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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. AtheistLove

    Apparently it was just an amazing coincidence that every Communist of historical note publicly declared his atheism.

    There have been twenty-eight countries in world history that can be confirmed to have been ruled by regimes with avowed atheists at the helm. These twenty-eight historical regimes have been ruled by eighty-nine atheists, of whom more than half have engaged in democidal acts of the sort committed by Stalin and Mao…

    The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead at the bloody hands of fifty-two atheists, three times more than all the human beings killed by war, civil war, and individual crime in the entire twentieth century combined.

    The historical record of collective atheism is thus 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianity’s worst and most infamous misdeed, the Spanish Inquisition. It is not only Stalin and Mao who were so murderously inclined, they were merely the worst of the whole Hell-bound lot.

    For every Pol Pot whose infamous name is still spoken with horror today, there was a Mengistu, a Bierut, and a Choibalsan, godless men whose names are now forgotten everywhere but in the lands they once ruled with a red hand.
    There is a 58 percent chance that an atheist leader will murder a noticeable percentage of the population over which he rules sufficient evidence that atheism does, in fact, provide a systematic influence to do bad things?

    If one considers the statistically significant size of the historical atheist set and contrasts it with the fact that not one in a thousand religious leaders have committed similarly large-scale atrocities, it is impossible to conclude otherwise, even if we do not yet understand exactly why this should be the case.

    Once might be an accident, even twice could be coincidence, but fifty-two incidents in ninety years reeks of causation!

    June 15, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • AtheistRebuttal

      This is a frequent and tiresome ad hominem frequently resorted to by religious fundamentalists fast approaching total cognitive surrender, and I'd like to include a complete rebuttal here before I forget it.

      To begin with I'm going to leave Hitler to one side and examine our other three lumninaries. What did Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung all have in common apart from their atheism? Anyone? They all had a fanatical devotion to collectivism.

      In short all three subscribed to a dogmatic ideology that considered the wellbeing of the collective to be of greater import than the wellbeing of the individuals that made up the collective. Individuals percieved as threats to or targets of the collective were eliminated by exile, starvation or good old fashioned killing.

      The problem with ideologies is that they inevitably centre around the notion that ideas are more important than people. Accepting that ideas are more important than people inevitably leads to tragedy and atrocity.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Prove the causation.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Huebert

      "fifty-two incidents in ninety years reeks of causation."

      LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL

      June 15, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • AtheistLove

      "Individuals percieved as threats to or targets of the collective were eliminated by exile, starvation or good old fashioned killing."

      "The problem with ideologies is that they inevitably centre around the notion that ideas are more important than people."

      "Accepting that ideas are more important than people inevitably leads to tragedy and atrocity."

      Warning! Warning!

      June 15, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Huebert

      What are you earning us of?

      June 15, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Huebert

      Er... warning. I promise I can type.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • And Your Source Is...

      AtheistLove,

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservapedia:General_disclaimer

      Nothing on this site can be deemed to be professional advice in any field. See an appropriate professional, such as an attorney or physician, if you need professional advice. Nothing here has necessarily been reviewed or checked by anyone with expertise to ensure that it is accurate or reliable.

      It is entirely your obligation to independently verify any information that you obtain from this website, and in no event should you rely on any information found on this site except entirely at your own risk.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • sam

      Nice try...no cookie for you, though.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Communist leaders like Pol Pot and Stalin would not have been charismatic enough to gain converts had they not learned the discourse of dogmatic persuasion from religious inst/itutions.
      Pol Pot spent 8 years at a Catholic school in Phnom Penh and Stalin 5 years at a Russian orthodox seminary. Historians have noted their speaking and writing styles ape those of the Church in being 'declamatory and repet.itive, with liturgical overtones”.
      While they both sought to eliminate traditional religions from their kingdoms, they did so in order to divert the common man’s fervour to their own cults of personality.
      As Karl Marx himself noted “Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...”
      These leaders wielded their people’s predilection for faith like a weapon. Atheism is not the prime cause for these tragic regimes – the misdirection of faith is.
      Like religion, they demanded blind obedience and obsequious submission from their followers. They tolerated no free-thinkers and enforced dogmatism – a trick they learned from their religious educations.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Jack

    Yes everyone, including the – Mean – Angry – & Libel – are welcome to... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 15, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Gods god

      And be sure to check out Jacks homepage, prolapsed.net. Where you can debate him on the validity of Jesus' miracles!

      June 15, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  3. Bob

    Since we've got HeavenSent and others dumping bible quotes on us again ad nauseum, let's look more closely at some of the nasty bits in that Christian book of horrors AKA the bible. Fine stuff like this, and you can find similar nastiness for sicko Christian god in both OT and NT:

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    June 15, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Don't be afraid to ask questions

      http://www.gotquestions.org/God-heal-amputees.html

      June 15, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Numbers 31:17-18

      http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/why-were-only-virgins-left-alive-among-midianites

      June 15, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Mike from CT

      "Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy."

      Go learn what this means 'I desire mercy not sacrifice'

      June 15, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Bob

      Mark the CT, those links are full of nonsense. Try again. And read this more carefully, stupid:

      If you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Mike,

      Bob cuts and pastes the same thing no matter what you say. His deceit has been refuted over and over again. Just ignore him.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Bob the Christian

      Read the Bible and pray and ask God to help you with your unbelief.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • ME II

      @Bob the Christian,
      But didn't God give me the disbelief?

      June 15, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Bob, I keep telling you that it's not my fault you rejected your heritage through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior ... is the reason you have no eyes to see, nor, ears to hear His truth. Just because the fairy tales you hold dear of your ancestors swinging from tree to tree aren't holding water to His truth about life and the hereafter is why you are becoming unglued. Own it.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Bob,
      So God is stupid because you can not interpret. Is Steven Hawkings also an idiot because you his stuff goes over your head again.

      Don't confuse concrating a people vs the overall plan

      Continue to learn what this means 'I desire mercy not sacrifice'

      Or do you want to move the conversation to your foolish reasoning and supertitions? Start with you believe in relativity but you can't live it out.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bob

      Mike, HeavenSent and Robert Brown, one reply suffices for the three of you

      First, no thanks for the personal attacks. Stephen W. Hawking and I are colleagues. Perhaps you would like to ask him whether he thinks that I'm stupid?

      Seriously, again, please put your personal attacks aside and try to think through what I am saying. Robert, neither you nor others have ever been able to counter what I am saying here. Let's look at the quoted bible sections again. They are very clear and explicit in their demands for humans to do what most modern folk would consider to be evil:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      "are colleagues"

      Highly doubt it with your logic skills and you missed the question as a personal attack?

      Because you don't understand God therefore he doesn't exist. Ergo you don't understand Hawkings therefore he doesn't exist. You did not understand my post therefore I do not exist?

      No personal attack.

      God does not desire the mercy not sacrife. The sacrifical system was to understand the graveness of sin, which is lost on this generation.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  4. Rational Libertarian

    Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best…

    June 15, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  5. OldAtheist

    Atheism seems to have risen in data from the last few decades. However, it is more likely that people are becoming more open about expressing doubts rather than some rapid shift toward atheism. Those willing to self-identify as atheists is still only 1-2%, not much better than 40-60 years ago. What has shown modest growth are defacto atheists, who cannot name or describe a god they believe in. It pays to hide your atheism when religionist are prone to punish you at work or socially.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Cq

      Maybe a large part of the population never really believed, and are only now feeling comfortable in "coming out", right? With this actually being a choice, not like being gay is, wouldn't you expect numbers of atheists to either grow, or shrink depending on future developments?

      June 15, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus is in control. He already told us about the The four horns that usher in satan:

      Educational – (includes the media)
      Economics
      Religious, and;
      Political

      to twist and contort His truth into satan's lies. Big whoop folks. As Moe Howard said about the fools of the world "tried to think, but, nothing worked ...woo, woo.

      Amen.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • IKYABWAI

      HeavenSent,
      "Moe Howard said about the fools of the world "tried to think, but, nothing worked ...woo, woo."

      He was talking about you.

      June 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  6. Robert Brown

    Doubt can be a great faith increaser. On several occasions Jesus said, “ye of little faith”. They had faith with doubt. When God changes something, you are in doubt about, faith grows stronger.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Bob

      "Doubt can be a great faith increaser." -only if your ability to reason is weak.

      Better think about that statement some more, Robert.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  7. Jack

    My Take: More doubts about God doesn't mean religion is weakening ... just consider spending some quality time at thestarofkaduri.com

    June 15, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Gods god

      And check out mudfalls.com. Jack runs that website, it has a ton of Christian testimony on finding Jesus!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Cq

      Jack
      Would fewer doubts about God mean that religion is strengthening?

      June 15, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Jack –

      War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  8. Darrel

    "Comments are not pre-screened before they post."

    Buuuullll shiiiiiit.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • LinCA

      @Darrel

      You said, ""Comments are not pre-screened before they post."
      Buuuullll shiiiiiit.
      "

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      June 15, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  9. Touched by Jesus' light saber

    Check out were the author, Prothero, goes to church. Pretty sucking CNN lets this guy write for them. See it at prolapsed.net. What do you think?

    June 15, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • jimfromny

      Gross!!!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  10. george jr 3

    if christianity is truth- why are the majority of republicans lining up behind and supporting romney who teaches and believes in what christians believe to be a false god. it seems to me republican christians dont believe in their own god abandoning the only christian in the race for a false god. maybe the trade of their religion for politics is a good trade

    June 15, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Primewonk

      Here's the kicker george – they spin this by claiming Obama isn't a christian. In a Public Policy Polling survey done in Spring 2011 down south, in Mississippi 88% of republicans said Obama is not a christian, and 52% said that he was a muslim. Similar results in Alabama.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "the majority of republicans lining up behind and supporting romney who teaches and believes in what christians believe to be a false god. " Silly, it's because they are all atheists at heart. When they lie about us, they know they won't be thrown into a fiery pit for it; that's a story for children. They do what's expedient for their secular power base, and that's Romney.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Jen

      I remember hearing someone saying that Obama had requested to be sworn in as president on the Quran. I think there are a lot of people that should be considered mentally handicapped in those states.....

      June 15, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  11. robert landbeck

    "American religion is growing up." Quite the contrary. The expectations of the Incarnation have never been realized via any religious teaching of tradition which sets up a contradiction that existing belief cannot reconcile. That is why believers turn in on themselves, turn on others, or like a bad marriage continue in doubt or even join the growing ranks of agnostic or atheists. . . even turning to terrorism in the extreme. The contemporary intellectual construct of religion, sometime called theology was never grounded in anything to do with God but pure human vanity. Mr. Prothero being a so called 'religious scholar' [an oxymoron at best] shares responsibility for the continuing corruption and dumbing down of the human soul. http://www.energon.org.uk

    June 15, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Wow Robert. Talk about residing in the dark.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Cq

      Meanwhile, folks like HS are calling Stephen Prothero a hack in the other half of his articles here, the ones where he presents some criticism of religious Right thinking.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  12. Reality

    Good ole Stephen P, never saying what his beliefs are but making much text over what others think. CNN should require that he come clean about his own visions of the deity (deities).

    June 15, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • GAW

      Isn't that ad hominem?

      June 15, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  13. b4bigbang

    OBAMA !!!!!!

    FOUR
    MORE
    YEARS !!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      woohoo!!!

      June 15, 2012 at 5:26 am |
    • imrepostingthis

      "GOD" I hope not

      June 15, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  14. Goddidit

    Case closed!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • GAW

      No! Everything is still subject to further questions and inquiry. That's how we move forward.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  15. rudyardK

    Tom Tom! Where are you tonight?

    Oh where is TomTom?
    A Dark Sun in the long night
    Alas! I grow cold

    June 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hi, Rudy. Sorry to have missed you. Lovely haiku.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  16. Leah

    A faith that has never been tested cannot be proven. What is faith if there has never been any doubt?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • manbearpig

      It's been tested time and time again, and found wanting.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Faith is prentending to know something you don't know and therefore cannot be proven.

      Faith is a poison.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Atheism isn't a choice

      It is stupidity in motion

      June 15, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Christians follow Jesus' truth to be the best that He wants us to be .... functioning and productive with righteous outcomes.

      Non-believers follow satan's lies and stay miserable while destroying ... non-functioning, never producing ... unrighteous outcomes.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • If stupidity could talk

      It would sound like just claims no truth
      Daniels 7th week THE LAST WEEK of history is the reference Jesus was making, common knowledge to all but the most devout idiots.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Jen

      HS – no husband, no man that wants to touch you, no children, no possibility of ever having children. And your life is not miserable????? I would have killed myself long ago if I had your life.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Jen exhorting suicide? Must be some of that atheistic morality I've heard about.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bill, does HS sound like the sort of Christian anyone would want to emulate?

      June 15, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • HeavenSent

      TT, cough Jen. Still clueless no matter what handle you hide behind. I guess today being happily married means to spend as much time away from your husband so you can spew your venom of nastiness. Yes, chalk that up to your (cough) great marriage. Sad, sad, sad, and, pathetic to boot.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Jen

      Bill HS has told me my one year old and three year old are going to burn in h- ll for eternity because I am agnostic and am raising them the same way.

      But let me guess, you think her telling me that doesn't make her a bad person because she's just telling me the 'truth'.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Jen

      My husband is at work HS. I know that it is hard to know how families function given you've never been on a date or been out of the basement of your mother's home for that matter, but that is how a lot of families function.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Jen

      And I'm not TT. I've never changed my handle. I have two young children and am expecting my third (too bad God hates you so much or you might have been as blessed as I am), so I don't have time to post as many different people, or delusional enough to post to myself (not everyone is as pathetic as you).....

      June 15, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HS, look up the word 'paranoia'. I'm not Jen. She's got little kids at home. She's probably under 40. I am over 50, and yes, I do have a great marriage and family.

      Did you think that thumpers like you are the only people with happy lives? Oh, wait....I almost forgot to whom I was writing. Never mind about that last part.

      I don't post under any other handles, you old buzzard.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Jen

      Good guess Tom Tom! I'm 36. HS and Evangelical are both dense. Evangelical guessed I was 20 and gay (so I guess he thinks I've been busy at the sperm bank during my teen years....)

      June 15, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      They're both non compos mentis.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Cq

      HeavenSent
      What if what some Christians consider "righteous outcomes", like lying for creationism, don't match other Christian's?

      June 15, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Tom and Jen, if what you adhere to could be called a sort of rational, compassionate humanism, you aren't serving yourselves any good purpose with the derogatory personal attacks on HS or any one else. Like-wise condemnation of individuals by self righteous types (I don't call them Christians but you might) doesn't foster anything positive either. I myself have fallen victim of this occasionally and I ask your forgiveness for it. I believe when the Bible describes a descent into hell, it is talking about me when I choose to be the way I have just described. One path culminates in a state of isolation, self seeking and desolation we call "hell". The other path realizes relationship, other centered-ness and joy we call heaven. Choose your cup wisely my friends

      June 15, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Jen

      Bill, while I agree that HS is not a true Christian, I don't think there is anything wrong with insulting someone that takes enjoyment out of picturing a one year old baby burning in h-ll. And I didn't tell HS to commit suicide, I just said that if my life was so empty because I had no family and couldn't hold a job, and my only joy came from telling people on the Internet they are going to h-ll, then that IMO is not a life worth living. My opinion only. I would feel sorry for HS if she wasn't so bitter and evil.

      I'm not at all anti-Christian. My husband is Catholic. And by the way, HS believes you and my husband are both cult members because you are Catholic (she has stated that several times).

      June 15, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  17. grist

    I have two teenage children. They are involved in religious youth groups despite that they are both agnostic or atheist. They tell me that half of the kids in these groups are too. Same thing in their high school. Times are changing. I suspect there are many many closeted atheists/agnostics. It is becoming ok to come out. As it gets easier to come out, I predict this will accelerate. Kids today really don't care much about gods.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Colin

      Great news. Although I am happy to be living in the generation where we atheists are still a minority. A bit like being in the NAACP would be much more exciting in the 50s and 60s than today.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • filth given

      @colin
      filth is always filth

      June 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Goddidit

      Closet atheists care why? They are afraid and aren't really atheist..

      June 15, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • b4bigbang

      @grist: I sure hope you're right! The prophets predicted that one of the last things to happen before the return of Christ would be what is known as the "great apostasy".
      In fact, Jesus himself said "when the Son of Man returns will he find faith on the Earth?"
      Prepare to meet thy God!

      June 15, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • mandarax

      I'd have to say that I can relate to that quite well. I remember being in youth group at church and thinking, "deep down, these people don't actually believe this stuff, do they?"

      June 15, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • zeyn2010

      I agree most people seem to say the same thing! They don't really believe, but go with the flow – especially if they were raised that way, they wish to raise their kids the same way, however half heartedly I suppose. This is the age of reasoning, we are maturing as species and no longer need our hands to be held. We can decide what's good and evil, and do the right thing on our own, not because we are afraid to go to hell, but because it IS the right thing to do!

      June 15, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Jesus himself said his return would happen within the lifetime of the generation living at that time. Jesus had the first failed prophacy of the end of the world and christians have continued that tradition for 2000+ years.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • GAW

      You do know that you're asking to get trolled by posting this again and again.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Goddidit

      Why do you post the same thing everyday?? Hired by CNN or just a troll?

      June 15, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • truth given

      is never ever trolling

      June 15, 2012 at 6:14 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      A lie repeated often enough....

      June 15, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • a lie repeated often enough ...

      becomes atheism

      June 15, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • john the guy noy the baptist

      Hey A

      Insanity is not healthy for children and other living things.
      Medication changes things.

      There is help in the real world, seek and you shall find.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

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

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

      June 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Prayer changes things." No, it doesn't. It just "makes you feel better" about them. If I cut off your nose, you could pray until you felt better about not having a nose, but you couldn't pray your nose back on. Try it and see!

      June 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  19. Jack

    This is no hogwash, this is no jive, this is no spam mam – everyone is invite to visit my web site – thestarofkaduri.com

    June 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • manbearpig

      Why would anyone want to go to your website?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • imrepostingthis

      no site is BS

      June 15, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  20. Colin

    The three greatest movements in history, which, in the cu.mulative, mark the emergence of the Western World from the Dark Ages are the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. All three are defined by their rejection of religion and religious dogma in favor of science, free thought and reason.

    If religion (as opposed to morality) was anything other than empty promises meant to sate human insecurities, would we not expect movements TOWARD greater religiosity to be predominant in World history and viewed in a positive light?

    The gods, ghosts and goblins are in full retreat. The penetrating light of science and knowledge has driven these make-believe beings into the last dark holes that science has not yet fully illuminated. The uncritical mind of the believer is perhaps the most obstinate.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Chad

      Reformation
      You mean the Protestant Reformation?? : Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants?

      and.. precisely how do you see that as being defined by a rejection of religion? It was triggered by religion and gave rise to all protestant denominations.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Chad, because it was a direct rejection of the dogma of Cathtolicism. The first baby steps away from religious dogma and toward atheism and humanism, the highest forms of human thought.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Chad

      @Colin "because it was a direct rejection of the dogma of Cathtolicism. The first baby steps away from religious dogma and toward atheism and humanism, the highest forms of human thought."

      =>interesting, so, in your world a revitalization of the Church and a movement to bring people into a personal relationship with Christ, resulting in an explosive growth in Christianity around the world, is.. somehow... perceived... as... a... move... to.. .atheism....
      interesting take on reality.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Colin

      Chad- it was the 1500s. Superst.ition was universal. The reformation was the first signs of wide spread awakening that what authoritarian figures said about religion was cr.ap, a direct, albeit early precurser to atheism. Denying this was a movement away from religious dogma is ludicrous. Then again, you do believe that your sky-fairy created the entire Universe so he could spy on human beings 24/7/365.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Rachel

      Chad-Fantastic retorts! 🙂

      June 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Karen

      Chad, senseless retorts. You must not be very smart. Same for you, Rachel.

      June 15, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Chad,

      Patting yourself on the back under the name 'Rachel' you is really wierd.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Berk

      Just Claims, No Truth
      It's called having a sock puppet, I think.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Cq

      Colin
      If protestantism was a rejection of Catholic dogma, then the pendulum has certainly swung way back with the rapture, creationism and prosperity gospel. Today's American fundamentalist Christians believe things that even Douglas Adams' "Electric Monk" would find too difficult.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Colin, Christians are in awe that God created All, which includes science and the scientists that work at unveiling God's mytsery.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      sorry for the typo ... mystery.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Cq

      HeavenSent
      What if Einstein's concept of God was right, and science eventually reveals that "God" is just the natural laws which govern the universe, with nothing "personal" or "intelligent" about it? That's where science appears to be heading, right?

      June 15, 2012 at 3:29 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.