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. Thoth

    "Why do people have to be so godless to want to kill innocent people?"

    really? Let's examine some tragedies. How many were commited by 'godless'?

    9/11 – religious based radicalism
    Timothy McVeigh – Christian
    Eric Rudolph – Christian
    Hitler – Christian (look up the facts – he even mentions this in one of his more famous speeches)
    Anders Breivik – Christian

    Nearly all the recent school shootings involved young men raised in protestant christian homes....

    April 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  2. Dawn Gray

    What hateful people these religious folks are. I read their posts and am so very glad to call myself a Humanist!

    April 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • lol??

      Why not be different and call yourself, humaself? BTW, do you always come running when mama humaself calls?

      April 19, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • lol??

      Here's another, huwomaself. It's close to huwomanist.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • lol??

      Huwomanists are REALLY hateful. VIOLENT, too. They suck the brains out of their own children that are just playing in their designated womb rooms. Trusting little innocents can't even make it into a a violent world.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • midwest rail

      lol?? having another delusional conversation with himself. Oh well, at least he makes sense to himself.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • lol??

      rail, do you post as silly dot?

      April 19, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • midwest rail

      Unlike you, I have never used any other screen name here.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • lol??

      That's bad news. It means I have TWO stalkers.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • midwest rail

      Not only do you make up your own words, you create your own definitions for current terminology. Do you EVER post anything that's honest ?

      April 19, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • lol??

      The other word PLAYERS that are in CHARGE of definitions are honest and sinless? WWMD?

      April 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • midwest rail

      Your answer is, as usual, a non sequitur. What a shock that you deflected from the question.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  3. Mar

    If you believe in God or not, if you live your life good, Jesus will accept you because you live your life like Jesus did. That is the whole point.

    Mr. Epstien, best of luck to you and your congregation.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Most Christian sects would disagree with you.
      Catholics say you must be baptised.
      Mormons say you have to know secret handshakes and passwords that only they can reveal.
      Jehovah's Witnesses say that everyone but them are going to hell.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • lol??

      doc, what do you mean, baptised?

      April 19, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ritual drowning.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • lol??

      Doc, it appears something got lost in your translation.

      "Jhn 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

      I take it you were born the regular way with an amniotic sac. You're halfway there. God made it soooo easy for ya.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  4. j

    If you were turned away from a Christian gathering. As a professing Christian I'm embarrassed and sorry. That should never happen. The doors should always be open in Christ's church.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  5. Mark

    This was a wonderfully thoughtful article to address the irrational, widespread prejudice against people who don't believe in God. I'll take a godless humanist over a closed-minded believer any day.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Dan the Medic

      VERY inappropriate article. If Ford Motor Company printed an article saying that they had given 20 trucks and vans from local dealers to assist in emergency transport on the day of this horrifice tragedy that would be GOOD. If in the same article they went on to pitch their new line of hybrid vehicles and first-time-buyer savings.....that would be BAD and they'd probably be run out of town. All you have done is to use the slaughter of innocents to advertise your particular agenda and draw attention to yourself. Congratulations, you have just joined ranks with the Westboro "Church" of crazies. SHAME ON YOU!

      April 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • sam

      Meh, shut up, Dan. The article's not trying to sell anything. You missed the whole point of it.

      April 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  6. logicnothuff

    What you see here is more "peace-loving" Islamics. Immigration bill? Forget it. Immigration to the United States is now OVER! Cancel Obama's immigration bill. Cancel Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration tsunami bill (Hart – Cellar act). Cancel all immigration forever, because Islam is here to takeover; bombs bombs machetes machetes and nukes nukes.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Not Religous and never happier

      Wow! Left field much? Focus man, focus!

      April 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • not my chair

      you know terrorist win when you allow their acts of terror change to dictate your policies and beliefs right?

      April 19, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  7. Peter Guild, St. Joseph's Parish in Quincy, MA.

    God is good! God is great! We must integrate God back into our society. Currently, we are suffering the consequences of removing God from our society. "Turn back O man for swear thy foolish ways."

    April 19, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      All the time.

      God is with those who endure tragedy. Seek HIM.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • James E

      The second religion is completely divorced from our everyday workings in society will be the day that we're truly peaceful.

      This is the ONLY chance we have at this dump of a planet. THE. ONLY. CHANCE. Once we, collectively, as a species realize that there is nothing past this; once we realize that we're not working toward some greater good; once we realize that this is the only chance we'll get; then and only then will humans reach peace.

      I'm sorry that you live with such ignorance in your life.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Your god is a petty, jealous, megamaniacle, tyrant. Try reading the bible some time.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Thoth

      Can you expand on how mere mortals can 'remove' an omnipresent, all-powerful diety?

      April 19, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      April 19, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • not my chair

      so god killed an innocent 8 year named Martin Richard because of other people not believing in him? why would you want to believe in a god that would allow that?

      April 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      People killed that young boy. Not God. Evil is a choice, just like having Faith that Jesus is your savior. – Or not.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • not my chair

      god allowed it, that is not good. i would love to see what would happen if you went to the boys family and told them its ok, god has his reason

      April 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      No, bad things happen regardless of belief or disbelief. That is what separates the theist and atheist. The theist gets an easy pass here...to you it's a matter of the situation being so horrific and you not understanding it that you automatically assume that it must be the result of removing god from the public square. The Atheist looks at this situation and see's 2 very disturbed young men who for whatever reason decided to commit a horrific act. No-one knows if they were believers or not, that information has not been released.
      I'm going to blame anything in particular, except for the people responsible until the evidence can be properly weighed...it may never be known why they did this.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "I'm going to blame anything in particular" should have read "I'm not going to blame anything in particular"

      April 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • sam stone

      keep god in your life, and stop forcing god on others

      April 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • sam stone

      chris in houston: if god is omniscient, how is anything a free choice?

      April 19, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • lol??

      Stone, if you are a human, how can you do good?

      April 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      God has approached man by offering a savior for sin. Now it is up to man to accept that offering. We all have free – will or free – choice.

      He knows you, but you still have the "choice to make" every day......

      April 19, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • sam stone

      lol?? : i just do

      chris in houston: nice way of dancing around the question without answering it. if god knows what i am going to do, and god cannot be wrong, what are the chances i will prove god wrong? say there are two choices, A and B. god knows i am going to take B, god cannot be wrong. what are the chances i will take A?

      April 19, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • sam stone

      chris: why do you feel man is sinful?

      April 19, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      Whether he knows what we will do or not is not the issue or the point that makes you right or wrong. As the bible stats, we all fall short of the glory of God.

      I am not a pastor nor a teacher of faith and do not profess that I know the word and all its profound meaning. It is my faith that drives me just as your faith that drives you of no God. Difference in opinion that is all.

      I believe man sins because he was opened to it and chose to. When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Don't blame Adam!
      "Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:19
      As I Timothy 2:11-14 reminds us, "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      "Woman was more guilty than the man, because she was seduced by Satan, and so diverted her husband from obedience to God that she was an instrument of death leading all to perdition. It is necessary that woman recognize this, and that she learn to what she is subjected; and not only against her husband. This is reason enough why today she is placed below and that she bears within her ignominy and shame."
      – Calvin

      A good Christian woman should be silent, submissive, subservient and filled with shame for the curse her gender forced on humanity.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • lol??

      sam stone sayz,
      "lol?? : i just do....."

      I see. Imitating the "I AM". Excellent choice.Tell me how it works out.

      April 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      it is not "faith" that makes me feel there is no god. and, i am not stating it as an absolute. it is just that i see no evidence for a god

      April 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Whether he knows what we will do or not is not the issue"

      It is if you are talking about free will existing with an omniscient god

      April 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  8. Chris from Houston

    Keep removing God from America and see how that goes. People place God on a shelf but strangely enough.... call his name when everything fails......

    An no.... there is no such thing as an atheist chaplain. GTFOH

    April 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • not my chair

      so if everyone believed in the christian god this wouldn't have happened? wow

      April 19, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      The only thing that will most likely happen if we remove religion from America is that the standards for education will rise dramatically.

      And BTW, I'm an ordained minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Wrong on both counts aren't you?

      April 19, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • mk

      Violent crime in the U.S. reached a 40-year low in 2010. Teenage pregnancy is at an all-time low. Divorce rates are down 30%. We also rated the "most generous country in the world" in 2011 in a survey of personal charitable giving and volunteerism–giving more time and money on a per capita basis than any other nation on the planet. Yet, there are more non-religious people now than ever. How is it possible that these "moral" issues are improving with less believers and your god on a shelf??

      April 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      Not at all. God has never said there would not be tragedy. There is always evil here on earth whether you are a believer or not. I understand your stance. I do. I was also a non-believer until I study the Word.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      MK –

      there were more people killed in Chicago (one city) than all of the Afghan war in the same time period. Invalid point.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Chris: You're just going to have to accept the fact that we believe you're wrong. The stats speak for themselves. Less and less children are being raised in christian homes and even if they are raised that way, they have access to a whole world of people who believe a vast amount of varying things...exposure is a wonderful thing.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      I accept you and your beliefs. I try my best to not judge. Its human but I try. The choice is yours and I respect that. I was raised catholic and do not agree with most of their practice.

      I am christian and believe. I struggle every day with life too. I am no different than anyone here who does not believe with the exception of my belief that their is a God and he is my maker and all things that surround me. I have been blessed to many times in my life and have also endured the evil that is here. I still choose to believe that God is in my heart.

      I will never be perfect but will try my best to learn from others (believers & non) to better myself. I am a Christian and will walk like Jesus to serve others before myself.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      we don't take issue with your faith. It's just assertions like (paraphrased) "Removing God from America causes all our problems" that we object to.

      April 19, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  9. Dan the Medic

    VERY inappropriate article. If Ford Motor Company printed an article saying that they had given 20 trucks and vans from local dealers to assist in emergency transport on the day of this horrifice tragedy that would be GOOD. If in the same article they went on to pitch their new line of hybrid vehicles and first-time-buyer savings.....that would be BAD and they'd probably be run out of town. All you have done is to use the slaughter of innocents to advertise your particular agenda and draw attention to yourself. Congratulations, you have just joined ranks with the Westboro "Church" of crazies. SHAME ON YOU!

    April 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Not Religous and never happier

      I think all you did was read only what you wanted to read, and focused on what you could "rant" about, rather than actually READING the article. I liked this article so much because I am facing similar ridicule in my hometown. I say something like, "My thoughts are with the victims", and a religious person tells me how worthless that is without God. All this man is saying is those of us that are godless are not incapable of emotion and drive to help those in need.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • tom

      Agree with notion that atheists are as capable (if not more so) than people of faith when it comes to mourning. They appreciate reality.
      Also agree that it's the wrong time and place to advertise.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Doobs

      So did you also complain about the article "My Take: Light will conquer darkness in Boston" promoting a christian agenda?

      April 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  10. frank

    why would the mourn? there is not hope for something beyond earth, they should be insensitive to all this...they are not because of course they know there is "something" out there...like GOD!. stupid article.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • not my chair

      why do we need a god to care about other people? lets pretend that you didn't believe in god would you care less for your fellow man?

      April 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • James E

      Sorry, my friend, but you have it backwards.

      We mourn because we know that this is the END and that there is nothing beyond. If people are so certain of a "great beyond" then wouldn't every death be a celebration of the next phase? But since it's not, we mourn because we're human. We mourn because we're compassionate. We mourn because this could happen in our city, with our family, with us.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • sam stone

      frank: we mourn because we are social animals and don't like to see anyone get hurt

      April 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Ann

      - and because we love our families and friends and will miss them when they are gone. In other words, we mourn for the exact same reason you mourn.

      April 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Doobs

      It's not the article that's stupid.

      April 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  11. James

    Acceptance works both ways. Religions need to be more accepting of those who believe others, and the non-religious need to be more accepting of those who are religious. For any who have posted responses here, whether you are religious or non-religiuous or atheist or whatever, have the things you have written about those who believe differently than you do shown that you are accepting?

    Think very carefully about the words you have used if someone was using them about your beliefs would you feel they were being respectful? Be honest.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Science

      Evolution wins hands down time for god(s) to get the hell out of the way ............................so humanity can evolve !

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • not my chair

      @science if you use Mitochondrial DNA you can link all living species on the planet together and trace our ancestry back even farther

      April 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • stacy100

      Every heard of the Great Commission? Christians are not suppose to sit by and be more tolerant of non-believers. The Great Commission is...Matthew 28:18-20
      Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (NIV)

      We love ya and cannot sit by and wait for you to just figure it out on your own.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      You can stick your great commission where the sun dont shine.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Science

      Best Map Ever Made of Universe's Oldest Light: Planck Mission Brings Universe Into Sharp Focus

      Mar. 21, 2013 — The Planck space mission has released the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe, revealing new information about its age, contents and origins.


      Better source than the bible !!!

      April 19, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Science

      The issue ?

      Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered


      April 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Science

      Oops where the miraciles began !

      April 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Science

      NOT AT the RCC and the forbidden fruit !.....................the tree of knowledge works without the BS !


      April 19, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • WT

      You're right, everyone needs to be more tolerant and get less offended. We are so quick to be offended in this country. The writer of this article seems offended that someone would pray for him because he doesn't believe in God. Is it really so bad that someone prays for you, even if you don't believe it will help? That person is still showing they care about you and that you are in their thoughts. I would like to think that atheists and theists alike can agree that is a good and positive thing.

      I think many religious individuals are offended too quickly as well. Maybe there is a fear that atheists might be right? I'm a Christian and even I admit that there is a chance that atheists might be right (although i'm 99% sure I'm right). Atheists can't be 100% sure that God doesn't exist. We will all find out some day.

      April 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Science

      Hey WT can you read ? Do not go into denial ok .

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN


      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM ET

      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


      April 19, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • WT

      Hey Science,

      I can read just fine. Why do so many atheists assume that anyone who believes in God is not well-read, or somehow less educated, or some backwoods hillbilly?

      I've read every article you listed. Science and religion are not in opposition, they actually compliment each other. They need each other because they answer different questions. Science is focused on the "how?" Religion asks "why?" If you're looking for God in some mathematical formula, you will never find him.

      How much historical evidence have you looked at? Historical evidence is much different that scientific evidence – that is evidence that an event in history happened based on ancient historical writings. I wasn't around 2000 years ago (I'm sure neither were you) but there was a man named Jesus who was here. Biblical and non-biblical sources alike will confirm this.

      I believe this man was more than just a man – I believe he was God. He healed people, He taught people how to live and He lived such a great example for us all to follow. He also did the impossible – He died and rose from the dead!

      There is much historical evidence to support this. But the real question, is why? Why would he do this and what did it mean?

      April 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Science

      It would be NICE......... but
      Maybe they should not have created the wedge !!!
      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic


      Please watch

      The African Rift


      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.


      April 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      stacy: if you want to comply with the great commission and preach to non believers, that is fine. but, DO NOT claim persecution when some of those believers suggest you insert your bible into that overgrown weed patch between your legs

      April 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  12. chuck

    Good grief..the ultimate ..so only people that believe in god were suspected of having feelings? Of being able to mourn? How absolutely absurd..

    April 19, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Doobs

      That's because those who don't worship a god aren't really human, didn't you know?

      April 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  13. laststonecarver

    @G. Epstein,
    I volunteered, when disaster struck local to where I reside –
    On the sign up sheet, I did not belong to a group, so I was assigned with a church group –
    I expected no remuneration, but did get a pair of leather gloves to work with, and plenty of water, and a sandwich –
    After several full days of hard work, my volunteer service was completed –
    Other than a notice in the news, that many folks volunteered, there was not acknowledgement for my service –
    My reward, as an environmental person, was just in that knowing that I could effect my environment in a positive way –

    April 19, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  14. JH Webb

    Thank you for the thoughtful letter to the community. You represent us well.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  15. Rachel

    Wow. Nobody was blaming atheists. In fact most of the blame I saw right out the gate was directed toward Muslims, which we now find out to be true. I'm non-religious and this article managed to tick me off.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Nic

      You should re-read the article in it's entirety. He never said anyone was blaming atheists....

      April 19, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  16. Rick

    Godless? How about 'intelligent'? Or 'those with common sense'? Or 'those that don't believe in fiction'?

    April 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • not my chair

      i think logical would work

      April 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Rick

      Oh, I forgot to add, yes, we cry and feel sorrow probably more than believers because the impact of loss of life is more absolute for us. Loss of life isn't softened by believing the dead are with deceased friends and family in cloud city hovering above us. They are gone. Forever. That is deeply regretful and heartbreaking.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  17. fastball

    I'm an atheist....but I'm capable of mourning without the presence of a deity in my life.
    I can feel sorrow, loss, grief and outrage – amazingly enough, all on my own.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Chris from Houston

      No one ever said you could not without knowing Christ. Feelings are human. Seriously people......

      April 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  18. wrm

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

    Really? Way to merge the worst of both worlds.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Doobs

      Why do you say that?

      April 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  19. Ed

    I don't know if there is a God or not, but I do no there is no such thing as a "Humanist Chaplain"

    April 19, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • not my chair

      its people that base their lives and beliefs off charlie chaplin

      April 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Milton Berle

      Apparently Charlie Chaplin was hung **almost** as well as I was.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Rug Syd

      A true oxymoron

      April 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Doug

      Actually, there is exactly such a person at Harvard Universtiy. He is the author of this artcile. There are also humanist chaplains at other universities. The world is not what you think it is - wake up.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  20. brad

    Religion has been doing this since it's founding. They demonize anything outside their organization. It's not suprising, religion is a made up story, so it's nothing for these congregations to make up lies to put down others. Look at what they did to witches, saying they were devil worshpers, stealing their kids and all kinds of other lies that led to them being tortured, drowned, and burned alive. Religions have even supported slavery for the longest, it was the human conscience that finally put an end to that system. So stay strong fellow atheist, as long as their are religions, people will be persecuted by them, just don't stoop to their level.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Dan

      You're doing nothing to better the human experience by feeding into the "us and them" mentality. In fact, you are quite guilty of doing just what you claims religions to be doing. Live and let live. Who cares if your neighbor believes in god. The majority of religiously affiliated in America couldn't give a darn about the fact that you don't believe in anything.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Mike

      Like you did "Brad". I'm non religous and what I find funny about religions, those that believe in a god and those that don't, is that you all need something to believe in and some nutty group to join like the "chaplain's" to make those beliefs stronger and valid.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:41 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.