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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. Victor

    Have fun burning in hell!! They want to combat believing in God? They want to make me "unbeliever" You gonna die trying!!

    March 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      That's the spirit. You can go back and have more french fried taters now...uh huh.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • JakeAZ

      yeaaaahaw *shoots guns into sky* time to go get me some moonshine and an attractive cousin.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Maya

      You can believe whatever you want. We just want you to leave us alone and stop making us subsidize your religion.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Huh?

      "Have fun burning in hell!"

      There is no hell.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      stunningly dumb. Everybody dies.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • BigSkyHumanist

      Even if your God was real and hell was real, I would refuse to worship such an evil deity

      March 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @VICTOR:
      Spoken like a true victor... 🙂 Keep it up.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @BigSkyHumanist:

      You humanists are an interesting bunch. You blind yourselves to the severe aspect of human nature... the mass murderers are still humans.

      So to embrace the ideology of Humanism, you must embrace our evil aspect as well as our positive aspects; therefore you are hypocritical in justifying your refusal to believe in an "evil deity". Dont you see that there are humans that are making life a living hell for others?

      Furthermore, the concepts you have of this "hell" are misguided... "Hell" is used to represent the mind in a state of terror or extreme depression (hence hell mentioned a a pit, a pit is a "depression"); an analogy is used to describe a state of mental anguish and terror as a hellish experience. It is written "they shall be turned into hell, they that forget God..." Hence it is not a place that you go, it is more accurately a "thing" that you become.

      So you see, your grasp of the concept of God are very misinformed and misguided... That is why you MAY be forgiven, for the Elect said "FORGIVE THEM... FOR THEY KNOW NOT..."

      March 24, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  2. just sayin

    Good idea, wrong location. Gather all the atheists onto a small ship then drop them off in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Those that make the swim back to shore will be forever cured of their stupidity.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • wow

      thanks for proving your not a christian but a disgusting troll who is emotionally immature – grow up.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      The gods that we've made are exactly the gods you'd expect to be made by a species that's about half a chromosome away from being chimpanzee.
      – Christopher Hitchens

      March 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      @just sayin' – Spoken like a true Christian. Way to represent your kind.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hitchens? Isn't that the dead atheist guy who wasted his life writing for a third rate magazine, blaspheming God and abusing his body? His throat rotted out on him didn't it? I'd be real anxious to follow him if i were you.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life – except religion.
      Christopher Hitchens (The Lord and the Intellectuals, 1982)

      March 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • just sayin

      Better to loose ones life than to cause innocents to be kept away from God.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hitchens is still dead isn't he?

      March 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      lose
      – at least learn to spell

      March 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      lose
      – at least learn to spell your nonsense

      March 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Stooge Fan

      Why have no other chimpanzee (your word) change to a human form in the last 2000 years? Just asking. Here is something to think about, What if you are wrong about God?

      March 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Is this one of those Pascal's wager questions. Let's just say that if I am wrong, I would have lots of questions for the great leader. Right now, the hypothesis right now is that pending any credible evidence to the contrary, the probability that a diety exists is incredibly low.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  3. Pete

    what this guy doesn't even realize is that atheism in itself is a form of religion. Religion is man's attempt to get to God (in whatever form you believe Him to take). Atheism is no different. His "god" is a lack thereof, and ultimately, science and himself.

    It is unfortunate that so many "religious" people have smeared the line and now its all lumped together. Truth is, God isn't about religion at all. Jesus came so that we wouldn't have to create our own way to God.
    Christianity, in its true form and definition, is no more a 'religion' than a marriage between 2 people.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • wow

      Same shit another post, guess you can't read the other comments. Wow....and we go round and round in a circle.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      @Pete – Stop stressing your two brain cells. You make no sense but nice try.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  4. LAIBACH

    I applaud Mr. Silverman.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  5. wisdom4u2

    I can't even imagine why anyone with a brain would even care what these clowns do. After all: “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Vine, and you are the branches; whoever abides with me and I in him, this one brings forth much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
    I really like this part "....because without me, you can do nothing.” So awesome.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • BigSkyHumanist

      What have you done, that I can't do? Oh I forgot, it takes religion for a good man to do bad things in the name of god.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Ah, duhhh. It's a quote from the Bible, doof!

      March 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Ha

      What is really sad is that you think you made a point by quoting nonsense. Words from a book of propaganda meant to recruit the simple minded.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Again, it's a quote from the Bible, doofus. It doesn't matter what you ignorant doofs have to say....the Bible has been around a heck of a lot longer than you two put together. I'll take the Bible for $500.00, Bob.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  6. Oh Yeah

    Why didn't god give man dominion over microrganisms and bacteria when they clearly had, and still have, dominion over us?

    March 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Not really. Anything that God has created is needed and used for a purpose.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • JakeAZ

      once a had a co-worker try to convert me to christianity by saying "apples fit in our hands so perfectly because they were made by god for us" i looked him in the eye and said "worms also eat apples and they have no hands." he had to think of another example. and another and another. it never ends.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      your 'co-worker' sounds like worms ate his brain.....just saying

      March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  7. jestsurfin

    The only thing more annoying and persistent than a prosyletizing religist is a prosyletizing athiest. Mirror images of santimony and self-righteousness

    March 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Religion is not healthy for children and other living things.

      The only thing nothing more annoying than a prosthelytizing religious nut is a prosthelytizing religious nut that can't spell prosthelytizing.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • jestsurfin

      Heh. Education for the loss. I agree. There IS nothing more annoying than an uneducated nut trying to correct an educated nut and failing to be correct. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proselytize
      Also failing to proofread their own post and catching egregious grammar mistakes.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  8. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things.

    Prayer changes nothing.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  9. Jem

    I will forever place the Bible outside my hotel door.
    What a creepy book: used to legitimize slavery, misogyny and the murder of nonbelievers.

    ATHEISTS ARE HERE!!!!

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

      I LOVE that idea! I'm going to do that every time I travel now, too. Silverman may just have spurred a new trend without intention. Brilliant!

      March 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Praying for you

      Just like my name says, I will be praying for you and all the others, that one day you will believe. I am not trying to start anything, i just want you and all the others to know there is somebody that care enough to die on the cross for your sins and mine. Have a Great Weekend.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Eugene

      Try to live in North Korea or Cuba, then you may realize how good our belief is. We have real freedom because of the Biblical principles are being applied. Go to any countries where there is no Biblical principles are practiced, you will know how the situations are those countries. You have the freedom to express your opinions to day, simply because Biblical principles or else the countries will experience anarchy – No human lives will be respected. Study the history and learn the real truth. That would really set you free indeed.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  10. Oh Yeah

    DC catholic priests will be providing free daycare to young boys only during the rally.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |

    • Dawkins should be perfectly ok with that so long as they are "gentle pedophiles".

      March 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • GreenieInPA

      Love it, Oh Yeah! Quite witty.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  11. community

    I think the one thing Mr. Silverman missed is that beyond your religious views it does not matter if you believe in god. It’s about belonging to community. I'm sorry that he had the experiences he did feeling as though he had to believe in god to have a Bar Mitzvah, and that he was quick to let his daughter do the same, without giving thought to the fact that a bar/bat mitzvah can be planned without any thing to do with god, it’s about joining the community as a full member. You do not have to be a god fearing or even believing person to be part of a community. I only wish this was acknowledged in what the Atheists are doing. It feels as though they are trying to destroy community instead of trying to build understanding within the communities.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • JakeAZ

      that doesn't make a lot of sense. atheists are still a part of the community. most of my friends and family are atheists...they are regular people who belong to various social groups.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • kyle

      No, the religious people have been dividing communities since time immortal. You have the first baptist church on main street in a town and a methodist opens up across the street. You have people like the couple in this article who put off being a loving family because they are afraid of the religious gap. Right now one of the biggest problems in our country is islamophobia, and one of the main issues is the separateness of the believers of islam, they won't allow their children to marry people of different faiths. It is the reason antisemitizem has been so prevalent throughout history, that they separate themselves from the national community (also one of the reasons jewish people are so often lax with their beliefs).

      March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • David

      @community: First community and atheism are not mutually exclusive. You can belong to a community without sacrificing free thought. What you seem to allude too is exactly what an Atheist would take a stance against. To accept something just because you want to fit in or to be part of a community is what we would call herd mentality. Something that has caused some of the worst atrocities in the history of man. At the heart of Atheism is to seek the truth, unlike religion which is to seek reward. Community is an important aspect of human nature, but so is free expression and seeking knowledge.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • community

      All I'm trying to say is that if you want to be part Jewish, Muslim, etc. you can be part of that community without believing in god. If somebody does not accept you for who you are then thats fine. You dont have to do anything you want, but in the article, it says he did not believe in god so he did not want a bar mitzah, his daughter did not believe in god she did not want a bat mitzvah. Why did it not say she did not want it because they did not want to be part of the Jewish community. being athiest and Jewish do not cancel out, if your community does not accept you, I can promiss there is one that will.
      @David – you are not believing in god or have to believe the torah or anything like that, you just have to say, I am jewish, you are jewish, we have something in common. herd mentality has nothing to do with it, you its a way to make friends, you go play basketball, maybe thats how you connect with the community.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • [VOE] Voice of E.Ville

      @ COMMUNITY:

      Thats what mr. silverman wants you poor lunatics to think.

      This "community" building is just to infiltrate other systems and syphon off some of its members and influential agents into their little freak show.

      If Mr. Silverman is so interested in the prevalence of reason over "falsehood" why doesnt he start by protesting against the insane policies formed by governments around the world that oppress people. Why doesnt he appeal to nation's leaders to stop oppressing people with absurd ideologies that cant possible help every one to achieve freedom, power and happiness?

      Furthermore, the inventors and scientists who have contributed to the development of the world today and believe that it is God who led and assisted them; are their contributions false or imaginary?

      March 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  12. Brett

    One pair of hands at work is worth a thousand pairs of hands clasped in prayer.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Jim

      YES...Put down your bible torah or whatever fairytale you read and get to work!

      March 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  13. Jesus H. Christ

    THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A GOD OR GODS. OF THE THOUSANDS OF GODS HUMANS HAVE INVENTED THEY WERE ALL MADE UP JUST AS HUMANS MAKE UP A LOT OF JUNK.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  14. chemistphil

    Evangelical Christians tell people they are going to hell because they are gay, use birth control, etc. "Evangelical Atheists" tell people they are mentally ill for believing in god. Both groups are making insensitive and intentionally inflammatory remarks that they know full well are hurtful. Would someone please give me a reasoned, emotionless argument as to how the two are different?

    March 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • mark from canada

      Your second part about Athiests is myth. I'm an Athiest and I understand completely that people that hold belief in God are intelligent. They believe in a fable, but they are intelligent about it. You are spreading a common myth about Athiests – there are some douffuses out there that talk smack about others, but you can't attribute that reasoned thinkers.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • mark from canada

      you cant attribute that to ALL reasoned thinkers.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • no.

      no.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • BigSkyHumanist

      There is a difference between being irrational and insane. All of us are irrational about something. It's not what you believe, it's how one acts on those beliefs that determines what kind of person you are.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  15. Jesus H. Christ

    HERE ME MY PEOPLE OF CNN!

    REJOICE IN INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION BASED ON REALITY!!!!

    March 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |

    • hear

      March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Jesus was most likely illiterate.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • ammamaw

      Most likely, Oh Yeah. But if he did exist he probably was a pretty cool guy. I figure kind of a John Lennon of his time.

      March 24, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  16. Ed Sommers

    This country lacks at least one very important freedom:
    Freedom From Religion. Demand it.

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

      No, you got that already. You are free not to worship.

      If you want to force others NOT to worship, then you are not gonna gain any ground in this country.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  17. Todd E.

    So...he believes in atheism? Atheism is a spiritual movement (whether he wants to admit it or not) whereby each man can proclaim himself his own god. Even an atheist must admit that there are powers in the universe greater than himself. Try holding back the waves of the ocean. Yes, I understand the physics behind the tides and wave formation and I'm not suggesting that anyone worship waves or tides.
    So, what good does an atheist movement serve? Freeing peoples minds from the oppression of religion doesn't mean much if they starve to death or die of disease. It doesn't mean anything at all if they are not better for it.

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

      Tell that to gays or any of the other groups who get completely screwed by our government because of religious influence.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • JakeAZ

      freeing ones mind is always a good outcome. don't you crave to be on the side of truth? why believe in something for the sake of it? if i was going to be religious i want to have absolutely no doubt that what i am believing in is TRUTH above all else. why live a lie? thats what "good" an atheist movement serves to me. people starving or dying of disease are probably praying that their plight will be resolved. they are praying right now, and still tomorrow more will die.

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

      Christian Fallacy #341: "Atheism is a spiritual movement (whether he wants to admit it or not) whereby each man can proclaim himself his own god."

      Call it a spiritual movement if you like. It still doesn't change anything but somehow the faithful think it clever to call atheism a religion. Regardless, I challenge you to produce an atheist that proclaims himself his own god.

      If you would actually do some research and stop regurgitating the characterizations you're fed at church you might accrue some integrity.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • What Now

      You misunderstand. Some don't look for something greater than themselves, they look for answers that are repeatable and proveable. I don't understand the need to worship something at all. As for freeing peoples minds from religion, well I guess that is their choice. However, look around the world at all the devisiveness created by differing religious faiths. It is something to think about.

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

      The so called atheist movement, is about protecting our American secular society against theocrats. To fight for everyone's civil rights under the law. Is this the answer you wanted to hear. Unlikely

      March 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  18. Bob

    The questions are unanswerable. Believe what you want, and let me do the same.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah. It makes you stupider than you were before.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      actions change things. for every action there is a reaction. Change will happen no matter what.

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

      i used to be christian. never once saw any outcome from any of my prayers. and i kept track!

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

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

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

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

      March 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jim

      Prayer and Religion are a crutch that all the weak and feeble need to have a life. All you religious fanatics, zealots and ben agains GET A GRIP!

      March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • dsavio

      How?

      March 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      Jakeaz
      What you describe of yourself is impossible. There is no such thing as used to be Christian. Bottom line you may have been close to Christianity but you were never a Christian. Had you continued until judgement day, being what you thought you were you would have been rejected as one who never knew God at all.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • wow

      "There is no such thing as used to be Christian. Bottom line you may have been close to Christianity but you were never a Christian. Had you continued until judgement day, being what you thought you were you would have been rejected as one who never knew God at all."

      You will be rejected by your god because you can't follow it's rules. Nice judgment, you have no idea what is in someone's mind or heart.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • David

      Prayer changes things. So does the placebo effect.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  20. Puzzled in Peoria

    The most comforting part about being an atheist is knowing you are incapable of every being wrong.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ed Sommers

      I am an atheist. Once, I thought I was wrong,
      but it turned out that I was mistaken.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • I'm_Skeptical

      Oh, you mean like the pope?

      March 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
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About this blog

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