ARE religious. I think the researchers in this case have assumed incorrectly that science is anti-religious. In my experience that assumption is completely faulty.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Ryan

      Scientists are equally split in terms of their belief in a higher power.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Binky42

      A 1996 study in "Nature" revealed that less than 30% of the scientific community believed in some kind of higher power.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • GodPot

      They did not say science is anti-religion. Here is the quote I think you may be refering to:

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

      Notice he specify's "non-religious scientists" which by definition would exclude all those "religious scientists" you claim to know.

      The truth is, science isn't anti-religion as they try to point out when Ecklund says "They want their children to have choices, and it is more consistent with their science identlty to expose their children to all sources of knowledge." This is however the exact opposite of what religion does. It tries to keep it's children from being exposed to anything that would seem to contradict it's doctrine. Religion has been and still is in many places "anti-science". It really hates being proven wrong over and over again.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  17. Makes sense

    Fact of the matter is true atheism doesn't make sense. Agnostic atheism or agnostic theism is the worldview expressed by the truly intelligent doubter. An atheist who deals in absolutes is, in my opinion, more ignorant than a religious zealot. Wasting your time trying to disprove Christianity (and, if you have time, other religions) is a much greater waste of life than "believing Bronze Age fairy tales."

    December 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • MawcDrums

      Very true. I tend to agree with Richard Dawkins' 1-7 scale, where 1 is a strong theist (100% sure that there IS a God) , and 7 is a strong atheist (100% sure that there is NOT a God). Both are extreme positions, but I feel that 1 has a much larger population than 7. Just beacuse we don't know for sure doesn't mean that the probability of God's existence is equiprobable, meaning it may not be 50/50 that God exists or he doesn't.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • DarkBronzePlant

      You might be conflating "true" atheism with what is commonly called "positive" or "strong" atheism. For example, I am a true atheist; I do not believe that any god(s) exist(s). But I'm not comfortable positively (or strongly) asserting that a god could not possibly exist; I merely have seen no compelling evidence to believe that one does.

      In other words, I basically agree with you, except that I think you should be focusing on positive/strong atheism, rather than "true" atheism.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      That sort of makes sense, but to me you saying to me no one is a true atheist is like you saying no one truely thinks unicorns aren't real. They're the same thing to me.
      I don't make it my purest work to disprove Christianity but when someone says something rediculous (sp?) Then I just feel I should point out why they are wrong. Like right now with you're "there are no true atheist statement.

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

      I'm pretty much a 6.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999

      or maybe slightly less if I'm drunk. When I see the evidence I'll be a 1.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001

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

      I don't waste ANY time trying to disprove Christianity, or any religion. People are free to believe what they want, as long as those beliefs don't influence the laws of the land.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Not really

      I should clarify, a true atheist, as far as I've seen it defined, is one who does not believe in God and claims they know there is no God. An agnostic atheist, as I've seen it defined, is one who does not believe in God but admits they cannot disprove the existence of God.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  18. Loathstheright

    oops, that should be we "don't believe in god." and "too bad more Christians don't follow the words of Jesus." Too early to type.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  19. The REAL one true God

    No you don't, no you aren't, It's ME I tell you, ME. and Thou shalt not have any gods before me.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • The one true God

      Don't make me smite you. Steve.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  20. Loathstheright

    Atheists believe that being good, doing no harm, helping others, equal rights for all and improving yourself are how people should live...sorta like, that...oh, what's the guys name again? Jesus....we just believe their is a god. Too bad more Christians follow the words of Jesus, they might be better people

    December 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Binky42

      I'm an atheist, and quite frankly I think a lot of atheists are more about picking on religious people and inflating their own egos than doing good for others.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • B-one

      My wife and I are atheist and we go to church for the fellowship. My only complaint is when they try to force their beliefs down our throats.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • ComeOnMan9

      Binky, thank you so much for being honest. I have never been in the room with a vegetarian, atheist, member of an interracial relationship, and some gays that did not make sure I knew how special and different they were.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Aine57

      Atheists are collectively no more about "being good, doing no harm, helping others," etc. than Christians are. There are all kinds of atheists and all kinds of religious folks, and no size fits all.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • SecularBob

      I agree with Binky here and I too am an atheist. What we need to stop doing is saying all of one group does this and this. You should not lump all atheist together. Anti -theist are atheist, so are Secular humanist, which I identify with and from your comment I am assuming you are too. Judge an individual on their merit not their faith.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • RichardP

      Well said, Binky42

      December 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Commenter

      B-one: "My only complaint is when they try to force their beliefs down our throats."

      I've heard that Unitarian churches don't do that.

      You probably already have lots of friends where you are currently going, but it's something to think about...

      December 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.