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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. Pete

    So 10,000 to 20,000 effeminate men and masculine women will converge on the National Mall on Saturday?

    Poor Washington DC!

    March 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Gettin My Freak On

      I didn't know the American idol finals were being held the same day.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • JoJo

      I believe 10,000 macho mass murdering war monging religious bigots are also convening. You can join them.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Brett

      You don't have the balls to be an atheist, Pete. You're a scared little sissy, conforming to peer pressure of your friends to believe in the tooth fairy.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Gettin My Freak On

      I thought the Republican Convention wasn't until the summer

      March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • ammamaw

      oh Pete! Really?! You really have been brainwashed to think that way?

      March 24, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  2. Daniel

    Hmm..interesting article. I am glad to see atheism grow. Maybe in 20 years we can have some rationally minded people in government. Let's pray about it...

    March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @ Daniel:

      Are you serious?

      Look at the implications of atheist ideology:

      If there is no God, then we are no more than mere animals who face an unknown future and chances are we wont be much more than that; has evolution evolved any spirit beings or life on planes of existence beyond the physical? Wherefore:

      a. the animal kingdom is governed by drives and and instincts, not rational thought or moral/ethical standards.
      b. moral truth cannot be proven no one knows what is absolutely right/wrong... hence right and wrong are abstract concepts.

      What are the chances that people who believe these things will operate with integrity and ethical standard?

      Would you expect

      March 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  3. AKW

    Atheism is not neutral. It is a view of reality that ought to have to compete with other ideas. Unfortunately, it has special privilege status in the Western world.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Gettin My Freak On

      ...just like all religious beliefs have taboo status for providing credible support for their incredible assertions.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Brett

      There has never been a single U.S. President that was an atheist, and only 1 member of Congress. Some privlege status.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Adam

      They don't believe in the divinity of Zeus either, does that make you feel better?

      March 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Sean

      @Brett
      Correction, there has never been a US President that was openly atheist. Statistically, it is likely that there have been several Presidents who were atheist that claimed to be religious. Also, there have been Presidents who were Deists, who may believe in a supernatural creator but don't believe that any such creator has any interest in the goings on of their creation, and as such would believed laws and policy created based on the belief in such a creator would be ill conceived and not in the best interests of the world.
      Atheists generally don't care if theists want to spend their sundays in worship of the almighty rice puff of buddha christ jehova smith, they just want those beliefs to stay personal and out of government and the decision making and policy setting that currently goes on in their name. If the want to waste their sunday, fine. They shouldn't assume that their belief gives them a right to dictate what goes on in the lives (or pants, or beds, or reproductive organs) of others.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Sean

      @Brett
      Hrm... My comment may have been misdirected, and should have been intended as a general comment, not a reply to your statement. Apologies, good sir.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  4. Gettin My Freak On

    I wonder if Piers Morgan will have him on and confront him on why he doesn't get a raging bone for Jesus like he does.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  5. thoughtful

    I'm not sure what the problem is? In America we all have the right to believe what we want. If you want to believe in little green men, that's fine. It seems to me they're really upset because the rest of the world doesn't believe the way they do. I don't think anyone has come up in the street and yelled "oh my God!!! he's an athiest" look at him!!! I feel sorry for anyone the is looking for approval of others to believe they way they do. I think Hitler tried that already, the Romans tried it, people will believe what they want to believe. Why must everyone think alike!!

    March 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  6. larper2

    There must be a God and anti-Christ because this man, being the anti-Christ, is threaten by the Righteous.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Kevin

      This guy is very intelligent, but what he's doing is worse than preaching the Bible to others, because he is mocking others' belief. For shame.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • JoJo

      He's threatened by religious hypocrites like you. So was Jesus.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      Actually, I think the "anti-Christ" is more accurately translated "ante-Christ"... because the opposite of a thing is simply its other side; for example, hot and cold are both phases of temperature.

      "Ante"-Christ is more fitting also because none can know God except God Himself (and the Elect, Messiah). So for someone to truly, factually resist God; he must have the assistance of God because you cannot wilfully resist what you don't know...

      Therefore while Christ Himself accomplished the positive aspect of the Salvation objective (acceptance of the willing), the Ante-Christ will accomplish the negative aspect of the Salvation objective (destruction of the resistant).

      So these people that are practising their atheism and agnosticism are not even properly rebelling against God (in my opinion)... but they do mark a turning point in the coming of the "next phase" or "the end times"...

      March 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  7. Rob

    Very cool! Mr Silverman is fulfilling scripture Mthhew 24:4-14

    " 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

    9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."'

    March 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • asdf

      If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone pretend that a nebulous scripture passage perfectly applied to a given situation, I'd have enough money to molest boys and get away with it like the Catholic Church.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Huh?

      "9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. "

      That really fits Bin Laden doesn't it? Or how about Witches, or gays, or blacks....

      March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  8. the breeze

    I think you would be shocked by the amount of people who "go along to get along",take away this IMMENSE PEER PRESSURE" called religion and the majority would be asnostic

    March 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      Are you serious?

      So what do you do when you adhere to the theories that these scientists conjure up "following your own sense of reason and independent capacity for logic and reality"?

      March 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  9. Mike

    Thankfully I see the numbers of atheists and agnostics increasing in colleges. As students become more educated and independent they learn to reject the fallacies and lies their parents attempted to indoctrinate them in.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • AKW

      That is exactly what liberal universities do...indoctrinate.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Sid

      I think it was Pascal (a Christian) who wagered, "If I'm wrong I have nothing to lose. If you're wrong you have everything to lose."

      March 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • What IF

      Sid, "If I'm wrong I have nothing to lose..."

      Sure you do. Besides losing your time and money and energy to a fantasy...

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      March 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Adam

      Sid: You lose your ability for rational thought, probably one of the most valuable things humans have.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      For your information, no one is born a believer... even Jesus is said to have been found questioning the teachers in the temple when He was a child. We are agnostic and atheistic from birth.

      That reveals that God is not offended when you pretend that he does not exist, it is you who will suffer for your own negligence.

      Notice that if you rub your hand against a sharp object it will cut you whether you knew it was there or not; whether you believed it could cut you or not.

      Besides those who claim atheism find themselves accepting a fairy tale none the less... science cannot trace existence beyond matter and energy; so at one point they imply that things popped into existence.

      Not even the bible suggests that; because it said the "Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters... and there was light" (suggesting agitation of some fluid or gas to generate some form of combustion). So even the "fairy tale" is more consistent with reality than atheists' so-called scientific theories.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @ Mike:
      For your information, no one is born a believer... even Jesus is said to have been found questioning the teachers in the temple when He was a child. We are agnostic and atheistic from birth.

      That reveals that God is not offended when you pretend that he does not exist, it is you who will suffer for your own negligence.

      Notice that if you rub your hand against a sharp object it will cut you whether you knew it was there or not; whether you believed it could cut you or not.

      Besides those who claim atheism find themselves accepting a fairy tale none the less... science cannot trace existence beyond matter and energy; so at one point they imply that things popped into existence.

      Not even the bible suggests that; because it said the "Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters... and there was light" (suggesting agitation of some fluid or gas to generate some form of combustion). So even the "fairy tale" is more consistent with reality than atheists' so-called scientific theories.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  10. the breeze

    I'm not ATHIEST,I'm agnostic.......all I ask is proof...is that too much to ask for? Asking for proof has served me well so far in life,I recommend it over faith

    March 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Sean

      Atheist and agnostic refer to different things. Atheism refers to belief, and agnostic refers to knowledge. As an atheist you don't believe in the existence of god. The label of agnostic means you either know there is no god, or you don't know if there is a god. You can be an agnostic atheist, or an agnostic theist, but either way agnostic is a modifier.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • I_get_it

      the breeze,

      Good. It sounds like you are not theistic then, right? You are an atheist... it's ok to say so.

      Theism/atheism has to do with belief.
      Gnosticism/agnosticism has to do with knowledge.

      Agnostic atheist would describe your stance, I'd say.

      But, I understand your trepidation - "agnostic" is a less 'charged' word for many folks.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Sean,

      Bingo! (I was still typing when your post came up).

      March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @ the breeze:

      Proof is not impossible, it is complicated (for some). Its not that proof cant be given... but not everybody will be satisfied with the same things, so you must decide what specifically you would like to be proven.

      Example: I want physical proof of the statement "In God we live and have our being". I am the type of person who will be satisfied when I can see consistency between what I lam hearing and what I know/experience. So if someone told me...

      "a. All physical things have a limit: that which has no limit is not physical but infinite;
      b. God is infinite: God is not physical;
      c. The universe has no borders, hence it is an infinite space: the physical exists in the universe an infinite space."

      ...From that I may be satisfied and conclude that:
      The empty space termed the "universe" is the the "body" of God and planets etc and like "organs" of this "body"... hence the statement "In God we live and have our being" is valid ACCORDING TO THE TYPE OF TRUTH I REQUIRE.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  11. [VOE] Voice of E.VILLE

    Interestingly, science cannot account for anything beyond matter and energy; so these "rational", "logical" scientists essentially beleive that things just "poof" and appeared out of nowhere.

    Why do I say that? Because after you trace their concept back to the big bang, there is nothing to account for the origin of the factors that generated the big bang... where did the masses of gasses and energy and particles come from?

    But there is no way a person who would claim that things just "popped" into existence can be rational or logical... LOL

    March 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • asdf

      There are various theories among the brightest minds in the world as to what "created" (that's a loaded term, but I don't have a better one) our universe. Each one is more valid than "the guy in this book I read".

      March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Fairy Tales

      Ignorance is bliss. It's called the Conservation of Energy law – matter and energy can not be *created* or *destroyed* it simply changes form. To break it down in simple terms for you: It's accepted that energy and matter have always existed – no need for a fairy tale man to conjure it up. If your method of for disproving science is "asking people" – please don't drive or operate heavy machinery. Or, if you must ask someone, try asking around Iran.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Sean

      And yet theists would have you believe that everything just poofed into existence at the whim of an imaginary wizard they call god. The commonly used creationist argument of "something can't come from nothing" therefore it must have come from god is self defeating. Who created god? If no one created god, then god is "something" that came from "nothing". If no one created god, then god is "something" who came from "nothing". You can't have it both ways. The answer is "we don't KNOW where the universe came from". That is different than "the universe came from nothing".

      March 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Chris

      Yet...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Sean

      Correct. Yet. We don't know where the universe came from yet.

      We may never know, but that is still different than "it came from nothing", and just because we don't KNOW where it came from (yet) doesn't automatically mean it came from god.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.VILLE

      @asdf:

      Each one appears more valid than the guy in the book you have read, because the people who wrote about “him” barely understood “him” themselves; not necessarily because “he” is false or non-existent.

      The "guy" in the book would rather have you approach him personally and have your own experience of him than to rely on what someone just as ignorant as you to show tell you truth. So it you want to validate his claims... go ask him yourself.

      March 24, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @Sean
      Ah, a seasoned thinker... thank God. But you misunderstand the expression almost completely.
      The word “nothing” does not imply none existence. The word “nothing” describes a state that is free from matter/particle; hence “no-thing”. Therefore, to say that God made some-thing out of no-thing, suggests that God created matter from something that had no material properties...

      Now about the “creation” of God:
      The fact is that in the beginning, there could have been only one thing, and that thing is Reality/Truth: that which is, was and that which is not, was not. So we see God Identifying Himself as the "manifestation" of truth/reality saying: “I am, I was and will be”... the word Yahweh (I am...) is an expression for “Active” Truth or “the living truth”).

      So the implication is that the thing which really existed in the beginning is God (or embodies Him)... or in other words, it is God that defined the existent. Now there is nothing wrong with not believing in a character called "God" as society suggests, you might even be more accurate if you referred to God as "It"...

      March 24, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  12. Mott the Hoople

    Wow. Yet another Jewish atheist. Who would have thunk it?

    March 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      Actually there is no burden of proof for those that are not interested to prove anything. The burden of proof rests on those who care...

      Yet I am quite able to prove that God exists as well as that he does not exist (He reveals quite a lot about Himself). It is you who are not prepared to look properly at what you hear or read.

      You see, existence is like a coin. It has two faces (the IS and NOT) which are equally real; that which IS, truly is and that which NOT, truly not, so we define/identify reality both by what "IS" and what "NOT".

      So if I say God is existent, I am focusing on the positive side of the reality... and if I say God is not existent, I am focusing on the negative aspect of reality. Just like the two sides of a coin, none of the two states are more valid or real than the other...

      What does your logic and your scientists say about that?

      March 24, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  13. Ozzy

    As an atheist, I'm glad a group like this exists. I'm glad they're getting organized and making their voices heard. That said, I don't agree with AAs modus operandi. Silverman, while passionate, is a jerk, and would rather ridicule and alienate all people of faith, rather than find a common ground we can all agree on.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.VILLE

      He is only paving the way for other Atheist like yourself... in order for their plan to work, there must be people like you who can act as a "go between", to moderate between atheists and people of faith.

      But seriously, do you think these people have any real interest in reason?

      Can they actually prove that God doesn't exist?

      Of course not... because if a thing does not exist, then it has no association with the real world to test prove or disprove its potential. So whether or not God exists, you wont be able to prove empirically that he doesnt...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Sean

      @[VOE] Voice of E.VILLE
      It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something, and the rules of logic dictate that the responsibility to prove the existence of a thing is squarely on the shoulders of the person or persons positing the existence of that thing.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @Sean:

      Actually there is no burden of proof for those that are not interested to prove anything. The burden of proof rests on those who care...

      Yet I am quite able to prove that God exists as well as that he does not exist (He reveals quite a lot about Himself). It is you who are not prepared to look properly at what you hear or read.

      You see, existence is like a coin. It has two faces (the IS and NOT) which are equally real; that which IS, truly is and that which NOT, truly not, so we define/identify reality both by what "IS" and what "NOT".

      So if I say God is existent, I am focusing on the positive side of the reality... and if I say God is not existent, I am focusing on the negative aspect of reality. Just like the two sides of a coin, none of the two states are more valid or real than the other...

      What does your logic and your scientists say about that?

      March 24, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  14. JIm

    I'm glad someone is fighting for Reason in this country. Religion is one of the greatest evils that we simply must abolish if we are to have any chance of survival as a species.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @Jim:

      I agree that religion should be abolished; but I insist that the practice of seeking God continue.

      Religion is a set of concepts arranged by men no more enlightened than a two year old. But the fact that life/evolution or whatever has reached this point warrants the question: "what else is out there?"

      You see, the existence of God or anything for that matter, has nothing to do with religion, beliefs, morals, values etc.: what is the moral standard or religion of a rock or a tree? So either God exists or He does not; that is independent of religion and belief systems.

      Now, notice that scientist believe that there is life in other galaxies... so why cant they believe that there is life in other states other than what we know to be physical?

      March 24, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  15. the breeze

    He won't live long,believers love to kill

    March 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  16. phillybear

    This is not a problem, all you need to do is prove that he is wrong. So, c'mon all you thumpers, prove him wrong.I mean real proof.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Just a thought...

      God is real, because I feel his presence in my heart! ...and he hath spoken to me.

      HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      ...what a joke...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  17. foro

    Mr Silverman and his followers are just another "religious" group. They believe they have the truth and the others are wrong. Their religion does not include God. I admire their faith in nothing to create life. Nevertheless Is pathetic.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Brett

      I admire your faith in nothing to create God.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  18. Tim

    By the very definition of omnipotence God is responsible for all evil in the world, and for the works of satan – if you believe God allows free will it is another matter – then God is still guilty for the evil by willful negligence

    Either way God/Religion=Evil

    March 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Kevin

      Just like parents are responsible for the evils their kids get into. Directly responsible.

      Yeah. You y logic no son amigos.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • gmmmmkkklaaaaaaaa

      Who are you to judge GOD.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      Brilliant.. well argued!

      As a matter of fact, God takes responsibility for "evil"; in Isaiah 45 He states "...IT IS I WHO CREATE GOOD AND FORM EVIL..."

      But the real question is: who's wilful negligence are we suffering for; ours or God's? Follow me:

      The problem is not with evil and good; the problem arises from our lack of knowledge of what is real good and real evil. A fool will destroy himself even with what is beneficial to health (e.g. an overdose of vitamin A). As such, God presents Himself as "someone" who can help us understand and control things by our knowledge... using both good and evil means AS APPROPRIATE.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  19. Gettin My Freak On

    I don't believe in astrology either. I just don't see a need to gather in that sense either.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Brett

      If 99% of your representatives in Congress and EVERY U.S. President in history was an astrologist, then perhaps you would.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Adam

      Yeah, but Astrologists don't want to have laws passed that make a belief in Astrology a requirement to have the full rights of citizenship. They also don't bash and persecute people who don't believe in Astrology. They don't require that anyone who runs for president, first and foremost believe in Astrology. The list goes on.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  20. BVN

    The hubris of Mankind knows no bounds.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Amused

      I agree! That is precisely how and why religion was created. Atheism si NOT a belief system. It is simply the LACK of belief.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • JoJo

      "Atheism is NOT a belief system. It is simply the LACK of belief." Atheistic and agnostic humanists DO believe in something - human reason, compassion, science and progress. When you believe in folklore fairy tales, you in effect believe in things that don't existence and therefore believe in NOTHING.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • God

      like you have any idea what you're talking about.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @ JoJo:

      You are quite right... well said. There is nothing wrong with atheism and agnosticism (we have no knowledge nor belief of God at birth). But let me show you something, follow me:

      Just because you dont know about a thing, doent make it false or non-existent. And just because you cant sense something with the body, doesnt mean it is not present (look at micro waves etc).

      But again, there is nothing wrong with atheism and agnosticism; the problem is with people who interpret knowledge and experiences based on their prejudices and biases. The people who cll themselves atheists and agnostics refuse to consider that what they accept or believe may be flawed. They do not check to see if what they discover and experience might be compatible or consistent with the idea of an existing "God". For example, evolution theory is not in conflict with the idea of a Creator; because order and structure is physically more likely to occur under intelligent control, than from mindless, chaotic, randomly moving particles and waves and energies.

      What I'm saying is if you value knowledge, examine knowledge properly. If you value logic, examine logic properly. If you value the results of experiments or experiences, examine them properly. Dont just reject or deny something simply because it doesn't fit in with what you already believe or it goes against what you expect or feel comfortable with.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:16 am |
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About this blog

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