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'Where was God in Aurora?' comments show Internet as church for atheists
Some atheists may ask questions on the Internet that they wouldn't have asked in church.
August 1st, 2012
12:03 PM ET

'Where was God in Aurora?' comments show Internet as church for atheists

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Internet has become the de facto global church for atheists, agnostics and other doubters of God, who of course don’t have bricks-and-mortar churches in which to congregate.

We see this phenomenon in motion every day on the CNN Belief Blog, where atheists/agnostics/humanists are among the most zealous commenters.

Recent string of posts around the question of “Where was God in Aurora?” (such as this and this) drew especially large waves of comments that show atheists are using the Internet to commune with one another and to confront religious believers in ways that they don’t usually do in church.

Atheists and other secularists have offline organizations that stage in-person meetings - the Secular Student Alliance has seen its number of campus chapters quadruple in the last five years, to 368 - but the Internet has probably played a bigger role in the rise of the so-called New Atheism. The movement’s adherents evangelize their godlessness, just as many religious folks evangelize their God, often taking to the Belief Blog to do so.

“A lot of millennials who are coming of age have found that the Internet is a fantastic place to talk about their doubt,” says Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance. “Before the Internet, there was no place for young people to do that. The only place to go was really church, and that wasn’t always a welcoming place.

“But they can go online and discuss these ideas without being judged by friends and families,” Galef says.

For closeted atheists, the Internet’s anonymity is a big draw. A coalition of national atheist groups recently launched a program to transition doubting clergy to lives of open atheism by first having ministers come out anonymously in a closed online community.

Plenty of other atheists, though, are using the Internet to connect with real, named people through Facebook and other online social networks.

“It’s the ability to access a larger community, particularly for people growing up in religiously conservative areas,” Galef says. “There is nobody they can point to to discuss their atheism or their doubts about the Bible or their morality, and the Internet provides that.”

On Sunday, a guest piece from a Colorado pastor argued that it’s possible to reconcile the idea of a sovereign God with the existence of evil and tragedy. The post has drawn 4,239 comments as of Wednesday morning, largely from atheists.

One of those comments - a letter from God penned by an atheist commenter named Colin - caught fire online. Here’s how his letter opens:

"Dear Christians:

"God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in world history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.

"You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time? Did I make those few Jews or did those few Jews make me?"

The letter has been posted on reddit, where it attracted another 1,000-plus comments. (Warning: The reddit comments includes foul language.)

The vast majority of comments come from sympathetic atheists and other secularists (the discussion is reddit's atheism thread), a striking example of such folks doing church without God online. Many of those comments are deeply personal, confessional and poignant.

Here are five of the best ones. Some respond to Colin’s letter from God, others to the Colorado pastor who wrote for the Belief Blog last weekend.

1. CarbonEmitter

"I grew up religious and decided to be agnostic (as an) undergraduate. Even though I am now in my late 20s, I still feel slightly guilty because my parents try to ram religion down my throat. My mom converted to my dad's religion (from Christianity to Islam) right before having a double lung transplant in 1995. They are now super-religious and attribute her miraculous recovery to her conversion.

"Reading posts like these remind me of how ridiculous religion is and help relieve my guilt. Thank you /r/athiesm."

2. tazadar

"I like what Carl Sagan said about reassuring fables.

" 'The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning. We long for a parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.' "

3. RyGuy2012

"You know, it really irks me to no end to read the article from the pastor, as he claims to not have an answer for why God didn't prevent the Aurora shooting, but then claims to know for sure that God is there when people come to lend their support and sympathies for the shooting victims.

"I just can't wrap my mind around this logic. Like, the pastor must find some other explanation why people are good and do good things. It can't be that people can just be good on their own. Because, apparently (our) natural normal state is to be completely uncaring and disregarding? It's just such a very sad and low opinion to have of your fellow man.

4. funfetti_cookies

"Of course, he says that. You have to scare the people before giving them a reason to listen - "I held her hand as she died." What a great way to start your article. Also don't forget to mention Columbine so people remember that tragedy as well, but then go on to explain why God still exists and this is all part of his plan. Religion is nothing more but a scare tactic to control the masses.

5. ConstipatedNinja

"I don't share this much, but I was raped twice by my pastor when I was 6. And by I don't share this much, I mean that even my own parents don't know (as a side note, he's long since dead, so there's no sense in bringing it up). I had to sit in the same room (with) him for three hours every Sunday while he told everyone - including me - how a decent human being should act. I had to for four entire years before my family moved to a different state.

"When it first happened, I had no idea what was done. I was too young to understand. ... It's indescribable. You're told all this time about this ever-loving being that made you and has planned out your entire life. You're told that he'll protect you when you need it. You're told that if you're good, then he'll be good to you. So obviously, I wasn't good. I wasn't good enough. I was created and the creator of all things looked down upon me and decided that I was a bad egg. Do you know how rough that is for a 7-year-old? I still have problems with self-esteem. …"

That comment, which has been truncated above, provoked an outpouring of sympathy and support on reddit, including this comment:

rumpelstiltskin1

"This stuff is why I love Reddit. Yeah we are a room full of strangers but when it comes down to it we're a community. I love reading the stories of others and reading the heartfelt replies. I love that anyone can express themselves honestly and it will be well-received here (usually). And although this one is a little cheeky, I love that I can learn valuable life lessons of self-acceptance and being able to move on from a guy named ConstipatedNinja. Thank you for sharing your story, and I admire the willingness to share such a personal story; it's truly inspirational."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Colorado • Violence

soundoff (4,699 Responses)
  1. gary

    god is pretend

    August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      @gary

      You athiests need to start your walk with Jesus. I have told you over and over on these articles, read Jesus' letter to us, the Bible. I can't find my lady parts. You insist and hating Jesus but the laugh will be on your head when you burn burn burn in your father's basement, hell.

      Amen.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Plaster city

      HS,
      "I can't find my lady parts" Hilarious how you slipped than in. I'm still laughing...

      August 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      🙂

      August 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • gary

      all ancient myth and folklore ... bible was written my primitive men, changed myriad times for centuries, often by corrupt popes to suit their needs. Learn the history of Xtianity and the bible .... they are senseless and without any proof or credibility ... just myth.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  2. cestlavie3

    In case you haven't noticed, history is rife with mans cruelty and brutality towards his fellow man ( Ever hear of Ivan the Impaler?). This world, while retaining some elements of truth and beauty, is ultimately a toxic cesspool of pain, suffering and injustice. The atheist observes this predicament and concludes the impossibility of a loving, sovereign God. That, of course, is because they assume a Divine Being who would operate according to their own sensibilities. The God of the Bible does not operate in this fashion, and as a result, they find themselves livid at a being they do not believe exists.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Plaster city

      No
      Atheists don't believe in a supernatural god because there is no evidence of one. Period.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Really? Have you actually READ the Old Testament. If I'm wrong and god exists, I truly hope it's not THAT one. Makes the guy in Aurora seem pretty tame.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      I'm livid you use that to treat others poorly. I don't care about your Sky Fairy one way or the other.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • John

      Again, Christians making assumptions about that which they have no clue. No wonder these people are so easily reeled in to a fantasy land.

      I could easily say that Christians believe in God because their life on this earth sucks, they have no hope for bettering themselves so like sheep fall in line behind the promise of eternal bliss in heaven when they die. Anything that questions this belief is countered with the 'gotta have faith' or 'they will have to answer to God' argument. It is sad that with all of the advances mankind has made some people still are unable to think for themselves.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • cestlavie3

      @Plaster. " No evidence of God". Either your delusional or outright deceptive. Even if you don't ultimately conclude that there is no God, to say there is NO evidence is just plain silly.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @cestlavie3

      It's quite apparent that you don't know a f*ucking thing about anything, moron!

      August 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • cestlavie3

      Voice of Reason. I was about to reply and then I remembered, I'm no longer in Jr. High.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Confused face

      @cestlavie3

      Well, you should clarify. You mean evidence other than what you believe, which is no evidence at all; or the writings of Bronze-age nomads; or coincidences which are readily explainable without the need for a sky fairy; or natural phenomena which are explainable by the laws of nature.

      Outside of that, I guess there is plenty of evidence for the sky fairy.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @cestlavie3

      Oh, so they did send you back to elementary after all!

      August 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • John

      Cestlavie – Please show us this evidence that God exists. We are all waiting to convert....

      August 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • cestlavie3

      @ John.Since you asked: the complexity of life on both the macro and micro level, the intricacies of the human body ( that blob of tissue in our cranium performs instantaneous functions we have not even begun to grasp), the vastness of the universe ( do you realize there are more stars in the known universe than all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth?). Now, granted, these examples do not unequivocally prove the existence of God, faith is unavoidable. However, to state that there is no evidence at all is simply disingenuous .

      August 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Confused face

      cestlavie3,

      great. Now, take god out of the equation and you have the same result. So much for your proof. And you conveniently left out the "bad" side of the ledger: exploding stars; that 99% of all species on earth have been wiped out; birth defects; natural disasters; cancer; viruses... You get the picture.

      You would hope that your perfect god would be able to make a perfect world but I guess we were his first experiment and he has learned.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • cestlavie3

      @Confused ( The irony in your username does not escape me). One slight problem with your line of thinking: you fail to put the sinfulness of humanity into the equation. Although, precluding the morality of a Divine Being, I'm sure the concept of sin is meaningless to you

      August 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Confused face

      Well, if according to you, god makes me a sinner and on pain of eternal damnation commands me to be well, that is an evil sick god. And if he erred and made us sick, then he is not infallible and your whole religion falls apart.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • silmaril

      @cestlavie3,

      Your evidence isn't. It's simply a bunch of arguments from ignorance strung together. Basically you keep saying that you don't understand how something came about - therefore god. Now, give us evidence that a god actually did all these things instead of just asserting he did.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  3. Tonyn

    Can one of you online athiests...you who are intellectually superior to Milton, Melville, Dante, Einstein, Bertrand Russell and countelss others... disprove the existence of Nirvana for me?

    August 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • sam

      sigh.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Plaster city

      No, we can't. Don't need to. Next?

      August 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Can you disprove a purple unicorn on Venus?

      The time to believe something is when there is a good reason to believe it.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Sorry, we're all working to disprove the existence of the Easter Bunny. It's not as easy as it sounds.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • freethinker

      Buddhism's Nirvana is a state of mind, like enlightenment, where you reach a peace of mind.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • LOL@"WhereWasGod"

      It doesn't exist.

      That was easy enough.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I presume you're not talking about Kurt Kolbain's band.

      Why would we try? Nirvana is a state of mind.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Sorry Kurt Cobain.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Confused face

      We don't have to be superior to Milton. Dante, Einstein, et al., just to the gullible hysterical armies of god. And believe me, that is easy enough.

      Now, if you'll excuse me, I am trying to prove that god rides a unicorn and chases leprechauns.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • John

      Last night as I was laying in bed I suddenly started to float around the room and strange lights were flashing all around me.

      Please disprove this happened.

      In the interest of full disclosure, as an Atheist I obviously was on mind altering drugs but that is not the point here.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • JoJo

      The burden of proof of Nirvana, unicorns, tooth-fairies, the Greek gods, ghosts, souls, angels, gods, etc. is on YOU, especially if you want us all to live and die for that. No one's proved them yet.
      By the way, Einstein did not believe in a personal god as you suggest, and read Bertrand Russel's book "Why I am NOT a Christian".

      August 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Tonyn

      You guys are really intellectual giants...I am so impressed...Why in the world did they make me read Moby Dick and Spinoza in college when I just could have just listened to you? I think I am going to try and recoup my matriculation fees.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Tonyn

      Apparently you wasted a lot of time and money on a college education.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Tnoyn,

      You should get your college fees back because with your logic people should believe absolutely anything and everything until they are proven wrong, your education didn't take.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Tonyn

      Of course Einstein did not believe in a "personal god" like the bible thumpers do...but he definately believed in God. I have read "Why I am not a Christian". It is one of my favorite work's by Lord Russell. I have a copy on the bookself in front of me. He was an agnostic NOT an athiest...a sceptic and not a dogmatist...there is a massive difference.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Confused face

      Tonyn,

      Ahhh, yes. The response of last resort. You cannot engage on the evidence so you patronize. So typical of the armies of god. Here is one:

      I believe I can fly. Prove I can't.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • John

      Tonyn – It isn't tough to be an intellectual giant with you in the room.

      Classic moron behavior to ask others to disprove your fantasy. I concede, your fantasy is real.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Tonyn

      I have no need to disprove Santa Claus and purple unicorns...they do exist...all myths have a validity independent of their existence in concrete "reality". You have myths, too. They are just different. You cling to them with the tenacity only a fundmentalist believer can muster.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Tonyn,

      An atheist does not believe there is a god, an agnostic does not know if there is or not. The terms are not exclusive, for instance I am an agnostic atheist, I don't believe in a god (atheist) but I don't claim know for sure (agnostic).

      August 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      "I have no need to disprove Santa Claus and purple unicorns...they do exist..."

      Tonyn,

      If you think god is just as real as Santa, I will agree with you.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Tonyn

      Origin:
      1565–75; < Greek áthe ( os ) godless + -ist

      Related forms
      an·ti·a·the·ist, noun, adjective

      pro·a·the·ist, noun, adjective

      Can be confused:  1. agnostic, atheist (see synonym note at the current entry ); 2. atheist, theist, deist.

      Synonyms
      Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic refer to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief. An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings. An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. Infidel means an unbeliever, especially a nonbeliever in Islam or Christianity. A skeptic doubts and is critical of all accepted doctrines and creeds.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Tonyn

      No Truth:
      Santa Claus is one of the masks of god...he has many...some of them not even anthropomorphic...

      August 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Confused face

      Tonyn, please broadcast your belief far and wide: Santa is god. Please do that.

      You will increase the number of atheists more than any atheist could do if they tried.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Tonyn

      Of couse Santa Claus is god...have you not seen it in the face of a child on Christmas morning?

      August 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • silmaril

      Can you disprove the magic flying invisible elephants that live under my bed?

      August 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  4. valwayne

    Its absolutely amazing how Atheism has become its own hate filled religion. One would think if you don't believe in God you wouldn't just go about your life like most people, without bothering to go to Church on Sunday or doing any of the other activities that those who do believe in God do, and that would be it. But Atheist are now running their own inquistion, seeking to ridicule and berate anyone who doesn't believe as they do. Atheism has become every bit as viciously intolerant as the worst of any other religion. Its amazing how human nature works. It seems humans either need to believe actively in something like God, or just as actively against Something like God? Militant Atheists are just as bad as Militant Mulims or Christians! Crazy! 🙂

    August 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Plaster city

      How dare we run our own inquisition! That belongs to the religious only. Don't dare take it away.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • sam

      Atheists do go about their business, happily – until some evangelical decides to try and legislate their beliefs yet again. Telling people what is and isn't right or natural, spending millions to make sure not everyone can be treated equally; it's cute.

      Stop kicking the hornet's nest if you don't like hornets.

      And it's not a religion. Plus, you can shove your passive-aggressive smiley face.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • LOL@"WhereWasGod"

      I find it comical that when presented with logical debate, "Christians" retort with "its hate speech"...

      We don't hate you..we feel sorry for you.

      Now, go back to worshiping your sky-fairy, and I'll keep laughing at the thought.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sam can we like hang out sometime. You know, whenever you're not busy with other things.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • sam

      Yo Tom! Hell yes.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Tonyn

      Great post....we all NEED something to believe in...god, science, UFOs...whatever...too bad so many are in love with their own belief to the extent that they will berate and belittle others....this is especially ironic in regards to athiests. It is only THEY whose piercing intellect can dispel the shadows of myth that have haunted mankind since the dawn of civilization...give me a break...how about an ounce of humility...athiesm is a faith, just like any other. The ultimate irony is that it is also fudamentally illogical. You simply cannot PROVE that god does not exist.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Tonyn,

      So I assume you think people who don't believe in bigfoot are unreasonable. Prove they don't exist, you can't!

      August 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Tonyn

      You miss the point. I know it is impossible to prove the existence of god. I also know it is impossible to disprove his existence. I doubt very seriously that the human intellect is capable of understanding the ultimate reality of the universe/cosmos. Science bears this out with every new advancement...everytime something is "understood", something else to "learn about" appears...Pandora's Box...

      August 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Confused face

      Hey, Tonyn, save the false indignation. For centuries, the religious have berated and belittled everyone who did not believe as they did. To the extent you are getting some of your own medicine, I rejoice. I also laugh at your beliefs although agree everyone can have one. That does not, however, mean they are all equally valid.

      Don't be so thin-skinned. After all, god is on your side, right?

      August 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Tonyn,

      You miss the point, beliefs have consequences, If I truly believe I have a million dollars buried in the back yard and act on it by spending all of the real money I have, my family will suffer. Beliefs do not exist in a vacuum.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • gary

      Atheism is myth understood. No hate, just no belief in myths. Peace to us all.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  5. Ol' Yeller

    How did Atheism start the French Revolution?
    And, what was so bad about the French Revolution?
    Would there have been an American Revolution without the French Revolution?
    I know the troll that posted that stuff is long gone and doesn't know the answers (because they don't exsist), but I find it interesting that someone believes the French Revolution was evil.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  6. Sam Yaza

    god did so one person could go on national TV to flatter him, that's the prayer he answered we that and Holmes's prayer to kill a few people,.. e works in mysterious ways all right,..trust me, i the one with the name after all♥ no one knows that god better then me

    August 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  7. getrealstudio

    I thought the Atheists kicked God out. Remember the whole separation thing? You can't bash religion and force it out of our culture every day of the year and then blame it because God didn't stop this tragedy.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Plaster city

      Please get this, finally...
      Atheists don't blame god for anything. They don't believe god exists.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      God can be in the culture, just not the gov't.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      PC, I hate it that you can type faster than me. Beauty response, but wasted on the willingly deaf.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • TR6

      If your god can be cowed by a pack of atheists he’s not much of god is he?

      August 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  8. sonofamram

    Do your parents step in and stop you from making your own choices, even if they are mistakes? Probably not. They taught you how to live, and hopefully right from wrong, and cut you loose as an adult to stand on your own. You can counsel with them as an adult, but they will not ultimately stop you from taking your own actions. God's relationship to us is similar. Remember, God has his own purposes for his creation. He sent us here to learn and grow and prove we can stand on our own to choose right from wrong. He will not give the weak and wicked the same reward reserved for the strong, brave, righteous person. If 12 people die in a theater shooting it does not frustrate the plans of God. The shooter will account to God for his actions. The victims will be with God and have just judgement for their actions and the time they spent on earth. Those who use this opportunity to serve and succor the suffering will be rewarded by God in the day of judgement. The limited view that the only evidence of the existence of a God would be if all human suffering ceased by the action of his hand is ridiculous. What would be the purpose of a creation that was governed in that manner? Would you that God be a dictator? That he micromanage your every action and not allow you to choose the course of your life? Some will accomplish much. Some will work to relieve human suffering. Some will cause human suffering that they can live in luxury. Some will choose to kill people for no reason aside from living out a comic book fantasy where they choose the part of the super villain. All will be judged by God and receive reward according to the life they lived.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • JD

      When you say "the shooter will account to God for his actions" you realize that you'll account to the same God in exactly the same way for merely looking at a woman and being aroused or one of a thousand other trivialities? That is such an empty foolish thing to say because God only has one punishment and one reward. It's all in the bible bro.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • John

      "The limited view that the only evidence of the existence of a God would be if all human suffering ceased by the action of his hand is ridiculous"

      Did you make this up? I think one confirmed miracle would be enough, not one confirmed by the Vatican since I tend to see them as somewhat biased, but confirmed by me. That should do it. Then the suffering could continue.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Standing on my head, trying any way I can to rationalise god's absense

      I keep trying. I failed again.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  9. Will

    What amazes me most isn't what people believe or don't believe. Rather, it is the level of hatred and rage being expressed by both sides as if the atheists want to show that they can be just as graceless and vindictive as the most narrow-minded fundamentalist. Good grief. We need a redeemer.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Plaster city

      I suppose you would vote yourself the redeemer, Will?

      August 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Ray

      Rage and hatred? Are you reading the same blog we are?

      August 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • freethinker

      No most are mad at what religion had done, from creating a false theory to fight evolution, Electing Bush, donating million to prevent gay marries, force their religion in 3rd world countries, therefore creating civil war, ban birth protecting in 3rd world nation.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • byronswetland

      We do... His Name is Jesus Christ. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God of all creation. The ONLY HOPE for all of mankind!! Amen!

      August 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Yes I do hate it when

      Faith healers bilk money out of believers by making them think prayer heals when there is no rational reason to think it does, or they don't get proper medical help for children because it is 'god's will' whither they live or die.

      Or they teach children satan is real and he is coming to steal their soul and they will burn in a lake of fire for eternity, it is child abuse.

      Or when they don't like someone or something (Barney, Tele Tubbies, Smurfs) and equate them to devil worship.

      Or when they blame natural disasters or tragedies as their gods judgment on the nation for the "sins" of h.o.m.o.s.e.xuality, atheism or anything else they don't like.

      Yep, no reason at all to ridicule these n.u.tbags.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Confused face

      I don't see any rage by the atheists, Will. And if there is any elevated emotion, it is understandable given the years of prosletyzing and moral lectures being given by the armies of god. Now, given the way the world has changed and religion is no longer dominant, people are not afraid to stand up to the theocratic bullies and express their disagreement.

      The religious have this false indignation and thin-skinned sensitivity now. I say: "About time."

      August 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • TR6

      I haven’t been counting; but, it seems to me that the theists have threatened or condemned atheists to eternal hell a bit more often than atheists have done to theists

      August 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • sam

      It's a little hysterical to go for 'rage and hatred'. It's more like 'derision and disagreement'. Feel free to be a drama llama, though.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      No need for a redeemer. Our human nature/potential is simultaneously our greatest weakness and strength. We love, we hate, and we learn.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • JD

      Although I don't like or accept the beliefs and opinions of people on 'the other side' of the argument from me, they (usually) have my respect. Who I don't respect one bit are pansy fence-sitters like you that act like you are rising above it, snidely criticizing others while offering no decent argument of your own. I've hard words with ideological opponents then beers afterward. Fact is, sometimes the argument has to get intense when you believe so much is at stake. If you can't handle it GTFO.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  10. Jason

    Yes all the tragedy and horror in the world and 12 dead people really got the Atheist conversation going. Pfffft.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • freethinker

      Reddit have a million atheism, give or take a few fake christian trolling the borad, all talking, showing proof, etc. This is one news out of thousand that they get in their board.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  11. Donkey

    Atheism aside, the question was idiotic – "Where was god in Aurora?" If there is a god, obviously he lets bad things happen all the time...so what is the point of your question with regard to Aurora? If there is a god, we all know that he allows for free will and doesn't step in to stop bad stuff from happening, as bad stuff happens all the time. The question I pose is, I can be open to the idea of there being a god or not being a god. But it seems you can only handle the possibiliity of there being a god. Nobody can know for sure, so my conclusion is that you cannot handle an objective conversation on the matter.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  12. Evil_Atheist

    The longer I live, the less interest I have in debating religion with those who believe. They seem to just get more dogmatic in their beliefs and vitriolic in their arguments as time goes by. The unfortunate truth is that, whether I have interest in this any longer or not, the religious continue to use their foolish fables as justification for war, hatred, injustice, and genocide. I hope that a stronger, equally zealous generations of atheists can take up the cause for reason and intelligence. I'm just so tired of it at this point.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • TR6

      @jim: “ What do they believe happens when we die. I hope that I can go to heaven.”

      If the REAL™ Christians on this blog are any example of the residents of heaven, I’ll take the any other place

      August 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • sonofamram

      Tell that to Stalin and the 50 million people that Godless man killed. Tell that to Hitler and the millions he slaughtered. Tell it to the Chinese leadership and the 1.5 billion they suppress, and kill if necessary, to insure their Godless regime doesn't lose power. Show me one example where a nation was better off after they eliminated the influence of religion from the governance of the people.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • sam

      @sonofwhatever,

      It's adorable that christians decide to pretend Hitler wasn't one, even though he said he was. You can pretend there's no such thing as an evil christian – after all, you are pretty good at fantasy.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      sonofamram,

      Well oviously Stalin and the other atheists did not believe in a god and were therefore immoral.

      Question, why have christians done the same type mass killings then, they have no excuse?

      The only answer that makes sense is 'god does not exist'

      August 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      SonOfAmram, I would cite as Exhibit A the country that gave birth to separation of church and state, the United States of America.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  13. jim

    I feel sorry for anyone who does not believe in God. What do they believe happens when we die. I hope that I can go to heaven.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The light switch goes off – oblivion. I believe this will happen to you too as sure as taxes.

      Then the body decomposes. Matter to matter.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • freethinker

      will jim, here the sad truth, when a person die, the brain will slowly lose it charge, turning part of the brain off. It like a computer program been shut down.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • OOO

      Jim,
      At least you used the right word... hope, not belief. We all hope to live happily for ever. Wouldn't that be nice. Unfortunately, there is that nasty little thing called reality....

      August 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Which God? If you have the wrong one you are equally screwed.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Thanks. I feel sorry for people who base their lives on a fairytale.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      jim is a troll

      August 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • LOL@"WhereWasGod"

      I feel sorry for anyone who 'believes' in a 2000 year old work of fiction.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • damo12345

      When we die, that's it. Nothing else happens.

      Can't say I'm happy about that, but it's reality. Reality isn't unicorns and rainbows.

      This world is all we've got, so we really need to do a better job of looking after one another.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • dingle

      feed worms, they need to eat too just like humans. I'm here for the same reason that a fruit fly exists. Doesn't bother me in the least; i'm just a bug.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • byronswetland

      The demons believe in God... As everyone must do, you need to repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord of all. I pray that true loving believers will be sent your way to help you with a close walk with Jesus. He is the ONLY way to The Father. Amen!

      August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      I'm glad you mention dying! What happens after death is exactly what happened before life: non-existence. What's so scary about non-existence? Billions of years came and went, and you were none the wiser. I'll bet you never even complained about your non-existence. Did you ever ask to be born, because of the "pain" of non-existence? When we die, we are simply...NOT. Your ego compels you to believe that you continue after physiological death. Death is not a thing to fear(without "God"). Dying is a thing of the living! Think of it this way: Infinity minus your age # equals the amount of time you were non-existent. By dying, we go back to whence we came. Accept this reality, and you need no "God". You have peace. In the mean time, live and love your life.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  14. thetruth

    where was God huh; you will find out when your time comes. i rather die and go to heaven believing there is a God, than not believe and go to hell and find out there is a God!!!!!!!!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Plaster City

      Don't you know that god can see through your ruse? He already knows you really don't want to believe in him, but you are doing it only because of your fear. You are already damned!!

      (Look up Pascal's wager. You fall right into it).

      August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Nicely stated, Plaster City. However, you lose the argument because you just didn't use enough exclamation points. Shame on you for using reason and logic when you could have gained more 'points' with some diety or other by simply using more puncutation.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      You call yourself "thetruth" and yet you choose to believe because you are afraid.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • MetalHeel

      How do you know that your god is the right god? If indeed there is a god. You could have been following the wrong religion this whole time.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • dingle

      same old tired non argument. so in other words, if I don't believe, then god will smite me and i will burn for eternity simply because i don't believe. that sounds like something a sadist would do...if there was a god who is supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, etc...i would hardly think he would punish me at all for not believing. I could see how it might reward me for not being a kiss-up or believing something absurd to escape some imagined retribution.

      That being said some of my best friends believe in God. And I totally respect that. And I would never, ever try to convince them otherwise. And I do believe that religion can be an agency for good, depends on the individual. I don't believe in god, but I definitely believe that a person should have a code, a code which for me is ever changing based on my life's experience and frequent re-evaluation. And part of my code is never to impart my code on others.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Marcus Aurelius

      “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

      August 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Yes, but neither of those are going to occur.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  15. the kat

    I dong need the iinternet to question where or not someone was given birth by a virgin, or walked on water. Hey am not even a Jew and I dont beIlieve that. By the way an Athesis is person who believes there is a god but choices not to follow him. A nogastic is someone like me who does believe in the big bang theory or the big boss theory

    August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      You are wrong, an atheist does not believe there is a god, an agnostic does not know if there is or not. The terms are not exclusive, for instance I am an agnostic atheist, I don't believe in a god (atheist) but I don't claim know for sure (agnostic).

      August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Duane

    I'm sure that this has been said already but this article has a very condescending tone to it. Its as if the author is saying that everyone needs church including atheists! I'm not particularly fond of people speaking on behalf of my views and casting them in a narrative that's convenient to their goals.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, 'church' is the word used. Subst.tute 'meeting place' and see if you have the same reaction?

      August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • freethinker

      The only reason anyone need a church if they want to laundry tax free money.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  17. dave

    The attempt to suggest all non-believers are following some sort of religion or doctrine or have "faith" is simply a poor debate technique to explain the "naivete" of people on the "other side". Recently, on Facebook, I had a very religious friend ask a non-believer friend that if the existence of the Christian God was shown with undeniable evidence, would he still continue to be a non-believer. To me, this highlighted exactly how the strongly religious often think when considering non-believers. They think they non-believers are emotionally invested in a belief in a similar way they themselves are emotionally invested in their religion.

    I explained that there are certainly those who are militant in their non-belief. But when I explained that I suspected she would find very few people who wished to not exist after they die, to have their consciousness dissolve into nothing, and that if a God were to reveal its existence, there would likely be more rejoicing from the non-believers than from the believers, I received silence in response (as is often the case). People like her are so locked into their belief, not only in their religion, but in their world view, that anything that shatters that world view is either changed (in their mind) to better fit their view or it is rejected completely.

    I significant portion, if not the vast majority, of non-believing Americans would steadfastly defend the right for religious Americans to worship freely and without persecution if that freedom was ever under serious threat. Just because these same non-believing individuals don't want ritual Christian prayer in school and on our money and in our laws (look up US blue laws before you say there's none on the books) and in our government, doesn't mean they want to "suppress religion". But I would say, with a fair amount of confidence, that there are a significant number of religious individuals that wouldn't mind if our government was run within the bounds of religious doctrine all while not realizing the ramifications of such a possibility...which may be why you see "militant atheists" from time to time.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • sam

      A+ post.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  18. sparky

    Read the Bible it tells you everything you want to know, STUPID!!!!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Had you used a period instead of a comma, I would completely agree.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • the kat

      I rather read playboy its more real than your god and has more truth to it.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Plaster city

      Dainel,
      Good retort, and to the point!

      August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      There's something delicious about your post; it is utterly impossible to discern whether it is sincere or sarcastic.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  19. Bo

    I believe it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God. Why? Because faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Yet, the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. In other words, if you deny all the evidence that is clearly seen, and you believe it is all by "chance," that requires WAY more faith than I can muster up.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Plaster City

      Look,
      If you have proof of a god, you would be the most celebrated person in the world. But you are not. Why is that?

      August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • jeru0455

      The sky is blue because the atmosphere reflects blue light. This is the most rediculous argument I've ever seen for the existance of a god.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • 1Greensix

      Check out the Power of your religion right now. Pray for something real, like lifting a pencil off your desk. Did it work? The Bible says you can have Anything you pray for, but of course the pencil didn't move. That's because God is imaginary, and that's why you think he agrees with Everything you believe in. Would a real god be that Stupid? What You believe in? I doubt it. A real god wouldn't agree with Anything you believe in.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Marley

      Ummm ... what "evidence" are you referring to for your "God"?!

      Can you even give a rational answer this question: What is "God"?

      Here's a hint: nobody has ever been able to answer this question!!!

      There are no logical answers to this question.

      If you cannot rationalize what is "God", then this "God" is not even a thought ... and hence, does not existence.

      You cannot find evidence for the existence of something for which you have no logical thought about what it is.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Bo

      jeru – Ah...the color blue – my personal favorite. Speaking of colors, have you ever studied the intricacies of how the human eye operates on a microscopic level? I highly recommend you do so. Then I recommend you try to explain how that process is possible by natural selection and evolution. If you do this research exercise with intellectual honesty, and you still believe there is no evidence of intelligent design contained therein, then you most CERTAINLY have far more faith than most Christians.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Bo

      Do you believe in the wind? I assume you do. But why do you believe in the wind if you have not ever seen it? I assume you believe in the wind because you have seen THE EFFECTS of the wind. Well, let's just say that I have, without a doubt, seen the effects of Jesus Christ in my life. He has healed my body, healed my mind, answered prayers, provided for me, given me wisdom, and given me love for people who might hate me and chastise me. I know Jesus, and if you knew how much He loves you, you would want to get to know Him too...

      August 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Ninjak

      You need to look at the meaning of faith. It doesn't take any faith at all to be an atheist. It takes a complete lack of faith. To have faith is to believe, or to accept something as fact with no evidence to support it. I don't believe that god exists. That doesn't require faith.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Thank you for explaining in very beautiful words why religion is an absolute cop-out.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Bo

      I'm not describing religion, I am describing a relationship with the living God. He is not some far off "old man in the sky." He is a Father and a Friend. I'm here to tell you about Him because it would the epitomy of selfishness if I didn't. He has a plan for your life, and He wants you to join Him. Seek Him and you WILL find Him. But of course, that is only if you are open to being "wrong." Are you? I was. I am a Jew who was raised by atheist parents. I was willing to admit I could be wrong. I wanted the truth, and I found it. His name is Jesus Christ.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Ninjak

      Umm, just FYI, Bo, Christianity is a religion.

      If the all-knowing, all-powerful God has a plan for my life, why do you act like I have a choice in the matter?

      August 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  20. Bro

    Hey, where were the athiests during the shooting?

    August 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • OOO

      Which atheists? I was at work.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Bro

      lol ok

      August 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • JupiterMaximus

      i was masturbating

      August 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Taking cover.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Critter1960

      They were right beside the believers, either running, playing dead, shielding their love ones or helping the wounded. I do wonder why the believers didn't risk their lives and try and take down the shooter? The non believers know this is their one and only life so they would want to protect it, the real believers know that heaven awaits so what was their excuse?

      August 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • bro

      hey i was just wondering if athiests really existed since i didnt see any there saving lives.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Chuck

      I was in a different theater.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • sam

      @bro – that's cute, I'm glad you think you can tell what religion/not religion someone is by looking at them.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:08 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.