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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. mcarrillo

    I am not a religious person brought up as a roman catholic, but reading this battle is like watching Chinese movie fighting who’s the best kungfu school. Respect everyone’s belief and not brag about what you believed and live a life suitable for you. I am not perfect like you people, I just live my life to the fullest and eventually rest hopefully in peace just like everybody else.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I can respect everyone's RIGHT TO believe, but there is no way I can respect everyone's beliefs.
      You're free to be a nazi and tattoo swastikas on your forehead, but that doesn't mean I have to respect Naziism.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Confused face

      Thank you, Doc. Well said.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • cavediver

      theres tens of millions of people back across our history whose lives were cut short because they would not or could not convert to believeing in someone elses God.. Religion in all its various forms has had FAR too much respect. Respecting God for me is literaly like watching people bow down and pray to Yosemite Sam..... People- some amazingly brilliant, really do not think about what it TRUELY means to have a god out there...

      August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  2. CommonSense

    >> global church for atheists,

    Your opening sentence is pure childish nonsense. It lacks any common sense, but that's what we have come to expect from the religious con-artist. No, there is no church for "Atheists" no matter how many times you say it.
    You sound worried that a large and vocal group of people now freely discuss the lies and false promises that the Professional religious industry spews to keep the money rolling into tax-free.
    Once enough people figure it out and they will, the Clergy (or clerics!) will have to get real jobs.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  3. Doc Vestibule

    Atheism is a negative statement that says only what one does NOT believe.
    It does not imply any behaviours, morals, or characteristics whatsoever.
    Personally, I am not threatened or offended by religion per se, but I am concerned with any world view that has obeisance as a core value.
    Faith is arguably the most powerful of emotions. When properly channelled it can bewtow confidence, give solace in difficult times and inspire great works. It seems that most often, those who use their faith to the greatest benefit are those who have internalized it – meaning they don't need to prosthelytize to heathens, nor do they require the group-think reassurances provided by a congregation.
    But it is the dark side of faith that worries the atheist.
    By its very definition, faith is belief in the absense of proof and such a mindset is the ideal playground for conmen.
    Oftentimes the con is a blatant appeal for money. It is hard to take seriously a shaman who charges a fee for salvation, be it a television appeal, a collection plate or a mandatory ti/the.
    Those who seek power over the minds of others know that the manipulation of faith is extraordinarily effective.
    Lazy shysters simply cop an existing religion and give an convincing interpretation of the Holy Texts that suits their own goals, like David Koresh orJim Jones. Sometimes, skillful manipulators can bring entire nations to their knees with supernatural promises. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and the Jong Il family have used the traditional tools of the successful shaman to build cults of personality. Note that invariably, their oratories ape the style of a preacher at a pulpit in being declamatory and repeti/tive with liturgical overtones.
    But regardless of the size of their flocks or the specifics of their cults, those leaders who elevate themselves to the status of demi-god or prophet demand the obsequious sumission of their followers, tolerate no free thinkers and enforce dogmatism.
    It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
    The atheist, having either rejected or not been sufficiently indoctrinated in a given society's predominant faith, is generally wary of any kind of authority that claims supernatural superiority – but it is a tricky road to travel.
    Because religion builds communities by giving a common worldview, shared fears (like divine retribution), hopes (like posthumous reward) and rituals to reinforce the community sense, failure to join in often results in being shunned.
    Being ostracized leads to resentment and isolation. Until the popularization of the internet, there have been few places where pariahs have been able to commisserate. Now that atheists, agnostics and free thinkers know they're not alone, our ranks are swelling. The fear of rejection by our families and friends is decreasing, but it is still a powerful force that keeps many from expressing and exploring their doubt in meat space.
    The anonymity of cyberspace allows for greater freedom of expression – and like with any freedom, some use it to vent their vitriol and others to enlighten themselves.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • ArthurP

      Religion is about belief.

      Atheism/Agnostics is about testable facts.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Bozobub

      Oh, my, quite a good post, Doc. *applause*

      August 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Arthur P
      A = lack of
      Theism = belief in gods.
      Not every atheist thinks in a linear, scientific way.
      Naturalists and humanists are atheists, but not all atheists are naturalists/humanists.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Ni

      Great post.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • GiveItUp

      This is very well written. Have you considered submitting it into IReports?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What is ireports?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • jungleboo

      Magnificent train of thought, Doc. The conundrum we all discuss here is, simply put, diagramed for all to see in your post. Thank you.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  4. Frank Kany

    The web address to this website is religion.blogs.cnn.com. It has a mostly Christian visitors, but surprising(after reading this article), there seems to be a significant number of non-Christians. Why are you(non-Christians) here?

    Just because I don't believe in unicorns and leprechauns, doesn't mean I'm going to troll the internet for unicorn and leprechaun blogs and bookmark the url so I can write hateful comments everyday. If you're bookmarking urls just to spread hate, you need help.

    Deleting the bookmark is a good starting point. If you need more help with relieving yourself of hate, talk to a Christian friend. They will show you love, not hate. Ask your Christian friend what Jesus has done for them in their lives.

    May you are here because you are reaching out for God or Jesus to show you a sign because deep down you do truly believe, but you want proof. If you want proof....pray.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Standing on my head, trying any way I can to rationalise god's absense

      Maybe you're full of crap.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Bozobub

      So, Frank, your faith can't survive reasoned debate, then..? Because that's what I gather from your silly post.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • mk

      Hmmm...this is an article about atheists, Frank. What are you doing here?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Colin Morgan

      hey Frank, this is a news site. We have debates here that involve both sides of issues. If you'd rather involve yourself in a religious c!rcle jerk, there's plenty of other sites for that.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • reddragon

      We're trying to help you listen to the voice in your head that tells you reason. We aren't just trolling. If there had been more support for me while my parents brainwashed me in my youth I wouldn't have spent any time feeling guilty about finally shedding the illusion of the magic man in the sky. As for proof while praying... I think that is the best proof. I prayed every night for twenty years. Then I didn't pray at all for 16 years. Same result except I'm a much happier person now.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • BermudaTriangle

      OR...maybe people who exercise their brain are tired of such blind faith being used as an excuse to continue to make inhumane and unethical choices and justifying with their religion. Religion CAN be a great choice...but it can also be a very BAD one. A perfect example is how people of Faith believe this world is simply a stopover for what truly matters – a fictional place they call heaven (laughable). While "blindly following" this assumption, most religious folk have no problem destroying/trashing this planet and every other species that lives on it – stating it's our "right". Now that's ignorance at it's worst, AND just ONE example!

      August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Boogenhaffenstaffen

      You seriously just asked why "non-Christians" are writing on a religion blog? You do realize there are plenty of other religions out there who all fall under the "non-Christian" categorization right? But they're not supposed to comment on a RELIGION blog because they're not part of your Christian religion? Wow.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • jungleboo

      If you don't think damning someone to eternal fire is not "hate", you have a logic disorder of the first degree.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Frank Kany

      Not surprised by the negative responses. My last comment. Here are two parables to think about.

      "Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear."
      — Mark 4:3-9

      "No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn't darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light."
      — Luke 11:33–36

      August 2, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Confused face

      "Hearken, behold, this is Frank. I am posting quotes from a Bronze-age text. They can mean whatever you want them to mean so they actually have no real meaning. I am not sure what I even mean."

      Thank you for that, Frank. I am glad I shall never get those 20 seconds of my life back.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Keeping It Real

      Frank Kany,

      Your romantic parables can be attributed to realism also:

      1. Religion is the th'orny growth that chokes out reality.

      2. Reality is the shining beacon of light... and it is dimmed by myth, legend and superst'ition.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  5. teamroper

    With all of there secret groups and meetings, sounds like the atheists are forming their own religion...or cult.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Paranoid much?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Bozobub

      "Secret"..? Sorry, no. You just happen to ignore anything that doesn't involve Big Daddy in the Sky.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • mk

      Teamroper, the internet is no longer a secret!

      August 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  6. WASP

    @jose: vancouverron actually has a point on page 27.
    1) according to location of birth does contribute to which religious faith or lack there of the child grows up with. i was born in the southern states and grew up.........yup you guessed it southern baptist.
    2) as far as worshipping various objects their was a group of pacific islanders that would by mistake got airdrops of food that had floated offcourse, when the food stopped coming they built replicas of the "giant birds" aka planes that had given them food and worshipped them to attempt to make these "gods" happy and get them to bring more food. see misunderstanding of natural things in the world creates gods

    August 2, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Bozobub

      For more info on those Pacific Islanders, google "cargo cults". It's quite fascinating...

      There still are a few adherents, apparently, but they're slowly dying out.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  7. Ni

    Typical for theists to try to compare things that atheists do to a religion. It is not, in any way, a religion. The internet is not a church for atheists. Trying to compare atheism to theism is a waste of time; they are 2 opposite things. This article shows nothing buy your extreme misunderstanding of the atheist movement.

    Instead of trying to passive agressively trying to justify an irrational belief in God by insinuating atheists are basically doing the same thing you are doing, maybe you should objectively look at the reason why atheists are more open on the internet. I don't think you fully understand it. If you did, you wouldn't be calling the internet "a chruch".

    Let us start here:

    church /CHərCH/Noun:
    1. A building used for public Christian worship.
    2. A particular Christian organization, typically one with its own clergy, buildings, and distinctive doctrines: "the Church of England".

    Atheism is not a fkn religion. Get that though your head already. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will start to understand what atheism is.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Bozobub

      While I – at least somewhat – agree with your point, comparing two opposites is, in fact *NOT* impossible or useless. Don't you recall "compare and contrast" papers from school..?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Ni

      I never said "impossible" or "useless". I said waste of time. I believe it is a waste of time, since they way they are being compared seems to always be the same, done in a way to make atheism appear to be a religion.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Bozobub

      "Trying to compare atheism to theism is a waste of time; they are 2 opposite things" <– Implies that comparison of opposites is a waste of time. I can only go by what you say, homes.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Ni

      Did my last post not explain what I meant? I tried to clear my meaning up for you.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Bozobub

      Frankly, no. Comparing opposites is also generally *not* a waste of time, either.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  8. JunkYardDog

    NCGH: I've been on my deathbed from cancer. Been to war twice, shot at, mortared, rocketed, lost my family. Trust me, I don' t need a spritual security blanket. I believe because I choose to belive. Not trying to scare anyone into religion, but if someone says they're not scared at the point of death.... then they are a liar. Period.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Haps

      You should thank your doctors and consider yourself a great soldier. It's a shame you don't give yourself more credit. Thanks for your service.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  9. STLBroker

    Psalm 14:1

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Bozobub

      Funny, I can easily google atheists who put the lie to your silly statement.

      Morals *do not* come from God. After all, what Deity considers moral, does not necessarily have ANY bearing on what humans consider moral. Or do you think you can dictate to Deity? lol

      August 2, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Breck

      Since I and any other athiest does not accept the Bible as truth, it does little good to quote it to us.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Ni

      I think this quote is a great example of how inaccurate the bible. Thanks for the point!

      August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      STL: Then you best disconnect your internet and dispose of your computer...both were designed by Atheists. You might also want to stop seeking medical advice, since most scientists (approximately 92%) have no belief in a god either. Atheists gave you Doctor's Without Borders; OXFAM; UNICEF. Maybe putting down your buybull and doing some research would actually open your mind to the reality of the situation.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • WASP

      @stl:
      1) troll
      2) no one that saids there isn't a god does good deeds? hmmmmm how about the many non-religious help groups in the world? how about this old soldier right here that fought to help keep your ability to be a bigot free for you to choose? how about all the other good deeds various humans in the world do without asking for anything or contributing their actions to any god? i help those that have less than i do, i block traffic for a woman and her child to make it safely across the street, i watchout for my neighbors, i play with the children in the park while i'm there with my son.
      so you are basically saying all my deeds and the deeds of others that sacrifice to help others without needing a 200 year old book to tell them to be good aren't being good?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • MelB

      "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property." Exodus 21:20-21

      August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Ben

      Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • sam stone

      Good for you, STL....you can quote a book. We are all very impressed.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  10. ShaneB

    Anonymity on the internet brings out the incompassionate.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • jungleboo

      or not.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Bozobub

      It also brings out the lazy, silly, well- or badly-informed, diligent, smart, stupid... Just about everyone. I don't get your point.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  11. milkandnico

    Atheism is another refuge for fearful minds. It is secular fundamentalism. Like it's religious counterpart it seeks a simple explanation for existence in a complex, ambiguous and self-contradicting universe. It relies on science as scripture. Unlike religious scripture, science will not hold up over time. Imagine what people will think about our much vaunted science in 500 years. Think of how much we will have gotten wrong. And science is just as full of irrational beliefs. The movement of observable celestial bodies doesn't jibe with the math. Science's answer? Dark matter. Brilliant. In order to make the equations work there is matter in universe that is literally invisible. Science is full of little beauties like these which atheists accept without question yet they ridicule belief in God, angels and demons. People died like flies during the black death and men had no idea why. They postulated this and that but in the end they did not have microscopes. Without the microscope they were not aware of the invisible world of viruses and bacteria. This world is unobservable to the naked eye but it holds huge sway over our lives. There many invisible worlds such as these but we do not yet have the instruments or knowledge to detect them. And so people would rather believe that there are no invisible worlds because they don't have the courage to accept that there are mysterious forces that influence and determine their lives. Atheism is just as intellectually lazy and spiritually degenerate as any religious fundamentalism. It is motivated by fear masquerading as arrogance.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Timmy

      Sigh...I wished I had a dime for every post that attempts to redefine the definition of atheism.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Standing on my head, trying any way I can to rationalise god's absense

      Too bad you know nothing about science. Science self-corrects. Unlike religion, which says they HAVE the truth. You b1tch about science's belief in Dark Matter, as it's undetectable visually. Yet you believe in invisible angels, and demons and gods.
      Pfft. You are a moron, and con't even think through your own inconsistencies.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Stellar

      Are you a complete idiot? Science will not hold up over time? You obviously have no understand of science or math. Scientists make mistakes or don't understand things, but they fix their mistakes and are always trying to look for more answers. It's people like you that really make me fear the future of the world.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Haps

      You can save a lot of time by just posting this next time:

      "I don't understand the universe. I don't have the ability to understand the universe. I don't have the ability to explain what I don't understand. I lack the patience, will, and fervor to understand the universe, therefore, god exists.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • milkandnico

      Yeah, clearly I'm not as smart as you. Your logic is unassailable. It is also evident that you comprehended the meaning of my post. It is also a sign of intelligence when you use the words "moron" and "imbecile" to make your oh-so-well put together retort. What's the matter puddin? Did i reach in and shine the light on the small troll cowering in the corner?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Bozobub

      Sorry, but no. Theists have been trying to redefine atheism (or agnosticism) as a "religion" since religions started occasionally [i]talking[/i] about the subject, rather than murdering the "heathen" or "infidels". It still is a failed argument; even Thomas Aquinas, arguably the greatest Christian philosopher, thought so – lol....

      August 2, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • WASP

      @milk: first it is called dark energy. dark matter is a completely different thing; however both are "called" dark because we don't know how to detect them. they are attempting to fix that problem at CERN, which they have stumbled on many new particules and if the higgs-boson is found as they believe they have then dark energy will have form.
      dark energy is the missing varible in the mathmatical equation as to why the universe is expanding at an ever accellerating rate.

      atheists aren't lazy people just because we don't believe in any god; we refuse to say "god did it" and leave it at that. now just accepting what you were told as a child to be truth and not seeking your own answers in this life IS being lazy due to the fact you refuse to do the work to varify what these folks have claimed to be true.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  12. teamroper

    Closet atheists need a place to yap, too. The internet is perfect for them. They can hide in the shadows and have time to think of really nasty things to say without having to debate face to face.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Rational

      I'm an atheist, and I talk to religious people personally all the time. What are you trying to say?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Gavin

      That's one of the most contradicting things I've heard today about atheists. Thanks for the laugh!

      Go back to Fox News.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Bozobub

      "Closet" atheists..? LOL – I'm pefectly willing to discuss faith with any theist; most of them, however, are too scared (or self-satisfied) to bother.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Independent Thinker....

      Teamroper, I am guessing you live in a Southern State and when you like to 'debate' these said atheists you probably do it in a surrounding that might be comfortable for you; such as in front or around other believers. You might be debating an atheist who might not be comfortable with discussing it or may have just 'come out of the closet.' Though we will never meet, I would debate your belief in a god anytime/anywhere; even in your church if your congregation can hold back their tempers. Your statement above is alarming and just shows your arrogance. What you may or may not understand is atheists don't dislike or hate believers at all; we simply demand proof of an existence of your god. If you are up to the challenge I would ask that you go to youtube and watch some clips from the Atheist Experience out of Austin, TX. I think you will find their discussions interesting or offensive if you are not strong in your faith. If you feel up to it, why don't you call into the show. (http://www.atheist-experience.com)

      I leave you with one last thing to ponder. Let me give you the benefit of the doubt and lets just say for arguments sake there is one true god. Currently there over 30,000 Christian Faith denominations or structures and all of them claim that how they interpret the holy book is correct and all others that don't follow their way of thinking will be going to that lovely place called hell. Let's take it a step further in case you aren't Christian. There are currently 21 major religions in this world all claiming to know how to interpret their holy book and each claiming you would go to hell if you didn't follow their beliefs. It is estimated that if you factor in each of the 21 major religions and their sub groups, there are over 5 million different religions in the world. Don't even get me started on religions that have died out over the years due to countries being overthrown. Google the God Mithra and see what you find? Mithra was a religion founded long before common day Christianity but surprise surprise, most of the stories or fables from this religion have a coincidence with modern day Christianity. Why don't you believe in Mithra, maybe that is the one true all knowing god? All I have to say Teamroper is I just hope you are spending your time following the correct religion otherwise you will find your self in hell with me; if you believe in that stuff...

      August 2, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  13. Colin Morgan

    It's egotistical to ask where god was in Aurora. Why isn't anyone asking where god is in Syria? I guess Syrians don't rate high enough to ask that question for? Humanity will finally progress and take care of itself, when it finally realizes it has no other choice.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  14. Ern

    Atheist: Anonymous internet tough guys LOL. #atheistfail

    August 2, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Agnostic Front

      I like how atheists and christians fight each other because they both BELIEVE in something WITHOUT proof. Atheists believe there is NO god at all, not just the biblical god described by christianity but NO DIVINE BEING AT ALL, and have zero proof to back it up. At the same time religious people have no proof their specific god exists either so they stick their fingers in wounds whenever they can (yes, both sides do it) and don't consider being people, considering the feelings of those involved in this tragedy, they are just concerned about their own selfish agendas. Do us all a favor... both of you... S T F U !

      August 2, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Bozobub

      Instant fail. Atheists believe there is no God, because there is *zero* evidence for one, that isn't man-made in the 1st place (ya know, like the Bible – lol).

      I don't believe in FTL travel (for macroscopic objects), either, but I'll certainly change my belief if someone shows me reasonable evidence for it.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Bozobub

      (Hashtags also don't work here, silly. This isn't twitter.)

      August 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  15. Jason Christopher

    I see a ton of people walking around with long, shaggy, unkempt hair. Does that mean I do not believe in barbers? No. There is so much knowledge in this world. I think statistically, an average person will only attain a very small percentage of all of the knowledge of the entire universe. So let's give a bit of grace in the matter and say in your entire life you attain 10% of all the knowledge of the universe. That's a big figure considering the size of the universe. What about the other 90% of knowledge you've never experienced? What if the knowledge of God is in that portion?

    I was an atheist for the majority of my life and I thought that all of the knowledge that I had truly disproved the existence of a higher being. The truth of the matter is you cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. I had a personal encounter with God a year ago and it totally changed my entire life. It has changed how I interact with people, how I live my life, and my relationships with family and friends.

    So often people tend to point out all of the negative aspects of one anothers faith. Whether your faith be in God or your faith be in the non-existence of God. Rarely will you see the positive aspects pointed out. Jesus has taught me how to love, be compassionate and to take myself to the lowest place to assure others in need are taken care of and comfortable before myself.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • WASP

      @jason: science has already determined by math the amount of all knowledge in the universe.
      it's 10 to the 10th power to the 123rd power...........so the human mind couldn't truly hold anywhere near 1% of that much less 10%; but i get your point.
      2) it's not one person with all knowledge. how did you learn to read and write? you were taught by someone that knew how to; collectively humans could learn 10 to the 10th power to the 93rd power of all knowledge in the universe.
      3) flipside of your " what if god is in that other 90%?" what if the proof of no god is in that 90%?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Standing on my head, trying any way I can to rationalise god's absense

      You "experience" was 100% in your brain, secondary to your brain's chemistry. Too bad it took you so long to learn how to love, and that it took a dead guy to teach that to you.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Rational

      Jason, you are clearly a thoughtful, compassionate person. Bearing that in mind, I'm going to point out some flaws in your reasoning that will hopefully elucidate those flaws.

      First, only half of your "proving" statement is correct: You cannot disprove god, or anything else. The burden of proof lies on the person making the truth claim, so if you say there is a god, then you need to be able to prove it for others to believe it. Read about "Russell's Teapot" for a thorough discussion of this concept.

      No one has to have all the answers, and not having them does not make a default "then there's a god". A literal "deus ex machina" ending to rational discourse, eh?

      Finally, if your "personal experience" with god involved voices no one else heard, images no one else saw, etc. that's called a "hallucination", and the correct answer is "see a psychiatrist". If it was all just in your head, that's called "wishful thinking and a vivid imagination", not truth.

      Be well.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • BermudaTriangle

      Sorry, but you've created a paradox and a very irrational contradiction in order to support what you WANT to believe. You can't state that a human being can "be aware and learn" about something while also not "being aware of and incapable of learning" about something at the same time. Doesn't work that way buddy!

      August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Onoyoudont

      You and others often speak of a "personal encounter with God." This idea has always baffled me. To me, the words "personal" and "encounter" mean something empirical or tangible. But the description I always get from these folks is some variant of " I felt God's presence so strongly". Surely a divine plan not only for living your life in the here and now but on which you base your belief in a life beyond the natural world deserves more proof than that.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Bozobub

      Er, WASP, you're way, way off on what information science says about the total possible information (NOT "knowledge, which isn't quite the same thing) in the universe, or what that implies.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • WASP

      @bub: negetive as it stands now, folks with degrees far beyond mine calculated the shear volume of information in the universe. knowledge is merely the human consept of the information that is stored in our minds from seeking out said information.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Jason Christopher

      I guess in the end of all of this, I really just want to be able to coexist with everyone and believe what I believe without having to experience backlash from people who believe their beliefs to be superior to my own. I appreciate all of the responses and I respect them. Comparatively, I don't feel I can adequately match wits with any of you intellectually.

      I'm probably the worst representation of my faith due to my inability to give any reason or rationale for why I believe what I believe. That's where my faith comes in to play. Life is so short and so subjective, I'm not sure why we spend time arguing over who is right and who is wrong about the whole grand scheme of things. I wish we could all just coexist, agree to disagree and move on with it. However, a little bit of humble debate now in then is healthy. Thanks for the edification!

      August 2, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  16. S.N.Rao

    Pretty much covered all the religions/b.s

    August 2, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  17. Your Religion Might Be Bullshіt If...

    Funny video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtX_R-V5Cws

    August 2, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  18. Mr. C

    Personally, I do not believe in an all powerful creator or being(s). However, I also will not throw out the possibility one (or more) exist. I see people who believe in God like my ideas on aliens from other planets, in a way. I have no proof they exist, but I believe they exist. So why shouldn't someone have the right to believe in a god(s). I have had many conversations with both atheists and Christians (and believers of other faiths). I don't understand why everyone seems to get so angry about another's belief. I have never had a Christian berate me for my personal beliefs/choices as far as religion is concerned. However, I have noticed that many of the atheists do get extremely worked up and tend to want to argue their side. Perhaps a bit of respect for others opinions whether you accept them or not can tone down this whole anger thing people seem to get into when discussing these things.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Greg

      Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, but they don't need to hammer it down other people's throats and fight for laws that deny other people's rights based on their own beliefs. Just because you haven't been berated for your religion, doesn't mean other people haven't. I know a lot of atheists and their stories would shock you. Everything from losing friends, to families turning their backs, to being beat up, to being forced into exorcisms just for doubting in God.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Confused face

      Mr. C,

      It is simple really. First, the belief and non-belief in god, while both being beliefs, are not equally probably. It is not a 50/50 proposition. That is a fallacy. The lack of evidence makes the existence of god highly improbably although, yes, certain individuals choose to turn off their brain and still believe. It is akin to believing in unicorns.

      Secondly, the issue I have with belief is that it does not stop there. It goes far beyond and into dictating to people what to think, who to love, what to say; it discriminates and considers others who don't believe exactly as you do that they are imperfect and, as in the case of christards, that you are doomed to eternal damnation.

      I hope that clarified it for you.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • OldSchool

      Attention Mr. C – YOU ARE AN ATHEIST. The literal definition of atheism is: a – the lack of, theism – belief in god/gods. To quote you directly: "Personally, I do not believe in an all powerful creator or being(s).", this is the DICTIONARY definition of atheism, you are an atheist, you are just too afraid of the word to describe yourself because of the negative connotation associated with it. Don't be a afraid of it, embrace it....

      I, as an atheist, do not COMPLETELY discount the possibility that a god or gods may exist. However, using my innate capacity for logic and reason I have arrived at the conclusion that it is highly unlikely based on the evidence at hand, particularly regarding the old religions which have been so thoroughly debunked as to place them into the realm of absurdity.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • JC

      No one cares about another's beliefs. What they care about is when others expect the rest of us to live by those beliefs.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • DOTK

      Mr. C. I thank you for your respect of my belief. I wish there were more out there like you. I've been on both sides of the fence and found that telling myself that there is no God is like telling myself that Santa Clause lands in my fireplace every Christmas. There is no explination but just a deep knowing. Like you said I have never seen a Christian berate a nonbeliever. However, on these comment boards I have seen many speak with such malice that I don't understand how they ever expect to convince someone of their belief. It's not biblical. It's not the way that we have had laid out before us. Anyways I again thank you for your respect and open mindedness and I hope that you continue to have good experiences with other believers of various faiths. I hope to that others who have had bad experiences with Christians know that that is not the majority. The majority are not protesting soldiers funerals. The majority are not dancing with snakes. The majority are good and faithful people who believe in a God who has given us the freedom to make our choices. (Unfortunately, our choices sometimes hurt others and that's our fault not his.) He did not create robots who had to choose him and who had to do good. He gave us freedom of choice and will and has his heart broken every day by it. There are a lot of good people out there of all beliefs and I wish that we could all be more respectful of that.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Mr. C

      just a quick response, to the responses, before I log off:

      I also personally feel that when one is truly at peace with their self and their beliefs, they find it unnecessary to defend what they believe.

      Seems to me the only responder to my post so far who doesn't feel the need to defend their beliefs is DOTK (and you're welcome, BTW)

      August 2, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • lou

      belief in deities separate humanity. If we have no gods then we only have each other. I prefer the latter since it is the reality of our existence.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  19. Ed Guerrero

    My wife once told me "if I am a believer in God and there is no God then when I die I will never know that God did not exist. However, for those that do not believe in a God and there is a God then when they die they will know that God exists." I choose to have faith in God but realize that I have to help myself, that is what free will is all about. It is my belief that non believers deep down do not want to be held responsible for their actions in life and fear rejection from God and fear being damned so they choose to not to believe. Again free will to choose. We will see who is right when we die.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Satan

      Pascal's wager dude, look it up.....

      August 2, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • John

      So your god does not mind that the only reason you "believe" is that you are playing the odds? How do you know you chose the right god? What if it is a different one? Also, wouldn't a just god judge a person on how they lived their life, rather than what superstitions they participated in?

      A rational and good person has no need to fear picking the right religion or believing in a god.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • michaelftlaud

      Ed, you've got that backwards when you say, " It is my belief that non believers deep down do not want to be held responsible for their actions in life and fear rejection...". Us non-believers take full and complete responsibility for our actions. It is the christianists who abdicate their responsibility. "I believe in Jesus, I'm saved! No matter what I do, I will be forgiven my sins. I can murder someone in cold blood, accept Jesus, and not have to worry about anything."

      Hypocrite.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Confused face

      Mr. Guerrero,

      your wife is not blazing a new trail. Pascal's wager has been around for centuries (See Blaise Pascal). That is a used car salesmen's tactic, i.e. "Hey, what have you go to lose?"

      That is truly a poor excuse for believing and is not true belief. It is sucking-up. It shows the believer to be a fraud. What a horrible way to live.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Jenna

      And what if you believe in the God of Abraham and die and find out that Vishnu is running the show? Pascal's Wager is not wisdom, it's just a prime example of the overwhelming ego-centric nature of religion.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • sam stone

      Very weak argument, Ed.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • sam stone

      Ed: Does your wife believe that this "god" that can read the thoughts of 7 billion people simultaneously won't know who bases their belief on covering their a$$es?

      August 2, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  20. Joe Schme

    I personally like the take on God from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as they show some old man with a long beard waving a wand and poof there is the planet, people etc... the Magical Wizard LMAO

    August 2, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Greg

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

      August 2, 2012 at 9:25 am |
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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.