Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience April 10 at the Vatican.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

By Dan Merica, CNN
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(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”

Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

“I gather from this statement that his view of the world's religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,” Speckhardt said. “While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening."

He continued, “If other religious leaders join him, it could do much to reduce the automatic distrust and discrimination that atheists, humanists, and other nontheists so regularly face. “

Francis’ comments received a great deal of attention on social media, with a number of people asking whether the Catholic leader believes that atheists and agnostics go to heaven, too.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.'"

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”

Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.

Although the pope's comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenet of the faith.

"Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ," the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.

"He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice.  In other words, he is not suggesting – and I think some are taking it this way – that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ."

Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.

“The remarks about atheists show that there is even a saint for atheists,” Pecknold said. “Including all of humanity, on this day especially, remarks like that are almost called for.”

“To stress that the gospel redeems all people, including atheists, is the teaching of the church,” he added. “This is an objective fact that the church believes.”

Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, said Francis' comments reflect “the interfaith and inter-community work many of us nontheists are dedicated to.”

That said, Epstein hopes that lay Catholics are listening.

“I hope Catholics, and all people hearing the pope's statement, will recognize that his words about atheists need to symbolize much more than just a curiosity or an exception to the rule,” Epstein said. “If someone thinks there are only a few atheists out there doing good just like Catholics do, that's a major misunderstanding that can lead to prejudice and discrimination.”

The pope’s comments come a few months after he told worshipers that Catholics should be close to all men and women, including those who don’t belong to any religious tradition.

"In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation,” Francis said shortly after his election as pope in March.

Even atheists like David Silverman, president of American Atheists, who has had an antagonistic relationship with the Catholic church, welcomed the pope’s remarks.

“While the concept of Jesus dying for atheists is wrong on many levels (especially given that Jesus himself promised hell for blasphemers), I can appreciate the pope's `good faith' effort to include atheists in the moral discussion,” Silverman said.

“Atheists on the whole want no part in Catholicism, of course, but we are all interested in basic human rights.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,731 Responses)
  1. hee hee

    Will my doggie be in heaven too mr. pope?

    May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  2. Buck Rogers

    Biblically speaking, the Pope is right. Christ certainly did pay for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) and as the LORD said "every man presses into it" (i.e the Kingdom of God, Luke 16:16). Albeit doctrinally speaking, there are two distinct resurrections (the dead are sleeping in the dust), real judgement, and real separation (sheep from goats). Earth is temporary and is to be burned up and literally dissolved. Christ followers are looking for a "New Heaven" and a "New Earth" and the Kingdom of God within a New Creation, i.e. the "Heavenly Jerusalem" as the Scriptures plainly teach. And every man is rewarded "according to his works shall be" (Mat. 16:27, Rev. 22:12), so the Gospel still needs to be preached because we all have to "give an account" to the KING of Kings.

    May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      The KING of Kings? Elvis????

      May 24, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • hee hee

      Thanks for the info Buck! If "every man presses into it", it's all good then. *Two* resurrections! Glad to have it all straight.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • ironman59

      It is irrelevant what the pope thinks or says. I grew up catholic so save me the "i don't understand" comments. Simple fact is we are born, we live, we die. There is no "sky fairy" & the bible is nothing more than a collection of stories pulled together over a 400 year time frame. What's even worse is that christianity itself simply hijacked the Hebrew religion and made up it's own version. That right there tells you the whole thing is nonsense. You can quote all you want from your book of fairytales but it doesn't change the fact that in the end, you will be nothing more than 6 feet under ground.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You touch on one of the things religion is really about. In our minds the books must balance. Good deeds must be rewarded and evil deeds punished, in the afterlife if not in life. At the same time, people recognize that not all their deeds are good and hope to escape judgment ("judgment for others but mercy for me, please"). But we only want for the books the books to balance. They most likely never will. And an afterlife may exist, but we have no reason to think so, just wishful thinking.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • hee hee

      Wait... is there barbecued steak in heaven? Because I like barbecued steak. I'm confused, because Timothy II 3.5 says that "thou shall be made whole, and cleansed of thy sins, and thou shalt entereth into the kingdom of the LORD". Can I still barbecue?

      May 24, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • snowboarder

      that is some seriously crazy stuff buck.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Buck Rogers

      hee hee,

      Yes, there are indeed two distinct resurrections of the dead. Let's be clear (you don't hear this from 'preachers'), the dead area dead, i.e. 'asleep' in the grave as the Bible plainly teaches (and as science confirms, we do "return to dust"). Christ was given "power over all flesh" and He has the power to resurrect the dead. You can read about the two resurrection in John ch. 5 and Revelation ch. 20.

      And yes, there will be good eats in the Kingdom of Heaven, and even the finest of wine. There is also procreation in the Kingdom as the Bible plainly teaches (folks, we don't turn into neutered 'semi-see-thrus' when we kick the bucket). Christ described the Kingdom as a mustard seed and He also said "your seed and name shall remain". There will be babies in the Kingdom, read the last chapters of Isaiah and ignore what anyone else has to say about it.

      Do you like vinegar or tomato based bbq sauce?

      May 24, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • hee hee

      Ok Buck, I'll follow you and ignore everyone else. But only if I get my barbecued steak. And tomato sauce. Chocolate chip cookies are also nice once in a while.

      BTW you never answered my spleen question. What does the bible have to say about my spleen? Is it visible to the creator or not? I can't figure it out, so let me know what you work out – I promise to believe it.

      May 24, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  3. Douglas

    Nice! I guess I don't have to worry about Pascal's Wager anymore...

    May 24, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Science

      Look it is doogie way to funny the red horn-y thingy going to get you!

      May 24, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  4. mary

    If you are a catholic, what rationale do you have to believe what one pope says over what the other one said? Religion is not science – the body of "knowledge" in religion does not, and cannot, increase over time. So, later popes have no better knowledge about what the god thinks or will do than earlier ones.

    Then again, it's all hokum, so I shouldn't be inquiring about rationality from catholics.

    May 24, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • JS

      Mary, this is theology not science... get with it. The Pope speaks the truth, if you don't understand then start listening. It's not complicated.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  5. Bill

    The message to "do good" is positive. The message that "do good and we will meet eachother there" less positive. The message implies the "correctness" of a particular belief vs. the "incorrectness" of not believing. I won't see anyone anywhere after I die, want or desire not withstanding, the reality of ceasing to exist gets in the way. I'll be more happy when the message is simply welcome those who do good into your hearts and lives. Anything else just throws in specific belief doctrines and muddys the message.

    May 24, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • The GOP needs to pack up and leave

      But it's an olive branch. It's more than Benedict did. Sometimes, you have to take small steps instead of plunging head first into the deep water.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Science

      GOP won't leave they just have to sh-it can the red horn-y thingy.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  6. Brother Jim

    Jesus walks into a motel, throws a sack of nails on the counter and asks "Can you put me up for the night?"

    May 24, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Mercfan


      May 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Two women are talking in Heaven. One says, "Have you met Jesus here yet?". The other says, "No, I don't know what he looks like". The first woman says, "Oh, you'll recognize him." She spreads her arms wide, and continues, "He's hung like THIS!"

      May 24, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  7. treblemaker

    Catholicism is a merging of Roman paganism and Paul's opinions, a watered-down version of the teachings of the Jewish Messiah to make it palatable to the hedonistic citizens during the last days of Rome. For the next thousand years or so, most people couldn't read, and were told how to believe by the Catholic Church. It took the actions of one monk, plus the invention of the printing press, to break the stranglehold that Catholicism had over its faithful. Protestantism is not that much better. Even though they do not excommunicate their believers, why, if you don't go along with the teachings of the church you're a member of, no problem-start your own denomination! Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Mormon (GASP!), Puritan, Calvinism, Evangelical, etc. etc. It is the confusion of the Gentiles in their desperate search for salvation that causes so much angst. That is because they have turned their collective backs on the roots of their faith. So...

    Let me offer one more denomination-Jewish believers of the risen Christ. They, more than any other, have truly "left everything behind" to "follow Him". You want to understand the true meaning of Christ's message? Listen to a Jewish believer! Freed from the shackles of "the law", Jews by birth who truly convert in their heart to the teachings of the "Christian" Messiah understand the faith as few others, because they realize that the Messiah was first a JEWISH RABBI!-the very fact that Catholicism wishes to eradicate from the minds of their faithful. Gentiles (especially followers of Jehovah's Witnesses), you want to know where the "144,000" come from? Read Revelation 7, verses 1 to 8-12,000 from each of the 12 Jewish tribes that have placed their lives in the hands of the risen Christ, and have chosen to follow His way instead of the way of their forefathers, freed from the law that shackled their minds, but commanded instead to open their hearts and "love thy neighbor as themselves" despite what their minds tell them to do otherwise.

    The pope's message to atheists is very clear-your unbelief is not acceptable in the eyes of God. Atheists, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. God loves you, even though you hate him and do not believe in Him. The road to redemption starts with a belief in God, the unseen eternal spirit. Humanism without spirituality is no different than works without faith. It's just as dead as faith without works. It just proves that atheists are just as self-righteous, if not more so, than most believers. Why, even atheists have their own denominations-the silver fairy-ism, the unicorn-ism, the rainbow-ism, etc. etc. I bet even among the most ardent atheists is a desperate yearning within their spirit to find their way back into the arms of a loving God!

    May 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You can't possibly be that stupid. Holy crap!! (But if you are, please stay a beliver!!!!!)

      May 24, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Thoth

      'God loves you even though you hate him, and don't believe in him'

      How can I hate something that I don't believe exists???

      May 24, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Mercfan

      treblemaker – you actually point out something I have believed for a long time. Religion is just the practice of faith – all of which have been created by humans and that include human faults. We get so worked up over method with different denominations and fight each other. It's not so important how you practice your faith (which religion you follow) as much as it is to live by those values of your faith (not necessarily those of the Religion). Even for non-believers, as long as you respect others, help those that are less fortunate, don't steal, don't cheat, don't lie or physically harm someone) – those are still values to live your life by.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • uos_spo6

      It's just a feel good story to keep people from spending all day in bed lamenting meaninglessness. It's a natural condition of being human to wonder these things and to propose answers. Non-Denominational belief is no more redeeming than Sect Belief, you are still supporting the hypocritical and offensive notion of Divinity. It's an affront to the existence of life itself to attribute it to such idiocy.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  8. TheAthiest

    No Thanks. I can't go somewhere that doesn't exist and if it did, I don't care to spend eternity with the all the hypocritical, judge mental, holier-than-thou, boozing, cheating, live vicariously through their bully kids, cliquey, bible cherry-picking catholics that I've ever known. Yes, this is from 16 years of catholic school myself and sending my kids there as well. I'd rather push a dung ball up a fiery hill while being anally molested for all of eternity, if need be.

    May 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Brother Jim

      anally molested for all eternity? going to heaven with all of the priests there is a good start

      May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • JS

      be careful what you wish for

      May 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  9. Horris

    Bah... this Jesus guy is stepping on my territory.

    May 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  10. The GOP needs to pack up and leave

    I'm not Catholic, but I liked and admired Pope John Paul II. He tried to bridge the gap between religions.

    I think I like Pope Francis just as much.

    May 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  11. Charles

    That's a direct backtrack from centuries of official RCC stance. Did God change his mind?

    May 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • whoknew

      I was not raised Catholic, but have been a (converted) practicing Catholic for ten years now and raise my children in the faith. I believe in the Pope's statement. Having come from a different form of Christianity, it was something I have always believed about Christ. However, I think Catholicism has been too staunchly critical of nonbelievers over the centuries, and perhaps they are seeing that if there is a God they believe loved all people, then yes, it includes Atheists as well. He offers salvation to them as well, if they will accept it and come to him. So, I am happy to hear the Pope speak to all people. Believing and non-believing. It is as it should be.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Contemplate the difference between redemption and salvation and you will understand the pope has only told you what the Church has always told you. I'm glad you are encouraged by that.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  12. lightnsalt11

    " I am the way, the truth and the life; no one cometh unto the father but by me" – Jesus said it himself ( From the good book ).
    (no one can go to heaven through another way ; to teach something else is absolutely wrong . The Bible is the word of GOD,
    infallible and inerrant . You either believe it and be saved or not . (it may sound foolish to say this – – But the TRUTH is foolishness to the "WISDOM" of the world. – the Bible says )- Believe and be saved ! God Bless!

    May 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Earthling

      The bible is a work of fiction, written by humans. It doesn't even claim to be written by your imaginary friend, and it's full of so many contradictions and so much plagiarism even a ten-year-old would gag, if they were allowed to read it without the associated magic show.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Brother Jim

      We should pay close attention to the bible. For example...

      "When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her."
      Deuteronomy 21:10-14

      May 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • God

      A tip – I don't appreciate people telling me what to do, especially humans – you're a troublesome lot – so enough of the "God bless" already.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Thoth

      Jesus said it? Prove Jesus said anything. Produce any first-person material.

      The bible is the word of God? No...the Bible is a collection of writings by men during various periods of history, jumbled together to form an inconsistent, contradi.ctory and barbaric creed from the perspective of one group of people, originating in one of the most ignorant regions on the planet.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • You Know It

      the bible is actually the word of a pagan emperor lol read history it enlightens

      May 24, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Archivedd

      "But never shall ye rear the circling walls
      of your own city, till for this our blood
      by you unjustly spilt, your famished jaws
      bite at your tables, aye,—and half devour."
      -Aeneid III.255

      Sorry, I thought we were quoting ancient literature.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • JustANumber001

      :)) Great post!!! I'm with you. Jesus is the way through the narrow gate, but the highway is full of those lost to Mystery Babylon. Once all nations turn on Israel they will cry out for the one they have pierced. Funny thing. Jews don't believed Jesus is the King because his mother is a virgin and therefor can't be blood of King David. Also they say Jesus was never an anointed king. LOL I guess even the Jews have given up hope because finding someone today that tracks back to King David will be hard, but even worse they have not Anointed a King for a long time now. Maybe they should start with Ben, but at the pace they are going they will never see their King!! 🙂 Oh wait yes they will just as soon as all nations turn on them, and they cry out like a parent cry out for their only lost son :)) Jesus is the covenant.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • q

      How can you say it is perfect if there are so many contradictions? And written by man, not God or Jesus?

      May 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  13. weezer

    Wow - that has to be the most Christian thing I've ever heard a Pope say. Amazing! That's huge.

    May 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol

      Except it goes against doctrine. He is just talking. You will never see an internal document that commands the faithful to believe atheists will go to heaven. Without the paperwork, it's not official. And there is nothing in OT or NT to support it.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Brother Jim

      @Ak-Haru. So, proof is in the writings? Your god is a swell guy.

      "Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun."
      Samuel 12:11

      May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  14. Liar T Krazo

    Finally answered the question I asked back in the First Grade at St. Albert's Catholic School. I was told it was a 'mystery of God." Apparently God's now online to cough up some of these vital tidbits. Of course, the certainty of going to hell kept many Catholics in the herd...I mean fold.
    Looks like God bought the Imagine, album by John Lennon, while online.

    May 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Brother Jim

      Doesn't the pope directly speak for god when making these decisions? Does that mean that god was wrong when previous popes uttered the old take of the rules? did god change his mind? He should have seen that coming, I would think. I am so confused

      May 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Take a deep breath and go to confession Jim. It will be alright.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  15. James J

    You know, I have met a fair amount of atheists and most of them seem to be pretty ok people. Sometimes awesome, sometimes not so awesome.

    However, the self named "militant atheists", the ones that I call charismatic or evangelical atheists that try to convert people like a southern non-denominational Christian church, them I don't care for.

    And it isn't because they are atheists. It's because they are militant/charismatic/evangelical and in some cases are trying to co-opt my religion(Buddhism) and I don't appreciate that.

    May 24, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What do you consider "militant atheism," though? Is it militant to argue on boards such as these, or does it take more than that? I'm curious because many atheists on message boards argue passionately but in their daily lives don't take much (or any) action to "convert" anyone or even express their position.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol

      Co-opt your Buddhism? Yeah, right. Please explain how the Buddhists in Malaysia are attacking Muslims according to your understanding of the tenets of your religion? Or how Buddhists have been violent any number of times in other countries?

      May 24, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • The GOP needs to pack up and leave

      All religions have their militant factions.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • James J

      Good question, CO.

      I would say something can be "militant atheism"(the name, btw is not from me. I got it from Richard Dawkins) if it wades into places that are explicitly religious just for the reason of spreading atheism.

      This thread I would say is not an example of that. Atheism is mentioned and therefore it is more than reasonable for atheists to respond to this mention however they see fit.

      The example of "militant atheism" that i know best is in the Buddhist community. On a Buddhist board I'm on(it is one of a pair of boards, one is more bare bones Buddhist, the other is more mystical-ish Buddhist. This was the second of those boards) from time to time we'll get someone who crashes in and tells all of us how the brain and the mind are the same thing and we should really get with the program and become materialist atheists because we are stupid and lame if we don't. Many links are thrown back and forth, arguments are made, various figures in New Atheism are named and as a rule everyone leaves in a tremendous huff.

      At the same time there is a major thread in Buddhism at the moment that is trying to secularize/de-mystify Buddhism(Sam Harris is a big person on the New Atheist front who is interested in that) which I also consider "militant atheism" because they are trying to change the definition of my religion.

      Now, to be clear. I am not saying that this is unethical or that "militant atheists" have no right to do this. I'm just saying I find it highly irritating and inappropriate.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol

      Well, James J, since you obviously came here spoiling for a fight, I see no reason to respect your opinion simply because you have one.
      It's like you've invented a "waaaah-zen" where you expect your religious sentiments to be respected regardless of how ridiculous they are.
      Fuck you, James. You'll have to earn my respect if you want it. Otherwise your words don't mean shit to me.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • DDM

      Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol: The Buddhists, like the Jews of WWII, have decided not to sit patiently while being dispatched by violent criminals. In the case of Buddhists, a violent horde, the so-called 'sword of Islam,' has been dispatching them for centuries. Guess the Buddhists are not going to take it anymore.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • uos_spo6

      Belief is a thought disease that corrupts the human psyche and conditions it for acceptance of lunacy. The generational compounding effect hundreds of years of a religion ingrained in a people is why such ignorance is so commonly accepted and treated as fact today. In another thousand years, the Believers of today will be looked at with a romantic sense of satirical entertainment, just like people look at and study ancient religions today. The sole redeeming merit of any Religious Doctrine is it's (hypcritical) preaching of Morality, but if Religion is where your Morality comes from then as a person you are already broken. The Faith dynamic is a self-serving circular logic model. It's simply a riddle that addresses a concern every self-aware complex higher functioning mortal being naturally ponders.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol

      @DDM – It is good of them to do that, but I wanted to hear James explain how it all fits in with their beliefs, since he is obviously some sort of fool who thinks Buddhists are respected for just existing as Buddha's give to gay men everywhere.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol


      May 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Ok, I see your point. I think there is a distinction between atheists who sometimes post aggressively and "militant atheists." Many atheists that put forth ideas in an aggressive stance are not "militant," though their messages might align to that concept.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  16. joe

    Anyone else notice how the world has to constantly drag the various religions kicking and screaming into the present?

    May 24, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  17. God

    Since I am an atheist myself (I mean – who am I supposed to worship???), it would be hypocritical of me to keep this place a "Catholics-only" club. So yeah, anyone can come on in – just check your guns and knives at the door, please.

    May 24, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Mirosal

      Can I keep my strapped-on C-4?

      May 24, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • God

      Sure strap-ons are allowed; just not in front of the children. C-4, funny name for one of those things.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Brother Jim

      "Who are you supposed to worship?" You obviously are not married

      May 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Ak-Haru Kenaustin Ardenol

      Maybe the Big Bang was a suicide bomb and they're all dead and busy having tentacle sex in their transitional phase that lasts for septillions of years, analogous to being in an after-life, for instance.
      Didn't think of that one, did ya? Nope.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      C-4 simply refers to circu-mference. 4 inches. Now, if someone shows up with an L-12, C-7 strapped on, do NOT let them in. Not the front door. Definitely not the back door.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Brother Jim

      @god, strap-ons are allowed but not in front of children? I wish you would have told Father Ron about that rule.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  18. marblehead

    if the pope says it, it must be true. read that with dripping sarcasm.

    May 24, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • billcody

      sounds to me like you are a believer. After all, why would you read the entire article and then take the time to post a comment if you weren't?

      May 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  19. woody

    If we put as much emphases on education as we do on religion we would not need to go outside of America to find engineers, doctors, etc. Churches and even the Pope does not hand out college degrees . You can say God until you are blue in the face and the 200,000 dollars needed for a college degree will not show up magically in your mail box for each of your children . But the pope is very happy to speak to you about God because his perks for doing his job includes food,housing, cost , travel expenses, armed security, and a fleet of 550,000 dollar cars . Give me all of that and I too would be willing to say God all day . But for most that will never happen . You will say God one million times and still not be able to afford food or a college degree for your kids . Remember the pope has no children to feed and send to college !

    May 24, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • berts

      Seek thee First the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; then all these things will be added unto you.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Mirosal

      You'd have better luck seeking, not to mention finding, the leprachaun's pot of gold.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Lester Singleton

      God is not your sugar daddy in the sky. Take some responsibility and make your own money.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  20. Dan

    Atheists cannot enter heaven, as there is no such place!

    May 24, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • JonathanL

      I have always had Christian morals but have never believed the god part of the whole thing, nor that miracles happen. But to this point I agree. Heaven at best is an imaginary place, or even to some at best a concept that they hope is a possibility. However math and science (basically observable reality) show us these places as envisioned in words and art do not really exist. While try to reconcile fact with fiction – it is apples and oranges. One is reality based (truth based reasoning), the other fantasy based (faith based – where anything is true if you believe it is). I am now finding out that there is no real future or past (except like heaven and hell – only in the mental constructs of our imagination), only one huge infinite space time present in which all things happen at the same time and continually – call it existence). So reality is everywhere always without a beginning point, without an end point (physically or temproally), and without a direction (in other words it doesn't go anywhere or to another time). So reality is often at odds with how we think it is (such as the sun seems to go around the earth (as 40% of Adult Americans believe it does) but in reality the earth is orbiting the sun, and the earth's rotation is just causing the illusion we mistake for reality. In sum Heaven = fantasy. Hope you have a heavenly Friday though. Good luck.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Brother Jim

      Sorry but I have been to heaven. or inside of heaven, whatever. My 18th birthday and $45 back of a strip bar in Orlando

      May 24, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Jonathan: which Christian morals have you always had? The ones that say:
      – slavery is okay
      – ra-pe is okay
      – genocide – absolutely!
      -child abuse and child murder – yes!
      – gay people are abominations
      – human sacrifice – bring it on!

      Odd thing those "Christian morals" but then, they're based on God's word in the Bible. Nasty, nasty book.

      May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Your mom

      I do not agree. Have you read about Near Death Experiences? People from all over the world, different backgrounds, different religions have almost the same experience. I get that a few could be delusional, but all of them?

      May 24, 2013 at 9:37 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.