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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

“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. Loriz

    I'm an Atheist and I'm thankful the U.S. is predominately a Christian nation and not any other religion, such as Islamic, Jewish, Hindu etc. Even though I may not agree with Christian faith, Christians are still excellent with us 🙂

    March 24, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • momoya

      At least now that the Inquisition isn't still going on..

      March 24, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • priestnking

      momoya, once again you demonstrate ignorence of history. The inquisition was done by catholics not Christians! Most of those killed in the inquisition were Christians who would not bow to the Pope!

      March 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • momoya


      The Catholics thought they were doing YOUR god's will.. God didn't do a thing about it, so either he agreed with the Inquisition, or he just didn't care..

      March 24, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • priestnking

      Negative...the Catholics were about control and political power, ruling the world. They thought they were doing the will of God, just like many today kill in the name of "God" True believers operate in the love of Jesus Christ. We don't kill those who disagree with us. If they kill us, as in the inquisition, then we will be with Jesus. My point is you must have faith to be an athiest because science runs up against the unexplainable. Why do you think they spend literally billions trying to collide particles? True Christians have no interest in ruling the world, our home is a city to come, known as the new Jerusalem. This world is only temporary.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • momoya

      It takes no faith at all to say, "I don't know.".

      Yes, science has "hit a wall" when looking at the big bang.. We don't know how it started.. We say, "We don't know how it started.". No faith involved..

      To insert a magic daddy who says magic words takes faith..

      March 24, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • priestnking

      momoya, it is disturbing that you let your eternal destiny rest in the "hope" that science will one day be able to prove that God does not exist! I implore you, don't take that chance, seek God and He will reveal Himself to you. This is not a joke, He loves you. You can try and hide behind calling HIm names and hoping beyond hope that Christianity is wrong, but in the end you take an aweful risk with your very soul. A true scientist is amazed at the inter-workings of the creation of God!

      March 24, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • momoya

      My point about the Inquisition is that your magic sky daddy never stepped in to stop all the horror going on in his name.. What d-bag!!. If I knew that people were being horribly tortured because the torturers thought I wanted it, I'd do everything in my power to stop the torture going on in my name..

      Isn't it interesting that if there is a god who cares about us, he doesn't step in to correct which people are worshiping him correctly and which aren't??. Why does a muslim wackjob and a christian wackjob have in common?. They both use the same math and chemistry because they must; they worship different gods because they can.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • momoya

      I don't believe in an "eternal destiny" nor do I have to hope for any certain scientific advance.. When you can offer some proof of your god, I'll consider it.. Until then, I won't.. As a true scientist, I am amazed at the complexity and beauty of the universe, but imagining a magic man who creates with magic spells doesn't help me or science.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  2. georgex

    That these people can have a rally in this nation is greatly appreciated. With the expression of different ideas people can evaluate and choose for themselves what seems more reasonable and satisfying.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  3. And this..

                      #########       #                   
                    ########           ##                 
                 ########                ###              
              ##########                  ####            
           ######### #####                ######          
             ###        ####               ######         
                          #####            ######         
                             ####          #######        
                               #####       #######        
                                  ####    #######         
                                    #### ########         
                 ##                   ##########          
                ######            #############           
              #### ######################## ####          
            ####      ##################      #####       
          ####             #######               ####     
        ####                                       #####  

    March 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  4. Former atheist

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things...

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here are posted by closet Atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate!

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    March 24, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Nat Q

      Do you just troll these debates to post the SAME cut and Paste argument over and over and over? Pathetic.

      Care to share any actual, I don't know, EVIDENCE to back up those claims or are you just another individual who is content to lie for your god when it is politically expedient to do so?

      Let's see evidence to back up your first claim because all the evidence I've ever seen says quite the opposite.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • jerry

      Really? Not one remark was anywhere near correct.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • whittfamily1

      You should have stuck to your earlier position - atheist. I'll address just one of your comments. You said "Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists." You are making a God of the Gaps type of argument. You need to use evidence to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists, and nobody has done that yet.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      'safer behind closet'?

      There is help out there for you, Tonto.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • priestnking

      Nat Q, of which eveidence against the existence of God do you speak? Last I knew the scientific community had run up against a brick wall called the unexplainable! When you run into the unexplainable, faith begins. Faith leads us to look to the designer and orchestrator, who has been revealed as Jesus Christ.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • momoya


      No, when something is unexplainable, you try different methods.. If you stop, and insert some stupid thing just to fill in the blank, like "magic sky daddy must have done it with magic words," you're reveling in ignorance.

      It's honest to say "I don't know" (why we are here / what happens when we die); it's dishonest to throw a "goddiditbymagic" answer into the mix..

      March 24, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • priestnking

      to whittfamily-- you must demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that God does not exist! This you and the scientific community are unable to do. Therefore your position rests on the hope that you are right, and if you are right, as a reward you get a hole in the ground upon death. My position rests upon the faith of the merits of Christ who has taken away my sins and with that I can rest in His promise of eternal life! Why would a seemingly intelligent person take that chance?

      March 24, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • momoya


      No, the person making the claim has the burden of proof.. You are making a big claim; you must provide proof.. You are claiming that your god exists; you must prove your god exists..

      Do you believe in unicorns just because you can't prove that they don't exist?

      March 24, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Bear

      "Nat Q, of which eveidence against the existence of God do you speak?"

      If you'll reread my actual words, you'll see that I never once said there was any evidence against the existence of god. All I did is ask FormerAtheist to show me the evidence for the claims he or she was making. Just to simplify, for the first claim on their list...which was that atheism makes people less intelligent. It had nothing to do with the actual existence of god.

      Reading what is actually written and not what you want to see is a valuable life skill.

      But agree with the sentiment. There is no more evidence against the idea of god than there is against the idea of leprechauns. But on that same note, there is no more evidence FOR a god than for a leprechaun, either...

      March 24, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  5. priestnking

    There is no "reason" in anything an athiest believes. They are simply "fools' Even nature itself declares the glory of God! Even physics tells us that all we see around is is simply condensed information! The world, as created by God, the author of all infomation, is 99.9999999999999 percent empty space, made solid by hypothetical, force-carrying massless particles. Be warned....God is not mocked....he is literally holding this entire creation together by Jesus Christ, the author of life. Colossians 1:16-17 "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." BELIEVE

    March 24, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • momoya

      Yes, the universe is very interesting.. No, we don't know all the answers or even most of them.. No, there's no evidence for the god you describe.. Yes, even if we assume that an intelligent mind had a hand in our universe, and yes, we can assume that god does not want any sort of "relationship" with humans since humans can and do believe anything they want about god and god never steps in to sort it all out..

      If god were interested in having humans worship him in any particular way he would not allow such confusion over if he exists, who he is, or how to worship him correctly.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Praying for everyone

      Please dont call atheists fools. Is that Christ like in any way? To ram scripture at them, words they dont believe in, is that really to change their heart or to make you feel powerful and superior? I think you might want to get off the computer and go have a talk with yourself and the holy spirit and get your self straight. Hate will never further the kingdom.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • priestnking

      God is not interested in creating robots to worship Him. Worship is not worship unless it's a choice. God has given you air to breathe, food to eat, the heavens to gaze at in awe-inspiring wonder! How could you not seek after the One who is the author of all of this? When you get down to the basics of particle physics, they have to admit that this universe is an orderly arrangement, and behind it is wisdom and intelligence. Our job is to seek that intelligence out, which results in God, which results in the One God has sent, which is Jesus Christ, the first born from the dead and prototype of the resurrection body, which will move through space at the speed of thought, and move through "walls" of buildings.. Just as Christ did after the resurrection! Man, that gets me excited, and all this from God who loves us.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • priestnking

      sorry if I offend you "praying for everyone" But the scripture itself tells us in Psalm 14:1 "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God..." Do you have a problem with what God has said? True believers must be as Paul and Peter and declare the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ! Handing out cookes and hot dogs and mowing peoples grass is not the intent of preaching as revealed in the new testament. You must love peple enough to tell them the truth

      March 24, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • momoya


      Sorry, but your mind has been taken over by a virus.. It happens to lots of people.. When a person grows up, she grows up in a certain culture and geography.. Often that culture and geography believes in older myths and the magic written in them.. Most children in that culture will then grow up to believe their own way about those older myths and their magic.. Because none of these myths can be demonstrated as "the Truth," by any reliable method, believers in them come to believe them simply because they already believe them.. Unlike math and chemistry and the practical sciences.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Nat Q

      Yes, and eclipses happen when god gets angry and takes away the sun to punish us...

      March 24, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • priestnking

      momoya, have you not read any of my previous posts about science? You are the one who is unable to expalin your denail of a supernatural intelligence!

      March 24, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • momoya


      Why do I need to disprove something that's supernatural?? When you prove "the supernatural" exists, I'll believe in it.. Until you prove its existence, I do not need to provide evidence for its non-existence..

      "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.". Or do you believe in unicorns because nobody has yet disproved them?

      March 24, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • whittfamily1

      You are merely repeating your belief without giving any good reasons, evidence, or arguments for anyone to believe that your God hypothesis is true. If you want to persuade anybody, you're going to have to offer something better.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • WhatNow

      Your statements are the epitome of my problems with faith-pushing. Truly, you lack an understanding of fact and fiction.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  6. Praying for everyone

    I will pray today that this rally remains peaceful and that followers of Jesus show graciousness if they are present. I pray that we all focus on the greater good of humanity and not our own egos and lust for power. Jesus would walk among them and bless them not curse them. Atheists are not our enemies, we are not theirs. Our only enemy is satan and he can show up at any time on either side of this debate.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  7. Mike

    Silverman should know that we have a 1st amendment.......live with it and do something constructive with your life.....

    March 24, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • momoya

      There's millions of churches across the us, and in some cities they're on almost every street corner.. Why begrudge us one little rally in DC?. It's not like atheists are going to have a building on every street corner and start telling people how to vote for which laws..

      March 24, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  8. Carole in Ohio

    Just proves our point how Christians are kind of the really evil ones. There's a guy on here "just sayin" who responded to someone writing about Chris Hitchens book – Hitchens recently died – and "just sayin" responds by saying "why don't you join him & stop hurting people like he did". Really? Why don't YOU stop hurting people – I won't go to the same level as you – I won't tell you to "just die" – Ever notice how Christians are the ones with all the hate talk, vitriolic rhetoric, and their solution to logic & reason is either "Die" or "Move Away" – Christians are about CONTROL. They want to control YOU with THEIR beliefs – and if you DON'T believe, you should "JUST DIE". That's "logic" for you...not!

    March 24, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • momoya

      You got to give the christians a break, here.. They're trying to follow a god who is going to torture us atheists with fire forever and ever–and enjoy it–, but also follow god's commands of total love and service for their "enemies" – us.. Also, they've really got no arguments, so even those that are able to follow the logic, are resistant to the easy implications of that logic and can quickly become combative and 'nasty.'

      March 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Praying for everyone

      It sickens me and breaks my heart that you have ever encountered a Christian that treated you like that. Shame on them. Following Christ is not about control it is about love. I dont care if you are purple and speak a different language and believe that butterflies rule the world. It is not my place to judge but to love. I pray that someday you meet someone of my faith that shows you the love and light we are called to share. And it doesnt come in the form of a baseball bat or a blow horn.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • priestnking

      Please do not confuse religious people with true followers of Jesus Christ The ones of which you speak know not God or His love. Also, I don't know where you get the idea that God enjoys casting people into the lake of fire. He gives every chance for this not to happen. Also, Jesus is usually condemning the religious hypocrites to the place of torment for their misrepresentation of Him, and their self righteousness.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • momoya

      There are several verses that imply god enjoys torturing the souls in hell.. How could you, and why would you ever trust a being who sustains an eternal torture chamber?!? You can't trust a guy who would even consider building such a place!. The god of the bible is just too stupid and mean to believe in.. "Love your enemies; I'm going to burn mine forever and ever in a lake of fire!"

      You believe that god had to sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself by exploiting a loophole in a plan he made himself because a talking snake convinced a rib-woman to eat a fruit that she couldn't know was wrong to eat until after she ate it because the fruit enabled her to see that her previous action was wrong even though she didn't know it at the time..

      How stupid is that?. But keep on believing it if it makes you feel good.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  9. Voice of Reason

    @reality says "A money-making scheme by the Silvermans "

    Rich families could buy high positions for their sons in the Catholic Church and this satisfied their belief that they would go to heaven and attain salvation. However, a peasant had to pay for a child to be christened (this had to be done as a first step to getting to heaven as the people were told that a non-baptised child could not go to heaven); you had to pay to get married and you had to pay to bury someone from your family in holy ground.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  10. priestnking

    This guy says he debated with future Rabbi's who could not come up with a reason to believe in God? That is pathetic! There are plenty of reasons to believe in God. How about the fact that you breathe in air into lungs? How about the miracle of child birth? How does the heart know to reverse the blood flow just as the child is being born, and just in time to suck that last bit of blood from the umbilicial cord before that happens? How is it that 2 million eggs and half of the dna for all future children are present in a baby girl upon birth? How did your body ever come to process energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) when ATP is required to make ATP? Since when do carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulful, phosphorus – the primary building blocks of biology- have ideas of their own, or any ideas at all? They are just atoms strung together to make molecules. Someone is being duped here, and it is the athiests, the biggest fools to ever live! The Bible declares, "The fool says in his heart there is no God." BELIEVE John 14:6

    March 24, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • momoya

      There are reasons for each of the questions you ask.. In some cases, science has not yet found the answer, so it keeps looking.. You are the one who doesn't really care how anything works or came to be because you can just sit back and say "Goddidit.". Atheists don't believe in supernatural beings who work magic.. You do..

      If you want to believe in a big magic daddy that you can't prove, you are free to do so.. Any old god belief will do since god never settles the debate among his believers.. God believers can believe anything they want about god, but are all stuck using the same math and physics.. Believe and worship in you big magic sky daddy, and let anybody else believe anything they want about a magic being who does magic in this world–nobody has any clue how to settle the issue..

      God believers claim to know, atheists honestly admit that they don't know.. That's really all there is to it.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Don't even begin to quote crap out of the bible. If you go down that path you will be opening-up yourself to explain all the carnage and genocide your god wrought upon the human race (the mere people he created). You say your god is all knowing then it would have known that it was going to happen and if that is the case what kind of god is that? Oh, I forgot, it's a mystery and something that man cannot understand.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • priestnking

      Voice of Reason, I can explain the carnage of which you speak. We live in a fallen world, and yes, God did know this would happen. If you want to point fingers you must go into the ancient past to the rebellion of the arch-angel now known as Satan. It was his rebellion in heaven that triggered this entire scenario. We live on a re-created planet that was inhabited by fallen supernatural beings before man was here, and the unseen influence the visible world to this day. This will all be reconciled in the final culmination of history when Jesus Christ returns, and makes a final defeat of Satan. You have the choice to pick a side now! Athiesm is a belief that denies all supernatural intelligence. Physics tells us that a supernatural intelligence is behind everything! They just keep creating more categories to explain it. Quantum mechanics sound familiar?

      March 24, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      I have had the opportunity to speak with fundamentalists and all of them are intellectually challenged. I sincerely believe there is a mental disorder that causes their intolerance to logic and reason. Can you honestly tell me without emotion that the earth is less than 10,000 years old? How about Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark, are these all facts to you? Are they proven facts? Who created your god?
      As a fundamentalist you will tell me that all of the above is true even in the face of logic (something your god created by the way). It truly is like talking to a child and telling them there is no santa or a rock that just lies there and I literally mean lies.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • whittfamily1

      None of the things you mentioned are sufficient reasons to believe in God. To call child birth a “miracle” is merely begging the question. The heart doesn’t “know” anything; it just beats. Carbon and the other elements you mentioned don’t have “ideas of their own;” only people have ideas. Some of the questions you asked have already been answered by science and some have yet to be adequately answered. “God” isn’t the correct answer by default for any of your questions; you have to demonstrate that it is beyond a reasonable doubt. So far, nobody has done that. The writer of the bible quote you gave was just engaging in ad hominem attack, probably because he did not have any reasonable replies to his critics.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Bonnie Blu

      @ priestnking:
      "If you want to point fingers you must go into the ancient past to the rebellion of the arch-angel now known as Satan. It was his rebellion in heaven that triggered this entire scenario. We live on a re-created planet that was inhabited by fallen supernatural beings before man was here, and the unseen influence the visible world to this day."

      Neat story. Can you point me to the Biblican passages it comes from?

      March 24, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  11. BoldGeorge

    Funny how in the article's photo, the Washington Obelisk can be seen right behind David Silverman, the American Atheist president. I don't know if many know this little fact but obelisks are phallic symbols related to the Egyptian Sun god, Ra. In other words, it's a pagan symbol. And I'm sure Mr. Silverman took this photo with the obelisk monument in-frame on purpose. I've always said it, atheism is not entirely god-free. It's just not for the God of the bible.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Steve

      Silverman got that right! There is no Ra.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Nat Q

      Luckily, no matter what you "always say," it doesn't make it true.

      You do realize that atheists, by the word's very definition, do not believe in ANY god or gods, right? Not even Ra.

      That you see grand lies and conspiracies everywhere you turn says far more about you than about atheists.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Bizarre


      I think you'd need to take that shape problem up with the monument's designer and the committee which approved it. (well, they are all long dead, but you get the idea). One of the early designs looks more like a giant "middle-finger" salute! –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument#Design

      How many preachers, politicians, civil-rights and religion-oriented gatherings and others have had their pictures taken with that monument in the background?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  12. Colin

    Are any of the regular atheist (or religious) bloggers who happen to be on line at the Reason Rally in DC today?

    March 24, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • I

      won't be there. enjoy ur freedom from undies.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • John Verkayk

      Love this – it never ceases to amaze me how people will believe thing out of fear – people should read (God hate you, hate him back) it just might wake some people up!

      March 24, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • John Verkayk

      Love this – it never ceases to amaze me how people will believe things out of fear – people should read (God hate you, hate him back) it just might wake some people up!

      March 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  13. Reality

    A money-making scheme by the Silvermans (the atheist version of the Graham family)?? Probably. Internet media networking is doing the same job at no cost and no trip to Washington and $1000 front row seats required.


    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    And then augmented by the following:

    Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    March 24, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • .....

      Hit report abuse on reality repeat garbage

      March 24, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  14. Dude

    The religion of atheism is indeed growing. It takes just as much "faith" to reject a God theory as it does to embrace one. I don't care if someone believes in God or believes there is no God. Stop trying to sell everyone else on YOUR beliefs like you KNOW what is the truth. It really offends atheists that there's a cross at the world trade center memorial? Really? It wouldn't bother you iif you weren't trying to force everyone to believe like you. The only defensible position is some measure of agnosticism. "I don't KNOW" is intellectually honest, and it leads to openness and acceptance. Too many people don't understand what it means to KNOW something anyway. Faith is not KNOWING. There's nothing wrong with faith–atheists and the religious both profess faith, but faith is a statement about what you believe–not what you KNOW. .

    March 24, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • AGuest9

      Science is not a belief. Mysticism is.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Colin

      Dude, I believe in Leprechauns and that the non-belief in leprechauns is a religion.

      I believe that the Leprechaun King created the entire Universe about 6,000 years ago. I know there is a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that the Universe is significantly older than this, but I think a lot of that evidence comes from bad science, or from a worldwide conspiracy of scientists who want to deny Leprechauns. I know this because it is written in the Leprechaun Chronicles, a book cobbled together from various authors, most unknown, by our church during the Dark Ages.

      The Leprechaun King lives in Leprechaun Heaven, where he where he busies himself answering prayers, running the Universe and recording the lives of humans for their final judgment before him. He is surrounded by an entire society of magical beings – his son Merlin, the Holy Leprechaun Spirit, the good fairy Mary, thousands of Leprechaun saints, fairies, pixies and the souls of many millions of dead people.

      I believe that the Leprechaun King loves me and hears my prayers. He intervenes in my life periodically by saving me from various ills. All I have to do is think to myself and he reads my mind and answers my prayers. He loves me and when I die, provided I have lived a good life, I will go to Leprechaun Heaven, where I will live happily ever after with all other humans who have ever led good lives.

      I know there is not a lot of evidence to support my beliefs, but that is just the point. The Leprechaun King wants us to
      have “faith,” so he never reveals himself. To make an unambiguous appearance and settle once and for all the question of his existence would deprive us of free will and, even though he is all-knowing, he would not know who his true believers were.

      In fact, I believe that the Leprechaun King is “beyond understanding”. He is “outside the Universe” and any time I am faced with something about my Leprechaun belief that makes no sense, I don’t dare question it, I just close my mind and tell myself that my mind is too small to understand the greatness of the Leprechaun King. These answers are satisfying to me.

      Some people are called “atheists,” and they are skeptical of my belief in the Leprechaun King. They point out many inherent contradictions and unsupported assumptions that underwrite my belief in Leprechauns. But, they can’t prove he doesn’t exist, so he must exist. And so what! Even if I am wrong, and go my whole life believing in Leprechauns and it turns out I am wrong, I have lost nothing. However, if they are wrong, the Leprechaun King will send them to hell to burn forever in the presence of the Evil Ground Troll.

      Am I convincing you to believe in Leprechauns yet?

      Perhaps, Dude, if you reflect on why you do not think a non-belief in Leprechauns is a religion, nor believe in them, you will understand why I do not believe in the various Christian supernatural beings.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • What Now

      Dude, I understand what you are trying to say. However, non-belief is a total lack of faith. Faith, as you yourself say, is not knowing. I know there is evolution, as we see it everyday. There is no evidence to support a god. Yet by your logic, Santa could indeed be real. We will never all agree. That is understandable, as we are all different. What we must do is learn to allow others to have their beliefs or non-beliefs. My only problem with religion is when they ignore reality/factual data and push for laws, education and healthcare based on their faith.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Bear

      Dude, you are a poe, right?

      "The religion of atheism is indeed growing. It takes just as much "faith" to reject a God theory as it does to embrace one."

      Atheism is in NO way a religion. The ONLY thing atheism means is a lack of a belief in a god or gods. Period. That's it. It takes NO "faith" to not accept and unfounded claim. I reject the claim of a god's existence until such a thing can be proven empirically. Same way I reject the claim of vampires, werewolves, or a tribe of purple monkey men living in the center of the moon until those claims are proven. And not a one of those requires "faith." Even if they did, the single faith in a single claim does not a "religion" make.

      " It really offends atheists that there's a cross at the world trade center memorial? Really?"

      Some, yes.
      It offends me–not because of what it is, per se, but because the whole attack was predicated by religious beliefs and responding to that with a brazen display of more religion DOES offend me. It does turn this terrorist action into the holy war they wanted, phrases it in the context they want and use to recruit and justify further action. People of ALL religions and creeds died that day and funding the display of ONE of their religions with public funds and in response to an attack justified by another religion is sickening.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Bear

      Just to clarify myself a little, I don't believe the attacks on the Trade Center were about religion at the end of the day. They were about a variety of policies–including economics, political, and religious as well. However, the way they recruited people to commit suicide missions–and the grounds on which people were willing to do so–WERE purely religious. Religion may not have been the "cause" per se, but it most certainly allowed for the method.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  15. AusieSceptic1

    for all your prayer, Kathryn Albanese- fred phelps will still picket funerals and the taliban will continue to be murderous oppressors

    March 24, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  16. CharlieSeattle

    The only Heaven or Hell anyone will ever see is will be on this earth.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  17. Kathryn Albanese

    I will pray for you all.

    March 24, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      and for all your prayer atheists will still be atheists and you will continue to believe a myth

      March 24, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Colin

      Thank you Kathryn, and we will think for you.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • just sayin

      Colin can't think for itself don't count on it thinking for others.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      just sayin is just dumb.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 24, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      and which things would they be?

      March 24, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • just sayin

      pick some

      March 24, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Colin

      Just Sayin, I can pick about 7,000.

      Most of the United States Armed Forces come from blue collar backgrounds. They are generally the sons, and increasingly the daughters of lower to middle income families, often from rural or small town America. As such, they tend to be strong Christians. Not all, but certainly the vast majority of members of the US Armed Forces are Christians and/or have come from devotedly Christian families.

      I have little doubt of the nightly anguish and worry the parents of these soldiers must go through when their child is away at war. They must fret constantly that tomorrow may be the day that a black car from the Defense Department arrives to tell them their child has been killed in action. Sleeping must be a difficult and stilted experience.

      Given their religious convictions, these parents must pray for the safety of their children on a regular basis. As at writing, approximately 5,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and 2,000 in Afghanistan. Clearly the vast majority of the parents of these dead soldiers prayed regularly. They must have pleaded to God for the safe return of their child every day. I can think of no greater circu.mstance where, if the Christian god were real, a prayer should be answered. A devout, pious Christian parent, who has lived according to the dictates of the Bible, pleading with God for nothing more than that their son or daughter not be blown to pieces while doing their duty for their country. It does not seem a lot to ask of an omnipotent, loving god.

      Yet the body bags mount. And they mount with complete indifference to the religion, morality or piousness of the soldiers and their families. There is absolutely no reason to think that these good families who literally made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, were somehow ignored for being less pious or deserving than their surviving brothers-in-arms. Of course, on the other side of the lines, many thousands of Muslim parents are suffering the same gut wrenching losses as their prayers to Allah go unanswered and their children are killed.

      Of course we can come up with the usual, predictable ways to explain away the various gods' inactions – they move in mysterious ways, it is all part of their grand plan, we cannot know why they do what they do etc., etc. It is odd, however, that total inaction and statistical indifference is exactly what we would expect if there were no gods.

      Let's be honest. Praying for miracles is useless. Useless regardless of your god. Useless for the simple reason that there is nothing there to hear your prayers. You are pleading to a vacuum, imploring a shadow. You are fooling yourself if you think your prayers are periodically “answered.” You are relying, like an addicted gambler, on the periodic reinforcement of A before B means A caused B. In this sense, and as discomforting as it may be, religion can really be seen as little more than reluctance to accept the fact that the Universe simply does not give a da.mn one way or the other about human beings.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  19. Lucifer

    Atheism is a Religion as well, just notifying all those smart people that are loyal readers of this C N N . The more mental midgets reading this garbage, the easier my job is. Sit back as you reap your rewards for, sitting back so many times before as society was demoralized in front of your face. (insert evil laugh here)

    March 24, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  20. Keith

    Hey Prothero, Gilgoff,and Marrapodi, I've got another story you seem to have overlooked:
    Saudi Grand Mufti: 'Destroy All Churches'

    Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region."
    Why don't you guys pull your heads out of your asses, quit being hypocrites, and show us your pet religion of "love, peace, and tolerance" in action? Or is islam your 2nd favorite-right behind atheism?
    The Crescent News Network strikes again!
    C'mon you guys. You could run a story about the Saudi Grand Mufti saying how all the churches should be destroyed right next to one with Imam Rauf wanting to build the Ground Zero mosque so such things can be brought to our continent.

    March 24, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor Keith. Sad when someone is fixated.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor Keith. Sad when someone is so delusional and isn't getting any therapy.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • AGuest9

      They will eventually fall down from disuse. People are starting to buy abandoned churches and convert them into lavish homes.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Maple

      Keith-Crescent news network is not interested in reporting the truth.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If that's your delusion, Maple, you and Keith the Nut should go somewhere more "truthful", like the National Enquirer.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Keith

      Maple, In case you're new here, Tom Tom doesn't think that Israel bombed a Syrian nuke facility in 2007. Her reasoning is, "If cnn didn't report it, it did not happen". She's just nuts. A Kool-Aid chugger.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
About this blog

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