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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 24, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      no, it doesn't

      March 24, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Jebus Zombie

      Prayers don't help heart surgery patients. Harward university did a study if prayers helped surgery patients and the results came out to support that prayers don't help heart surgery patients. Google "The great prayer experiment harward"

      March 24, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Jebus Zombie

      Hey Prayer troll, how exactly is your disgusting christianity good for children? Go ahead and teach them disgusting things every sunday. Here are a few quotes from your "holy" bible: SICK SICK SICK

      You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20

      Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

      Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16

      Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7

      March 24, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  2. Colin

    Sorry, bad positioning. The post below was meant to answer Robert's 747 point.

    March 24, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  3. Colin

    Your analogy has a flaw. It would work if science claimed that man appeared spontaneously by chance, but it doesn't. It took about 4.5 billion years of Earth history for human beings to evolve. The process is well understood. Starting with a "simple" organism (and I say "simple" because even the simplest of organisms are complex, but I’ll come back to that) all of the offspring of that organism will all be slightly different to their parent, and to each other. No boy is identical in EVERY respect to his father.

    Those organisms with the traits that best suit it to survive are more likely to pass on their genes (and that advantageous trait) to their own offspring. A slightly faster lion, taller giraffe or better sighted hawk is more likely than its slower, shorter or more myopic brethren to live long enough to breed and pass on the favorable genes that gave it the edge. Once again, no rocket science there.

    So far, easy, but here is the key and the thing creationists don't seem able of (or, perhaps, willing) to grasp. The way in which any child will differ from its parents will generally be small (such as eye color, height etc.) but, given enough time and enough generations, and provided some external element is selectively favoring specific traits, the differences will add up. Over thousands of generations, so much cu.mulative change builds up that the great-great-great etc. grandson will be so different from its great-great-great etc. grandfather as to amount to a new species.

    If, for example, a dog breeder only ever allows the fastest male dogs to breed with the fastest female dogs, after many years of such selective breeding the resultant dogs will differ so much in body shape, leg length and, perhaps, lung capacity from their ancestor as to be considered a separate breed. No one set of offspring will differ greatly from its parents, but it will differ a little more from its grandparents, and even a little more from its great-grandparents etc., until we go all the way back to the original dog, which will be quite different in appearance.

    We see this around us everywhere. All breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in either the Middle East or Manchuria some 10,000 years ago. In any event, every last one of them, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the cu.mulative result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

    Now, what are the chances of two wolves giving birth to a Chihuahua or Dalmatian? Virtually zero, but this ignores (like your 747 example does) all of the intermediate steps – the generations – the tint steps – required to get from a wolf to a Chihuahua. I could not jump from New York to San Francisco, but I could certainly walk there in little steps.

    Evolution is, in fact, a work in process, as dog breeders all over the world, along with horse breeders, wheat farmers, rose growers, cattle farmers and all other professions that depend on the traits of plants or animals to make their living, selectively breed for desired traits. Why do you think horse breeders pay thousands of dollars for the fastest stud horses to breed with their mares?

    Even the most cursory of research into any branch of horticulture or animal husbandry quickly reveals that the size, variety, health, longevity and resistance to disease of most of our domesticated plants and animals were the thing of dreams as recently as 100 years ago. Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the competi.tion if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs.

    You really think that people in the 1500s ate fruit and vegetables of the size, nutritional value and taste we do today? Hell, there are hundreds of types of apple today. They did not exist a few centuries ago.

    Now, to go back to the point I left open at the start of this post, what evolution does not explain (nor attempt to) is how the first complex living things arose. However, the more we understand biological processes, the more we are seeing that there is a natural tendency for non-living organic compounds to clump together into increasingly complex forms. Experiments show this all the time. While explaining this process would take a while in an already long post, suffice it to say that no step in the process of gradually increasing complexity of organic molecules into simple life seems to be too complex to have happened without divine intervention. It just took a long, long time – hundreds of millions of years, and a big, big "Petri dish" – the entire Earth-before it occurred, perhaps even more than once.

    Finally, even if we were to assume that [the Christian] god created the first living cell, where does that get us? We immediately bump into the question of what created that god? God was always there, right? But this is the same as saying he "just happened" and God is even less likely than a 747 or a simple cell is to have "just happened" In fact, why is “God” considered an explanation for anything. It isn’t. It’s a cop out, a shrug of the shoulders. When a person attributes something to God, it usually means they haven’t got a clue, so they invoke a magic act by some unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy. All we have done is put a halo on a question mark and walked away from the challenge.

    Frankly, would any believer, absent having been taught it from when they were too young to question it, possibly conclude the existence of a creator-god as a thinking adult, based on what we know in science today? Much less the one that is straight out of late Iron Age Palestinian mythology.

    PS: The sky-fairy analogy is not original. It is cited in Dawkins as being from an unnamed blogger.

    PPS: I did not distinguish between “breeds” and “species” but that is simply a matter of degree of exactly the same process. Accepting one but not the other is like accepting the existence of inches but denying the existence of miles.

    March 24, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • What Now

      Excellent post and a great shortened version. Thank you for taking the time.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  4. Brad

    God is time and time is God.

    March 24, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      so when I drive my car a given distance at a given speed it takes "god" to get there

      but if I travel twice the distance at the same speed it takes twice as much god to get there?

      March 24, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • Brad

      No, it means that time is the creator and the destroyer of all things.

      March 24, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      time is only a measurement of duration

      to regard time as anything but a tool of our own perception is to "drive twice as far and take twice as much god" in the process

      March 24, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Colin

      God is in my wallet, if I define him as a credit card.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • AGuest9

      And both are imaginary, but at least I can claim to be able to measure one with a clock.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • ticktockman0

      Didn't Jon Anderson write that for a Yes song?

      March 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  5. Daniel Cocciardi

    Those that pretend there is no God will attempt to take His place.

    March 24, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      are you quoting someone or are you just trying to sound cool?

      to the god of abraham, in any of his three guises I am atheist, the same with lord brahma or any of the greek gods or for that matter aztec pantheon.

      what makes you think that your belief in a semitic creator god is any more relevant than the australian aborigine dreamtime creation myths?

      March 24, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      There is no pretending there is no god, there simply is no evidence for a god.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  6. miami

    It's all good people, you believe what you want to believe and i'll do the same. We can do this, we have but one life to enjoy. Forget the small stuff and be happy in what ever belief or disbelief you choose!!

    March 24, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • M Houston

      You got it, Miami!! Now if I could just be sure that all these "belief" systems are kept OUT of my "governing" system...

      March 24, 2012 at 6:14 am |
    • AGuest9

      Absolutely. We just need to enforce the separation of church and state, and define a separation of church and school.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  7. miami

    Thank god for making me an Atheist.

    March 24, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  8. Robert

    Here is a challenge to any Athiest to answer. The human body, and life itself is the most complicated thing ever created known to man. Whether we are talking about man, or a single cell animal. Even today with all of the scienctific advancements, man has still not figured out completely how the body works, nor how we came about. Yet here we are, and here we live.

    Now, take a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet, one of scieces most advanced accomplishments. Many parts and pieces. Yet, we know everything there is to know about a 747, because man built it.

    Now compare the two. According to an Athiest, man spontaniously was created out of all the gasses and chemicals that make up earth. Yes, I know I am oversimplyfying it in that statement, man came about over Millions of years of darwinian evolution according to scientific theory.

    So are we to believe that given time and evolution...nature would eventually create a Boeing 747? Or is that not possible without the hand of man?

    So I ask this of you. If a product of man (the Boeing 747) can not come about naturally through nature....how do you think that something as complicated and the living human being came about spontaniously?

    March 24, 2012 at 4:35 am |
    • ingatuma

      Well I don't think my Wife came from my rib either, yet its in your evil book.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • B

      "So I ask this of you. If a product of man (the Boeing 747) can not come about naturally through nature....how do you think that something as complicated and the living human being came about spontaniously?"

      Human beings didn't come about being spontaneously. That is the whole point of the theory of evolution... perhaps you haven't taken the time to understand it?

      Evolution by natural selection is the answer that you are looking for with your "gotcha" question. The reason a Boeing 747 doesn't just spontaneously come out of nature is because it doesn't reproduce and therefore has no means to pass on genetic information to new generations.

      Scientific theory doesn't have ALL the answers about how life began. That doesn't mean saying "god did it" and ending the quest for knowledge is the correct course of action. All science does is try and reveal answers. Since there is no known way to test for or experiment with the existence of a god, there is no reason for science to address it. It is irrelevant to science since it can not be addressed by science. If you want to discount the mountains of evidence of evolution and just stick "magic man did it", go right ahead. But don't try and pretend you have come to some glorious conclusion about how all the worlds leading scientific minds missed your watchmaker analogy.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:55 am |
    • Wigglymump

      Well, according to come current quantum mechanics theories, yeah, a 747 could just "pop into existence". Especially considering and infinite amount of time. Not likely, but possible. Anyway, as others put it (much more eloquently than I), "your logic is flawed" based primarily on the fact that 747's don't naturally reproduce or mutate.
      -Wigglymump

      March 24, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      robert-

      this isn't a challenge to any atheist it's a question for an evolutionary biologist

      you're spending too much time indoors, go out and sniff the flowers, and whilst you are out might I suggest a library, therein you will find Darwin's "origin of the species" I might commend some richard dawkins who is scientific in his approach to evolution

      March 24, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • Jebus Zombie

      Robert, you are brainwashed by the bible. Read the "blind watchmaker" and "the greatest show on earth" the human body is far from perfect. Dawkins goes to show how ridiculous some nerves and pipes are in our body due to blunders in history like the nerver that goes down the neck of a girraffe and pipe that carries sperm from testicles to penis. heck even our eyes are not perfect and retina is installed backwards. So much for "intelligent design". Then again if your a bible thumper, I don't expect much from you.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  9. CanTankHerOus

    I find some of the comments against religion to be pretty funny, but also a little ironic. Before I get accused of being some religious zealot, I haven't stepped into a church in 20 years. I've read the bible from cover to cover enough times that I have most of the major scriptures committed to memory. I believe in God, but perhaps not so much as some of the vocal followers. I think they can be some of the world's biggest hypocrites, right next to atheists (more on that in a minute). So, I don't attend church of any kind, but I'm not an atheist.

    So, having said that, I find that atheists are the most angry, bitter and resentful people that I've ever met. I don't have anything against atheists for their beliefs, but the manner in which THEY go after people that DO believe in God, is ridiculous. Like I said, I'm not part of any organized religion or activities related to them, but I've NEVER seen Christians of various denominations EVER organize an event to mock and/or ridicule atheists. They mind their own business for the most part, and RARELY do I see they having a cross word with someone that has a different belief system than theirs. Yes, there are the exceptions to the rule, but let's not pretend that they're the norm.

    Now, atheists only activity as a group that I've EVER seen, is to ridicule, mock, and antagonize Christians. I would say other faiths as well, but it seems that peace-loving, forgiving Christians are the targets of their aggression to a great extent. This in itself is a weakness of their own convictions, or better yet, the lack of any baIIs to take on those that would spit back in their face. Those people are the jëws and musIims – never seen an atheist with the baIIs to go there. But there's no shortage of vitriol when it comes to the Christians. It's this point that I find most curious, because anyone with the supposed intelligence and strength of conviction as atheists CLAIM to have, wouldn't need to be so preoccupied with antagonizing those with different beliefs. The truth is, I've NEVER seen atheists promoting their beliefs, but I've certainly witnessed COUNTLESS demonstrations by atheists that are freakishly anti-Christian. Argue all you want with words, but your actions are drowning out voice.

    Now to my last point – faith and intelligence. It's been posited by most atheists that religion is "blind faith," an "opiate of the masses" and that somehow, belief in a creator is a sign of lesser intelligence. Is it blind faith? I supposed you could say blind faith is required to be a believer as much as it is to be a non-believer. The same arguments and invectives apply to both, so I'm not sure why people of supposed "superior intelligence" choose to participate in the latter, because the script can easily be flipped to say that non-belief requires a certain amount of stupidity and blind faith.

    Some of the brightest minds this world has ever known believe in higher power, and at least concede that only the most intelligent among us can accept that possibility of a creator. I concur. I also believe it takes a certain amount of faith, intelligence and quiet confidence to accept that the possibility exists. Someone who has already closed their mind to the possibility is already dead. It's only those that can be humbled by the awe of planet and the many facets of our mind and imagination that can truly comprehend the possibilities of the universe and beyond. I personally would hate to think that all the wonderful things I've witnessed in all my years on this planet, are just an accident – a series of events that, out of the chaos, have been able to captivate and fascinate my mind for all these decades. If I'm that easily amused, then some of the closed-minded bigots in here wouldn't even be a blip on the chart. In your mind, allow for the chance that all things are possible. It will lift you out of the bitter chasm of atheism.

    March 24, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • Sugarpunk

      I must say that was beautifully said...good job! It is better to believe in something, than to believe in nothing!

      March 24, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • Nii

      Excellent treatise! My thoughts exactly. I might b a minister but I don't see why it isnt possible that there is a margin of error in my chosen profession of religion. To me all religions are false if they are ends in themselves but if they serve to make a man more emotionally mature then why not?

      March 24, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • Chew-bacco

      Believing in an absurd, abjectly harmful, pseudo-intellectual web of mythicism about a never-proven creator is a psychological cancer upon human beings. If believing in a falsity to make yourself feel warm and snuggly at night is a good idea, then burn all the science books in the library and replace them with children's stories.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • B

      Except that the reason the only thing you hear about atheists is ridicule is because those would be the only atheists who talk about it. What do you think the other atheists who don't give a damn what you believe are doing? Seriously... think about it just for a minute...

      It's the same reason that atheists feel that the religious are crazy, because the crazy ones are the loudest...

      March 24, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • MeAgain

      Chewy, thank you for confirming all of my positions about atheists in just two sentences. That takes skill – plus a lot of pent up anger. But hey, at least you have the "bitter vitriol" thing buttoned up...

      March 24, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • M Houston

      "Before I get accused of being some religious zealot, I haven't stepped into a church in 20 years. I've read the bible from cover to cover enough times that I have most of the major scriptures committed to memory. I believe in God,..."

      Well just bless your old cantankerous heart. Believe as you will. Just don't presume to know what kind of "chasm" any atheist may (or may not) live in. You don't know. You're presuming that, just as you're presuming atheists' "lack of any baIIs to take on those that would spit back in their face." I'm probably older than you (old enough to have shivered in Korean foxholes and survived bloody Vietnamese rice paddies). And I've stated my non belief in Tel Aviv, Tehran, Yenbu and Karachi so don't presume to know about anyone's courage or lack of it because its comforting to you (because you believe)
      to think that of others.

      March 24, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • What Now

      "Now, atheists only activity as a group that I've EVER seen, is to ridicule, mock, and antagonize Christians. I would say other faiths as well, but it seems that peace-loving, forgiving Christians are the targets of their aggression to a great extent."

      You must live in a different world than I do. I agree there are some that may ridicule or mock. However, it is much more difficult to live in a world of "forgiving" Christians if you are a non-believer. We are mocked and ridiculed daily. Many of use have learned to remain silent in the presence of the self-proclaimed christians because of the intolerance. This happens within my own family. Because I don't believe, I must keep my own beliefs to myself for fear of being ostracized.

      Your ridcule of all non-believers is a good example of the judgmental people that we must deal with daily. Many, many intelligent minds have simply learned to keep to themselves.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  10. b4bigbang

    QualisTempus

    Right, good point, couple of deltas though

    1. The child was biologically made by the parents.
    Atheist answer: Only proves reproduction; scientifically prove love please.

    2. The child can see, hear, touch, feel, and know what love feels like from his parent.
    Atheist answer: Nebulous, unquantifiable answer; still haven't proven love scientifically.

    3. The parent actually tells the child (he/she hears this) that the child is loved.
    Atheist answer: Refer back to my original statement, ie, other plausible explanations, eg, lying. Why lie? Possible answer: to deal with peer/society pressure. Many resons to lie as it's a proven fact that people lie – indeed, quite often. Other possibilities may exist as well.

    You believe God loves all of us as if we were the only one, what about the children being slaughtered in Syria as I write this, do they know / believe that God loves them?
    Atheist answer: non sequitur: 1) You dont know what i believe, and it's irrelevent. 2) The question is for the parents to *prove scientifically* that they love their child – not why does an alleged deity allow death and suffering.

    My point is that there are areas that don't lend themselves to the scientific method, and it is this scientific method that the atheists appear to be stuck on – ie, if something can't be proven scientifically, then it doesn't exist.
    I believe this to be a fallacy.

    March 24, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • b4bigbang

      I would also add that, while the existence of a deity will never be 'proven' to the atheists' satisfaction, there is evidence of the existence of a deity – eg, my own physical healing several years ago, as well as other evidence I've personally witnessed.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • momoya

      b4bigbang

      When you run away from honest discussion of the fallaciousness of your own ideas, you damage your own reputation and the reputation of other, like-minded christians.. I will gladly take you on: any argument, any day, any thread, any time, but you always run away and hide.. You lie for your god and you cower before reason.. Your house isn't on sinking sand, it's been dashed on the rocks and your clinging to floating furniture as you scream into the wind about how you have the best house ever.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      To b4bigbang: momoya is correct. You are a proven liar and when called out on it you simply back away or start posting under a different name.

      Earlier I chose just one of your accusations-stated-as-fact about how scientists misidentified a pig tooth as a human fossil and, despite having knowing it was misidentified, continue to promote it in textbooks as proof of evolution. This is of course an outright lie (as so many creationist claims are), so I challenged you to simply put forward what textbooks include this.

      You refused to answer, moved to other comment boards. I upped the ante and challenged you to back up your claim with evidence or admit once and for all that you were just making that up, and that is standard practice in creationist arguments. I have posted this challenge in response to your comments over and over (readers are probably sick of it).

      So, as I said before I am calling a lie a lie. Whatever you post should be treated with susp.icion be anyone who reads it. Indeed, whatever creationists post should be treated with susp.icion – it is clearly standard practice to casually and shamelessly lie for Jesus.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  11. Darwin

    Every christian I've ever met has been a smug, judgemental, hateful, racist, bigot, materialistic gossip hound. If Christ was like modern Christians, it's no wonder they crucified him. I would have too.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      that's a bit extreme Darwin-,
      you'll find, I think, that the people you describe will be that way regardless of their beliefs, or lack of them

      March 24, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • KM

      I know plenty of very nice Christians. Sadly, the ones who like to pick and choose parts of the Bible to justify hatred and ignorance seem to speak more loudly than the rest.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • joe

      atheists have faith in their doubt and can not accept there is another higher life form often thought of as god that has created us and this earth to function as it does.

      go ahead and justify yourself by throwing out stereotypes to conveniently label anyone who doesn't think like you. Its your lazy way of being because you no longer question or accept traditions and religions of the past with an open mind. Its you who is close minded and bigoted.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      where is your evidence joe-?

      there are books by people who believe but belief is not evidence. you saying something is true does not make it so.
      and you your self perhaps think that christianity is truth but a hindu would disagree with you and an animist would disagree with both of you

      any religious experience comes out of your own head

      March 24, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • Mike1

      Treat others as you would want to be treated.
      Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
      A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
      bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

      No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will. I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • Sugarpunk

      Then you didnt meet a true Christian...sorry you experience with these people were wrong.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Jebus Zombie

      Christians are hateful because they believe bible to be word of that psychotic god, jehovah. Here are some quotes to prove how hateful and disgusting the bible is.

      You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20

      Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

      Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16

      Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7

      March 24, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  12. mandarax

    Okay, off to bed. Goodnight, everyone – make sure and follow the rally tomorrow if you're able.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  13. bopdad

    inthe first book of the bible genesses 1:1 and god created the world ....and ive always wondered ...who was gods mon and dad ?

    March 24, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • Bill

      IF God invented time and was not limited by it, then God would not have a beginning. From our perspective he would have always existed.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • jill

      god wasnt born

      March 24, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • ben

      The universe always existed in some form. God is not a 'special exception'

      March 24, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      if mankind is made in god's image then god must be male and female
      ok...... father, son and mrs holy ghost.

      p.s. all these god people who rant about atheists commenting on religious blogs, what on earth are you doing commenting on an atheist blog?

      March 24, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • Nii

      Belief blogs are meant for all religions including atheism so most don't mind that. It is when they comment in close-minded prejudiced ways that people begin to question their motives. These blogs are meant to foster discussion rather than bigotry and propagandism.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  14. swohio

    One more thing. The thing I find the most astonishing, and quite frankly ludicrous, is that the atheists – the number of whom are far and away a MINORITY – somehow think the overwhelming MAJORITY of people (those who believe in God) are the ones who are deluded. It's really quite sad. I mean, really, when you think about it, if only a small percentage of people have a terminal illness, while the majority doesn't, who is it that is really sick?

    March 24, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • mandarax

      ...and so many people watch "Jersey Shore" so it must be a great show about critically relevant people.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • ben

      yes, because the number of people who believe in myths adds to their credibility. Excellent point.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • KM

      Personally I'm agnostic, I don't know with 100% surety that there is not a deity. But, I don't see anything to make me believe in a deity either.

      Religion is a majority because historically you conquer and convert to spread a religion to a new territory. The reason Islam is so popular in southern Asia and Northern Africa and the middle east can be directly traced to the military conquests after the rise of the religion. So too, can the spread of different Christian belief sects be geographically mapped based on the political powers of the time in each region.

      However, THIS COUNTRY IS SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT. This country was founded to ensure that these things DID NOT happen here. This country was founded to ensure the freedom for all to choose to believe or not believe as they see fit. Even in this great nation, however, we've fallen far short of attaining those freedoms. The non-religious and plenty of religious minorities are still greatly persecuted. Far from direct persecution there is still the obvious favoritism shown toward Protestant Christendom. Give me one good reason why Christ-mass is a federally recognized holiday, one good reason why we have references to the Christian deity on our money, one good reason why the majority should set the rules for the minority? There is no war on religion, no war against Christianity. Non-Christians are just finally demanding that the law of the land include them. Our numbers are fewer but our voices should be heard just the same.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Merc

      So, by your "logic," we should disregard all minorities.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Sirc

      Atheists have never really had much of an agenda before. And frankly, we were a bit afraid of saying that we didn't share religious beliefs. Things are changing, and politicians are focusing more and more on religious issues rather than common sense issues. Now we must speak up to keep this country from spiraling back into the very thing that caused our country to be created in the first place – religious control and intimidation inherent in that sort of mind frame. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion go hand in hand.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      so by your logic, when Galileo decided that the "earth was in orbit around the sun" which made him a very small minority (0.00000001%) whilst everybody else "knew" that the sun orbited the earth-
      at that time the sun MUST have revolved around the earth because that is what everybody believed and therefor it was so

      March 24, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Jebus Zombie

      swohio, remember there was only 1 Einstein. Just because there are more christians doesn't mean bible is right, its a disgusting sick book. In a few decades ISLAM will be the dominant religion in this world. THen will you accept Koran to be the word of god?????

      Your bible is the most disgusting piece of crap I have ever read:

      You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20

      Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

      Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16

      Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7

      March 24, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  15. John Wilson

    Please click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSb1-9i-fDA

    March 24, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • jill

      no thanks

      March 24, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  16. Angie

    I don't need a book to believe. I don't need a preacher to tell me to believe. I have my faith based on my personal experiences. You may not share the same experiences or beliefs and that's okay. But don't expect me to buy into your non-belief anymore than I'm going to buy into someone else's belief(s) that are not like my own. Be happy with who you are. Live a good life. Everything else we can argue about afterward if you still feel inclined to do so.

    March 24, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • KM

      Angie, that's all okay. now, insist on any majority preserving those rights for any minority as well. That means any reference to ANY particular religion must be removed. "In God we Trust" shouldn't be on our money, courtrooms, or license plates. References to the Bible as well shouldn't be referenced in a public, secular arena. Nationally-recognized holidays like Christ-mass and Easter have ZERO business having federal recognition.

      It is the historical insistence of the religious majority to deny an equitable situation to the non-religious minority that causes these atheists to make a big deal of things.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • ben

      nonsense, angie. Had you never been given a book, gone to church, and your religion by your parents...you would most certainly NOT believe it. What, you think you'd just one day come to the independent realation that a 'god' created the world and had a son named jesus christ?

      LOL

      March 24, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • jill

      ben. on the contrary. if left alone the human being tends to worship god and lean on belief of a deity. its natural. atheism is very unnatural, as to where it needs intervention into a persons mind to take hold. lack of belief in any god is not natural. at all. if god never existed man would worship other men.. its just the facts

      March 24, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • Sirc

      Jill – That's a bit short-sighted. Maybe it would have been true 2000 years ago (and in fact much longer), but not in this time period. We are no longer living in a vacuum. We (or at least many of us) are no longer children looking at the world with no understanding. We don't have all the answers for sure, but at least many of us know enough to realize that we don't need to believe in an ancient book to make sense of the way things are. Atheists worship no man and no god. If anything, we worship finding out what is next to discover. And upon that discovery, we are free to let our previous beliefs go.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:47 am |
    • Shamdog

      That's funny, Jill. So a human being left alone and not guided towards religious beliefs will spontaneously develop religious beliefs? Is the natural unadulterated course destined to be a belief in your god, in Islam, Buddhism, Hindu? I happen to have been raised with no religious influences–my parents were of two different religions and chose not to expose my brother and I to either. What was my natural course? I am an atheist. I was not indoctrinated into a set of beliefs from a young age, so I was able to explore on my own and I continue to not believe in god.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Nii

      Agnosticism is a natural state of religion atheism, theism and non-theism are not requiring philosophy to support them. I am theistic but choose to believe because of the benefits I gain in emotional maturity. Also to me I have enough proof of God's existence. Might be different for u but I'm happy

      March 24, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Nii

      Christianity does not believe that if you are not a Christian you are going to hell. If your character is morally upright and emotionally mature then God grants you a place in Heaven. Otherwise Hell is your portion Christian or not. To say otherwise is spiritual abuse. If you ask us we'll tell u.

      March 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  17. Rick31

    There is no such thing as an athiest on crashing planes or in foxholes....#nuffsaid

    March 24, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • mandarax

      There's a group of vets that would disagree with you:

      http://ffrf.org/outreach/atheists-in-foxholes/

      March 24, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • ben

      LOL, what a silly thing to say. My brother is an atheist and was in a 'fox-hole' in Iraq.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • mandarax

      You might also be interested in these:

      http://rockbeyondbelief.com/

      http://militaryatheists.org/

      (sometimes lies are so easy to expose)

      March 24, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • RillyKewl

      I'll disagree as well.
      Death experiences only deepen my lack of faith in a deity.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Masterwindu

      Youve ever been in a crashing plane with an atheist? Or in a foxhole with the ENTIRE infantry? Nuffi said.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • Michael

      No such thing as a chaplain in a foxhole either.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  18. ammamaw

    OMG! This has been the most fun I've had all night since...well, I hate to admit it. After spending the last 3 hours or so reading these posts & comments I'm left with this profound conclusion: we humans love to flap our 'pie holes'. We may be raging, ignorant, opinionated, sometimes even scary fools, but we are also witty & funny as hell. (I mean, as the hell that doesn't exist.) Thanks everybody. Sweet dreams. And don't forget to say your prayers.....

    March 24, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • ItzMe

      Haha I agree somewhat, gonna sleep too! No prayers for me though.. Just sweet dreams.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Its 3AM. These debates can be addicting. I know what you mean.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • KM

      In the cosmic scale, we're not even a hair's width away from the time when our species was still mastering fire and creating spoken language.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  19. RillyKewl

    Would ya look at that? I think we managed to hit upon an agreement!
    That makes me smile. If you want to go to ethics + contemporary mores, we'll have to save it. I'm ready to move along.
    But nice debating you! Have a good night.

    March 24, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • RillyKewl

      The above was meant for my friend Mec.
      Sorry. It got kicked onto this page. Whoops.
      What can you do?

      March 24, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • mandarax

      I enjoyed following your exchange – it was thoughtful, sober, and respectful. Good job.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • RillyKewl

      Thanks, Mandarax!

      March 24, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  20. KM

    For as many people as there are who cling to their Bible and their traditions to explain the universe... it still is shocking how ignorant most of them are of their own belief systems and book.

    It seems they like to pick and choose which parts fit their narrow viewpoint of the world and focus on those the most.

    March 24, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • Bill

      Some do, some don't. It is wrong to pretend that Christians are less intelligent.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • Michael

      No, Bill, its not wrong. Religion is inversely correlated with educational level.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:34 am |
    • Nii

      A lot of scientists are religious worldwide. Also there are things which account for education retarding religion not least that in school you have to choose where to invest your time-religion or study. At this point in time it becomes habit forming to avoid religion because it wastes time.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      "A lot of scientists are religious worldwide"

      8% are...that's not a lot!

      March 24, 2012 at 7:35 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.