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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. Ben

    The good thing about Chemosh, God of Moab, is that He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, the One and Only, whether or not you choose to believe in Him.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  2. ERR

    So let me get this straight, along time ago there was absolutely nothing, no energy, no chemicals, nothing. Complete and total nothing!! Then the nothing exploded creating life and billions of planets over a billion yrs? I think that takes alot of faith to believe just like a religion.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:09 am |
    • ERR

      So let me get this straight, along time ago there was absolutely nothing, no energy, no chemicals, nothing. Complete and total nothing!! Then the nothing exploded creating life and billions of planets over a billion yrs? I think that takes alot of faith to believe just like a religion.

      People everywhere enjoy believing things that they know are not true. It spares them the ordeal of thinking for themselves and taking responsibility for what they know.
      Brook Atkinson

      August 9, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      If I recall corectly, the Hindu scriptures say precisely that: "In the beginning was neither existence nor non-existence."

      August 9, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • WASP

      @err: your understanding of astro-physics is stunningly short sighted. in the beginning of the universe there was the samething as there will be at the end of this universe.
      1) energy- dark energy however you wish to call it. per definition energy can not be created nor detroyed, it simply changes form. thus energy will still be here when this universe is finished.
      2) random particules have been proven to blink into and out of exsistance at given times, so once everything is done you can still have particules of various things being created as energy converts to matter.
      3) the simplest explaination given by scienctists that has been worked out in mathmatical equations is far more likely than the loveingly simplistic/ lazy answer to everything given by christians .........."duuuhhhhhhh god did it"

      August 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Pretty simply, on the unconcious agenda of the fundamentalist christian...

      Either keep people ignorant of science, or convince them that science is irrelevant, and far less important than memorizing the bible (and effectively studying your navel).

      All the while using products of industrial technology developed by our advancing knowledge of chemistry and physics, and products of health science developed by our advancing knowledge of chemistry and biology.

      You're developing a generation of religious zealot consumers. Low income producing for the most part, because a current scientific understanding is intrinsic to many upper level paying careers. People whos understanding of the underlying scientific knowledge that gives them their current society is on par with a dark ages person's idea of 'magic'.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Higgs-Boson Baby

      Right, according to our current scientific understanding and knowledge, “something” has always existed’ although science is not currently able to make predictions about events occurring over intervals shorter than the Planck time (zero to approximately 10 (-43) seconds.

      The closest thing that the “faithful” can come to for describing “nothing,” is probably what Arvoasitis described below from the Hindu scriptures. Until someone can produce the conditions prior to the Big Bang in a laboratory the current, scientific model, remains unchallenged.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  3. My Name is Boffer Bierce

    The Death of God has been met with sadness by some. It kindles in me the spirit of opportunity. God and the associated baggage of his “moral order” were impediments to progress. Nowhere is this more evident than in the sphere of commerce. Some years ago, I developed a most useful medicine. Taken internally it is a cure for disorders of all kinds and acts as a general tonic. Applied topically, it is a remedy for gout and psoriasis and posses an SPF of 15. The precise recipe is, of course, a trade secret and is protected under US Patent. While God lived, the oppressive machinery of society stood in the way of the production and release of my curative to a needy world. The Death of God, I hope, will occasion its availability on the free market.

    I speak of Oil of Man.

    Oil of Man really is one of the most useful medicines ever discovered. Its production has been somewhat limited by the natural reticence of society to make sacrifices for the afflicted. During research and development for Oil of Man, I was, in fact, forced to requisition donations of certain vital ingredients for my vats. The destruction of the logically inconsistent but simple moral system of the theists will, I hope increase availability of the necessary raw material. A godless society is perfect for the production of Oil of Man. The attempts of the Godless to construct a logically consistent system of ethics sans theos are a failure and are easily discarded by the pragmatic and enterprising among us. Some free thinking rural physicians in my area have been utilizing my tonic for years now-sending patients to me (the only dispensing pharmacy) with a prescription they are pleased to designate as __OL. Hom__.

    Thank heavens for the progress of free thought. The elimination of society’s detritus (unwanted children, the elderly, the poor, opposing political parties, etc.) and their incorporation into Oil of Man will be of great general weal to mankind as it hurtles into a future free of outmoded concepts like good and evil.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  4. Higgs-Boson Baby

    "I love it when I say that the universe "just could not have sprung into existence spontaneously". (Richard Dawkins).

    Aren't we FULL of ourselves!

    August 9, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  5. Thus Spoke a Modest Proposer

    When you encounter someone who professes to be an Atheist, take the most personally advantageous action: eat him. Atheists are high in protein and a good source of B vitamins and amino acids. They tend to be greasy, so otherwise watch your intake of fats and cholesterol. Shield your activities in this matter from the attention of the authorities until Atheists are recognized as game animals by the state. Remember, you have nothing to fear except law enforcement as long as you have braised, roasted or broiled the Atheist to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees.

    They are also good in casseroles and fricassees.

    Some within our movement have brought to my attention that since only a small percentage of the US population identifies as Atheist, a domestic shortage will soon ensue. The problem of the necessary importation of foreign stock is a real one, and though logistically challenging, should be met with by the harvest of readily available European animals. Atheists are common in Europe since the great conflagrations of WW II and the Cold War. The horrors perpetrated by Nietzschean inspired Fascism are not easily forgotten. And the long and draining Cold War–necessary defense against the wholly Atheistic social and economic philosophy of Marx and the realized atrocities of Stalin, et al.–has left Europe moribund and stagnate. The irony that so many Europeans have responded to the historical horrors of Atheistic philosophy by embracing Atheism themselves is delicious. I suggest we take advantage of it: literally.

    Make no mistake. I am an Atheist myself. But I will never reveal this to the world. It serves my interests to call myself a Believer.

    Do not bore me with notions of how I should obey my "inner moral sense". My moral sense is nothing more than a genetic imprint, a primitive survival advantage I have outgrown–much as I have outgrown the need for God. I can discard them both easily. They are worthless to me. After all, God Is Dead and the only good is what is good for me. I am the Superman. I am Beyond Good and Evil.

    August 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i suggest you eat more atheist. maybe it will nurture the reason and logic parts of your brain - which you are obviously not using. cut out your frontal lobe and throw it away - there, no more nasty cognitive thinking now.

      August 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  6. Higgs-Boson Baby

    One more thing – I just found the "signature of some sort of designer" in the Human Genome, and it said, "Someday, Richard Dawkins will bring this to the world's attention that human beings were actually made by a higher, extraterrestrial intelligence, and if you look on chromosome 13, you’ll find the explicable process by which we (your alien creator’s) came into existence…and it wasn’t by some sort of Darwinian process. Anyway, give our regards to Mr. Dawkins for giving us credit for your existence.”

    Sincerely,

    Your “Higher Intelligence” alien creators.

    P.S. Our DNA also has a signature, and it says after you create Richard Dawkins, learn from this mistake, as he will erroneously give you the credit for his existence and not us.”

    August 8, 2012 at 4:16 am |
  7. correctlycenter

    Genesis chapter 1 says God created the heavens and the earth. Atheists cannot properly explain how everything was created. If they accept the fact that God exists, then they realize they would have to be accountable and obedient to the LORD. So it's easier to live a self centered, indulgent lifestyle then to live for God...

    August 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • old golfer

      I am not an atheist. I am in fact a Deist. However, science does explain the start of things much better than your first chapter in your book. BIg bang theory with an expanding universe. How do your square your 6-8,000 year of our planets existence with the science of it being around 13.5 billion years old. The 6-8,000 year number comes from the genealogy of your book, in case you don't know. I'll take science.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      correctlycenter, the funny thing is that you consider Genesis a "proper explanation" for the origin of the universe! Don't you realize that you're using the bible to prove the claims of the bible? It's completely odd thinking.

      August 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • jim

      old golfer, there are a number of different ways to take some parts of Genesis. For instance, chronologically it could be possible that Adam's age of 150 years was the age he was after the fall. It does not say that Adam was 150 years old counting from the time of his creation, a time that new no time, since there was no death. It was a different world after that, one with a clock now in it, ticking down until death takes a permanent hold. Someone has read into it that the earth was 6,000 years old and everyone else seems to go along with it, but it does not say how long it was from the time of creation to the time of the fall, and the fall changed everything; it says their eyes were opened, knowing good and evil and they were as gods; it was a new era, and new eras usually start the calendar over again, only this era had the first calendar. Some Christians seem to think they are saved if they can recite exactly how old the universe is and the earth. But the bible doesn't explicitly say that, so it's not worth dying on, as I see it.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Peteyroo

      DirectlyScenter, I'm afraid you're quite wacko. The Bible is nonsense. Science explains the universe very nicely.

      August 8, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Saying God created the universe doesn't explain anything. You are merely exchanging an unknown for a total enigma. Science doesn't claim to answer what caused the universe to come into existence, merely what occurred after the first moments in it's expansion. Before that remains a complete mystery and we acknowledge that we don't know. Only a theist claims that they do know. But in truth they also don't know and in the face of a total lack of evidence they are simply stating a lie.

      August 8, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      The Big Bang raises more questions than it answers. Let's see, at one time our entire universe was compressed to the size of a pea or marble. Suddenly it exploded. In the first trillionth of a second, it expanded to the size of the universe observable with the naked eye. Such an expansion, a billion- trillion times the speed of light, given the name "inflation," defies the laws of physics (but the laws on a universal scale may be quite different). So like the pre-science Scholastics, modern scientists have explained something unexplainable by simply giving it a name. Modern astronomers claim to be able to see back nearly to the time of the B-B, but that too seems to defy the laws of physics.
      But, then come the existential questions. Where did the original pea-sized universe come from? Did it have a unique origin or does the universe undergo an eternal cycle of Big Bangs and Big Crunches? Does the universe lose energy during such cycles, if they in fact occur? But, then, too, there must have been a beginning. The scientists evade these questions by calling the Big Bang a "singularity." In other words, "I don't know; I don't care; stop bothering me."

      August 8, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Sorry but you're understanding of the inflationary period of the Big Bang is wayyyy off. The inflationary period begins at Planck time 10e-43 seconds and ends at 10e-33 seconds. The universe goes from 10e-33 cm across to 100 cm. An expansion factor of 10e35. While this rate does exceed the speed of light the expansion is limited to the fabric of the space time of the universe itself and not of the quanta of energy within it.
      In any case the end of the inflationary period of the Big Bang did not result in the observable universe we see today unless you think the universe is the size of your refrigerator.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Second scientist do not claim to be able to see back to the Big Bang. Any time before the universe was 100,000 years old will forever be blocked from view. At t hat time time universe is completely awash with plasma and effectively opaque.

      August 8, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Cq

      correctlycenter
      Pretty much every ancient mythology has it's own creation story, so why do you just assume that the ancient Hebrew one is more true than the Inuit, Greek, Mayan, Hindu, Chinese, or any of the others? Many follow the "cosmic egg" model of creation which happens to be a much closer approximation to the big bang theory. It can even be argued that the Qur'an describes something closer to the big bang than Genesis, so why stress that the Judeo-Christian is the better alternative to science?

      August 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • ME II

      @correctlycenter,
      "Genesis chapter 1 says God created the heavens and the earth. "

      Just to clarify, Gen 1 does not explain how the universe was created. It just states that God did it.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      CC, can you show any evidence that those who are atheists and agnostics are more self-centered than believers? Can you prove that they live more "indulgent" lives than believers do? Then do so. Because otherwise, you are simply stating your unsupported opinion.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • just sayin

      correctlycenter

      Genesis chapter 1 says God created the heavens and the earth. Atheists cannot properly explain how everything was created. If they accept the fact that God exists, then they realize they would have to be accountable and obedient to the LORD. So it's easier to live a self centered, indulgent lifestyle then to live for God...

      -

      Considering the jews cut and pasted and borrowed from the Sumerian religion to create their own, your example has very little validity.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Steve

      You are arguing from a common but flawed perspective. Because there is a hole in any given theory does not make some other theory correct. All theories must have their evidences put forward to positively establish their validity. So for your theory of "genesis" to work you would need to offer credible evidence that is not simply a list of flaws in other theories. For example showing the earth through geological analysis to have been created in the time spans you believe they are would be a start.

      I think you also may not realize your "good book" has two competing creation stories in genesis (1:1 vs 2:4) where one has man created on the first day and the other has him several days into the creation. But you won't hear secular people offer this flaw as an argument for existing scientific theories.

      August 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  8. GOD PARTICLE UK Dave

    WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A SORE LOSER? 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

    August 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  9. correctlycenter

    Atheists consider themselves so hip, modern, sophicated, super-intelligent, smart and intellectual, but cannot properly explain how everything was created. They reject God's answer in Genesis chapter 1, now that doesn't sound smart to me at all...

    August 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Well let's see...so far these folks you mock have made a few meaningful contributions like:

      We no longer believe the Earth is flat.
      We no longer believe the Sun Revolves around the Earth.
      We no longer believe demons cause disease.
      We no longer believe the earth is 6000 years old
      We have ideas about weather and how it is formed.
      We no longer believe flying and space travel are impossible.
      We now understand the physics behind rainbows, gravity, lightning, thunder, and fire.

      We understand the big bang theory, the Higgs boson, the quark, the photon, and the atom. We know the universe is expanding and roughly how old it is. The BBT is not about the origin of the universe. Its primary focus is the development of the universe over time. BBT does not imply that the universe was ever point-like. The origin of the universe was not an explosion of matter into already existing space. These things we know through empirical and mathematical research and evidence. This is hugely more than we knew just a century ago. And it's sure WAY more convincing than a 2,000 year old book and its followers who feel no need to question the universe as much as they would question a door-to-door salesman.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      DirectlyScenter, Evolution gave you what little intellect you have, my friend. Mother Nature played a cruel joke on believers by giving them low IQs and emotional instability. We atheists, on the other hand, got the brains and the good looks.

      August 8, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      correctlycenter: While you have one book that you use to think from, we have numerous books. The books we use include factual evidence backed by the scientific method; the book you use is 2000 years old, has never been updated and has been proven time and again to be full of fallacies...that's why the call what you have 'faith'-belief without evidence. We're just not as gullible and dishonest as you.

      August 8, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Cq

      correctlycenter
      We can't explain it completely yet, you mean? Even if the actual answer is beyond our ability to determine, which is a possibility, why would you presume that we must then choose the most popular idea of how the universe was created and arbitrarily pronounce it as truth? Isn't it better to admit that we don't actually know the answer to something than just pick any old answer just to say that we have one?

      August 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      So let me get this straight. Making up an answer is smarter than looking for the answer?

      Sad.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't consider myself "sophicated". However, I don't have a need to pretend to know how the universe began. I can accept that we don't yet know far more readily than I can accept, based on no evidence at all, that some invisible being "did it".

      If you so desperately need to have an answer right now and are satisfied with believing something without any evidence for it, then go right ahead. I would prefer to deal with science and facts than myths.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  10. Steve Wilcox

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn't Ernie Pyle write that there are no atheists in foxholes? Payday is a coming so when the earth starts shaking and the sky lights up with the coming of Jesus, you can bet there will be no atheists then. They will be putting their heads between their legs and kissing their beloved fannies goodbye! The Bible says they will even be looking for the rocks to fall on them as they rush to the nearest "fox hole" for cover. Being the betting man that I am, I believe it's a sure thing. Get your diapers ready Atheists!!

    August 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Pascal's wager, yet again. (yawn)

      August 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Steverino, get a grip, lad. Jesus is not coming back. He wasn't here in the first place, but even if he were, he'd shun this place. His fan club has too many Bozos in it.

      August 8, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • Simon Gardner

      The 'No atheists in foxholes' thing is a complete lie of course. I've met loads of them.

      August 8, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Nobody..atheist or theist wants to die but our inevitable death is inescapable. We all cling to life to the desperate end. The major difference is that the atheist has no fear of consequences post-death. We simply cease to exist in much the same way as we didn't exist before we were born. Only the theist believes that they live on after their body dies and that has major consequences for how they treat and view this mortal existence. If you believe you will continue forever in some fashion you effectively diminish to utter insignificance the value and meaning of the one and only brief life you do get. 70 odd years compared to infinity is effectively zero. Worse still the idea that what choices you make in this insignificantly tiny time period could have repercussions that span an infinite thereafter is the height of injustice. In other words the idea that a finite choice might carry an infinite punishment or reward is simply appalling and immoral.

      August 8, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • WASP

      @steve:"that there are no atheists in foxholes"

      you are an ass. i can truthfully call you that because I WAS AN ATHIEST IN THOSE FOXHOLES!. i served two tours in iraq, had countless near misses. once i was trapped in a guard tower while the enemy was trying to blow me up with mortars! i didn't cry out to your imaginary friend or any imaginary thing, i hunkered down and accepted i was going to die..............i got lucky, that and iraqis are horrible shots. lmfao so get your FACTS striaght, thousands of atheists serve in the american military forces and we do it to protect ignorant pri-cks like you.

      August 8, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      WASP: You deserve respect...some of us are decent enough to recognize your contribution to your country, not only do you protect yours but you serve a long side our military and help protect us also and for that some of us are very thankful. Dolts like Mr Wilcox have no appreciation for their freedom that they wouldn't have without good people like you. Peace 🙂

      August 8, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • WASP

      @truth: thank you for the compliment. that one ignorant comment "there are no athiests in a foxhole" just sets me off something fierce. i joined to fight for those that couldn't fight for themselves, i'm use to ignorance being spread under the banner of religion; i grew up southern baptist and witnessed much of it first hand.

      August 8, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • MarkinFL

      And BTW, if some 800 ft Jesus comes striding across the land with some weird freaking sword, or whatever the fantasy is, you bet I'll suddenly believe in the existence of supernatural forces. ( assuming I haven't recently taken to using hallucinogens)

      Unlike most current believers, we'll accept the evidence. We do not have to like what we believe to believe it.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • jim

      No atheists in foxholes? My grandfather served in a renowned Scottish regiment in the trenches of France in WW1, got his forearm permanently changed forever with a German 'dum-dum' bullet taking out a 6 inch length of one of the bones, had the infantryman next to him vaporized by a direct hit from a shell, was sent home to die with gangrene, but lived, and he told me when I was 16 and mocking my mother about some of her Christian beliefs that there are no atheists in foxholes. Hmmm. But, actually, from my own experiences of being cornered, it just made me more dependent on my own wits or fists to get out of the situation fast. Human relationships with girls and losing when you didn't want to, now that is what did me in and I started looking skyward for help, and got it.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  11. Awkward Situations

    Where can I drop off my donation of one lolcat to the Internet Church of Atheists?

    August 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  12. Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind (Fact)

    Ive noticed that people who do not believe in santa clause, the easter bunny, fairies, leprechauns, or any other character considered to be fictional; never stress their non-beliefs in these characters. Never will "facts" be brought forth to prove their non-existence. Never have i whitnessed as much energy and time used and spent on these characters as much as it is on Jesus. I believe all of these characters to be fiction and made up, but never would i waste a second trying to prove this due to my confidence in their non-existence. Atheist CLEARLY feels threatened by Jesus which is why they constantly have to prove to themselves ( in the form of bashing Jesus and Christianity) that He doesnt exist. They believe some how this will put their insecure beliefs and unstable minds at ease, but evidently it doesnt due to their constant attacks. I dont blame them though it is hard trying to prove that the most powerful man to ever walk this earth doesnt exist. It must be tormenting trying to silence the name of the man who lived more than 2000 years ago, whos name is more famous than all names in history. It's frustrating to whitness a "fictional" character claim more followers than any other non-fictonal character in all time. It must stir up great fear in those deny the Son of God, who states that anyone who denys Him will be cast down in hell for all of eternity. Here is some advice and wisdom for such beings "I would rather live my life as if there is a god and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is"- Alber Camus P.S. Salvation is offered to everyone freely. The choice is yours use your free will wisely, it will determine your final and eternal destination. God bless

    August 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Jesus Saves Baseball Cards, how wrong you are, my confused and bewildered friend. There is no heaven and there is no hell. And here's a Santa Claus clause for you: "If Santa were real....." Check your spelling and grammar, please!

      August 8, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      A belief in those things do not cause harm to society and most people let those beliefs go after childhood. A belief in your imaginary friend god can be quite dangerous and in certain cases is used to deny equal, basic rights to all...thus the reason we speak out about it.

      August 8, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  13. Leeuwenhoek's Flies

    When I first started learning about science, I was told of an elegant little experiment that disproved the notion of spontaneous generation. Ever since then, I have been told that spontaneous generation is not just possible, but is a SCIENTIFIC FACT. Scientifically acceptable spontaneous generation just takes a little longer. This seems to be almost a leap of faith, considering the necessary complexity required of even the simplest possible sort of self-replecating molecule

    August 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Colin

      From your comment, I can only assume that you stopped learning since some three weeks later.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Leeuwenhoek's Flies

      Meanie

      August 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Solquin

      Would it surprise you that the simplest self-replicating molecule, a strand of RNA, can be found on many of the rocks that fall to earth from space periodically? Would it surprise you that this same molecule is considered to be the most likely candidate to have begun life on Earth?

      August 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Leeuwenhoek's Flies

      It has not happened, except possibly in the "science" section of the National Enquirer, but if it did happen, it would not suprise me. I think you are referring to meteorite ALH84001. You should check your facts. I do not at all discount the possibility of panspermia, but whether the supposed spontaneous generation occured terrestrially or extra-terrestrially is irrelevant.

      August 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • adh1729

      There is no such thing as a self-replicating molecule; self-replication implies a molecule making itself, by itself, with no outside help. "Self-replicating" RNA, for example, has the whole biochemical factory of the cell standing behind it. Where did the RNA monomers come from, or the energy for the reaction, or the proper mileau? Ribose is just a part of a single RNA monomer; it is a 5-carbon sugar; recall to yourself that one of the first Nobel Prizes in chemistry was for the synthesis of sugar molecules, starting with glycerol. I am sure that blind chance can create ribose, glucose, and other sugars out of graphite and CO2; sure. Atheists grasp onto "self-replicating molecules" as drowning people cling to straws.
      It is amusing to see so-called scientific, hard-headed rationalists, so boldly stating that they would never believe in things that they could not scientifically observe, and then catch them believing in all sorts of things that science has never observed nor measured (e.g. infinitely many universes, life forms simpler than the bacterial cell, evolution that happens so fast that it left no trace nor record, the origin of life from inorganic matter, etc. And by the way, viruses are as helplessly dependent on the cell as the so-called self-replicating molecules.)

      August 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  14. scatheist

    It isn't analogous to a church.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • just wondering

      @weak moment,
      "you gotta love Stein's quiet confidence"

      Ben Stein's persona of being laconic, droll and self-assured is just his way - he does it when discussing everything from mail delivery to the economy. He exudes it even when he is mistaken.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • just wondering

      how'd that get here? oops!

      August 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  15. Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=BoncJBrrdQ8
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoncJBrrdQ8?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360%5D

    I love it when I say that the universe "just could not have sprung into existence spontaneously".

    August 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • John

      Spare us the expelled clip, that film well-known to have used deceptive interview tactics and editing.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      At the 1:48 mark I make the statement that "it could not just have sprung into existence spontaneously"...I am refering to supra-intelligent extra-terrestrial life in response to the interviewers questions about intelligent design...!!!

      August 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      There is no way editing can make me say what I did. I just slipped up and said it. By the way, if life can not just "spring up spontaneously"...how can the cosmos???

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

      Yes, the idea of supra-intelligent extra-terrestrial life springing into existence, or always existing, is completely absurd. Which is why I cannot believe in God.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      The "deceptive interviewing tactics" were asking me questions I could not answer. The interviewer could actually have really destroyed me had he taken my statements in another direction... to that of the problem of causation.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      How can the cosmos spring up spontaneously, Colin?

      August 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Cq

      Richard Dawkins in a weak moment
      If he slipped up when he said it it doesn't necessarily mean that he meant what he said, correct? Lots of people misspeak publicly. Best to argue against what he has published in his books.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      What he said was not a "slip of the tongue", dude. You know it and I know it. It was a Freudian slip.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Colin

      I have no idea. Nor do you. We have some interesting theories, for example, an infinite cycle of big bangs and big crunches, the universe being one of an infinite number of universes in a multiverse, quantum fluctuations with an overall energy value of zero, etc. But, they are just theories.

      But, saying a god must have done it because we don’t have an answer is nonsense. It answers nothing. It is not even an explanation. It's a retreat to mysticism because the question is hard. All we have done is put a halo on a question mark and cowered away from the challenge.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      I love the "infinite bubbles" part...the universe is clearly either infinite and thus, logically absurd, or erupts spontaneously and is thus, is logicall absurd...that is why I believe in "god"...but my concept of god is very broad...

      August 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Colin

      So, you don't like any existing theory, fine, reject them. Look, if you want to beilieve in the Juseo-Christian or any other god, fine, but don't kid yourself that your cosmology is any more sophhisticated than you clinging to the particular Bronze Age Palestinian myth you were taught as a kid.

      You also lose credibility when you try and misquote one of the best known atheists in the World.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      I did not misquote him and Ben Stein did not "entrap" him. That fact is that "scientific" cosmology is, ultimately, nothing more than a really big pile of elephants and tortises...but keep piling them up ad infinitum beneath your supercilious feet.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins in a weak moment

      Awfully quiet now...gotta go..ciao, boys...you gotta love Stein's quiet confidence compared to the petulance of Dawkins...almost like a father talking to a child who has outgrown his britches.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • just wondering

      @ weak moment,

      Would you care to tell us what the Answer to the Beginning of Everything is? Do not forget to include verified evidence for its factualness.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • just wondering

      @weak moment,
      "you gotta love Stein's quiet confidence.."

      Ben Stein's persona of being laconic, droll and self-assured is just his way – he does it when discussing everything from mail delivery to the economy. He exudes it even when he is mistaken.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • PG13

      Dawkins is open to the idea of a designer. But, as he says, the designer must have sprung into existence just like the universe we think did. He is talking about the nonsense of believers who say, "God always existed."

      We know Dawkins' position on this issue. If Ben got him to distort his sentence and seem to say something we all know Dawkins doesn't believe in then Ben is being deceptive.

      Ben's deceptive tactics are a reflection of the unethical tactics adopted by the group he is defending; all in the name of morality and protecting it.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @weak moment, I wonder... A) Are you suggesting that Dawkins ACTUALLY believes the universe has a designer and his statements to the contrary are all just a mass fabrication to hide what he really believes? or B) Dawkins mispoke and is therefore wrong about everything he's said in the past and future to the contrary? or C) other?

      August 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Cq

      Richard Dawkins ...
      I remember back in the 80's watching Jerry Falwall mistakenly say that the Devil was "good". Was that a "slip" too?

      August 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Stewart Franks

      i think stein just used the Socratic Method to get dawkins to make some statements he would rather have back. He has a bias against gods that have never been proven, but is cool with aleins who have also never been proven as being intelligent designers. He falls back to they "probably" evolved by some darwinian process. it seems to me that this process of intelligent design by aliens could well regress back to eternity. The big thing is that he is saying the first "self-replicating molecule" could have been intelligently designed by something...now we know that all life on earth comes from a single common ancestor...Dawkins is saying that this could have been designed by an alien intelligence...at what point in the regression does the alien intelligence become a "god"? what he really believes in is the dogmatic assertion that chance and possibility coupled with the universal laws of nature are god. he believes in god, too...his god is just dreaming and creating the universe and life on the fly...

      August 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Cq

      Stewart Franks
      He's cool with aliens only because they would also be the product of evolution on their own worlds. They are as likely as us creating lifeforms that could survive on Pluto, or Mercury with us being "aliens" to those worlds. It's not at all far-fetched, isn't it?

      August 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Stewart Franks

      why would they necessarily be the products of evolution on their own worlds.? they might have been intelligently designed by other aliens, etc., etc., the big thing is that dawkins says there is nothing that mitigates against the possibility of intelligent design, all he does is state that it could not have been the intelligence of any "god"...as if he is qualified to define what "god" can possibly be.

      August 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tora, Tora, Texas

      Well, the worse thing from the perspective of Dawkins is that he explicitly says that not only is intelligent design a possibility, but that it is an "intriguing possibility" and might even have left a signature on the molecular level of life. Regardless of the proposed designer, this makes the possibility of intelligent design worthy of study scientifically. This was not cajoled out of him by Stein at all. Dawkins just let his guard down for a moment and became really open minded and free thinking. It is not necessary to construe out of this that Dawkins is suddenly a "believer". He said what he said. I would think a biologist with the reputation of Dawkins would want to explore every "intriguing possibility" in his sphere of research...but I guess not, otherwise he would be supporting at least some research into the possibility of intelligent design. Just Sayin'

      August 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Higgs-Boson Baby

      The only explicable process at work is a couple of not-so-intelligent, organic life forms (both of which suffer from severe superciliousness) muddling about in their own ignorance. It’s embarrassing for the supra-intelligent, extra-terrestrial statement to have even been mentioned by a so called intellectual.

      Yeah, that “causation” thing is definitely a problem "dude." So are terms like “springing into existence” “always existing” “infinite bubbles” as you both acknowledged as such (Strange – this conundrum makes one disbelieve in a “God” and the other believe in one (or rather a “broad,” “concept” of a “God”).

      Scientific fact requires tangible, testable, repeatable, verifiable evidence. No amount of excessive verbiage, superciliousness, bravado, and belief in a “higher intelligence” (extra-terrestrials – LOL), is very helpful in answering this challenging “scientific” question. Either stick to your guns and follow genuine, scientific inquiry (which you obviously know nothing about, and depreciate with your sarcastic remarks) or follow mysticism – YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS…”Dude”

      August 8, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Higgs-Boson Baby

      To: R.D. in a weak moment,

      One more thing – I just found the "signature of some sort of designer" in the Human Genome, and it said, "Someday, Richard Dawkins will bring this to the world's attention that human beings were actually made by a higher, extraterrestrial intelligence, and if you look on chromosome 13, you’ll find the explicable process by which we (your alien creator’s) came into existence…and it wasn’t by some sort of Darwinian process. Anyway, give our regards to Mr. Dawkins for giving us credit for your existence.”

      Sincerely,

      Your “Higher Intelligence” alien creators.

      P.S. Our DNA also has a signature, and it says after you create Richard Dawkins, learn from this mistake, as he will erroneously give you the credit for his existence and not us.”

      August 8, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • Cq

      Stewart Franks
      Well, if they were divinely created by a god, and then seeded our planet, how would that affect your theology?

      Really though, it's assumed that since evolution worked on this planet it would work on others, and that it's about as improbable for highly complex and intelligent aliens to have just popped into existence out of nowhere as God always existing. We could, theoretically, be wrong about this, but there is no logical reason to believe that we must be.

      Sure, there is nothing which rules against the possibility of intelligent design. We, ourselves, have designed and bred organisms, from dogs, to wheat, to bacteria, and we could design organisms that could survive on other planets, but what seems entirely unlikely and convoluted is the idea that all biological life was the unique design of some non-biological intelligence. The closest thing that has any basis in our experience is some kind of computerized machine intelligence, but even that would need a biological creator to have invented and assemble it. There is just no logical leap to imagine extremely complex intelligences having always existed creating all biological life.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Cq

      Tora, Tora, Texas
      This is the transcript of that comment:

      BEN STEIN: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution?

      DAWKINS: Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it's possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.

      Does it sound like he's describing classical creationism/ ID to you, honestly? All he is doing is imagining what we, ourselves, could some day be capable of doing, nothing more.

      August 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Higgs-Boson Baby

      Reply to: Stewart Franks, August 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      “…what he (Dawkins) really believes in is the dogmatic assertion that chance and possibility coupled with the universal laws of nature are god. he believes in god, too...his god is just dreaming and creating the universe and life on the fly...”

      What he is implying is that god, and the natural universe are not mutually exclusive, which degrades the supposition that god could have any supernatural qualities, and is just as bound to these universal laws as we are. In other words, God is just creating as Mother Nature intended in some sort of free-floating “dreamscape.” This must be some dream! I hope Mother Nature/God doesn’t wake up, and stop creating or have a “bad” dream for that matter.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  16. Flip

    I plan on getting religion on my death bed and sliding head first into heavens home plate SAAAAAAFE!!!!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      What if you find yourself in following situation which I do not wish for you or for anyone else… and it is known only by The Creator of heavens, the earth and everything between them… and from there there is no return meaning come back to this life and change ourselves and then go back… nooooo they will be told you had your chance and what makes to think that if you are sent back, and you will do good… O our Lord have mercy on us and guide us all to straight path… amin

      7 It almost bursts with rage. Every time a company is thrown into it, its keepers ask them, "Did there not come to you a warner?"
      8 They will say," Yes, a warner had come to us, but we denied and said, ' Allah has not sent down anything. You are not but in great error.' "
      9 And they will say, "If only we had been listening or using our intellectuals, we would not be among the companions of the Blaze." [Al Quran Chapter 67: Verses 7-9]

      August 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  17. Adam C

    Atheists do not need a church. If I passionately discuss Microsoft products with other people, does that mean we've founded the Church of Microsoft?

    August 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Cq

      Apple supporter: "You are surely doing to Hell for the sin of imitation!" 🙂

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

      Google is the only way to enlightenment. You are both fools and will burn in eternal damnation.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      No, it just means you're weird.

      We have all known for decades that geeks can discuss religion dispassionately for hours, but when it comes to Operating Systems?? That's when the converstions get heated.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  18. marissapolla

    LOL God create the internet aleluya! took hem 1995 years but he did..thank You Jesus ! now is time to stop the crime ...

    August 7, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  19. Pagan72

    One time: the town of Joplin, Missouri was not ready to be in the public spotlight. This is what happens when a group of persons (or a person, for that matter) is thrust into the worldwide spotlight without prior knowledge. They were ambushed in that respect. They might not like the attention to begin with, correct? Think that. Maybe that way of thinking is pervasive in the eyes of the rest of the country/other countries. Maybe it's unfair. And maybe that's the ultimate truth concerning the situation. They were unfairly put into the spotlight in a national or world-wide manner–and they "didn't agree with it" as a small town in America. Something to think about.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Pagan72

      One would hope that the town will heal itself and grow into, I don't know, a BIG CITY someday? But its obvious what happened. They did not like the attention from the nation/world and got defensive/hateful. Most of it would be because of the unwanted attention from the press. Meaning, before this mosque-burning happened, they were only known as a town full of victims. They need to be left alone by the media in order to rebuild and get their "collective soul as a town" together.
      What happened? A small town cannot be the focus of the national media and still "go about its business". But a small town is still a small town and needs to be left alone in order to heal itself of its wounds and progress. Let it progress. The frustration of being in the national spotlight is undoubtedly having a nasty toll on the town itself. Leave the town alone for five years, come back, and see what it has become.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  20. Higgs-Boson Baby

    I spoke with God today and He said that He wanted to let GOD PARTICLE UK Dave make the final argument. Okay...okay...I'm going.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:54 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.