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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. RillyKewl

    I too, am an atheist of Jewish cultural + ancestral heritage. I'm also right here in NYC. There are tens of thousands of us.
    And everybody knows it. All you religious types might want to get off your high horse + look around you.

    I love the family traditions, the food + gatherings, even the some of the ceremonial events. But I will never believe in any religion, nor its hypocrisies. Mine had outdated dietary rules, misogynistic origins, brutal treatment of baby boys, along with silly practices + unnecessary garb, clothing favored by the orthodox + much more bizarre heavier wear by the Hasidim.

    Its a lot of bull. All religion breeds is hate + fear. Customs are fine, if you want them. I don't. I don't believe in g-d (did that for you), because the whole notion of a god is just not credible. Hasn't been for at least a century.

    Politically + emotionally I still enjoy my roots. Especially when challenged by haters.
    But that is why I hate the whole concept of religion. Its divisive.
    I defend Judaism when it is unfairly attacked. Yet I'll do the same for other minorities that are treated insensitively.

    But you know, there are tons of Atheists that come from Jewish families, as well as all others. Come on.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Louis

      No Jews will go to heaven anyway for not believe in Christ.
      Go get a nose job

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Hey Louis, Thanks for helping me make my point! That is awesome of you. Gracias!

      March 24, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • ammamaw

      Yes – how very "Christian" and "Love they brother" of you, Louis. Jesus would be so proud.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  2. kooolguy

    atheists say believers can't prove God exists, but they too cannot prove that He doesn't. until you can definitively prove He doesn't you cannot claim that God is fictional.

    you also know that deep down you don't want to simply die and cease to exist, you feel a longing for a connection, i believe we are all connected with the universe and i believe God created it. why else then would we exist? what purpose does our universe have then? without a God to create it in the beginning it most likely would not have existed at all.

    as stephen hawkings (a non believer) says "there was nothing before the big bang" that should be proof enough that it was inspired.how can space and all that fills it come out of nowhere? now i may be a christian but don't get me wrong; i believe in the big bang, evolution, alien life, etc.. and i love science. but you must stop and think the ultimate question... why are we here?

    March 24, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • *sigh*

      You want proof – here it is. There is no god. Period. I know hat I'm suing. This is a fact. Terribly sorry if it shakes your world view. But you'll survive it.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Beatrix Kiddo

      "you also know that deep down you don't want to simply die and cease to exist"

      No one does, that's why you have developed elaborate rituals and myths to hide the hard truth from yourself. I'm a non-confrontational atheist. I know the rational truth, but I won't spoil your fantasy if you want to live in denial. But PLEASE, don't try to force your myths on me or my government!

      March 24, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • RillyKewl

      What if we are here to evolve + learn about our origins + environment?

      Can't we be here because we just are? Why are other mammals here? Why are the oceans + trees here?
      Why do we get tooth decay? Why do dogs bark? Why do we like chocolate more than carrots?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      RillyKewl – we are here because we got lucky. Now why are we here? There probably is no reason. but since we are here anyway let's just be nice to each other and make the brief stays we have on this rock as peaceful as possible.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      On March 23 at 11:56 pm Sandra Garrett asked this same question. I gave a fairly long response, to which I now refer you.
       
      In brief, it said that we CAN'T know for sure that gods like the Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Hindu, and American Indian deities don't exist, because they're merely exaggerated human beings. But we CAN know that it's impossible for ANY being to exist who's either (a) omniscient, (b) omnipotent, (c) omnipresent, (d) omnibenevolent, or (e) any combination of the foregoing, because they're logically impossible.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  3. Qubee

    I'd say Silverman is too a nice guy. In reality, religion should be and must be eliminated, as it is nothing but fraud and falsehood.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • BobbyTN

      As long as there are people greedy for an afterlife there will be religion there to sell it to them.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  4. Louis

    So an Atheist got a deadly cancer.... you as an atheist would just shut up and not pray to God? Wow you must be a psycho

    March 24, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Why would one beg or pray to a god that gives them cancer?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Nat Q

      A) God invented cancer. I'm not falling down and begging the psycho who invented it to help fix it.
      B) Which god?

      March 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  5. There is no god

    The best thing "god" has done lately is appear on some lunatic's piece of toast. LOL!

    "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it" Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Its time people woke up and stopped believing in fairytales. The easter bunny, toothfairy, unicorns, and god all fall into the same boat.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Love that quote by Dr Tyson!!!

      March 24, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Tom

      Again, You can't know if God does not exist. Science is a good thing in my opinion, but scientist have been completely wrong too. They use to put leeches on the skin to cure disease; that is how George Washington died. Scientist use to think the earth was flat etc.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Tom, the difference is that science fixes its own mistakes. Religion latches on to its mistakes for dear life and defends them to the death, kicking and screaming all the way, insisting the entire time that everybody else has to believe them, too.
       
      While tens of thousands of religious beliefs have been proved wrong by science, there has never been a single scientific belief that has been proved wrong by prayer, inspiration, old-timey "sacred" writings, or revelation. IOW, science is a good way of arriving at reliable explanations, while religion sucks at it.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  6. 1225

    If you weren't taught about God as a child -would you still believe? Remember the Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians were all serious about their Gods. They prayed and worshipped and sacrificed to them all and today we laught about it. Hmmm???

    March 24, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      "Irreverence is another person's disrespect to your god; there isn't any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is."
      - Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

      March 24, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  7. Terry

    Wow. 4,000 members. The 100 largest churches in aAmerica all have attendance of over 7000. A $750,000 annual budget. That's the annual budget of my 250 member church – 20 years ago.

    The American Atheist organization is a speck. Almost 50 years in existence, and this is the best they can do? North Point Community Church in Atlanta was averaging 4,000 people in attendance at the end of its first year.

    Trust me, Christians are not worried by American Atheists or David Silverman. We are concerned for American Atheists and David Silverman's soul. Many Christians pray specifically for those who would deny the existence of the one true God.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • May

      He believed 50 million were atheists in America LOL Silverman should take psycho pills

      March 24, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • 1225

      David Silverman doesn't want you to "Pray for his Soul", so get off of your high horse. Also, It doesn't matter if they have 4,000 members or 400 members, they just don't want religion shoved in their faces from all of the (for lack of a better word)
      Holy Rollers.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • *sigh*

      The numbers may not worry Christians – but what DOES worry them is that these few people are just plain right. There is no god.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Enlightened

      Atheists don't use fear of eternal damnation as a selling point... but religion does. If religion is your business, business is good. So many weak-willed sheep to exploit.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • BobbyTN

      So your greatest criticism of an atheist group is that it isn't as rich as your typical Christian church? There may be a very obvious reason for that if you allowed yourself to think about it.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  8. b4bigbang

    tnfreethinker: "Curious...are you saying that if you did not fear god, you would feel free to lie? What next? Cheat? Steal? Kill? As an atheist, I believe I only have one life and I intend to make the best of it. The only way to have a happy and fulfilling life is to do the right thing. Morals do not come from god. It's sad that you must be bullied to do the right thing."

    Oh, you're being "bullied" too tnfreethinker. One thing I must say, you atheists are a clever lot. You know that most criminals, especially violent criminals eventually get caught and punished. Therefore your goodness is coming from the same place that it comes for all of us: fear of legal punishment.
    Also, i imagine some fear of being stigmatized by "polite society" as a barbarian after being caught.
    Btw, since there's been religion-based laws since the beginning of history, you can't say that you atheists (including Kant, et al) haven't been influenced to be ethical by it. You don't live in a vacuum.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      Speaking of dishonest claims: what about those textbooks?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  9. May

    David Silverman should be sentenced to death. I am serious !

    March 24, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • *sigh*

      Yeah, Christians did that in the middle ages. I see not much has changed in the christian mentality.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • RillyKewl

      I smell a hate crime comin'.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      May
      Sentenced to death like the Christians were by the Romans, or like those accused of being witches were in Salem?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      And still people continue to ask why we atheists have a problem with religious believers.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      The death penalty should be abolished not for religious reasons (also religious people seem to approve of the dath penalty – which to me makes no sense) but because every person who is killed is one less set of DNA to be passed on to succeeding generations, and who knows what those wasted genes could mean for the future of the species?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Nat Q

      Is this a religiously-based solution? Just kill them in the name of your god?

      March 24, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  10. Pascal

    I don't think that atheists have a prayer.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  11. I love JESUS!

    Jesus said: Love your neighbor, love your enemies.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • *sigh*

      SO when you say you love Jesus – you're saying jesus is your enemy?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  12. I love JESUS!

    LOL I prayed for months for bad weather during the rally... and it will thunderstorm tomorrow 🙂

    March 24, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • mandarax

      Yep, I bet you caused that. The world goes away when you close your eyes, too. Did you know that?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • There is no god

      so thats what you prayed for and in your mind you believe god answered you? good job assh*le you couldve been praying for all the dying starving children of the world but instead you wasted god's effort on some rain.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • R

      @mandarax. That made me laugh so hard. I've never met you, yet for some reason I could hear you saying that.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • mandarax

      thanks!

      March 24, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Nat Q

      Way to use your magic friend to deny freedom of expression to others! Feel good about yourself praying to a divine being to deny rights to your fellow citizens? You must be so proud.

      Are you so scared or weak in your position that you fear what might happen if they are allowed to gather and speak? That's not something to be proud of. It's sad and pathetic.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  13. RichardSRussell

    On March 23 at 11:56 pm Sandra Garrett asked how an atheist can KNOW that God doesn't exist. In the time it took me to compose a fairly long response, several other people had asked the same question. I refer you to my answer there.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • BobbyTN

      How do you know that God does exist? If we were talking about unicorns wouldn't it be more reasonable to assume that the lack of evidence suggests that they're imaginary, and not just really good at hiding?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  14. Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

    And yes, this article is in the 'belief' section of CNN.
    This does validate atheism as a religion. Religion doesn't need a Deity (imaginary or otherwise), just a belief.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • mandarax

      So, reality is defined by where CNN places stories? Fascinating. Maybe if they would put it on ESPN it would become a sport.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Derek

      That is an invalid statement. Atheism is not a religion or a belief. Atheism is the lack of belief. Example: I do NOT belief in gods. How is NOT a belief a belief? Not belief = belief according to your statement is invalid. Please stop calling atheism a religion or a belief.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      Is denial a belief or a condition?
      Is believing something doesn't exist a belief or wishful thinking?
      Mincing words does not change the definition of the word belief. No more than calling a Rose by any other name means that it is not a Rose.
      Denying the concept of God does not mean that that concept does not exist. If people believe in the concept of God, does that mean that God does not exist. And if God does not exist how can anyone claim a Non-belief in something that doesn't exist.
      To claim that Atheism is not a Belief is quite a stretch.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • BobbyTN

      Why doesn't the lack of belief belong in a blog aimed at discussing the topic "belief"? Would you stop those who don't exercise from commenting in a fitness blog? They obviously can still have an opinion about fitness, right?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      "Evangelical Atheism" is a religion. True atheism does not care to evangelize.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Derek

      That is why we will never see this eye to eye. Where I see no evidence what-so-ever, you see it all around you, which is why you think I am in denial. I see the exact opposite, with you being the one denying the lack of evidence that your god exists. But that still does not change the fact that not belief cannot equal belief in a logical sense.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      Derek – That is call being able to see with one's eyes but being blind to the things of God.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Derek

      It doesn't matter to me if you think I lack some special vision. I honestly don't care about what you belief. I am only making the point that your original statement about atheism being a belief is invalid. I am simply using logic here. I do not require mysticism to make my point.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  15. Aaron

    CNN: STOP BLOCKING PEOPLE"S COMMENTS!

    March 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • livin-in-reality

      I agree – especially on anything that puts the pro gay movement in its place

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I bet you're a Christian, aren't you? When you encounter something you don't understand, you assume that there's some conscious, malevolent ent¡ty that's out to get you. No, it's just CNN's nannybot, which has detected a forbidden character string inside what you're trying to post. For example, I bet you never noticed that female breast lurking inside the Const¡tuition, did you? Or the excrement in your sp00n? The nannybot did!

      March 24, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  16. In God We Trust

    If atheists were on a plane and the plane is going to crash, I bet they would have prayed!!

    March 24, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • mandarax

      They wouldn't, for the same reason you wouldn't suddenly start chanting Krishna or quickly sacrifice a chicken.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • mandarax

      That would be funny actually.

      "Oh no, the plane is going down! Look, I never really believed this stuff before but maybe somebody should rub their talisman and sacrifice a chicken just in case! Come on, quickly!"

      March 24, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Beatrix Kiddo

      And those prayers would have no effect whatsoever on helping stop the plane crash.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I'm an atheisst. If I were on a plane that was going to crash, I'd pray to Captain Sullenburger before I would to God, because I KNOW that planes full of people praying to God crashed anyway, but Sully has an impeccable record of saving his plane and passengers.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • ammamaw

      Mandarax – I don't generally go along with humor that intends to hurt people – but your first post is hysterical! :)))

      March 24, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • BobbyTN

      If you're having trouble making your mortgage payment would you be tempted to write to Santa? Same thing really.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      Naah. I'd just freak out and probably $4it my pants.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Nat Q

      Why would I start praying when a god could have prevented the accident to begin with? What kind of sick being would allow a crash to start just to get people to pray to him for help? He's either going to do nothing, which makes him impotent or sick and twisted and praying to him would be a waste of my final seconds of life OR he'll stop the crash which will only prove he had the ability to prevent it before it started and didn't, making him sick and twisted.

      Even man, corrupt as we can be, have higher moral standards than that.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  17. Tom

    Eric said"The god in the bible, quran, torah doesn't exist. And an overall god most likely doesn't. There is no good evidence to infer otherwise."

    ________________

    The lack of proof does not make something not exist. There could be zero proof that God exists, and he could exist without you knowing about Him.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • *sigh*

      Nope. The flaw in your logic is that god just doesn't exist. That's a fact.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Tom

      *sigh*, No matter how strongly you believe something, it does not become a fact until you prove it. So prove it if it is a fact.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • *sigh*

      It's simple, Tom. No god. Not now or ever. That's just the way it is. As true as ever. And you know I'm right or else you wouldn't keep yelling for proof. Silliness.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      "Could exist" is a poor argument to defend your belief in God, isn't it? It's like saying that you don't need a job because you "could" end up winning the mega lottery if you're lucky enough to happen to find the winning ticket. It's a chance, but one way too slim to live your life by, right?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      It is easy to prove that something does not exist if one can define the terms precisely and devise a good experiment. For example, everyone can agree on what a Porsche 911 is, and everyone can agree on what a garage is. I can prove that there is no Porsche 911 in my garage simply by opening my garage door and showing everyone that I do not have a Porsche 911 in my garage. the problem with a god is that no one can agree on what the definition of a god – even the ones who purportedly believe in one.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  18. hellonews

    "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist"...book you should check out explaining the arguments for God and why the God of the Bible is the most fitting explanation for what we see in the world. The premise of the book is that it takes more "blind faith" to wholly state that there is no God. You'd have to be in all places at all times and essentially say that you believe yourself to at least be equal to the most powerful being/force in the universe. To be an atheist you have to accept that you don't know where you came from and why you're on earth. You have to be able to explain why the laws of the universe are in place and constant. You have to be able to explain why there is something and not nothing. Why there is a universal moral law; many will disagree with this. An example would be that "abortion is morally wrong". Many will say that this is not a universal law agreed upon...but you offer to "abort" anyone holding that viewpoint, and see what happens.
    You say that the Bible is false and the disciples were "crazy". 11 of the 12 were MARTYRED for what they visually saw and testified to. This wasn't secondhand information. They were willing to DIE preaching the gospel b/c Christ's resurrection had been confirmed by there own eyes. That's not a perfect argument but at least something to consider seriously. To be a consistent atheist, you have to realize that w/o a God, you're ultimately not responsible to anything or anyone outside yourself. If this is the case, then you should follow Darwin's survival of the fittest and reproduce to the maximum. Doesn't sound like Silverman does this...why not? Because he knows it's WRONG. Why does he know it's wrong? B/c he was taught it? Possibly, but why did the person who taught him know it was wrong...ad infinitum...eventually you have to come to the fact that there must have been a moral law giver (ie God) at some point. To be an atheist, you must believe the universe is eternal. If it wasn't eternal then someone/something must have created it. But to believe the universe is eternal is inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics, namely that disorder tends to increase with time. If disorder increases with time and the universe is eternal then we would be in total disorder at this point. The solution of atheists is the "big bang" that just "occurred". Somehow we managed to get complex life beings out of literally nothing. Billions of years is not the solution. Time doesn't lead to increased order but increased chaos. The bottom line though is that for those that don't want to believe in the God who has revealed Himself through creation and His Word (the Bible) there will always be another question and never enough answers. You can't "convince" someone to believe that the God of the Bible loves them and has a plan for them unless the Lord moves in their hearts. My purpose in this post was not to "convince" anyone that the God of the Bible is the one true God , but to point out that atheism is entirely inconsistent with every aspect of life.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Zap

      Disorganized, run-on, unspaced posts are inconsistent with human eyesight.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • rkulla

      The point of there being a book like that is to try to distract you with a bunch of other points the other wants to make to persuade you. It is quite obvious that not believing in something there is no evidence for takes zero faith. Arguments like yours are non-arguments because they try to take rationality out of the equation by attacking rationality as a basis for arguments. It's utterly stupid.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • mandarax

      Don't worry the logic and information is disorganized, run-on, and inconsistent, too.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • gmmmmkkklaaaaaaaa

      God Bless you hellonews!

      March 24, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • gmmmmkkklaaaaaaaa

      Thank you very much hellonews! Be blessed by the name of Jesus-Christ.
      Que l'Eternel te comble de sa grace Divine.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • jeff

      what a sad, impoverished view you have of mankind hellonews. I feel bad for you in a way. This is honestly the stupidest thing Ive ever heard. Its interesting to me how you are attempting to use reason (as you surely do in everyday life, I hope.) when arguing for the doing away of reason. The problem here is your "logic" You first of all start with the presupposition that an anthropomorphic Daddy in the sky already exists. That is your first mistake because you cannot provide me with a reasonable explanation for a divine creators existence) and the fact that we exist is not anymore a reason for the proof of the existence of an anthropomorphic god than it proves the existence of ,in Richard Dawkins terms, the flying spaghetti monste. The bible is also not any kind of reasonable proof either. It was written by many people over the span of hundreds of years, it is tribal rules from the infancy of our development and arguably is not a good book at all but full of hatred ,spite and unspeakable violence, and you arent allowed to use "faith" as your proof of existence... faith is nothing less than the throwing away of reason i.e. belief without evidence. You surely see this circularity do you not?? why its ironic that you use reason to argue for its dismissal? I love that you seem to think that the larger the number of people that are in a group believe something somehow gives rise to an all powerful creator. I may have faith that theres going to be a ton of money in the bank tomorrow aint going to make it so. One more thing, I am an atheist and I know exactly why I am here and what purpose drives my life. the here and now does i.e. my family and relationships. Art. philosophy. Nature and understanding my place in it. To try and spread love and tolerance. to bring the abstract always out of reach kingdom of god and bring it down to earth and make it the kingdom of man (in Feuerbachs terms). By the way. please check your flippant use of the term ad infinitum. Also. someone witnessing something and then passing it along to another is by its very definition "second hand" info. I just feel so stupid for even responding to this....

      March 24, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      What you call your bible is a revision of a translation of a revision of a translation of a selected compilation of stories that were written by various individuals and selected by various individuals at different points in time with differing agendas and conditions.

      The Jesus movement has had more reboots than Superman, Spider-man or Batman, as each generation requires that an icon to be modified to make it more marketable and cool.

      I personally prefer the Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe and the Pre-Ben Reilly Spider-man.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Nat Q

      I love this argument.

      On the one hand, religions hold the concept of "faith" sacrosanct. They are proud of their faith and wear it proudly on their sleeve. Many even brag that their "faith" in the light of no physical evidence is what god wants of them.

      But then, they cut off their nose to spite their face when they turn around and wield faith like a club of ignorance and folly! Suddenly, if you DON'T believe in the god they have "faith" exists, you have "MORE faith!" And suddenly it's a bad thing and sign of blind ignorance! It cheapens the whole concept of what "faith" is.

      It takes MORE faith not to believe in god? What kind of insult is that? It's like a football player trying to insult a chess geek by calling him "MORE athletic."

      March 24, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  19. In God We Trust

    Trust me, God does exist. If he did not, you wouldn´t be here right now. Thank God for everything!

    March 24, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • 1225

      This comment does not make any sense. It can't be proven.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • 1225

      This comment does not make any sense. How could you prove that?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • 1225

      This comment does not make any sense.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • 1225

      How could you prove a comment like this?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Eric

      Because he doesn't exist I am here. Assuming you're talking about Yahweh. According to the bible Yahweh is pretty much incompetent when it's comes to creating stuff. He had to drown everything and start over because he couldn't make stuff right the first time. Then he puts a magic tree in a garden thinking that telling his kids not to touch it. What was the first thing you did when your parents told you not to do something? You did it anyways. Obviously, he's an idiot. Without him we have evolved naturally. If Yahweh was involved he would have screwed it up.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • *sigh*

      Sorry to break it to you. No god now or ever. Just never happened. Try a different hobby. Hey, maybe stamp collecting would be fun.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • daperkins

      The Invisible Pink Unicorn exists. If she didn't, we wouldn't be here today. Blessed be her divine hooves. IPU – 1, Atheists – 0

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      No offense, but why should we trust you?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • BobbyTN

      Every con man starts off with "Trust me!"

      March 24, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      In reply, I would like to state that if we did not exist, there would not be a need for a god

      March 24, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Nat Q

      Please look up "circular logic."

      Also, replace the word "god" in that sentence with the name of ANY of the 10,000 gods mankind has worshiped over time and that god's adherents would have made the EXACT SAME claim. It is a pointless, stupid statement.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  20. 1225

    I'm not sure about atheism or agnosticism, but I do know that most everyone in the world is "Brainwashed" into their religions. We are taught from birth the religion of our parents and their parents and generations back. Religions cause wars and hatred of other people religions and to kill or hurt people who don't believe as you do.

    March 24, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Tom

      Stallin and Mao were atheistic communist leaders. They ki11ed more than 90 million people in peace time usually by firing squad because they disagreed with them politically. Is that better than religion?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Stalin and Mao generally killed people thru famine, not firing squad. They were indeed Communists, and as good Communists they were also atheists. But it was their totalitarianism, not their atheism, that motivated their appalling behavior. They were perfectly happy to starve their fellow atheists to death along with religious believers. Indeed, they are probably the largest killers of atheists in all of history.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Qubee

      Tom, do you know the difference between Communism and Atheism? It's obvious you don't.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Eric

      Yeah I don't think you're following the path of a psychopath. Stalin and Mao wanted power. Regardless of their beliefs. There is no holy scriptures for no believing in god. Their lack of belief was incidental not justification or the reason why they did what they did.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Tom

      The communist god is government; therefore, you are right that I do not see a difference between communism and atheism.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Tired of Religious Hate Mongers Ruing American Politics

      Tom,
      And the Catholics that ran the Holy wars were Catholic, And I am pretty sure that Hitler was as well, except the catholic church didn't want to be associated with him in the end.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • StuckinParadise87

      Adolf Hitler was a Christian; We all know what happened there.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • LinCA

      @Tom

      You said, "The communist god is government"
      Are you ignorant, or are you just trolling?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • BobbyTN

      Communist (extreme left wing) and fascist (extreme right wing) governments are totalitarian in nature and, as such, they opposed organized religion the same way that they opposed unions; because they held rival power over people.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • R

      @ Tom. Another common fallacy of logic. They killed millions of people and happened to also be atheists, therefore they killed people because they were atheists. Religious loons don't realize that with every sentence, they forfeit more and more credibility.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • gavilansalvaje

      The fans of Soccer teams and Rugby teams also cause havoc. I posit that it isn't the existence of an idol that causes problems, it is the existence of rowdy fans.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:12 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.