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Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing
January 10th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing

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

Washington (CNN) – After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.

Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years.

This study contrasts with headlines from previous studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the group was the fastest growing "religious" group in America and that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.

“Although this ‘rise of the nones’ has increased dramatically over recent decades, the rate of increase slowed last year, suggesting the possibility that there may be a leveling off in this measure in the years ahead,” reports the Gallup study, which is made up of more than 350,000 interviews.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”

“Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says.

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In his book, “God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,” Newport argues that a number of factors, including baby boomers reaching senior ages, migration to more religious states, recognition of health and well being of religion and an increase in a Hispanic population, are all reasons that “we are going to continue to have a quite religious nation going forward.”

Atheist and humanist activists disagree and pushed back against the Gallup study.

“The truth is, it doesn't really matter whether one of these surveys – even a big one like Gallup – shows the number leveling off a bit this past year,” Greg Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University, says. “First of all, the numbers for young Americans are still dramatically higher, and secondly, it is beyond dispute now that the "nones" are one of the largest demographic groups in the United States, and we're going to stay that way for a long, long time.”

The Gallup study also found that 27% of Americans age 18 to 29 identified as religious nones, making the age group the largest subgroup in the study. The finding tracks with other studies on religious nones, many of which have found the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.

“There's no slowing here at the Secular Student Alliance. We're up to 394 campus groups from 310 a year ago,” Jesse Galef, communications director at the organization, says in response to the survey. “You can see the religious future of America just by looking at the demographics: Young Americans (18-29) are almost three times as likely to be unaffiliated with religion than senior citizens are.”

In particular, Galef points out, the Secular Student Alliance has experienced growth in ages below 18, an age group that Gallup did not survey. In the last year, says Galef, the number of Secular Student Alliance affiliates at high schools doubled to 60 campuses.

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News of strong growth among nones had long been heralded by their community.

As study after study began to report that religious nones in America were growing, many atheist, agnostic and humanist activists began to stress the need for these relative non-believers to come together and turn their numbers into political and social influence. Though some leaders split on what wielding that influence would look like, the size of religious nones became the impetus for many leaders to call for more recognition.

In response to the Gallup study, those calls continued.

“The real question now is when are our historically large numbers going to start turning into more votes and influence,” Epstein says. “The nones can become a steady and inspiring powerhouse in American life if we focus on what we do believe in.”

And even though the Gallup study found a relative leveling off of growth among the nones, David Silverman, the president of America Atheists, says he finds the survey “not at all troubling.”

“This underscores what American Atheists has been saying for years - that every person in America knows more nonreligious people than they think they know,” Silverman says. “America has to get used to the fact that atheists are everywhere, you already know us, and we are a vibrant and growing portion of society.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Nones

soundoff (1,615 Responses)
  1. Alfredo

    Keep society secular.....

    January 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  2. Pete

    When you really accept the evidence that we're just relatively hairless apes on a rock in space, the point of convincing other apes of that fact loses importance. I'm an atheist. I'm sufficiently convinced by the evidence that there's no magic humanoid thing in "whose" image I was created that made everything. Once I die, I'll cease to exist permanently. It doesn't matter to me if any other ape realizes the fact of the matter.

    January 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Aldo

      Hairless apes born to die. Sounds very miserable.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      What is true is not always roses and rainbows

      January 10, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Dr. Zeus

      I feel sorry for the crazy deluded hairless apes who are certain they are not hairy apes.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Michael

      @Aldo – it is the nature of all living things to die. Death itself is not misery. Knowing that, how one lives is critical; it's not death that matters, it is the journey we take that does.

      January 11, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • a reasonable atheist

      hairless(ish) ape born to live long enough to pass on genetic material to offspring is more like it

      everything else is just window dressing and our own creation

      January 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  3. frank

    I conducted my own survey recently and it trucks all bends.

    January 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  4. dwerbil

    Quote of the day....

    "I believe in separation of church and planet." – Eric Idle

    January 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Bob

      dwerbil, that's a great quote. Thanks.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      LOVE.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • AOKH

      Good one!

      January 10, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      Quite indefatigable

      January 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Dr. Zeus

      A great quote from the same guy who wrote the greatest Christmas song ever:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H2mrV6vSPY

      January 11, 2013 at 12:44 am |
  5. goinmad2009

    The hatetheists out in full force.

    January 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • JJ

      Yes, I agree, there are so many theists, mainly Christians, who hate all who do not share the same delusions and cult as they do.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  6. bp

    There would be so much less evil and bigotry in the world if religion did not exist. Also, there would be no genital mutilators of children or suicide bombers, who are exclusively people of faith. Normal people would not be capable of such atrocities unless they believed their god approved of them.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire

    January 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      nail on the head.

      Steven Weinberg:
      "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. "

      January 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • JJ

      "Morality is doing what's right no matter what you are told.
      Religion is doing what you are told no matter what's right."

      January 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • rodboy

      bp I don't think religiuos people cornered the market on evil – Chairman Mao, Stalin, PotPol account for about 60 million people being K I L L E D by just three men- so that makes most religious ones look like pikers in comparison.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Tom

      JJ, what defines morality without religion? Is there some overarching non-religious moral code you'd like share with the rest of us? I'd like to do "right", but "right" according to whom?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • snowboarder

      tom, morality is a construct of society. moral relativity has been well demonstrated throughout history.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That question has been discussed many times around here. There is no reason to ascribe morality to a belief in a god. Moral behaviors developed because they were the behaviors that furthered survival. People figured out that they had a better chance of surviving in groups than alone. Groups developed moral codes that consisted of behaviors that furthered the survival of the members of that group.

      Nothing mystical or godly about it.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Tom

      OK, Tom. You've convinced me. I don't believe there are any Gods. I also abhor h.o.m.o.s.e.x.uality, and I say my opinion is moral and right. Are you saying that the only thing that makes my opinion immoral and wrong is if you have turned society against my morality?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Tom, explain to me why you no longer believe in god and I'll explain how your view on h0m0s3xuality is incorrect.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Maybe someone else can decipher your post. I certainly can't.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      We need Jill to make sense of Tom's post.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Tom

      You can understand my post just fine, you just don't like to deal with the implications of moral relativism.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I have no problem moral relativism. I'm just too tired to bother with you.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sorry, I meant to say I have no problem with moral relativism.

      You wanna argue, find someone who gives a sh!t what you think.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom

      That's right, run away claiming to be too tired, my little chickadee. Isn't that how your highness talks to others?

      January 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      What's wrong with moral relativism?

      January 10, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "rodboy" but your assertions regarding religion versus "evil" (as you relate it to killings by some of the word's dictators) are unfounded. For example, one could just as easily say that Hitler killed in the name of Christianity. It is of no use to try to associate the actions of history's rulers with a particular belief system. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • hal 9001

      ** world's dictators **

      January 10, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Are you saying that the only thing that makes my opinion immoral and wrong is if you have turned society against my morality?'

      oh i dont think he is saying the only thing but sure, thats about it. Slavery was considered ok for a long time but now pretty much the whole of society declares it to be immoral. You can say now that it has always been immoral but if you were born 200 years ago you might very easily see nothing wrong with it, and indeed christians even used the bible to justify it as well.

      January 11, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  7. Ronnie Harper

    Religion is a pox on humanity; a disease of the mind.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  8. Elliot Carlin

    If you are an American and label yourself an agnostic or atheist, please provide a reasoned crtiique of the basis of our founding as a country, specifically that man is endowed 'by his Creator' with certain inaliable rights... And please don't attempt the weak argument that thh creator in this instance isn't God. In context, we all know they were speaking of God, Providence, A Higher Being...etc.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're whole argument is based on that one sentence? creator can be the universe. sure, you want to interpret it as god, but let me ask you a question - why didn't they just say "god" then? why didn't they in fact write "christian god"? george washington signed the treaty of tripoli in which it says the US is NOT founded on the christian religion. so what about that?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • bam

      stop rewriting history then ask a question. typical

      January 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      Point being, they acknowledged a Deity.
      And that one sentence, along with the others, were adopted by the Continental Congress. I suppose you don't think "We the People" isn't that important either.

      LOL, you are silly.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      and yet you ignore the treaty of tripoli where george washington and john adams signed a doc.ument stating that we are NOT a christian nation - how do you explain that? you also forget about separation of church and state? if we're a christian nation - why write that in? did you think perhaps they wrote 'creator' so as NOT to put christianity first? in fact, why else wouldn't they just say 'god'?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If our country was founded on god why is there no mention of god in the docu.ment that created our laws other than to ban belief in god as a basis for holding office?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • bp

      I heard many stupid arguments trying to justify religion, but yours is the lamest I've ever heard. I suggest you retire that one and try something new and less ludicrous.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      BP, your lack of comprehension skills is, welll, I suppose average when it comes to your everday tolerant Athiest. No one was making a justification for religion. Nice try though.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      No problem there, Elliot.

      It was not god who created man, it was man who created god.

      Request fulfilled.

      -–
      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      January 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      It doesn't matter that they mentioned a deity. What's important is that they didn't go further and say, since we believe in a god, therefore you must too, and the government is going to impose that on you. In fact, the first amendment says the complete opposite.

      The "mention" of a creator is just that - a mention - not a policy.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Whenever some dumb ass writes a post saying: "we all know" "it's just common sense" "wake up, people" or "come on, people" you can bet the message is nothing but dreck. Case in point–see above.

      How can such an arrogant S O B complain about the arrogance of anyone else?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Elliot, you might want to get a better spell checker. It's ATHEIST.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And where do you get the absurd notion that simply because the word "Creator" appears in doc uments, "our country was founded" on the basis of belief in god?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'Elliot Carlin' is an instance of the Begging The Question fallacy.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • mama k

      Oh, but no, apple pie breath, it is very likely that some of them had a different God in mind.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • mama k

      Well, Elliot – since you did mention higher being, I might listen to what you have to say, but since in the end you weren't very specific, then that conflicts with your "we all know they were speaking of . ."

      January 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • mama k

      OK, sorry, Tom, I see you've already covered this weakness in the post.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • jfkman

      Just because some really 'Enlightened ' guys wrote it over 200 years ago does not make it a fact. Simply, there is no rational way to prove the existence of god. Your book isn't good enough, your experience isn't good enough, your traditions are laughable and kooky as only Stone Age traditions can be.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tracy

      Ok, but first you have to provide a rationale explanation for why I should give a crap about what a bunch of old, white slave owners said about god or the creator, whichever, 237 years ago. Thy had some good ideas, lucky for us, and some very bad ones.

      Try again.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • sybaris

      which god?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • snowboarder

      elliot, no one can infringe upon your rights but men. no one can assist in the defense of your rights but men. your rights are a reflection of your fellows. of your community.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      I gotta get in here quicker when Idiot Carlin posts. He gets batted around like an old tennis ball nearly every time he posts.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So this guy isn't a one-hit wonder? I hadn't seen him before. Looks like he's run off to lick his wounds..or something else.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      Funny, I was going to tell him now would be a good time to sulk off and lick his wounds. I've seen him before – he jumped right in, insults blazing with nary a point to any post. Big words, little substance (like me) but of course suffering under a god delusion.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • utalkintome

      lighthouses are more useful than churches...thomas jefferson....they believed in a god of nature if anything....and it was only to keep the gawd squad happy....and for future votes...no different than today....provide any evidence for a deity...until then, your opinion and reply are invalid

      January 11, 2013 at 3:51 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'No one was making a justification for religion. Nice try though.'
      Of course you were, you were talking of creator and god etc. By its very nature you are talking religion.

      'If you are an American and label yourself an agnostic or atheist, please provide a reasoned crtiique of the basis of our founding as a country, specifically that man is endowed 'by his Creator' with certain inaliable rights'
      but what has this got to do with anything, at all? are you suggesting you cannot be american and an atheist? what? I mean it also mentions how blacks arent considered equal to whites, despite 'certain inaliable rights', so what exactly is your purpose in the post?

      January 11, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  9. LeaveYouAlone?

    Are you kidding me?

    Leave Atheists alone?

    One of the most biggoted, hypocritical, conceited, and horribly uninformed groups I've come across happens to be atheists.

    Christians and other religions might send mixed messages as to what they believe based on who is doing the preaching. The only beliefs I've ever seen an atheist send is hatred and condescension.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "One of the most biggoted, hypocritical, conceited, and horribly uninformed groups I've come across happens to be atheists. "
      says the bigot.... and i doubt you know even a single atheist. guess you've never heard all the christians telling atheists they are worthy of being tortured in hell for all eternity - guess you skip over the loving christian messages like that.... talk about hypocrisy. venom comes form both sides - stop playing the victim.

      we don't have a rule book that says to kill all g.ays. we don't have a rule book that says women are 2nd class citizens. we don't have a rule book with instructions for selling your own daughter into slavery.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      No, but you do have a lousy spokesperson by the name of Dawkins who says that asking "why are you here" is the dumbest question to ever ask.

      Wow, a stunning display of ignorance.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • KMAN821

      How very "Christian" of you to condemn all "Atheists" based on your experiences ... perhaps you would get along better with people in general if you weren't such a narrow-minded @ hole.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Global retardation is a social trait of characterizations awash with emotionalized pleasantries instead of literal hindsight.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • i821776

      Are you sure you were not just describing yourself?

      Bigoted? Check. You are spewing hate on a "group" of people because of your personal, ill-informed experiences.

      Hypocritical? Check. You talk about how "bigoted, conceited, and horribly uninformed" atheists are when you are making uninformed generalizations and attacking people based on their identification.

      Conceited? Maybe you are, maybe you aren't. Hard to tell how proud you are. I don't know you.

      Horribly uninformed? Check. Again, you are making outrageous generalizations and automatically calling all atheists "haters", condescending, etc etc.

      Yes, there may be "bigoted, hypocritical, conceited, and horribly uninformed" atheists out there. All of them? No. I personally have never met an angry atheist as you have described, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      he says that because it's an irrelevant question if you don't think there's a cosmic reason for your existence. but you do, don't you? talk about ego. you think you have a distinct purpose in the universe? how do you get your head through the doorway? lol. we are just animals on a planet - there is no magic purpose. the only purpose you have is what you choose. no one's life is written in stone. so perhaps dawkins was not catering to christian ego...?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Elliot Carlin

      Because it is a dumb question. It assumes that there actually is a purpose.
      In other words, it's a dishonest attempt to create a hole to stick god in.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • bam

      actually the #1 b-i-g-g-o-t-e-d group in the USA is the c-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n t-a-l-i-b-a-n, I guess u didnt follow po-l-i-t-i-cs this e-l-e-c-t-ion p-e-r-i–od.
      show me an a-t-h-i-e-st that voted to have a women p-r-o-b-e-d v-a-gi-n-a-l-ly cuz she isnt following your nutty rel-i-g-i-on

      January 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      HW-dumb question? You really don't know how much in the minority you are on that one. I'm willing to bet that even a remnant of one of Plato's nasal discharges contained more intelligence than your last post. You need to start hitting some books man.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Elliot Carlin

      It's easy to say my post was stupid, but a whole other thing to actually give the reasons why. I told you why that was a dumb question, and you have given no response except to completely avoid addressing my point. Congrats, you have shown, as many people have, how to completely discredit yourself.

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

      @Elliot Carlin

      And while I wish I could stick around to hopefully see you make an even bigger ass of yourself, I have other things to do.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      yes HG, you have other things to do. Its why you responded, not just to me, but to your own post. Carry on.

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

      I think the story of our universe is incredible and beautiful. I am fascinated with humans and find our history to be breathtaking in it's journey. Our ideas have shaped our societies and universe we live in. There is an endless amount of things to learn and do. We are the universe becoming aware of itself. I have one purpose in life, leave the world a little better than I found it.

      I'm an atheist. It sounds like you haven't met many in real life.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Elliot Carin' contains an instance of the Begging The Question fallacy and has ad hominem elements.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Laura

      Calling someone (or a group of people) bigoted and hateful does not make you then a bigot or hateful. How ridiculous. If you don't believe in God, that is your prerogative. But at least show some respect. We try to do the same for you – the fact that I believe in God and tell you that I do is not offensive nor is it disrespectful to you. Calling someone stupid or otherwise because of their beliefs shows nothing but ignorance and disrespect.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Tom

      That's the problem, BF, you don't have a rulebook. You don't have rules. You don't have anything upon which to base a shared morality.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You need a book to tell you how to behave toward others? Is the bible and its threats of damnation the only thing that keeps you from murdering everyone you dislike?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Tom

      Tom, you put down your enemies here with vicious verbal violence. Are police and the fear of jail the only thing stopping you from murdering all the people you appear to hate so badly? If you lived in a third world country with lax law enforcement, would you kill people who make life miserable for you and yours? Why not? You worried some sky-daddy gonna getcha?

      January 10, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Tom

      Perhaps the unspoken answer is yes.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      And there goes Tom providing an example of how religious thinking works. No answer = the answer I want to have and hear.

      The unspoken answer might be little invisible fairies farting out morality, too. How would you know? Do you realize how incredibly stupid you sound, Tom?

      January 10, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tom

      I wasn't the one talking about farting faries, now, was I? LOL

      January 10, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'But at least show some respect. We try to do the same for you '

      amongst the largest politcal lobbying groups in the country are christian groups attempting to push religion into various aspects of society, whether its prayer in schools or bills to ban gay marriage etc.
      dont tell us christians show respect, because they dont.

      January 11, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  10. Bootyfunk

    Iyeah, think Newport has a bias? he wrote a book called "n his book, “God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,” hard to say his research can be trusted when it's obvious he has a huge slant toward christianity.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      think Dawkins has a bias? he wrote a book called "The God Delusion,” hard to say his research can be trusted when it's obvious he has a huge slant toward atheism.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  11. Elliot Carlin

    Much is made of Nietzche's comment that "God is dead". The pseudo-intellectuials who like to tout this one ought to read the rest of his book. He bemoans the thought that without religion, society loses its moral underpinnings. Just a thought to those 'open-minded' individuals who are always demanding tolerance.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      at least he was right about the first part...

      January 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • rodboy

      Elliot, if you want to get the athies cursing at you , ask them where matter came from, even their friend Lawerence and his latest something nothing book states they do not KNOW. We should love them all though, but if we are wrong we will be were they are , if they are wrong we will be toasting marshmallows on the forehead.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Never read anything by the Nietzche. I don't care what he says, I don't care what Dawkins says (though I find his books interesting and entertaining), I don't care what any single other person says. I don't believe in gods because humans have worshiped thousands of them, they always reflect the culture where they were created, and they never develop independently in more than one place.

      Gods always depend on humans for transportation or to indoctrinate others. Religious beliefs are the result of cultural habit, or can be cultivated after violence or disaster. Gods tend to fade away when the phenomena for which they were credited are explained away by natural causes.

      There is no proof that any god exists, that any miracles have ever happened, or that life continues after the body dies. You can believe whatever you want. I simply don't have it in me to believe in anything that seems like nothing more than wishful thinking.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Michael

      @rodboy – I know where matter comes from. After the first Plank Second (1 x 10 -43 second) following the Bang, all else is explained by physics and math. I can prove the Bang happened; I can prove that all atoms heavier than hydrogen were created in the belly of dying stars; I can prove that Everest has sea shells near its peak due to plate techtonics; I can prove that hydrocarbons are created via pressue & high temperature. Where does your God come from? How many assumptions or unproveable postulations is your religion based on? Yes, I'm an atheist and have been since I was 4. I'm not hating on you for your beliefs so don't hate on me for not drinking your koolaid.

      January 11, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'if you want to get the athies cursing at you , ask them where matter came from, even their friend Lawerence and his latest something nothing book states they do not KNOW'

      why will that get us cursing at you? what a bizarre statement.

      January 11, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • a reasonable atheist

      Why is not knowing so scary? Not knowing is an opportunity to learn. Why fill the unknown with unfounded myth? That's pointless.

      January 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  12. NJreader

    People might identify themselves as "none" but still also believe in God. The "none" category could thus have many believers, just believers who are not affiliated with what was once called "organized religion." I would be more interested in percentages of believers and non-believers. That is more telling of society as a whole than data on unaffiliated, who could be quite devout, but not a member of any established church.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      But don't you think its a bit difficult to be devout without being part of a local body of believers? The NT speaks much of the body being made of many parts....stands to reason if you aren't attending church, you aren't availing yourself of one of the many graces provided to a Christan.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      just as there are christians that don't believe in god, they just enjoy the traditions so identify themselves as religious, even though they don't actually believe.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • HarryJ

      Just as there are many who still identify themselves with a particular religion, or denomination, but have actually lost faith, or even belief in God. That was me for over 20 years. I only answered truthfully on a survey when it was anonymous and online. I simply didn't trust human poll takers with not sharing my beliefs with others.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  13. WachetAuf

    So what is ground breaking about this? The human animal is predisposed, hard-wired, to seek the protection of the herd. So the he readily, robotically, accepts any dogma which will enhance his survival. He does not shop around for the best dogma. He accepts the first dogma which is drummed into his head from, birth. His reasoning brain is literally brainwashed by the primitive and emotional parts of the brain which evolved through many millions of years. Fear, passion, all of the emotions and survival instincts are at play. The religious leaders use it in the same way that Hitler's gang understood the use of propaganda, the Big Lie.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • GYooper

      If you're going to mention Hitler's gang & propaganda, you'd be negligent to not mention Fox News, Rush, Monsignor Beck and the rest of the embarrassing lowest-denominator noise machine.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  14. TheAntiChrist

    The problem with religion is that is encourages people to go and make more just like them. That in turns preys on the weak who are suffering. They promise that God will heal them or make them better. In the long run it doesn't solve their problems because only counseling and hard work solves problems. Not sitting in a pew praying and asking God to remove it. When things don't work out right then they say Well God wanted you to suffer. Oh now God is a God who makes people suffer. Kinda like my dad when he beat me all the time. He wanted me to suffer but he was my father and a minster. Oh I see. Well screw that. I have a better chance in the world.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Ham

      Looks like you heard the word of God before. Don't stand there on judgement day and feign that you did not know what to do and what you should base your faith on. And don't regret on your death bed that you should of followed Jesus because then it's going to be too late. 100 years of living life to your standards< Eternity in heaven

      January 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Better watch out, his god is going to beat you up.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  15. Will C

    So far about 80% of the comments have just been bashing on religion and I just wanted to clear up some (major) misunderstandings of Christianity (Catholicism in particular). I am Catholic and go to a Jesuit school and I think that it is time that people can see the church for what it really is and what it really stands for, then maybe people can have an actually productive conversation and we can move forward.

    -First, the Church DOES believe in the theory of evolution, and it fully supports science for that matter. The thing that people have trouble understanding is that there are scientific truths (observable, measurable, etc-which the Church supports) and religious truths. We believe the meaning and message that the story is saying but the Church understands that the exact way it is described may not have actually happened; it is just trying to get the message across. (This isn't saying the Bible is only feel-good fairy tales but meaningful guides which we should take seriously)
    -In relation to the first bullet, science and religion are completely compatible, and the Church recognizes that. Also, there is no way for proving or disproving the existence of God by using science so just drop that argument right now. Just because the universe is from the Big Bang and we are bound by the laws of physics does not mean that there is no use, or need, for God.
    -The root of all Catholic teachings are love, focusing on helping others, and a respect for all life. It especially does not think that people of different religions (or atheists) are evil.
    -Christians are not blind idiots living in a fairy tale. Most Christians have questioned their faith at some point in their lives and have chosen to stick with it because they truly believe in the Church's values.

    I know that this does not cover everything but I just wanted to clear up some misunderstandings of Christianity. I think that it is important to actually see what someone really stands for before you tear it down. The only way for us to be able to move forward is to understand each other and respect all people; living in ignorance is only counterproductive and dangerous. I know both side of this argument make assumptions about the other side and I think that it is time to stop resorting to calling each other idiots and completely disregarding each others belief.
    P.S: If I see one more comment about "believing in unicorns and talking to an imaginary friend", I just might lose it

    January 10, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "First, the Church DOES believe in the theory of evolution, and it fully supports science for that matter."

      Than why have some church leaders have said that the HIV virus is so small it can get through condom?

      "The thing that people have trouble understanding is that there are scientific truths (observable, measurable, etc-which the Church supports) and religious truths"

      Except scientific truth can be demonstrated and as a matter of fact, requires to be demonstrated. "Religious truth" is an oxymoron, it can only be asserted and is not reliable. This is the reason you see statements about unicorns and such, they are just as demonstrable.

      "Christians are not blind idiots living in a fairy tale. Most Christians have questioned their faith at some point in their lives and have chosen to stick with it because they truly believe in the Church's values,"

      Which values are specific to the church AND are positive values?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      There is no such thing as belief, and certainly there is no such thing as 'belief' in theories.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • HarryJ

      Children who believe in Santa are not blind idiots either. Like Christians, everyone that they trust simply cooperates to keep the idea that Santa is real. Everyone that they trust basically thinks that this belief is worth protecting with lies, or at least sheltering kids from the truth. There are lots of Christians who actually warn people in their groups not to investigate too deeply into their faith precisely because this can lead people to doubting its truth.

      Seeking out information other than what has been handed to you by your trusted sources, the ones that have a vested interest in keeping you in your faith, is exactly what leads many people to becoming nonbelievers. For many of us, we think that believers are not being given the opportunity to make a really informed decision when it comes to believing in God because they only ever get one side of it. I myself went through decades of wondering that could have been easily averted had I not been conditioned to be afraid to question beliefs. I would rather spare others this waste of time by volunteering that information from the other side. Life is just too short to be spending it searching.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Aunicorntalkingtohisimaginaryfriend

      Check out this video of a planet full of unicorns and their friend that wished them into existence (he's a gay boy named Shannon)

      http://youtu.be/L6UWR0kSFcE

      I believe!

      January 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • @will c

      Sorry, but Catholics think science and religion are compatible???? Were was that logic when the Church tried to condemn Galileo? There was no holy angel tapping the shoulder of the pope or the medieval inquisitioners saying...."oh, by the way his right about the sun."

      January 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      @WillyC: "I am Catholic"

      Have you heard of The Reichskonkordat? It is a treaty signed on 20 July 1933 between the Holy See (Catholic Church) and Nazi Germany, guaranteeing the rights of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, giving moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime soon after Hitler had acquired dictatorial powers, and placing constraints on Catholic critics of the regime, leading to a muted response by the Church to Nazi policies. Yes, the Catholic Church colluded with Nazis.

      ***
      "I think that it is time that people can see the church for what it really is and what it really stands for"

      Me too!

      ***
      "First, the Church DOES believe in the theory of evolution"

      How gracious of the church to "believe" in a fact of our shared reality. Does the church still "believe" in gravity? Scandalous!

      ***
      "it fully supports science for that matter."

      Uh, oh, looks like you stepped in some doo-doo. If it fully supported evolution it would no longer teach absurdities like Adam and Eve or the Garden both of which are inconsistant with evolution, to be polite.

      So the church doesn't fully support evolution. It has made a "stance" that evolution is A-OK with them, but it does not actually support it. This is so rubes like you, who have at least enough sense to know evolution is a fact, won't give the church a rough time about it. If evolution were actually supported by the church, the bible would be more of a 3-4 page pamphlet on inventive ways to kill people instead of a book.

      ***
      "The thing that people have trouble understanding is that there are scientific truths (observable, measurable, etc-which the Church supports) and religious truths."

      Odd. I would say what *you* have trouble with is definitions. Your cult has indoctrinated you to use the word "truth" for your belief when you know darn well that isn't the definition. You've been brainwashed. There are 33,000 other cults all proclaiming they have the only "truth." They're all brainwashed except for you, right?

      ***
      "We believe the meaning and message that the story is saying but the Church understands that the exact way it is described may not have actually happened; it is just trying to get the message across. (This isn't saying the Bible is only feel-good fairy tales but meaningful guides which we should take seriously)

      You do not interpret the bible literally. Great. Some do, some don't. Which of the 33,000 interpretations is right? Lemme guess... yours?

      What parts of the following verses from the bible are meaningful guides for you?

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

      "If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city." (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

      "No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 23:1)

      Of course you know that sadly this absurdity goes on for most of the bible.

      ***
      "science and religion are completely compatible"

      Sorry, but no. That pain you felt when typing that is called "cognitive dissonance." Your assertion is just gibberish to help the church keep the bible alive as science slowly eats it for lunch.

      ***
      "Also, there is no way for proving or disproving the existence of God by using science so just drop that argument right now."

      Rational people do not have the time or desire to go about disproving every fantastic notion that you may come up with. God lives in an ever-receding pocket of ignorance which is subject to any whim a nutter can come up with to keep the pocket from disappearing completely. Instead of my disproving these billions of absurdities, I demand you show me one piece of actual evidence to god's existence and we can put the debate to rest. Until you do, god does not exist.

      ***
      "...[doesn't mean] there is no use, or need, for God."

      And yet, there is no use or need for any such imaginary creature. The arguments for a god boil down to:
      – he is our creator
      – without him we have no morals
      ...yet, humans evolved without a creator and we understand we have morals born within us that are shaped by environment. We literally do not have a need for a god. The only plausible "need" for a god is quickly becoming "just for old times' sake." Since god was such a bastard, I don't have any of those feelings.

      ***
      "The root of all Catholic teachings are love, focusing on helping others, and a respect for all life. It especially does not think that people of different religions (or atheists) are evil."

      What a load of horseshit. This is the ultimate Trojan Horse of religion. Preach love, get in the door and then hate, hate, hate. God commands you kill gays, kill sun worshippers, kill people who on a sabbath, kill just about every 3rd person it seems, condones slavery (especially one's own daughter) and all kinds of ridiculousness. Religion is the greatest source of misery in the world. Respect for all life? You really drank the Kool-Aid there – it doesn't take a genius to see god has little regard for life at all.

      ***
      "Christians are not blind idiots living in a fairy tale."

      I've demonstrated you do not see what is right in front of you. I've demonstrated that you choose to live in ignorance. We already know religion is a fairy tale. I think that refutes your assertion.

      ***
      "Most Christians have questioned their faith at some point in their lives and have chosen to stick with it because they truly believe in the Church's values."

      I'm not going to go through it all again but I think it is safe to say the church's values are nothing to be proud. In fact it is difficult to understand why you're not ashamed to be a part of it all.

      ***
      "I know that this does not cover everything but I just wanted to clear up some misunderstandings of Christianity."

      There are no misunderstandings aside from your misunderstanding concerning how much we know your religion and your book of foolishness, often better than you do.

      ***
      "living in ignorance is only counterproductive and dangerous."

      Then you understand why we've coddled your ignorance long enough. You seem to be upset about comments regarding your conversations with your invisible sky buddy. Why would facts upset you?

      January 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • GYooper

      To Will C-
      thanks, Will. I'm an atheist, but I'll be more than happy to listen to a thoughtful person regardless of whether they and I agree or not. Your input brought a little light to this discussion. Thanks again.

      January 11, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  16. Bostontola

    I'm a believer, I believe there is no god.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Paul

      At least you're an honest atheist. Most atheists I've met can't even be that honest with themselves. They try to re-define the word "atheist."

      January 10, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Paul,
      Why the "At least"?

      January 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • bananaspy

      Makes sense. I'm a believer. I believe there are no unicorns. And also, no god.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      atheists trying to define atheism instead of a christian defining atheism! for shame!

      January 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Actually, Paul, Bostontola defined the term "believer" not the term "atheist." I'm sorry that you're upset that you can't change how language works and how definitions of words are applied. That must svck for you.

      January 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  17. Hemet Jeff

    god did not create Man – Man created god.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      Or, as Mark twain put it:

      "God created Man in his own image, and then Man turned around and returned the compliment."

      January 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  18. Sid Airfoil

    "Nones" is a useless term. Some nones are atheists and some are theists who don't follow any particular religious organization. Combining these two groups into one statistic misses the most important philosophic distinction: that between people of faith and people who reject faith. I do not argue that all atheists lack faith, or that all theists have faith. That is another discussion. I only argue that faith vs. non-faith the IMPORTANT issue. Until pollsters start asking the right questions, I will skip reading article like these.

    Sid

    January 10, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Define faith.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • JPO

      Define faith: Believing in fairy tales.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      But that's not faith. I have faith that the sun will still exist tomorrow. That's not a fairy story, it's a belief based on previously observed evidence.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • JPO

      People who rely on faith to know the sun will rise in the morning don't understand the physics of the earth rotating on on its axis. They might even believe that their god could prevent it from happening. I understand the physics and know that, short term at least, the earth will continue to revolve on its axis and continue on its journey around the sun and nothing will stop it from doing so barring a celestial calamity that we would see coming for a long time.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You can never be certain though. You could wake up tomorrow in another dimension in which the earth orbits a giant jellyfish.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Elliot Carlin

      JL–read Hebrews and you'll have your definition of faith, specifically chapter 11. I'm sure you're an open minded person and read it.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • awake

      faith is believing in something that can't be proven – unicorns – god. Confidence is believing in something that has been proven using science.- the sun coming up – or more accurately the world revolving.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • JPO

      I am indeed certain because I understand something about how the universe works. No hocus pocus, no magic, no miracles. Scientists don't understand everything but they have an amazing knowledge of the universe obtained by just sitting on our little plane orbiting our ordinary sun. I don't know as much as the experts but I know some of what is known and it forms a coherent picture that makes much more sense than a book with many authors written centuries ago. The earth will continue to orbit the sun and it will wobble and tilt a little bit but the sun will appear to rise in the east for a long time. Eventually the rotational energy will dissipate and the earth will rotate slowly with one side facing the sun as the moon now does with respect to the earth. Then there will no longer be a sunrise as we know it. It's called education and understanding, not belief.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  19. erin

    I don't hold anything against believers for believing. But, for the love of (your) god, can you leave the rest of us alone?!?

    January 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      "Dear Lord, please protect me from your followers!"

      January 10, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • JPO

      Amen!

      January 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  20. Anonymous972

    Good! It's about time!

    January 10, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.