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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. PrimeNumber

    I propose something to Protestants, Catholics, Religious Jews, Muslims, etc. THe atheists, so they insist, have defeated us. So lets simply ABANDON THIS PAGE and observe. We can find out what atheists are really like on THEIR page without our presence. (Additionally, it might benefit the CNN moderator. The poor person absorbs spleen all day and must be really grouchy at home.)

    August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • sam

      I wholeheartedly support this notion.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • elopez

      Have at it!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • LinCA

      @PrimeNumber

      You said, "Additionally, it might benefit the CNN moderator. The poor person absorbs spleen all day and must be really grouchy at home."
      The "CNN Moderator" is only slightly less imaginary than the Tooth Fairy.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • ....

      ??I don't see any claim of defeat

      Plus...there is no mod

      But feel free to go, that's cool

      August 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I too would love for that to happen.

      It's just too bad that the religious cant keep their opinion to themselves. I know that this is a site about putting forth your opinions, but the religious are the ones that always pick the fight. And it is a fight that they cant win. They have no evidence to support any claim that they make.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • derp

      I fully support you in your endeavor.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • jim

      Honey Badger Don't Care: If you offered me evidence that a distant planet was in our solar system but I was told I had to look through the telescope to prove it and I refused, saying 'There's no evidence to prove it', what would you think of the credibility of my statement? Exactly; I don't want to be persuaded, so I'm not going to look into it. The same can be said for the evidence you have probably been presented with but you won't look into it.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • fintastic

      @Jim, Can you provide any scientific evidence for the exsistance of god? anything?.... didn't think so.

      August 8, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  2. elopez

    The Bible: Jewish fairy tale book written 6,000 years ago that by some historical brain fart has been widely accepted to be the word of "God". In another Universe, we would be citing The Odyssey and Hector's and Aganmenon's stories as "holy" and "moral".

    August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  3. willy

    I don't know why atheist care that others believe in God.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • sam

      Atheists don't care. What requires attention is when fundamentalists try and legislate their 'morality' for the entire rest of the populace.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • willy

      I suppose that is ok as long as the Godless do not legislate their morals on everyone else either.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • LinCA

      @willy

      You said, "I don't know why atheist care that others believe in God."
      I don't think there are very many atheists that give a shit what you believe. If anything, atheists will be the first to stand up for your right to believe whatever nonsense you want.

      But please, don't make the mistake of assuming that disagreeing with you means that we wish to take away your right to believe what you want. I would like to encourage you to think about what you believe and why you believe it, but whether you change your mind is entirely your call.

      What most of us care about is how your beliefs affect others. If you, or any believer want to force others to do something, or prevent them from doing anything, based on your religious beliefs, there will be a conflict. You see, while you have the right to believe in the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus, or any other mythical beings, you don't have the right to expect anyone else to do the same.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam

      Well, I haven't seen the 'godless' trying to get laws passed that will purposely take rights away/deny rights of any particular group. Especially not based on belief.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • ...

      I don't understand why we have to have a President that does believe in God. I, for one, would absolutely love to have a President that had some kind of grasp on reality.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • LinCA

      @willy

      You said, "I suppose that is ok as long as the Godless do not legislate their morals on everyone else either."
      What morals are you afraid we'll try to legislate?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jacob

      It's because those affiliated with a group of mainstream christian denominations typically spread hate and oppression. They stunt social and US progression with conservative ideals. I was told this past weekend by my best friend that if i didn't get on my knees at some point in my life and recognize Jesus as the savior of my sins and give my life to him that I would never get into heaven. Ponder the ridiculousness. Religion is against violence but is actually the number one reason for widespread war in the world.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • sam

      @ ....

      We're still living in a society that, if not outright, subconsciously believes that religion = automatic moral base. I was raised believing that, and it took a lot of experience to the contrary to make me start questioning that notion. Plus, growing up I had a president (Bush the first) flat out say in an interview that atheists are not real Americans and should not be allowed to vote.

      Your chances of being paroled from jail in this country are slim until you prove your morality by stating you've given your life to Christ.

      It's a false notion, but it's still hanging on.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • adam l

      Willy; It's not their fault, they know not what they do. in a sense, athiest are right. Religion was taken hostage by man and evil and turned into a giant empire, mainstreamed by the Catholic Church during the Inquisition... terrible attrocities done by man in the name of religion... now Christians know why that has happened, but they don't understand.
      Imagine there was a religion of oxygen (we all know air exists) but if the organization running the religion forced people to worship the Oxygen god in this way, or go to war for him that way, then people are bound to revolt. man can really mess things up.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • LinCA

      @adam l

      You said, "Imagine there was a religion of oxygen (we all know air exists) but if the organization running the religion forced people to worship the Oxygen god in this way, or go to war for him that way, then people are bound to revolt. man can really mess things up."
      Revolt may be a start for people to turn away from religion, but it won't always, or even often, lead to atheism. Quite a few that get disgusted with one religion or denomination, find themselves in another after a little while. These people are simply believers without a religion or church they want to belong to. They are not atheists.

      Atheists don't believe your god, or any god, exists. They don't revolt against imaginary beings. Quite a few atheists used to be believers. Most realized it was all baloney when they realized there is no rational case for any god.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • willy

      That is the beauty of America. Believe what you like. We all believe something whether it be God or an unconscious creation. I don't hate any of you.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • adam l

      I guess what he's asking. Is why do we sense so much hostility almost like personal stabs? is it because human kind is not going the way you'd like? Do you look at us "imaginary idiots" as unitelligent specimens? because, if it isn't the actual church establishment your revolting against, then it's the people. Athiest do good deeds too, but do you count your personal attacks as bad deeds? basically as for the "if you dont believe in jesus you go to hell" well, if you dont like an answer, don't ask a question. and if you didn't even ask the question, then good christians should not be judgemental to say so without being asked, as that's againt our teaching.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  4. HeavenTakeHimBack

    Seriously, Dan Gilgoff, you're a whiner. If your beliefs are so unstable as to be shaken by a bunch of anonymous comments, then perhaps your faith isn't as strong as you would like to believe. That goes for all the religious whiners. If you feel most comfortable being "in person" around a bunch of people who believe in the same things as you do ... well, then I feel sorry for you. There's much more life in diversity and debate than living in a little God-bubble with your closest friends and compadres. Good lord.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  5. lucidanne

    Wow, a perfect example of the media making it's own news... post an inflammatory story and then watch and report on the fallout. LOL, everyone got sucked in.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  6. Robert

    The athiests, in pride, raise themselve up above the authority of God to the point where they even deny his existance. Well, they can have their few years of self delusion and fun. But after that comes judgement. In the book of Hebrews it says, "For it is appointed to men once to die, and then after that the judgement." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God, without the forgiveness of sin.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • norman

      you sound insane

      August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Satan

      God has no authority over anyone. God does not exist in any capacity whatsoever.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Blah blah blah silly nonsense from a storybook blah blah....

      August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      When you look at different religions, they usually contain "magic." For example:

      • The Mormon religion contains the magical golden plates, the magical angel, the magical seer stones, the magical ascension of the plates into heaven, etc.

      • The Muslim faith contains the magical angel, the magical flying horse, the magical voices, the magical prophet, etc.

      • The Christian faith contains the magical insemination, the magical star, the magical dreams, the magical miracles, the magical resurrection, the magical ascension and so on.

      The presence of "magic" is a clear marker for "imaginary." For example, how do we know that Santa is imaginary? Because (among other things) he has eight magical flying reindeer. How do we know that Jack and the Beanstalk is a fairy tale? Because (among other things) the story contains magical seeds. In the same way, how do we know that God is make believe? Because God is surrounded by magic.

      According to believers, God is an all-powerful being who has the divine, magical power to do anything. How do we know that this belief is a fairy tale? One way to know is to try to invoke God's magical power. For example, the Bible tells us in many places that God answers prayers. However, whenever we try to pray, we notice that nothing happens. That tells us that God is completely imaginary. The magical powers ascribed to him are a fairy tale.

      Another way to know is to read the stories of magical events in the Bible. There is the magical flood, yet we know with certainty that the flood never happened. There are the magical miracles of Jesus, but (predictably) none of these miracles left behind any tangible evidence. There is the magical resurrection, yet there is zero evidence that it ever occurred and no reason to believe it.

      God is identical to Leprechauns, mermaids and Santa. God is a magical fairy tale creature. The magic surrounding God tells us that God is imaginary.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • sw

      lol fairytales

      August 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Such an evil sadist, as your describe, would not be worthy of worship.

      And pride? Here's two viewpoints. Why don't you tell me which one is more egotistical:

      1) We are cosmically insignificant, living on an average planet circling a fairly normal star in a suburban part of a somewhat larger-than-average galaxy containing billions of such stars in a universe containing billions of such galaxies. When we die, that's it. Dust to dust. Period.

      2) The creator of the universe made me, loves me, talks to me frequently, answers my wishes and desires, even if not in the way I expect, and has a kick-ass pad all waiting for me for when I finally kick the bucket. Because I'm more special than other people.

      Get over yourself.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Robert

      Hi -Robert...

      "But after that comes judgement. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God, without the forgiveness of sin." 😯

      More 'Argumentum Ad Baculum' type arguments.

      You are a-s-s uming a lot here, without evidence.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • sam

      The faithful, in pride, raise themselves up above the authority of civil laws to the point where they even deny their existence. Well, they can have their few years of self delusion and fun. But after that comes Voting Day. In the voter's pamphlet it says, "For everyone has the chance to be treated the same regardless of gender, religion, race, ethnicity or income."

      It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of christians, without common sense.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Ransom

      "There is no God"...That's an opinion NOT fact.

      Need proof to back up a claim like that! Logic fail!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Which God??

      Robert, are the voices in your head speaking to you again?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • What

      Tell your god stops having straight people fuc king each other to make gays babies

      August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • atheistictruth

      Yes.. great idea. Threaten the atheists with ridiculous myths they don't believe in. That type of threat only works on believers and incredibly ignorant and gullible people.

      No god equals no hell or judgement. It's all from the same myth and fairytale. You might as well be telling us the boogie man is gonna get us!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Ransom

      The Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster, creator of the Universe and everything in it is the one and only true god.
      Prove me wrong!!!

      When you do that I'll come back with my proof that your God also doesn't exist. I won't hold my breath.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Greyhound37

      Kind of reminds of that time the hippie said he'd punch me in my aura.

      Glad life in your little bubble is so cozy – enjoy it!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Steve

      We are not placing ourselves above something we do not believe exists. To do so would be a blatent contradiction of our own beliefs. You just say that lie to yourself in an effort to understand our unbelief. Thereafter you threaten us with violence..ah yes the last resort.

      Look, even if what you believe was true and that god did exist. Is he really worthy of worship? He exterminated innocent babies and animals in the flood, Sodom and Gommorrah and the plagues of Egypt. He committed genocide against the Caananite tribes (collective judgement). He promised a group of people (while ignoring all the millions of others) land somebody else owned. For those on judgement day that simply don't believe in his existence he is going to torture them for eternity. What else does this god have to do to convince you he is evil? How bout this, who in the bible killed more people. Satan or Yahweh. The former killed Job's family, the latter the entire human race except for one family. ..heck including judgement day it will be in the billions. This belief system is the epitome of evil, and we atheists recognize it as such (or for the sillyness that it is). We are the ones that have integrity (in the face of the threat of eternal torture) and yet we are called the egotistical evil ones. Amazing. I have thought that it would be funny if the Bible and Koran were tricks made by god to segregate the truly good from evil, and then on judgement day it is the atheists who survive, those who sacrificed their eternity to stand up for what is right and recognized evil for what it was. In the meantime God says to Christians (and other monotheists) so you thought people who disagree with your beliefs should be subjected to eternal hellfire....uh oh uh..lol.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Eddie

      Oh, yeah?

      Harry Potter says wizards and witches and quidditch are real. Let me get my broomstick now so I can fly to WalMart. Because I could care less what a book says.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • imuhl86

      Robert, that was very sympathetic of you. I see it would be better to digress from this conversation and let the athiest get more acquainted with themselves. once you have truly known God, you know there is nothing imaginary about him. if you dont know him, and you make no attempt to know him, then you will just be lost forever i guess??

      August 3, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  7. OHMSS 1969

    Didn't any of you people see the film "Oh, God!". Like George Burns says WE ARE in control on this earth and he doesn't interfere. God knew we were imperfect when he created us. The REAL issue is these WINGNUTS (AKA people with "Mental Health Issues") need to stop getting access to guns and firearms.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Wait ... so god intentionally created something imperfect? huh?!?

      And does your reasoning mean that Al Pacino's character in Devil's Advocate was correct in calling god an absentee landlord?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam

      @facepalm – omg, that movie.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Robert

      You're relying on Hollywood for your theology? My how ignorant. Why don't you check Moses, who was probably the most educated man of his time, or the Apostl Paul who learned at the feet of the best of the Pharisees, or Peter, James and John who spent three years at the feet of the Lord Christ, or John Harvard, a pastor who is the namesake of one of the most revered universities in the world, or Jonathan Edwards, probably the greatest American scholar ever? But whatever you do, DON"T get your theology from a Hollywood movie. That really is blind faith.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Robert ... fail.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • sam

      Robert, you missed the point so completely and deliberately that I am in awe of how hard you ducked to avoid it.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • What

      You made my mouth dirty. Can I fu ck your god

      August 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  8. well

    5-10 years ago atheists/agnostics would complain that Christians would always shove their beliefs down people's throats.

    Look how the tide has changed.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • sam

      Really? I have yet to have an atheist knock on my door and try to convert me.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of how the fans in Denver campaigned to have Tim Tebow start at quarterback during the 2011 Broncos campaign.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • brian

      5-10 years? Since records show its been shoving religion down peoples throat. Whether its Christians doing it to others or belief or not. They still do it today, just as atheists say there is no god. You cant say one group does it without saying others do it to. Im an atheist, from time to time I call BS on people that sound completely moronic, but we aren't the only ones. Whether its elected officials preaching god, people banging on my door asking if I have 'heard the good word' or someone on a computer pointing out inconsistencies or lies in the bible. Everyone does it.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I don't think an atheist has ever tried to put "there is no god" on money either. They may try to take off "in god we trust" out of respect for other religions but that isn't shoving anything down anyone's throat.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • sam

      @Sports Fan – funny, it reminded me of that too.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ummm ... I'm still complaining about theists trying to shove their beliefs down my throat.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • namestartwithg

      atheist are still paying taxes which churches do not TAX THE CHURCH might keep them from building one/gym every 5 miles etc.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  9. Martog

    We are all born atheists,,,,,then we get br*inwashed into religi*n

    August 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Except, we are not. Children naturally imagine a world beyond what they can directly perceive with their senses. Now we can argue about whether this indicates the existence of a reality beyond what we can perceive, but in general, if you were to take young children, put them on a desert island away from any notion of God, religion or atheism and then come back 20 years later, I bet you would find that at least some of them believed in something that could be described as religion.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • elopez

      So we are taking a childs ignorance of how natural phenomena works as evidence of a God? Some people might not know how the Earth revolves around the Sun or how evolution works, but that doesnt mean it doesnt. Ignorance isnt godly, its dangerous.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Greyhound37

      @MarylandBill

      Interesting point, Bill.

      It's entirely conceivable those isolated children could, at the direction of one of the more overly imaginative kids, develop a worship of the mysterious, invisible pink unicorn in the sky who makes the sky light and dark, by turns. That particularly imaginative child might grow up and somehow begin dictating his beliefs to others, who, in their ignorance, buy in to the theory of the invisible pink unicorn who brings night and day to the island of the children.

      However, we're not children on an isolated island and we've long since figured out the answer to that little mystery of why the sky grows brighter and darker. Does that make the cult of the invisible pink unicorn less relevant because the things it once ascribed to a deity they now have rational, provable, explanations for?

      Believing in something out of ignorance doesn't make it any more true.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  10. Eric

    The bible: Paradise lost to paradise gained. There's a reason God's hand has not touched the earth in a few thousand years. God's right to rule was questioned, is man better off without God? It's a question best played out instead of having God just destroy Adam and Eve (and some angels, Satan, etc). As mankind proves that we are NOT better off without God we're answering our own question (war, poverty, sickness, death, etc). When God feels man's path has utterly failed (very close obviously) he will step in and take action wiping all those who stand in opposition off the earth. This is why bad things happen, because God has stepped away to prove that he does in fact deserve to rule. God will in time bring the earth back to perfection, no one will get sick or die, man will NOT rule himself. Still free will, but not authority to rule or to choose what rules he follows. People now must choose who they accept as ruler, man or God. Choose wisely, seek truth while it may yet be found.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • sam

      What the...

      August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • elopez

      Emm, no. The Bible: Jewish fairy tale book written 6,000 years ago that by some historical brain fart has been widely accepted to be the word of "God". In another Universe, we would be citing The Odyssey and Hector's and Aganmenon's stories as "holy" and "moral".

      August 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      I pick me.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Which God??

      Eric, your rocker finally tipped over.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • What

      W T F

      August 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • The Body

      Vote Landru in 2012!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • namestartwithg

      yeah were justone big truman show lol hope we dont get canceled or find the edge of the masquerade

      August 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • fintastic

      @eric "There's a reason God's hand has not touched the earth in a few thousand years."

      Yup, there is a very good reason..... no such thing as "god".... doesn't exsist...... mythology...

      August 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  11. ktina

    So for every aweful thing that happens in life, we are going to blame God for not keeping it from happening???? Then this world would be filled with rainbows and butterflies and happy-go-lucky things all the time...its just not reality!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • sam

      Was 'aweful' a typo, or a clever play on words?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Well if God was really a God, it could have been,

      Alas he is a lie, and the world is what it is.

      Thank God that God is a lie!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      god is just not reality.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • elopez

      It's clearly not reality, but a vision of rapture, and the Holy being inheritors of a perfect heaven on Earth is also clearly not reality.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • dog

      @ktina - You have a selective view. Your god is busy making good use of his time making rainbows? He's not involved when bad stuff happens? Oh, ok.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • LinSea

      What if life was filled with nothing but butterflies and moonbeams? If nothing difficult or bad ever happened to you? Would you appreciate good health if you never had to deal with injury or sickness? No. Would you understand the depth of your love for someone if you never had to worry about losing them? I don't think so. Would you ever feel the joy and satisfaction of overcoming a difficult situation if you never had to face anything difficult? No. Part of the whole purpose of life is to face difficulties and learn to make challenging decisions. It was never meant to be easy.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • silmaril

      "Then this world would be filled with rainbows and butterflies and happy-go-lucky things all the time...its just not reality!"

      Couldn't have that. What would be the attraction of heaven then. But, of course, THAT is reality, right?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  12. mydogbill

    The evil in your hearts show by your posts. Good luck in eternity.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Pot, or kettle?

      "Good luck in eternity."

      'cause clearly you have a lot of love in yours.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Ah yes, the threat of hell. You realize that that threat is as empty to the nonbeliever as is the promise of eternal life in heaven, right? We don't believe in either the eternal Ritz Carlton or Motel 6. you might as well threaten to sick your dragon on us.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • sam

      Hmm...so things you disagree with are evil? That doesn't seem like a healthy attitude. Also, as you are a dog, how can you post?? Does your owner know you're on the internet?? Holy crap.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • karl

      Just so you know eternity will get old especially if all you crazies are there. i'll tick with hell since the devil will appreciate my godlessness. The Bible apparently was written by god yet i havent seen a book yet from the devil bashing him.... I think the devil is the better man

      August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Good luck with that eternity thing.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Chic-A-Hate

      Colin

      you might as well threaten to sick your dragon on us.

      .

      Had to chuckle.....sick 'm PUFF! lol

      August 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • namestartwithg

      did i see u in a progressive commercial?

      August 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  13. Nathan Prophet

    Why would atheists ask any questions in a church? What a nonsensical article.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Subst.tute the words 'meeting place' if you like.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      I went to church as a child. Even then the whole thing seemed silly. My number one question then was: are we almost done?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  14. ReligiousPoopShoot.com

    Hello PrimeNumber!

    Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com. We appreciate your comments!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  15. Haldan

    I think of God like Schrodinger's cat.
    Until we open that box, we have really no idea. Or, another why I like to look at it is just because I can’t prove the existence of something, that doesn’t mean that something doesn’t exist.

    There are a lot of things science still can’t prove conclusively, that the scientific community willing accepts. Black holes, dark matter, string theory…

    I also never really agreed with the argument that God allowed this terrible thing to happen, so therefore there is NO God, as God would not allow this terrible thing to happen if he existed. Well, that argument makes a lot of assumptions.

    That argument assumes that God:
    ... is nice.
    … actually cares about your fate on this world.
    … is indeed all powerful (not all religions had all powerful Gods).
    … wants to control our actions, instead of letting us figure it out for ourselves.

    That argument also assumes:
    … that there isn’t a higher plan beyond our understanding.
    … that we (as humans) understand pretty much everything anyway (which I find arrogant).
    … that what we can not prove, does not exist.

    I am not saying that God does exist. I am only saying that some people like to think that not believing in a God makes them more intelligent. I am here to say that it really doesn’t.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      " just because I can’t prove the existence of something, that doesn’t mean that something doesn’t exist."

      Yup, like mermaids, leprechauns, and anal probing aliens. You think those are all valid, too, right?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Ransom

      Atheists are very controlling.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • sam

      I don't see how the argument assumes that we believe we know everything.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Huebert

      Not believing in god does nothing for an individual's intelligence. However, It is the most rational position one can take.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • William Demuth

      But simple observation can show that if he does exist he is unworthy of worship.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Nathan Prophet

      Reasonable, but thin analysis. Can God exist and not exist at the same time? Since no one has observed God, then one assumes that this is true – God may exist or not exist. Side comment: You assume that atheists think they are more intelligent that theists. That's you ill-founded assumption. The Aurora Problem is God's Problem as Dr. Bart Ehrman puts it in his book, "God's Problem." I think humans have to use reason and common sense in assessing God. It is reasonable and in keeping with common sense that if God could have prevented the Aurora evil and indeed all evil in the world, then "he" would, being an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-loving and beneficent God. Since he did not prevent it, then he does not posses at least one of the attributes just described of him as claimed by Judeo-Christian (J-C) tradition; so therefore, the J-C God is limited. God, by all J-C definitions is not limited, so the J-C God doesn't exist. So, there may be a God out there or in here, but until that God has been observed, he will be like Schrodinger's Cat, existing and not existing at the same time.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • LinSea

      Would I be correct in deducing that you watch a lot of Big Bang Theory?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • silmaril

      "There are a lot of things science still can’t prove conclusively, that the scientific community willing accepts. Black holes, dark matter, string theory"

      There's a difference between something that can't be proved conclusively and something with no evidence at all. There is good, physical evidence of black holes and dark matter (string theory is just a hypothesis with no way to test it right now). So you can't put belief in god(s), something with no physical evidence, on a par with scientific claims which have evidence to back them up.

      God(s) have no explanatory power. They're simply a plea to magic and a way to stifle real inquiry into how the natural world really works.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • namestartwithg

      till it starts stinking up the place

      August 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  16. Ransom

    I think for many atheists,the internet is a church and a place for them to rage.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Better work on that "thinking" thing...you're coming up short.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • pockets

      The Internet finally gives us agnostics and atheists a place to be heard. We do not have massive building's ( churches ) nor do we need them. The Internet easily conveys the message we want to be heard loud and clear, do your own thing and leave us alone. Educate yourselves, and do not be afraid to die. Its part of the cycle of life. Enjoy your life while your on the planet, treat every animal and plant and human with love and respect, simply for the joy of doing so. That is your reward. Its enough. Skin color is superficial, we are all primates. Evolving, albeit slowly. Relax. Breathe. Smile.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Ransom

      The internet is a fantasy for atheists.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • sam

      @Ransom – none of this exists?? Someone better tell Al Gore! He'll be heartbroken once he stops chasing manbearpig.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Ransom

      And your average Day Care Center is a fantasy for most priests.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • namestartwithg

      its better for the enviroment lol

      August 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  17. ReligiousPoopShoot.com

    Any religion based on Jesus Christ is gonna lick balls, because Jesus does in fact lick balls.

    Adam

    August 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Fuk Jesus and Mohammed, fuk them up their stupid as.ses.

      Jack

      August 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Jesus and Mohammed are one-note jokes that only retards follow. They’re fuking clown shoes. If they were real I’d beat the sh.it out of them for being so stupid.

      I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      August 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      Does the quality of your comment reflect the typical atheist IQ?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello Adam!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com. We appreciate your comments!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @PrimeNumber

      Do you not get the movie reference? Ever hear of the word "satire"?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello Jack!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com. We appreciate your comments!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      All you motherfukers are gonna pay! You are the ones who are the ball-lickers! We’re gonna fuk your mothers while you watch and cry like little whiney bi.tches. We’re gonna make you eat our sh.it, then sh.it out our sh.it and then eat your sh.it that’s made up of our sh.it that we made you eat!

      Jesus and Mohammed

      August 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello PrimeNumber!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com! We appreciate your comments!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello hawaiiguest!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com! We appreciate your comments!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello Jesus and Mohammed!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com. We appreciate your comments!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • pockets

      Your response only maginifies your ignorance. If religion upsets you as it does me at times, simply ignore it. Trust me, it is going away.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      When I find you I'm gonna make you eat my poop, poop out my poop, then make you eat your poop that's made up of my poop.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello pockets!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com. We appreciate your comments!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello Jesus!

      It appears you have already said that!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • LinSea

      Is there such a thing as an anti-theist? Maybe you are trying to pass yourself off as an atheist, but I would define an atheist generally as someone who has chosen to not believe in God and gets on with life, while an anti-theist rails and rages and fights AGAINST God (and how can you blame someone who you don't think exists?) and goes to the trouble of trashing anyone who believes there's a God or anything which might remotely be associated with a belief in God.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Michael M

      Honestly, can you not have a civil debate without intentionally using offensive language. I find it interesting that athesist have a hard time answering tough questions, that theire only response is to resort to name calling, offensive language and dumb remarks. Instead of having an adult intelligent conversation. You are not going to make me believe there is no God by cursing at us and being offensive. If anything, it just reaffirms that we live in a sinful world in need of a savior.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • namestartwithg

      yes profanity makes it all better u canine peanut butter fetish short minded prolapsed colon

      August 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  18. Adam

    (Regarding your footnote, furthermore, Atheists flat out know more about religion than the religious: nytimes [DOT] com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html )

    August 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Adam

      ...mispoted. my apologies.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  19. Jack

    So for vegetarians the internet is thier defacto steak house?
    It's a pro-lifers abortion clinic?
    a straight man's gay bar?

    August 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam

      You got it.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  20. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    @Dan Gilgoff,

    Given Stephen Prothero's observations recently about the high levels of atheist posting here on the belief blog, I'm not particularly surprised to see this article.

    While it's a nice start, I think this article could go a lot further to examine just why this behavior occurs.
    – How much is it due to online anonymity for people holding a minority viewpoint with no where else to discuss it? (Religion and politics are largely off-limits topics in the workplace.)
    – How much is it an allergic reaction to the politicization of religion and religiousity in education (the sciences) and in law (marriage equality) in a land where the doctrine of separation is a founding virtue?
    – How much is it due to the evident (and well doc-umented) ignorance* of religion by those who profess to be religious?
    – How much of it is an allergic reaction to the sanctimonious hypocrisy of those who feel they have a monopoly on truth and feel obliged to try to hammer their viewpoint into you.

    While I deplore the abusive and scatalogical trashing of atheist and thesist posters alike that goes on here, I understand the motivation of the atheist posters. It's really easy to get fed up with being told that you will burn for eternity if you don't accept Jesus as your personal lord and saviour.

    Mr. Gilgoff, I am left with one particular question. You do not state a conclusion in your article. What is the final point that you would like to make?

    ------------–
    * It is a recurring theme in articles here from Pew Forum research that, in general, atheists spend a lot more effort to understand religions, particularly from a comparative sense than the self-professed religious do.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Adam

      (Regarding your footnote, furthermore, Atheists flat out know more about religion than the religious: nytimes [DOT] com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html )

      August 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Adam,

      Indeed so. Your NY Times refernce quotes the Pew Forum source that I refered to. You can find the original here:
      http://www.pewforum.org/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

      August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.