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. jimbo

    My parents made me go to chruch until I got by confirmation in the catholic church, then they let me make up my own mind. I was confirmed at 16 I believe, I think I was around 12-13 when I realized I didn't believe in the stuff that was being preached or felt that I didn't need it to be a good person. So I decided to think for myself and not attend anymore, then when I was in my mid 20s and talked to my parents about my agnostic views I found out they felt the same way. They don't go to church anymore either, they just went so I would go and could make my own decisions, pretty much sums up this article. We don't tell Grandma that though.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  2. Astra Navigo

    As an atheist with many friends both atheist and religious, I can tell you that this is true – many atheists routinely involve themselves in the religious lives of their children – particularly older ones, who have made a decision to follow a religion, mainly from peer-association.

    Those of us who do this tend to guide our children as we would with any other activity – making sure that the organization has good values (community service; etc.), and that they're not preaching a 'weaponized' or 'politicized' gospel; most of us also check out the youth-leadership rather carefully (there are abusers in many church-organizations, and staying clear of those is a good idea for reasons I don't have to mention here).

    To us, church is like any youth association – and this article is a lesson for believers; the person next to you might just view what's going on as a nice pageant, and nothing more – we don't 'hate' you or your beliefs – we just don't ascribe to or accept them for ourselves.

    For some of us, it's hard to watch a child become involved with something which has no basis in fact, proof, reason or logic – but we also understand that every child is his or her own person. The best thing we can do as parents – whether 'believer' or atheist – is to set a good example.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • goz

      Well said! We need to get this information out because non-believers need a more moderate voice in the USA. Christians often say that they are persecuted here when in fact it is the non-believers who are oppressed. How many representatives do we have in Washington? The badge of reason is toxic in our politics.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  3. David Foureyes

    There is mention of spouses/partners, however in our case, we go with our son's Grandparents out of respect for their beliefs, though we do not share them nor plan on indoctrinating our children.

    We can't be the only ones.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  4. J

    Making "educated" decisions arent the will of God... education has nothing to do with it!

    December 7, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • bagger

      god wouldn't have instilled in you a sence of reason if you were not supposed to use it?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Luis Wu

      @bagger – An invisible, mythical, supernatural being can't instill anything in anyone. People that believe in archaic mythology CAN instill (force) their beliefs on their children. It's not surprising that atheists would want to expose their children to religion, I doubt howver that many Christians (for example) would take their children to a mosk or a synagog or a Bhudist temple, in order to expose them to other religions so they can make up their own minds using logic and reason instead of indoctrination.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Chris

      Luis Wu, you mean... like the mystical beliefs of evolution that you use to "explain away" a righteous God who holds us accountable in the end? Oh, ok... Well, here, chew on this for a minute...

      Rapid Rifting in Ethiopia Challenges Evolutionary Model by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/articles/view/5106/355/

      Continents Didn't Drift, They Raced by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/articles/view/5588/355/

      When Did the Mountains Rise? by John D. Morris, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/articles/view/103/355/

      Archaeopteryx Is a Bird. . . Again by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/article/6429/

      Evolution Is Biologically Impossible by Joseph Mastropaolo, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-biologically-impossible/

      Both Argon and Helium Diffusion Rates Indicate a Young Earth by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/article/6229/

      What Magnetized the Moon? by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/articles/type/9/

      A Well-Watered Land: Effects of the Genesis Flood on Precipitation in the Middle East by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/article/6091/

      'Dinosaur Plant' Evolution Stories Conflict by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/article/6433/

      The above mentioned ^^ are just the beginning... I can keep going if you'd like. But this is a good start as to why "atheism" is a religion. Because it is a disbelief in a supernatural creator, which then leaves only one other option – Evolution is the main belief of most atheists, which takes an ENORMOUS amount of faith to believe in. It's a joke, honestly. Just read the above mentionted articles, and you'll start to see a little bit of what I mean.

      December 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • MN

      @Chris- Please stop spamming this wall with the same exact post OVER AND OVER again. And NO atheism is not a "belief" in evolution, that makes you sound utterly ridiculous, the two have nothing to do with each other. And plenty of Christians believe in evolution. Please grow up and learn to form a logical argument before posting. Evolution is simply the best answer we have right now, not to say it can't or won't change over time with new information, that is the beauty of science, and we are ok with not having ALL of the answers right now or ever. Just because we don't know how something happened doesn't automatically mean "God did it!"

      December 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  5. easy

    Unlike the unthinking faithful, it is perfectly reasonable to expose children to different kinds of thought. Exposure is different from indoctrination. I'm happy to have my children be exposed, but I will also come home and discuss the lack of thought. Religion is a perfect example of how to be sheep (and that is the exact metaphore they use to describe themselves).

    December 7, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • J

      yes, God calls people sheep, got a problem?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • One7777777

      And you are giving your earthly definition of sheep to God's definition of sheep.

      Every "type" of person was portrayed by an animal or wild beast in the Bible. I would rather be one that recognizes God than one who doesn't.

      And here's the fallacy of this article – you cannot go to God unless called – he chooses YOU.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Jesus is God

      Yes, believers are sheep. Unbelievers are goats.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • MarkinFL

      ONE777777, please tell that to all the fundy proselytizers.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  6. hehe haha

    there is no point to going to church. The creator created us his creation and therefor we are the temples of him. We need only worship, it matters not where said worshiping takes place.

    oh and i am an atheist thru and thru, religion is the cance to humankind, but if it must exist then lets those who believe stop the needless waste of gas to which we are at war for supposedly and remember that if you believe that god created everything why not go into the woods or during the rain and say thanks?

    December 7, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Ironicus

      Hi, hippypoet.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • hippypoet

      yes its me... but am i wrong? does the believer believe that the creator created everything and therefore one could say thanks everyday allday? at this point the church is more of a social gathering then anything. and if thats the case then make it worth being there and perhaps other would go.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Jo-c

      Because you're then worshipping the creation, not The Creator.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • hippypoet

      i never said worship the body, sry if i was unclear... by being in the creations creation (us, the world) and then showing thanks or whatever would be a greater showing of true love for the so called creator. Instead of destorying a rock cliff of clay pit so you can then cut a bunch of trees down to build a building that truly serves no purpose unless turned homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Ironicus

      hippypoet, if you are going to worship the random senseless and ridiculous god of Spinoza, what makes you think anyone is going to respect your arguments? Spinoza was wrong just as you are wrong.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • noel

      I read the bible & I agree!! good comment!!

      December 7, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Chris

      HippyPoet/hehe haha, Atheism is a religion. As an atheist you deny that a supernatural being (God) exists. Therefore, you have one alternative option left... Evolution.

      Evolution, is a religion. It takes just as much faith to believe that "something came from nothing" (scientifically impossible) as it is to believe that God created everything from nothing. It's essentially the same belief, just without a righteous God who holds us accountable in the end. That's the part most atheists don't like. It's called pride. We're too good for a "God" that we should have to depend on for salvation 😉

      Need proof? Here's for a start... There's plenty more, but this will get you started...

      Rapid Rifting in Ethiopia Challenges Evolutionary Model by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/articles/view/5106/355/

      Continents Didn't Drift, They Raced by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/articles/view/5588/355/

      When Did the Mountains Rise? by John D. Morris, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/articles/view/103/355/

      Archaeopteryx Is a Bird. . . Again by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/article/6429/

      Evolution Is Biologically Impossible by Joseph Mastropaolo, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-biologically-impossible/

      Both Argon and Helium Diffusion Rates Indicate a Young Earth by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/article/6229/

      What Magnetized the Moon? by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/articles/type/9/

      A Well-Watered Land: Effects of the Genesis Flood on Precipitation in the Middle East by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D.: http://www.icr.org/article/6091/

      'Dinosaur Plant' Evolution Stories Conflict by Brian Thomas, M.S.: http://www.icr.org/article/6433/

      The above mentioned ^^ are just the beginning... I can keep going if you'd like. But this is a good start as to why "atheism" is a belief in "evolution" which in turn, is a religion.

      December 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  7. bagger

    i attend Bedside Baptist Church with my friends Deacon Dreary, Brother Bedpillow, and Sister Sleep

    December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  8. Barry G.

    The Christians and Jews were called atheists in the first few centuries, because they worshipped an invisible God and didn't worship the traditional pagan gods (idols). The Christians and the Jews also rejected the values and practices of the pagans, and instead opted for a much higher set of ethics and standards.

    One of the Hebrew Psalms begins with these words: The fool has said in their heart that there is no God.

    This does not mean that this person was denying the existence of God, it means that they were opting to accept an alternative system of belief, the system of belief of polytheism or idolatry.

    This Psalm, like the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures, was addressing the question of what God will you worship, who will you trust, and how will you behave?

    Will you worship the God of Abraham (monotheism) and live by the high principles and ethics of monotheism, or will you serve the more traditional gods (polytheism) and live by the low ethics and principles that accompany this system of belief?

    Little has changed over the past several thousand years. The question remains will you accept the high ethical principles and values of monotheism, or will you pursue a more selfish and self-centered system of belief.

    Incidentally idolatry (polytheism) inevitably leads to anxiety and violence, whereas the message of the Hebrew Scripture (which includes the New Testament Christian Scriptures) remains: Fear not! Trust God and keep his commandments.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Luis Wu

      I'm an agnostic, but it would seem to me that if there is a supreme intelligence in the Universe, such a being would be beyond the need for "worship" and "praise" and "glorification", etc. etc. And would not send people to be tortured forever, burning and screaming throughout all eternity, simply because they were raised in a different faith. Sorry, but to me, all religions are simply ancient mythology. Nothing more.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Barry G.

      Luis,

      It seems that someone did a poor job explaining the message of the Bible to you. You have it all wrong.

      The message of the Bible is that humans have set themselves on a destructive path (as is constantly proven true), and the God of the Bible intervenes in human history to show that there is a better way.

      I encourage you to read the Bible, for yourself, in its entirety; and, I believe that you will realize that your understanding of the message is incorrect.

      The message of the Bible, from cover to cover, is that God loves the world and has been and continues to do everything in his power to save the people of the world. Of course he allows people to make their own choice and he forces no one.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Jo-c

      Luis-Wu, He doesn't send them there. He gives them a choice!

      December 7, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • AGeek

      I'm sorry, Barry ..but that's flat-out crap. Non-Abrahamaic religions have as much to do with "low ethics" as owning a dog has to do with the color of shoes you buy. Two of your lovely Abrahamaic religions (Catholicism and Islam) are the source of more violence and bloodshed than anything else in the written history of mankind. Excellent code of ethics there. Meanwhile, you have Buddhists and Hindu who have a hard time so much as hurting a fly.

      Next time, try not to make such obviously incorrect remarks.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Barry G.,
      And incidentally, will torture you for eternity if you do not bow down to him. Nasty little bugger, really.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • bagger

      @wu , if god so chooses that you be born into a muslim family that lives in a 99.9% muslim country you are pretty much being given a damnation to hell before you are even born. The baby that god chooses to be born in that lilly white american christian family has much better odds of not burning in hell for all eternity. so god pretty much decides you eternal soul before your even conceived. that is a kind god.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Of course he allows people to make their own choice and he forces no one."""

      Children who die in famine have no such choice.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Luis Wu

      @Barry G. – I've read the Christian bible(s), old and new, from cover to cover. Archaic mythology, nothing more. Period. Anyone who uses logic and reason instead of blind acceptance can see that. All primitive cultures have their mythology, Christianity is no different. What religion you are is 90% or more based on where you were born. All religions are ancient mythology. It's just so obvious to anyone that looks at it objectively.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Barry G.

      Geek,

      There have been abuses of religion and in Christendom, but the failings of humans (including among those claiming to have faith) doesn't detract from the message of the Bible.

      Do your homework. Compare the system of monotheism with polytheism and see if you don't see a difference. See if this difference isn't seen in the lives of the individuals and the entire society itself.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Luis Wu

      @Jo c – some choice, believe in archaic myths or be burned FOREVER, throughout all eternity. Nice guy your god. Would you burn your children for not believing in you? Would you burn them FOREVER? What a crock.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """if god so chooses that you be born into a muslim family that lives in a 99.9% muslim country you are pretty much being given a damnation to hell before you are even born."""

      I brought this up once in an argument with a born-again uncle. His response was that christians proselytize the word of god, and that these muslims will have their chance to learn about it.

      Here's what I asked him: Uncle Jim, if a muslim came to you and told you that islam was the only true way to heaven, would you convert?

      He said "hell no!"

      I replied, then why would a muslim respond any differently to hearing about your god?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Mick

      A person can be moral regardless of whether or not he believes in supernatural beings. The two have nothing to do with each other.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  9. feh

    Religious beliefs can be explained without actually taking the child to a church. Best to avoid the location of the brainwashing.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Barry G.

      Time will tell whether your way and your wisdom is better and greater than that of the Bible. It will be clear by your own life and it will be made clear by the lives of your children, if you have any.

      God help them, if you do.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Just about anyone's wisdom would be greater than the bible. It's just an archaic book of ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive culture. Just like the books of other religions. Ancient mythology with no resemblance whatever to reality.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Barry G.

      Luis,

      Just because ideas are old (or primitive, as you said) doesn't mean that they are not true or are not good.

      There are good ideas and bad. Wise individuals retain and employ the ones that work; fools fail to retain them and fail to utilize them.

      The fact that the Bible is couched in myth doesn't detract from the truth of the message. How else would God speak to us, if he didn't use our own symbols and stories, to covey his message?

      Read it again.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • Ironicus

      Barry, how about simple direct conversation? Why play hide-and-seek and make mumblings and signs that no one understands? Because it is all bullshlt, that's why.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Bob

      Barry, if anything, the bible has been overstudied. The mere fact that you and I sincerely came to wildly different interpretations of it is yet one more clue that it isn't the work of a divine being.

      In other words, god has a really weak mar-comm department and is a pretty pathetic excuse for a supposedly omnipotent being. And one still has to ask why a god needs a book to get its message out, and why god can't refresh his message in the era of the internet. God can't even come up with his own web presence.

      December 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  10. IceT

    Most people sitting in churches are Atheists .. they don't really believe in that stuff, they're just afraid not too.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • GSK

      very true... not many would die for their faith based beliefs...

      December 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • AthiestPK

      Amen, IceT! This tendency towards blindly following the group can be very damaging.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  11. bagger

    it is probably more like they have a spouse who is still in denial. are these atheists also forcing their kids to attend equally plausible (or more) religious services like islamic, hindu, etc?

    December 7, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  12. TR Price

    This article could stand some editing and proofreading. Examples:
    Let's begin with the headline: "attend with religious services" in American English we usually don't use "with" in this context; instead we say that they "ATTEND RELIGIOUS SERVICES"
    "against religions people" religioUS people?
    "understanding how nonreligious scientists utilize religion in family life demonstrates the important function they have in the U.S" does this mean the important function of SCIENTISTS or of RELIGION[s]

    December 7, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  13. Luis Wu

    I'm an agnostic with pantheistic leanings. My 15 year old daughter has been to church a few times with her mother and with friends. She knows my views but I don't push them on her. I want her to make up her own mind and make informed decisions on everything, not just religion. On the other hand, I didn't want her brainwashed from birth into believing in any particular religion (or not believing in anything). She's an intelligent girl and can make up her own mind, based on logic and reason.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  14. freetime1

    "some atheist scientists want to expose their children to religion due to scientific reasoning."
    The best way to show some one how flawed something is, is to expose them to it. Think those that believe in god are as willing to expose their children to none belivers? I don't! Might have something to do with fear.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Paul

      See, thats the problem with people like you. You ASSume everything. I was exposed to non-believers as a child. I still believe because I actually read the book and "get it". I dont want to hear anything about intelligence here as my mother is a brain surgeon and my father is a cisco networking professional and they still believe in god. Believe what you want, nobody is going to care about your faith but you.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • easy

      I agree with freetime.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • freetime1

      Pual, I said "Think those that believe in god are as willing". Just because it happened to you or some others does not mean they are as willing. Hello

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • iminim

      If you rely on the modern media to define religion for you, then you will only hear about the extremists. I am glad that some atheists take their children to religious services to see what religion really "looks like" instead of letting the media define it for them. Experience is a much better teacher than hearsay. Those of us with religious belief should also expose our children to different beliefs and to people without religious belief. Ignorance of the alternatives is a poor way to choose a belief system/religion. We would not ask our children to make a decision about other aspects of their lives with only part of the information they needed. Why do so with religion?

      Even if you don't agree with what you hear when you explore other faiths, learning about a variety of different belief and nonbelief systems first hand puts a face on the group. It is harder to hate or fear a group when you have listened while they prayed, learned that they also fear, shaken their hands & sat by their sides. Knowledge of many beliefs and nonbelief helps anyone who works with members of other cultures ( Like knowing not to schedule your conference's banquet meal for lunch if you are meeting with Muslim clients during Ramadan, for example).

      BTW, I attend a Christian church where the youth routinely visit worship services of different faiths as part of their religious education and where we have had seminars taught by those of nonChristian faiths and by leaders from the local atheists/agnostic organization. There has been no mass exodus of members to other belief systems. Instead, we have learned how to be better representatives of Christ in our world. We have developed interfaith opportunities for community service. We have learned acceptance of others, even if we decide not to believe what they believe with regards to religion. We have learned that a community does not have to be of one faith to be united towards a common good.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  15. Paul

    so the athiest are contradicting themselves.. they always do LOL

    December 7, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Luis Wu

      No contradiction. We leave that to Christians.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      How is exposing the children to the different ideas that religions have contradicting themselves?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • IceT

      I'm an Atheist & I've attended many church services. There are many occaisons in todays society that occur in churches. I'm not being contradictory by being in that building, I just don't pretend to be something I'm not & don't partake of the pledging loyalties portions. I make no apologies or pretenses & that sets me apart from the "believers" in the crowd, hypocrisy wise.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Paul

      lol you people contradict yourselves all the time. You talk about forced religion but will be quick to speak up and say "its not real why do you beleive?!"... and what are you doing? forcing your opinion? LOL same thing. it's not hard to figure people like you out. You want to throw in your side of the story but when somebody speaks against it you are quick to get offended... as an example of your reply. Believe what you want. In the end you lose. If there is a god, you lose, if theres not a god, you lose.. for christians.. if there is a god, they win, if theres not a god, they win. Atleast we go out with a belief that makes us happy 😉

      December 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Derp

      "if there is a god, they win, if theres not a god, they win. Atleast we go out with a belief that makes us happy ;)"

      So truth is irrelevant as long as you are happy. Got it. I hear heroin addicts go out pretty happy too...yet surprisingly no one envies them.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "You talk about forced religion but will be quick to speak up and say "its not real why do you beleive?!"... and what are you doing? forcing your opinion? LOL same thing. "

      No, its expressing an opinion. A christian opinion response would be 'I personally believe'; a christian forcing religion response would be 'I believe therefore we need prayer in schools and to teach creationism.'
      See how that works?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  16. got2it

    "against religious PEOPLE?" NO!! Against forced religion, perhaps, but not against PEOPLE.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Paul

      if I was forced into a religion id probably be an athiest too. its called being a rebel.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Paul, you cant rebelliously decide not to believe in something.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  17. andawg

    I agree that you should explore your options and make an informed decision about whether or not you believe in any faith and what faith you believe in. On another note, atheists here keep commenting about what it means to be an atheist but are each giving different explanations.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """atheists here keep commenting about what it means to be an atheist but are each giving different explanations"""

      Because your mileage may vary.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Not all are atheists. I'm an agnostic. One guy said he was leaning toward Bhudaism are all Christians the same in their beliefs? Particularly in the degree of their beliefs? You can't lump all atheists together nor can you lump all religious people together. Sorry, but your comment wasn't a very intelligent one.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  18. The Jackdaw

    Most church goers go because they were raised to go and they dont know any different. Going through the motions is easier than questioning your elders, authority figures and a lifetime of practice. Its also a community mentality. You dont want to turn your back on your neighbors, even though you know its all hokum. So you keep going. Put your nice pants on and waste an hour ever sunday.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • hippypoet

      so you agree that thoughts rarely enter into the mix when a religious nut job goes to church, like a dog to the door when its time for a walk, with leash in mouth drooling for the outside! i think the dog may even put more thought into then the human overlord!

      December 7, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • got2it

      I grew up in church. I rejected church from high school until about 30 yrs old. Then I had my own Road to Damascus experience. I do believe I look at this objectively, but to me the evidence is overwhelming. I understand the non-believer's point of view, I've been there. One thing I will agree on...if you're only wasting "an hour a week," it may well be a waste.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      My father used to be a server in a church. One day he just stopped what he was doing and asked himself what on earth he was doing and realised he didnt believe any of it, he was just going through the motions because it was expected. He never went back again.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Astra Navigo

      One of my favorite authors, the late Joe Bageant, wrote in "Deer Hunting With Jesus" – "They got their religion the same way everyone else did – parental conditioning."

      Every child is born an atheist.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Steven

      Astra Navigo: "Every child is born an athiest."

      Every child is also born illiterate. Is he or she supposed to stay that way?

      December 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  19. Tim

    Big surprise: Atheists are educated, tolerant people. Who knew? (heavy sarcasm)

    December 7, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • hippypoet

      lol, and the religious are close/small minded sheep who can't think for themselves! no sarcasm here.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Matt

      I wonder if Hippypoet ever notices his blind hatred for all things religious makes him look like just another troll spouting because he like to hear himself rather than someone capable of rational thought?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • hippypoet

      so you mean to tell me that someone who believes in something that can't be proven and is also a 3000 year old idea is a person of rational thought – are you from the south by any chance?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      I am an atheist. I do not believe in any form of deity and as far as the Christian religions go, a quick glance at history shows you how it was forged from the leftovers of dozens of other faiths. Its hokum, and that’s all.

      That being said, I don’t think religion is something that should be done away with. I’m not suggesting that people should believe, I’m suggesting that all of the religions of the world having something to offer. Their wisdom is real, but its wisdom created by man, not by god. I believe religions are the amalgam of our collective subconscious’s search. Weather that is a search for some kind of “spiritual truth”, or just pattern recognition within an incredibly complex system, I don’t think it matters.

      There is no God, but religion still has value.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Matt

      Lol, you are making my point. I'm just pointing out the relatively obvious. Based on the tone and language of your posts, you are simply too angry to be rational on this topic. That won't stop you from thinking you can be though. Science tells us that you are not unique in your position.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Astra Navigo

      ....and all of you 'believers' are naturally kind, peace-loving individuals, accepting of all around you (equally heavy sarcasm)

      Who knew?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • hippypoet

      matt, i'm not mad or angry, i just don't care for those that do things without knowing even why they do them. I have studied religion for a very long time and most likely won't stop but some things i have found preach totally different things and yet are more christian if you will then how you folks seem to behave nowadays... for instance, in the gospel of judas, there is a passage that reads – lift a stone and i am there, split a plank of wood and you will find me. this is the reason why the church banned the gospel, it preaches that god is everywhere and everywhere is where you should worship. Infact it states that having a church and a building with any image of christ is against what jesus supposedly preached! But most christians are raised to believe that judaswas the betrayer when infact he may have only done what he was told by jesus – according to the gospel of judis that is. Your thoughts?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Matt

      I am aware of the gospel of Judas and what it says. And I find it interesting that you would try and choose it as a debate point since it can be argued both scientifically and theologically, but that really has nothing to do with my comment. I simply commented that you were clearly angry in your recent set of posts. Go back and read them and explain to me how the insults and sarcasm are rational.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • hippypoet

      showing emotion in a conversation is a tool i use to push the point.. i am rather emotionless as a person, i feel things, but as i stated – i just don't care... me and my wife joke that i may be a sociopath. I understand that those who would speak against me are either just arguing for the sake of it or have a stake in it and therefore there emotion will rise. I intend on bringing out the emotion in the other person as a tool to make them think less clear and then speak stupidities. I have a great many tools in arguing, i was the head of my high school debate class – i never lost. not bragging but it may seem like... i know of no other that brags about being nearly emotionless all the time! I can turn it on and off at will. All my friends think i'm insane but yet make rather good points and agrue them as if i truly believe every word i say... i don't! I only do what i think will get a point across, using feelings in a heightened emotional conversation can be a fickle toy but when pared with understanding, knowledge, and experience there is little i fear in conversation... i also get more enjoyment out of being proven wrong! So i pose an argument that is easlied argued against because i see the spiral and have already created an argument around it... i just wait for others to slip into the "your wrong" state of mind, then with them feeling superior I toss my trump card and watch the face contort. 🙂 I have only posted i think 3 or 4 real emotional posts on here.... those were mistakes to me image of who you all seem to view me as, which i rather like!

      Please don't think ill of me or conceded, i am just honest and i as stated don't care about much that this world consists of!

      December 7, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • iminim

      Some atheists are educated & tolerant people, just like some religious people are educated & tolerant. I think the blog entries here clearly demonstrate that neither the atheist nor the religious community hold a monopoly on those virtues just as neither group holds a monopoly on intolerance and hate.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  20. AGeek

    I'm largely an atheist, ex-Catholic with Buddhist-leaning proclivities. My wife is a recovering ex-Southern Baptist. We have two children. I'm a higher-functioning geek. We have two children under 10yrs old. When the mood strikes us, we'll visit a service at one of the local houses of worship (within reason .. JH'es are simply too batchit crazy for me to tolerate) to give the kids some exposure so they can make their own decisions later. As parents, one of our jobs is to educate our children. Telling them what to think is *not* education. Teaching them *how* to think is. Exposing them to different experiences gives them a basis to ask better questions and make intelligent decisions. We simply view this as part of our job to give our children tools for life. I simply do not understand the mindset of the "very religious" who give their children a toolset that consists of just one hammer. Not every question to be answered is a nail.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Greg s

      I wonder why most atheists are ex-Catholics I don't think Ive ever heard a Atheists say I was once a baptist or a Lutheran, Im sure there out there but Ive just never noticed one. What the heck are those Catholics doing to generate so many Atheists.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • AGeek

      It's just a numbers thing. There are simply an overwhelming number of Catholics compared to other "Catholic-esque" variants. That and the general behavior, I suppose. "Father, I don't understand ..how could a rib be taken from a man and a whole new being created from it... that seems to be contrary to what biology says." "My son, that's one of the mysteries of our faith." "Wait.. what? Dude. I have three functioning synapses. Give me an eff'in break. It's not a mystery, it's bullchit. Try harder, Father."

      December 7, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • bagger

      The funny thing is that catholics believe there is a spot in heII for both protestants and atheists alike. Jesus hates you both.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Johnny 5

      Hats off to you Ageek. I'm an atheist and agree with you 100%.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:33 am |
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.