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Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital
American Atheists president David Silverman in Washington, planning for Saturday's rally.
March 23rd, 2012
11:04 AM ET

Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Sitting in a chilly hotel hospitality suite in a suburban Maryland hotel, David Silverman plans his attack. As the frequently quoted president of the American Atheists and a constant thorn in the side of religious organizations, attack mode comes easily to him.

At the moment, it isn’t the religious right or the “horribly misinformed,” a term Silverman uses for certain religious people, that are in his sights. Rather, it’s a menu.

“Spinach or Caesar salad?” Silverman, 45, asks to no one in particular. His dinner guests, a logistics consultant, a Marriott hotel representative and Silverman’s new administrative director, eat through a few courses before discussion turns to dessert.

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“In the beginning, God created chocolate,” Silverman says, his eyes scanning the table for reaction.

Laughter ensues. But this is a business meal. From choosing salads for a fundraising dinner to studying the timing of the Washington transit system, Silverman has been spending less time recently on the big question of God’s existence and more time immersing himself in the nitty-gritty of planning what he promises will be the largest-ever atheist gathering.

On Saturday, Silverman hopes that from 10,000 to 20,000 atheists, agnostics, doubters and secularists of all stripes to converge on the National Mall in Washington for what his group calls the Reason Rally.

Silverman is especially proud of the event’s speaker’s list, dropping names like a proud father. He beams when noting that the man he calls “Dawkins” – Richard Dawkins, the scientist and author of “The Blind Watchmaker” and “The God Delusion” – will headline the rally.

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“We have people busing in from as far west as Ohio, as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine,” Silverman says. The weekend will also play host to the American Atheists’ annual convention, to be held at the Maryland Marriot where Silverman is debating salad options.

Silverman is billing the weekend as a watershed movement in the atheist “coming out,” of recent years.

“We want people to know we are huge, we’re everywhere, and we are growing,” he says. “The goal is to advance the position of atheists in America.”

A nice guy combatant

Silverman, a professional inventor at Bell Labs who has 74 patents under his name in the area of telecommunications infrastructure, worked his way up the ladder at American Atheists.

He started as a volunteer in New Jersey in 1996, moved up to be the state’s director and then jumped from national spokesperson to vice president. In 2010 he became president of the organization, which counts 4,000 members, has a $750,000 annual budget and has become the organizational face of a burgeoning American movement of atheists.

Silverman has taken the group in a much more outspoken direction, reflecting a national trend among atheists.

“Ed is extremely intelligent, better educated than I am… I think I have more fire than he had,” Silverman says of his predecessor at American Atheists, Ed Buckner. “It shows itself in the billboards; it shows itself in the press; it shows itself in our corporate attitude.”

In November 2010, weeks before Christmas, American Atheists placed a billboard at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel that showed the three wise men heading to Bethlehem with the message “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.”

The sign earned national media attention and stirred so much controversy that it prompted the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil rights to respond with a pro-Christmas billboard at the New York end of the Lincoln Tunnel. “You Know It's Real,” the sign said. “This Season Celebrate Jesus.”

Silverman says that atheist billboards started popping up in the 1970s but then mostly disappeared until the Secular Coalition for America started raising billboards around the country several years ago.

Silverman has taken the billboards to an aggressive new level. Earlier this month, his group paid $30,000 to post two billboards - one in heavily Muslim Patterson, New Jersey, and another in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood - that read “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice.”

The signs were admittedly in your face, says Silverman – all the more so because they were in Arabic and Hebrew.

“What I am doing is not giving religion respect that it wants but it doesn’t deserve,” Silverman said. “I respect people; I respect humans. I do not respect religion. And I do not respect the idea that religion deserves respect.”

That attitude has made Silverman a bogeyman for religious groups, especially conservative ones who discern a secular assault on American religion.

“These people are vicious is what they are,” says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. “They stand for nothing. Their only existence is to be against people of faith.”

And yet some of his faith-based enemies say Silverman treats them with respect. Donohue says Silverman “is a nice enough guy” and that on the occasions they’ve met, the atheist organizer displayed geniality and a sense of humor.

Alex McFarland, the Christian director of Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, holds regular public debates with Silverman about God and the place of religion in American culture. Though they “disagree on God and a lot of the great issues of life,” McFarland says, he has “great respect for David Silverman.”

“I enjoy dialoguing with people like him that are misguided,” McFarland says. “I feel a duty to give a response to people that are holding positions that undermine the fabric of our liberties and freedoms.”

Silverman speaks highly of sparring partners like Donohue and McFarland. “I don’t see them as evil people, I see them as wrong people,” Silverman says.

But he believes they overlook one major aspect of atheism – that its numbers are growing.

Atheists have long pointed to surveys that suggest atheists and agnostics make up between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population. That number increases when Americans unaffiliated with any religion are included. The Pew Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 16% are unaffiliated, though only a fraction of those are avowed atheists and agnostics.

“Atheism is growing in all 50 states,” Silverman says. “What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality. We don’t want the obliteration of religion; we don’t want religion wiped off the face of the earth.”

From Hebrew school to disbelief

As a kid in Massachusetts, Silverman was the only atheist he knew. “I’ve been an atheist all my life,” he says. “When I was a kid, I had to get on a bike, I had to ride 2 miles to the library to find the one book that had to do with atheism.”

Silverman was raised Jewish. His parents sent him to Hebrew school and he had a bar mitzvah, even after telling his mother that he did not believe in God.

“I remember it clearly, getting up on stage and everybody in my life was in front of me. Everyone,” Silverman says, recalling his bar mitzvah. “And I stood up there, and I looked everyone in the eye, and I lied. I lied. And I hated it.”

For Silverman, it was a turning point, a moment when he resolved not to lie about his disbelief. “It was one of those experiences… it saddened me,” Silverman says, the disgust showing as he contorts his face. “And I didn’t really do anything about it. I just did it.”

Silverman studies computer science at Brandeis University, a predominantly Jewish school that helped him cement his non-belief and honed his debating skills.

“I was the fodder of debate,” Silverman says. In the lunchroom, he proudly used the non-Kosher trays and relished debates with religious friends.

“Even the people who had gone to school to become rabbis could not put together a reason to believe in God,” Silverman says.

At Brandeis, Silverman met his future wife, Hildy. “Very early on when we dated, it was more of an issue because I was Orthodox and he was atheist,” Hildy laughs. “We were actually apart for a few years because we couldn’t see how that would work.”

Two years after graduation though, Hildy called him and said that she was doubting her religion and needed a non-religious weekend. Silverman picked her up from the airport and six months later the “mixed” couple, as Silverman calls them, was married.

“Religion is not a factor in our lives to the point that is causes strife,” Silverman says. Hildy stills attends Orthodox synagogue sporadically.

“I am a very strong supporter of separation of church and state,” she says. “My husband has no problem with people believing what they believe. I am proof of that. He just doesn’t want it foisted on him. And I am totally in line with that.

“I think he is extremely brave in what he does,” she says.

The couple has one child, 14-year-old Rayanne. She was introduced to Judaism at a young age and attended a Hebrew school in New Jersey. When it came time to plan for a bat mitzvah, however, Rayanne let her parents knew the truth.

She didn’t want one. She was an atheist.

Silverman says he didn’t want his daughter to be an atheists just because he is, but his pride in her decision is clear. For him, she is the future of atheism.

“I am very confident that we will win within 20 years,” he says. “I am saying that we will have a substantially more equal presence in 20 years.”

No issue too small

Back at the hotel, Silverman has turned his focus from the monotony of salads and soups to more pressing issues.

“What are we going to do about the Bibles in the room,” Silverman asks the obviously surprised Marriott event planner. “We do not want the Bibles in the rooms.”

It is Marriott policy not to remove Bibles in guest rooms, but Silverman won’t back down.

“We need to do something with them,” he says, ticking off ideas with his assistant: Recycle them, give them away, put them outside the doors, perhaps even destroy them.

The event planner sits back in her chair, struggling for words.

“What we don’t want to do is be disrespectful to the hotel,” says Silverman’s administrative director, Amanda Knief, putting an end to the discussion.

Yet Silverman plans to encourage atheist guests to place Bibles outside their doors in protest.

For him, each battle - whether over the presence of a cross at the World Trade Center memorial or Bibles in a hotel room - is worth having.

After the latest American Atheist billboards went up in Patterson and Brooklyn, Silverman said he reported death threats to the police. His attitude: just par for the course, another day in the life.

“We ask the tough questions,” he says. “We say the things that are politically incorrect if they need to be said.”

“We will win the big picture,” Silverman says, twice in a row. “(Being) the Marines of free thought means that we are going to fight the unpopular fight, and yes we are going to win.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • DC • Politics

soundoff (3,330 Responses)
  1. Edsr

    A Jewish Atheist...................how cool is that? When the boat starts rocking near the end...he will be back!

    March 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Sundays off

      spoken like a true theist. Claiming to have knowledge about how things are and will be. Knowledge that is kept from everyone else. Your modesty is too arrogant for me.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  2. DE

    Athiests are able to get past the religious programming and brainwashing indoctrination that usually starts in the cradle. You have to start the brainwashing when they are young and believe everything adults tell them.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  3. mikemmm

    Only the Sith deal in absolutes

    March 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  4. Sundays off

    Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely soley upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.
    – Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great, 2007)

    March 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Edsr

      Well.....you guys who don't believe in anything can certainly worship amoeba or paremicium.....if that is your bag!

      March 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Sundays off

      The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Why "worship" anything????? It's pointless. It's so sad to see how in-grained the concept is that people can't wrap their minds around it.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • aertzc

      So because Christopher Hitchens said it, it must be true? Sounds familiar.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  5. Religious & Conservative

    I am not against religions, but I really hate those wh ore politicians and snake oil salesmen who claim to be religious and conservative. These religious crooks are the ones who bankrupted America.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  6. Richard

    Another example that being a busy-body is genetic, racial trait of being a Jew and that Jewishness is NOT a religion. Whether it's hosting disgusting daytime "reality shows" populated by white trash guests or offering up dime-store psychiatric advice to anyone who doesn't want it, it's most often a Jewish person at the helm.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  7. One one

    Atheists don't tell children they will be sent to hell for not believing as they do.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Wow. We'll be sent to a non-existent place "after" we die.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  8. ingatuma

    I have a New Hero...and he is NOT an imaginary one like most of yours is. Mine is David Silverman. At last someone that holds the same views about those crazy religious freaks trying to turn all of us into a bunch of bible preaching zombies that pray and send money to something NO ONE has ever seen.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Personally, he worries me as much as the pope. I can see getting together in small groups in the back room of a bar, or to play chess and discuss Machiavelli, Plato, Sun Tzu, Tom Paine or The Illiad at a bookstore. I'm not sure I see a point in a "national" group. Unless he has political or commercial aspirations, which I see as being as hypocritical as the christians, jews and muslims.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • PRS2cube

      Maybe you should build a shrine to him...

      March 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  9. Randoms

    I personally, do not believe in a higher being. I find inner strength with meeting socially accepted morals and belief that I am a good person. I would support this group, only for the fact that religion seems to be taking a prominent stance in government where I believe in separation of state and religion needs to exist. I don't think that guidance should be summoned from a non-existent god or the age old myths that accompany religion. If someone has to make a decision that impacts the population, base your decision on fact and science. Not a fairy tale. IMO.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Rainy

      Of course, fact and science seem to change with the wind too. For years I was trying to lose weight on a low fat diet according to studies. Now studies show you have to have dietary fat to lose weight. Then there is always the flat world fact.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • archimedes109

      Theoretical explanations for a subset of facts are supposed to change when new information becomes available. If they did not change in light of new evidence, then science would not work. The fact that you just posted a comment on the internet is all the proof you need to know that science does, in fact, work.

      It is the refusal by religions to change, despite compelling reasons to do so, that makes them irrelevant.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Eric

      Science refines it's answers. It don't change what actually is true. It's all levels of what is probably true. When the earth was considered flat we could only go off what we had observed at the time. Once someone noticed that shadows were different lengths in two different places on the same day of the year do we realize that the world was round. At this point as far as the earth is round question we consider that answer so refined and mounted in evidence that we can say it is indeed a fact at this point and will never change until an event takes place that actually changes it shape.

      When it comes to the "god" question it's not that there absolutely isn't one, I just think that it's extremely unlikely.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  10. Sad for you

    Dear Mr. Silverman, Jesus loves you! Even when you don't acknowledge him. Even when you mock him. He still loves you. To the point of giving his life for yours. I hope and pray someday you'll accept this Truth.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Truth is something that requires evidence. Where is your evidence?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • ingatuma

      The Burden of Proof lies on YOU, Dinosaurs existed Millions of years ago (a Million is 1,000,000)....and thanks to science we can still Prove that they existed, your imaginary friend supposedly died 2000 years ago, and we can't find crap on him. Prove to me that he existed, Not by a book that changes with every revision to keep the weak minded in check.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Sad for you

      Proof of God is everywhere! Look around you. Look in the mirror. Look in the sky. Look in any grocery store's produce section. Etc. Proof of Jesus' death on the cross is part of recorded history, not just in the Bible. FAITH, however, tells me Jesus was more than just a historical character. It tells me that what I read in John 3:16 is true. And I'm thankful. So very, very thankful.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Jesus Loves You!

      Amen! .... I am praying for Mr. Silverman.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Sad for you

      Just think what you'd be saying if you were raised in another part of the world where the dominant religion is not christianity.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @Sad for you, I mean, your name is pretty ironic because it's pretty much how I can't help feeling for you. By your brilliant logic, one could also go into the grocery store produce aisle and claim it's proof that zeus created the universe... or a magical bunny. This is not evidence. This is reductive logic and filling intellectual gaps with a god concept.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Eric

      According to the book Jesus didn't really die, he's still alive IN HEAVEN, tell me how that is anywhere near a sacrifice. Now if Jesus had to spend eternity in hell for everyone's sin THEN it would be a sacrifice.

      It's like me telling you if you give me everything you own and all your life savings today and in 3 days i'll give you 100 Billion dollars, are you really sacrificing anything?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Sad for you: "Proof of Jesus' death on the cross is part of recorded history, not just in the Bible."

      Actually, people HAVE looked for historical evidence of such a person existing. Outside of church "records", there is none.
      Josephus, Philo-Judæus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Hermogones, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Appian, Phlegon, Phædrus, Valerius Maximus, Lucian, Pausanias, Florus Lucius, Quintius Curtius, Aulus Gellius, Dio Chrysostom, Columella, Valerius Flaccus, Damis, Favorinus, Lysias, Pomponius Mela, Appion of Alexandria, and Theon of Smyrna:

      All of these First and Second Century historians, and not one of them wrote a single word of this wondrous Jesus of Nazareth. Isn't that odd, with all of the miraculous claims made about him by his followers?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Rainy

    When they get together what are they going to talk about? They don't believe in anything as a group except in the negative. I don't get it.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Soak my Cork

      Take the risk of thinking for yourself; much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.
      Christopher Hitchens

      March 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Typical that you would think the only thing in life there is to believe in is god. This could explain why there is a direct correlation between intellect and belief in god. You may one day be surprised to learn that there is a universe of things to believe in and discuss—none of which have anything to do with religion or god.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • mandarax

      Perhaps you should pay attention and find out?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Nancy

      We believe in ourselves, in our families, in our communities, our country, science, the beauty of nature, morality and of course reason. Hence the name Reason Rally. Any more questions? 🙂

      March 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • fritz

      We talk about the same things you religious folks talk about. We just reationalize reality in different ways. For example, Christians believe God makes it rain. We believe rain is caused by the Earth's water cycle. Water evaporates into the air from bodies of water to fall as rain when that air cools beyond 100% relative humidity. Christians believe that if they pray hard enough, God will find favor in their prayers and make it rain. And if it still doesn't rain, it's because God had his reasons for not bringing the rain. We believe God gas nothing to do with it. We also tend to believe that all life is connected in a living web dating back through deep time so far we can barely imagine it. Lots to talk about there. Religious people tend to believe humans are a separate form of life created a few thousand years ago totally apart from all other life. Not much to talk about there. We tend to think we are not alone in the cosmos that there are probably creatures out there to rival or even surpass our own imtelligence. Religious folks recoil at such notions because it goes against their belief that God created them alone to rule over all other creatures. Religious folks tend to think humans have some kind of divine character given to them by God whereas we tend consider ourselves as members of the ancient primate family of life. Apes to be specific. It takes a certain amount of humbleness to accept the fact that you share kinship with a gorilla. Religious people lack this humbleness in believing they share no genes at all with other primates. Religious folks believe God gave them the Earth to 'subdue' as their divine right as their holy book tells them. We believe exploiting the Earth without end while multiplying fruitfully is harming our own cause. I could rattle on and on, but the point is..we have LOTS to talk about.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  12. hal9thou

    I don't know.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  13. keith1952

    I think it is pretty funny that most Athiest are more "God Centered" than most Christians

    March 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Rainy

      You know your right! They probably do more thinking about God then the vast majority of belivers. They certainly show up at every story that even mentions God.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Know your enemy, know yourself.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Robert

      Most atheist started out as theists like everyone else. We grew up with religion. A lot of different things lead us away from religion. One popular reason is that many of us understood the Bible better than most and didn't come to the same conclusions as others. While some saw miracle we saw contradiction. Some see revelation we see misinterpretation. Furthermore, one thing that theist forget is that atheists are looking from the outside in. There are a lot of ways that religion affects society that even non religious people who still acknowledge a God of some sort don't notice. It affects society in negative ways and we point it out. It's not that we focus on religion, it's that everyone else doesn't notice how much they do.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • momoya

      Well said, ,Robert.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  14. Ange

    Why do you care what other people believe. You believe what you want....God or no God. Does it really matter if someone else believes something you don't. I believe in God...not one person in the world could convince me otherwise. So who cares if they rally...what do think is gonna happen...10,000 atheists get together and all of a sudden there isn't a God. If 10,000 Catholics rallied, I wouldn't become a catholic....like someone said earlier too many people let others think for them and tell them what to believe in...let the simpletons do what they wish. Nothing changes in my world.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • momoya

      Nothing changes in your world? I believe it.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It matters when a group of them are standing up at a school board meeting trying to force their religious agenda into our science classes and threatening legal action! It matters when they get legislation passed at the state level to mandate illegitimate "science" be taught in schools, such that refutes big bang cosmology, evolutionary biology and an 11 billion year old universe/multiverse and 4.6 billion year old solar system.

      We've fallen far enough behind the rest of the industrialized world, haven't we?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  15. wyciwyg

    a reminder to athiests of all degrees in (non)belief: you would not be exempt from radical Islam followers' attentions -they'd convert-coerce or kill you as quick as any other non-mu s lim believer. At least with Christians et al, you are allowed to toddle along your path without fear of severe sanctions.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • momoya

      Well, ok, christianity is better than Islam, and Atheism is better than christianity.. Fine.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • hal9thou

      Say it with me now. " I don't know".

      March 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • loki301

      LOL...Ever hear of the Inquisition?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Haha... or the crusades?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Martin

      Currently yes you don't face prosecution from Christians but that hasn't always been so and you get some ultra religious president oh say like some of the current GOP candidates and you think that sort of persecution won't return?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • fritz

      That's because Christianity has become a tame religion. There was a time when Christian authorities could legally murder you in horrific ways for crimes of heresy. Now it's against the law to murder people for things like heresy, witchcraft or sorcery. Perhaps the Islam folks will tame themselves in a few hundred years. We can only hope.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  16. PRS2cube

    I wish they wouldn't lump agnostics with atheists – there are huge differences. Atheists believe, like religious people, that they own the absolute truth. Agnostics accept the limitations of human knowledge and human reason. It's the only completely honest intellectual position.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • momoya

      You don't understand the terms. . do your research

      March 23, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • hal9thou

      Until all men state the phrase, " I don't know ", then we will always be at odds. Religion, belief in a God or not, warps everything.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • reonimation

      Exactly.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • aertzc

      Actually momoya, that's about as accurate a description as you'll find. Sorry if you don't like it.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • momoya

      I know that many people think that atheism and agnosticism are defined that way, but they are wrong and are assuming wrongly.. It's like people who use the word "card shark" instead of "card sharp."

      March 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Yeah, clearly you are not an atheist or you'd easily spot the errors in your own statement. I'll help you out though with something really easy to digest. Atheists do not believe they own absolute truth. That's the realm of religion. There is much that atheists do not know and actually ALLOW a place for a god, if the evidence presents itself. There is nothing absolute about that. Atheists also welcome proof to the contrary of what they believe. Science is a good example of how attempts are made to disprove theories and not just prove them. Where is this in religion?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Paul

      I could not agree more.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • PRS2cube

      hal9thou: Well said! The three little words "I don't know" are the definition of wisdom – in the Socratic sense. Socrates, BTW, was done in by religious conservatives.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • PRS2cube

      Ashkaray, science itself is a measue of human knowledge. Using that as a yardstick for truth – -even if you're open to "contrary evidence" – assumes a superior position to the admission of a lack of knowledge in the ultimate sense. The vast majority of atheists I've heard from, including on comment sections like this one, argue from emotional standpoints. Most of these are valid, but they don't satisfy the basic epistomological requirements for a deeper discussion.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Eric

      I don't think there is a god therefore I am an atheist. You can be an agnostic atheist, which most people that label themselves as "agnostic" are also atheists since they still don't believe in god. In short agnostic and atheist are describing two totally different things and are not mutually exclusive.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @PRS2cube, In fairness we rarely have the opportunity to introduce evidence as most of the discussion is centered around fantasy. When articles are written in the science section of CNN and the religious folk start commenting, you see more evidence-based rebuttals.

      Keep in mind that evidence is the foundation of truth and not the final answer. Every scientist knows this to be true. The "superior position" is just the height of the foundation that has been built. The higher the foundation, the greater the contrary evidence must be to destroy it.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • PRS2cube

      Ashrakay, that's a good legal reply. However, the rules of atheistic evidence may be sufficient for a present-day court, but are on shakier ground when we consider the whole of history. The Copernican theory, for instance, was practically yesterday when you put it beside Egyptian cosmology. I'm just saying that a truly open mind is ALWAYS open. We don't know what discoveries await us in the future in this or any other dimension.
      Just discovered a great rum drink – gotta sign off.
      2oz light rum
      1 1/2 oz coconut water (not coconut milk, or you'll be sorry)
      1/2 tsp lime juice
      Cheers!

      March 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • fritz

      I absolutely agree with you. We agnostics don't 'know' any absolute truth. We do know that what we think we know changes every day. "Change' seems to be the only absolute in Nature. So if what we know changes all the time, then what do we really know? All we can do is just 'wing it' as we go along.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  17. Jobey

    Religion breeds hate and ignorance. Atheists are mostly good people and have good morals, you don't have to believe in god to be a good person. If this is the only life we have, we might as well make it as great as possible for everyone. I don't think I'm better then theists, nor do I hate theists, I just think most humans can't face mortality or the fact that once we die, thats probably the absolute end.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Sad for you

      The one important word in your post: "probably." What if you're wrong and there IS a God? Then you've missed out on the greatest thing you could ever imagine: eternal life in heaven. What if you're right? Then nothing matters. "Probably" isn't something I'd risk.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Big Joe

      You just said "religion breeds hate and ignorance" then you have the audacity to say you don't think you're better than theists and you don't hate theists?

      Really?

      March 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • mandarax

      Sad for you, an omniscient god would know if you were just hedging your bets....

      March 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @Jobey, I've actually given this a lot of thought and I prefer to think that it's actually ignorance that breeds hate and religion.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Sad for you, taking Pascal's Wager is a sad excuse to "believe" in something.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Eric

      @Sad for you

      What if you're worshiping the wrong god? Look up Pascal's Wager. Then I as an atheist could totally turn it around. Which would you rather have to explain to a different god than Yahweh? Why you didn't believe there was a god or why you were worshiping the wrong god? Allah could be really mad at you for that one.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  18. 1amazed2u

    Pray for them

    March 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  19. Delos

    Caiha you evidently didn't read the story, he respect other peoples right to believe what ever they want, what he doesn't care for in the my way or the highway of most religious groups.
    I feel bacically the same way, when the religious door knockers come to my door most times my responce is not interested or no thank you, but is as the case may be they become persistent as alot of them are.
    I slam the door in there face an go back to what is was doing, and when the same people show up the following week I let my 75lb. dog answer the door and they never come back again.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Rainy

      You don't have to go to all that trouble to get rid of the door-to-door religious. Just tell them you're Catholic and they run away and never come back.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  20. avd

    “My husband has no problem with people believing what they believe. I am proof of that. He just doesn’t want it foisted on him. And I am totally in line with that."

    ... but it's ok for him to foist it on believers? What part of this contradiction don't you see?

    March 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Marc

      EXACTLY. COMPLETE HYPOCRITES. They actually have more faith than believers to believe the earth and humans came from nothing. Thats like saying my car just popped out of thin air. Morons.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Another fool, trying to compare a manufactured device to an organically evolved organism. Visit your high school, hand your diploma in, and ask for the tax money that your parents were charged. Epic fail in education.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Avd, I guess you don't go to schools and attempt to force your beliefs on school boards and threaten law suits. Not everyone is so accommodating. The latest fight was in the Indiana state Senate.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
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About this blog

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