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May 22nd, 2013
06:20 PM ET

This Oklahoma atheist isn't thanking the Lord

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='JRavitzCNN']

(CNN) – Behind her were ruins, a tangled mess where structures once stood. Cradled in her arms, the mother’s 19-month-old son played with a snatched microphone, unfazed by the chaos swirling around him. And in front of Rebecca Vitsmun stood CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who – after asking her about the decision that saved her and her son's lives – had one more question:

“I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she mumbled, smiling and looking down.

“Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?” he continued.

“I, I, I,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom stammered before adding, “I’m actually an atheist.”

She laughed, Blitzer laughed, and the moment passed seamlessly on live TV. Except it also became a clip heard across the Internet and social media – one that pointed to a reality about faith in America that exists even where, and when, people might least expect it.

Vitsmun, who chronicled her decision to flee her house with her son on CNN iReport, is one of 13 million atheists or agnostics in America, according to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.

See Rebecca Vitsmun discuss her decision with CNN's Wolf Blitzer

While only 2.4% of Americans are atheists, they fit into a broader category that is on the rise in the United States.

Nearly 20% of adults – and a third of those under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated, the Pew report found.

This group, which has grown by roughly 5% in five years, is often referred to as the “nones.” It is a term that extends beyond atheists, who believe there is no God, and agnostics, who believe it’s impossible to prove or disprove God’s existence. It includes a greater proportion of people who see themselves as nothing in particular, which means they might be secular, spiritual or believers – but simply don’t identify with an organized religion, said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center

“When we ask people questions about their religious identity, when we ask them about their religious beliefs, there are relatively few who are atheists. But I’m speaking in percentage terms,” Smith said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of them around. And they’re certainly all over.”

Oklahoma included.

In fact, when the Pew Research Center last drilled down to uncover the religious landscape of affiliations on a state level five years ago, 12% of Oklahomans were religiously unaffiliated. And just as the numbers ticked up nationally since then, it stands to reason that they did the same in Oklahoma.

We tried to reach Vitsmun by phone Wednesday but were unable to connect.

Her friend Waylon Flinn, however, shed some light on who she is. She and her husband, who Flinn said is also an atheist, aren’t the sorts who advertise their beliefs or throw them in people’s faces. When she agreed to go on camera, it wasn’t for that platform; she didn’t even see the Lord question coming.

But that she responded to Blitzer the way she did is no surprise to Flinn, who opened his home in nearby Norman to Vitsmun’s family after theirs was destroyed.

“She handled it in her style, which is very honest and true to herself,” he said.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • iReport • News media

soundoff (2,486 Responses)
  1. Fupped Duck

    god bless jesus and baby jesus.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Angela

      I believe in God but that doesn't make us not want to protect my children. If my children were going to get hit by a car, I wouldn't pray to God to save them, I would jump in front of that car. So don't you dare say people like me, that's just ignorant.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • Angela

      Sorry that was supposed to go under my comment to William.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Science

      Hey Angela................to bad so sad................but........morals DO NOT COME FROM THE BIBLE .

      Where do morals come from ?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments

      May 23, 2013 at 8:47 am |

    • I would guess that the best thing would have been for you to feed your children to that tornado so that they could be with Jesus. Just a thought. Carry on.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • fred

      In about one decade and a half, when the atheist demographic outnumbers the cultist religious demographic, which is inevitable given current trends around the world, atheists will at that point have no more reason to pander to cults such as Islam or Christianity or Moronism, spewing hatred toward innocent people based on fairy tale scriptures and make believe. So it will be time for a cultural revolution, it will be the end of all religious cults, they will die out like all those that died out before them. It will be illegal to play make-believe or to teach children lies or to suppress free speech (except of course for telling fairy tales as reality, those lies won't be receiving special protection from fraud laws anymore). It will be a true purging. A reckoning. You religious "people" wanted the end of the world, it will come, just not in the form you hoped for.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  2. Angela

    My thoughts and prayers go out to this family and all the others in Oklahoma. Does this make me evil??????

    May 23, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • sam stone

      Not at all. At best, it makes you deluded

      May 23, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • William Demuth

      It makes you complicit in the death of the children.

      They are dead because people like YOU put faith in God, rather than steel reinforced structural concrete schools.

      Some sounding like an Autistic Parrot, and realize something basic

      Our destinies are in our own hands. Those children are dead because we permitted them to die.

      We were either too cheap, short sighted or deluded to protect them, and that shame is a profound one.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • Angela

      Why because I have faith???? I don't judge anyone else's belief, why should my religion be judged?? Religion is a very touchy subject and this tornado doesn't have anything to do with it.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Angela

      And by the way William, I have a basement. I would do anything to protect my children, praying to God doesn't make me stop protecting them. You're just ignorant.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Angela isn't complicit in any act of God. There are no acts of God. At worst Angela believes she is in agreement with a God whose will includes such things. Of course I'm assuming Angela doesn't go out and do evil things because she believes God wills them.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • Angela

      I believe in God but that doesn't make us not want to protect my children. If my children were going to get hit by a car, I wouldn't pray to God to save them, I would jump in front of that car. So don't you dare say people like me, that's just ignorant.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Angela – No one is questioning your RIGHT to believe whatever you want. However, people confuse the protection of their RIGHT to believe with the protection of the CONTENT of their beliefs. I know that it is difficult, if not impossible, to see where Atheists are coming from (especially if you have been raised with religious beliefs all around you) but to the average atheist, a religious person praying to their god, to us, is a s silly as someone praying to the Tooth Fairy, or to Santa Claus.

      If your child was sick, for example, and I said to you, Angela, I'm praying to the Tooth Fairy to help your child get better, what would your honest reaction be?

      May 23, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • William Demuth

      Exactly Angela

      You save your own, yet damn the others

      Aren't they ALL your Gods Children? And if so, why do yours have protection, and theirs don't?

      Why do your churches have steeples, and your preachers have robes, whilst the children of your God drown in filthy water in the basement of the inadequate schools you have seen fit to provide them?

      May 23, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Angela

      I don't have any judgement on Atheist people and I don't look down on them, I don't look down on anyone with any belief. And to your reply William, I'm a kind hearted woman who love children, I would do anything to protect them, but your comment to me was that I only pray to protect my children. I would protect anyone if I could. I'm Catholic and was brought up by my family to do anything I can to help anyone. I'm from Canada so we have basements well 90% of us do, so blaming Catholics for not having basements in Oklahoma is just silly.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • sam stone

      angela: do you consider faith a gift or a curse

      May 23, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • sam stone

      "why should my religion be judged?"

      because the followers attempt to legislate their beliefs

      shouldn't every philosophy/tradition/religion be judged to discern if it jibes with the modern world?

      May 23, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "I'm from Canada so we have basements well 90% of us do, so blaming Catholics for not having basements in Oklahoma is just silly."

      No disagreement there. Where we are in Canada, we have basements but on the West Coast (BC) basements are rare due to the terrain. Blasting through rock is not cheap.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  3. FIA

    “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fort!tude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”John Jowett

    May 23, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • William Demuth

      "If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul."

      Isaac Asimov

      May 23, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • FIA

      That talks about being thankful. Why can't some of us understand what thankfulness is about?

      May 23, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Mark

      William God knows the heart of a believer. Televangelist aren't guaranteed heaven because they say so.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • sam stone

      "God knows the heart of a believer"

      If this heart is in the chest of a person who believes in a different god (perhaps because they grew up in a different part of the world), they are screwed

      May 23, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  4. DeadHorse

    Your death is certain and will probably seem relatively limiting to your life-span in a comparative manner resembling smallness!

    May 23, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      I plan on living forever...so far, so good.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • LiberaLIowan

      Death is beginning to be not so certain. It won't be that long until we are able to store our entire consciousness on the gigantic hard drive in the sky. If we can put that into a robotic body, who knows?

      May 23, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  5. Johnny 5

    Hats off to this woman.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Happy athiests

      Agree – she handled it with class – here's I believe, and it's ok for other people to believe differently.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  6. sweenbass

    When it comes to matters concerning all of the books that people consider to be "holy" (Bible, Koran, Gita etc...)

    Are there some interesting stories in those books? Some stories are & some are not. the ones that you think are interesting may not be the ones that interest me but that's personal taste.

    Do those aforementioned books contain philosophies that people can use to help improve their lives & the lives of others? Of course that is true of all those books & more

    When it comes to questions of a spiritual nature (A deity, A life force or soul, existence after natural death etc...) however, the best that those books can do is speculate. That is because they were written by people.

    Some people wish to hang their spiritual hat on a speculation that one of those books offer. I do not.

    Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I don't know.

    However, I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that the speculations in them are anything but that.

    That is why i refer to myself as an agnostic.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  7. dl

    It's funny how I never had an athiest or agnostic knock on my door & try to convince me of their beliefs...

    May 23, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Anthroscientist

      I know, isn't that amazing, given how horrible they are. I'm surprised they have not tried to force you to eat babies.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  8. ionymous

    If you're not atheist, you're a theist.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • William Demuth

      Well actually you can be a Polytheist by believing in lots of Gods (What most humans and all Christians are)

      Or as in my case a Polyatheist. because I have a whole pantheon of Gods I don't believe in.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  9. Kristina

    Wait, I thought I was the only atheist in Moore! Mrs. Vitsmun, if you read this, please reply. My house was spared, and my family will happily help you out with anything you need. We have a two year old daughter, so we have kids stuff we can give to you,

    May 23, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Maybe contact Wolf via here and see if he can get your message to her. Hopefully this helps: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.html?8

      May 23, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Odd

      Why only offer help to another atheist? Why not open your home and offer help to anyone in need?

      May 23, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Happy athiests

      That's a good point – as a humanist, your home should be open to all.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • waterman

      Agree with @odd. It is natural to want to help people who are "like us" in some way, so Kristina's response is understandable. But in time of disaster, we are all alike. The infighting is for peaceful times 🙂

      May 23, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Theists already have well established communities where they can share and comfort each other. They're called churches. Atheists seeking to connect with like-minded individuals don't have an equivalent. Most are closeted for fear of reprisal and condemnation from theists and a church would be a most uncomfortable and unwelcoming environment especially if our beliefs are made known. Kristinas post highlights this dilemma.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  10. MormonChristian

    I really admire the way this lady handled herself. Unlike many Atheists (and some believers) here who can't conceal their contempt for the other side. If I summarize most Atheist posters, they are convinced anyone who believes in God is completely inferior. This is how the Nazi's treated Jews, Gays and others in the '30's as a pretext to violence and extermination.

    Some of you Atheists are worse than what you condemn in the believers.

    Hate is hate, people. Let's stop hating just because we see things differently!!

    May 23, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • William Demuth

      For real?

      Your cult is sticking its nose up the rear end or gays worldwide, and once you start losing you want to be "nice".

      I got some news for you sunshine. Within your lifetime, all those folks your lunatics have suppressed are going to be at your "Churches" doorstep with TORCHES!

      They will wipe you from the face of this planet, and ground your bones into dust.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • Happy athiests

      I would agree that it is the religious zealots and the atheistic zealots, the extremists, who turn us all off. I am an atheist without being extreme, and take pride in doing so. Nonetheless, I think all the arguments against theism – lack of morality vs. human morality, biblical contradictions, and scientific fact outweigh a choice to simply believe.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • dl

      I really admire the way this lady handled herself. Unlike many Chritians (and some non-believers) here who can't conceal their contempt for the other side. If I summarize most Christian posters, they are convinced anyone who doesn't believe in God is completely inferior. This is how the Nazi's treated Jews, Gays and others in the '30's as a pretext to violence and extermination.

      Some of you Christians are worse than what you condemn in the non-believers.

      Hate is hate, people. Let's stop hating just because we see things differently!!

      May 23, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • sam stone

      "If I summarize most Atheist posters, they are convinced anyone who believes in God is completely inferior"

      If I summarize most Christian posters, they are convinced that Atheists are completely inferior..

      May 23, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      MormonChristian, you probably aren't inferior to some atheists – probably not all, or even most. But you have chosen to saddle yourself with some peculiar beliefs. "Chosen" because you do have a choice in it. I believe that your beliefs are transparently false and hope that you will reexamine them, perhaps get over them, but certainly not pass them on to other people. Religion is a source of hate in this world. I oppose it.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • moakley

      Sure. But once religious ideals are brought into the public square and used to influence public policy, then these ideals must be countered. If religious doctrine/dogma cannot be supported in a meaningful/useful manner, then they should be dismissed and recognized as having unwarranted influence. Cognitive dissonance is something that most religious need to confront in order to consistently deal with reality.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You're absolutely right. A theist is inferior to an atheist. People who are delusional have something wrong with them that needs to be cured. If you can’t live in the real world without a crutch like an imaginary friend then you have something wrong with you.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Happy athiests

      No, theists are not inferior, they just believe differently at this time. My gosh, be patient 🙂

      May 23, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • tallulah13

      MC, it's funny that you mention persecution of gays. Didn't your church fund Prop 8 in California, denying same sex couples the right to marry?

      No one is fooled by your martyr act or impressed by your hypocrisy.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  11. William Demuth

    So old Jeebus killed the Christian babies but spared this Atheist?

    Or perhaps might it be that Jeebus is a lie, perpetuated by fools.

    Those babies drown due to the negligence of the towns government in failing to provide adequate shelter within the school.

    Their imaginary sky fairy is just an excuse they use so they wont be held accountable.

    Sue them, AND their cult into oblivion, and use the proceeds to get an appropriate school building.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:46 am |
  12. A.P.

    If the Christian god is real, and (as I have heard many Christians claim) those who were "supposed" to die in Oklahoma did in fact die (by God's hand, keep in mind), then why was this non-believing woman spared, and seven innocent children were not? In fact, why wasn't a group of seven child molesters or rapists and murderers taken out instead?

    The only thing that Christianity has taught me is that God is kind of a dick, and very little of what he does makes any sense at all.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:45 am |
  13. bitw

    Good for her! "God" doesn't exist anyways, if "he" did then why would all of this happen? Oh that's right because gays can legally get married in some states and some countries. Right "he" is "punishing" "us" for "our" "sins"

    Right....again GOOD FOR HER!

    May 23, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • William Demuth

      If Timothy McVeigh had only known Christ was going to kill children in Oklahoma because of gay marriage, he could of just married Terri Nichols instead of blowing up the Federal Building.

      That would have saved a lot of fertilizer

      May 23, 2013 at 7:54 am |
  14. Atheist Hunter

    Sad for her and her child.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      How so? Is it because she doesn't have an imaginary friend? Her child will be just fine without lies being told to him and he looks perfectly happy.
      Is it sad for the children who have never heard of your god? You might want to educate yourself and find out which of the gods is the right one...go to godchecker.com and educate that one celled brain of yours before drinking the christard kool-aid today.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Epidi

      Don't be sad for her. Native Americans were perfectly happy not knowing who the Christian God was and lived alot longer before then too.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Gorsh

      Based on the hateful rants posted here by self aggrandizing fools like "Truth" atheism makes you sad, bitter and angry. The woman in this video proves that atheists are not all rabid zealots like him.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Gorsh: How is it hateful? Atheist Hunter has been coming to this blog for a very long time and acting holier than thou. I merely pointed out the obvious and gave him exactly what he gives everyone else around here. Maybe if his moniker was not an attempt to be so hateful, he wouldn't get attacked.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • nclaw441

      Truth– from Atheist Hunter's perspective it is sad, because AH believes in God. You don't believe in God, so there is no problem from your point of view. Neither of you (nor anyone else) can definitively say you are right on the question. If God's existence or non-existence could be proven, chances are pretty good it would have been done by now.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Gorsh

      Truth, at first, I thought to give you the benefit of the doubt that you just bare a strong dislike for Atheist Hunter so I scanned a few of your other posts here. You are being disingenuous. Virtually every one of your posts is insulting to your opponents views. Based upon your posts, you are no different from the most obnoxious holier than thou fundamentalist zealot.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      I guess some people are easier to troll. Yep.
      TruthPrevails, you shouldn't be so touchy. This basically just like Chad. You just want to flail away go ahead.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The atheists have nothing to prove. They're the ones who don't believe.

      I also don't believe in unicorns; do I need to worry about trying to find some way to prove that they don't exist, or does it make more sense to not beleive until some unicorn believer provides the first, tiny shred of evidence for unicorns existing? It's so stupid when a person says that neither side is proved. If god does not exist, what proof would there be? If the atheists are right, what proof would believers accept of us?

      May 23, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Gorsh

      As a point of fact, unicorns do exist. The medieval myth of the unicorn was based on Roman descriptions of rhinoceros.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Gorsh, etc: Point taken. 🙂

      May 23, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Obviously that's not what I'm talking about, and my reasoning and question still stand.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • Gorsh

      Capt. I would call you out on one thing. Agnostics such as myself have nothing to prove, as we make no claim to knowledge. Atheists who claim to know there is no God are making a claim of knowledge. While I find the idea of a personal god unlikely, a Deistic creator seems as likely to me as a non-causal Big Bang.
      Prove the multiverse theory, and atheism will at least have an evidence based creation story. Lacking this evidence, there is a big question in my mind as to how the universe came to exist perfectly balanced for life to exist. Bottom line, the multiverse theory is true or there is a creative force behind the universe. I've seen no compelling evidence for either.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • sam stone

      Get real, AH is nothing but a troll

      May 23, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Gorsh: Do you or do you not believe in a god of some form? I will never say a god of any form doesn't exist. I do not believe the christian god is likely based on what is written in the bible, however it is not totally impossible that some form might or might have existed. I'm an Agnostic Atheist meaning I can't say for certain but yet due to lack of evidence see no reason to believe.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Basic epistemology puts atheists and believers in the same boat. Belief in God or gods, or belief that they do not exist, can't be shown to be true belief. So, of course we are all agnostic.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Gorsh

      Truth, I am agnostic on the existence of any form of God. I have seen no real evidence for his/her/its existence. Nor have I seen real evidence showing how this universe and life could exist without. Multiverse theory (supported by String and "M" theory) would go a long way, but there is zero evidence at this time.

      I do have a bit of a pet peeve with the use of the term agnostic atheist. At one time, the accepted meaning of the word atheist was one who believes there is no god. Over the years, there has been an effort to water the word's meaning down to one who does not believe in god. I think this is a disingenuous manipulation of word meaning along the line of "Intelligent Design" or "Creation Science"

      If atheism means only that you don't believe what word describes the active belief that there is no god? There is no word that has this meaning. It is as if Hot meant Hot and Cold meant anything but Hot, including warm, cool, brisk etc. This is not how language works.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Recon_Daddy86

      Sad for those of you that elect to live your lives based on a fictional book

      May 23, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      A fictional book? Huckleberry Finn has the words of life and truth. "Huck and N_ Jim built a raft and rode it down the river and into the Heart of Darkness".

      May 23, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Gnosticism and Theism and Agnosticism and Atheism are two different things. I am both; I am an agnostic atheist. Theism deals with BELEIF and gnosticism deals with KNOWLEDGE. The two are related but not the same. I do not claim to have knowledge of any sort of spirit realm, so I am agnostic; I do not believe in any of the gods described by humanity, so I am an atheist.

      Just because I don't believe in any gods does not mean that I state, definitively, that gods do not exist. I am making ZERO claims of knowledge; I am making a claim of belief/unbelief. Yes, a deistic creator might explain the big bang, but that possibility does not cause me to believe in any gods I've heard about, so while that possibility is intriguing, it does not make me agnostic or a beleiver.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Gorsh: Most people are agnostic on the existence of any god, some just go to the side of theism-belief in a god(s) or atheism- disbelief in a god(s). There is no way to be 100% certain that one could not have existed or perhaps but doesn't exist. Christians, Muslims, any person who worships a god see's some form of evidence to support a god...making them theists.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Gorsh

      I think it is necessary to look at the claim to determine if "unbelief/disbelief" is a better fit or if "I believe the opposite" is a better belief.

      Examples:

      I Believe the Contrary
      Person A: You're 100 feet tall.
      Person B: I believe that to be wrong. (This is a BELIEF to the contrary. Person B doesn't simply disbelieve Person A, but B carries a contradictory belief [that he is 5ft7in or whatever] so this is not simply disbelief).

      I Simply Disbelieve
      Person A: I believe that Bigfoot exist
      Person B: I do not believe that Bigfoot exist, but that's only because I've not been convinced that they do. I could be convinced that Bigfoot exists, but currently I do lack beleif because I do not see enough evidence. (This is simple disbelief based on a lack of evidence; it is not BELIEF to the contrary).

      Because it is illogical to make a positive claim that would require "god-like, infinite knowledge to determine," most atheists are simple disbelievers like in the second example. I hope these examples and explanations help.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Gorsh

      Capt and Truth, I would agree with your points in principle. Nearly everyone could be described as being agnostic to some degree. My point is that a Theist is someone who believes there is a god. An agnostic is someone who does not believe one way or another. An atheist is someone who believes there is not a god.

      Many would have you believe that an atheist is anyone who does not believe. This may seem like a fine point, but it is not. To give a political analogy, you would laugh in the face of someone who said there are Republicans, Independents and Democrats but anyone who is not a Republican is a Democrat. How is it you are willing to label anyone but theists as atheists?

      Again, this is not how language works.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Gorsh

      Capt. I think your most recent post is actually supporting my point.
      You are "atheist" or "agiantist" on the idea of my being 100' tall.
      You are agnostic on the existence of bigfoot.

      This is exactly my point. We have two words to describe people who do not believe in god. The notion that we have one word to describe people who simply don't believe one way or another, and one word to describe people who either don't believe one way or another AND for people who actively believe that there is no god (yet no word to describe people who actively believe there is no god) is ludicrous.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Gorsh

      No, you are continuing to misunderstand my position and my arguments (which are rather simplified).

      I have a positive, certain, definitive, stated BELIEF that I am not 100 feet tall. It's a BELIEF, not a disbelief in another person's idea.

      I do NOT have a positive, certain, definitive, stated belief that you have an invisible ufo in your garage, I simply don't believe your claim that you do have one. I disbelieve, but I carry no active and certain belief on the matter; I simply don't believe what you state.

      Reread what I wrote about agnosticism and atheism; they deal with two different variables. Gnosticism/agnosticism deals with knowledge of spiritual things. Theism and atheism deal with belief or disbelief. It's similar to how a woman can be a wife and a mother; the two states are not mutually exclusive.

      Slow down, Gorsh, read and reread. C'mon, you can do this!

      May 23, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  15. Science

    Hey faith..................the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

    How many years ago did we cross into North America ?.................faith chadie ?

    Free learning videos go viral

    By Salman Khan, Special to CNN

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/24/khan.video.learning/index.html

    The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

    HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

    Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

    May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

    May 23, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  16. Gorsh

    She was a great representative of a reasonable atheist. She was not some dogmatic zealot insulting everyone who doesn't agree with her. She was so refreshing, so different from the fools that tend to post on CNN, leads me to wonder if those posting here are representative of atheists or if she is. If she is, I owe atheists an apology. I thought they were all self congratulatory, marginally educated jackwagons.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • Epidi

      I am Pagan myself but the athiests I know are nothing like the majority of those here on the forums. Just as many of the Christians I know don't ram thier faith down my throat trying to convert me either or belittling other beliefs. It seems that many nasty (and cowardly) people like these forums as they don't have to look another being in the eye to spout thier hate.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • bill

      you won't know most atheists because most of them are just like this lady right here, just like most religious people aren't terrorists. if you do know who an atheist is simply because (s)he is constantly rambling on about it, that person is most likely a tool. my uncle is a preacher and he is constantly rambling on about his beliefs and he is a really big tool. it goes both ways.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • sam stone

      not the atheists i know, gorsh. on here, i try to be reasonable, but admit showing trolls the same respect they show others. if someone wants to have a discussion, i am all for it.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • EdwardTr

      You are right, a lot of us atheists (I think the numbers are grossly underestimated) lash out when we can do it anonymously. I think this is partially because we are portrayed as evil and we fear reprisal in real life if we are open about being an atheist.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Bryant Lister

      Gorsh – If the religious cults kept their fairy tale beliefs to themselves, did not try to influence laws, public school curriculum, stand on street corners telling others they are going to hell and respect that other people don't believe their nonsense, then you wouldn't see atheists posting much on here and certainly nothing on being an atheist. What you are seeing from atheist is a response to how the religious cults have treated them in this country.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Gorsh

      Bryant, excusing obnoxious and hateful rants by pointing at other's obnoxious and hate filled rants really doesn't cut it. As for the suffering atheists endure, just be glad you live in a modern secular country where you aren't killed for your beliefs. Also be glad you don't live in an aggressively atheist country like the old Soviet Union or Cambodia, where religious people are killed for their beliefs.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Agnostic Atheist

      Gorsh – This is my first time posting a comment on here, and quite likely the last. My concern was raised when you specifically said what you thought Atheists were like based on some sort of assumption, I would imagine. If you base your opinion solely on what you read on forums or comment sections, you may get that idea (and you may also be feeling a bit defensive, therefore skewing your perception of their comments anyway). But if you and I were to sit down, you would never know I was an Agnostic Atheist until you asked me. Much like any other non-believers I know, its not something most of us want to argue about. We enjoy discussing it and having a constructive conversation, sure. A good amount of the people I know that feel the same way also do research on the matter and prefer to be properly educated in our beliefs – not only for our own satisfaction, but so when the opportunity arises, and we are questioned on our beliefs, we have a strong line of reasoning for it.
      Now, I was raised Catholic and had 9 years in a Catholic school. I was an alter server, a cantor, reader, kitchen volunteer, etc. I know a lof of wonderful, amazingly loving Catholics (and one of my closest is a Deacon) and I still keep in contact with them today. My family friends from that church, I love them like the family I never had. Do they know I dont believe in god anymore? No. Would they think less of me if they knew I didnt? I dont think so. They know who I am to the very fiber of my being. I have been there for them, and likewise, them for me. Sure, they may be disappointed to know I no longer believe in the god that brought us together, but that doesnt mean there is any degree of separation in the love we have for eachother now. I can only hope that if they ever found out during some sort of conversation or other manner, they would respect my decision... as I have respected theirs all these years.

      Just like I would like to think Christians, Muslims, and other Eastern religions would rather not be lumped into the same group as extremists and those that spew hateful rhetoric, Atheists, Agnostics, and non-belivers alike would also like to not be lumped into a group. Nor would we like to be thought of as "bad people" simply because we choose to not believe in your god. The human condition lends itself to an understanding of right and wrong without the influence of a book. Though, some people need it to be good people. Others do not. I, myself, would like to think that overall, I am a good person. I've made mistakes and I've hurt people just like you have. But I havent needed the Bible to guide me. My own reasoning and my own guilt or experiences or compassion or empathy guides me (among a thousand other words). And believe me, I can be far more self-deprecating than the Bible can be scornful.

      Please, do not chastise what you do not understand. And if you truly would like to know what it is like to be an Atheist, you can look at your own family and take god out of the equation. You simply dont go to church or pray before meals or whatever else you do in reference to your faith. Otherwise, it is damn near the same experience.... except for the likelihood of a lot more science.

      So, I hope this may help shed some light on one Agnostic Atheist's life and their perception of some things.

      And hey, have a great day out there!

      PS Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a great person to use as a basis for an Agnostic. Maybe you can start there if you're curious. 🙂

      May 23, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Gorsh

      Agnostic, I think you are supporting the point I was attempting to make. If you spend time on these forums, you would think that all atheists are mean spirited, arrogant jerks. I suppose if you hung out in fundamentalist Christian forums you would get the same impression of most Christians.

      By the way, Agnostic Atheist is a term I despise with great venom. It is like calling yourself an Independent Democrat or your drink as being Warm Cold. They are not synonymous.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Hilikus

      This is gonna sound like I'm trying to be a"smart a"...and honestly...this sort of is...

      Have you never spent time on the internet before? Who in their right mind would judge any people by a comments section(s) on the internet? Have you ever found a place in reality where people act like they do on internet comment sections? I imagine the rate of stabbings would be off the chart compared to today, if people trolled in person as is done in the relative anonymity of the internet.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Bryant Lister

      Gorsh, you're kidding right? You're saying that I should be nice to religious cult members and just be grateful they can't legally kill me for being an atheist?! That is extremely poor reasoning. As an atheist who has been discriminated against in jobs, dating, family and elections I have plenty of reasons to ridicule people that believe silly religious cult nonsense.
      Now about the agnostic atheist...atheism means a lack of belief in a supernatural deity(s). So, anyone who isn't a theist (a believer) is an atheist. If you don't know whether you believe or not, then you are just mentally challenged. Agnostic means without knowledge, in other words...ignorant.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  17. retroman

    Christianity is the amway of religions. Members are compelled to harass you to join.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:19 am |
  18. abdulla oblongotta

    CNN and MSM continues on with the dismantling of our country's core beliefs. Atheists are soooooo much less judgmental than Christians and NEVER forthright with their convictions and ALWAYS keep their moral lacking big mouths SHUT. Yet they are the same buffoons who make vacation plans during the holidays (you know the holiday, the birth of Jesus Christ), leaving the lowly church goers, the dummies who believe in mythical beings and who are beneath their enlightened learning to carry the work load.

    My ONE TRUE BELIEF....if you declare yourself an atheist then get the HELL out of the way during the holidays. Go to work. Avoid any shopping. Let the lowly peons celebrate in their silliness, mkay?

    May 23, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Booking holidays at Christmas? Methinks you are talking about Jewish people.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • abdulla oblongotta

      Jews run MSM, so no surprise there.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "My ONE TRUE BELIEF....if you declare yourself an atheist then get the HELL out of the way during the holidays. "

      Sorry but the holidays you speak of were originally pagan, traditions taken over by the chirstians to convert them to christardation and given that the holidays are more about family and giving, we too will invest our money and partake of the reality of what truly matters...precious time with loved ones and not the birth of some imaginary being that was born because his Mommy was raped by your vindictive ass god. (there is nothing to prove that your imaginary friend was even born in December, if it even was born)

      May 23, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • bill

      what i would give to live in that world man. if i could have my paid time off during non-religious holidays i would absolutely take it. i hate christmas. it's not even because of the watered down religious nature of the holiday, but the crowds are just insane. i don't travel during holidays and when I was in the marine corps i never took time off during the holidays. i always waited for the middle of august or some other bland time of year

      the problem with your proposition is it assumes atheist employees have the ability to alter the schedule of government and business sponsored holidays. we are stuck to the christian schedule simply because it is the status quo. i would gladly work on christmas if i could have a floating holiday to replace it, but the faith friendly employers here in texas wouldn't allow that on any level. i couldn't work on christmas because my boss would have the building locked up. you see how ridiculous and unreasonable your proposition seems?

      that's my only complaint with christians and other people of faith, they simply don't understand how and why things are different in a majority christian society. i am all for people believing what they want, but legislating beliefs and mandating time off even for the secular community, its just whack.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Paul

      Christmas is a pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice and has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Hilikus

      So you got all that from her saying she was an atheist? Her having the nerve to say she didn't believe when asked? Or was it when she was described as another, that was implied to be a believer.

      It's people like you that make things like the war on Christmas...finding offense in non-existing issues...people that find insult in another's very existence, then blame them for existing.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • clevercandi

      celebrating christmas as the birth of a lord is something that was made up by the catholic church. I'd wager that if your jesus knew you celebrated his birth, he would not be happy about it.

      May 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Ab Dull Duh, how about we get the government to eliminate the public observance of all religious holidays, then everyone will be on an even footing. Until then, fuck off!

      May 23, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  19. Paul

    Can everyone take an example from this woman and not make a big deal out of what you believe or don't? Some atheists would have gotten offended, she actually tried to avoid the issue and then just meekly stated that she didn't believe in god. That's it, it really isn't a big deal.

    May 23, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Gorsh

      Amen to that.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • jim4peace2012

      rAmen ! Thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for saving her life and the life of her child. ! May you be touched by His noodly appendage !

      May 23, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  20. P. R.

    Good for her!!! Religion is on the decline, even in the face of tragedy. NO ONE "NEEDS" "God" to be good - if they do, that shows a failing on their own moral part...one must be BRAVE and HONEST and AWAKE to be good without fear of eternal reprisal...

    "God"? What a joke. So difficult to fully grasp how people still believe in all that drivel...

    May 23, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Mark

      Your time is short.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      So is yours Mark and in the end you simply will never know what happens....once the brain stops functioning you have no way of knowing anything.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      Your clock is digital!

      May 23, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • JoeJam

      Your time axis is all pimp, yo!
      ҉
      (╯°□°)╯

      May 23, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Mark

      TRruth I have the promise and I will see God. I will walk in his glory! I know that! You will too, because when you grow up you will believe.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Mark: There is no way of knowing, so why accept it without the evidence to back it?

      May 23, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • DeadHorse

      The stuff your chronometer measures has suddenly developed a spatial aspect that is relatively small!

      May 23, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • sam stone

      mark: try to be less of a condescending cvnt

      May 23, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • DeadHorse

      Your death is certain and will probably seem relatively limiting to your life-span in a comparative manner resembling smallness!

      May 23, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • DeadHorse

      Your rate of cause and effect will be reduced to less than it was so that it becomes shorter!

      May 23, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Mark

      Truth-P you know that feeling you get just before something happens? Times it by million that's the security of heaven. Plus when I was riding home from work one night, I felt my Moms presence, within a few minutes her favorite song Unchained Melody cam on the radio. I don't even listen to that music. I cried because I KNEW she was there. I know you are going to say it was a coincidence, it wasn't! Posted twice because I hit the wrong response.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:54 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.