Study: Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief
An exhibit of Rodin's "The Thinker."
April 27th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Study: Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief

By Becky Perlow, CNN

(CNN) - When was the last time you sat down and questioned your decision to believe in God?

According to a new study, that simple act could decrease your religious conviction – even if you’re a devout believer.

In the study, published Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Canada’s University of British Columbia used subtle stimuli to encourage analytical thinking. Results from the study found that analytical thinking could decrease religious belief.

“Religious belief is intuitive - and analytical thinking can undermine intuitive thinking,” said Ara Norenzayan, co-author of the study. “So when people are encouraged to think analytically, it can block intuitive thinking.”

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

Some of the more than 650 Canadian and American participants in the study were shown images of artwork that encouraged analytic thinking, while another group was shown images that were not intended to produce such thinking.

One of the images used to trigger analytic thinking was of Rodin’s statue “The Thinker.” A previous study showed that such images improved performance on tests that indicate analytic thinking.

In addition to the artwork images, the religion study used other stimuli to promote analytical thinking.

After exposure to such stimuli, researchers gauged participants’ religious beliefs through a series of questions. Subjects who had performed analytical tasks were more likely to experience a decrease in religious belief than those who were not involved in such tasks. That included devout believers.

“There’s much more instability to religious belief than we recognize,” said Norenzayan, noting that life’s circumstances and experiences, from traumatic events to joyous occasions, can lead people to become more or less religious.

“Religion is such an important part of the world and we have so little understanding of it,” he added. “So regardless of what you think about religion, it’s important to understand it because it’s so important in the world.”

Norenzayan is quick to mention that the experiments did not turn devout believers into total atheists. But he speculated that if people habitually think analytically, like scientists or lawyers do, it would lead to less religious belief in the long run.

Robert McCauley, director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Culture at Emory University, and author of "Why religion is natural and science is not," found the study particularly interesting because he thought it was difficult to make even a minimal change in religious belief.

“It’s not likely you would argue someone out of a religious belief very often because they don’t hold those beliefs on argumentative or reflective grounds in the first place,” said McCauley, who believes religious beliefs rely primarily on intuitive thinking.

Analytical thinking alone does not necessarily lead to a decrease in religious belief, emphasized Norenzayan.

“There’s a combination of factors [as to] why people become believers or nonbelievers - this is only one piece of the puzzle,” Norenzayan said, explaining that his team doesn’t think analytical thinking is superior to intuitive thinking.

“It makes the story we need to tell about religion and religious belief all the more complicated,” said McCauley. “That’s what great scientific research does – ask more interesting questions.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science

soundoff (3,468 Responses)
  1. Actual facts and figures


    Please go back if you have another actual facts and figures to refute mine and we'll see who's the BALD-FACED LIAR!

    April 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Mr Chihuahua

      Here's a figure for ya--fuck off! lol!

      April 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • GodPot

      "84% of the world's populace are believers
      16% are non-believers (COMBINED) atheists alone make ONLY 1-2%."

      Most ancient cultures believed in a flat Earth, including Greece until the classical period, the Bronze Age and Iron Age civilizations of the Near East until the Hellenistic period, India until the Gupta period (early centuries AD) and China until the 17th century.

      I guess that proves that the earth was flat, at least for a time since almost everybody believed it, right?

      April 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Cq

      At the time when the Bible was being written only a very small percentage of people only believed in one god. Remember that Christians were once called "atheists" for not worshiping the Roman state gods. The vast majority believed in multiple gods, and had no qualms worshipping local deities that they had never heard of before while traveling. Did their majority make them right?

      April 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Yes, polytheism was once quite the thing! Vast supermajority in its favor. But no one held an election then just as no one is holding one now. "Majority rule" does not settle the truth of any matter.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Geez, Actual, take a pill.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Actual facts and figures


      Neither Galileo said it was a "sphere". Here's another hard fact that you need to get over with:

      "Your boss may NOT always be right BUT he's ALWAYS be the BOSS! Get what I mean?

      Ey, TOOL tom! I had given you twice a dose of it earlier, don't you remember?

      April 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Actual facts and figures

      And one more thing, GodPot, if you are able to decipher it already kindly let Cq know what it means, that he maybe enlightened.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Cq

      Actual facts and figures
      Ah, I see! Your name us meant to be ironic.

      April 30, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  2. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Colin wrote on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm, stating, "Sad that so many theists happiness is predicated on having to pretend they are immortal. Even if one accepts their "all loving sky-fairy" theory of life after death, how would that create "purpose" or "reason"? I have never understood how defering to a pretend afterlife solves anything."

    To my Christian relatives only one's soul/spirit is immortal. The bodies are but dead weight! Quit playing that damned old Bill Mauher mumbo jumbo will you!? "all loving sky-fairy" sounds like something the gay crowd would want to be seen with! Fracking log headed people ought to be chopped down and sent to the saw mills for Christ's sakes! Die for your nothingness beliefs Colin! It's people like you that irritates one's desires to wail you across the fields and into the next park! Your pubescence does declare you to be but a childish blooming "idiocrat" as are your mumblings of manured filthiness just a bunch of gobly goop!

    April 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      If your 'sky fairy' is offended why would he need you to defend him? Why does the all powerful creator of the universe need you to set the heathens straight?

      April 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Die for your nothingness beliefs Colin! "

      So on one hand you claim we cannot be moral, ethical and empathetic people without having your God's plan and purpose, but that also apparently means accepting his plan and purpose to be that of exterminating unbelievers. So moral of you.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  3. Reality


    Based on Parts I-V:

    Putting the final kibosh on religion:

    • 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.

    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell. )

    • 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. "

    April 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Paul

      "Non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow"), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises." – Wikipedia

      Your post is full of non-sequiturs.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Reality


      Obviously, you missed Parts I – V. Scroll back through the pages of comments and then re-read.

      April 29, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  4. God's Oldest Dreamer

    God above all things wants us to live out our days peacefully and with ever so little animosity toward each other! I get so God Damned angry at people who mock and ridicule others but when the shoe is on the other foot they whine and whine and yell foul,,,, foul! Frack all you atheists who mean ill-will and as for the rest of your lot you can all go to hell in a handbasket! Mind me do! and I don't mind and it don't matter for it has always been written in stone! Such is dope on a rope!

    April 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Buddha

      Holding on to anger is like gra.sping a hot coal with the in.tent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Cq

      God's Oldest Dreamer
      An yet, here you are judging us angrily, so it is you who mock your own faith then, yes?

      April 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  5. Rich

    I'm disappointed when I read some of these post. Not by content of the message, but the way people are rudely attacking each other. Just like our politicians, we've lost all civility in this country. I know were talking about dear held beliefs, but don't you realize criticism is by far the best information you will receive that will strength your view.

    April 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Buddha

      In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Cq

      Atheist: "I don't believe that God is real."
      Theist: "I believe you deserve to be tortured forever for saying that!"

      Now, tell me, which is being more "rude"?

      April 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  6. Rebel4Christ

    Atheists just remember if there is no God your life is pointless!!!

    April 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...and your reasons in support of this statement are...?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Colin

      Sad that so many theists happiness is predicated on having to pretend they are immortal. Even if one accepts their "all loving sky-fairy" theory of life after death, how would that create "purpose" or "reason"? I have never understood how defering to a pretend afterlife solves anything.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      rebel: au contraire.....if there is no god, athiests have been correct. if there is no god, you living your life for one makes your life pointless.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Nii

      Why call someones God a sky-fairy? And then why do you think such irrational thinking by you equals analytic thought?

      April 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Really-O?,,,,,,,,,,,, ,.,...,,

      Quit it with the cut and chase tactics will you!!!! ???

      April 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Rebel4Christ – "Quit it with the cut and chase tactics will you."
      1. How is asking for reasons in support of an assertion a problem for you?
      2. What are "cut and chase tactics"?

      April 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      No YOU believe YOUR life is pointless without a god. My life has meaning to me and those I care for. You are incredibly arrogent to think you can define the meaning of other people's lives.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • CPA-LAwyer


      April 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Actual facts and figures


      Please go back if you have another actual facts and figures to refute mine and we'll see who's the BALD-FACED LIAR!

      Echo the challenge to all your kind for me. And I promise to deal all of you SIMULTANEOUSLY

      April 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, a dead body has many uses to include body parts for those in need and what is left over makes excellent fertilizer continuing the nitrogen et al cycles. And note, your words will live as long as CNN's servers continue to function. Of course there are all of those government servers with your birth, marriage and tax records that will live on and on. All hail the server gods !!!!!

      April 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Why call someones God a sky-fairy? And then why do you think such irrational thinking by you equals analytic thought?"

      Whats irrational about calling your God a "Sky-Fairy"?

      "fair·y/ˈfe(ə)rē/ Noun:A small imaginary being of human form that has magical powers.

      Is it that you believe your God isn't small? Prove it. Is it that you believe your God isn't imaginary? Prove it. You obviously claim he has magical powers so I fail to see what you are getting upset about. Your imagined version of God is big and strong and tall with a long white flowing beard? Or maybe an emaciated, tan young man hanging from a cross? Or could it be the crying baby in a manger? It's six of one and half a dozen of the other...

      April 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Cq

      Actually, we atheists find meaning in life believing there isn't a God, so we're fine if we happen to be proven right. It's you Christians who place all worth of your lives in there being a God. It's just a simple matter of placing your eggs in another, proven basket, like family and friends, for example. My life has plenty of meaning with just these, and I bet yours gives your life lots of meaning too, right? See how easy it is to live without a God?

      April 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How in the world do you conclude that, Reb? You don't know anything about the lives of people who post here. You have not the faintest idea what they do or how they live their lives. Stop presuming. It makes you look stupid.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Nii, What is irrational about calling god a sky fairy? He's a mythical figure like a fairy and for some reason believers think he lives in the sky.

      It's actually kind of interesting that the sky, which holds the stars and planets that made for the first science, is also the place that lots of people who would scoff at volcano gods and sea gods think that some divine being actually dwells. Total looniness, but really, really persistent looniness placed right where rational inquiry truly began.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  7. Rich

    God's Oldest Dreamer
    I think it is an asset to humanity that we are hold a unique spiritual and/or religious belief. I found value in what you said. And I apologize to everyone for my typos. I'm a paraplegic and am in constant pain. I know in my heart, as well as see in my doctors eyes' that my time is running out. I fear for you all. The easy thing to do is judge, and when presented with the unfamiliar, the first emotions you feel are fear and anger. I wish all the best.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Buddha

      Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Buddha

      In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

      April 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  8. God's Oldest Dreamer

    tallulah13 wrote on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm, stating, "Not really, James. There isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. Belief in god is an emotional reaction, not a rational action. I suspect that if you examined your faith closely, your belief stems from emotional need, not from a reasoned study of fact."

    Still standing upon assumptives as usual aren't you tallulah13? There isn't a single shred of evidence declaring matter to have never been all there ever was before the steadied state of Cosmologic relatives have come to our playgrounds! Matter just didn't come into being all by its' lonesomeness sakes! For cyin out loud tallulah, get the facts man and quit it with you mimicking the other dogged bombastions who don't know their own mouth is for but eating and drinking among other nutty butty enactments! Many of us are but dopes on the ropes! Eat any goodly constructs lately? Afterall are not all life forms only God's buildings? I'll have a building of liver with my mansion of mashed taters please! (Dopes on the ropes we all are!

    April 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @God's Oldest Dreamer –
      You need to bring something more than a word salad to the table if you want to participate. Seriously, what are you trying to say?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Mr Chihuahua

      You sound like William Burroughs with downs syndrome lol!

      April 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      "Gods Oldest Dreamer"

      Your personal desire for a god is not proof. Your emotional reactions are not proof. Even millions of believers are not proof. There is no verifiable, reliable data that indicates the existence of ANY god. There is no rational reason for anyone to believe in god. There is only emotional need.

      You make a lot of claims about what your god wants and what your god thinks. They seem to reflect exactly what you want and what you think. Here's the sad reality: Your god didn't create you. You created your god.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  9. A scientist actually created the universe (yes, really)

    it goes by the name of: "Atheist Troll"

    April 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  10. Human beings from atheistic nations seek refuge with American Christians

    because atheist nations are inhumane to them.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Darren

      Not at all. Several Scandinavian nations have low fractions of believers in religious supersti-tions, and have the lowest crime rates, very high standards of living, health care, and education.

      Regardless, your claim in your latest name proves nothing about the existence of your sky fairy. As usual.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • AtheismIsCrap

      Nope! There's no such thing as "atheistic nations" but atheistic government who are inhumane and atriocious to their people that make them flee and seek refuge to "CHRISTIAN NATIONS" like America.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • momoya

      So do you just not care about the actual facts at all, or what?. Because the statistics for countries with mostly atheistic citizens are pretty clear if you just look at them.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • tallulah13

      momoya, you'll find that those who cling most desperately to religion are also the most willing to lie about, and fling insults and hatred at those who don't share their belief. The funny part is that these "christians" think that they're good people.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Actual facts and figures


      84% of the world's populace are believers
      16% are non-believers (COMBINED) atheists alone make ONLY 1-2%.


      Atheism is immaterial and insignificant. Thus, a PIECE of CRAP!

      April 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Actual facts and figures – regarding "Atheism is immaterial and insignificant".

      Truth is not subject to the democratic process.

      "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing."
      Anatole France

      April 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, Actual, if atheism is "immaterial and insignificant", why are you in such a lather about it? You're all wrapped around the axle because of something you claim doesn't matter? Really? Apparently, you find it threatening, or you wouldn't be blowing a gasket.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Actual facts and figures

      Ey, TOOL tom! When I find a $5K undisclosed expenses or discrepancy in Mr. Slim's financial statement, It absolutely has no affect of it's (FS) integrity but yet, I have to say that the amount is IMMATERIAL and INSIGNIFICANT. Does it make fall in any of the gibberish you were spouting?

      April 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  11. Leo

    Researchers have spotted a group of 53 cells within pigeons' brains that respond to the direction and strength of the Earth's magnetic field.

    The question of how birds navigate using – among other signals – magnetic fields is the subject of much debate.

    These new "GPS neurons" seem to show how magnetic information is represented in birds' brains.

    However, the study reported by Science leaves open the question of how they actually sense the magnetic field.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Leo

      Intelligent Design or Random Mutations or the Great God of Evolution?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Leo

      It's a miracle that these animals somehow knew there was a magnetic field out there and then accidentally mutated to be able to "Read" it.

      The Awesome god of Evolution is so smart!!

      April 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      A physical adaptation that facilitates a behavior that aids in survival certainly sounds like evolution.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Leo: I suggest you read "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne. This is an easy to read, well-written book that will educate you on just exactly what evolution is. I don't think you have a grasp on the concept.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Colin

      Sounds like evolution to me. Many, many species navigate by magnetic fields, mainly birds and fish. The ability to do so seems to have evolved a number of times independently. Not unusual at all and certainly not beyond explanation.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Leo

      Do you really believe that?

      Romans 1:21-22
      21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

      April 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Leo –
      Biblical citations are not a device of rational argument.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Leo

      Sure they are for God provided that scripture to us 2000 years ago, which out ranks the works of the men you follow.

      Evolution is the Biggest Dupe Job in the History of Mankind! It is your false god and it is your religion, but you are to foolish to even know it!!

      April 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Colin

      Leo, six days and a talking snake may be one theory of galactic and planetary formation and a convenient explanation for life on Earth, but In reality, it took about 4 billion years of Earth history for human beings to evolve. The process is well understood. Starting with a "simple" organism (and I say "simple" because even the simplest of organisms are complex, but I’ll come back to that) all of the offspring of that organism will all be slightly different to their parent, and to each other. No boy is identical in EVERY respect to his father.

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

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

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

      We see this around us everywhere. Ever heard of greyhounds, the most obvious example of breeding for speed? Very different to bulldogs, aren’t they. All breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in either the Middle East or Manchuria some 10,000 years ago. In any event, every last one of them, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the cu.mulative result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

      Now, what are the chances of two wolves giving birth to a Chihuahua or Dalmatian? Virtually zero, but this ignores (like your 747 example does) all of the intermediate steps – the generations – the tint steps – required to get from a wolf to a Chihuahua. It took 10,000 years, about 5,000 generations – 5,000 baby steps. I could not jump from New York to San Francisco, but I could certainly walk there in little steps.

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

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

      You really think that people in the 1500s ate fruit and vegetables of the size, nutritional value and taste we do today? Hell, there are hundreds of types of apple today. They did not exist a few centuries ago. Why do diseases “build up” a resistance to antibiotics. Individual bacteria don’t, but antibiotics sometimes only kill 99% of the bacteria, leaving a few individuals to breed and pass on the trait that allowed them to survive the antibiotic to their offspring. Gradually, these survivors and their descendents will outnumber the original, weaker disease. A new, more resistant strain of the disease has just evolved. Or did your all loving god create the new, virulent strain in an effort to kill people?

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

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

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

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

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

      April 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Leo –

      You've just disqualified yourself from rational discussion...you're banished to the kid's table.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • momoya

      Leo, it is very stupid to use a term like "random mutations" to cover the spectrum of evolutionary processes.. Yes, many mutations are random, but those mutations would mean nothing unless you consider the larger selection process.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Nii

      Colin mutation of viruses is not evolution. who taught you genetics.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Nii, here is a link to a study that shows that indeed, mutation is very in the running as a driving force of evolution.


      April 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Leo, birds developed these means of navigating through evolution. Those that didn't develop such cells died out. What part of that is so difficult for you to grasp?

      April 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Leo, you once again show that evolutions harshest critics don't even begin to understand it. Organism don't first "find out" that some physical phenomenon exists and and then decide to evolve an organ to "read" it. That's just plain ludicrous.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • johnny

      umm you cant prove the bible correct by using the bible

      May 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  13. vic

    just llat night i was watching history channel and historians,researchers, medics were discussing that there are lot of anomalies in Darwin theory of evolution and now of course they are on to some thing new the extra terrastrail or aliens theory that aliens somehow came by and jumpstarted the human race. (lol)
    Ofcourse thier ego would not let them say God they have to use some scientific jargon- extra terrastrail to feel good and mighty.
    athiests here seemed to have e ganged up like petty mobs to beat up on beleivers . I guess the atheist are feeling lonely and need some company or reasurances that they are right. cause after death there is no telling haha

    April 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Brilliant post. Truly, just awesome.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Vic – Wow!

      April 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Medics? Aliens? What the heck are you smoking, vic?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • momoya

      When scientists don't know the exact answer to a dilemma, they say so.. If saying, "big magic sky daddy used a spell" helped the scientific endeavor, there's surely be scientists muttering as much over their experiments and such..

      Insisting that "god" be used every time we don't know the answer to a question is stupid when you can just be honest and say that you don't know.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      how does intelligent design imply a "god"?

      April 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Tim Tebow

    A thinker ought to believe and a believer ought to think!


    April 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • james

      Tim, very good.statement.If a.person truly thinks and.reason,his only conclusion would.be.there is a God.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @James – that's just nonsense.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Not really, James. There isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. Belief in god is an emotional reaction, not a rational action. I suspect that if you examined your faith closely, your belief stems from emotional need, not from a reasoned study of fact.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Tim Tebow+ yes



      April 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Your personal opinion is duly noted, "God's Oldest Dreamer".

      April 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      james: why? do you see "creator" and "god" as being synonymous?

      April 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  15. Power


    What makes you think that you have infinite wisdom to comprehend everything there is to know about creation/created and above all else the CREATOR???

    April 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  16. Rich

    I recommend everyone take a few deep, slow, relaxing, breaths. All of us and I mean everyone no matter what they practice have their own very unique form of belief at looking at the world and how we got here. From the Pope and the fundamentalist Muslim to the people who are the philosophizers and atheist. There are over 6 billion people on the planet and every single one of them have their own deeply personal way to look at creation and sentient life. And that is what help makes us so beautiful. It should be celebrated. With the exception, that a belief system must not prejudice or cause harm to people. I keep getting a bad feeling, like we stand on the very brink. I'm imagine 1200 years ago, roman soldiers had the same feeling. There is an ancient law, and it has been told in many forms so I'm sure everyone heard it in one for or another. But in the future in times get desperate remember this: When fighting against evil, you can only sacrifice yourself not other. Another words, you can't fight evil with evil, because then you then become evil. Or in the words of my mom, " to wrongs don't make a right".

    April 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Rich,,,,,,,,,,,, ,.,...,,

      "and that bis what makes us so beautiful"! I see God in my brother's drunkard eyes! I see God in the eyes of the homeless! I see God's eyes in the children who are literally starving to death! God gave up His "miracle working wonders" the day His son was crucified! We are on our own cognitions' life boats! Although I know of things best left alone, I tell you this, "The day we begin judging ourselves upon our own merits and worths, and start to really be cleaning up after our forefathers' misdeeds, will be God's happiest day!

      April 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • momoya

      Rich, it sounds like some of your ideas might be interesting to consider, but unfortunately you have communicated any of them clearly enough to be considered or discussed.. I'd reply if I had any idea what points you were trying to make.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  17. Reality


    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    April 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  18. Travis B

    As Nietzsche said, "Religion is the continuous suicide of reason" and "Faith: not wanting to know what is true."

    April 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Travis B

      Let's put this monkey bto bed! for thousands of years religion ebbed and flowed and although its' steps were many times bloodied, the religious ferver of today's tidal line has reached quite possibly its' zenith! People will die and still the social organisms will flourish! The mainframing of people to their hard-drives has put them in perpetual motions of based thought progressives! Their "channeling" of voiced aspirations blows aimlessly within the net! They are but dopes on the ropes!

      April 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  19. chuck

    Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich

    April 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      If only "they" knew,,,,, if only,,,,,,,Time will tell,,,,,,, Time,,,,,tell,,,,,will,,,,,,,,, –)---– + --–(-

      April 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  20. GodPot


    "Hello Mrs. Smith, I'm very happy to inform you that you just won $2 Million Dollars!!

    "Really? I did?"

    "Yes!! We have the check already made out in your name!!"


    "Yes!! And all you need to do to release the funds is pay for the shipping and handling since its a big check, like the ones they give lotto winners!!"


    "Yup, you'll get to show it to all the gals at Bingo on Friday, and it's just one payment of $2500 which also covers the bank transfer fee's since it was a Canadian contest that you won."

    "Oh, thats alot.."

    "But you will receive a check for $2 Million Dollars!! You can put that money right back in the bank just days after you send the cashiers check..."

    "Oh, okay, I just can't believe it I'm so happy..."

    "Okay, so here's the number for Western Union..."

    The sad thing is that these calls wouldn't happen, there would be no Nairobi princes sending you letters or infomercials trying to sell you crap jewelry or bald spray paint, if there weren't so many gullible people all around us. And there likely wouldn't be any "miracle water" or "prayer cloth" TV evangelists either, along with most other Catholic or evangelical instltutions.

    April 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Many folks are very gullible GodPot! Could the fault lay with those kinds that demean them and make snide remarks in their forlorned faces and even behind their backs? The mentality of most people is somewhat lowered by their own inability to clamor out of their sad shacks and venture forth looking for venerable people from which to emulate towards! Remember this GoldPot the next time in your life when you want to be mean spirited toward others!

      April 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Remember what? Gibberish? Malapropisms?

      April 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      The A in the bellowments is for Atheist and the T is for Theist! Feel free to ask me your questions if any; regarding the perceptives of my lowly Chrstian faith!
      T: Do you believe in God?
      A: There is no god!
      T: Then how do you explain the fine tuning in our Universe?
      A: There are an infinite number of universes. Given an infinite possibility, any finite tuning becomes possible.
      T: Can you prove that infinite numbers of universes exist?
      A: No, but it makes sense.
      T: Within my views I do agree in there being infinite universes within the Grandness of the Celestial Cosmos!
      A: Because of all the killing in the world done in the name of god, I won't accept God as an answer. I'll believe in far more unlikely things because Mathematics proves to me that even if it is unlikely, it is still possible. Like given enough time, a group of monkeys can produce the entirety of Hamlet if trapped in a room full of typewriters.
      T: What you seem to forget is the finite yet infinite formations of cellularized mini-universes making up all of Life, be it animal or insectual or even plant based!
      A:Are you saying that our bodies are made up of mini-universes of the cellular types?.
      T:Yes, for have you not read in scripture that the Kingdom of God is inside us? We are also His Buildings and He is our husbandry!
      A: Show me that scripture and I will meditate upon it!
      T: Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
      A: Is there any scientific way to prove your so-called belief that there are cellularized mini-universes inside all Life as being of worth to consider?
      T: There are many varied scientific compositions regarding "Fractal Cosmology"! I prefer Mr. Robert Oldershaw's rather symplistic amalgum! He or rather his positioning regarding Fractal Cosmology is still but an infancy in its' womb! Here is his website,,,,,,,, http://www3.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw/stars2/menu.html I hope you will find it enlightening!
      And does the atheist follow along and go to the web-site or does he/she just mosey away never to give such things a second thought? This moseying on down the road seems to be a natural way for many uneducated folks to do! Just exactly how does one turn others toward really really deep, thought-filled ambiences of the truth-filled types?
      A: I am back! So this Fractal Cosmology,,,, I can see that the Celestial Cosmos may well be made up of an infinite amount of universes! I can somewhat understand that all life forms are made up of cellularized universes! How then does Time have meaning between the cellular and celestial universes?
      T: Time is relative to one's surroundings! Do you not know that our sun's planets orbit the sun all in differences of Time itself! Our earth revolves around the sun in approximately 365 days but,,,, the planets closer to the sun revolve at a much faster Time and in reverse the planets further from the sun revolve at a slower Time!
      A: I do somewhat understand your proposition that Time is relative to one's placement within their planetary spheres of influence, BUT,,,,, How is Time affected within what you proclaim to be cellularized universes?
      T: Time within such a construct as within a cellularized universe goes by at such a phenominal rate, that one second of our Time is but years within the realms of the cellularized universes! And likewise outside the Cosmos of infinite universes only a very few seconds of Cosmotic Time goes by while in our Time billions of years have gone by!
      A: So what you are attempting to say is,,,, Time is a preferential dimension based upon where one is within any planetary sphere of influence?
      T: Yes!
      A: Where then does God play a role in this Celestial Cosmos of Fractal Cosmologies?
      T: 2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
      A: And,,,,?
      T: God is in 3 dimensions all at the same Time! God is above the Celestial Cosmos of infinite universes and He is inside the cellularized universes and He walks amidst our Beings in everyone's mindfielded brainyards! God has given to His Son Christ Jesus rulership of all things that are plant based! Thru humanity's consuming of other life forms for sustanence sakes, an emergence of the Godly generations are unfolded within all Life that consumes life's buildings!
      A: I am somewhat puzzled in your words. Maybe if I have it written down then I can look at it once in a while when the mood strikes me.
      T: Copy and paste it into your files!
      A: Okay then! See you around the next turn of the bend! Good bye!
      T: Good bye yourself you old hack!

      April 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Many folks are very gullible GodPot! Could the fault lay with those kinds that demean them and make snide remarks in their forlorned faces and even behind their backs?" So gullible people are made by people making fun of gullible people? Wow, your logic is astounding, in that it lacks any logic. Oh, and thank you for the pointless cut and paste. I think persons like yourself do more to push people towards atheism than they do to retain any theistic membership, so keep it up.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Ting

      Okay......back to what GodPot said.

      "And there likely wouldn't be any "miracle water" or "prayer cloth" TV evangelists either, along with most other Catholic or evangelical instltutions."

      This is one of my fears of growing old. The fear of becoming senile which causes me to become religious and giving money to these crooks. No offense to religious people. This brings up a question though. If an atheist becomes old, "falls off the rocker", and then becomes a Christian, are they really a Christian? Or does God still send them to hell to burn for eternity because they rejected him when their mind was young and sharp? These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night. Well, no not really, but I would like to hear what a Christian thinks about this.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Nii

      Godpot the gullibility you are talking about goes both ways. don't be angry if xtians r skeptical of u.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • GodPot

      "the gullibility you are talking about goes both ways." So are you saying that every now and then the little old lady really does get a check in the mail for $2 million dollars so I shouldn't discredit ALL scams? Out of the thousands of different versions of faith and religion you think one just might have it right so maybe if you were born in the right place with the right parents who indoctrinated you early enough with the one faith that really will pay out in the afterlife? Sounds more like another slick talking salesman trying to appeal to his gullible base to me... "All the others are fake, but this is a real magic bean, so what do you say Jack?"...

      April 28, 2012 at 6:00 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
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.