July 15th, 2013
02:50 PM ET

Behold, the six types of atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

(CNN) - How many ways are there to disbelieve in God?

At least six, according to a new study.

Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who still observe some religious traditions.

“The main observation is that nonbelief is an ontologically diverse community,” write doctoral student Christopher Silver and undergraduate student Thomas Coleman.

“These categories are a first stab at this," Silver told the website Raw Story. "In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types.”

Silver and Coleman derived their six types of nonbelievers from 59 interviews. We're pretty sure we've spotted all six in our comments section.

1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic

This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism.

They like debating and arguing, particularly on popular Internet sites.


They're also well-versed in books and articles about religion and atheism, and prone to citing those works frequently.

2) Activist

These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.

They tend to be vocal about political causes like gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals.

3) Seeker-agnostic

This group is made up of people who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience.

Silver and Coleman describe this group as people who regularly question their own beliefs and “do not hold a firm ideological position.”

That doesn't mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.

4) Anti-theist

This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.

“Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental,” the researchers wrote. “The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions.”

Anti-theists are outspoken, devoted and – at times – confrontational about their disbelief. They believe that "obvious fallacies in religion and belief should be aggressively addressed in some form or another.”

5) Non-theist

The smallest group among the six are the non-theists, people who do not involve themselves with either religion or anti-religion.

In many cases, this comes across as apathy or disinterest.

“A Non-Theist simply does not concern him or herself with religion,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “Religion plays no role or issue in one’s consciousness or worldview; nor does a Non- Theist have concern for the atheist or agnostic movement.”

They continue: “They simply do not believe, and in the same right, their absence of faith means the absence of anything religion in any form from their mental space.”

6) Ritual atheist

They don't believe in God, they don’t associate with religion, and they tend to believe there is no afterlife, but the sixth type of nonbeliever still finds useful the teachings of some religious traditions.

“They see these as more or less philosophical teachings of how to live life and achieve happiness than a path to transcendental liberation,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “For example, these individuals may participate in specific rituals, ceremonies, musical opportunities, meditation, yoga classes, or holiday traditions.”

For many of these nonbelievers, their adherence to ritual may stem from family traditions. For others, its a personal connection to, or respect for, the "profound symbolism" inherent within religious rituals, beliefs and ceremonies, according the researchers.


The authors of this study have graciously agreed to field questions from our commenters. If you're interested, please post your question below or tweet it to us at @CNNBelief. 

We'll take the best questions to the authors and the Q&A will be posted in a follow-up article. 

Please try to keep your questions related to the study itself.

Daniel Burke

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Holidays • Lost faith • Nones • Spirituality • Trends • United States

soundoff (9,518 Responses)
  1. Pascaline

    After reading the article I'm not sure how to label myself...i am an active non -believer of all things not seen. There is no after -life; no creator, no destiny.
    Life is about a serie of random events which only follows the cycles of natural elements.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • lol??

      How 'bout possessed?? That'll clear up the confusion.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  2. Dandintac

    There's another category of atheist–probably the most numerous of all. The closeted atheist. This is the man who's silent when the wife tells the pollster on the phone that everyone in the home is a Christian. This person could also be my sister, who confided in me she doesn't really believe, but she calls herself a Christian and goes along because of her devoutly Christian husband. This atheist is also the many thousands who go along to get along. Who don't want to get kicked off the basketball team, don't want to make waves, don't want to be evicted by their landlord or fired by their boss, or treated like dirt by their friends and colleagues and family, or don't want to cause stress for their silver-haired grandmothers.

    September 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • George

      Interesting point, and likely very valid.

      September 26, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Really?

      I mean honestly I'm not sure what red state you are in but in my world having a religion (any religion) is worse on a personal and professional level than not having one.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Pascaline

      Really? We leave in america where freedom of speech prevails. If there really is such a category of atheist it is really sad....

      September 29, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • lol??

        Wemen rule.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Albert

        Is it really that surprising to you? I don't find it surprising at all.

        October 1, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  3. Ramesh Kapoor

    It was interesting to read how atheists were categorized. However, listing yoga and meditation as rituals shows lack of understanding of these two areas. Yoga is misunderstood by most westerners. Meditation is misunderstood by most. Yoga is a science to keep your body and mind aligned. Purest form of mediation as taught by Buddha, called Vipassana, is a training of the mind to look on the inside. A little of research can help the author to understand the two better.

    September 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  4. Teddy

    What kind of human laws there will be without religion?

    September 25, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • smokey

      Well, post-elightenment, well thought out, debated and vetted ones, I would say. Unlike the "moral" laws of the Bible, that advocate slavery, genocide, disowning of your family and children– just to name a few.

      September 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Dan

      Belief in an invisible magician in the sky is the only thing stopping you from doing evil things? That is scary.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  5. Brett J

    I think your wrong about Non-theist being the smallest group according to your classifications. Most the Atheists I know fall in to that category. It only seems the smallest "i'm assuming to you" because they aren't the ones out speaking their mind and trying to be recognized.

    September 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
  6. gary

    As I read this fascinating analysis of atheism, I was a little surprised when I came to type 3, the Seeker Agnostic, as the definition given seemed to describe the direction of my own internal compass, yet I have a hard time seeing myself as an atheist in any sense. I'm a Christian, I follow the teachings of Jesus, and believe he is the living son of God. Yet I've often described myself as an Agnostic Christian – I don't want to be aligned with the Christian Right, I don't get in people's faces and preach what they don't want to hear, and I'm not interested in bringing about the Christian version of Sharia Law. I don't think that is what God intends for us in this age. I respect the rights and beliefs of others and leave the rest to God, and I admit that I DONT KNOW SQUAT.

    I don't believe we can Know more than a few things with any certainty. Knowledge is an absolute, it means having perfectly accurate and true information. You either have it, or you don't. I am only absolutely sure of two things – what I think, and what I feel. I have first-hand access to these internal conditions of my being, I don't rely on anything or anyone to access the data. It's the one place where I am infallible. If you're feeling sad and someone says, "You're actually very happy right now!", you probably wouldn't even bother responding, I mean, how do you argue, why WOULD you argue something like that? The simple fact would be that you are right and they are wrong. What we think and feel, we know; the rest is really just our Best Guess. Aside from these two things, everything we think we know comes to us through senses that can be fooled, a mind that makes mistakes, and other imperfect people. We certainly can't know whether God exists. Even devine revalation requires faith, as there's no way to prove the revelation wasn't just a dream or delusion. We can be CONVINCED, but we cannot know. All we can do is believe, or not, and I believe in Jesus.

    Isn't what we don't know the fulcrum on which faith depends? I don't know if He really exists... but I choose to believe He does, because it makes sense to me. Somehow, if he does exist, I think he's pleased with this assessment, much more so than if I convince myself I "Know". Faith is what we act upon when we don't know for sure – it's what we believe in enough that it affects our decisions. Whether theist or not, we all need faith, we cannot make the simplest decisions without it. I can't know my kids will come home safely from school, or that world will still be here tomorrow, without faith. I can't even breathe without faith that the air around me won't poison me. Atheists put their faith in their belief that there is no god, yet they cannot be any more certain of this than a Christian can be sure they are not being duped by a beautiful love story.

    If all people of all religions were to embrace the uncertainty inherent in their particular faith, they would have to own their actions as their own choice and not be excused by what they perceive as devine will. We could no longer use God as our excuse to avoid facing any evil we might do in God's name, carrying out hurtful acts and believing we are doing the right thing. We would have to remain open to the idea that what we are considering might be a wrong choice in God's eyes, and be prepared to fully own the consequences of our actions as outside of God's will. I can imagine no greater temperance for the extremist. If people of all faiths did this, half of what atheists reject would be gone.

    If all forms of atheists were to embrace the uncertainty inherent in life itself, and realized that IF there is a loving creator-god, then He could only be poorly represented by the very best of humanity. They would have to open their minds to consider that they, too, might be wrong.

    Life does not require certainty, but living wisely does require humility. God will honor you for facing the truth with humility about the limitations of what you can be certain of, and once you do, you will begin a new journey of faith. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

    September 24, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • JR

      " I can't know my kids will come home safely from school, or that world will still be here tomorrow, without faith. I can't even breathe without faith that the air around me won't poison me. Atheists put their faith in their belief that there is no god..."

      I think your concept of faith is a little rigid. Yes, faith, strictly defined, is belief despite the absence of proof. However, it requires extremely little faith to believe your child will return safely from school, the world will exist tomorrow, or your next breath of air will not be poisoned because the vast preponderance of the evidence supports those ideas. It's quite a huge leap of faith, however, to believe in any particular god, since evidence is comparatively extremely limited.

      "If all forms of atheists were to embrace the uncertainty inherent in life itself, and realized that IF there is a loving creator-god, then He could only be poorly represented by the very best of humanity. They would have to open their minds to consider that they, too, might be wrong."

      You seem to be a victim of the binary thinking so many Christians portray, that is, that there are only two possibilities for an atheist: one either remains an atheist or discovers the Christian god. This, of course, ignores all the many, many other possibilities.

      September 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
      • Live4Him

        @JR : I think your concept of faith is a little rigid. Yes, faith, strictly defined, is belief despite the absence of proof. ... You seem to be a victim of the binary thinking so many Christians portray

        I find it interesting that you reject the majority of the dictionary definitions for faith to tease out the one definition that you like to apply to Christians, all the while criticizing their "binary thinking" skills. An unbiased person would be willing to consider all the definitions, just just one minute definition that satisfies their a priori beliefs.

        The reality is that almost all faith is based upon some empirical evidence but not complete evidence. It is like trying to cross a body of water (i.e. a creek) without getting wet. You see dry land on the other side and you know that in the past you've jumped longer distances, so you have faith that you can jump this body of water too. But, you lack any proof that you can jump THIS body of water.

        September 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          The examples of faith given are based upon prior observations – the sun has appeared every morning of our lives; the air is not poisonous in most places (and it is generally a slow poison anyway); etc. Expecting to cross a creek without getting your feet wet is not faith (unless you're Jesus).

          September 24, 2013 at 10:27 am |
        • JR

          Live4Him – I did consider all the definitions of faith, I just chose the one that's applicable to the context of religion. The point is, you can't just say faith is faith, so having faith in the existence of a god is the same as having faith the sun will rise again tomorrow. The level of faith involved in making any assertion is inversely proportional to the amount of evidence supporting your assertion.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • George

          " The level of faith involved in making any assertion is inversely proportional to the amount of evidence supporting your assertion."

          Eloquently puts the concept in a nutshell. Well done.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • Edward

        I agree. Also, I do not see the Christian god as loving in any way. There are far too many instances of evil coming from this particular deity to place him in any category that includes love.

        September 24, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Jeremy

        JR perhaps this is an extreme take on faith, but it is not irrational. Faith is required even in science, take Peter Higgs and "the God particle", this was first theorized in 1964, but it was not until a couple of years ago that anyone could prove it. Although it could not be proven prior it did not stop anyone from looking for it and attempting to prove it. People of religious faith do the same thing, they hold out faith that what they know will be shown to them one day, there is not difference. If Peter Higgs had died ten years ago should he have died believing he was wrong in his theory. Everyone holds faith in some form what they choose to put their faith in differs, but it does not mean they do not have faith.

        September 25, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Doris

      Excellent post, gary. Most mainstream atheists, such as myself, are highly agnostic, and I suspect a great number of theists are as well. I do agree with JR in that I see many more possibilities than what many theists (and even some atheists) seem to limit them to. The important thing I get though from your post is that it should be much easier for believers and non-believers to work together on important common goals if they could try harder to face and embrace the unknown, the uncertainties that are evident everywhere around us, and accept for now that "I do not know" is often the best, most honest answer.

      September 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • modestypress

      I am an atheist. That is my belief system. I will die. Probably not tomorrow, but sooner rather than later (I am 69 years old.) At a fairly early age, most of us choose our variety of faith or our variety of atheism. Most of us (though not all) then stick with that variety of belief system for the rest of our lives. We are animals with complex brains. If there is a God, it was a mistake for It to create us. If there is no God, then all we can do is live our lives and occupy ourselves as best we can until our heart stops ticking and our brain cells go silent. For all I know, this may be the mo.

      September 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
      • Katie

        Look up the ministry of Heidi Baker. This is a woman who runs an orphanage in Africa. She goes to the remote villages and visits with people, at the end of the day she requests to meet a person from that village who is deaf and/or blind, makes sure that everyone has always known them to be this way (in a small village it's not that difficult.) She and the kids from her orphanage then pray over that person and he or she gets healed instantly. It has been captured on video, and proven by the doctors. Try telling her that God does not exist. He has healed hundreds in front of her eyes.

        If you want the proof of God don't sit at home and browse the internet for answers, go to the nearest healing revival and see for yourself. God is not going to stop performing miracles just because an unbeliever will be there. We, the Christians, tell you the truth because we care about you. The consequences of your unbelief are extremely harsh, but if you believe you can reap the benefits starting today. If only for the simple fact that someone loves you no matter what you've ever done or said. No human can do that.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  7. Truth

    The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God : God is not in all his thoughts. (Psalm 10:4 KJVA)

    September 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      your book only rings true with people who accept the supposed authority of the book

      September 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
      • D MURDOCH

        the rest are doomed like stanky weed patch cnt 12 gauge spray in the face knees pleasuring sidearm! lol

        September 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
        • sam stone

          still got that crucifix up your backside, faith?

          September 24, 2013 at 5:23 am |
        • lol?? also uses another moniker

          howz that lawsuit coming on have you learned how to spell attorney

          September 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • George

      Truth – If someone quotes the Quran to you will that persuade you to become a Muslim? Likewise, it's pointless to quote from your holy book–it will not be persuasive to anyone.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  8. Simon Lloyd

    I try to be a non-theist but my political habits have me often acting like an Anti-Theist. Social Equality does not mix with religious conservatism, so I find myself fighting with the nutters on the right based on religious grounds as frequently as scientific.

    Atheism is not about activism to me, I have no urge to me or associate with other Atheist's, I'm wouldn't even be against sending my kids to church(if i ever have any). But anytime I hear person say start harping against marriage equality or talking some crap on the subway about saving my soul I feel morally obligated to speak up.

    You religious folks wanna yell your bigotry keep it in that church, never mention it to me, never let hear it, and I won't call your god names.
    Stop trying to deny my people their rights, stop trying to put your beliefs on me, keep your god out of OUR(mine and yours) Government and We're all good.

    September 23, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  9. BeeBeeWinston

    Its nice to know theres a difference in the types of non-believers. i've never cared for religion because I see it cause more harm than it helps, but i wouldn't call myself a flat out atheist, but I can live with non-theist. I stay as far away as possible from discussions about religion. Mainly because I believe people can put their faith where ever they want as long as they are not forcing it onto me.

    September 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  10. Morgan

    I think that religious beliefs that ask you to meditate, do kind deeds, and practice healthy lifestyles are okay. I think that religious beliefs that ask you to hate, injure, or kill others are not. I also believe that government should be secular in its entirety: no chaplains, no prayers, no "under God." Secularism offers equality, so that no man could say his god stood above the others.

    September 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  11. The 7th type (this will make it beyond 10,000)

    7. Militant atheist- This is almost similar in number 1 (activists). But they are uncivil, immoral, imbecile and would kill just to solicite attention type. Aside from playing DOTA, hanging out here in belief blog is there favorite past (useless) time.

    September 21, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Joel

      I hate athiests with a firey passion! I strongly believe that the spirituality of which runs parallel with religion is a journey. It is one thing to challenge religion to get a better understanding, its another to want to tear it aparts simply because one refuses to believe in it. I advocate questioning religion, challenging all its teaching for the benifit of understanding; those who attempt to distroy it in are nothing more than monkeys attacking something they don't understand and consider a threat.

      September 22, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • CommonSensePrevails

        So you hate Atheists... Sounds like you're the one with the problem. Why do you have to hate??? i'm an Atheist, but I don't hate; I only disagree with believers. We're all Atheists when we're born; no one "believes" when you're born. Believing comes with indoctrination by the parents or others. So, don't be so harsh on Atheists. In fact, you're an Atheist towards all religions you don't believe in; I just take it one god further (in this case the christian god which seems to be most popular in the US).
        I think your hate and other people of faith who hate Atheists are just afraid what may come out of common sense thinking and progress. What are you afraid of? Truth? You should seek Truth (intellectual integrity), and it will set you free.

        September 22, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Sigmund

          While I have a belief, sometimes Ill side with atheist as they can take a peaceful approach. What is a logical situation for everyone is not to force your idea of religion on everyone else.The "Anti-theist" are the extremist of atheism as Alqaeda are today's extremist of religion where they take everything too far. We as a community should just let people be who they are but human nature detestably goes against this...

          September 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
        • D MURDOCH

          So you hate Atheists

          so, point being, only if they exist. prove u exist, dodo

          September 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
      • sunnylovetts

        Jesus told us never to hate, but to love only.

        September 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • Anne

        "Hate with a fiery passion", wow how christian of you. Not all atheists are interested in tearing up religion. They just don't want it forced into their world. Settle down, many atheists just don't think about this at all. It's not part of their world and that's okay.

        September 23, 2013 at 3:04 am |
        • Inspiration?

          Is there anything wrong with questioning the world? If there is a loving God of the Christian Bible, and He created man in His image – putting a reflection of His personality into us – then the desire to inquire is not only healthy, but good. If we have searched and have chosen wrongly, we will face the consequences, one way or another. Atheism/Agnosticism is certainly one opinion, and if you are a seeker of knowledge and truth, consider these questions to strain the brain (many I have heard from devout atheists): "There is no absolute truth" – Is that absolutely true? "What is true for you is not true for me" – Can truth be both true and untrue? (I would also offer a third option of neither is true and what is true has yet to be realized) "Science and God cannot co-exist" – If there is a God, who do you think made the rules of nature science is now discovering? Therefore, how could they not co-exist? If there is no God, and we are merely a result of DNA structuring, what is the point of any moral structure, laws, right/wrong? Why bother concerning ourselves with such ridiculous notions like selflessness?

          September 24, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  12. it must reach 1,000 and up

    Previous- 959
    Add: mine- 1
    Total – 960

    40 more to go!!!!

    September 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  13. Kevin

    No great revelation here. I can relate to all but the last one on different days or situations. It's hard to fit neatly into any one category.

    September 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  14. David Longstreet

    It's hard to say what the original authors of this "Study" (and I use the term loosely) had to say or possibly concluded. Unfortunately, rather than pen a journalistic presentation, the authors have utilized it to write a thinly veiled anti-atheist op-ed piece. Look at the third line of bullet #1...(Ahem). What was the purpose of this comment other than to stoke the authors evident sense of Christian disdain and dismissal? Journalism this is not. A news story this is not. It's merely propaganda by those who would prefer to live life on their knees rather than stand on two feet.

    September 21, 2013 at 5:36 am |
  15. Everett

    Hideously inane pseudoscience....Hey you forgot me! I'm the militant atheist. I actively and eagerly do everything I can to expose religion for what it is.

    September 21, 2013 at 2:46 am |
  16. jarhead333

    Good article. It does still amaze me at the amount of time the "Activist" spends on trying to prove other people wrong. If you do not believe in something, why spend so much time in trying to prove other people wrong?

    September 20, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Jerry A.

      jarhead333: Most likely due to the harm caused by religion... Proponents of a religion, true believers, who interpret their commandments in a manner harmful to society by, for example, flying airplanes into buildings, or shooting members of the same or other religions, or denying the rights of other people, should be stopped. These are examples from just this past decade, not ancient times.

      A correction to a common error, from the article: Atheists don't "believe" in no God. Atheists state there is no God, or that believers have to prove there is a God. Atheism is based on logic, not a matter of faith, and is not another kind of religion.

      On a lighter note, here are two atheism jokes:
      – Atheists and monotheists are all non-believers. Atheists just don't believe in one more deity.
      – Using the Bible to prove the existence of God is like using a comic book to prove there is a Superman.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
      • jarhead333

        Jerry A. " Atheists don't "believe" in no God?" That is a double negative and does not make sense. If you think that the burden of proof lies on Christians, then why the argument? Shouldn't atheists sit back and wait for proof, rather than try and "disprove" the existence of Jesus? I am not a smoker, but I don't like being labeled a "non-somoker", simply based on the fact that I do not appreciate being labeled for something that other people do.

        September 20, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
        • JR

          "Shouldn't atheists sit back and wait for proof, rather than try and "disprove" the existence of Jesus? "

          That would be a fine approach if those who follow Jesus didn't persistently try to impose their beliefs on those who don't.

          September 24, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • Live4Him

          @JR : That would be a fine approach if those who follow Jesus didn't persistently try to impose their beliefs on those who don't.

          And yet, you're here trying to impose your beliefs on Christians. I've always heard atheists claim that they don't have religious beliefs, so why do they come on a religion based forum?

          September 24, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • Belief blog means belief blog

          Why do you come here spreading lies all the time. Don't you have something honest you could be doing?
          This is a belief blog, and guess what...some people BELIEVe things you do not. Some believe there are no gods.

          You believe you can convince people by misrepresenting science, and by stretching what your bible actually says into what YOU want your bible to say.
          So why do you come to a belief blog and expect to be preaching to the choir? Who put you in charge?

          September 24, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • JR

          Live4Him – Merely presenting an idea for consideration is far different from trying to imposing it.

          September 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • JR

          Sorry, that should say "impose" not "imposing"

          September 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Anabasis

      Because religious people are constantly getting in my face, thinking it is their role to indoctrinate me into their baseless beliefs. Because they try to define laws of my country based upon a reality I believe invented. I am walking around with their God on my money. I'm sure if you tried, you could come up with more reasons. Atheists are one of the most despised groups of people in America. You are hoping to deny them their voice.

      September 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • CommonSensePrevails

      It's funny that you should ask:
      "If you do not believe in something, why spend so much time in trying to prove other people wrong?"
      Atheists don't go out and try to prove people wrong for no reason. They have been provoked and ostracized ever since religion was created. We're constantly being told we're going to hell and have no morals. It gets old after a while, and especially when believers are stating that based on bogus believes. It's very easy to pick religion apart and show there are no proofs whatsoever. Christians, for example, have as much proof for a god as Muslims or any other religion.
      Think about this; what is more moral:
      1) not cheating because you care about your fellow citizens and because you want to be part of a functional society, or
      2) because you're afraid you're going to hell

      September 22, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  17. Nick

    It is always good to be sorted and subsumed. Now that we know the different kind of atheist, you should also tell us the many types of believers. The list is so long that I would need a study to fully analyses this group behaviour; To those who are genuine believers who channel there spirituality in the name of god. Much respect to all of you. Check this out:

    1. Those who believe in god because it says so in the bible
    2. Those who rely of weekly confession to erase their continuous sinning pattern
    3. Those with a cross in one hand and a dagger in the other
    4. Those who are religious but not spiritual
    5. Those who believe in god because their parent were believers
    6. Those who wipe up whole nation and enslave their habitants
    7. Those who keeps doing evil in the name of god
    8. Those who believe in praying to for advantages and vanities
    9. Those who burns candle to invoke and cause harm onto others

    September 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • rtkMD

      Yeah, Nick is a 4, or maybe a 1 or a 2. I do agree these categories are a lame stab.

      September 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
      • modestypress

        There are probably a 100,000 types (or so) of religious believer. Overall religious belief has something to do with 1) wanting to live (when we are animals who obviously die); 2) wanting to make life "fair"; wanting to control other people (especially children). If God existed Its existence would impinge on empirical reality. All non-sociopathic/non psychopath humans are aware of flaws and faults in themelves. Jews haver rules ("The Commandments, etc.). Catholics have confession to an understanding and sympatheic priest who transfers forgiveness to you (if he is not busy raping you). Protestants imagine a perfect being (Christ) who is a man and not a man and takes on all guilt for you. Once (one theory argues) the world worshipped Goddesses and people treated each other until men went all paternalistic and started raping and dominating. It all boils down to we are animals with complex brains and our knowledge of mortality drives us crazy.

        September 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • BeeBeeWinston

      I love a good sense of humor. Hopefully this was said in a humorous way, if so it worked for me. If not, well its still an interesting read.

      September 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Hooray!

      Category #9 myself....though I can tell you voodoo doesn't work as well as I'd hoped.

      September 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  18. Chuck Anziulewicz

    I guess I'm somewhere between #1 (The Intellectual) and #2 (The Activist).

    September 20, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  19. Randall Bart

    My mother is what I call the true agnostic (which you have labeled non-theist). She does not know, and she does not care. I called my father a troubled agnostic (which you call intellectual atheist/agnostic). He did not know, but he cared. He wanted to know. He would call himself atheist, but only in a reverse Pascal's wager way: He was frustrated by his knowledge that he never would know, and since he could not know, he could not believe..

    September 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • rschoales

      She sounds like an apatheist. Google it. We don't wear labels well.

      September 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  20. JustMe

    I'm more concerned about whether I have clean socks in the drawer or carrots in the fridge so I guess I'm a 5.

    September 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
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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.