Godless mom strikes a chord with parents
A CNN iReport essay on raising kids without God draws record-breaking number of comments.
January 18th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Godless mom strikes a chord with parents

By Daphne Sashin, CNN

Deborah Mitchell remembers the time, when her boys were younger, and another mom asked her about her religious beliefs.

Mitchell was raised Catholic but moved away from religion in her early 20s. She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God.

Then, she says, the recruiting started.

“She used to call my house and tell me she was praying for me. She’d leave me messages and leave cards in my mailbox with scripture,” Mitchell says. “I do realize that she meant well, but at the same time, I know my views were seen as wrong. I needed to be ‘saved.’”

Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” started a blog about raising her children without religion because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn’t want to feel so alone, she says.

This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform.

It starts:

When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

Mitchell posted the essay detailing her seven reasons for raising her children without God on CNN iReport because she felt there wasn’t anyone else speaking for women or moms like her. As she sees it, children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves, not because God is watching. She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?

Lots of people disagreed with her. Tons. They flagged her iReport as inappropriate and criticized CNN for linking to her essay on the CNN.com homepage. But there were plenty of others who wrote thoughtful rebuttals, respectfully disagreeing with Mitchell while not foisting their own beliefs on her. Take, for instance, a Methodist dad, who said faith can be hard to nail down, but “not to avail ourselves of the power of something we don't completely understand is silly.”

Others said Mitchell presented a simplistic view of religion.

“Presentations such as these seem to ignore a substantial percentage of believers - well-educated, compassionate, liberal folk, Christian and non-Christian alike - who, I feel, are able to worship without being blind to the realities of the world, or without lying to their children about their understanding of these complexities,” wrote commenter RMooradian. “I'll be raising my children with God, but I understand those who cannot!”

But Mitchell’s essay also struck a chord with hundreds of like-minded parents raising children in a world where lack of belief puts them in the minority, often even in their own family.

“Thank you for writing this. I agree with everything you say, but I’m not brave enough to tell everyone I know this is how I feel,” a woman who called herself an “agnostic mommy of two in Alabama” posted in the comments. “Thank you for your bravery and letting me know I’m not alone.”

It’s a growing group. One in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion, and that number has grown by 25% in the past five years, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of that group, 88% said they were not looking for religion, although 68% of the unaffiliated said they believe in God. 

Brittany Branyon, an American graduate student and substitute teacher living in Germany, was also compelled to express her thanks to Mitchell. Branyon was raised Southern Baptist in Georgia and Alabama. In high school, when she began to question the theory of creation and befriended gay and lesbian students, she says her mother tried to perform an exorcism.

“She opened all the windows and doors in the house, brought me to the door, held my shoulders and shook me while screaming, ‘Satan, get out of this child!’, ‘Satan, leave this child alone!’.”

After moving away from the South, she and her husband “became more comfortable in our secular ways,” but still take criticism from family members. They are now expecting their first child.

“Though we are elated to welcome our child into the world, we can’t help but dread the religious uproar that is to come from our families,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Such an uproar is familiar to Carol Phillips, a stay-at-home mother in northern Virginia. When she gave birth to her first child, she said her family was shocked that the baby wasn’t baptized. She said her mother-in-law cried and told her the little girl’s soul would not go to heaven.

Then there are the comments from strangers. Last year, Phillips said she and her daughter were at a birthday party when a tornado warning sounded.

“We were all in the basement keeping safe. A little girl was saying baby Jesus will keep us safe. My daughter asked who Jesus was. The rest of the time was spent hearing ‘I'll pray for you sweetie, we can take you to church with us if you want,’” Phillips told CNN.

Commenting on Mitchell’s iReport, Phillips said, “To live out loud and to speak freely about my beliefs brings many clucking tongues. I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist.”

Mitchell said she spent years studying the history of religion and does believe it has “an important place in our community.” She has told her children that she’ll be fine if they decide to join a church when they are older.

She ended her essay:

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

After her post ran on CNN, Mitchell said she was encouraged by the number of people who agreed with her, or who disagreed but wanted to have a respectful discussion.

“I’m not saying that everybody should think how I do. I’m saying the people that do should have a place in our society and have acceptance and respect,” she said. “I just want to have children grow up and be able to not be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe that,’ or ‘I’m not part of that.’” 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog so that current members can simply scroll to the next commentary. Scrolling obviously is a great computer tool.

    For all the kids out there:

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’ Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    January 20, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  2. ATeacher

    I teach in an elementary school. In mid-to-late December, a student always makes a comment that inevitably sparks class discussions about various religious holidays (e.g. When it's Christmas, not everyone celebrates because it is a religious holiday; and Isn't it neat how very many New Year's celebrations there are worldwide, across cultures, etc.).

    This is the first year I've had multiple students openly and confidently share that their families do not go to church. During these student-prompted, thoughtful discussions about tradition and religion, it's always a pleasure moderating and helping kids learn to be open-minded and knowledgeable about the existence of varying beliefs, and their rights to believe whatever they want. This year, it was refreshing to hear from non-believers. It enriched the discussion, gave students a chance to share their passions (either professing their strong belief, or professing the lack thereof), and made the idea that not everyone everywhere is Christian more "real."

    The kids have no idea what I believe (I'm agnostic, without a doubt), but I really relish these types of discourse and hope students–regardless of beliefs/religion–understand that in our country, you are not legally bound to follow any religion, nor should anyone make you feel that you are somehow less than human for confidently believing in absolutely nothing at all (OR for believing in something wholeheartedly).

    January 20, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Saraswati

      Thank you for sharing that very encouraging story. Your line "I'm agnostic, without a doubt" made me smile too. 🙂

      January 20, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  3. BillB

    You poor guy. You don't even realize how hateful you are. I would say "I'll pray for you", but it would just cause you to spew more hate. Goodbye kid.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • the AnViL

      *cracking up*

      vae victis!

      racking em' up in here this morning.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Saraswati

      I'm glad you're at least getting a sense of how counterproductive it is when Christians say "I'll pray for you" to non-believers. You're talking to a person who doesn't believe, so saying this shows either an almost unbelievable lack of comprehension of the other persons position, or and underhanded passive aggressive way of closing the conversation by asserting the supremacy of your own beliefs. Generally it is the latter, and no one like a passive aggressive manipulator.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  4. j

    Its ok you have just been following your self and not your Loving God read the Bible and wake up to your destiny don't follow the pack of sheep going to the PIT !!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • JWT

      I would never support pit fighting. So I will never go there.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  5. Human man

    Man invented god.

    January 20, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Seeker

      Loved this article.

      Hey, CNN: If you really want to get an interesting reaction, find an evolved soul to explain what "God" really is in terms that people can understand. The sages dance around it, because if they really spelled it out, they wouldn't sell books. Most people are really really really not ready for the truth, and they will slice you to ribbons if you threaten their "truth" with the real truth.

      All religions exist because someone at some time was trying to find the truth. Most of them got turned into stories ABOUT the truth, or dogma. Most people go through life sitting in judgement of how everyone and everything are wrong (don't fit with their dogma), which some intelligent person pointed out is exactly what Jesus said not to do.

      The truth is that we are, all of us together, "God". Us and the earth, the animals, rocks, trees, air, all of it – we are a manifestation in form, a living being, trying to find our way to unity consciousness. Think I'm crazy? Look it up. Read Gupta, Don Miguel Ruiz, Eckhart Tolle, and Martha Beck. Do they, or anyone, have all the answers? Nope. That's part of why we're all here. Really, folks, you don't have to give up your Bibles. JESUS KNEW. Read what he said, not what modern religion has turned it into. The ridiculous irony is that he was trying to save us all from ourselves ... which was impossible from the beginning. That's the point!

      Make it a journey. Go out and discover. Read. Think. Open your mind. Look inside. You will be surprised at what you find!

      January 20, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  6. Why I raise my children Godly?

    A) This world is imperfect, people are imperfect, we are imperfect and children need the perfect grace, perfect strength, perfect wisdom and perfect love of our Almighty God as a source to be the best he has planned for them.

    B) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, I want children to grow up wise.

    January 20, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • JWT

      YOUR children need that. Other peoples children are fine without it. There certainnly is nothing to fear from your concept of god.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  7. Emilio

    Not one of these religions/cults boasts that they, without empiricism, can demonstrate that their god does in fact exists, so they resort to their "system of belief", the proof of which presumably will be seen in the hereafter. So they undermine the gullible and the simple-minded, who by definition are hardly capable of determining fact from fiction, and these "believers" gladly step aboard the fantasy train which promises milk and honey after their miserable experience is over. I guess the organized criminal mobs and the religious charlatans have some similarities–one promises to leave your bones intact if you pay them now, the other promises glorious everlasting life in the hereafter if you pay now with money and slavish devotion.

    January 20, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • JPV

      Beliefs should never be used to force or or aggressively compel others. Yet beliefs have a place in policy as much as logic and have been the source of great advances in all aspects of our lives.

      All things denote there is a God from the patterns in nature, our bodies, and the great work He does with our lives. There is no proof God does not exist.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  8. Phil

    WOW- views like this are EXACTLY why we have people in this country committing horrific crimes against one another!
    Without faith these folks will reap what they sew. (ps- how about get a job and contribute to society)

    January 20, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Saraswati

      How do you explain the far lower crime rates in much more secular France, Norway, China, Ja'pan and many other more godless countires? Throw in Switzerland and its traditionally high gun ownership. I'm not saying lack of belief brings down crime, but it's a really tough argument to claim it causes it.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • One one

      How does faith prevent people from doing bad things ?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • Little Phil

      My priest had faith that he would not get caught but he did, is that the faith you are talking about?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Other Living Creatures

      You sound angry. With views like yours I'm not suprised anyone who questioned God was ostrasized, tortured, and killed for hundreds of years.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Quincy

      Phil, you are one stupid moron.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Reagan


      Your misspelling of the word "sew" (should be "sow"), leads me to believe you are not capable of understanding the conversation.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:23 am |
  9. Mike

    Folks ... What you see here is a classic example of Yellow Journalism, proudly produced by CNN. Not one of you has changed anyone's mind on the subject. Indeed ... with your foul language the only thing you've done is to make a public ass of yourself. The only thing you've contributed to the Sunday morning news is to feed the CNN gristmill for filler.

    January 20, 2013 at 7:06 am |
  10. Mike

    Folks ... What you see here is a classic example of Yellow Journalism, proudly produced by CNN. And you ALL have fallen for it. CNN got exactly what it wanted by sponsoring a blog on the one subject that will cause debate more certainly than debating the Civil War ... the (non) existence of God. All of you ... both sides of the argument ... have lowered yourselves to respond to this tripe. Not one of you has changed anyone's mind on the subject. The only thing you've done is to feed the CNN gristmill for filler.

    January 20, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • Saraswati

      I fully understand how capitalism works. And I don't think anyone reads a post and suddenly says "oh, Yeah, that changes my whole view on god!" But 1) debating is fun and free (as long as you aren't easily sucked in by ads...). 2) Debating online sharpens people's debating skills when they are challenged 3) The ideas introduced in even the most casual discussion stay with people and, when mixed with other ideas later, do have the power to contribute to change. Certainly you don't (and won't) see anyone here saying "Oh look, the other side is right! Oops...yeah, I was wrong." But that doesn't mean there isn't an impact, hopefully for the good.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • lol??

      Yer belly god wants something from da neighbors, Saraswati. Be straight with da readers and tell em about da LGBT club yer in.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • midwest rail

      " Be straight with the readers......" Most unintentionally funny post of the day.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  11. ACOIII

    Anvil.... oh Anvil. I'll be praying for you. There is no respectful conversation with you. You're arrogant and still have much, much much to learn about life. Good luck with that.
    Rev....good catch on the spelling. Will be praying for you too. Not sure what else to say to you other than you also have much to learn about life. And that (just a suggestion) you should change your name from rev. Because the intention to be witty by way of irony is, quite simply, not witty.
    To all Atheists. I will pray for you. Pray for your happiness, good health, the health of your families, and your continued growth as individuals whether you choose to believe or not believe.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Creatures

      Self-righteousness is considered a big nono to Jesus.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      ahh another one of these..... offended by my tag... well deal with it..... and i pretty much have humanity dialed...more so than any believer does.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • the AnViL

      vae victis


      January 20, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • lol??

      Insanity sometimes has a wicked component to it, for those too brain dead to notice. Like, USA is too crowded, use abortion as birth control and then leave the borders wide open. That's just PLAYIN' god, a wee god with no power. Takes powerful people to kill in da womb.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Joe

      Please keep praying it may make you feel good but changes nothing. I think it is time that we move away from crazy fantasies that these ancient beliefs bring into our lives.Funny how none of these supposed miracles really occurred in modern times, just stories. The bible was cobbled together by men who wanted to present a consistent story and many other gospels were ignored that did not agree. If you want to believe this stuff then feel free but keep it out of our schools and government.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • lol??

      Joe you can't have yer double mind both ways. Scientists are sayin' the race is 400,000 years old, so 2,000 years ago is recent.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  12. g2-8621476e47c1886404d6f649be8aeee9

    To all of my fellow non-believers: Don't argue with believers, it's like playing a game of chess with a pigeon.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • lol??

      "Jer 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?".....UUuummm, that means with yer own devices you are DOOMED. YOU are yer own enemy. Have FUN when it's Friday with rebecca black, child.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • BillB

      To all my fellow believers – Don't wrestle with pigs. You just get filthy and the pig likes it.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  13. Namvet67

    God is the most ridiculous, harmful concept ever imagined. Prayer never helps anyono for any reason. I simply don't trust people's judgement who believe in ghosts.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • Namvet67


      January 20, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • Sonjah

      This second generation atheist agrees with you.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • lol??

      "Namvet67 sayz,
      God is the most ridiculous, harmful concept ever imagined......" So you're not much on walking a narrow path? Join the crowd, er mob. Of course God answers prayers, look at the shape the world is in. Humanoids have had it "my way". God will take His turn, too.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Red

      Oh I get it!!! A baby just popped up out of the ocean and the rest was history right???? Was it a male or a female? Did it eat sand for nourishment? How did it ward off attacks from the creatures on the shore, ground and air? I'm just wondering. It is a baby we're talking about.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  14. the AnViL

    on the general deni.gration, disrespect, scorn and hostility towards monotheism and the adherents thereof...

    while it may be as challenging as shooting fish in a barrel, and certainly the source of much comedy...

    do not think for a moment it's not necessary.

    and to those of you who feel it to be futile i assure you, it is not.

    meet the enemies of reason where you will, here most of all... because it's the only way to facilitate change.

    give no quarter... because tolerance of religious idiocy has to end.

    it is retarding all of humanity.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • lol??

      "...................because it's the only way to facilitate change.................." Half baked Hinduism, hopey changey guy. Better set your DREAMS aside, dufus, and take a look at the balance. Yer broke. Much worse than broke. Enslaved.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • lol??

      Facilitator huh? Yeah that's yer dream for employment, so you can eat. Eat yer own. .....................Elect me! Elect me! Don't make me cry! I wannna SERVE You. (on a platter)

      January 20, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Creatures

      You know, I don't blame people for thinking your reasoning might be viewed as rhetoric and a bit extreme, then I remember what these people did for hundreds of years to non-believers to those who question God, and then I think of all the places in the world where religious persecution still exists in extreme form (yes, they are still torturing and burning people in places for not following Christianity/Islam). It wasn't that long ago, right here in the USA, when people would have been ostrasized, tortured, hanged/killed for not being one of the 'flock'.

      I know in my heart, with absolute certainity, that if Christianity were the norm here again, we would be facing all that over again. These people will never leave non-believers alone. It is all about being 'right'. Control. It's sad that it has to be that way, but never doubt for a minute that it would be. Conversion is the name of the game in religion and children are the front line. Thankfully, many people in the USA, particularly the younger generation, only call themselves Christians as a disclaimer, a get-out-of-jail-free card, without actually living the life. Otherwise we would be in BIG trouble, all over again.

      Not one word I've written here is false. God or no God.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      spot on post...

      January 20, 2013 at 6:51 am |
  15. Jeremy

    People who push their beliefs on others do so because they are not fully sure about them (their beliefs) and need other to believe to reassure them. I don't believe in Religion as I see it as an excuse for people to be terrible to each other. I'm undecided on God. Personally I believe the Bible was a method for the governing bodies to control the masses by threatening them with eternal damnation if they were to disobey. Not written by God but rather by some government lackey.

    January 20, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      You pretty much nailed it. It has been the ultimate contol stick..it tries to play on every fear it can.... lol they cant even agree on which version is correct within their own Faith...dont like whats out there create your own brand of christianity or Islam...even the jew hav 2 versions....

      January 20, 2013 at 6:07 am |
    • lol??

      Dream on. The gubmint has a Plan tailored just fer you. It's involved in EVERYTHING, justis like a god.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:34 am |
  16. ACOIII

    Why is there so much hatred and disrespect for Christian beliefs? Most of the atheists posting are exactly the opposite of tolerant; why do you mock us so? Why do you believe it to be some elaborate fairy tale? How do you "know" there isn't a God? How about the fight between good and evil; are they not fought everyday? In our existence? In a plane of existence we don't understand?

    January 20, 2013 at 4:56 am |
    • gager

      Most atheists are evidence driven. You cannot prove a non-existence so the evidence of a god is on the believers shoulders. There is no evidence of a god so why would anyone believe? Believing something exists without evidence is insane.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:03 am |
    • the AnViL

      it may have something to do with fact that xians willfully negate equality for those who they feel are immoral based entirely on their ancient theological ideals.

      it also may have something to do with the fact that xians work overtime to install their idiotic mythologies into our public school science classes....

      then again – there's the possibility that it has something to do with the historically proven division, bigotry, hate and abject ignorance which is created and propagated by all monotheistic religions.

      or – maybe it's SATAN

      January 20, 2013 at 5:04 am |
    • gager

      Recognizing good and evil does not require a god.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:04 am |
    • Sid Higgins

      Athiests don't hate Christians. You interpret their explaination of God or the belief in God as "hate" or and attack on you. Athiests are not attacking your God or any God. You can't attack something that doesn't exist. Scientifically good and evil are required to exist equally since every reaction causes an equal and opposite reaction. Athiests cannot prove that God doesn't exist because it is a pointless excercise to prove that something that does not exist does not exist. On the flip side of that coin no one has proven that God does indeed exist. When we do attempt to show you all of the inconsistencies in organized religion to call it "hate" or an attack. So what you create to protect your beliefs is in itself a paradox.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:08 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Why? you ask?

      Its a backlash for centuries of crazy dogma..we are out of time....if we are to survive we need to quite screwing around and fix some things....

      January 20, 2013 at 5:09 am |
    • ACOIII

      It is presumptuous to say that God doesn't exist. I'm really having trouble with your arguments, because they are so saturated with human pride (you can't attack something that doesn't exist). And there is a difference between disagreement and disrespect. What i believe is regarded as a fantasy instead of you seriously considering the flip side. Again, I ask you, how do you KNOW there is no God?

      January 20, 2013 at 5:19 am |
    • the AnViL

      "Again, I ask you, how do you KNOW there is no God?" = appeal to ignorance.

      i could entertain this by simply asking "how do you KNOW there is a god?" but that's too easy.

      on the matter of imaginary men in the sky:

      there is no verifiable, substantiated evidence of the existence of imaginary men in the sky.
      there is contradictory evidence of imaginary men in the sky.

      beliefs are based on knowledge, and they change (usually) when new knowledge is made available.
      if your beliefs are based on faulty knowledge – then they are simply false beliefs.

      ACOIII – you do not need to substantiate your false beliefs – because fortunately you have faith.

      faith is belief in something for which there is no evidence, or even contradictory evidence, and in regards to your particular imaginary man in the sky – there's plenty of contradictory evidence.

      you should be ashamed to be so ignorant on a national public forum.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:30 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      its presumptuous to say he does exist..... science can back up most of whay it states.

      God? nada...hasnt ever been here.... we are stuck with his bloody middlemen...his 'word' reeks of 2000 year old philosophy
      give glory to god? sure but he has to make an appearence before i kiss his ass, as im sure not going to bow before another man. btw.... point out the people that God speaks to, why are priests, bishops, reverends, popes,pastors,imams, ect. more qualified to tell me what god says?

      January 20, 2013 at 5:32 am |
    • Sid Higgins

      How I know there "isn't a God" as you put it from my point of view is very simple. All of the things that are real in my world are detectable by at least one of 5 different senses. To go a little further... if God is a "person"... as that is assumed to be one of his/her forms... then surely he/she would be easy to see. Otherwise your own scripture refers to him as a "ghost".. which is fascinating. To actually sit here and discuss all of the inconsistencies and hypocrisy in organized religion would take up more space on this forum than is available. Most athiests actually know more about religions than the so called "faithful" because most athiests are realists.. and are thorough. Today's religions actually began more as a hybrid of primitive science and government... controlling it's believers through fear and mysticism. A lot of the things unexplained 2000 years ago and who knows how many revisions by corrupt religious and political leaders... are now explainable through modern science and techniques. Sadly it would appear that our existences are random. It would seem that the burden of proof is now to prove that there is a God. I wish you luck. You have a lot of inconsistency and hypocrisy to unravel before you get started. Notice that I haven't referred to the Bible as a "fairy tale" nor have I referred to God as a "man in the sky". I have merely explained things they way they actually are.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:34 am |
    • tappan

      Atheists mock religion for the same reason (good or bad) that anyone under constant attack behaves badly. It is part of everyone's defensive makeup.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:42 am |
    • Jeremy

      Basically because Christians look down their noses (for the most part) at all others and deem them less worthy then them.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • Mary

      Religion is a choice, just because it's not yours doesn't mean it's wrong. I am Agnostic which means show me something physical; prove it to me I need to see feel and smell it and maybe then I will believe it. Funny how if you don't believe in God the more people push it on you to the point they get angry at you for not listening to them.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      christians, Muslims, and Jews have been beating, burning ,shooting, beheading stoning and or banishing anyone that doesnt believe in the imaginary superman they ve created..... today we try and teach our children science and we get these lunatics trying to change it to where their made up garbage get a equal shake. There is no God! hes not here...never has been!

      January 20, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • ACOIII

      Sid-Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it's not there.
      Yes, the burden does fall to me and billions of others around the world like me to prove the existence of God. But I can't do that. I'm not ignorant to that fact. I can only have faith. And I don't see anything wrong with that. God is no person. According to scripture, He made Himself man to die for our sins. The discussion of whether God could be fully man and fully God at the same time is exhaustive. And you take for granted that our existence is completely random. As an adult I have made the conscious decision to believe in God and to believe in the Bible and it's teachings. But you seem to "know" so much. You seem to "know" how things actually are. That is as things appear to you. Not as they actually are.
      Anvil-I don't view it as ignorance. I view it as an expanded view on things. I am an adult. I have made the conscious decision to believe in God. I have had my faith crisis, and have chosen to believe in a God that can be neither proven nor disproven. Just because I'm a Christian and believe in what you call "an imaginary man in the sky" doesn't mean that I'm blind to the fact that reality as humans know it is what is tangible and provable. I do not sit here and think you're going to Hell. I don't think you're a nutcase for not believing in God. Some of the best people I've known don't believe in God. But the difference between them and you is that they don't mock others for their beliefs, nor do they belittle or reduce others' faiths to nothing more than an ignorant view of the world.

      You have displayed your ignorance, intolerance, and disrespect for the world to see. It is you that should be ashamed of yourself.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • Susan

      Think of your friends and family praying to Thor and you standing back and accepting it....supporting it...encouraging it. This is why we have a hard time sitting back and not saying anything.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • ACOIII

      Mary-You're putting Christians into a box. Christians are not all the same. They don't all force their beliefs on you. Nor should they.
      Reverend-People kill each other every day. Over stupid stuff. Like the colors they choose to wear. Like money. Because it's fun. Gang initiation. Not all wars or killing have been over religion. Your argument is invalid.
      Susan-What are you trying to say? People can pray to whoever they want. I don't care. It's their right. I pray to my God. I don't expect everyone to like it but I do expect respect, because that's what I give in return. Believer or non-believer.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell


      Your Dogma has made an ART of intolerance.... your religion is nothing but contradictions, double talk, homemade interpretations.... It is divisive, condescending..( we are born into sin? what kind of guilt tripping crap is that?) and defies logic on hundreds of levels..... and im supposed to live with this crap being shoved down my kid's throat? .

      January 20, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • the AnViL

      "You have displayed your ignorance, intolerance, and disrespect for the world to see. It is you that should be ashamed of yourself."

      yes – i have little tolerance for ignorance – and i've demonstrated none. your assertion is rejected.

      why should anyone respect delusional idiocy that retards and impoverishes all of humanity??

      i've nothing to be ashamed of in being intolerant of the division, bigotry, ignorance, and idiocy of monotheism – and giving a voice to the growing, mounting, dissension that exists for 2000 years of violent and retarded religious ideologies.

      you're too easily offended by a small amount of invective to see through your ignorance long enough to notice reason when you ask for it, because you are trapped in the ugly clutches of delusional thinking.

      and make no mistake – everyone who believes in the literal existence of the abrahamic god is delusional.

      cha cha cha

      January 20, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      oh... so lets except a batsheet crazy reason for killing on top of our other bs...good plan ....you are invalid:)

      January 20, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      or we can ACCEPT....

      January 20, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • Sonjah

      We don't hate you, but we do mock you. The whole story is beyond ridiculous and it is badly written too.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • lol??

      "gager sayz,
      Most atheists are evidence driven............." Nope, they're emotion driven by their carnal belly god. They've played god in their own lives for so long they feel it's time for the world to notice their POWER. Course mob rule, as learned from Sodom and Gomorrah is their weapon, er gubmint of choice.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Creatures

      Because history shows exactly how much respect you had for us for hundreds of years. Ostrasized, tortured, and death for anyone who even questioned your God and/or religion. Now we can speak out about it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it whatsoever. Left to you ppl, the world would still be flat and we would shun progress as Satan. These are just words, however hurtful they may be to you. Nothing compared to what you did to us. Deal with it, Nancy.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • BillB

      theAnViL – You are pure hate. In your words, and probably in your actions. You claim you lash out because of the intolerance/ignorance of others. But you are showing absolute proof of your intolerance and ignorance right here and now. It doesn't matter whether I accept or reject a God that is proven or not. Your hate is proven and real. I reject you. And I don't worry about you impacting me, for your hate will destroy you first.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • the AnViL

      BillB – you are projecting, princess.

      the hate is inside you.

      there's no more hate inside me for monotheism than what a surgeon might feel for a cancerous tumor... or a gardener for weeds.

      your ignorance is consuming you, son....

      try to simmer down.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • BillB

      You poor guy.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • the AnViL

      is that all you've got?

      blew your wad on those few posts up there and can't manage anything better?

      who's poor???


      January 20, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  17. Vicki R.

    Regarding the question asking if there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture? God doesn't "allow" those evil things, nor does he prevent them. God is not a puppeteer; he does not cause things to happen or not happen–humans cause them. God gave us free will which gives us the power to live life as we choose, to do good or bad. He will give us the grace and strength to deal with the things that happen but he does not cause them to happen.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:47 am |
    • the AnViL

      that's contradictory to the supposed efficacy of prayer. (before i go on – i will point out that there is absolutely no basis for the concept that prayer works – in fact there is evidence which refutes the idea)

      matthew talked about it a few times – basically pointing out that if you ask for stuff in prayer with faith you'll get it.

      stating that your imaginary man in the sky does not cause bad things or prevent bad things from happening negates the utility of prayer, reducing it to futility.

      you may choose to look over, past, or around this glaring contradiction... but not everyone can or will.


      January 20, 2013 at 4:58 am |
    • ACOIII

      God doesn't give you want you want, He gives you what he needs. I'm interested, what evidence is there that prayer doesn't work?

      January 20, 2013 at 5:03 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Did he create this place or not? If he did create the Universe..then all its aspects ...from his mind.... and it also means that it is all completely unnecessary... all the barbarity of humanity just a sadistic indulgence.

      No this is all us...there is no god... we are just a species trying to overcome our instincts....we can come close but greed and self centered thoughts are hardwired in it takes a continuous conscious effort to be altruistic it seems.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:03 am |
    • the AnViL

      "God doesn't give you want you want, He gives you what he needs." contradicts the words of Matthew, chapter 21, verse 22: "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

      as for the efficacy of prayer... there is none. ever heard of the scientific method, sport?

      January 20, 2013 at 5:13 am |
    • ACOIII

      What do you think that verse in Matthew pertains to? It pertains to guidance. Strength. Courage. Hope. Faith. Love. Grace. Wisdom. Knowledge. Understanding. These are the things that Matthew is pertaining to. Not material goods. Not money. Not fashions. You're taking a dogmatic approach when it comes to the verse.

      You have no way of disproving efficacy. Your argument is invalid.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:26 am |
    • Check


      Then why didn't Matthew say that...? - such a poor communicator and sloppy evidence provider.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:31 am |
    • the AnViL

      you need to read your bible, son.

      that's the story of the barren fig tree...

      you don't have to ask what matthew was "talking" about – it's very plain:

      18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry.

      19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

      20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?”

      21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.

      22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

      now you can employ what i am sure will be your most excellent and enlightened eisegetical mangling of this "scripture"... but i promise you – it'll be arguable... and i'll dismiss it – as this is just the latest in a long stream of similar discussions that have gone on about the exact same thing for a very very long time. only the names change.


      January 20, 2013 at 5:40 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      yet again an atheist has to explain their own book to them...lol

      January 20, 2013 at 5:42 am |
    • Jeremy

      Typical reply.......praise god for all the god but he carries none of the blame for the bad. Thank god for this sunny day but don't be angry with him for the bad weather that caused that bus to crash. If man is created in gods image then why are we heald accountable for our actions but god isn't?

      January 20, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • Susan

      So you're saying God doesn't have a plan?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:09 am |
    • ACOIII

      The quoting of the rest of the story doesn't make your point. It simply tells the rest of the story.

      God does not give us material things. We get material things by praying for something that we may need to obtain something material. Like strength, courage, humility, faith, grace, you name it.

      You can pray for a new car. Doesn't mean you can get it. But pray for the strength to work hard and be diligent in your deeds and have faith, and you will get it. That's the principle lesson here. Not sure what you accomplished by just telling the whole story.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • the AnViL

      how convenient... you are asserting that chapter 21 of the book of matthew is allegorical... heck – maybe even the whole book??

      stop and think about the implications of that.


      you're punch-drunk, kid.

      walk it off

      January 20, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Or you can just skip the prayer ...do the work and end up with exactly the same result........

      January 20, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Vicki, the problem is that god created humans ( under your theory) and there's no evidence that our prainis act outside of normal physical laws. That would mean our thought's and actions were still all made by him. Free will is either, then, just an illusion or a concept so weak it can't justify praise and blame. And yet without the libertarian concept of free will, the house of cards collapses.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • Saraswati


      Correcting typo:

      The problem is that god created humans ( under your theory) and there's no evidence that our brains act outside of normal physical laws. That would mean our thoughts and actions were still all created by god. Free will is either, then, just an illusion or a concept so weak it can't justify praise and blame. And yet without the libertarian concept of free will, the house of cards collapses.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  18. mikem

    Its just a matter of time when most people will realize gods are imaginary. Be brave and kind and tell folks how you feel because many feel the same way around you.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:41 am |
  19. Journey

    President Obama needs to make a ruling or something about this whole religion thing in America...topic is too hot right now.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:34 am |
    • In God We Trust

      What is Obama? Some sort of a dictator? The Messiah of Athiests?

      January 20, 2013 at 5:46 am |
  20. Literality again

    As a theist (or diest) I find the obsession with literality is what is driving "atheism" as I've often seen it. The perception exists that all people who believe in God believe in God as a literal personified being as opposed to a symbol of dedication to "something" larger than self. You need not be religious to believe in God.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:33 am |
    • the AnViL

      it isn't an "obsession with literality" that drives atheism...

      it's the lack of belief in imaginary men in the sky.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:47 am |
    • BillB

      I think you've nailed the source of his ignorance, and his reply just confirmed it. Well done.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:58 am |
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About this blog

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