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June 14th, 2012
12:40 PM ET

My Take: More doubts about God doesn't mean religion is weakening

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

When it comes to doubt, sometimes a little skepticism is in order.

As CNN's Dan Merica reported earlier this week, a recent Pew Research Center survey sees doubt rising sharply inside the millennial generation. Between 2007 and 2012, this survey says, the portion of young Americans (those 30 and uner) who say they never doubt the existence of God dropped sharply between 2007 and 2012, from 83% to 68%.

This report has stirred up a chatstorm in the blogosphere, with 2600 comments and counting on Merica's Belief Blog post alone. But does this data really say what many atheists want it to say? Is American religion really heading for a fall?

Look carefully at the survey question. What this data is tracking is the percentage of young people for whom doubt has never creeped into their faith. I don’t know about you, but most of the religious people I know experience both doubt and faith over the course of their spiritual lives. So the fact that more than two-thirds of young people say they have never doubted God’s existence seems to me evidence of America's extraordinary religiosity, not its disbelief.

That suspicion is supported by the fact that this same Pew survey found that millennials who identify with a religion is not declining. Moreover, according to Pew's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, only 3% of millennials are atheists.

The takeaway, it seems to me, is not that religion is declining in America but that it is changing. Or, to paraphrase my Boston University colleague and sociologist of religion Peter Berger, what is shifting here is the how of religion. In short, doubt is a part of the spiritual lives of more young people than it has been in the past.

I have been spending way too much time lately with Google’s Ngram Viewer. This website allows you to see how prominent certain key words are in books published in various languages from 1800 forward. It’s also possible to see how these key words match up against one another over time.

I searched the Ngram database for the words “faith” and “doubt” in American English from 1800 to 2008. Here’s what I found:

For much of the nineteenth century, “faith” won out over “doubt.” But as Biblical criticism, evolutionary theory, and comparative religions started to chip away at traditional understandings of Christianity, “doubt” ran past faith in the late 1880s. For roughly the next century, the two terms tracked rather closely. During the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, however, faith bypassed doubt.

What matters here is not the horse race. More significant is the fact that, since the late Victorian period, doubt has become part of the landscape of faith in America. To see doubt as a denial of faith is to misunderstand how most Americans live their religious lives.

The fact that doubt is now a part of faith for a significant minority of American believers strikes me at least as a sign of faith’s maturity, not its demise. Perhaps, like the millennials themselves, American religion is growing up.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Faith • Polls • Trends • United States

soundoff (1,804 Responses)
  1. R Burns

    It's actually very healthy to question religious authority and organization, as did Christ. Keeping leaders on the up-and-up is the best way for our understanding of God and His Kingdom to remain in our sights in the most accurate way. It is encouraging that so many young folks are continuing in this understanding, regardless of religious affiliation – in spite of our so-called opposition in science and thinking. Or maybe because of it. Often, the closer science gets to understanding the nature of the universe the more it resembles what we knew and have been told spiritually all along. The hard part, I think, is to turn the mystery in our minds into something real – which is what the Kingdom of God must be in order for religion to have any validity. Like a treasured family legend, these things must connect with reality even if we don't want them to.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Anon

      Jesus is another myth and screw the so-called biblical apologetic historians (christian/non-christian) that want to keep the myth alive.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  2. Top 10.

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian

    June 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • beelzabarber

      Please run for president. Please!

      June 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Matt

      I'm Christian but the list doesn't characterize me.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      There is a god or "creative force" in the universe but all the stories in the books of the major religions and the myths of pagan gods are all the result of extraterrestrial origin and interaction with the human race which may have been implanted on this Earth by their design in their own image and likeness. And they will be back.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms..."

      Wouldn't you feel insulted if someone called your momma a chimpanzee, or related to one, or originated from one way back when? But that's not as insulting as having your ancestors called primordial slime. And yes, we were made from soil. If you do research, the human being has the same chemical composition as soil does. It makes much more sense and it's tangible, something atheists crave to see...tangibility. But you prefer to accept a theory of something unproven over millions and billions of years ago (when no one was ever there to witness it).

      "8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God."

      This is how much you know and twist the Bible. A triune being is not the same as three beings.

      "7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!"

      Again, you have not read your bible...and it's not a matter of interpretation, it's a matter of just simply reading it. God warns and warns warns and warns for people to turn from their wicked ways, so we may respond to His multiple warnings. After having reach the limit of His patience, we then say, "Aw, why didn't you warn us?"

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • chrism

      Top Ten Signs You're a Troll
      10 – You vigorously deny the existence of all gods. You lie about Christians who believe in the one true living God by claiming that they are "outraged" by disbelievers in an attempt to make them look bad.
      9 – You lie in claiming you are the only one who believes in life evolving, and seem ignorant of guided evolution.
      8 – You lie by bearing false witness against Christians, claiming they laugh at anyone. You mock others in ignorance, thinking polytheism is the same as the trinity.
      7 – Your lie by bearing false witness against Christians, distorting their reactions to suffering or injustice. You are unable to see through your own hubris that God may allow temporal suffering and death as part of a greater plan for eternal life.
      6 – You lie and bear false witness, making a straw man of Christians as "laughing" at others when they do no such thing, while you hypocritically mock others. You reject the Hindu and Greek beliefs you accuse others of "laughing" at. You are ignorant of Christian belief that God revealed Himself to all peoples and that Christians may see in other beliefs mirrors, sometimes distorted, of the truth, whereas you reject all people's beliefs without even understanding them. You use ignorant word choices like "sky" and "got killed" in an obvious attempt to minimize what you mock. You ignore the true power of God and that He could indeed perform miracles.
      5 – You lie and bear false witness against Christians, mislabeling them as dishonest, young-earth creationists, when you are woefully ignorant that most Christians are old-earth Creationists, and God creating and guiding life is entirely consistent with the age of the earth. You also seem very ignorant of findings in archeology that corroborate the events of the bible in great detail.
      4 – You bear false witness against Christians by lying and distorting them as judging and intolerant, in the process showing yourself to be intolerant, while ignoring that Christians indeed bear the insults and false witness of those like you while bravely and lovingly sharing the message of God's love and salvation.
      3 – You bear false witness and lie about Christians, distorting and lying about them again painting them as idiots who ignore science and misunderstanding faith. Many Christians – Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Mendel, LeMaitre – were great scientists. While Christians indeed find beautiful harmony in the beauty and grandeur of creation as revealed in science and the faith and love God gives them in their hearts, you fail to understand science at all, thinking in your hubris that if something is beyond the observable powers of science it cannot exist.
      2 – You lie and bear false witness against Christians, mocking prayer and faith, misunderstanding what an answered prayer even is, and misusing statistics in a deceitful attack.
      1 – You think you know more than others and are a little black pot, marching around, pointing fingers at kettles.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • dman

      Christianity has so many holes in it I use it for a colander. Eventually I found a use for it. Fresh FSM with Alfredo sauce anyone?

      June 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      @Chrism – Are you aware that Galileo was imprisoned for heresy when he proved that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not vice versa? Do not attempt to combine science (fact-based) with mythology (fantasy land-based) again.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Truth

    This is no revelation. The Bible openly speaks of doubt. Just read Mark 9:24; Luke 24:38, and Matthew 21:21 And who could forget "Doubting Thomas." John 20:27. Doubt has always been part of faith.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Rick James

      You forget, though, what Jesus said when he showed himself to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

      That statement makes faith viable in his eyes instead of doubt. How do you go about life believing in something without evidence?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • beelzabarber

      I doubt you're right

      June 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Faith: Belief without proof.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  4. clubschadenfreude

    "The fact that doubt is now a part of faith for a significant minority of American believers strikes me at least as a sign of faith’s maturity, not its demise. Perhaps, like the millennials themselves, American religion is growing up."

    Poor Stephen. Anything to convince himself that doubt "really" means that people believe more. Doubt is doubt and there is no reason to continue believing in a being that does nothing. Stephen, can we say that doubt in Santa Claus really means people really really do believe in it? Hilarious.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • sip

      Stephen displays thinking typical of most christians – they interpret any evidence, regardless of how contrarian, as actually supporting their predetermined point of view.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • CosmicC

      That's a common behavior not limited to Christians.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  5. Drew Cooke

    Religion without doubt is foolish. If you proceed as though you must worship without question a god (the god of your religion), then you have rejected free will and are only religious because you beleive you have no choice. On the other hand, a religious person's doubt has nothing to do with atheism. An atheist, like myself, does what they believe is the right thing to do because it is right and salvation occurs now in know you have acted well, not because of the existence of a third party.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Beth

      If you're an atheist and you don't need a third party for your salvation, what is it that you're being saved from?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • GasPredictor

      Excellent description of the nature of faith. Particularly good in that it comes from a self-proclaimed atheist.

      So many self-proclaimed atheists who comment on this blog are actually vitriolic anti-theists.

      You show yourself to be capable of understanding what you do not accept. Kudos!

      (Sadly, the vitriol and refusal to accept another's viewpoint goes both ways. Many self-proclaimed Christians and other self-proclaimed people of faith demonstrate a shocking lack of charity.)

      June 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  6. Not Likely

    In order to doubt something there has to be evidence in favor of it in the first place. There is no such evidence for a higher power. Therefore, doubt is the wrong word. Perhaps "thought" would be more appropriate. The percentage of young people who have never thought about why they believe in a higher power is decreasing. This is what we call progress.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Copenhagun

      Agreed.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • chris

      Do you really think that God should/could be proved in a test tube?? Think of what that would mean...robots following because they had to. God is more like a romantic relationship. No "proof" necessary, only faith in the other.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Rick James

      Chris, that "test tube" statement is just being lazy. God himself may be supernatural, but interactions with the natural should be detectable. The fact is believers have no evidence.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  7. ItSOnLyME

    What if it *does* mean religion is "weakening" (whatever that means)?? What difference would it make? You and everyone else are free to believe what you will. What I or anyone else believes has no effect whatsoever on you or your beliefs. If the world would learn that simple truth, there would be a lot less conflict and a lot less death in the name of so-called "religion".

    June 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  8. HappyMadison

    Stephen Prothero states that doubt means that "American religion is growing up." So, if we go by this logic, than if there are holes found in Einstein's theory of Relativity and physicists begin to doubt it – than that just means that it is maturing.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No because faith is not science. That is the hang up. Concrete, black and white scientific minds balk at the conception of things like mystery, spirit, faith, or what ever combinations of letters are used to describe something they can't measure. Then they audaciously impugn the intellect of believers (actually sometimes so do I) when what is really reflected is a limitation of their own experiential processes. This is why believers call them "blind" It's not because they cannot see, it's because they cannot comprehend. Atheist insist on comprehending the universe with only their mental faculties. Believers sense something grander beyond the physical for which there can be no denial, neither can there be any "proof"

      June 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @Bill – I think you may not understand science when you use the term. In fact, it is not black and white or concrete – and there is a lot of mystery. What allows things to have mass? How happens inside a black hole? The difference is that science makes honest attempts to assess information and determine if there is good reason to believe that something may in fact be true. That is the real difference that we are talking about here. Religion will take words that were written hundreds if not thousands of years ago, by unknown authors, and take them at face value as truth. And it should never be questioned. This is neither an act of intelligence or honesty. Einstein is a celebrated figure in science – but if his theory of Relativity were proven to be false after successive experimental failures, than they would look elsewhere for the truth. They would not make up excuses and try to cover up the failures. There is no progress by doing that. Science has to be honest with itself in order to exist. Can you see how these 2 systems of thought can be at odds? There are many believers in the world – and some of them are in straight jackets.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Happy I do understand the meaning of science. The constraints of this blog restrict broader illustrations so my words may have been inadequate. The meaning of mystery in my post does not mean the things that are not yet none to science, it means the things that are physically inexplicable but which may be comprehended nonetheless. You seem to insist that faith fit into the box of science while admitting that science is not yet all encompassing. I think your post is evidence of exactly what I am talking about. I get it that faith cannot be explained by your scientific analysis. I am suggesting that you may not have the capacity to use other facets of comprehension which could allow you to delve into the spiritual mystery of faith.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • HappyMadison

      @Bill – Nothing is all-encompassing. For anyone to say that they have all the answers to all possible questions is intellectually – and every other way – dishonest. As far as having a 'capacity' to be spiritual, years ago I myself was very spiritual and very religious. I began to ask questions and study the Bible and the various translations. I read everything I could get my hands on and would talk to anyone who would listen. In the end, all the arguments in favor of Christianity fell apart for me and nothing that the text said held any water. I simply grew out of religion.

      June 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  9. Skip

    I think those who profess to 'know' the existence or truth behind anything demonstrate fool-hardy hubris. Atheism is so much more complex than just rejecting religion or God. It's a mindful approach that recognizes that as smart as we think we are, there is so much we do not know. Worse, there is so much we think is correct, but have yet to realize is wrong. Approach 'faith' with the understanding that you may very well be wrong, and I accept that. Approach it with the belief that religion = truth and I can't help but feel sorry for you.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  10. CosmicC

    I'm a Unitarian Universalist and I'm an atheist. I also think organized religion is evil. No sane person would accuse UU's of being organized. If you want to feel accepted in a caring, free thinking community that really doesn't care what you believe in as long as you've put thought into it, visit a local UU society/fellowship/church/whatever.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Comic Relief

      How do you know when you are being harassed by Unitarian Universalists? You find a burning question mark on your lawn.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • CosmicC

      What do you get when you cross a UU and a Jehovah's Witness? Someone who knocks on your door at 8:00 on a Saturday morning for no particular reason.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Rob

    Once the intelligent people of the world continue their integration into society, religion will be history. As it should be. Only stupid people that can't think for themselves follow religion, because they are too stupid to run their own lives.

    SCIENCE RULES. It is provable. RELIGION is NOT. It is mythology.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • ItSOnLyME

      The only absolute hard and fast rule is: there are no absolutes. I am a scientist and a Buddhist. I see them as mutually compatible and in no way in conflict with one another.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Dave Dawson

      So, you've been conned by your many freedoms.
      Then you always did have the freedom & freedoms to destroy yourself.
      Should I feel sad for you?
      I'm not the slightest bit sad for you.
      Do you fancy a drink on me?
      I could cheer you up – since you're boring me already.
      Or do you wish to continue being conned by your many freedoms?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  12. Anon

    I hope christian faith dwindles to the point of being called mythology by everyone on Earth.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  13. Jack

    All Atheists. – Please view video #2 at – thestarofkaduri.com

    June 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • zzzzz

      why to get infected by a virus ? And why should any one view it? Christian or not ?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • zzzzz

      That was the biggest crap that I watched... I thought I will see something special .
      You believe in something because the bible says so and all "proofs" are from some book that any historical scholar will reject.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  14. Johnny

    If I claimed that I could fly, everyone would tell me to prove it. And yet most of those demanding proof from me, believe that a man crammed two of every animal on an ark and that another man changed water into wine and rose from the dead. Where's the proof? "It's in the Bible!" How is that proof? "It's the word of God!" How do you know it's the word of God? Well, how do you? Where's the proof? Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • David

      Sorry, but I would believe a prophet of God over you any day.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • CosmicC

      What's the difference between a prophet and a mentally ill person who hears the voice of god?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Sanity

      Couldn't agree more. The bible is just a book (badly written and overly edited). Why do people thing that having something in print makes it the authority? Anybody can write up anything and get it self published.

      The bible is nothing more than a book with some moral stories that are suppose to help you with your interactions with others, not as conclusive proof of a god. Just because some of the stories have some verifiable events correct doesn't make the entire book true. In logic this kind of thinking is known as a logical fallacy; "Part for the Whole" example, just because I can lift every part of my car I can lift my whole car.

      So when someone quotes a bible verse to me I believe as much as I believe "Green Eggs and Ham" was a factual book based upon real life events; except that "Green Eggs and Ham" quotes rhyme.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • sip

      I, too, couldn't agree more. It seems to me that Constantinople had more to do with the creation of the Bible than any one else. So unless one believes that Constantinople was also a prophet or deeply inspired by God, then one shouldn't really put much weight into the veracity of the Bible.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  15. Sanity

    Let's try something. Answer the following question:

    What color do you think the sky is?:
    1. Black
    2. White
    3. Blue
    4. Yellow

    Ok, do you have your answer. Now for the answer . . . It doesn't matter the question was about your belief, there is no wrong answer.

    The same thing about your belief of a god, just because people say they believe something doesn't make it a fact. For instance I could believe that my bank has been with holding some interest from my account and I'm a millionaire, believing it won't make it happen no matter how faithful I am.

    I am tired of every religion trying to assert that their god is real because X percent believe in him. You want to convince a non-believer, find some independently testable evidence that anyone can try on their own. Just stating something and calling it fact doesn't make it so.

    So yes, this poll means absolutely nothing. I guess CNN is having another slow news day.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ Sanity

      Here's an intellectual and scientific question back at you. What color is the sky?
      1) Blue
      2) Light Blue
      3) Sky Blue
      4) Navy Blue
      5) Electric Blue

      The answer is: NONE OF THE ABOVE...the sky doesn't have any color at all, but It just appears that way to us from down here. Notice how from outer space, you can see right through, directly into the clouds, sea and land. And yet, most people actually believe the sky really is blue.

      This is a great example of how things may appear to be one thing when they are really not. We can be mistaken along the trek of life. God has given us the Truth through His word, the Bible. The bible points the way to the Truth, The Way, and the Life. It is God's will for us to know the Truth and not believe anything but the Truth.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Dave Dawson

      Yes, it's a fact that families are being destroyed by unbelievers.
      Yes, it's a fact that we were forewarned about families being destroyed by unbelievers.
      Yes, it's a fact that unbelievers are more than happy to pay for this destruction.
      Yes, I just love the way that all unbelievers are headed for the wilderness.
      But can an unbeliever ever find reconciliation?
      If you don't want the Keys to Resurrection, then you'll never get them.
      Use your intuition here & work out what you're missing.
      Dare I ask you to use your intuition?
      All of your teachers would have asked you to use your intuition – properly.
      If you can't do anything properly, then you may as well put yourself on the road to Jeopardy.
      Or are you on the road to Jeopardy already?
      If you can't work out what you're missing, then there's no point in reconciling you.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Rick James

      Yeah, we know that the sky appears blue, but nothing really has any color at all. That deals with the visible spectrum and how things absorbed and reflect light. But what's really strange is, how does that prove a God at all?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think the point was not to prove God but to illustrate how perspective deludes us into thinking we have the answer when in reality we may be asking the wrong question

      June 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Sanity

      Quote:
      "God has given us the Truth through His word, the Bible. The bible points the way to the Truth, The Way, and the Life."

      Umm last time I checked the bible was an edited version via a council of man, not a direct recording of God. Even if man was inspired by God, umm where is your proof?

      But that wasn't my point that you completly missed. My question was what do you believe. Your belief can never be wrong. So if you believe in a God, then yeah for you. If you don't believe in a God, then yeah for you. Either way it doesn't effect me. That is until you show up on my door telling me how to act, or until you try and pass a law based upon your belief that tells me how to act.

      Quote:
      "Yes, it's a fact that families are being destroyed by unbelievers.
      Yes, it's a fact that we were forewarned about families being destroyed by unbelievers.
      Yes, it's a fact that unbelievers are more than happy to pay for this destruction.
      Yes, I just love the way that all unbelievers are headed for the wilderness.
      But can an unbeliever ever find reconciliation?
      If you don't want the Keys to Resurrection, then you'll never get them.
      Use your intuition here & work out what you're missing.
      Dare I ask you to use your intuition?
      All of your teachers would have asked you to use your intuition – properly.
      If you can't do anything properly, then you may as well put yourself on the road to Jeopardy.
      Or are you on the road to Jeopardy already?
      If you can't work out what you're missing, then there's no point in reconciling you."

      Umm, please cite clear examples of each. Again, stating something doesn't make it fact.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I want to know the zip code for Jeopardy.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @BoldGeorge – Since we are being all pendantic here, there really is no such thing as blue. It is a representation of a specific frequency of light by the brain. There is no way to know if your blue is the same as mine. In fact, there is no way to prove an external physical reality at all – much less trying to prove a deity. But nevermind all that, keep moving nothing to see here.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If I understand Happy, and I think I do, he is saying there can not be any proof of God just as there cannot be any proof of any other subjective reality. I happen to agree which brings me to the conclusion that people who ask for proof are merely playing a parlor game designed to make sport of other people.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  16. Dave Dawson

    We expected the weak ones to fall by the wayside.
    You have to work for a very happy outcome.
    If you can't work for a very happy outcome, then I can't help you.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • sip

      @dave, But which ones are the weak ones? The ones that let their faith guide their decisions in their life or the ones that had to work at it by using reason and morals?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • CosmicC

      sip, I'd divide those of faith into those who blindly follow and those who put a lot of study and thought into the teachings they follow. The weak are those who put no thought into it at all and follow blindly. I'd say that atheists and people of faith who have done the heavy lifting and developed their own beliefs are not weak.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  17. jeff_000

    Guess that is why I am not a sheep... I have a hard time "blindly" following a shepherd...

    Besides, I am intelligent, and intelligence dictates proof, and I have yet to find anyone in any religious organization/demonation that can show me any proof...

    So, I guess I will have to stick to being an "individual" who finds his own way to internal contentment, as opposed to a sheep in a flock that blindly follows a shepherd...

    June 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Gabby

      Please check out the book, "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. It's a great read by a former investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune about his thorough investigation of Jesus.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Anon

      Lee Strobel is another conniving apologist.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  18. ChrisAH

    Way to square that circle, Mr. Prothero.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  19. Steve

    To all believers who ask non-believers to prove that God does not exist, this is silly. First, you cannot prove a negative. Second, "nothing" does not require an explanation whereas "something" does. God is of course something and hence requires an explanation. A non-believer is somebody who looked as these explanation and is not buying into them. There is nothing for the non-believer to prove.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I'm an atheist. I do not like the term "non-believer". It indicates that I lack something. I don't lack a belief in god. I hold a very strong belief that god does not exist.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  20. 5pmLives

    I'll be impressed when "doubt" moves to a shift to Atheism/ Agnosticism.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:04 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.