Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
December 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – The Christmas season is revealing a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion.

Some atheist activists are trying to seize the holidays as a time to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as a central front in the war on religious faith. With the dramatic growth of the nonreligious in the last few decades, more atheist leaders are emerging as spokespeople for atheism, but the Christmas rift speaks to growing disagreement over how atheists should treat religion.

On the religion-bashing side, there’s David Silverman, president of the group American Atheists, which raised one of its provocative trademark billboards in New York’s Times Square last week. “Keep the MERRY!” it says. “Dump the MYTH!”
The sign features a picture of a jolly Santa Clause and another of Jesus dying on the cross – a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity.

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

The New York billboard, which will be up until early January and is costing the group at least $25,000, is the latest in a long line of provocative American Atheists signs, which attacked then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s religion during this year’s presidential campaign.

It’s not the only way Silverman is using Christmas to attack Christianity. In a recent TV interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he said the American Atheist office be open on Christmas Day and called for an end to Christmas as a federal holiday.

O’Reilly, in turn, called Silverman a fascist.

Despite Silverman’s knack for making headlines, however, other prominent atheists are putting a softer face on the movement, including during Christmastime.

“I just think the whole war on Christmas story is bizarre” said Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, who has emerged as another spokesman for the burgeoning atheist movement. “I think that any atheist or humanist that is participating in that story needs to find better things to do with their time.”

From his point of view, atheism and religion can happily coexist, including at the holidays.

At the chaplaincy, Epstein has reached out to local religious groups, packaging holiday meals and breaking bread with believers to discuss their similarities and differences.

Sponsored by the Humanist Community at Harvard, evangelical Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, along with a number of atheists, were among those represented at a recent meal packaging event for hungry kids in the Boston area. Around 250 people participated and over $10,000 was raised – including donations from local Lutheran and Methodist churches.
Epstein calls this sort of inter-religious dialogue “healthy.”

“We as a community need to be about the positive and we have so much positive to offer,” he said. “I think that we really can provide a positive alternative to religious holidays that are not meaningful because of their religious content.”
Silverman, for his part, is more than comfortable being negative when it comes to religion.

“We should look at the results - people are listening to us because we are shouting,” he said. “They don’t hear you unless you shout. … Sometimes you have to put political correctness aside. We need to get louder. I believe we are seeing the fruits of that volume.”

As proof, American Atheists points to the way their donations skyrocket after every billboard campaign. “We get donations and memberships because we are taking the stand that we do,” said Silverman, who would not give specific numbers on fundraising. “The donations are flowing in right now. People are loving it specifically because of the billboard.”

Epstein would rather see more emphasis on volunteerism, though he acknowledges that some atheists are drawn to Silverman’s vocal model. Both men said they appeal to different parts of the atheist movement.

“We are GOP and Dem, man and women, black and white – the only thing that holds us together is atheism,” Silverman said. “A movement like ours needs all sides. It needs people who are working to be conciliatory and it needs people who are willing to raise their voices.”

Religious “nones” – a combination of atheists, agnostics and the religiously unaffiliated, have been growing their ranks in recent years. According to a Pew Research study released this year, the fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all as one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The survey found that the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans. According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated.

Though not monolithic, younger atheists, according to Jesse Galef, communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, are more prone to celebrate a secular version of Christmas than to ignore the holiday.

“I am very much in favor of celebrating the secular Christmas,” Galef said. “It is a celebration of the spirit of giving and I think religious divisiveness goes against that effort.”

Other atheists celebrate Festivus, a December 23 holiday meant for atheists looking to celebrate during the winter without participating in a Christian holiday. The holiday, which entered into popular culture through the television show “Seinfeld” in 1997, has gained popularity in recent years.

At the Secular Student Alliance office in Columbus, Ohio, the staff will play Secret Sagan, a nod to the famed scientist, instead of Secret Santa. And instead of Christmas decorations, they put up a Winter Solstice Tree with ornaments from the movie “When the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“We celebrate the holiday season, just not the religious holiday,” Galef said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christmas

soundoff (4,367 Responses)
  1. IMsirius

    I am a born Jewish Atheist and I love Christmas. I respect everybody's religion and I expect people to respect my views as well. I'll celebrate any religions holidays which are fun, colorful and go with good food. My personal belief is that if I do not help myself nobody will and that religion is a crutch and being used for many wars. Nevertheless, these are peoples beliefs and I will never say ill of any religion but one :).

    December 21, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      You should be more consistent and speak ill of them all. They are all BS and we need to make sure people understand that as we coexist as peacefully as possible or they will be thinking their imaginary crap gives them justification for doing stupid things.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:34 am |

    This whole Christmas thing is simple nonsense. It's a no brainer if you're intelligent enough to understand the history behind it. Christ, if he existed wasn' t even born in December they think maybe July. The only reason we celebrate this holiday is because of the Catholic organization and the popes. They needed some kind of holiday to compete with the Pagan Winter Solstice and bring more people into the church. Most of the ideas behind Christams are Pagan ideas and have been adopted by people over the years. Most people haven't a clue, its really kind of sad to have a belief you know nothing about.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • me

      According to historians, Jesus did exist.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  3. AtheistChemist

    As an atheist, I am very tired of seeing atheists (with child-like mentalities) picking the wrong battles to fight. Who cares how people celebrate the Holiday season? Who cares about nativity scenes in parks. The wise atheist reserves his battles when it comes to such things as teaching creation in schools, or other such government matters.
    As for those who commented about atheists who push their beliefs on others, it goes both ways. I cannot count how many times I am treated as though I were a criminal simply because I am a non-believer. While I understand that there are atheists out there who will tell you that you are "stupid" for believing, I do wish more people knew that the atheistic way of thinking does not necessarily say that there is no God. What it means when most of us say it as that we do not believe there NEEDS to be a God to explain what goes on in our universe, basically that naturalistic explanations alone are sufficient. We hear hooves and do not turn around expecting to see zebras.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      the "hooves.......zebras" line is pretty good.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      What if you live in an African savanna?

      December 21, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I don;t think most atheists have a problem with Christmas. I do have a problem when christians try and take exclusive ownership of the holiday season and I would rather gov't agencies not show favoritism for any religion (I don't view trees and most symbols of the season as religious).

      December 21, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Epidi

      @Blessed are the Cheesemakers – Those symbols are Pagan which is my religion. Trees, mistletoe, holly, etc. 😉 The Christians assimilated them so they could more easily convert all the "ignorant" country folk they came upon. We celebrate the rebirth of the sun on Yule, winter solstice, and they celebrate the birth of God's son on thier holiday. Easily confused, yes? Along with the rabbit, eggs, etc, during thier Easter which are fertility symbols for our Ostara. Live & let live I say. I don't care who you worship or don't as long as you are a decent human being.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      I realize those symbols are pagan and therefore have a religious connection. I don't consider them religious as far as the seperation of church and state in this country because the symbols are universally used by the religious (of multiple faiths) as well as the non-religious.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      You wrote: "Who cares about nativity scenes in parks. The wise atheist reserves his battles when it comes to such things as teaching creation in schools, or other such government matters."

      I would like to point out to you that the "nativity scenes in parks" IS a government matter because those parks are public property. A nativity scene can be put anywhere on private property just fine. On public land it is a violation of the First Amendment.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  4. Rational Libertarian

    If you don't enjoy Christmas, chances are I won't care for you as a person.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Yawn

      What a loss that is.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Not to me.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • S Kopfter

      "Beware!" said the nightwatchman, "Lest ye offend my delicate sensibilities!"
      ...and the people laughed.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @"rational" Libertarian
      If you don't stop being a Libertarian nutbar, I will continue to disrespect you for being a dumbfuck.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • cincinnatidavid

      I see you're hedging when you write "chances are". You could still have a few Jewish friends you care for.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  5. God exist

    Leave the atheist with their believe. They have their choice. They 've heard. They've choose. But for me I have faith and believe in Jesus Christ who truly came to redeem man back to God. He makes me feel comfortable and have hope for eternal life which is to come. Not all who hear the good news will recieve it. Atheist can't take AWAY my Love for Him(GOD). He still exist. I love science. But not to ignoring God. Those astronomers new that somethings in the space are beyond human comprehension. They've some supernatural backing. Be sincere to your self when mere thunders strikes where do you fear or have phobia for things since you knew science can prove them. . So just want you to choose life which is christ. He still loves you He is calling on someone today. Answer His call.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Belief is not a choice, and that is the flaw of any dogma that requires belief. A lack of belief is not a crime, and any god that punishes unbelief is immoral and would not deserve worship or respect.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • S Kopfter

      "Yeah, I remember when I had my first beer, too".
      .... – response by Comedian Steve Martin to a heckler who shouted out something incoherent.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • god is a figment of your imagination

      If it's calling, it has a wrong number.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Athy

      "God exist," you really need to improve your writing skills. But the sad thing is, you probably don't even realize it.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  6. Happy End Of The World Day!!!

    Robert Brown talked about it a lot as a certainty. I wonder what he is up to right about now. I wonder if he has a special rapture outfit he has on?

    December 21, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      We aren't going to be that lucky.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Calvin Klein

      Out rapture fashions this tear are FABULOUS! THRILLING! ADVENTUROUS!!!

      First out on the catwalk is Robert Brown with our Rapture A Go Go creation, a throwback to the days of Studio 54! It is a powder blue polyesther leisure suit with shiny lapels, over a silk shirt unbuttoned down to the navel, highlightibht Robert's towering platform shoes!! White guy afros hairstyle was done by K.C. and the Sunshine Salon.

      Next up, a little naughty, a little nice, is Chad, wrapped in Saran Wrap! Simple, direct, and edgy, Chad shows god he is unafraid to let the world know of his Lord's miniaturization of certain naughty bits!

      And stumbling down the catwalk next is Topher, wearing an understated loincloth as he whips himself repeatedly in honor of his loving Jesus. Sadly, Topher did not get the message that self-castration was banned by the first Nicene Council – odd that they would have enough of a problem with that to actually feel the need to ban it, but hey, those crazy Christians!

      Give them a hand, folks! What lovely models!

      December 21, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • S Kopfter

      [claps furiously]

      December 21, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Yay for Calvin Klein!!! [claps] Well done, sir!

      December 21, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  7. pilgrimboy

    Westboro Baptist Church's fundraising goes up too when they put their stupidity out there. Just because your fundraising goes up when you're a jerk, doesn't mean that you are taking the right approach. It means you're a good fundraiser, and that there are other jerks out there.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • The Deal

      Westboro Church consists of less than 100 members, all family, several of whom are lawyers. Their 'fundraisers' consist of tripping up and suing non-suspecting folks who step over the line legally in fighting them.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  8. Nala

    I'm confused as to why atheists give a rats behind about Christmas...or anything to do with religion. You don't believe, good for you, do something useful with your time but spending time assaulting and confronting Christians speaks to a much deeper issue. Put on your big boy panties and suck it up, there will always be believers, it's not your concern. Move along.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Athy

      You're the type of person that would be confused. Why am I not surprised?

      December 21, 2012 at 12:48 am |

    • Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
      Because their words had forked no lightning they
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Athy

      I'm confused too. I put my dentures in the wrong hole

      December 21, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Milton Platt

      I have been confronted by christians on the street, in hospitals, and through my mailbox. Practice what you preach.....

      December 21, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Nala practices . . .


      December 21, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Shane

      As an Atheist, I don't care if Christmas is a federal holiday or not, I could care less if people celebrate it or not.

      I celebrate it because its a time to help people out, get together with family and friends, and have fun. I think religious people and Atheists that get bent out of shape about things like this need to get a life.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I enjoy Christmas, I only have a problem with christians claiming exclusive ownership of the holiday season.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • S Kopfter

      "And there did come out from underneath every rock a pestilent host of hypocrites to flail one another in the light of day."
      – Verse 89, Revelations Through Better Living II, Teaching Ed.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Nope

      “I'm confused as to why atheists give a rats behind about Christmas…You don't believe”
      I’m all for Christmas, its christians I have a problem with. Especially the ones who think christians invented and own Christmas. Take a look around, apparently Christmas is actually owned by Hallmark and shopping malls

      December 21, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  9. Topher

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    December 21, 2012 at 12:42 am |

    • I wonder if they hear you in hell.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Topher

      Why does that matter?

      December 21, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Have a nice holiday season, Topher. Or do you think today's the Apocalypse? Whatever.
      Please make it a nice one for others as well by not violating their human and civil rights.
      Most religious people have a hard time with that stuff....

      December 21, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • cincinnatidavid

      I don't think you have any Islamic friends.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  10. JW33

    I won't condemn a religious man for his beliefs. I won't condemn an atheist for his either. But I expect neither of them to try to force their beliefs on me. I won't tell you what I believe, because that is my own private matter.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |

    • Sooner or later you'll talk. You always do.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Who cares what you do or don't condemn? Why is it relevant?

      December 21, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • cincinnatidavid

      What do you think about banning the use of condoms in the name of God?

      December 21, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • Fergus spake these words

      and he said, This shall be my creed, whereby shall I live my life, as it were a shining example of Virtue and Excellence, well worthy to be enshrined in Heaven as a model for all who are wise to follow. My creed shall into three parts, like Gaul, be divided. Firstly, I shall constrain myself to Mind My Own Business. Secondly, I shall endeavor at all times and in all places to Keep My Nose Clean by the most expedient possible means. Thirdly, and finally, I shall always exercise the utmost care to Keep My Hands To Myself

      December 21, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  11. Edweird69

    I like to sing while I go poo.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:38 am |

    • Conflicting uses of your diaphragm. It's probably unwise.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  12. Frank Zaheer

    I read about a sect of ultra hard-core atheists who only believe in what is measurable with common tools. Literally, like rulers and scales. The don't even believe in things like quarks, neutrinos, electrons, etc. lol

    December 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • The ole moron detector is going off again!

      You put the "duh" in dumb, Frank

      December 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Frank Zaheer

      Is that it, or did you hit the submit button too early? Is that one still under construction? Do you need a helmet?

      December 21, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Just think how useless such snipes would become if you believers could only demonstrate your god's existence with a gram of proof. But you can't, so you resort to such whinging inanity.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  13. Nietodarwin

    “Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries - Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious. These associations say nothing about whether atheism leads to positive social indicators or the other way around. But the idea that atheists are somehow less moral, honest, or trustworthy have been disproven by study after study.”
    _ Greg Graffin

    December 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Links please.
      Prove it.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Richard, Graffin is a PhD who MUST cite his sources in his research. It's not like he's a preacher who can say anything he wants to say.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  14. Yolanda

    Chad fled. Got his butt kicked again.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  15. randall

    first off most traditions related to christmas are pagan. secondly as an atheist i love christmas! who doesn't love the lights, family time and generosity? i'm a parent and there is no greater joy than the eyes that light up while unwrapping presents you put a lot of thought into. we just do it on yule (22nd of december)

    December 21, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yes Christ Mass was placed there to over shadow the pagan events.
      Pagans generally remember things like that.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  16. Frank Zaheer

    I'm curious to hear atheists views on Islam and Muhammed.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Observer

      Guess you don't knowwhat an atheist is.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Obviously

      They don't exist either.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • tonyo66

      Guess you'll have to wait until we have a National Islamic Holiday for that!!!

      December 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • randall

      probably a real historical figure that like anything has been distorted over time. i have no desire to deny mohammad or jesus lived. but like the old greek gods.. people needed things to explain the world around them. nothing exists to prove any of them weren't simply schizophrenic or embellished in texts.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Islam is a lie, a pile of filthy BS and Muhammad was a sleazy piece of shit. Next.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Islam is as stupid and ridiculous as is christianity and Mo ham head was a child molester. Why?

      December 21, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Mohammed was a pedophile

      December 21, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  17. sandi allen

    to some assembly required...I will pray for you and your children. sounds like you need it.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Yolanda

      Prayer can't work. Violates God's "free will" prime directive.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  18. Rational Humanist

    Whoever designed that billboard and slogan should not have used a picture of Santa, because Santa is a myth also.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Some assembly required

      But is Santa a lie?

      December 21, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • randall

      who says santa is a myth? saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure and like any figure larger than life from history things change to what we recognize today.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Milton Platt

      True enough, santa, alas, is not real. But the point is that it is a symbol usurped by Chrisianity from another belief system and really has nothing to do with Christianity.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Milton, Saint Nick was originally a Greek Christian, although I am not sure if he was Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic.

      The word "saint" should have given you a clue there. Oopsie!

      December 21, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  19. wj

    When Christians try to persuade people to believe in Jesus, they are following His command to go into all the world and make disciples of all men. Why in the world would Jesus Christ command that? He just died an excruciating torturous death so that ALL men could be forgiven of their sins and inherit eternal life through faith in Him. He came alive and gave that command. He has plans to create a new heavens and new earth where there will be only righteousness and joys forever more, and would really love everyone to be a part of it. So if Christians are vehement or persistent in trying to convince others, they know that the consequence of people not taking God's offer of full pardon is that they will have to be punished for what they have done. Who in the world would reject God's free offer of the fountain of youth and eternal life and complete acquittal? Most people are on that path. But there will come a day where everyone will be resurrected again, those of faith will inherit all things, and those who refused to believe will be thrown in a lake of fire. This is not made up. It is what God has revealed about the actual state of reality and the future judgment by Him. If you don't believe this, you will still pay the consequence. Now is the accpeted time; now is the day of salvation. Repent and believe the Gospel, Jesus commands.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • the AnViL

      wj – there are no gods – all you posit is the foolishness of ignorant bronze-aged men on earth.

      there will be no resurrection – no heavens – and no hells.

      you've been fed a lie.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Spoken like a rabid cult member who watched Mel Gibson's snuff film. I feel sorry for you for not realizing how badly you've been lied to throughout your life. I wish I could help you. I really do.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Milton Platt

      So your god made man a sinful failure and then punishes him for being that way?

      December 21, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • wj

      To Anvil, Rational Humanist and Milton Platt: I believe. You do not. We have made our choice. I KNOW God's Word is true. He has proved it to me over and over. But you have made your choice. Don't feel sorry for me. I am certain that I am on the right path, as you are certain that I am not. But know this for certain, every knee will bow, including yours, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Better to bow now, than find out too late that it was all true.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Oh, it's YOU.
      (HeIsGod, etc.)
      Now that I know it's you, I will avoid trying to reason with you or explain what real facts are. You are too far gone for help.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Larry

      You do understand that the bible was written hundreds and in some cases thousands of years after christ lived and isnt based on a written but on those passed down by word of mouth, like the telephone game. Also the stories in the bible are based on stories of older religions and are identical to those older stories but just have different names inserted not to mention the fact that what is and iasnt in the bible was chosen by a roman emperor who wanted it his way for the old testament then by king james who wanted it his way for the new testament. Its not the word of god not even close to it. The writings that the church calls heresy like the gospel of Thomas are much closer o the truth. There was no one but christ he said the kingdom of god is in us and all around us. meaning what we have is this planet and this life and us and those around us make it heaven or hell.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • junie


      December 21, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Fran

      Milton Platt, God did not make man sin. . .Adam sinned when he done what God told him not to do. Since God gave man free will, He would not stop him from committing this sin.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Topher


      Not a single thing you just said had a grain of truth in it.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Here, Topher:


      December 21, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Fran, god made the system that allowed for sin and such horrible consequences. If a car maker designed a car to go off like an atomic bomb if you put diesel in it instead of unleaded, would you blame the driver who made the mistake or the manufacturer who made the car when it took out a couple million people? Use your brain, here.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Topher


      "You do understand that the bible was written hundreds and in some cases thousands of years after christ lived and isnt based on a written but on those passed down by word of mouth, like the telephone game"

      First, the last book written was Revelation and that was completed sometime between 94-96 AD ... which means at the most it was 60 years after Christ's death. Not hundreds. Not thousands. Also, the authors were either eyewitnesses of the actual events or were an eyewitness' contemporary. You can trust it.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Topher, you don't know your bible if you think that the gospels were written by "eye witnesses." Do your research, child, and grow up into adulthood.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Topher

      Matthew and John were apostles ... meaning eyewitnesses.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      LOL!! Tsk, tsk, Topher. Not doing your research, but just going on what you've been told in blind faith. How stupid of you.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Topher

      I suppose you have evidence to the contrary?

      December 21, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Romnesia

      Topher, There is no evidence that they were actual witnesses and wrote their gospels; there is plenty of evidence that the texts were written decades after and modified over centuries. I see why they call it blind faith.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Topher, you're not doing any research into what you believe. How sad and stupid. Do you know when the gospels were written? How about what most actual bible scholars believe about the authors? You see, you're taking for granted what you have been told but you haven't done any actual study-–and this on what you believe is the most important thing in your life.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Topher


      "Topher, There is no evidence that they were actual witnesses and wrote their gospels; there is plenty of evidence that the texts were written decades after and modified over centuries. I see why they call it blind faith."

      Actually, we do know they wrote them. Now, there are some books in the Bible where the author is up for debate, but not the Gospels. Now as to things being "modified" ... what do you think has been modified. We have very early copies of the Bible and so we know what they said and what our modern ones say. Check out this chart ...

      Here's a look at the time gap between the original and first surviving copies of some very important books that give us information on important historical figures ...
      Bible: 25 years
      Homer: 500
      Demosthenes: 1400
      Herodotus: 1400
      Plato: 1200
      Tacitus: 1000
      Caesar: 1000
      Pliny: 750

      Now, here's a look at how many of those manuscript copies we have ....
      New Testament: 5686
      Homer: 643
      Demosthenes: 200
      Herodotus: 8
      Tacitus: 20
      Pliny: 7
      Yet we put more faith we know what happened in the Gallic Wars than what happened in the NT.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Ah, Topher is an idiot. I got it now.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Topher

      Oh, c'mon, dude. Don't tell me you're one of those atheists that can only call names like a naughty little child. I've presented my evidence to support my case. Researched and accurate. Now where's yours?

      December 21, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • The Deal

      "Now, there are some books in the Bible where the author is up for debate, but not the Gospels."

      No debate? Read a bit of one here:


      Sorry, but the ones that reject a real "John" character as the author make much better cases.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • Topher

      "Although the author's name does not appear in the Gospel, early church tradition strongly and consistently identified him as the apostle John. The early church father Irenaeus (AD 130-200) was a disciple of Polycarp (AD 70-160), who was a disciple of the apostle John, and he testified on Polycarp's authority that John wrote the Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia Minor when he was advanced in age (Against Heresies)."

      December 21, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • The Deal

      "The fourth gospel was attributed to the disciple John, late in the second century CE, and has since been known as the Gospel According to Saint John, or more commonly as John's Gospel. It appears to have been written quite a few decades after the crucifixion of Jesus, thus suiting the notion of being written by a disciple who would not die.

      However, the gospel is clearly derivative and therefore is now considered not to have been written by an eyewitness to the events described. The second century Roman teacher, Gaius, called the Gospel of John "heretical" and claimed that it was written by John's worst enemy, Cerinthus.

      Many scholars are now convinced that the Gospel of John emerged from an intense debate over who Jesus was, with its purpose to defend certain views and oppose others. The gospel appears to have been written in layers, by anonymous authors from a Christian sect now known as the "Johannine Community"."

      December 21, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Topher

      Makes zero sense that Cerinthus wrote it. He was considered a heretic. If a heretic wrote the Gospel, why then is there nothing heretical in the text?

      December 21, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Topher

      Also ... "No mention of his name was necessary since his original readers clearly understood that he was the Gospel's author. Also, through a process of elimination based primarily on analyzing the material in chs. 20-21, this disciple "whom Jesus loved" narrows down to the apostle John. Since the Gospel's author is exacting in mentioning the names of other characters in the book, if the author had been someone other than John the apostle, he would not have omitted John's name."

      December 21, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • Observer

      Far more important than who wrote what is the realization that besides SOME good morals, the Bible also contains errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • Topher

      Such as?

      December 21, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Observer


      Have you actually read the Bible? Get serious.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • Topher

      I read it everyday, dude. What specifically do you have a problem with?

      December 21, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Observer


      Looks like you haven't read it carefully or analytically.

      – II Chronicles 22:2 “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in
      Jerusalem.” [KJV]
      – II Kings 8:26 “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.”

      So did he get voted out of office and then re-elected as king?

      December 21, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • Topher

      "Some versions read "forty-two" here, a copyist's error easily made due to the small stroke that differentiates two Hebrew letters. The reading from 2 Kings 8:26 of "twenty-two" should be followed."

      December 21, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Have you actually read the bible?

      Topher”Makes zero sense that Cerinthus wrote it. He was considered a heretic. If a heretic wrote the Gospel, why then is there nothing heretical in the text?”
      Compared to the gospel of Mark, John is quite heretical

      December 21, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Some people are just toooooooooooooooooooooooooo far gone into their delsuional fantasies to bother with, this snarky comment notwithstanding.

      December 21, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  20. sandi allen

    why do atheist find it necessary to try and shove their beliefs down our throats. If they don't believe in God that's their choice but I for one am sick and tired of them trying to shove thier non beliefs down our throats who do believe. They compl ain about prayers in school...well if your child don't want to pray that's fine they don't have to but don't push prayers out of school for others. And look what's happening in our schools. We need God back.

    December 21, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Some assembly required

      Pray at home, please, and don't waste my children's time or make them feel uncomfortable for not having a relationship with your imaginary friend.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Observer

      sandi allen,

      Wrong. Atheists aren't advocating their beliefs or Christian beleifs in schools.

      You've totally missed the point.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Milton Platt

      Which god do you mean? And by the way, prayer in public schools is shoving religion down other people's throats. You can pray freely in a church run school. I get brochures in the mail from churches that I didn't ask for, either. You want to publicly broadcast your own beliefs, but expect those who don't believe the same as you to be silent. That is very two-faced.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      "well if your child don't want to pray that's fine they don't have to " I think you mean "if your child DOESN'T want to pray"
      This is a glaring example of why there should be no prayers in schools, I why I wouldn't want any child wasting his time or being influenced by YOUR CHILD sitting there spouting the mental illness you have taught them at home.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Athy

      Sandi, we don't want to "shove" anything down your throat. We just don't believe in your ancient myths. Why the hell can't you religies get that concept? You seem to have some sort of mental block.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Milton Platt

      "Look what's happening in our schools"?
      Are you implying that if there had been prayer in the Sandy Hook school that an emotionally disturbed kid would not have stolen his mother's guns and killed those children? Are you saying that god sent him to punish him? You are a sick person.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • I_get_it

      sandi allen,

      Very funny. Hahahahahahahahaha !

      December 21, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • ccw

      and I am sick and tired of christians pushing their beliefs down my throat. I am so very happy for you that you believe...I really am. But I want no part of the myth.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • me

      @Athy, if you don't believe in "hell", why are are you using it in a sentence? get the myth out of your vocabulary and stop being a hipocrite.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      " if you don't believe in "hell", why are are you using it in a sentence?"

      We'd better not catch you calling today Friday (Freya's day) then - hypocrite, honoring a Norse goddess! Oops, no Saturday (Saturn's day) for you either, or several other days of the week and months of the year.

      December 21, 2012 at 4:06 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.