January 8th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

My take: 'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman

Editor’s note: Chris Stedman is the author of "Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious" and the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDStedman.

By Chris Stedman, Special to CNN

(CNN)—This year, Congress welcomed the first Buddhist senator and first Hindu elected to either chamber of Congress, and the Pew Forum noted that this “gradual increase in religious diversity … mirrors trends in the country as a whole.”

But Pew also noted one glaring deficiency: Religious “nones” were largely left outside the halls of Congress, despite one in five Americans now saying they don’t affiliate with a religion.

There is, however, one newly elected “none” — but she seems to think "atheist" is a dirty word.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, was sworn in a few days ago without a Bible, and she is the first member of Congress to openly describe her religious affiliation as “none.” Although 10 other members don’t specify a religious affiliation — up from six members in the previous Congress — Sinema is the only to officially declare “none.”

This has gotten Sinema a fair amount of attention from the media. Many identified her as an atheist during her congressional campaign, and after she won, sources touted her as a nontheist. Even this past weekend, Politico declared in a headline: “Non-believers on rise in Congress.”

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But there’s a slight issue: Sinema doesn’t actually appears to be a nonbeliever. In response to news stories identifying her as an atheist, her campaign released this statement shortly after her victory: “(Rep. Sinema) believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.”

As a nontheist, atheist and nonbeliever (take your pick), I find this statement deeply problematic.

It is perfectly fine, of course, if Sinema isn’t a nontheist, and it is understandable that she would want to clarify misinformation about her personal beliefs. But to say that these terms are “not befitting of her life’s work or personal character” is offensive because it implies there is something unbefitting about the lives and characters of atheists or nonbelievers.

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

Try substituting a religious group of your choice in place of atheist if you don’t agree: “[Rep. Sinema] believes the term Muslim is not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.” Does that sound right? It shouldn’t.

Of course, many do view Muslims as unfit for political office. In that respect, political opponents have regularly misidentified President Obama as a Muslim. Many have defended the president from such attacks by noting that Obama is a Christian.

But former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell rightly pointed out the pernicious underlying message such a defense sends:

The correct answer is: He is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’ The answer is ‘No, that’s not America.’ Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

Just as Muslim is used as a political smear, politicians seem to avoid "atheist."

This is probably because the American electorate views both Muslims and atheists more unfavorably than they do other groups: According to a Gallup poll released in June, only 58% of Americans would vote for a “generally well-qualified” Muslim candidate, and only 54% would vote for an atheist. (This is the first time that number has been above 50% for an atheist candidate.)  By contrast, 91% would vote for a Jewish candidate, 94% for a Catholic and 80% for a Mormon.

There seems to be a greater general tolerance for, or blindness to, comments that marginalize or diminish atheists than those aimed at other groups.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Prominent individuals like Powell rightfully decry anti-Muslim fear-mongering in politics, but few speak out against those who wield accusations of atheism as a political weapon.

Whether people don’t see it or simply aren’t bothered isn’t clear, but it remains a problem.

I respect Sinema’s right to self-identify as she chooses, and I don’t wish to speculate about her religious beliefs. But while I celebrate that she is comfortable enough to openly identify as bisexual, I find her response to being labeled an atheist troubling.

Why not instead say that she’s not an atheist, but so what if she was?

The 113th Congress is rich with diversity. As an interfaith activist, I am glad to see the religious composition of Congress more closely reflect the diversity of America. As a queer person, I’m glad that LGBT Americans are seeing greater representation in Washington.

But as a proud atheist and humanist, I’m disheartened that the only member of Congress who openly identifies as nonreligious has forcefully distanced herself from atheism in a way that puts down those of us who do not believe in God.

We are Americans of good character, too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chris Stedman.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (3,637 Responses)
  1. Ex atheist

    Atheistic scientists will Have you believe that mutations and natural selection produced all complex life forms, you must believe that all creatures gradually evolved from a common ancestor. Evolution is a myth.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Gadflie

      It's hard to believe that so much ignorance can fit in such a short post.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Evolution is a myth." So is the computer you are typing these messages on. Don't trust science!

      January 11, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  2. Bible Clown©

    Let me save you some time if you think you are going to use Einstein or any other theoretician to prove or disprove God's existence. Cut to the chase: it won't work. There is never going to be an equation that makes God appear like a genie, saying "Oh well, you caught me." You will live your entire life without seeing one fact that gives you hope that any of it is true. All you have is the Bible, and it's full of errors too. You have to have faith and trust that a higher power will come from somewhere beyond space and time just to save you. It's pointless to argue about this stuff; it's unprovable.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Relativity and QM already proved God, by an Athiest. Einstien was still a bit angry in 1927 over the big bang supporters making him manufacture the photon.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Nope, nothing's proven until we exceed light-speed. You realize 1927 was a long time ago and physics has moved on a long way? I'm sure E=MC2, but how do you prove it with objects? And what would it mean anyway? If I pass lightspeed, do I turn into light? If I get the Space Winnebago up to .99999 lightspeed and then turn on the headlights, does the light pile up ahead up me like toilet paper coming off a roll? Or does it go on speeding relativistically away from me at its own lightspeed? You don't know and neither do I, and neither did Einstein. Heck, you can't even understand how his name is constructed.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • charlotte

      Nor will there ever be a moment when some God jumps out from behind a bush and says, "oh, look here I am!" Those who wish to believe based only on tradition and unsubstantiated hearsay are welcome to do so. But quit vilifying people who choose not to believe, based on the fact that there is no evidence in support of a god and all the so-called 'proof' is tradition and unsubstantiated hearsay. Atheists do not try to ram atheism down anyone's throat and will thank the theists (especially the Christians, who are the worst offenders in the U.S.) not to try to cram their theism down anyone else's throat either. This includes the thoroughly enshrined First Amendment via the establishment clause.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Edward

        Pretty sure god jumped out of a bush when he talked to Moses that first time he was on that mountain, fasting and dehydrated to the point a normal body would start to hallucinate.

        August 29, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " Atheists do not try to ram atheism down anyone's throat " I have a friend who was brought up in a cult. She is the most militant atheist you ever saw. She really dislikes seeing people being led around and fooled and will get right in your face about it. Me, I think people who go to church are so thoroughly brainwashed they can't be reasoned with, so I just smile and humor them. "You saw a 900 foot Jesus? That's NICE." I know plenty of Christians who will witness if you ask, but don't attack or hate you for not being One Of Them.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      I use Theories that meet the Scientific Method, to demonstrate the need for a sentient being ouside the universe and also to explain the psychological need for religion. This use of science is merely in response to fools who still believe evolution is a means to species, while only 1% of species exist from the last mass extinction barrier.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "I use Theories that meet the Scientific Method, to demonstrate the need for a sentient being ouside the universe" SURE you do, and I bet you can describe your experiments to us. How large was your control group? What exactly was your hypothesis, and how did you test it? Are you sure you accurately allowed for observer bias? And is it going to be published in a journal soon? Can these results be duplicated?

      January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Gadflie

      John P Tarver, I would love to see your "proofs". But, here are two rules you have to follow, they cannot be logical fallacies (for example, most such proofs are fine examples of an argumentum ad ignorantiam") and, you cannot misuse statistics (it's impossible to use statistics to predict the probability of something that happened in the past).

      January 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  3. Grover

    Frequent poster John P. Tarver was demonstrated here yesterday to be a liar. Take his posts with a grain of salt, and a lot of skepticism, at best.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • mama k

      Yes, I saw that conversation yesterday. I was hoping I'd learn something new. But Tarver continues to spout crap that he cannot support.

      January 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      I'm not sure "liar" is the best word for someone who claims to be correcting Wikipedia's pages on Einstein. "Deluded" or "obsessed" might be closer to the truth. He certainly is a poor advertisement for whatever denomination he represents.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      All I had to do was go to wiki and write a definition of Relativity. The one wiki had was using the term "time-space", that being what Relativity proved false. I also added Maxwell's Equations to the wiki definition.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • charlotte

      Tarver seems likely to be confused rather than lyingi in this case. He misunderstands. The nickname for the Higgs Boson is the "God Particle" but this in no way means that quantum physicists actually think there is any divinity attached to the boson. It's just a nickname. He didn't get that memo, it seems. They finally have found strong evidence that the theoretically predicted Higgs Boson actually exists – although this will have to be re-tested and revisited multiple times to be sure it wasn't a fluke – but this does not mean that the science claims to have proven the existence of "God." Most of those involved probably are atheist....or agnostic at most.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Charlotte- The best part about the Higgs Boson proof of first mass is that the accellerator uses Neutrons to produce a particle with the characteristics of the theoretical Higgs Boson. This experiemt fails the test for producing an actual Higg's Boson, as a Neutron has mass. Einstein had a low opinion of these chefs making particles also.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      he's similar to 'tbt' in that they both flatly state lies so obvious and blatantly trollish that even christians bristle. so over the top I wonder if one or both are false flag atheists at times.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  4. John P. Tarver

    The churchies who run my little town in Kern County make the bartenders who used to run this place look like saints, so I have to agree that morals and church are not convergent.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  5. John P. Tarver

    I have met a lot of marginal characters at church and many of them are barely hanging on, but unlike the Athiest they know that they need spiritual help. The Athiest is more akin to the functional alcoholic, doing just fine.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • jwt

      Wanting spiritual help is fine for those that want it, but for many no such thing exists, nor should it.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      JWT- And I like the fact that Western Law does not recognize the supernatural, for under Sharia Law I would be subject to constant civil suits. The supernaturl is by definition not real, like the delusions of hope faith and love.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Rick

      Atheists are more like those who don't drink at all in your analogy. Alcoholics would be those who think they can't function without church and the rest are those who can occasionally go to church without making an a$$ out of themselves.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      Rick- The alcohol analogy is just a way of indicating a method of filling the void and I do understand that methamphetamines are the drug of choice for Athiests. Methamphetamines release endorphins into the brain and because the natural use of endorphins is to kill the pain of thinking, the Athiest "feels" smarter than the rest of us.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Bob

      " I do understand that methamphetamines are the drug of choice for Athiests."

      Cite your source.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " I do understand that methamphetamines are the drug of choice for Athiests." Where do you get these weird ideas, Tarver? Do you just make this stuff up, or do you have a Nasty People's Handbook full of suggestions? Is this drivel intended to demonstrate your Christly love and concern for your fellow man? And when you misspell "atheist" you are misspelling THEOS, the name of God. Have some respect.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "I have met a lot of marginal characters at church " Be careful and don't accidentally forgive or accept one of them. Someone might mistake you for a Christian. Now say something else nasty. Bark like a dog.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Rick

      I'm sad to say that the general opinion about you here does indeed appear to be correct. You're full of it!

      January 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Rick- Freud called the Athiest problem "normal human psychosis". Humans have a need for something beyond this life to hope for and that leads to faith and love.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Oops, Hawking denys Relativity and sells big bang.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " Humans have a need for something beyond this life to hope for and that leads to faith and love."

      I already told you I know more about hope, faith, and love than you will ever need to. In fact, next time you pray, pray you never need that much hope, love, or faith.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • fintastic

      @John P Tarder; ............. "The alcohol analogy is just a way of indicating a method of filling the void"

      FYI,..... there is no "void".... sorry to disappoint your delusion.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  6. John P. Tarver

    I want to thank cheese for causing me to review the Copenhagen Observations of 1927. I had never noticed before that Einstein challenges the electron wave particle duality as not true. This could be because Einstein used his photographic proof of Relativity to validate the mathematical contrivance of the Photon; but of course light has no mass. The one noce thing for the Athiests is that they an believe the scientific proof of a sentient being outside the universe and still be opposed to Theists.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Rick

      What scientific proof would that be? As far as I know there is still no proof of an "outside" to the universe much less any intelligence outside of this planet.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      Relativity and Quantum Mechanics require a sentient being outside the universe to make the universe real.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Relativity and Quantum Mechanics require a sentient being outside the universe" No, actually they assume the mathematician is standing on the shoulders of God, Allah, Buddha, BAAL, or some other hypothetical dimension dweller. I can't show you the outside of a box that you are standing inside, you see. You have to imagine you are standing outside the box before you can accept a description of it.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Rick


      January 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Relativity and Quantum Mechanics require a sentient being outside the universe to make the universe real."

      Seriously, the mathematician would actually become God as soon as he got his proofs perfect, since he would in effect become an outside observer. You better hope that isn't true, or you will wake up and find Steve Hawkings running everything one day.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • *

      * Hawking (no 's')

      January 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Hawking is a Relativity denier and every bit as retarded as he apears. Why do Athiests want to follow tards?

      January 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Pete

      "Hawking is a Relativity denier and every bit as retarded as he apears."

      Another lie from the xtians – 34!

      January 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Relativity is Maxwell's Equations with Time taken independant of Space, thereby eliminating the false notion of time-space. Without hoomogenous time-space there is no scientific basis for the big bang; basicly the same reason the Nobel was never awarded for Relativity. So then, when Hawking speaks to the "big bang" he is either denying Relativity, of lying. Actually I have seen quotes of Hawking denying the big bang, so I know the answer to that one.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Bible Clown©

    I'd like to remind some of you more militant Christians that you are commanded to be witnesses for your faith, not prosecuting attorneys. I can't see that Christ has made much difference to most of you; it hasn't prevented you from being mean and insulting or given you any extra consideration for others. As the kids say today, where's the LOVE?
    I'd also like to remind you that most atheists became atheists after a lot of soul-searching and reading, while most Christians have believed since they were six and haven't given much thought to why. Claiming I "hate God" or that I don't value my fellow humans is ridiculous; people are all we've got and every one is unique.

    January 10, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      A persons morality has nothing to do with how religious they are.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • fintastic

      Well said BC.

      January 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  8. DUMBAtheiStS

    It's not 'only' dirty, it's DUMB!

    January 10, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Boris

      Typical hateful Christian.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Your well thought out justification for your supersti.tious belief is......."you're dumb".

      That's rather.....how should I put this?.....Ironic

      January 10, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Rick

      If you are in the habit of taking claims at face value like most believers in the Bible seem to them boy do I have a great investment opportunity for you! Buy stock high and sell low! It's guaranteed to make you a fortune! Trust me! 😉

      January 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  9. lol??

    Socialists are always lookin' for a cause to take to the streets. Here's a new injustice I noticed. Why is it LGBT and not GLBT? Mommie power? The Cwoman's response should be interesting.

    January 10, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • raytheist

      Actually until about 5 years ago it was GLBT. Nowadays it is more commonly LGBT, but it doesn't matter to me, we're all in this together.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • lol??

      Really? Those women are always tryin' to take charge and, ahem, authority.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • G to the T

      Even further back it was the "GBLA" so I really don't get where you are coming from...

      January 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Observer

      So was it "socialists" that got equal rights for women and blacks?


      January 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  10. Devon

    The founder of Wikipedia is an atheist and a liberal. Be careful what you read off of Wikipedia, the guy is trying to brainwash people just like this organization CNN

    January 10, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Pedro

      You are correct, Wikipedia describes Richard Dawkins as some sort of super hero but it criticizes scientists like David Berlinski and others

      January 10, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Wikipedia articles are 'written' by nut cases like Tarver. Why even bother reading them?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Boris

      David Berlinski is a con artist. John Berlinsky is a genius.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Thoth

      David Berlinsk deserves to be ridiculed. Among many baseless statements he asserts that "objective morality requires religious foundation". This is provably false via any number of non-religious humanitarians.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  11. truth be told

    Defining the so called atheist is to know that an atheist is all lies all the time.

    January 10, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Pete

      "Defining the so called atheist is to know that an atheist is all lies all the time."

      Another lie from the xtians – 24!

      January 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "an atheist is all lies all the time." Interestingly, this statement is a lie. So what exactly are you intending to 'prove,' little boy? By your logic, since you posted one statement and it was false, you are an atheist.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Boris

      TbT is a typical hateful Christian. Also, my following post will simply prove his statement wrong.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Boris

      I am an atheist and I lie all the time, including in this present post.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • nope

      You're thinking of Faux news

      January 10, 2013 at 11:25 am |

    Blessed are the cheesemakers: I can tell you this much,THAT IS A STRAIGHT UP LIE!! I don't know what you were smoking when you
    read Gen.1:1, that is so NOT the way the King James Version reads! In fact I was just checking out all of the different versions of the Bible on my Touch Bible App. And thee ONLY one that has the PHRASE GODS IS SPELLED LIKE THIS "GOD'S"! How it is read is like this – In the beginnng of "GOD'S" preparing the heaven and earth. So yeah Blessed are the cheesemakers get your FACTS straight.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • Real Deal

      Genesis 1:26

      "And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness..."


      January 10, 2013 at 3:44 am |
    • Really??

      Since men wrote the bible, not any gods, and it is a story anyway, it is a moot point. Don't believe everything you read.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I know this might be news to you.....the King Jmes Version of Genisis is not the original....or even a close copy...of a copy....in the same language.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • fintastic

      "Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward." -Edward Abbey (1927-1989)

      January 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |

    You know it's amazing, you atheists accuse us of judging and being holier than, when in fact you guys are doing exactly what you accuse us of:( I have read alot of these blogs the last two days and I will tell u what... I lost track of how many times you guys have made fun of our
    Belief,called us names, and being SO JUDGEMENTAL IT ISN'T EVEN FUNNY!! Not crying bout it just stating what is the truth!!! You atheists can call us Christians name and whatever else may float your boat,just PLEASE quit being in denial about who is calling people names, being JUDGEMENTAL! It really doesn't hurts our feelings at all:-) you guys are all about FACTS AND STUFF SO............

    January 10, 2013 at 3:16 am |
    • Simplicity

      A day later, and you still can't seem to properly structure sentences up to par.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:01 am |
    • Athy

      Hey, we're just umpires; we gotta call 'em as we see 'em! Sorry if it hurts.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:21 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "you atheists accuse us of judging and being holier than, when in fact you guys are doing exactly what you accuse us of:" Look at where your friends Lol and Tarver accuse atheists of bestiality with dogs. Then tell me where in that internet Bible of yours it says Christians are allowed to bear that kind of lying false witness against people whose opinions they dislike? Sorry if you are insulted by my lumping all Christians together the way you do atheists, but why do you think you can call me a dog fugger? When did I do that to you?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      We don't have a holy book that we a suppose to follow that specifically tells us not to....that makes you a hypocrit....na, na.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • charlotte

      How about we settle for calling you illiterate.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

    What in the world.. Stupid phone.. My name is suppose to say GOD'S PRINCESS NOT GOMD'S PRINCESS!

    January 10, 2013 at 2:39 am |
    • Athy

      Honey, it's not the phone that's stupid.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • Pistol-Packin' Jeebus!!

      Yeah! My computer makes all my spelling errors too! I spell it right, but when it posts, it has all these mistakes!

      January 10, 2013 at 2:54 am |

    Oops, sorry left out a couple of words and instead of it being rearing I ment to put down tearing people down.... I having been using our(mine and my amazing husband's) iPhone. It is truly ALOT harder than using our laptop! Please excuse my mistakes.i don't have the luxury of having a huge screen at the moment! The same this morning iPhone...

    January 10, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • Boris

      A poor craftsperson blames their tools.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  16. Correctlycenter

    Atheists cannot answer a simple question about creation. Because either they do not know, or do not care to know the absolute truth contained in God's word. All your stupid, silly, sarcastic and nonsensical replies will truly show where their minds are. God bless...

    January 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • I wonder

      I wonder what makes you think that The Bible is the "word" of "God"?

      January 9, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • CNN

      When you don't know the answer to a question, you should be honest and admit it and say, "I don't know."

      Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is the universe here? How did it get here?
      I don't know.

      Just because other people say, "Big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spellzzzzzzzz!!!!" does not make their answer better than mine. Mine is better because it's honest.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Atheists cannot answer a simple question about creation."

      My Uncle Wayne did it.....there I answered it.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Looking at Clouds


      I, as an atheist/agnostic say that I don't know how the universe came to be (calling it "creation" is a non-starter). There are myriad possibilities, including that our universe could be like a sneeze droplet or shedded skin cell or energy discharge from some kind of a super-ent'ity, which need not even know that we exist... or is possibly not even alive anymore.

      We don't know what we don't know, you know...

      Making up stuff (or believing stuff that Middle Eastern Hebrews fantasized about) is silly, even if it does make you feel like you've got a nice, neat little package with a bow on top.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Gadflie

      You can't answer it either actually. Your answer "God did it" has been used for a LOT of questions over the years but has never actually been shown to be the correct answer to anything. Sorry kid, at least the scientists are trying to find the right answer, you are just settling for one that is never actually right.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Superalias

      "Atheists cannot answer a simple question about creation. Because either they do not know, or do not care to know the absolute truth contained in God's word. All your stupid, silly, sarcastic and nonsensical replies will truly show where their minds are. God bless..."

      Leprechaun deniers cannot answer a simple question about rainbows. Because either they do not know, or do not care to know the absolute truth contained in Seamus O'Shamrock's pot o' gold. All your stupid, silly, sarcastic and nonsensical replies will truly show where their minds are. Gosh and begorrah...

      January 9, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • PaulB

      "We" do not know the exact condition of the universe prior to expansion because nobody knows what that condition was, yet. We may never know, but that is no reason to just assign some popular speculation as an answer. The mature thing to do is to just admit that we do not know. Why be prideful in insisting on knowing when you don't.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Andrew

      Simple questions do not necessarily have simple answers. We could, regarding the creation of life, cite articles like the recent one published in Nature which provides a very reasonable pathway with empirical evidence for abiogenesis. We could, regarding the creation of the universe, cite facts to show the big bang happened, like the CMB, but admit ignorance as to how it happened because we cannot comment prior to a planck time.

      Or as Feynman put it... consider 'aunt minny is in the hospital', and the question 'why is she in the hospital?'
      "She slipped and fell on the ice" "How did she get to the hospital? Why did she slip on the ice? What about the ice made her slip on it?"
      Each and every 'easy' question can have a near infinite number of relevant underlying questions to approach the concept deeper. You can say people 'can't answer an easy question', but even something as easy to ask as 'how do magnets work?' took quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics (pioneered by Feynman) to actually answer.

      The answers might be far more complex and far harder than the question, you'll have to accept that. Simple questions do not necessarily have simple answers.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • lol??

      Blessed are the Cheesemakers sayz,
      "Atheists cannot answer a simple question about creation."

      My Uncle Wayne did it.....there I answered it." UUUUuuuuuhhhhuuuuhhh WAYNE'S WORLD!!!

      January 10, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Athy

      PaulB and Andrew, you have nailed it. The two most intelligent, well-written posts I've yet seen here. Of course that means the religies will have problems, but don't expect any meaningful responses.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:05 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Atheists cannot answer a simple question about creation." The answer is 42. OK, seriously? An almost uncountably long time ago, there was a state change in the universe. We have no way of knowing what physics was like before the state change or if there was even a universe. It's often called the big bang or the big flash or the big crunch; from what we can understand, most energy is residual from that state change and will eventually be canceled out by entropy, leaving our universe cold and still. Not a pleasant forecast, but probably real. You can impose your Christian scenario on it easily by calling it Genesis, so I don't get why you are all so indignant about science.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • charlotte

      Sweetie, that's because there is no simple answer about creation. There is the simpleminded one – the cop-out "God did it" as if that explained anything, but we recognize that nobody knows or will ever likely know. Frightened children take comfort in fairy tales and will cling desperately to "faith" in some imaginary being because it saves them having to contemplate something the is mind-boggling. But we understand your limitations and we don't blame you for them. Don't blame us for our healthy skepticism and our accepting of the fact that we can't explain everything away with a flawed book of mythology.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  17. I wonder

    Is there anyone who is an anti-"ism"-ist?

    January 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • lol??

      Educratists that are expert in the field of Educratism aren't as hot as they think they are.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  18. Correctlycenter

    Who created the heavens and the earth and all living things on it? The correct answer is in Genesis chapter 1 of the holy bible...

    January 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Observer

      Just your guess of a correct answer. It could have been Zeus or the 3 Stooges or a committee of zombies, etc.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Gadflie

      naah, it was the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Tom

      Was it a capsule with Spock in it?

      January 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Science

      Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven' – Under God – The ...
      by Elizabeth Tenety – in 624 Google+ circles – More by Elizabeth Tenety
      May 16, 2011 – There is no heaven... that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” Hawking told the Guardian.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Yes, you, the universe and everything in it was created by magic! *Poof*

      January 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Genesis 1:1, literally translated, says, “In the beginning, gods created the heavens and the earth.”

      January 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Ken

      By "heavens" do you mean the cosmos, or some speculated dimension where invisible super beings supposedly hide to meddle in human affairs?

      January 9, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Andrew

      Why can't the correct answer be "The earth was created roughly 4.5 billion years ago in the early solar system by a process of gravitational accretion, triggered by a nearby super-nova as evidenced by the large amount of heavy metals in our solar system... with life forming in hydrothermal vents under the ocean as per articles like this: http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674%2812%2901438-9 "?

      I think that's a much more satisfying answer, since I can defend it by looking at new research, rather than constantly going back to the same old book.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Who created the heavens and the earth and all living things on it?" It was a guy named Norm who was actually trying to bake bread but put too many mountains and oceans into his recipe. Anything else we can help you with?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  19. Tom

    Atheist and Nontheist are semantically the same thing; 'a' means 'non'.
    So saying 'I'm not atheist, I'm non-theist' is meaningless.

    January 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Of course they are the same, but "atheist" is a loaded epithet.

      January 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Tom

      What terrible connotations is it loaded with?

      Round-earther and heliocentrist were probably loaded words once, you certainly could be hung for being one.
      Luckily society progresses.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Athy

      But progresses painfully slow.

      January 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • lol??

      The cutoff parts are divided? NO!! It has to be that way.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • PaulB

      Christians are atheists with regards to every other god but their own. The irony is that they reject their existence for many of the same reasons why we reject the existence of God. It takes no proof that these other gods are mere myth, so why should it take proof to realize the same about God?

      January 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • lol??

      paub, "Sorry! The word "atheists" doesn't occur in the KJV."

      January 10, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • lol??

      paulb, "Sorry! The word "atheist" doesn't occur in the KJV."

      January 10, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • lol??

      paulb, "Sorry! The word "atheism" doesn't occur in the KJV."

      January 10, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "A Frayed Knot" We don't serve string here.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Bible Clown©,

      Aw, I'd be line if I didn't say that that is terrible noose!

      January 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • charlotte

      Tom, I hope you meant "hanged"

      January 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  20. AtheistSlasher715

    FACT. many of our famous patriots were visited by angels – His emmissaries. George Washington was visited by an angel when he was at Valley Forge. The angel spoke to George and said "Son of the Republic the end of the century cometh look and learn." more PROOF that our time is near!

    January 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Really??

      Proof in the form of a story, an anecdote. The fable says he was visited by an angel, but what ACTUAL proff is there. Just like a christian to claim proof when none exists

      January 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Actually

      LMAO – Oh let's use George W as an example too, his God told him to invade Iraq and lie to the American public.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "FACT. many of our famous patriots were visited by angels" Actually, that's not a fact. That's a story you are telling. Facts are more . . . factual.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Alverant

      "Fact", "proof" you use those words but you have no idea what they mean.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • just sayin

      Only an athiest wouldn't believe the words of our most famous President! all they can think about is trying to prove that which noone can prove but they always fail at disproving.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Actually

      "Only an athiest wouldn't believe the words of our most famous President! "

      You do know there are many myths about George that people actually think are facts. Let's guess you really think he cut down a cherry tree too right?

      January 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • .

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "The Truth" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Thinker23" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian..

      January 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Typing a word in all caps doesn't make something factual.
      Just a tip.

      January 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yeah, George Washington never told a lie either, so it must be true.

      Been reading John Barton's revised, revised, revised histories again @Slasher715?

      January 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • niknak

      So why didn't that same angle tell ol Georgie to free his slaves, Slashy?

      It never ceases to amaze me what you religious nuts will talk yourselves into believing.

      January 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Amii Lockhart

      @ AtheistSlasher

      Do religion a favour and hand your sword over to a fiercer soldier.

      January 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      Read this book about how the legends regarding Geo Washington started to circulate (and even were published in print) mere weeks after his death.


      January 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Uh ... didn't angels visit other famous people in history ? Hitler comes to mind

      January 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Observer


      You really shouldn't use words like "FACT" and "PROOF" until you know what they mean.

      January 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Sorry AtheistSlasher, but the man who invented that story did not serve with Washington, wasn't there at Valley Forge, and made the entire thing up. It was discredited ages ago.

      If you can't prove that your faith is valid, propagating fiction isn't going to help your case any either.

      January 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Gadflie

      That word "Fact", it doesn't mean what you pretend it means.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • PaulB

      Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann all said that God told them to run for president, but not only did none of them get the candidacy, their party lost the election. Forgive us then if we lack confidence in the claims of politicians regarding heavenly counseling.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Observer


      Actually, there could be something to it after all. Right before the election 4 years ago, Palin said she was sure God's will would be done.

      January 10, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • fintastic

      Didn't god tell George W. to invade Iraq?

      January 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Didn't god tell George W. to invade Iraq?" Well, George W SAID God said that. There were no witnesses and God didn't put it in writing. By the way, have you all read Dr. Oliver Sacks' new book HALLUCINATIONS?

      January 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • fintastic

      @BC....... That was a tongue and cheek comment.... didn't want you to think otherwise.. (grin)

      January 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • fintastic

      sorry..... should have said "tongue in cheek"

      January 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
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About this blog

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