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. patrick in rhode island

    I honestly don't know the difference between a religious belief and a delusion. I know I'm to respect one not the other but you'll need to inform me which is which.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Donna

      Hi Patrick. I live in RI too. Great weekend to you.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • northern light

      "honestly don't know the difference between a religious belief and a delusion"

      I'll explain it for you ....
      Example of the former would be .....the pope who dresses in gold and is in charge of a group of unmarried men...some of whom are pedophiles.

      Example of the latter would be ....any GOP canidate who thinks he has a chance against Mr. Obama.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • KM

      @northern light : Hey Ron Paul isn't all that bad!

      March 24, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • enigma

      If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:26-27 (Just a little FYI....these are the words of Jesus. Mans, christians included, def. of religion and Gods are two diff. things.)

      March 25, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~`-You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!~`

      March 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      J You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. you have yet to provide a source for your comment "prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time " and addressing the study

      A 1988 study by Randolph C. Byrd used 393 patients at the San Francisco General Hospital coronary care unit (CCU). Measuring 29 health outcomes using three-level (good, intermediate, or bad) scoring, the prayer group suffered fewer newly diagnosed ailments on only six of them. Byrd concluded that "Based on these data there seemed to be an effect, and that effect was presumed to be beneficial", and that "intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU."[6] The reaction from the scientific community concerning this study was mixed. Several reviewers considered Byrd’s study to be well-designed and well-executed,[7] while others remained skeptical. A criticism of Byrd's study, which also applies to most other studies, is based on the fact that he did not limit prayers by the friends and family of patients, hence it is unclear which prayers may have been measured, if any.[8]

      March 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Rodney

      Mike, ever heard of Placebo Effect?

      It works, regardless of whether the source is prayer, meditation, positive thinking, or a pill made of crystallized sucrose.

      It's called neuroscience. You should look into it.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Huh?

      "It's called neuroscience. You should look into it."

      Mike's too ignorant for that.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • DLN

      If we had taken the time, money, and energy we've wasted on prayer and religion and applied it toward science and research - we would have cured all major diseases by now.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Tom

      praying is doing nothing about something

      March 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Prayer changes nothing

      No, prayer does not change things. Getting off your butt and taking action changes things.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Hoonose

      So what is placebo then? Thought and belief making a physiological effect. Hmm

      March 25, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Val

      I've found that wishing is just as effective.

      March 25, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Mike from CT

      and you two are to ignorant to explain it correctly. What is the placebo? How does that relate to Bryds findings. And how does that change the fact the J makes up random statements with no backing reference.

      Way to deflect.

      March 26, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • AGuest9

      The 2006 Harvard study was the largest conducted. It produced no correlation.

      March 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "What is the placebo?" You ding-dong, the placebo effect is what occurs when a person believes that he or she has been given a medication or treatment, when in fact, the patient was given an ineffective pill or injection or treatment. The patient believes the medication is helping, and sometimes his condition improves.

      Prayer is the placebo. People sometimes improve if they believe something is being done to help their condition. It doesn't mean the 'something' is effective; it means the person believes it is and improves.

      There's no more evidence that prayer is any more effective than a sugar pill.

      March 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  3. just sayin

    I wear a diaper and dance around acting like Jesus. I love him and he talks to me.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      everybody wants to be me

      March 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Jesus

      "everybody wants to be me"

      More lies.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • northern light

      I cannot belive the pope would actually post on this page...truly a miracle.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  4. PrimeNumber

    "....attack mode comes easily to him."
    "The signs were admittedly in your face, says Silverman – all the more so because they were in Arabic and Hebrew."
    "Silverman has taken the billboards to an aggressive new level"

    The song told us to imagine there's no heaven and the world will live as one. "Imagine" how the world will when no one but attack mode, in your face, aggresive Silverman's are left.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • northern light

      If "in your face" works to keep religion out of government and the public space .....then rock on Silverman enjoy yourself.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  5. DD

    More evidence that God does not exist: The un-Christian postings of supposed Christians on this list!

    March 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Anon

      According to apologists they're doing a very christian thing.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      Actually, DD, it's evidence that Christians don't live up to their own beliefs. It's why atheists are always so ready with the accusation "hypocrite".

      March 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Dave836

      How's that evidence? All it means is that people on the internet are idiots...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  6. DD

    “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.”

    I disagree. I would LOVE to see religion wiped off the face of the earth. But I'm not willing to burn people at the stake or "convert" them at the tip of a sword. I'd rather they'd rationally look at the evidence that God does not exist (for example, how does an omnipotent God accept evil, even for a nanosecond?) and the evidence that He does not (the actions of those who supposedly believe in him).

    March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Anon

      Education, education and more education is what will drive modern religions into mythology status at a museum.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • The truth

      Education, education and more education is what will drive modern religions into mythology status at a museum.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |

      Nicely put friend

      March 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • snow26

      You would think that all of you "scientists" would look at all sides of an argument before you make a broad sweeping statement such as "If an omni-potent God existed then he would not allow evil for even a nano-second". Have you ever heard of free will? If you didn't have free will than you would complain about that too.

      It's humans who allow evil to exist. God gives you a way out of that evil through love.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Hoonose

      We define through opposition. We value life because there is death. We experience evil so that we may appreciate good. If nothing had value then life would be without flavor. Why even exist then? This can be seen in people that have it too good, they fail to appreciate things that regular people find extraordinary. In turn they are denied joy.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • QwikB

      @Snow26. "Free will" and humanity's mistakes do not explain parasites such as worms that can live only by burrowing through another creature's eyeballs, natural disasters, the Black Plague, etc. An infinitely powerful and infinitely good god would both want and be able to design a safer natural world or to intervene to prevent the suffering of innocents. The free will argument can explain our vulnerability to other human's evil (mostly) but is irrelevant to the horrors of nature. And don't give me the "original sin" argument: that is lame beyond belief. I am not responsible for my great grandfather's adultery (if such happened), and mankind is not responsible for one Adam's mistake (per the fable). Any god that set up such an unjust system would not deserve to be followed.

      March 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  7. Loserville, Population = You

    I live in DC and will certainly enjoy mocking these losers tomorrow.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Anon

      Well you could join the Phelps family since they're gonna be there. 😛

      March 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Marvin77

      Yeah, that is what the good old "godly" people usually do right? Condemn and attack anything and anybody that is different,that is their motto! Just like the jesus freak losers who protest againsts gays at soldiers funerals...

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Dave836

      @Marvin Who said he had a religion? Silverman is a bigoted idiot who turned Atheism into an organization.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • northern light

      Maybe you could stand on Teebow's shoulder pads ...I sure he will be there......don't forget to kneel when you meet him..
      Don't forget to behave when you are there ....do not act like your god did in Exodus.

      "12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD."

      Don't smite anyone...just play nice.....if that i spossible after reading your holy book.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  8. Yup

    Where will 10,000 angry bitter losers be tomorrow?? At this rally!!

    I don't believe in lots of things, but I don't go rallying against something I say isn't there, that's just plain dumb lol. Hey I don't believe in unicorns, lets have a rally about our non belief!!!! We're so intelectually superior, hahahaha atheists are tools.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Anon

      What a bunch of BS. The point of the rally is to show fundie believers that we exist, since many of them wouldn't mind at all a theocratic America.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Sounds more like you're the angry bitter loser. Chances are these people are going to be walking in unity speaking to each and enjoying each others company more than anything.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Real Deal


      If Unicornists were trying to run your government, set public policies and insert their fantasies into public education, and cause your tax money to support their golden stables and help to buy their silver reins and sparkly oats, I'll just bet that you would have a thing or two to say about it!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Marvin77

      Your post really shows how much more intellectually superiour you are!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Peace!

      As a Committed follower of Jesus, and his teachings. There are two questions 1) why protest against a God, Jesus you say does not exist? 2) Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Pray for those who need the light, why argue with fools? There is a way that a man thinks is right, yet is decieved. Remember there will be a Separation between the Sheep and Goats. Bless you all!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Where will 10,000 angry bitter losers be tomorrow?? "

      Keep proving that xtians are nothing more than brainwashed.. You have no proof that they are angry or bitter but yet you lie about it for the whole world to see. Keep showing that the rumor that xtians have no integrity is true.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Anon

      The three abrahamic desert blood cults and others have done a great deal of collateral damage, yet the followers are too blind to notice it.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Rick

      No, you don't rally against unicorns. But then again, the members of the Supreme Court of the United States and the nominee of the Repubican Party are not believers in Unicorns.(I'm not absolutely sure if this is true of Santorum.)

      March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • think4urself

      This makes atheists no different than any other religion/ cult.

      Congrats......... they have now caught up to everyone else.


      March 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Woody

      "Where will 10,000 angry bitter losers be tomorrow?? At this rally!" – Yup

      It's more like 10,000 thinkers, most who threw off childhood indoctrination into the world of supernatural mumbo-jumbo. I would think that none of them are trying to convert anyone, since most believers are hopeless cases, anyway, when it comes to thinking rationally. There are many Christians out there who would love nothing better than to turn the USA into a Christian Theocracy. This, of course, would lead to a situation similar to a non-Muslim living in Saudi Arabia, for the non- Christians living in the USA. Most atheists don't care if you worship the tree in the backyard, as long as legislation is not enacted to benefit tree worshipers. There are still religious based laws on the books, in some areas of the country, determining what you can legally do on Sundays. I don't think any sane person, with more than three working brain cells, would want to see religious fanatics empowered on a national level.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • tiger7970

      It's comments like Yup's that make atheists hate religion even more. Why do you call 10,000 people, that you don't even know, losers? Just because they don't believe what you believe and they are not afraid to say it? If that's the case you probably have a pretty difficult time getting along with people in general.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Shamdog

      Yes, do the Christian thing, love your fellow man...unless you think they're 10,000 angry losers in which case I bet Jesus would say "screw 'em, they're a bunch of losers"

      March 24, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Greyhound37

      Why don't you believe in unicorns? I say, you can't prove they don't exist! Try it, prove me wrong! You can't do it! Therefore, they MUST exist! (wow, this kind of "logic" is irrefutable, I love it!)

      March 26, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  9. Ykcyc

    First, I would like to apologize. If I ever offended anyone, I am really, truly, very sorry. If that’s the case, please accept my sincere apology and I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me.
    With those who are not completely “closed-minded”, I would like to share an opinion, based on personal experience of a one-time extreme ultra-orthodox and arrogant atheist. Today, I do not support any form of religion, or theism, or any of the “ism”s, including Atheism. Today, I am free and comfortable in saying that I just don’t know, because there is no way for me to know (I am certainly not interested in taking someone else’s word for it). I am not trying to prove or disprove anything to anybody or to change anyone’s mind – that is a completely useless exercise.
    In my opinion (and it is strictly an opinion, like any other), “God” is not some kind of a “supreme being” or a concept (religious opinion) to believe in, bow to, worship, defend, kill for, etc. In my opinion, “God” is only a three letter (misused) word that points to something. To me, it is the Energy, which means, it is Everything, both visible and not. You can use other words, if you like, such as Life, Source, Love, Eternity, Infinity, Nature, Universe, or a Stump, because it is none of those things. “God” is not a fairy tale or a concept about God. It is (in plain words) the Cause. It is the programmer, behind the program (Life / Natural Laws / Physics), if you will. I can accept that a computer (even an iPad) may come into being by a random chance, but not that it was able to also write programs for itself upon arrival. What is a computer without programs? There is something that is holding everything, including our bodies together. Are we the ones doing it? If not, then what? Again, it is not a belief. The only thing I am certain of is uncertainty. The only constant is change. Each of us has to walk our own path. Each is responsible for our own state of being. Each has to find our own answers. Please do not take opinions of others (including mine), as the truth / your own. Do not rely on your mind to invent the answers you are seeking. Learn to enjoy your time in the Sun!

    March 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Howdy

      I believe the religion you're looking for is pantheism. Misguided but that seems to be what you think.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      I am not familiar with the word / term. May I ask what are you basing your "missguided" opinion on?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Rick

      Ykcyc: you seem very, very confused. Just one piece of advice: realize that some opinions are better than others. The preferred ones are (1) clearly formulated; (2) supported by good reasons/evidence.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      Things are not always what they seem. "Perception" is not the Reality.
      None of the opinions are ultimately true.
      Can you please share whatever "good" reasons/evidence that you possess?
      I am open to hear your "reasons".

      March 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      Masters of the Universe
      You tell me, that you know what’s going to happen
      That I should be like this, and not like that
      That I should live my life by laws that you make
      So I can get all that you think I want to get

      What if you ceased to be, this very moment?
      Life that is in you, simply ceased to be
      A simple thought, but you choose to ignore it
      And change reality to what you think you seek

      That, which you seek, you will not ever find
      That thing or place does not exist
      Except inside egoic mind
      Delusions that persist

      Pretend that you can own things, people, places
      Ideas, thoughts, and concepts that are “you”
      Like all before you, that have left no traces
      And didn’t keep a single thing – it’s true!

      The kings and scoundrels, saints and villains
      Not able take one extra final breath
      Have come and gone are countless billions
      Unable to escape embrace of death.

      The Universe reclaims what’s always been there
      And always will, forever, can’t you see?
      Eternal, Infinite, and Sacred doesn’t care
      About your thoughts of how things should be.

      The world in which you feel so special
      Important, smart, good, pretty, able, strong
      Just an illusion, dream, a fable
      You won’t admit, in fear of being wrong

      You think that you can will things into being
      Reshape your future, rule by force
      The lie you live, that makes you feeling
      Like being Masters of the Universe.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  10. dudley0415

    Doesn't this belong on the CNN "No Belief" page?

    The absence of faith = faith? Don't think so.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  11. Anon

    The point of the rally is to show fundie believers that we exist, since many of them wouldn't mind at all a theocratic America.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  12. Anon


    March 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Observer

      You know that this was Sam Harris's swan song when he had to a bail out of a debate with W. L. Craig? Why don't you post the entire debate?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      how come no-one post the reply to sam harris

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqaHXKLRKzg&w=560&h=315%5D

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      can some one teach me how to embed the video properly

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqaHXKLRKzg&w=560&h=315%5D

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      Harris had as much chance of getting through to Notre Dame students as he does of going off to heaven himself.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      @ Observer.This entire debate is readily available on YOUTUBE, as are many others.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • A Little Help

      This is kind of long, but here you go Mike from CT


      March 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Muldoon in Ohio

    It's interesting how a lot of very bright and scientific minds tend to be atheists. When you take a look at all the science and they admit there's so much that is still unknown and yet to discover, yet their "reasoning" regarding a higher intelligence has already proven there is none? From a purely scientific approach, you'd think they'd say, "I don't know if there is a higher intelligence, until we can prove it using science". As for me, I think I'll be a believer, just in case there is one once I exit the planet.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Pascals Wager. We never say 100% that a god does not exist, we do say that until we see evidence for one we see no reason to believe. No-one has ever returned from the 'other side' to say that the other side exists.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • C'mon

      Muldoon "I think I'll be a believer, just in case there is one once I exit the planet."

      Pascal's weasel.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Rick

      Are you betting on unicorns too?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • sumwunn

      There is also no evidence that walking backwards will increase a persons cardiovascular health, but it might. So from now on just to be safe that is the only way you should walk.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • rivstyx

      You are referring to agnosticism not atheism. The difference is an athiest believes there is no god however an agnostic simply cannot believe in something they cannot prove. Science is agnostic because it relies on whatever evidence it has until better evidence comes along. There is no evidence of God. Also, science always seeks to prove something not necessarily to disprove something. Essentially, disproving is a side affect of proving. Christians always ask as a mantra "Can you prove there is no god?" It is not the job of science to disprove god or anything for that matter. The onus is on the Christian to prove there is one.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • snow26

      What's so interesting is you don't know if there is no evidence of God. If God created the universe, than apparently his evidence is everywhere including the air that you breathe. Your very being is evidence that God exists.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  14. JackNJill

    “What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality"
    translated to english- "we dont want to pay taxes either"

    March 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Al

      If forcing the issue helped get rid of the silly tax exemption that religious organizations get, then why not?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • p harvey

      Tax religion, it is long over due. An industry is an industry whether you sale objects or thought.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  15. portland tony

    Too much publicity given to mindless morons on each side of this religion issue. Every hateful word issued by some two-bit "religious" leader is thrown at the public by the newz media as "the" righteous Christian doctrine as is every rant of self-promoted atheist "spokesman"' opposing the "ignorance" of an organized religion. The continued "coverage" of these voices of doom does nothing except stir the brew of hatred and misunderstanding between basically good people. To what ends does this absurd dialog propose? Certainly not a solution

    March 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  16. sally

    If God did not exist why exaust so much time and money to prove it? He is just creating his own cult. GOD BLESS AMERICA!! I feel sorry for this empty soul man.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Al

      If powdered rhino horn doesn't really have any medicinal effectiveness, why try to catch the poachers? Superst.ition causes harm. Not every believer demonstrates against gay rights, stem cell research, the truth of evolution, or any of the other hot topics that some seem to think are more important than the economy, but enough do to make it necessary for someone to stand up for reason. Atheism isn't a religion; it's choosing to live your life by the reasonable conclusion that all gods are man-made, so religious beliefs should be evaluated on the same level as all human ideas and, if they aren't reasonable, then they aren't worth following.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Soul? So you believe in something that can't be evidenced to exist? Apparently you don't care what the truth is either!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • p harvey

      Why spend so much time and money to prove that god does exist? There is more money spent fiscally to prove there is a god than most fortune 500's spend in a year! Maybe someday we will have a "god" symbol on the Dow or Nasdaq. Then we will have believers! Believe in yourself, not a figment of your imagination

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • just sayin

      Why prove or protest somethign that doesnt exist? I guess as long as the "believers" keep trying to impose their opinion on others?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  17. God

    These people are worse than gay rights activists.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Another perfect example of Christian love....

      March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Howdy

      @steve – Just an FYI this guy is an atheist, he's made multiple posts before stating this. Nice try though, typical atheist lying about stuff.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Howdy

      I was wrong. Look at my name and see how blatantly wrong I was.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Patsy

    I'm really proud of Dave Silverman and the others who are attending the Reason Rally and speaking up for all non-believers. I wish I were attending. Gathering as non-believers isn't about being a follower. It's about standing up to congress and letting them know we're here and we need to be heard. I'm in AZ and I know several who are attending to Reason Rally, so to those who think Dave Silverman only reaches to Ohio, they're wrong. Each time I communicate w/a politician I let them know I'm an atheist. Stand up for reason, and stand up to religion. Science took us to the moon, religion flew us into the World Trade Center.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Howdy

      If you were a true non believer then you'd be attending. Guess you're just a fake.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Katie

      'Science took us to the moon, religion flew us into the World Trade Center.' I love that, thank you!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • p harvey

      Howdy, let's try something here. In order to be something you don't need to be listed as part of a group. I know that religion has taught you that if your not a follower your nothing. This isn't the truth. I think the rally signifies that we as non-believers are sick of religion getting in the way of our government, state and federal, our school systems etc. You want to worship your god, do so in your home or place of worship. Leave the rest of the world out. If a cult advertised half as much as religions there would be plenty of people who would be angry, why can't we be angry about hearing and seeing religion on a daily basis?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • W247

      'Science took us to the moon, religion flew us into the World Trade Center.'

      No – a power hungry terrorists killed thousands of people to get their point across. And to use that event in a flippant to get your point across is completely disrespectful to the familes who had people killed there.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • patrick in rhode island

      Yeah but as soon as they got to the moon they started reading some scripture. screw nasa.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Clayton B

      Wow, great comment!.. ....the moon and the Trade Center.... dead on.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  19. Stuck in the Middle

    I really lvoed the way the author begins by characterizing this as an attack. Nothing like inflaming preconceived prejudices to grab attention.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  20. John

    Finally, a voice for Atheism that doesnt get drowned out with religious fanaticism...time to wake up and smell the truth!!!

    March 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Jim

      never even heard of the guy. his voice was drowned before it spoke.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:07 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.