April 18th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

My Take: Godless in Boston mourn, too

Editor’s note: Greg M. Epstein is the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of the New York Times best-seller "Good Without God." He directs the Humanist Community Project, a national think tank helping to study and build communities for the nonreligious.

By Greg M. Epstein, Special to CNN

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) — After two days of holding back my own feelings to focus on the needs of a community in mourning, what finally split my heart in two was scrolling through the list of donations to the fund-raising page for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter among the tragically injured at the Boston Marathon.

Celeste, the mother, has volunteered for my congregation. She’s basically an aunt to a senior member of our staff. So I cried for the two-sidedness: A member of our community lost her legs below the knees, and nearly lost her daughter. And, in one day, nearly 4,000 people donated more than $250,000 to support them. They seemed to be saying, through their gifts, “Please do this for me too if anything should ever happen to me or my family.”

AC360: Mother lost legs, daughter nearly died in bombing

As a chaplain, I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy just like any other member of the clergy. And like faith communities across the country, the thousands of people I work with are doing what needs to be done when tragedy strikes close to home. We’re offering one another comfort. We’re calling around to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out who needs help and how we can provide it.

The only difference is, we are a community of atheists — a congregation of Humanists.

You’ve probably read the statistics: With 18% of the nation’s population now nonreligious, America is less religious today than ever before. This especially applies to young Americans, up to a third of whom now have no religion. That number may be closer to half on many of the college campuses throughout Boston, like the one where I work.

What you may not have noticed, however, is that in addition to the religiously unaffiliated, or “nones” as sociologists have taken to calling them, a new and very significant group of Americans has been emerging — the nonreligiously affiliated. Relatively quietly, many thousands of mostly young Americans who identify as atheists and agnostics have been coming together to form civically active, thoughtful secular community groups that now dot nearly our whole nation.

Sometimes you hear about the debates these groups hold with religious leaders. But while Richard Dawkins and the like are eloquent and controversial speakers on behalf of atheism, most such debates are actually organized by religious organizations. The vast majority of what Humanist and secular communities do is positive, uncontroversial and entirely American. We serve. We meet throughout the year. We help one another raise good kids. We celebrate life, and we grieve death.

So I don’t relish the opportunity — or the need — to say that right now, our community is grieving too, just like any other Boston-area congregation. Boston, in fact, is home to one of the biggest secular/Humanist/atheist/nonreligious communities in the world. (Sure, we don’t know what to call ourselves. But then again neither does the LGBT — or is it GLBT? — or LGBTQ? — community, and that hasn’t stopped them from thriving.) We meet every week. We’re getting ready to open up a large community center. We sponsor service programs where we invite interfaith groups to help us package thousands of meals for hungry kids. You can even join us this Sunday: We’ll be marking our losses together in a memorial gathering.

What is so disappointing to see people do, then, is blame the horrific and traumatizing events of this Monday on the godless, or on godlessness, as way too many on Twitter and elsewhere have been doing. As one young woman in our community said to me, “It’s hard enough to deal with senseless grief, but when people write things like 'Why do people have to be so godless to want to kill innocent people?' it makes me feel like I’m not safe either, like we’re being singled out for prejudice.”

Obviously when people say “I’ll pray for you” or “May God grant you strength,” they’re only expressing their own sincere convictions. But while not everyone holds those same beliefs, we all want to be acknowledged in a way that feels right to us.

And when political leaders like Gov. Deval Patrick or President Obama try to make sense of these moments by assembling interfaith services, it is admirable — far better for a politician to bring different religions together than to only recognize one religion’s view of loss as valid. But for goodness' sake, must the nonreligious continue to be excluded from such gatherings? I’ve seen Humanists knock on the door recently at the interfaith celebrations of political conventions, or after tragedies like Hurricane Sandy or Newtown. We wanted to help and were turned away. I hope this is where people realize: We are part of the community too. We care and want to offer our support just as much as anyone. We, too, are in shock and grief.

Secular people place our faith in the human ability to value life over death. We believe in committing ourselves to love and care and help as indiscriminately as possible, because that is what makes our lives worthwhile. We try our best, despite our doubt, to ensure that the good will that comes from tragedy will ultimately exceed the bad.

All that said, I don’t have a clue what Celeste’s beliefs are, and I don’t care. I just hope she and Sydney and everyone else injured get well. After all, would you believe for a second that every Christian pastor knows whether or not every visitor to his or her congregation truly believes in the Ascension? Nor should they. The point of a congregation, to me, is just to care about the people in it, and better yet, to help bring people together to care about one another. Our community is including everyone, religious or not, in our thoughts and hopes at this tough time. It would mean a lot to us if others do the same.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (3,411 Responses)
  1. mvoci

    good job using a national tragedy to promote your agenda.

    Go ahead and rationalize yourself by saying that this was in response to the inter-religious ceremony that was helping people grieve, the reality is that you wanted to get your two-cents in, and you did. I hope you are proud. No different than the opportunistic politicians trying to make a statement out of these horrific events.


    April 19, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Saraswati

      The point was that members of the grieving community belonged to a congregation whose representatives were excluded from this function. Way to make people feel included at this time. Do you folks actually read the articles before commenting?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      No need to read the article.
      Facts just get in the way of righteous indignation.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Interestingly, LCMS Lutherans (one example) try, for doctrinal reasons, to exclude their people from participating in ecumenical prayer services, which might be of some comfort to people in situations like this, and that seems legitimate to other believers. People with no belief in God are discouraged by believers from doing the actual work of helping people because they just can't be fitted into the ecumenical efforts.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • AJ

      You really think non-religious people feel a need to rationalize their beliefs? And please try and tell me atheists have
      no beliefs. You should have a beer with an atheist some time and find how different you really are not.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  2. DMC

    I am sorry but the statement of one third of young do not have any religion is not correct, except for maybe in your non-scientific poll. While religion is on the downslide, it is not that the third you refer to have no religion, it is that they don't associate with a particular religion. They still have spiritual beliefs, just not your typical church goer.

    April 19, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • AJ

      I think the difference with kids these days is that they question things more and are not as prone to acceptance of religion, based on the words of their parents, as previous generations were.

      As my 17 year old daughter put it: Religion is just not popular with kids these days. They just don't find it believable.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Where is your evidence of this? It is a fact whether you agree or not that more and more young people are waking up to the true dangers of religion and how it truly does separate people.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      Pew Forum study results:

      "A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%). "

      So who is relying on their own personal unscientific polls? It helps to have basic high school graduate level knowledge of the world around you if you want to comment on national issues.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Saraswati

      Link: http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

      April 19, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  3. Reality

    As we march to the tune of Rational Thinking and Rational Conclusions:

    Only for the new members of this blog–

    The Apostles' 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)

    April 19, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  4. luker6401

    This is a terrible article.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  5. candycoatedapple

    God is still with you even though you do not believe in him. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."

    April 19, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • WASP

      candy coated apples rot your teeth as religion rots your brain. 🙂 XD

      April 19, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Science

      Mouring WASP...................the forbidden fruit from that tree of knowledge aye ?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  6. Aaron

    OK, so here's the thing. As soon as the militant atheist community stops referring to believers as stupid blind fools at every opportunity then maybe they'll be treated with respect in return. I'm a religious person. I'm a "believer". That doesn't mean I'm blind to the unbelievability of the things that I espouse. I am not stupid. I know that I can't prove God exists. I'd just rather be wrong about God existing and there being an afterlife than be wrong about there being no God and winking into nothingness when I die. Because in the first case I have nothing to lose, but in the second I have everything. Above and beyond that though, my belief brings me peace. If your unbelief brings you the same then more power to you. I'm just sick and tired of atheists who rail against religion for all the perceived bad behavior of the human race while exhibiting that same exact behavior toward those who believe. Arrogance, pride, self-righteousness, judgment, anger, hatred. These are all actions or behaviors that the majority of atheists will ascribe to religious people with all of the arrogance, pride, self-righteousness, judgment, anger, and hatred they can muster. I KNOW. I've seen it. I've had to unfriend a few Facebook friends who, IN EVERY POST, felt the need to belittle those who believe in God as brainless sheep. I got sick of it. Respect isn't a one way street. The author SOUNDS like he understands this, but he should take a close look at the militant vein within his own flock to see where steps can be taken to improve understanding.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • WASP

      @Aaron: " I'd just rather be wrong about God existing and there being an afterlife than be wrong about there being no God and winking into nothingness when I die. Because in the first case I have nothing to lose, but in the second I have everything. "

      1) the whole "better safe than sorry" thing i'm certain isn't fooling your god seeing he knows whom truly believes and whom doesn't.
      2) if that is your reason you may want to cover the other gods out there just to have all your bases covered.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Aaron – you are right that some atheists and agnostics are more vocal, and they CAN get very aggressive. I believe that this in response, however, not to ALL believers but to some believers – especially militant fundamentalists. I had a conversation two days ago with a man who was absolutely sincere and firm in his belief that the Earth was 6500 years old, that dinosaurs were a fraud, and that there was NO evidence to support evolution. He made claims such as, all diseases and maladies can be broken down into 39 categories, and there were 39 whip marks on Christ.

      I'm sorry, but someone like that IS delusional.

      A final point. You say that you have nothing to lose if you're wrong about god existing. You've fallen for what is referred to as "Pascal's Wager", which posits only TWO possible outcomes, when in fact there are infinite outcomes POSSIBLE after death. For example: what if there is a God – Zeus – and he's going to punish you forever because you didn't believe in him? What if there is a god who punishes believers for NOT using a logic and evidence-based approach?

      Hopefully this response will show you that not ALL atheists are rabid foam at the mouth types.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      The belief is silly given the complete lack of evidence for a god of any belief system. To state that you would rather believe than risk being in hell (not quite your words but same difference) is called Pascals Wager. Now if christians would stop imposing themselves and their unfounded beliefs in every aspect of our lives, we'd have no reason to condemn the belief but sadly they speak out against too much. Keep it out of the public square and treat everyone equally and all will be good.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • NClaw441

      Aaron, I believe in God, based upon my faith (which I believe also is a gift from God). I have to agree with WASP that saying that we believe because to believe there is no God creates a great risk is not a sound basis for faith. If the only basis for our faith is that it increases our odds of eternal life over not beleiving, that is not faith, it is math.

      We must recognize that we cannot prove God's existence. That does not mean that God does not exist, only that we cannot prove it. There are many things that even most atheists believe exist, but that cannot be proven in any scientific way. My favorite example is love. Few would argue that love does not exist (there is always someone in every crowd, however.). But how do you go about proving that love exists? It is not observable in any scientifically acceptable way. It is just a feeling that we have (sounds kind of like how we "know" God exists).

      April 19, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      "love" is a label we have given to a subjective biochemical reaction in the human brain. MRIs. Blood chemistry. These can be measured to demonstrate correlations to when someone claims to love.

      False analogy to equate the difficulties in proving the existence of god with the existence of love.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Saraswati

      So a few atheist calling all Christians stupid (yes, inappropriate) is apparently worse than a few Christians calling atheists depraved and immoral? Nice double standard. Every group has people who behave badly, but some, like yourself, seem to be very selective in which groups get punished for the behavior of the few.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • WASP

      @nclaw441: " My favorite example is love."

      you do realize "love" can be tested...........scienctifically.
      the emotion itself can't be quantified; however a persons' actions can be measured based on how much "love" they feel for a person or thing; we can also observe through technology the areas of the brain active during the emotion "love".
      so i would say love is real by evidence of it exsisting; god has yet to show itself.

      love is just chemical reactions in the brain.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • NClaw441

      Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      "love" is a label we have given to a subjective biochemical reaction in the human brain. MRIs. Blood chemistry. These can be measured to demonstrate correlations to when someone claims to love.

      False analogy to equate the difficulties in proving the existence of god with the existence of love.
      I think you sell the concept of love short. It is more than biological. And I don't think the blood chemistry analysis even comes close to explaining or proving the existence of love. It is just a "marker" for love. Your claim that proving the existence of God and the existence of love is a false analogy is just a conclusion you have drawn. If you don't want to use love as the comparison, try courage, or empathy or knowledge. How would you prove any of those things exist?

      There is so much of existence that we do not understand. That doesn't prove that God exists, of course. But it does that none of us, religious or not, can be confident in our beliefs (or lack of them). I recommend humility, at least for myself.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ NC – courage, empathy, knowledge – those are all qualitative terms, and therefore are subjective, and as such different people ascribe different meanings to them. Let me ask you this – how do YOU define your god? What characteristics?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • sam stone

      Aaron: When the Christian community stops parroting Psalm 53:1 as if it should mean anything to non-believers, get back to us

      April 19, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  7. Lisa

    Good article.

    I am a Christian. And to all the negative responses, both for and against athieism, I have just four words: Live and let live.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • jack

      It's: "live or let die."

      April 19, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • Mark

      "Live and let live"?

      You claim to be a Christian yet you are promoting the exact opposite of the Great Commission which (if you are a follower of Jesus) you are commanded to do.

      Please don't be a hypocrite.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • NClaw441

      I am a Christian also. As another poster states, we are called by God to spread our faith. I assume you agree with that, even though you didn't state it outright. I agree with your statement "Live and let live." But I also want others to experience what I have experienced through my faith. Not by force, but by sharing my faith.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  8. bob

    i'm pretty sure jesus didnt' say "love thy neighbor, unless he's a godless heathen, in which case either convert or kill them"

    April 19, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • NClaw441

      I have not heard many modern-day Christians calling for "death to the infidels." Yes, we do try to spread our faith. If you believed that the bridge on the road ahead was washed out and those who continued on that road might die, but that there was an easy detour that led to safety, would you flag down approaching vehicles and warn them and suggest the detour, or would you watch as they drove on?

      Those of faith are called to share that "detour" with others. You are not obliged to listen to what is shared, but you aren't allowed to squelch the message either. We are presented with arguments and positions that we disagree with every day. We are free to reject or accept them, but we are not free to close their mouths by force.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ NC – but if I was driving down a road, and someone flagged me down, claiming the bridge was out, yet they had no evidence to show there even was a bridge, let alone that it was out, and the road ahead was straight and flat, with no bridges to be seen, perhaps I wouldn't have a reason to believe the person's claims. Or if they said, don't drive down the road, because a giant invisible rabid tree sloth named Edgar the Grumpy will eat your car, hmmm – perhaps I'd just keep on driving. Yes, if Edgar actually existed, then maybe I'd be toast. But I'm willing to take that chance.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • NClaw441

      Attack– but would you at least listen to what was said and assess the possibility that it might be true? Or would you roll up your window and drive on, and to extend the argument, maybe run over the person giving the warning for getting in your way?

      My personal belief is that we cannot simply "decide" to have faith. For that reason I don't try to condemn those who believe differently than I do, and I try to challenge my own faith regularly. I think many people of faith are "whistling past the graveyard" and don't stop to think about WHY they believe (or say they believe) as they do. "Raised in the church," or "It just seems right" are not sufficient responses, in my view. I believe God provides us with the faith to believe in Him, as a result of our heart-felt search for God. And I think it is undeniable that most people spend at least some time contemplating how we got here, whether there is a God, and what happens after we die– it is a universal characteristic of being human, perhaps even in our DNA. We owe it to ourselves, if we are thinking people, to at least consider who we are and where we come from.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ NC – I agree that people do question where they come from, why they are here, what, if any, is life's purpose. You have a personal belief that a god gave you faith – that's fine. I have a belief that I was born with a brain capable of analysis and rational thought. My belief is based on just on my own personal experiences but on a wealth of scientific evidence. My views about "god" are simple. I do not know, nor do I claim to know, whether or not a "god" – using that term loosely – exists. It is possible, but then, anything – including Edgar the Invisible sloth – is possible. I simply haven't seen one iota of evidence to support the conclusion that a god – of any type – exists. And I find the claims of various religions that THEIR god is the one true god to be, frankly, childish, in the sense that it is similar to the thought processes of a very young child who proceeds without evidence or experience, yet makes conclusive statements. My father can beat up your father.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  9. JJ

    Don't see how any of this will bring any new people to religion. If their "god" is omniscient, it means he knew it was going to happen. If their god is "omnipotent", it means he did nothing to stop it. That means that if he exists, he's nothing more than a psychopath who loves to see his creations suffer. No, there are no "mysterious ways". That's just a pathetic attempt to get out of the only conclusion possible here.... but if you don't think your god knows everything or could have done anything to stop the bombing, well, guess what. Your god doesn't exist.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • Mark

      Why do you assume to know better than God what He should do? He doesn't answer to you ... you are not God.

      If He stopped all evil from happening, we would not have free will. If these men had not followed a worldview of hatred and survival of the fittest (thank you humanists) then they would not be hurting others. Man's fall in the garden was the fault of man, not God. If you want to blame someone blame yourself.

      Although the evil in man's heart has caused this, you don't know how much good will come out of this tragedy. There may be many more people saved because of this ... people that may have lived long fruitless lives on the broad road to hell.

      And it drives home the importance of knowing that any of us could die at any time. Yes, God can strike you down at any time for any reason. Even if your tiny mind cannot comprehend it. He can do that ... and He does. That is why the healthy fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. So get wise.

      You just better be ready when you do die. This is call to anyone that has not repented and trusted in Jesus alone ... to analyze their life. And their future. Are you on the broad road to destruction, or the narrow road to heaven?

      April 19, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Mark: Why is it that fear is used so often to try to convince people to follow your particular brand of religion? Oooh – watch out! or else! And the whole "No evil equals no free will" silliness. So god doesn't intervene to stop evil? Read the bible much? Hmmm – people were so evil god killed everyone on Earth except for Noah and his family? How is that not intervening? And please – if god is eternal and unchanging, he was the same in the old testament as the new testament. Same god.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • WASP

      @mark/chad: "we would not have free will."

      1) if there is a god you don't have "free will" because your god has a "plan" correct? so if he has a plan and you have free will that means you can change your god's plan; is your god that powerless?
      2) your god is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. that means he knows all, sees all, and is all; thus he knew those guys were going to attack boston and not only allowed them to do it, but was there to watch it happen. your god doesn't want to "intervene", fine then motivate one of his sheep to stop the guys. no? why not?
      3) "free will"
      1: voluntary choice or decision
      2: freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

      April 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  10. halfbakedlunatic

    'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to pacify and control the weak minded.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Greg


      April 19, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • NClaw441

      halfbaked– There has to be more to it than that. It seems like all or nearly all societies have some sort of religious belief. It is almost like it is built in to the human condition. That doesn't prove that God exists, but the search for meaning in life and an explanation of where we come from and where we are going is pretty universal. To say that it is idiotic seems like a shallow attack.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  11. Ant

    Nice job using a national tragedy to plug your religious beliefs. Commendable, righteous, and... opportunistic?

    April 19, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Science

      What ?

      My Take: Light will conquer darkness in Boston


      April 19, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • Ant

      To be honest I think this article is a joke and is very much the opposite of commendable. I was being sarcastic.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • bob

      atheists don't have religious beliefs.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • Ant

      Getting into semantics... aren't we?

      April 19, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Joe the non-believer

      "Godless" is a hate word, a label created by Christians in a lame-brained attempt to show that they are better than atheists. Epstein shows that even Christian chaplains are capable of hate. It's nothing new. In 1954, the US government, backed up by millions of Christian believers, decided to put "In God We Trust" on coins and bills in an attempt to show democratic America is better than the "Godless" communists. Hopefully this word will be someday treated as other hate words that are now censored.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Science

      And where the maricles began !!!

      Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered


      April 19, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Ant

      Haha, you're so dumb. You weren't even smart enough to realize that Mr. Epstein, who wrote the article, is an atheist. You totally discredited yourself. Nice try though.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Ant: Calling someone dumb makes you look that way. Did your Mommy not teach you manners or did the buybull not teach you to treat others properly (oh right, you've probably never read it or you'd be an Atheist yourself)?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  12. Russell

    Good article, thank you for posting it. I think the answer to your question can be found in the simple statement "If you're not with us, your against us." As much as I'd like to hope for it, I don't believe the religious and non-religious will ever truly come together in understanding and appreciation for one another. The Gospels indicate a desire for division, Matthew 10:32-37 & Luke 12:49—53, as a consequence of believing. Since they were told to either expect it or cause it, I don't see it not occurring, again and again and again. We can keep trying though, they'll try to convert us and we'll try to convert them. As long as we keep trying to do it peacefully it's not a bad thing.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  13. jesus

    Actually atheists, like myself, mourn much more. The loss of a life is final. No afterlife, no sky god, no fairy tale....just decomposition following death. To happen in such a tragic and unjust way to young and vibrant people is beyond the deepest sadness.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • JJ

      Not true, speak for yourself. I am an atheist, have already been dead once and know that there is no such thing as a final death. You will be very surprised when it happens to you.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • Science

      you are a zombie aye JJ to funny

      April 19, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Bones McCoy

      He's DEAD, Jim! No – wait, wait. He's ALIVE, Jim!

      April 19, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  14. Bonehead

    Total BS story. People care about people, except for the murderers and North Korean politicians.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Stalin

      N Korea – atheist state

      April 19, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Stalin – US prisons: over 90% of inmates are Christians. Your point?

      April 19, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Iran – Theocracy
      What's your point?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • vulpecula

      Stalin, NK is not an atheist state. They worship their leader.

      April 19, 2013 at 8:23 am |
  15. Greg H

    This story truly lifts me up! im so used to approaching the world with hostility and cynicism that its so nice to see when people who follow a similar path to my own reach out and achieve greatness. Ive read few of these posts on here for the simple fact that after 3 or 4 it became name calling and hypocrisy as usual. interestingly, the atheists in this post seem to once again choose a higher path....

    April 19, 2013 at 7:11 am |
  16. Alvin Cavanaugh

    I dis-agree with you Mark. As more and more of these outrageous acts of violence occur I believe you will see a great influx of new believers. The book of Revelations talks about the end times and it directly speaks about these types of things happening. As people become more aware of this they will return to the churches. Our society as a whole is made up of good and God fearing people. Its only a handfull of crazies that are creating all the havoc.

    April 19, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Pete

      Never knew there was a book of 'revelations' I thought it was the book of 'revelation'

      April 19, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • markie


      April 19, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • JimNasium

      You're right. Every time I hear about another tragic act of violence, the first thing that goes through my head is to think that, yeah, this proves that God exists. In fact, there's been so much violence lately that I've been wondering if it might not imply the existence of two or maybe three gods. Makes sense, right?

      April 19, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • sam stone

      wow, end times. luckily, that has not been predicted before

      April 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  17. slickteigkcmo

    As a Catholic Christian, I believe in God and my Gods laws say to love "everyone" so yes I would. The Christian tenant is to love all and give all charity and compassion to all, I believe,. God will judge all of us "later" I do not know how that will be done. I only know what I must do as I have been called in my heart and soul to believe as I live here on earth.. Everyone has to answer for what is in their own heart and soul. I do not judge you, or the other faiths of the world, God is in charge of all that ( in my mind and soul that is what "I" believe) , so I would love and support you as other people, I believe , His other creations, no matter what you believe) I don't wish harm to anyone. I would even want a suspect , caught alive, so they could be put through the court of law for a crime. I don't believe in killing for any reason, to me, God said "Thou shall not kill" and to "love one another" is the most important thing we are to do. Take care, may you be well and hope all of your friends will be ok, I hope, and I pray God will help all of us, yes that is how I believe, so I will speak for myself there. Take care, our country is in shambles , and "I " pray for strength and guidance at this time , I pray for peace and love, again, the best to you and your friends, take care..I hope our country will be a safe, happy, positive place for all citizens someday, there is so much fear and hate, it is sad, but I have hope and my faith to keep me going every day. No matter what. That makes me grateful for all the good I still see in most people, every day.

    April 19, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  18. From a frog to a prince

    Atheists love to think of themselves as smart and scientific. If it makes u feel better, keep telling yourself that.

    April 19, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • The real Tom

      Atheists don't have to be brilliant. They just have to be smarter than you are. Not much of a challenge.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Can you prove god exists?

      April 19, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • sam stone

      Theists fancy themselve privy to the mind of god.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  19. copernicus

    hear hear...and here here!

    April 19, 2013 at 6:48 am |
  20. Mark

    90 percent will be atheists in the future in some areas of the US and houses of worship will be bars, restaurants and gyms.

    April 19, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Bonehead

      90% of the people alive now will be dead in 50 years.

      April 19, 2013 at 7:15 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.