Church without God - by design
Members of an atheist congregation at Harvard listen to music during a recent gathering.
June 22nd, 2013
11:25 AM ET

Church without God - by design

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Boston (CNN)-– It’s Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a rapt congregation listens to a chaplain preach about the importance of building a community.

A few dozen people sit quietly for the hourlong service. Music is played, announcements are made and scholars wax poetic about the importance of compassion and community.

Outsiders could be forgiven for believing this service, with its homilies, its passing of the plate, its uplifting songs, belongs in a church.

If so, it’s a church without one big player: God.

Sunday’s congregation in Cambridge is a meeting of the Humanist Community at Harvard University and the brainchild of Greg Epstein, the school’s Humanist chaplain.

A longtime advocate for community building, Epstein and his group of atheists have begun to build their Cambridge community and solemnize its Sunday meetings to resemble a traditional religious service.

To Epstein, religion is not all bad, and there is no reason to reject its helpful aspects.

“My point to my fellow atheists is, why do we need to paint things with such a broad brush? We can learn from the positive while learning how to get rid of the negative," he said.

Godless congregations

For Epstein, who started community-building at Harvard nearly 10 years ago, the idea of a godless congregation is not an oxymoron.

“We decided recently that we want to use the word congregation more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community - a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world,” he said.

“It doesn’t require and it doesn't even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”

Epstein is not alone in his endeavor. Jerry DeWitt, who became an atheist and left his job as an evangelical minister, is using his pastoral experience to building an atheist church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This Sunday, DeWitt's congregation will hold its first meeting as a "Community Mission Chapel."

"When you become a part of this congregation, this community, you are going to become part of a family," DeWitt told CNN. "There is an infrastructure there for you to land in. There is going to be someone there to do weddings and to do, unfortunately, the funerals."

READ MORE: Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

Sunday school for atheists

As members of the Cambridge congregation file into a wood-paneled classroom at Harvard, singer Shelley Segal greets them with a few songs from her latest recording, called simply, “An Atheist Album.”

Taking a hint from the theme of the event, Segal strums on her guitar and belts her song, “Gratitude.”

“I don't believe in a great power to say thank you to,” Segal sings. “But that won’t take away from my gratitude.”

Harvard's humanist chaplain Greg Epstein leads an atheist gathering.

After the music, Epstein offers a few words of greeting before the meeting gets to its heart: a discussion about compassion.

A four academics and a journalist discuss the effects of religion on raising children and their ideas about compassion. Congregants listen intently, some even taking notes.

Each service has a message – compassion, evolution or acceptance - after which congregants engage in a lengthy discussion.

Before the main event, kids are invited to what some parents refer to as “Sunday school,” where Tony Debono, a biologist Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaches the youngsters about evolution, DNA and cells.

There's little talk about organized religion, positive or negative.

Likewise, down in Louisiana, said his atheist services will not be anti-religion.

"What we are looking at doing is different," DeWitt said. "If you are a religionist and you come and sit in our pew, the only way you can leave offended is because of what you don’t hear and what you don’t see. We won’t be there to make a stance against religion or against God."

Coming out of the closet

In the last few years, the number of “nones” – those who don’t associate with any organized religion – has grown at a rate faster than any other group. Nones now represent one in five Americans, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll.

Although the number of atheists has grown, too, there are still a large number of “nones” that choose not to associate with the label “atheist.”

Some at Harvard’s Humanist congregation fall into this category.

“I don’t particularly have a religion,” said Anil Nyer, a neurologist who brought his daughter to Humanist Sunday school. But Nyer also said he didn’t want to label himself as an atheist.

One reason to shy away from the atheist label: Many Americans hold a negative impression of nonbelievers.

According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute poll, nearly 40 percent of Americans believe that atheists are changing American culture for the worse.

“Whenever we put atheists on a list like this and we compare them to other groups, atheists tend to come in towards the bottom of that list,” said Robert P. Jones is the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

“Americans tend to hold a lot of reservations about atheists.”

Epstein hopes his congregation can change that.

By formalizing meetings and building a strong community, the Harvard group hopes it can be a model for other atheist congregations forming around the country.

A group meets during an atheist gathering in Boston.

More atheists may come of the closet if they know a congregation will be there to support them, Epstein said,

“Being an atheist is something we want people to come out and be,” said the Humanist chaplain. “There are so many people, probably millions, who are humanists or atheists or nonreligious in private and nobody knows."

Epstein said he gets e-mails daily from people founding atheist meet-up groups.

“Tulsa, Oklahoma; North Carolina; London; Vancouver, Canada; Houston, Texas,” Epstein said, listing the sources of the most recent e-mails.

“One part of what we are saying is come on out and let your neighbors know” about your disbelief, he said. “It is not going to make you worse of a person, it is going to make you a better person to be more open about who you are.”

Rituals for the irreligious

For the last few years, the Humanist Community at Harvard has operated out of a small three-floor walk-up off the bustling streets of Harvard Square. The walls are littered with posters about atheism – tributes to famed atheists Eddie Izzard, Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Fry.

Because of the scattered furniture and the Harvard dorm feel, Epstein jokingly describes the space as “college broke chic.” That’s being generous – but it's also about to change.

Starting in the fall, the Humanist Community at Harvard will begin meeting in a nearly 3,000-square-foot community center with an event space for nearly 100 people.

Although the plan is to use the space at the group’s headquarters, it will also serve as a broader community center for the group that Epstein and others are trying to build in the Boston area.

“What we really would like to see is a community center where people can come by at anytime and to use it as a space to study or have a meeting for various committee,” said Chris Stedman, the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard.

Stedman said he sees the new building as a place for people to gather, not only to become part of a humanist community, but to also become more engaged with the world.

When he talks about his plans for the future, Epstein appears to long for a time when the new community center could mimic aspects of church - a place for baby-naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals.

The success of an atheist church will depend on walking the thin line between too much and too little ritual, Epstein said.

Humanists boast a proud freethinking streak, and some at the Harvard event said they don’t want to be associated with any sort of dogma or belief system - or even a system based on disbelief.

Anyway, Esptein said his congregation will be less a group of people united by beliefs - or disbelief - and more like an opera, or a painting.

“Our community is like a work of art," he said. "Hopefully people will respond to that work of art and it will garner controversy and discussion like a work of art."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Houses of worship • United States

soundoff (6,897 Responses)
  1. Steeven Fawking

    ... but what if we're wrong?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      A hint towards Pascals wager.... a weak argument at best, even weaker when only hinted at.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bostontola

      What if you're wrong and Ra is the true god?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Pravda

      Nah, Ra is too short....

      June 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Randy

      Sure, go ahead and buy the "end of the world" insurance. If the world does end, is there is indeed a god, if you're still alive, if there is an afterlife, if the impossibility happens, you will be saved.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Nclaw441

      People treat faith as if it were a simple choice. I don't think that is right. You cannot simply choose to believe in God or not. Christians, more than others perhaps, ought to understand that. There is scripture that goes: "By faith are you saved by grace; and THAT OF YOURSELF, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD." So the Bible says that even our faith is a gift of God. (I am Christian as a matter of full disclosure.)

      We cannot demand that others believe as we do. We can ask that they look inside themselves and in the world and nature and allow the possibility of faith to come. And those of us who do claim to have faith must, at least from time to time, re-examine that faith and confirm that we have it. Why do you believe as you do? (Because I was raised in the church is probably not a sufficient response.)

      June 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  2. Reality

    For this group's next meeting: A blast from the past–

    "The Two Universal Sects

    They all err—Moslems, Jews,
    Christians, and Zoroastrians:

    Humanity follows two world-wide sects:

    One, man intelligent without religion,
    The second, religious without intellect. "

    , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

    Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

    "Death's Debt is Paid in

    Death's debt is then and there
    Paid down by dying men;

    But it is a promise bare
    That they shall rise again. "


    June 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, that sin of pride blinds you? Sad.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Is that a joey you've got in your pouch, HS?

      Hop on over to the next patch of grass, mate.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  3. Professor

    In America we already have humanist theological seminaries where atheists and Pan worshipers gather to sound off in the echo chamber: They are called UNIVERSITIES. Early Christians conceptualized Christ is the Bride of the church because they knew Church without God is about as fulfilling as marriage without s-x.

    I wonder how these groups would do in Muslim countries- or is it all a ruse and really just a humanist/liberal attack on Western values like Christianity as I have always suspected?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      no, we just butt heads with christians more because of location. don't worry, islam and judaism are just as lame as christianity. and don't consider it an attack on christianity - more of a fight for reason and logic against silly superst.ition.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Western values, Christianity and Islam come from the same place.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      the word "atheism" is already a budding of heads in itself.
      It's adversarial by nature.

      June 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  4. Hate Based Religion

    You don't have to make up a bunch of fairytales to promote the values of love, family, community, and treating other's the way you would have them treat you.

    In fact, you are better off living according to these values because you want to and not because you fear the wrath of an invisible sky daddy.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Pravda

      Sure, I will follow a religion that is embraced by communist countries. Atheism has served China and the Soviet Union very well...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      check sweden, norway, finland and other european countries with extremely high populations of atheism. those countries are doing very well and have the highest happiness ratings in the world with their socialistic governments.

      look at all the amazing christian governments in the world...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      there is no "invisible sky daddy" – it's an invention of atheists to confuse and distract

      June 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  5. Dennis Lurvey

    when I started working out last year I was a physical mess. after the recession took everything I had worked for for 10 years I fell into depression and my body went to crap. Since i started working out my body has changed enormously, it has responded to the stressors i have put on it. when i wanted to lift more weight, it gave me bigger muscle. when i needed my strength to double , it gave my muscles more density. That is evolution in action. We have fossils to prove when we started to go onto land the fins turned into feet, we changed so we could breathe air, we grew to be able to stand, and hunt. We have that in the fossil record, in skeletons, and some in DNA. We could beat a creationist over the head with the bones of a million year old man, but it wouldn't matter to them.

    Science studied long ago and found that it was the ceremony and social aspect that was good about going to church, not the content. I look forward to having one of these non-churches in the Phoenix area.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  6. Jadugara

    Wow,..I like how the filter for this blog is SO constrained that it won't let you type the word "v.a.g.u.e" or "v.a.g.u.e.s.t" because it contains the letter combination "v.a.g.".... Why are they SO afraid of v.a.g.i.n.a.s?

    June 23, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      much of the world is....

      ah well, more for me.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  7. lolCAT2000

    Everybody should believe or not believe what they want,
    but when atheists think their belief or lack of belief or whatever they like to call their view of the world makes them "smarter" in some way, that's imho nothing but hypocrisy and propaganda.
    The prosyletization of atheism solves absolutely NOT A SINGLE ONE of the problems we currently have in the world.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • The real Tom

      "Proselytization of atheism"? What are you talking about? Do atheists come to your door with literature? What nonsense.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I agree. Most of the Christians I know are extremely intelligent. Intelligent people are not immune from brainwashing.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      as opposed to christinas who think they are deserving of heaven and atheists of eternal torture in hell...? get off your high horse.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      @The Real Tom
      No, atheists generally don't come to your house – instead, they come to you through the TV as "science guys", "evolutionary specialists", "neuroscientists" etc... and since "atheism is not a religion" most don't even realize nor have a chance protest to what's happening.
      If you look at mainstream media currently, religion basically means: stupid/delusional/criminal/stone-age barbarian etc.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Sean

      Religion and the religious often demand suppression of reason and critical thinking. They've decided their blind faith (willful ignorance) affords them a special status.

      Atheists are not smarter because they're atheists; many are atheists because they're smart.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "stupid/delusional/criminal/stone-age barbarian etc."

      When I read posts like yours that decry science ("science guys"? Really? And you wonder why people think folks like you are stupid?), evolution, reason, neuroscience, and any evolutionary theory, what other conclusion could a reasonable person reach?

      You're just plain ridiculous.

      I know plenty of people who believe and they're not credulous ninnies. You, however, are.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      lolCAT: "most don't even realize nor have a chance protest to what's happening."

      Protest what? The advancements of science? Why would anyone protest them?

      Good grief. I know plenty of smart believers; you're not one of them.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      @The Real tom
      From Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, Larry Krauss to even Bill Nye – all people who say they are scientists and that of course once you go science all the way religion just dissipates and becomes irrelevant and nonsensical.
      Because... there is evidence for evolution – which means that all of religion is nonsense.
      Or, we know now how the brain derives certain features of our perception – which means that all religion is nonsense.
      Et cetera.

      Those are the atheist proselytizers I was talking about in my previous comment.
      All the do is just refocus your mind on scientific facts...
      I think it's perfectly reasonable to say – scientific facts are real, and religion is another thing.

      June 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      religion demands suppression of rational thinking –
      actually, if you look at the history of islam and christianity, monasteries were often the places were science was made, the place were these kinds of abstract matters were at home.
      While scientific knowledge has empowered us immensely,
      it has made the questions we are confronted with a lot more complicated.

      The "religious" questions have not gone away, they have just become a lot more complex and detailed.

      June 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

    Well at least they'll be able to prove there is no God........to each other. Lol @ Atheist

    June 23, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      now if only we could get through to you non-thinking christian zombies. hehe.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • youreyesareweird

      Atheism does not strive to prove there is no god, but they reject all "evidence" put forth to prove that there is a god.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  9. Bootyfunk

    the ironic thing is, it's just people gathering together in a building built for a god that never existed.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • youreyesareweird

      That's exactly what I think every time Christians meet on Sundays.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    Psalm 53
    King James Version (KJV)

    53 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

    2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

    3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

    4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.

    5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

    6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Bostontola

      Try original thought, you might like it.

      June 23, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      god sends bears to rip apart children for making fun of his bald prophet:

      2 Kings 2:23-24 (King James Version)
      23And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

      24And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.


      June 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jadugara

      No one really believes you,...even if they say they do...

      June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Ralph in Orange Park FL

      You quote something out of an old book and expect people to be impressed?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  11. lolCAT2000

    @Bostonola no, I'm not "for or against" anyone. I'm just struck by the faulty conflation of "reason" and "atheism" that's all. There are aspects of our lives that simply are not reasonable – period.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Bostontola

      Atheism does not equal rational, I agree. Atheism removes irrational from its basis, unlike belief in god and most religions. While there are aspects of reality that currently defy explanation, that also does not equal unreasonable.

      June 23, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      what part is not reasonable? give an example pls.

      protip: just because we don't understand it yet, doesn't make it unreasonable.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      e.g. you think you have any involvement your own life, when there is clearly no way for you to push the electrons in your brains around. It's absolutely silly to think that you have any effect whatsoever.
      Completely silly, do you understand?
      It doesn't make ANY sense.

      June 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      Just as the interface I use with my computer (monitor, trackball, keyboard, microphone, touch panel) allows me issue commands that are then translated and result in "electrons being pushed around," my thoughts (active and passive/reflexive) are translated by evolved physical structures in my brain and result in "electrons being pushed around" in my nervous system and allows me to indirectly control my body (moving an arm, focusing my eyesight, respiration, etc...).

      June 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  12. redgrandad

    "Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. A man
    full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic
    thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill."


    June 23, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  13. deeceeuci

    This sounds like the start of a new religion and church. Defeats the whole point, but it also puts into potential perspective how other religions started.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Bostontola

      Humans are a social animal. They are more powerful in groups. A group of people who don't believe in god that exercise rational thought is welcome to me.

      June 23, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • deeceeuci

      I'm sure all the religious zealots thought the same way 🙂

      June 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  14. Reality

    Bravo ! And still more evidence of the following:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. (e.g. Do No Harm)

    No koran, bible, pope, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  15. Mr. Orange

    You know what the funniest part of this is? If theists, whenever faced with scientific accusations and asked for proof for their beliefs, could simply say it is what they choose to believe and they have faith regardless of whether it can be proven. If they said this, as long as their beliefs were compassionate and beneficiary, I would have much more respect for them than I do now. Instead they resort to deflection, claiming atheists reject the idea of a God to bolster a sinful life. Instead they claim dreams and feelings inside them as scientific proof. Instead they tell atheists WE have the burden of proof when it comes to claims there is no God (or for some, no God in the capacity of our organized religions)

    Due to the impossibility of disproving God, it's possible one could exist. So me ask you, implore to the religious man or woman you are. Would a being that permeates existence and transcends physical form rather a hate-filled, spiteful follower, or one who is loving and compassionate in the face of all diversity?

    Neither atheism and theism are going anywhere any time soon. Instead of getting in "unstoppable force, immovable object" arguments where no one really convinced anyone, don't you think we should instead focus on, as the article denotes, forging positive characteristics among us as human beings, fostering our love and compassion for one another, and developing into a society of selfless bounds where acceptance and tolerance are not a rare diamond in the rough, but a commonplace necessity.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • deeceeuci

      You also can't prove the flying spaghetti monster, east bunny, or even santa clause doesn't really exist can you?

      Where is the line between imaginary and reality drawn?

      June 23, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Mr. Orange

      You misunderstand me sir. Perhaps reread my post or don't. Either way, it doesn't really matter to me.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • youreyesareweird

      @deeceeuci – you don't prove something DOESN'T exist, you prove that something DOES exist.
      I heard an interesting quote from Richard Dawkins: "I'm just as secure in my belief of god as you are in the tooth fairy"

      Do you continue to believe in Santa Clause? If not, then why?

      June 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  16. DaveB

    This is utter tripe....what is a 'humanist chaplain?' Celebrating self is the purist form of pride, and the demonstrated lack of humility in that practice is staggering. Atheists always point to (at) God when bad things happen to good people, saying that those things prove that there is no God, and therefore, we shouldn't worship Him. OK, in that case, these folks would rather worship humanity, when it was humans who committed these atrocities. Again, the duality of Atheists just boggles the mind.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Reality

      Number of your god's creations who died horrible deaths from your god-generated diseases:

      1. 300,000,000 approx.

      2. 200,000,000 ?

      3. 100,000,000 approx.
      Black Death

      4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

      5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
      Spanish Flu

      6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
      Plague of Justinian

      7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

      8. 30,000,000[13]
      AIDS pandemic

      9. 12,000,000 ?
      Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

      10. 5,000,000
      Antonine Plague

      11. 4,000,000
      Asian Flu

      12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

      June 23, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Mr. Orange

      You grossly misunderstand humanism my friend. They don't worship humanity, but rather, believe in our power as humans to work together and do great things. They believe that when we work hard and fill our minds with tolerance, compassion, and selflessness we can accomplish great things for the good of all. What you mistake for false pride is actually simply an admiration that humans DO have a power over things when they work as a community, as it originated in a time when religion offered no power to man. They could not read the holy books themselves and they were not allowed to pray on their own. They were not allowed basic control over their own beliefs or life choices, and so they took solace in this idea that we, as humans, could solve our own problems instead of praying for them. That we could achieve happiness and enlightenment through ideas of prosperity and community rather than through religious principle of the time

      June 23, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • JamesS

      Unlike theists describing their gods, humanists don't believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving humanity. We accept that our species is flawed and we take responsibility for those flaws. Humanists don't "worship" humanity.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  17. Jose Of The Bayou

    What would really be hilarious is that if this did catch on, if it would also lead to different "denominations" of atheists popping up. My roommate is an atheist who can't stand how some atheists can be so vindictive towards people of faith. Yet some of those guys hold fast to their mocking and insulting of the religious because they believe it necessary for people to hear, and they also cannot bring themselves to show respect for something that they think is bad for humanity.
    Now I know that I will get some replies that will claim that I have no idea what it means to be an atheist or the way an atheist would think, but I used to be one, and the guy I've been living with the past four years has given me a number of lectures on the benefits of going back and becoming a nonbelievers again. But I can't. Just don't see the world that way. Can't help that.
    I just think that congregation leads to opinion, because if someone is leading the congregation, then they will either gain or lose listeners. And knowing that there are different thinking atheists probably means that they will congregate towards sermons they like rather than dislike. I just wonder how different those sermons would be and what differences would come about after years of those differing sermons.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  18. ningauble

    Atheist fundamentalism is the next step. In fact, it's already here, see Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. As an agnostic I think these atheist fundamentalists are just as bad as the religious fundamentalists. I don't feel comfortable in most Christian churches, and I doubt I would feel comfortable in this atheist congregation either.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

      (references used are available upon request)

      June 23, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • counter

      Cut and paste CCNL is here from the washingpost on faith forum. Do you have any original material?

      Such a fool.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • JamesS

      Something tells me you don't know what "agnostic" means. If you do not believe in god, you're an ATHEIST. If you do not believe in god, but call yourself an agnostic, you're a P*SSY.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  19. Puzzled in Peoria

    Let's get together and celebrate the fact that we're so much smarter than Christians, that they're all deluded and naive and we're really the perceptive ones. Maybe our theme song can be Frank Sinatra's "I Did it My Way."

    Make no mistake. We all worship, whether it's the "small g" god of self or the "large G" God of Jesus. So let's not say that atheists don't believe in god. We all make our choice and we all live by the consequence.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • youreyesareweird

      Don't try to rope in atheist to faith based religions. If you want to believe in your self, then just call it believing in yourself. There is no need to name yourself "god".

      June 23, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • A christian

      Much smarter than Christians? Listen bigot, atheists are no smarter than Christians. As a matter of fact, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Gregory Mendel, Georges Lemaître, Francis Collins among many, many others were Christians. As a matter of fact Gregory Mendel was a Catholic Friar and Georges Lemaître was a Catholic Priest.

      And I don't think Frank Sinatra would appreciate his song, "My way" being an Atheist Anthem, considering the fact that he's a Catholic.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • counter

      He was using the little "g" in a metaphorical sense. Atheists , the radical ones and even others, seem to think THEY are too smart to believe and God and they can determine what is right, wrong, and have the ability to be compassionate. In some ways they can, but the problem of sin in their lives is something they won't, cannot admit to. A sorry lot that they think they are so great they don't need the "illogical " GOD to guide them.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • youreyesareweird

      I know the little "g" was being used as a metaphor. That was my point. We don't need a metaphor for self. There is already a word for it called "self"! The only reason the OP used god as a metaphor is to try and draw a parallel between atheism and theism via a "god" of some sort. This is incorrect.

      Atheist do not believe they are superior to believers any less that an adult chuckles when a child professes a belief in Santa Clause. That sounds bad, I know, but it really is an apt comparison to how grown adults can believe in childhood stories of god.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  20. zaphed

    nice , i like that.

    June 23, 2013 at 11:48 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.