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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. Mr Gray

    In order to have a few smart people, most must be dumb. The proportions may change a bit more or less with the state of education over the time, and so you can manipulate the numbers as you will, but it is a fact:
    SMART: People that use reason and apply science, if available, or philosophy if not to the unknown, people that don't deny any possibility unless it is factually proven.
    DUMB: People that listen second voices in their heads, believe in invisible men or enti-ties, and deny anything that goes out of their limited range, includes both Religious and Atheists.
    This article makes the same serious dumb error of most religious people, to define the world in black and white, so Religious and Atheists, sounds like the congress. Guess what, Atheism by definition is also a believe, and so sort of a religion that blindly denies 100% any deity. However, you can have an infinite degree of conclusions over the transcendental and NOT BEING religious, if fact you still can hate religion, and at the same time not being able of purely denying any possibility of creation, even if the idea of creation as presented by any significant religion is extremely unlikely. Kind like approximating Pi to an exact value. The range of thinking by yourself, in the gray, is huge and rich and has nothing to do with having “doubts” as the articles says. What I am 100% certain (by fact), is that religion (or Atheism for the same reasons) is not needed, in fact fully incompatible with a SMART line of thinking. Same that you can’t prove the existence of Black or White, just an approximation.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Dee Andrews

      I depend on my faith – it informs my intellect. I depend on my intellect and it informs my faith.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • earthling

      There are some atheists, myself included, that are not 100% certain there is no god. Some people would refer to this as agnosticism, but others make a distinction between strong and weak atheism. Atheism tends to be less dogmatic than religion in my experience but I agree that those who profess 100% confidence in it are as guilty as theists.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Mr Gray

      Earthling, sorry but you are not an Atheist by definition, labels suck. All in the gray may be considered sort of agnosticism to some degree, but agnosticism defines a person who doesn't know or see the transcendental as unknown from a couch, instead you may do your homework and take a more progressing changing believe as you learn and grow in wisdom. I would not call that agnosticism, again labels sucks!

      June 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Me2

      "There are some atheists, myself included, that are not 100% certain there is no god."
      Well, I, as an atheist, am not 100% certain that unicorns don't exist, on some far away planet, along with thousands of other imaginary things that 'may' exist.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • earthling

      Mr Gray,
      Check out the wikipedia article on atheism. Yes, labels suck but one might characterize an atheist as a person with an absence of belief that any deities exist. That label fits me pretty well.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Mr Gray

      Earthling, Atheism by any serious definition, including the one you refer, is specifically the position that there are no deities. There may be other popular wider views, but that is the specific definition as I also understood from Philosophy 101. You said that don't deny the posibility od deities 100%, so that place you somewhere in the "less white than white". Even if it is significantly more possible than unicorns exist, no in other galaxy, but in some cave in the appalachians. You see why labels suck. I am very often called, even for my wife, an atheist... and I have a real bad time to explaining her I am not.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  2. 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 4:34 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      First, I'm absolutely shocked that you can just rationalize away the murder of innocent children. Well, not shocked, but appalled, anyway. it's that type of morality that flies planes into building (you realize that your god also calls on you to murder those that don't believe in him, too, right)?

      But a point about the triune god. Why does god keep secrets from himself? And since he can, doesn't that somehow make him not all-powerful? Why claim jesus as your savior and not the father when the father keeps his son in the dark?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Any boob that thinks the theory of evolution is tantamount to "calling your momma a chimpanzee" is too ignorant to discuss it.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      I would not even lift up my skinny pinky as to hurt anyone even if they choose to hurt me for Christ's sake. And this is someone who has read, continues to read and believes in the Bible. Kind of shows you that I am not interpretation it the way you are.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ facepalm

      I meant to write..."I am not interpreting it the way you are."

      June 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      I'm not sure how else to interpret this passage. Maybe you can help tell me where it says NOT to kill or harm unbelievers:

      Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him."

      Does your bible not include Leviticus?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you believe YOUR interpretation is the "correct" one, BG? On what grounds?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ facepalm

      You cut and paste a few verses, but to understand verses, you have to read the chapter, to understand the chapter, you have to read the book (entire Leviticus), to understand Leviticus you have to read the books before it...but hey, I'm sure you are not willing to do that.

      @ Tom Tom

      On the grounds of just reading, studying and believing the bible for what it is, not for what I "think" it means or for how it would suit my lifestyle.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Isn't it just amazing that the Bible justifies your hatred? What a coincidence!

      You want to believe that h0mos3xuals are sick, evil, abnormal. So that's what you think the Bible says.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And how odd it is, BG, that you think you have read and understood the Bible so well, yet you can't pick up and read a book about evolution. If you didi, you wouldn't be here making asinine announcements of your ignorance like "calling your momma a chimpanzee". I try not to laugh at people like you, but it's just impossible to do anything else.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  3. Jack

    All Atheists, Please view video #2 @, thestarofkaduri.com

    June 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  4. ERWEEN

    And I, as a Christian, will probably never understand why people like you choose not to believe.

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

      I don't choose to not believe in God anymore than I choose to believe in gravity. For me, they are simple truths of reality.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • The Dude

      because you do not have the intelligence to do so.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Probably for the same reason that you don't believe in Allah or Vishnu or Zeus or Ra.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  5. DD

    It's my opinion that getting closer to God means relying less on religion and more on intuition.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  6. G

    I know they are against science, but you really cant come up with this conclusion from the question that was asked. Ask a real question like "did you stop believing in god". A survey should not be analyzed with your faith, try logic and accept the results even if they are not in your favor. Not being able accept or consider opposing results or views is a sign that you truly lack intelligence.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  7. Reason

    No God.

    But you guys have really good imaginations.
    2 stars for you people with the good imaginations. 🙂

    June 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  8. Scott

    I'll believe in the Almighty when "God" shows his or her face on earth and proves their almighty power for all to see, and when all suffering, disease, hate etc goes away, until then I will not believe in some fairy tale from a book written more then 2000 years ago designed to control the masses and bring in money. I'll put my faith in Science thank you very much.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • The Dude

      Thank You Scott. Word!

      June 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      In the mean time would you mind feeding some of these hungry folks, caring for the sick and visiting some prisoners? We could really use the help.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @Bill,

      Do you think your god would approve of your smug arrogance?

      My atheists friends, on average, donate more of their time and money to charitable causes. They also tend to more often support charities which do not proselytize or discriminate.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Fossilhund

      Scott, when God (He, She, It, They) created the Universe this whole sheebang was set into motion viaThe Big Bang, Let There Be Light; whatever you want to call it. Some billions of years later, after many years of evolution Our Species showed up and has been making a mess of things ever since. We are the Clean Up On Aisle Nine species on this planet. Maybe religion is the result of the Powers That Be stepping in to make sure we don't make the planet toast. Just a thought.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • earthling

      Facepalm,
      I'm an atheist like you but I find it hard to believe you've catalogued and compared the charitable givings of your theist and atheist friends. Really?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Anecdotal evidence – but the distinction is fairly clear.

      Recent studies have shown that believers contribute to charity out of obligation while atheists contribute because they want to do something good. We don't need the negative/positive reinforcement that believers do.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Maybe religion is the result of the Powers That Be stepping in to make sure we don't make the planet toast. Just a thought.

      If that were actually the case, we would probably have religions that taught about responsible, sustainable reproductivity and didn't encourage us to reproduce as much as possible

      June 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • The Dude

      Bill Deacon – I have done just that and yes I am an atheist, and I continue to give because it is the right thing to do, not because a ghost tells me to. I use my hands to work not pray, that is such a waste of time.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Get Real

      Bill Deacon,

      It seems that you are stereotyping atheists Bill Deacon, as you admonished another poster against.
      –"Funny how Answer lumps a group of people together and labels them. Do you even own a mirror?"

      You have a very narrow and hidebound view of non-believers. You remind me of my in-laws - they were entrenched Catholics like you. They absolutely loved watching Andy Rooney every Sunday evening... set their whole schedule around it for years and years. When they found out that he was an atheist/agnostic they refused to ever watch him again. They had a doctor whose praises they couldn't sing loud enough until they found out that he was atheist/agnostic - they changed doctors.

      I was Catholic for many, many years. I know how I was taught to regard atheists... pure evil and not to be associated with. When I met the first live one when I was around 18, boy, was I surprised. He was a great guy.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I don't believe I stereo type all atheist and I do believe there are those who do good works. My comments are directed specifically at Scott who seems to be asking for all creation to be set right before he decides whether to belief or not. I am merely suggesting that he join those of us who are contributing to the betterment of creation while he wait. It makes me no difference if he believes or not.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • chris hitchens

      did the best work any atheist could do a few weeks ago

      June 15, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  9. Gods Shepard

    Mudfalls.com shows the lost scripture of Jesus, written by the disciple Josiphous! Learn about a new chapter in the life of Christ!

    June 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • The Dude

      Another fiction....

      June 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Gods Shepard

      Did you read any of it?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Chris

      Josphious has been proven false because it is written completely different. Not only that but the scripture you follow was created AFTER Jesus' death. No one met the man, they were just stories past down. Anyone in Seminary school can tell you that. Ask any Catholic priest that's honest and he will tell you.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Gods Shepard

      I made it up f a g.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • The Dude

      all of it, several times over. All BS, full of lies and hate, misery and just plain LIES!!!

      June 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  10. Andrea

    Doesn't anyone proofread this stuff before it gets posted? 30 and uner? Pay attention, CNN.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Gods Shepard

      uner? Proof read yourself f a g.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Reason

      wow Gods Shepard. way to show the intelligence of a believer in this fairy tale. The typo she was pointing out, you yourself mistook for a typo in her post.

      God didnt give you people much upstairs did he? Guess thats why you all believe in fairy tales.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Rick James

      Andrea was pointing out a mistake in the article. Seeing as you have trouble reading, I can only assume you are Christian.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  11. Stephen

    I'd say increased doubt not only doesn't have to mean reduced faith, but hopefully suggests increased capability for independent thought. Frankly those who fall into completely blind faith are all too prone to end up striving valiantly to impose their beliefs on others exactly because they _are_ so utterly confident their beliefs are correct. This gives rise to extremists, fundamentalists, militants, whether Christian, Muslim, or otherwise. We need more people who choose faith after giving it serious consideration rather than those who never give it a single thought or question.

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

      If you give any religious serious thought with critical thinking it will become obvious that faith in general is not needed.

      Doubt's about god ARE going to mean religion is weakening as one of the tenets of most major religions is belief without proof and questioning.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Stephen

      Religion does not equate to faith. Religions are like corporations–their point is to survive, and to thrive. And this is often accomplished through demands for unquestioning faith from their followers. But faith doesn't have to be blind or unquestioning. And even if churches which demand such followers lose in an age of increased questioning of God, that doesn't mean faith loses. Many faiths out there don't insist their followers never think for themselves, and those who question would be welcomed into many other houses of worship. Just because you have no faith and no room for faith doesn't mean no one should. But just because I have faith doesn't mean I require you to, either. I'm happy with my faith, and unlike some I feel no need to try to force others to live according to religious laws they don't subscribe to.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Leo

    CNN\Atheists\Antichrists wants people to believe that somehow there is some concern about faith, and try so hard to portray Christianity and Faith in Jesus Christ in a negative light.

    Christianity is the fastest growing religion both in the number of new adherents due to natural growth (births minus deaths) as well as in number of new converts (converts in minus converts out).

    The total growth of Christianity (25,210,195) adds the equivalent of more than the population of Australia (21,555,500) or the U.S. State of Texas (23,904,380) of new Christians to Christianity. Every year.

    The number of new converts to Christianity is more than twice the combined number of new converts to all the other religions.

    Missionaries and Christian Workers:

    In the unevangelized world, there are 20,500 full-time Christian workers and 10,200 foreign missionaries.
    In the evangelized non-Christian world, there are 1.31 million full-time Christian workers.

    In the Christian world, there are 306,000 foreign missionaries to other Christian lands. Also, 4.19 million full-time Christian workers (95%) work within the Christian world.

    Number of Christian Martyrs Worldwide:

    An average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year.

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

      Christians only make up 33% of the people on this planet. So your way off base dude but if you have to come up with lies like that to convince yourself then that's pathetic. Oh...wait...lying is a sin and you can't even follow the basics of the bible which proves your poor reading comprehension skills. LOL!

      June 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Chris

      Ohh you're so brave to be apart of the 80% of Americans....

      You people are not victim...you're bullies. Whether you know it or not you vote and effect policy. For this I don't like you and will continue to make your religion look bad with simple logic and reason. Faith has no place in modern society. Grow up already....

      June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Leo

      http://fastestgrowingreligion.com/numbers.html

      June 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Brent

      Wicca has the fastest growth rate by percentage change, followed by Buddhism. In terms of sheer numbers Islam converted 12.5 million members more than Christianity from 1990 through 2000. Islam now accounts for every fourth person on Earth.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Me2

    I am a man of faith. I have faith in many things – electricity, the orbit of the moon, photosynthesis.... I do wish the religious would stop hijacking the word 'faith'. In typical religious arrogance, they assume a monopoly over the word and act as though they own it. Their use of the word 'faith' places those of presumed 'non-faith' in a defensive position, as though non-faith equates to a form of deficiency or inadequacy.

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

      Even worse, they perceive somebody declaring their non-belief as an inherent attack on their belief...for no other reason than somebody has voiced their differing opinion.

      It's virtually impossible to use logic and reason with believers as they have long since abandoned both.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Eric

      Faith as it relates to religious matters is defined as belief in something for which there is no evidence. Believing in scientifically supported facts is not the same thing as having "faith."

      From the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

      ‘I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’ 'But,’ says Man, ‘the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance, it proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t QED.’ 'Oh dear,’ says God, ‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

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

      That's not faith that's "Reasonable expectations based on evidence and testing"

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      faith, by definition means hope in things unseen. You don't have faith in science, you have reliance.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Me2

      Faith does not, nor has it ever, applied exclusively to religion or religious matters. Again, the religious have hijacked the word 'faith', claiming it as their own.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Me2

      Faith is trustworthiness and strong belief. I have faith that a business partner will pay. My dog is faithful. I have faith in many things. Faith does not, and never has, belonged exclusively to religion.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  14. Dan

    Rigorously jamming ones own god down the throats of those around you is almost as old as vehemently denying the existence of said gods. This has been happening since the dawn of religion, people doubt, people believe, people doubt, people believe. It doesn't change anything. Christianity is in no danger in America, nor is atheism. If anything this statistic simply shows that more and more Christians are trying to think for themselves instead of blindly following everything they're told. This country could use more reasonable Christians, and no that is not an oxymoron. We need people exploring as many possibilities as possible, then bringing what they think they know to the table, because in the end that is the core of human discourse, what we think vs what we observe and interperet. If people stop asking questions on either side, things are liable to get mighty boring around here.

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

      Dan...I agree. In fact, asking questions is entirely within a Christian's obligation. Acts 17:11 reminds us: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." There is nothing wrong with questioning Christian leaders.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  15. Skeeve

    Atheists, in general don't give a damn about "god doubts" – they don't have any

    June 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  16. Gods Shepard

    Ban evolutionary teaching! Sign a peti.tion at prolapsed.net! Its a sin.

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

      great example of first amendment rights, eh.. idiot, much?

      June 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Gods Shepard

      did you sign it?

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

      Your in middle school, right? I hope they teach you more before you grow up.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  17. Larry C.

    God is far too big a topic to ever be resolved, but it is obvious that traditional religions are false. Unlike the first century, we now know that human consciousness depends on a functioning human brain. When your brain stops working, you die. There is no continuation of consciousness after death. The idea that you go live in heaven is nonsense.

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

      Well stated....

      June 15, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  18. Jim

    One more atheist here to comment. It looks like that's about 90% by looking at the comments so far. It may be a self selected group but where are all the religious folks?? Fact is there aren't as many as people believe there are. I guarantee that the percentage of Atheists is much higher than reported in every one of these polls. People are afraid to come out.

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

      "People are afraid to come out."

      Religion sells, just look at the mega-churches, huge money makers. If you want to sell your products around the world the last thing you're going to say is there is no God. Just look how religion plays in politics. Hopefully in another decade or two we can slowly educated people but it will take time.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Burps

      Atheists are like liberals. They will never agree with what you say and think you are not worthy of being a human being unless you agree with everything they believe. There is no point in arguing about religion or God.

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

      Atheism is the new religion. Just like the other religions, its followers trying to convert the many believers of the other faiths. The only difference between the Atheist and the Christian is the willingness to believe in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

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

      Burps, you must have difficulty handling liberal Christians or right-leaning atheists....

      June 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • The Dude

      Jim I totally agree with you. But it only makes sense if you think about it. How can anyone believe in God when you see the horrors of this planet, the murder of an entire nation in Africa, the devastation from tsunami's and earthquakes, our political system (had to throw that one in). I have never been happier as an atheist, and its amazing, I still do good things because I want to not because some ferry book tells me to. I use my hands to work not pray.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Rick James

      Stephen: I doubt that Burps can stretch his mind that far. People like him tend to conflate terms that he doesn't like together to make them mean the same thing.

      Truth: Atheism isn't a religion at all, sorry to say.

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

      I am glad more people notice the numbers discrepancy in the comment sections of these religious blogs. You are right. Once I came out I found that at least 75% of the people I know are either atheist or agnostic. This 3-15% of the population they keep insisting on just does not add up.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Cp454

      @Truth....NOT true. I actually happen to believe I am not damned in the first place. I feel original sin is a cop-out, and a huge logical fallacy.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • In Response to Jim

      I think that you made some good points and that your summaries are probably correct. What I would humbly suggest is that those of faith – myself included – don't necessarily see online articles and the responding posts as the best forum for staking one's position or sharing one's faith. Here's why: I want to live out what I believe, not simply write about it, and I certainly don't want to attack others for what they do or don't believe. If I truly care about others, and my faith in Christ is best evidenced by my love for the Lord and also for others, living out that message by connecting my faith to that love is far more powerful than any logic or written prose that appears here (or anywhere else, for that matter). I posted today because your own post was not an attack, but actually a good summary set of observations, to which I simply wish to add one last point: if more folks with an authentic love for God were more committed to loving others as to deeply care about their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual welfare, I would humbly suggest that the level of doubt that is rightly exists today, would decrease.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Actually, scripture tells us not to waste our time with arguments and dissension amongst unbelievers. So, I wouldn't take it as a victory. Most Christians recognize there will always be unbelievers, some choose to interact. Personally, I am not interested in anyone's conversion but my own. I like the challenge to my own thinking that some comments produce. If you eliminate the idiotic and abusive stuff, there are a few, very few, thoughtful atheists whom I choose to engage.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Hey Bill Deacon...

      ...following Christ means being like-minded, in concert with Luke 19:10, which therefore emphasizes the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20), which means that if you have no concern for anyone's conversion other than your own, you simply are not obedient to the very Scripture you cited. Yes, we're to refrain from arguments and meaningless distractions. But Isaiah 1:18, along with 4 separate instances in Acts 17 and 18, exhorts believers to "reason" with others...for the ultimate purpose of carrying out Christ's mission here on earth in like-minded form: the Great Commission.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Burps

      Stephen- both. I have difficulty with people who are black and white on all issues. I believe there are gray areas. Rick James- you are a superfreak!

      June 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  19. Fossilhund

    Science has been a love of mine for as long as I can remember; so much so that I majored in Zoology. I used my degree to work for years in Forensics. I have also always loved other branches of science, such as geology, astronomy and physics. Evolution in particular has always been a passion of mine (what is evolution but genealogy dug deep?). I am also a Christian. My faith has helped me through traumatic events over the last many years, such as my father's suicide. For me, Science and Faith complement each other. I do not use the Bible as a scientific or historical text, nor do I read scientific books, papers and magazines to gain religious knowledge. Science explains how the universe works, while Faith explains how the heart works. Sometimes, just sometimes, for me at least, they dovetail.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Charmaine Smith-Miles

      To Fossilhund,
      Thank you. I am not a genius when it comes to science, but I will say that I have always felt this way...faith and science often dovetail one another. Scripture is the way that our ancestors tried to tell us our story. It was not meant to be a "scientific" telling, but a telling from their world view. Does this make Scripture untrue? No. Both truths can exist, I believe, in this magnificent world. Thank you for adding your input. We - the worlds of science and faith - have felt alien to one another for far too long. Both are a gift from the same God.
      Blessings and peace...to us all...even those who doubt. Doubt...that is OK. God is big enough to hear it all, and love us in spite of ourselves.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Fossilhund

      @Charmaine, thanks for your input. There must be many like us who see no conflict between Faith and Science.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  20. Skeptic

    The church is like Lance Armstrong. There is so much money in it, it's crazy not to lie. There is NO incentive for the church to tell you the truth, but the church gets 10% of your income by telling you a lie.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Dee Andrews

      Skeptic,
      The vast majority of churches are not burdened with money (hence the bake sales, car washes, rummage sales, etc.), the not-for-profit status, and the closing of religious schools. Nor does any church in the United States get 10% of your income – unless you freely give it. There is plenty of incentive for the church to tell the truth – none that skeptics would recognize however.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
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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.