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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. bagger

    look, proving a negetive is a logical fallacy. when outrageous claims are made (ie. invisible super heros) then the burden of proof lies with the believer.

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

      Praise God! They are right where they should be-hearing the Word of God.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Bagger

      Totally agree, I've discovered however that when a believer demands proof the gods non-existance and we of course state that proving a negative is illogical the disucssion usually ends with the believer basically saying in many more words , "yeah, I thought so"

      As I see it, the real question we should be asking first is what sort of proof is acceptable to a believer to show them god does not exist. A believer demanding proof of gods non-existance clearly has something in mind, so what is it? As an atheists I can clearly outline what I would consider as proof of gods existance that would convert me, all they need to do is pray for it to happen. If they extend the same courtesy then once I have a target to shoot at I'l be able to make it happen. If they say, "nothing" then they are clearly being disingenuous and have clearly rejected the thought so vehemetly that god could not exist that their opinion becomes invalid.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • bagger

      precisely that, no amount of proof would change a belief. no metric could be established. to ignore what is plainly infront of you is called what?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • richunix

      Most "GOD" based belief fall into the: Argument from authority (also known as appeal to authority or argumentum ad verecundiam)
      Example:

      A. The Bible is extant.
      B. The Pope declare the Bible to be extant.
      C. Therefore the Bible is true as the Pope is an expert on the Bible.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Chuckles

      @bagger

      ...... um........ blind faith?! It's blind faith isn't it?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  2. mouse

    Most of you are Chrisians only because you were born in the good ole USA........had you been born in say India you would most likely be Hindu. My point is why would an omnipotent god only want Americans????

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

      there is one god – and we see them through our cultural eyes, yes.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      so those religions with more than one god then bill?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • bill

      Cedar Rapids, there is only one good, and some people/religions of different cultures honor him in every thing they see. so to you it may appear to be many gods – but if you truly hear them they will explain it to you as one god being honored in it numerous manifestations.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Dolores

      My parents lived all over the world and never had trouble finding a church. Sumatra, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey, Iraq, Taiwan, the Philipines, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the list goes on and on.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  3. JohnR

    So lots of atheists want their children to make their own informed choices and don't indoctrinate them. Imagine that.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • bill

      and I think that that is a good thing. there is something deep in their being, their soul, which has not abandoned them, and is guiding them to do the right thing for the souls they were charged with to bring into and expeirence the physical world. to them i say – welcome, and may good bless you always.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Dolores

      Or Europeans, or Africans, or Asians. Christianity is everywhere. My parents lived all over the world and never had trouble finding a church. Sumatra, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey, Iraq, Taiwan, the Philipines, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the list goes on and on.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Dolores

      Sorry, my reply posted under the wrong thread.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  4. Rabo K

    How ridiculous is the following statement?: "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.

    Scientists are not categorically or otherwise "against" religious people. They are not engaged in a battle. This kind of thinking stems from the persecution complex enjoyed by religious people. Scientists who are standing up for their evidence-based positions are not being anti-religious. They are promoting reality and sharing knowledge.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • JohnR

      Exactly.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • J. Scott

      I was going to post an intelligent comment here but you hit the nail on the head.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Amy

      Well said...

      December 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Kristina

      Rabo, you also fail to note that numerous scientists ARE religious people and do not see a contrast between a belief in God and scientific principles.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      http://choiceindying%5BDOT%5Dcom/2011/12/05/elaine-ecklunds-militant-campaign/

      December 7, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  5. if horses had Gods ...

    Question ... would anyone believe in God if no one told them to?

    I belive it's natural to asign anthropomorphic characteristics to what we don't understand .. and that this current God / religion formula is the ever evolving flavor of the week.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • bagger

      throughout history man has formulated a god for every mystery, with the most recent evolution coming with monotheism from polytheism.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Kristina

      It has sure persisted a long time (i.e. for several thousand years) for a "flavor of the week." Yes, I would believe in God regardless of whether anyone told me or not. I reached a point in life where I realized I could not answer the most fundamentally important questions to me - where were we before here, why are we here, and where are we going after here - without tapping into my spiritual side.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • bagger

      @kristina, it is important that all people have some answer for these questions, wether based on scientific fact or spiritual mysticism.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      @ Kristina ... there have been countless "flavors of the week" over the past thousands of years. Even currently not everyone believes in the same religion or even "how" to believe in the same God (ie: Christian, Jewish, Muslim [same God BTW]).
      As for your belief ... you wouldn't even know TO believe if someone hadn't told you too & how too.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  6. Rick

    I find it difficult to take religions seriously because the messaging that I hear when I take my family to church seems to be more about keeping the belief going and finances rather than what was most likely intended when the texts were created. That, and the fact that so many people in senior roles within the churches give in to temptation and break their own rules. With that, the reason that I will take my children is in the hopes that they will get something out of the teachings and become good people. I think that the reason that most if not all religions were created in the first place was to lay down some rules so that people would stop being barbarians. It's difficult to get a club-wielding barbarian to stop whacking people without the threat from a higher power. Religion offers that. Sadly, it appears that greed and power struggles have over-shadowed what it's supposed to be about. I can tell you that I even doubted the existence of Jesus until I spent some time in Italy. After that, I'm pretty sure he did exist, but highly doubt that any of the "miracles" really took place. If there were such a thing as CNN back in those times, I'm positive all of the speculation would be debunked. The fact that extreme belief has caused so much turmoil and death is a very tragic outcome from all of this and its the reason I keep my kids at arms length from it all. Hopefully one day the real answers as to how we got here and why we exist will be answered and I'm pretty sure that none of the religions will have got it right.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  7. richunix

    @Steve,

    Two thousand years ago multiple religions were the cultural norm. The belief in multiple GODs (the word GOD is taken from the 6th century CE Germanic language) was widely accepted and only varied by type (and special abilities) depending the region you lived in. None of the Bible stories were ever PROVEN (BAR NONE) and they were will written long after the events supposedly happened. The only thing that changed was the names used to describe the GODS, from Sumerian times the supreme God was called “An” when have evolved to the current Christian name “YAHWEH”. To make a finer point the only thing that really changed was the “story teller” . Each story teller went to great lengths improve his or her deity to the reader. Also remember they didn’t have much on the burden or nor was proof really a requirement. These writers create wondrous feats of magic that go beyond the basic physical laws of nature. You find the very same Creation (according to the Sumerian) stories written thousand years earlier, only the name has changed to meet the current popular God in use. Of course when any questioned these stories, the same standard answer “God says so” . But yet the same people will question any other believers of different religious sects like the Jehovah Witness and Mormons and then label them as “whack–jobs” , but they fail to see Christians are no different. The major difference is modern man has proven through scientific exam the laws of nature and how man really works and YES we evolved from lower forms of life and YES Apes are our distance cousin (deal with it).

    Here are examples of these inconsistencies found in your Bible. Pick one (anyone) and please explain to the reader how this is the word of GOD and therefore extant.
    Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
    (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
    (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)
    In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
    (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
    (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)
    How many fighting men were found in Judah?
    (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
    (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
    God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
    (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
    (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
    How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
    (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
    (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)
    How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
    (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
    (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)
    How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
    (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
    (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)
    The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
    (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
    (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)
    When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
    (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
    (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)
    How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
    (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
    (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)
    When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
    (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
    (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)
    How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
    (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
    (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)
    In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
    (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
    (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)
    How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
    (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
    (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)
    Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
    (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
    (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)
    Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
    (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
    (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)
    How many were the children of Zattu?
    (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
    (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)
    How many were the children of Azgad?
    (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
    (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)
    How many were the children of Adin?
    (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
    (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)
    How many were the children of Hashum?
    (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
    (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)
    How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
    (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
    (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)
    Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
    (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
    (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)
    How many singers accompanied the assembly?
    (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
    (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

    I’m not interested in changing anyone beliefs, that is for you to decide. If believing in whatever you wish to believe make you feel better about yourself, please continue. But stop with trying to make these stories sound if they are true. No ONE (BAR NONE) has ever seen any God (outside of the occasional burring bush and always alone), parted the Red Sea or the Jewish Sea of Reeds or even a damn pond or have they ever turned anyone to stone, pillar of salt or into your favorite color. If you ever attempt (and a few have) to use any of the stories mention in the bible as a test of scientific theory and then use them in court for defense, by invoking the angel Satan made me do it, or God said so, then who are you to say “He’s lying”, in short mold the fantasy into your reality.

    To finish, I’m very happy with my life and YES I know I’m going to die as it is very much a part of life. I’m not so vain or fearful about what will happen that I need stories to comfort my fears. I know I will live forever, I can see it every day with the next generation and I sigh with relief, that they will make the world a better place. Enjoy your life, do what you can to make it better, don’t live in fear of unknown.

    Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Science

      By far, BY FAR the best response in favor of atheism. Bravo! I'll be quoting your post for future discussions about religion.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Barry G.

      Your many words betray your ignorance.

      The issue of monotheism was presented by the Hebrews and was the central message of the entire Scripture. They attributed their exile in to Babylon to be due to their having violated their covenant with this one God (YHWY). The exile occurred in the sixth century BCE, not CE. You’re off by over 1200 years.

      And to cite various so called problem texts only reveals that you do not understand or know the things about which you write.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”"""

      A simple truth blatantly and willfully ignored.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Michaeltantino

      Atheism is no more a religion than not smoking is a habit, than not collecting stamps is a hobby, etc. Atheism is merely the lack of belief in a God(s). Nothing more. I hear all the time about how Atheists and their religion. It's absurd nonsense. No two atheists are confirmed alike other than their lack of belief, and there is not a a doctrine of atheism to follow. Most atheists I know are secularists, and THAT is an ideology that can be applied across the board. So when atheists fight public school-led prayer (not prayer in school as is commonly spun) or seperation of church and state-this is not an "atheist argument" it is a secularist argument.

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

      @barry, the bible is not entirely useless, it is an important historical artifact (if the original latin is used vs. the twisted translation of translations). It is full of details about barbarian history, once you sift through the mother goose tales. it sheds light on the amounts of suffering people have endured from other people in the name of god.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • ali

      You certainly have spent a lot of time trying to disprove a religion that you say you are OK with letting people believe if they want to. You seem to have missed an important point. Many of the books of the bible that you are referencing are the telling of the story for the specific persons point of view. Some are seen by many religions as being fables and stories told from the point of view of the writer.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Dana

      And the writers were MEN not God!!! Men wrote the bible not God.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  8. Brandon

    Taking your children to church is a form of child abuse.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      I don't agree that "taking" them to a church is child abuse but I do believe that threatening them into "believing" IS child abuse.

      We give our children many "stories" to heighten the wonderment of childhood but when they grow to logically question it we tell them the truth .. except when it come to religion .. we threaten them with eternal damnation if they don't continue to believe!

      December 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  9. Dolly

    I am one of those non-believers who took my kids to church so they could be raised in a supportive community that taught them about community service. I always said I like everything about church except religion. I like the social contact, the value of charity and community service. I even like the singing and music at the services. I just do not believe there is a God that cares about our everyday affairs that you can beg to let you into heaven if you can somehow hypnotize yourself to "just believe". If there is a God he gave us a brain and he expects us to use it for good purposes. So I use mine as best I can to help my family and my fellow man. If he exists, he knows my intentions and my deeds. If he does not, I am content to do the right thing just because it is the right thing, not because I am looking to be rewarded in the after life. To a certain extent it is immoral to look for a personal reward such as going to heaven for doing the right thing. Being a moral person for the sake of doing right to others should be reward enough.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • JD

      Actually Dolly, it seems you have been attending church but have missed some basic theology. (1) you don't have to "beg" to get into heaven. It is a free gift. Secondly, you don't get to heaven by "doing the right thing". You get to heaven through the free gift of Salvation, not through "doing the right thing(s)"; through faith not works. Not to disparage your experience, but the road to heaven is wide open.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  10. Observer

    Every athiest I know lacks intelligence and self esteem. Most are abusive and show none of the "tolerance" that they demand from others.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Derp

      Nobody's biting dude...

      December 7, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Mairéad

      The ****?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • jcp

      every atheist you know? really? as opposed to all the incredibly strong and confident church goers that you know? you lack intelligence and credibility. having to believe in something you were told to believe in and then not having any proof is a sign of stupidity.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Christian Taliban

      Trolololo lololo lololo

      December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Derp

      I stand corrected...

      December 7, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Christian Taliban

      Don't feed the troll. He doesn't get enough attention in his private life, so he's trying to get it here.

      Ignore him and he'll go somewhere else.

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

      most christians I have known, pointing towards history declare all non believers heretics and massacre the populace till they believe. grab a non modified history book and read up on SOUTH AMERICA, NORTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA as examples..... what did the Mayans and Incas do that was so bad that Priests declared them heretics burned ALL their writings destroyed their temples and forced them to be christians. u think mexicans are devout christians by choice? oh that doesnt matter cuz it "WORKED" they are on your side now cover up the past their ancestors were not murdered

      December 7, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Barry G.

      You failed to mention, arrogant.

      I can see someone saying they do not know whether there is a God; and I can see someone saying that they have doubts; but to say someone knows that there is no God, is utter foolishness.

      After a person dies and knows what death is and what is in and beyond the grave, only then they can know with certainty about such matters.

      We who are Christians have faith, and our faith is based on evidence.

      Atheists make an outrageous statement, which cannot be proven.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Derp

      "Atheists make an outrageous statement, which cannot be proven."

      Wrong. Most people who identify as "atheists" simply reject theistic claims that cannot be proven. That's it. Saying that one does not believe in God, Santa Clause, the Flying Spaghetti monster is not a freaking belief...it is the rejection of said belief. Try this definition as it is more representative of us "atheists": the rejection of ideas not based on logical conjecture.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Huzzah

      Well you obviously have an open mind to such people, I'm sure they love you too. I suppose I am an atheist, however I do choose to be slightly more undecided; certainties are rarely certain. I have many religious friends, some exceedingly devout, but they optimise the best of having faith; respect, love, and kindness. But I have also met some horribly bigoted religious people ho optimise the worst of faith; hatred, lack of compassion and understanding.

      I truly believe that religious or not, being a good person is all that matters. Hating/pitying someone for being/not being religious is not being a good person.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "We who are Christians have faith, and our faith is based on evidence.

      Atheists make an outrageous statement, which cannot be proven"

      see thats the kind of nonsense we are on about. 'faith based on evidence' too funny.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  11. Janie

    I suppose I'm an atheist, although I feel like that word is associated with a lot of negativity and don't identify myself as much. I don't necessarily believe in anything because no religion has proven itself to be without many, many unanswered questions. Religion is also associated with hatred, bigotry and ostracism. Not something I want to teach my kids. That said, we attend church with my husband's family when we visit and I wouldn't be opposed to finding a very progressive Christian denomination and attending church. My youth group when I was a teen was a blast and it's a good social outlet for kids. Also, if you stick to the actual words of Jesus, he teaches excellent moral lessons.

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

      My wife and I take our kids to the Episcopal Church. I've been varying degrees of an atheist at different points in my life, but I've found that at least in our church people are open to and even embrace strugglers like me. I like the social interaction and the tolerant views of our church and the music is more interesting than most of the other churches in our area. We have a lot of ex-Roman Catholics who can't forgive their church's sins or are divorced or re-married but still want somewhere to go where the lituragy seems familiar to them. I hope you find a place that meets your needs. I know of other people who like the Congregational and Unitarian churches for the same reasons and I could be happy at those churches, too.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  12. echo40

    This article proves that atheists are more open minded people then most of the religious people. When is the last time you see a Christian go to a masque or a Muslim go to a Synagogue so their family could learn?

    December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Barry G.

      Why would anyone who found the truth or the answer continue searching?

      That would be foolish.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Barry G. – Why would anyone who found the truth or the answer continue searching?
      That would be foolish"

      Then those that are muslim have also found the answer then?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Madtown

      Barry G.
      Why would anyone who found the truth or the answer continue searching?
      ----
      How do you know you've found the truth?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Derp

      "Why would anyone who found the truth or the answer continue searching?

      That would be foolish."

      Because maybe they aren't arrogant enough to think they already know everything?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Why would anyone who found the truth or the answer continue searching?
      That would be foolish."""

      Keeping your head in the sand only makes it that much easier for people to kick your butt.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • DaveSEMass

      Not all Christians are so close-minded as your state and look to for learning opportunities everywhere. Many of us are also in favor of strong separation of church and state. There are many loud-mouthed, holier-than-thou Christians (especially in places like this), but many of us are also scientists, engineers, educators, doctors and other professions that require constant study and willingness to learn. It's easy to throw us all under the bus, but it's also a great over-simplification.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  13. doctore0

    If I go I try to look at it as a trip to the zoo... watching the monkey-sheep

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

      Not cool man...don't further the stereotype that atheists are d-bags.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Chuckles

      You have monkey-sheep at your zoo? That must be a fascinating mix, where is this zoo and do they have anymore mutations like that?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  14. PDXmum

    Ms. Ecklund needs to check the words she uses. Atheists aren't against religious *people*. We just don't believe there is a god, that religion is silly and makes no sense, and that it has no business influencing how our country and schools are run.

    Steve, an atheist can't make themselves believe in something that they don't believe exists. It would be a lie and frankly kind of unethical for an atheist to go sit in a church for appearances. And if there is a God, don't you think he/it would be able to see into the atheist's heart and know they really didn't believe and were in church just for show?

    December 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  15. Mike

    I'm an atheist and attend a Universalist Unitarian church. I attend the sermon, a book discussion, lunch with friends, volunteer for charity, etc. I really like it. That's the church that the "I hate liberals" right-wing nut case went into and shot people at. Unlike other church's, you do not have to believe in a certain god to be a member. You just have to support religious liberty, search for truth, kindness, etc.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Dolly

      I love UU. They welcome input from all religions, look for a deeper meaning to life, do charitable deeds. Plus it is the one place where you will see the most Toyota Priuses in the parking lot outside of a Toyota dealership. Been to several UU churches around the country and my husband and I always get a laugh when we pull into the parking lot with our Prius.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  16. realtalker

    I've always developed most of my friendships in the church. It is actually a great place to socialize and meet new friends and you generally will find a better class of people there than you will at say a bar or a night club. The influence is much more positive so whether you agree with the religion or not, it's a good place to be for the most part. That isn't to say churches don't have their problems though.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • AGeek

      I've found the best place to meet people is to go about doing things I enjoy. I've met wonderful people while out fishing. Some of them have been the best friends a person could ever have for 30 years and counting. I don't enjoy bars or clubs, but that's not to say nice people hang out there. #@$holes are everywhere ..but so are nice people. Do what you enjoy and you'll meet nice people who you share that bond with.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  17. MandyM

    I'm a 28 year-old atheists who enjoys spending time at community churches. I do not attend mass regularly, but I do like to spend time with those who are making a positive impact in my community. I enjoy serving food to the needy along side all faiths. I hope to do the same with my children and I also plan to take them to several religious organization, so they can make up their own mind someday.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  18. Seth Strong

    Steve's a nut. Ideal scientists identify all sources of bias when conducting tests. But they have biases which are their preferences and that could be the opinion that there are no gods. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Francis Collins.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  19. mikemazzla@yahoo.com

    Every time I have to go to church ( wedding, funeral whatever) I sit there and switch between cringing and laughing at how ludicrous the whole thing is

    December 7, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Steve

      Me too!

      December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • TheThinker

      There was a movie in which a highly educated black man got mixed up with slaves in the pre-civil war south. As he spoke eloquently about the mistake, the whites gathered around "cringing and laughing about how ludicrous it was"... that a slave was talking like a white man. In every measurable way the black man was their superior, but ignorance goes hand-in-hand with self-agrandizing and disdain for others.

      Intollerance: ask yourself if you've got it (then get rid of it).

      December 7, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Mike B

      Wow you're so cool, educated and stuff.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • jcp

      +1

      December 7, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  20. Steve

    A true scientist cannot prove there is no God. The scientist must then, to be an atheist, take a religious belief there is none. Even the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with atheisum being a religion. Scientists are against religious people? Are they against themselves? Those that are, would be, and wouldn't even know it. And by the way, not all scientists are against religious people as the statement by Elaine Howard suggests. The data is not all in yet folks and there is nothing to lose by waiting, except maybe one's soul. Toodles!

    December 7, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Atheists are against "people", they're against ideas. Personally, I'm against forcing ancient mythology on children, or anyone else for that matter. I'm FOR using logic and reason and objectivity.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Steve, by "Soul" do you mean Consciousness, if not then what do you mean?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Yuo

      I agree.. I was all like ???????????????

      December 7, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • echo40

      Steve, no one can prove a negative. Just like you cannot prove I am NOT God.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Dimensio

      To which "God", of the thousands of deities worshiped or otherwise acknowledged throughout human history, do you refer and for what reason do you reference that specific "God" to the exclusion of all others? Please justify your non-sequitur statement that an absence of belief in all deities requires "religious belief" in the absence of that specific "God". For what reason does a lack of belief in any other deity not require "religious belief"? What is a "soul"? What is "atheisum"?

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

      I'm as.suming this was a hit and run post but I'll answer it anyways. I see how you get from A to B but you are so fundementally wrong that it was just heartbreaking to watch your thought process. Here's the deal, as much as you might want atheism to be a religion so you can be on even ground and attack atheism as much as atheists attack your religion, it's just never going to happen. I won't go into specific definitions of each, but the general idea is a religion contains rituals and a belief in the supernatural, atheism has no rituals of anykind and holds a disbelief in the supernatural. If you really really want to clas.sify atheism as a religion, then instead of calling yourself a christian, you need to identify as an Ajew/Amuslim/Ahindu etc.....

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

      Steve. No scientists can prove conclusively that there are no unicorns, elves, and ogres. That does not mean we should be agnostic to that idea. We don't believe in those unless proven otherwise, unless there are facts!

      December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Snap

      If someone said "There isn't a soul in the room." Do you think they mean there are people in the room that have lost their souls? Or does it mean the more obvious, there are no people in the room? This idea that a soul is something distinctly different then an individual person makes no sense to me.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • JT

      A true scientist does not spend his time trying to disprove things. That would be ridiculous and would be an endless pursuit.. I suggest you crack open a 3rd grade science text book and learn about the scientific method before revealing your extreme ignorance further.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Phil E. Drifter

      There is no god. Get over it. Instead of subscribing to some church that tells you beautiful lies written 2 millennium ago by primitive people who opened their minds with... natural drugs, try the drugs yourselves, they're pretty much the same on an evolutionary scale. Try mushrooms, peyote, and of course pot which is your imaginary god's gift to a very real mother nature. We are all gods of our own destinies.

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

      A bunch of haters in this thread.
      To say "God doesn't exist" is as ignorant as saying "there's no such thing as air".

      If you choose not to Believe, then enjoy your life. I hope you change your mind before your life is over, because otherwise you're basically screwed.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Kabulazimtaera Rafaellanipta Satrigtious Jones

      The following is NOT from me, as I am referring to a post that I read somewhere. Whether you agree (or not!) with the post, I have to say that it is interesting:

      Since we can't prove there is a God (we can't see Him, measure Him, weigh Him. feel Him, smell or taste Him, there must NOT be a god. However, the same logic can also be used to stat that there is no such a thing as "dreams".

      "Dreams" can't be weighed, measured, seen, felt, smelled, or tasted either. Therefore, there is no such thing as "dreams".

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

      Steve, did you come up with that on your own or did you hear it at some religious gathering? Yes, no one can "disprove the BibleGod". Just like you cannot disprove the KoranGod or Krishna, or Vishnu, or Unicorns, or Asmodeus, or Reorx, or Xenu, or Dragons, Vulcans, Hutts, or anything else. Do you think that an idea of your God being unfalsifiable is a advantage you hold? Because if you do, you're mistaken. Falsifiability is required for ANY good idea. If you are trumping around an unfalsifiable idea being strong because it cannot be disproven then you do not understand logic very well. Falsifiability gives strength to an argument, not unfalsifiability. If an idea CAN be proven wrong but depite attempts to prove it wrong it still remains true, THEN you might be on to something. Not being able to test an idea for falsifiability just means you have nothing to verify whether or not it's true or false. That's what your God idea is. There is no way to confirm whether or not it's true-which makes it no better than any other God idea or any idea for that matter which cannot be proven false. So your God is on the same playing field as every other God. Do you think this is an advantage or disadvantage in search of truth? Why do you have no problems dismissing other Gods you cannot disprove but think that your God benefits from not being capable of falsification? To end this, please don't come in here acting all high and mighty with your thoughts when clearly you haven't given your argument much thought.

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

      @kab...whatever your name is

      Cheese and crac.kers! I very much dislike whenever someone tries to prove the "existance" of god by using abstract examples like love or feelings and even dumber examples like gravity, air or in this case dreams. Dreams, for instance, can be measured when you hook your brain up to an MRI and watch brain activity while someone is asleep, that's why we know what a REM cycle is and when dreams o.ccur and for how long. I write specifically to you because I disagree that it's even remotely interesting and worth be brought up a second time (unless of course you bring it up as a show of idio.cy of the previous po.ster)

      December 7, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Even the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with atheisum being a religion"

      No they dont. They said that when it comes to first amendment rights then atheism must the treated the same as a religion. Huge difference.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Ironicus

      I find it easy to prove there is no god. How did I arrive at that? Simple. I just tried to prove that there was a god and never found any proof whatsoever that supported the existence of one.
      Indeed, I found more than enough evidence that no god exists as defined by all the major religions. This evidence remains for all to see on their own but if you can't reason your way out of a wet paper bag you will no doubt remain unconvinced even with tons of evidence staring you in the face.
      Consider that, Steve! I have proven the non-existence of your fake "god"! And I'll bet you can't even face the thought that actual proof exists and can be repeated and verified by any competent scientist.
      Chew on that you dork. I hope you choke on it, too.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.