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. seven7

    I'm 6. My wife if very religious. I don't fight it. There are a few good things said in the bible I believe. For now I allow my young son to go the same route. Someday we'll discuss other options.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • littlelizzyloveslife

      I quite agree with you. I was raised Baptist, and I learned many good lessons, and many wrong ones. I have taken the good things, and left out the bad. I don't believe in a god, but I do believe in the lessons Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism and lots of others teaches. Be kind to each other and animals, help your neighbor, don't judge people, etc. But to say that your religion is the one true religion and everyone else who doesn't share your religion or worldview is going to hell is just ridiculous. When wars are fought over belief, it stops being useful. It has now lost it's value.

      July 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Leo

      There are many 'non-believers' that annoy the mess out of me and many 'believers' that I quite enjoy hanging out with. If I have to live by the principles that are huge to me then shoving it down other peoples throats is not what I want to do. Although Seth MacFarlane is right, we will have to fight at some point.

      July 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Doug

      I agree with you. My wife is raising our kids Catholic, which is how I was raised, but I have since quit religion. At some point my kids will grow up and make their own decision on what to do, but at least they have some education on the issue to help them along.

      July 18, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Ronnie

      My wife and I have a different approach to the way we are raising our child. We were both raised with a Christian base, I was raised as Catholic and she was something else. We have both rejected our religions and have decided to raise our child without any connections to religion. If you want your child to eventually decide for themselves, there is no sense in polluting an innocent mind before they are capable. In reality, though, I don't see any reason why my child needs to make a choice some day. My hope is that my child will eventually realize that religion is irrelevant when you look in the mirror and decide what kind of person you want to be.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  2. SM

    I think I'm #6... I don't believe in God or have anything to do with it. but i was born Hindu...I like the traditions and festivity that are associated as we grew up having fun with that...such as Holi, Durga Puja, Diwali etc...if I subtract the religious part from it I like the rest. Having said that, I also tend to be vocal about political causes like gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • TamilNadu roots

      Cool. Holi and Diwali are fun. I enjoy the festivities without believing in the religious components. I politely excuse myself when the puja starts. My ancestors were converted to christians by the British.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • TamilNadu roots

      And now I'm somewhere between atheist types #1 and #4. I'm also vocal in political causes, especially feminism and women's rights.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  3. alliewines

    It will be a good day when we can stop dividing ourselves into little comfortable groups and realize that we can all learn from each other to achieve that enlightenment we're all looking for.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  4. Study finds six types of atheist

    In this context, atheist is similar to unique, you are or you are not. There are no six kinds.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • bwdesmo

      Well said, for the purpose of this breakdown they could have said there are 6 distinct behaviors of atheists, but you're right there's no "kind" of atheist

      July 18, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  5. swinton

    There seems to be some confusion related to the root-meaning of "theism." According to most definitions "theism" refers to the belief in one or more gods, particularly as creator(s) of the universe. Can you still follow a religion but not believe in a creator god ? If so, then the definition of non-theist as one not involved in religion seems to be restrictive. Buddhism is classified by most as a religion, however, it does not support the belief of a creator god or gods. In this sense it is "non-theist" but not non-religious. Can a religion only be a religion if it supports a creator god ? There are millions that would beg to differ. I'm surprised that researchers going to the trouble of performing a study seem to have artificially restricted themselves, thereby significantly limiting the value of the study.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  6. kp

    I wonder why number 3 is categorized as a type of atheist? That fits me to a T and I do not describe myself as an atheist.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Jason

      God loves you KP.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
      • Gauderio

        god doesn't exist Jason

        July 28, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Dan

      Thats why they label it seeker-agnostic, which is by far the best description of my "beliefs" out of this list.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Devout Atheist

      Study find six types of agnostic –

      1. Agnostic-Atheist-Materialist-Scientist: “God probably doesn’t exist but I won’t say so absolutely because that would reveal that deep down I’m just as dogmatic as the Jesus Freaks I live to mock and that I’m just using science as a rhetorical device to dupe people into respecting my materialist theology.”

      2. Agnostic-Atheist-Postmodern-Contrarian Jerk: “I don’t know if God exists and I’m not interested in finding a real answer. Instead what I care about is telling others how stupid they are for sharing their religious beliefs. Both atheists and Christians need to shut up in their dumb fight so they can listen to me and realize that I’m so much more humble and advanced than both of them.”

      3. Agnostic-Indifferent: “I don’t know if God exists and it’s not really something I think about much.”

      4. The Christian Agnostic: “Something amazing happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.”

      5. The Mystic Agnostic: “Maybe there’s something spiritual going on — there probably is — I’m just not sure what it is yet.”

      6. The Mystic Agnostic Inter-Faith Ethical Monotheist Seeker: “There’s something spiritual going on and if we want to label it ‘God’ then that works. My agnosticism is not in whether God exists, but which God(s) are best and what it means to worship them.”

      July 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
      • 7

        7. "Every knee shall bow every tongue confess"

        July 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • Jon

          amen. I wonder if CNN will ever make an article on the sects of Christianity and cover them in detail? Or any other religion for that matter...

          July 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • agnostic seeker?

      Thank you..mystic agnostic. I'll take that one.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Craig

      That's what makes much of this study nonsense. Atheists and agnostics are not in the same category. Agnostics are "seekers" and doubters and what we atheists call "wishy-washy atheists." We atheists are sure that we're right.

      July 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
      • Chris

        I'm an atheist because I don't "BELIEVE" in a deity or theology. That doesn't mean I "KNOW" anything. And neither do you.

        July 16, 2013 at 9:26 am |
      • CommonSensePrevails

        I call myself an Atheist too, but I disagree with you about being sure there is absolutely no god. Richard Dawkins explained this superbly, and I would highly recommend you read what he said.
        Here's a quick rundown:
        If there's a scale from 1 to 7, 1 being "there is a god" and 7 "there is no god", Dawkins said he was a 6.
        The comparison was something like this: if someone said they believed in the flying tea pot, we'd say that sounds pretty crazy, but can we prove there is no flying tea pot? No we can't. But for all intense and purposes, we'd say we're anti-tea-potists, right?! Same thing goes with unicorns and the list goes on and on. Same idea for religious and non-believers. I like the idea of calling myself an Atheist, but can I prove there is no god; no I can't.
        Likewise, a believer cannot prove there is a god, and since they are making the extra ordinary claim – the burden of proof lies upon them, not on us non-believers.

        September 23, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  7. fred

    Religion was made up by men of power and wealth to keep the masses under control. Can you imagine the middle east 2000 years ago if everyone thought "might as well get what I can.. there is no reward later"? It would be bedlam. So religion was invented to provide order to society. "Don't do this wrong.. God is watching.." It was invented by men who wanted to keep the status quo.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • fred

      Religion was created to keep people in line..

      Don't strive or steal or kill for a better life NOW.. God is watching

      Remember "the poor on Earth are rich in heaven" – all meant to keep the status quo. Rich people don't want to be killed for their stuff. So they invent a religion to keep miserable people content – with the promise of something that will never come.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • Yakobi

        There are no gods or goddesses, demons or devils, ghosts or goblins. Religion was invented by man to control the masses.

        July 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • Sarah Divine

          Belief is like a chain
          If it is started it has to be finished
          There is no use for an unfinished link
          There is always going to be another notch
          that will clamp onto the end of the last notch
          In a way, EVERYTHING is here to control the masses
          Not just religion my friend.

          September 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I've never understood how one atheist says religion was invented by men of power and wealth to control the masses and the next one says it a collection of myths put together by ignorant iron age sheep herders.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • Fred Phred

        Well Bill, then you're not too bright. Here's how: There are many people.. and they all don't have one opinion on how things are done.

        No charge.. there buddy. On the house.

        July 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • crackwalker

        Some atheists are bad, and they skip the meetings, so they don't get the right info.

        July 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • Fred Phred

          Crack is right,

          I missed my last atheist meeting.. and the one before that, and the one before that too. In fact since we can't meet, there have been nobody who can sufficiently brainwash enough of us to all come up with the same impossible stories. So how about "lack of brainwashing" for another answer.

          July 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Fred Phred

          Or they are lousy at passing down impossible fairytales to their kids and grandkids.

          July 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
        • outinkansas

          Hell, I not only missed the athiest meeting I missed the gay meeting where they passed out the agenda.

          July 16, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • crackwalker

          You missed the gay meeting? That's too bad because right after we put the finishing touches on the plan to ruin marriage, the devil dropped by with great snacks and we had a wicked awesome dance party.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Looking at the linked article:

    Intellectual Atheist/Agnostics were the largest group among those surveyed, people the report defined as “individuals who proactively seek to educate themselves through intellectual association, and proactively acquire knowledge on various topics relating to ontology (the search for Truth) and non-belief.”

    Education, said Coleman, particularly college education had a more deleterious effect on religious belief than any other single factor.

    “College was certainly a huge theme that popped out in this,” he said. “Quite dramatically, people would say, ‘Hey, I was a Christian going in the first year, after the second I was agnostic, and by the time I graduated, I said I was done with all this.’”

    ... hardly surprising, and why the religious right wants so much to subvert education.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • cm

      Sorry, but education doesn't guarantee one a decent job. Many people have a college degree and are under or unemployed. And furthermore, if any professor or college textbook mock someone's belief in God they truly are evil.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
      • Jul

        I don't understand your arguement. You think that professors are turning students into non-believers? Or you think that a college education is not helping with employment?

        July 16, 2013 at 10:18 am |
        • cm

          both. The statement above claims that religious people are trying to subvert education. From personal experience I know education may not get you anywhere. The rest praises as one furthers their education they don't believe anymore. I went to college and there are professors who laugh at believers.

          July 17, 2013 at 2:35 am |
      • CommonSensePrevails

        cm, you're right; just because you get a degree does not mean you will get a job or a decent job, and that is unfortunate.
        However, I don't think you understand that a professor does not have to mock religion for a person to become a non-believer. A student only needs to learn about critical thinking and common sense. That is why questioning in the churches is frowned upon.

        September 23, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • CommonSensePrevails

      This is SO true! That is why education is so important. It opens a person's mind, teaching them how to think critically and not to follow the masses.

      September 23, 2013 at 1:19 am |
  9. sly

    I'm kinda the 1-2-3-4-5-6 athiest.

    Humans are animals on this planet, and frankly, we are a fairly disgusting representative of the animal kingdom – hating, murdering for fun, 250 pounds overweight.

    There is no reason to place ourselves above any other animal.

    If there is a God – He is most likely a Dolphin or a Whale or an Ape.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • I Love Rich People

      Yes because animals are never violent and kill and treat each other bad. you are a moron.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Yes but I think he is only a ten on the moron scale.

        July 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
      • crackwalker

        And gods are never violent and kill and treat each other bad.

        Go ask Job, or Abraham or Moses about it.

        July 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • 7

          Job really... he was perfect in God's eye during his time. The bible is waiting for you, hello

          July 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • crackwalker

          What does that mean? The bible is not waiting for me. I read it. It was not very good. Lord of the Rings makes more sense.

          According to the story, God was in a bragging contest with Satan, and he decided to torment Job and make sure that Job accepted it all with a smile on his face, just to show off.

          His argument is that "I'm God, so if I want to torment you, I will! You are my creation, so you are lucky just to be alive, even if you are lying in a pool of your own filth and covered in boils"

          Dumb story with a stupid lesson.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
        • CommonSensePrevails

          Religious studies should have Leviticus as required first reading; nasty little piece of the bible.

          September 23, 2013 at 1:28 am |
      • doughnuts

        Very few animals go in for wholesale slaughter of their own kind.
        Very few animals kill prey species for fun.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • 7

      If your curious enough you will find him... you may be pleasantly surprised

      July 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • CommonSensePrevails

        7, I'm curious about Truth and common sense. That's probably why I haven't found "him". I "need" truth, common sense and kindness, not an imaginary friend who I ask for favors (prayers). What people should "seek" is social justice for all.

        September 23, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Sarah Divine

      If i may....here is a suggestion because i find the theory of evolution to be complete and utter bull.
      If we evolved from primates as they say
      why on God's green earth are there STILL primates?
      I guess some one was too stupid to loose all their fur and walk on two legs...
      My god that just SCREAMS retardation...

      September 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
      • eja

        This is a couple of days late but, what the heck. Your post is what screams "retardation". You don't even understand the theory you are criticizing. And its "lose" not "loose". You should really learn the difference before you talk smack about a theory that was contributed to by many people who are significantly smarter than you. How are you wrong? There are many primates. The ones that we evolved from are long gone. The primates that exist in the present are different evolutionary branches, which is why they continue to exist. Evolution has no goal.

        September 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • sam k

        Sarah – you have zero (sorry minus 10) understanding of the evolution theory. Please understand it before you criticize it – It does not it mean you will necessarily start believing it but at least you will put forward a sensible argument otherwise it is like an atheist arguing that "Jesus could not have been crucified on Mount Aconcagua because it is too far from Israel" – the first answer any christian would give her is...duh who said Jesus was crucified in the America? learn your bible idiot!"

        September 16, 2013 at 7:34 am |
      • CommonSensePrevails

        Sarah, I'm an Atheist, but I read the bible because I try to understand what religious people really believe. I really want to learn and understand what the world is made up of, even if I disagree with you. I wish you would show us non-believers the same courtesy. Because of what you are saying, it sounds like you are just repeating what your pastor is saying or what you have heard on Fox News. Churches frown upon their followers learning or questioning anything that's said by their leaders. If you are just going to repeat what you hear, don't even bother.

        September 23, 2013 at 1:38 am |
  10. Saraswati

    While interesting, the sample doesn't appear to be very representative. The survey was an internet one with respondents gathered by essentially word of mouth and advertisement on atheist blogs and forums. Activist and debate oriented atheists will therefore be very much over-represented while it's not at all surprising that the "non-theist" group, by definition not interested in these forums, is under-represented, when in fact in most communities this is likely the largest group.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      These are labels for the sake of labels.

      This is evident by the number of posters who relate to multiples of these pigeon-hole categories.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I had initial concerns about a sample size of 59.

      ... From the linked article:

      "Study One was qualitative and involved 59 personal interviews with non-believers from a wide range of religious and class backgrounds. In Study Two, the quantitative phase, more than 1,000 non-believers from around the U.S. took an internet survey with more than 300 questions, establishing where they fell along a set of metrics including autonomy, positive relationships with others, narcissism and other traits.

      I felt better about 1,000.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'm happy with the idea of breaking down what I alsothinkisa diverse group, but just concerned that even with a large sample it's not representative. However, if we treat it more as an exploratory study it's not such a bad start.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's too bad Dan Merica didn't run with this conclusion from the study:

      “Congratulations, non-believers,” said Coleman in an interview with Raw Story, “you’re essentially normal,” with personality types that break down just like the rest of society. Research revealed that atheists range across “a normal distribution of personality types,” and that the aggressive, confrontational stereotype of atheism only applies to a sliver of the people who identify as non-believers.

      This, I suspect, was much more what the survey studied than these six buckets.

      July 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Stephen Jones

      I agree with you but stimulating the debate is important. As more people seek answers about agnostic/atheist/skeptic outlooks perhaps fewer will grasp out to fantasy and mysticism.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  11. Devout Atheist

    Where's the "Six types of Christian" article?

    Seems to be the sect that suffers from a mass god delusion would be the portion of our population that most requires to be broken down, analyzed, and investigated. But no, let's over-analyze the sane amongst us. That makes infinitely more sense.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Devout Atheist

      Meant to write "me" not "be".

      And I'm a 1-(partial)2-4 atheist

      July 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It seems like a valid area of research to me. There are plenty of studies on Christians, who break themselves into far more groups. I personally think the term "atheist" as activists like to use it is far too broad.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Melissa Greene

      Yeah, I know what you mean but I'm afraid there are just too many categories of Christians. And coming "out" as an atheist is kinda new, it's very "interesting". At least it's getting people talking.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  12. StClown

    I think I'd be well fit into either the Intellectual- or Non-Theist Atheist groupings. I like reading about religion not for any sort of debate, but rather to better understand those that have faith and know what their religion teaches. I don't have any faith, was never raised within a church, mosque or temple, and therefore I don't get it. At the same time, I'd just as soon let people live their lives as they want until their faith calls for some sort of harm against another person.

    I do find those militant atheists a bit on the repugnant side, just as I do with those militant religious people. You mind your own business, let others worry about theirs.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • CommonSensePrevails

      Although an Atheist, I wouldn't call myself militant... Agree with you it can be too much when someone (Atheist or believer) is militant. However, I do have to side with the militant Atheist because they would not exist had the militant believer not existed. I have been an angry non-believer in the past because of how I was treated (sometimes as if I had a disease if you can believe it) when I mentioned I was not religious and did not go to church. I was constantly bugged about how I needed help and was going to hell if I did not believe and go to church; it was very hurtful at times, and that in time made me an angry Atheist. I've come along ways but I still feel for the militant or angry Atheist who may be processing similar thoughts.
      If (mostly) Christians stopped being so pushy about their believes and kept it to themselves (I know, they are *supposed to teach* others about god), then you'd see a lot less militant Atheists.

      September 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  13. Jason J (from So Cal)

    I guess I'd have to say I am a Anti-theist, who is working his way up to Intellectual Atheist. The 'intellectual' part requires study and understanding, and that takes time.

    I would like to give CNN a positive shout out; they have really done a great job of including the atheist viewpoint on the Belief Blog. You rarely find such fair and unbiased treatment of atheists. Thanks!

    July 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  14. rosie

    7. Honey badger.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  15. boocat

    Another study.....

    July 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Stephen Jones

      Studies, are one way people advance the human condition. If the study is found lacking or unviable it is expanded on or relegated to the dustbin. Studies are an important part of the scientific process.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  16. Johnny 5

    Religion will be nearly non existent in the next 2-3 generations.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Always safe to prognosticate on something no one will hold you accountable for saying

      July 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Keep to your faith Johnny. It's not based on any facts but I have little doubt it gives you hope.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
      • crackwalker

        Fact: Church attendance is dwindling in most developed countries.

        July 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
        • Mathews

          And suicide rates, killing, murder, violence in kids are all going up

          July 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • crackwalker

          Really? I don't think so.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
        • Lycidas

          Come back when religious people don't out number atheists nearly 15 to 1 in the world.
          There is NO evidence that religons are going to disappear. NONE.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
        • crackwalker

          No evidence. It's just a trend. Proves nothing, but it it encouraging!

          July 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          mathews. Do you have any evidence of a causal correlation?

          July 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • 7

          This is call apathy... which means the salt is losing its flavor

          July 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • crackwalker

          This is called knowledge overcoming fear.

          Hey! You can stay home on Sunday and watch TV – God won't notice because he's only a character in a book

          July 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
        • crackwalker


          July 18, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Stephen Jones

      Wish it were true.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Melissa Greene

      I totally agree, it will also be a much more peaceful planet.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • Husker Bri

        I've heard this comment before by others but, what makes you think this would be true. There is still the almighty dollar. Love, hate, greed and racism can still thrive in a religion free world. And I think if you look at most religious wars, they had underlying reasons of land and power. Look the Taliban or Al-Qaida, you think they kill for the prophet, and the lower morons think they are but the folks at the top are directing them to position for power and money. If they didn’t have the prophet or religion they would come up with another reason for a power grab. Bottom line is that there are bad people on this planet and they don’t necessarily need religion as an excuse.

        July 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  17. suresh

    can't you split up each set of christians into 6 sub-sets? for all i care i am not religious.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  18. Loopytickler

    How about the Satanic Atheist?

    July 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • wordclock

      Atheists don't believe in Satan. Duh!

      July 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
      • rosie

        WTH does wordclock even mean?????

        July 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • Stephen Jones

          It's a clock used to sync other clocks or other devices. I think it's a pretty good handle. Wished I'd have thought of it.

          July 16, 2013 at 11:50 am |
      • Brendan S.


        July 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • goldfalcon82

      A Satanist can't really be an atheist. If one is truly devoted to the worship of the Biblical Satan, then one must accept his ideological and spiritual opposite, the Judeo-Christian god. One is just as stupid and illogical as the other. There is no Satan to worship, just as there is no Jesus waiting to ride back down on a white horse and slaughter non-believers, just as there is no Yaweh, or Allah, or Shiva, or Great Spirit. We humans are the only gods there are, and the sooner the majority of humanity comes to realize it, the happier we will be.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • Dennis

        If, by Satanist, he means a follower of the Church of Satan, then they are atheists. Satan is not used as a deity by the Church, but as a symbol of rebellion and non-conformity. The Satanic Bible pretty much puts followers into the 5/6 category, I'd say. They're encouraged not to worship anything but themselves. Satanism also presents the argument that rituals are important in creating a sense of community and culture and, even though there is not deity, the rituals are still important for the people.

        July 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • crackwalker

          Um, no. Belonging to the Church of Satan means you're not an atheist.

          Unless you're doing it as a joke, like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

          July 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • agnostic seeker?

      Atheism with a mascot

      July 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
      • Jonathan

        Yeah, its a great way to stick-it-to-the-religious-man. Let's take the symbol that represents everything they believe is wrong with the world, and even the reason why were are seperated from their God, and use it to represent ourselves. That reeks of maturity and respect.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  19. Honey Badger Don't Care

    I guess that I'm a 1-2-4 atheist.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Mike

      Same here. Mostly 1 and 2, and 4 except that I don't typically seek out confrontation.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • CaptiveAudience

        I am a 5. I don't even think about it most of the time.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Oregon Jeff

      Same here and very vocal.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • sophie

      yep 1,2,4 and damn proud

      July 17, 2013 at 3:02 am |
      • mark troiano

        why are you proud of being an atheist. just wondering. I am an atheist too but I just consider believing in nothing not something to be proud of, but just a fact. like i'm white, of Italian ancestry. just a fact.

        July 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • Abhinav

          You sir are correct. I am an Indian and to say that I am proud of it is like saying I am proud of a random fact about me. However I chose atheism, and I am proud of that choice.

          July 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
        • corey

          I am proud in that I have chosen to have courage in the face of being a religious minority and stand my ground in the face of those who would ridicule me for using my grey matter, rather than do what I'm told.

          July 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • Atheist 124

          I'm proud to be an atheist because, in my understanding of my position, I have used my logic and reason to question why anyone would trust the word of a 1900-year-old book as an authority on anything factual. I follow science, not spirituality, not mysticism, and not fantastic claims about the supernatural, because it makes more sense than to believe in what you and others can measure in a tangible fashion rather than what you think it would be nice to be true. Other people take pride in being strong, muscular, and in good physical condition, I take pride in my thoughts, logic, and intellect. That is why I am proud to be an atheist.

          July 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • Eric

          I disagree. I find that being an atheist at this point in history is something to be proud of. No one accomplished being Italian, etc., but to pull yourself away from the theist establishment, to stand up to willful ignorance, and oppose legislation based on religious ideology or intolerance is something of which one can be quite proud. It is just to easy to believe instead of think. It is difficult to be consumed with the concept of truth while admitting that you don't know everything. It isn't for the timid. And certainly not the path of least resistance right now.

          July 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • DAWIBL

          Pride in your accomplishment is one thing, but realize that pride can lead you into believing that you are now better than those who have not accomplished this. This is a major flaw of most religions and has been a cause of so many wars. Nobody is better than another. We all came into this world innocent. Put yourself in their shoes. Do you think its possible that may have not made the same choices if you had lived their lives? If you do than that a side affect of religion(a soul).

          July 21, 2013 at 7:39 am |
        • mike

          In response to Eric, what does no accomplishments being Italian mean? Now thats a laugh. 60% of the Western Worlds culture , civilization, and heritage came from Italy either directly or indirectly from Roman times down to the Renaissance. We wouldnt be in this land if it wasnt for Columbus, nor would this land be called America if it wasnt for Vespucci.

          July 23, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • A Frayed Knot


          That's not what Eric said (or meant). He meant that nobody can change themselves into being Italian.

          July 23, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • MrNunezSF

      6-5-1. INTP. More boxes please...

      July 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
      • Slerotin

        I'm an INTP-Five as well!

        July 19, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • KMDAB

        5-6, ISTJ.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
      • Echopraxia

        INTJ – 5 for 28 years until I met my 4-2 husband, now I'm a 3 but would really like to be a 5 again.

        July 20, 2013 at 2:33 am |
      • Detective Z

        INTP as well – 5 & 6

        July 21, 2013 at 3:46 am |
    • SATCH

      Same here.... 1, 2 4.

      July 19, 2013 at 2:31 am |
    • James Smith

      #5 might be the most invisible group but I very seriously doubt it's the smallest group.
      The authors admit they contacted atheist groups to find their subjects. I'm surprised
      they found any #5's in that group. In the real world #5 is a huge group. Most
      non-religion people I know just don't think it's important and just don't care.

      July 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
      • Gideon

        Totally agree, and anyone conducting a survey like this with any experience in data gathering would see the obvious potential for observer bias you've pointed out.

        As an Australian, i'm tempted to say that 1 and 2 (in fact, the assumption that atheists are ever really vocal at all) is a more American thing than most American atheists realize. Perhaps we (Australians, but also much of Europe from what i've seen) have less annoying puritans to worry about.

        July 22, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Mark3785

      1,2,4 here too. It's heartening to see so many. I guess humanity is maturing past the need for an imaginary friend.

      July 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Josh

      1-2-4, but really only the second half of 2.

      July 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Dr. Bill Donahue

      I find it fascinating that if there is no God, and a-theism is "obviously" true (actually more trendy than anything), why there is SO much discussion about the existence of God? Why are people who say there's no God so eager to talk about God to the billions who believe? Why are some of the most respected intellectuals in every field – from science, to law to politics, to mathematics – believers? There is no need to spend endless resources disproving the existence of Santa, the Easter bunny, or green men on mars, right? Why are people working so hard to dispel a belief that arose on its own (if you are an evolutionist you must admit this). You should be rejoicing in the laws of natural selection and Darwinian "survival of the fittest" thinking – c'mon you Darwinian atheists, admit that religious belief is the highest expression of our evolution!

      July 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • chrisnfolsom

        >I find it fascinating that if there is no God, and a-theism is “obviously” true (actually more trendy than anything), why there is SO much discussion about the existence of God?
        -EVERYTHING is a trend or though until it is "vetted" and becomes a belief. Christianity was a trend to Judaism – does that make it less real? Through natural selection generally the best percolates to the top of the heap – although there is always something that can sneak around and beat what is on top – as with the dinosaurs... Being the biggest, or most powerful does not prove you right, but does make you a bigger target.

        >Why are people who say there’s no God so eager to talk about God to the billions who believe?
        – To try and get them to shut up. Who do so many Christians go on missions? Generally we all leave each other alone if we can in our own little worlds. We all know the other is wrong, are not supported by their gods, so cannot be good (as we need god to be good) and are are going to hell. Athiest believe you may be wrong, but could be good people we will just have to find out as you are what you do, and not who you are.

        > Why are some of the most respected intellectuals in every field – from science, to law to politics, to mathematics – believers?
        – Some of our greatest leaders believing in dragons just a few years ago, or that the Earth was at the center of the universe? There is ONE trend in knowledge and understanding and that is the more we understand nature the more it makes sense and the less the Bible, or other religions make sense. And I know of NO time in which modern peer review science was disproven and the belief went back to a biblical, or purely religious explanation – NONE.

        > There is no need to spend endless resources disproving the existence of Santa, the Easter bunny, or green men on mars, right? Why are people working so hard to dispel a belief that arose on its own (if you are an evolutionist you must admit this).
        – The big issue today is that religions are causing war, and religions are causing us to pick sides for things that don't even exist. We have real problems as a human race and we need to work together to fix them and religion, prejudice and intolerance are in our way.

        >You should be rejoicing in the laws of natural selection and Darwinian “survival of the fittest” thinking – c’mon you Darwinian atheists, admit that religious belief is the highest expression of our evolution!
        – Religion cannot be "the highest expression of our evolution" as it cannot be proven true. If we accept the "facts" for believe in God – Which on do we pick? We this God help us in any way? The very basis of Evolution and the VERY complex ways in which we are learning it happens cannot be applied to something that cannot be proven – the very basis of the Science and the Scientific Method.

        July 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Kindoalkun

      Wow, so Atheism has "denominations" now??? What's next, tract pamphlets and a book that contains their beliefs? Why not, the Atheist version of "annoying missionaries" has been with us for years now...

      August 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • photografr7

        In my church, all atheists are required to wear skull caps and carry divining rod. We also hold bake sales every Thursday to pay for pro-atheist mailings to get the "good word" out. Join us, brother, and be saved from the misery of Goddome.

        August 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • Kindoalkun

          Yea verily! Let them without the SkyDaddy sacrifice and ascend to the peaks of Misanthropic Narcissistic Personality Disorder. So sayeth Lord Dawkins!

          August 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • photografr7

          And Christopher Hitchens who art in heaven. Praise Jesus. He's the best second baseman we've ever had!

          August 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  20. Answer

    This article is proof positive of our gains in society.

    We're growing in vast numbers as to be a threat to these religious cretins that they want to classify us.

    July 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • HamsterDancer

      LOL! I guess you've just classifed yourself under this article as a 1 and/or 4!

      July 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What makes you think researchers at the University of Chattanooga are religious cretins?

      July 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
      • Alias

        The ones who wrote this article are cretins.
        There is no way and qualified researcher would consider athiests a distinctly different group of people.

        July 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • Oregon Jeff

          "The ones who wrote this article are cretins."

          I can't speak to the beliefs/opinions of the author of the article. I don't think you can, either.

          "There is no way and qualified researcher would consider athiests (sic) a distinctly different group of people."

          I think the *entire* point of the research is to show that atheists are *not* a distinctly different group of people and, thus, pretty much just like everyone else with the exception of not believing in any god(s).

          July 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • photografr7

          There's only one reason to separate atheists into six categories. It's the oldest trick in the book: "Divide and Conquer"

          August 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
      • crackwalker

        Their work speaks for them. It is poorly conceived pop-culture hackery, clearly the work of a team of cretins.

        July 18, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Answer, You might want to research the authors before making that kind of assumption. Silver, at least, is an atheist (or at least "free thought") activist.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • crackwalker

        Silver is a moron. The 'survey' is based on the false assumption that non-belief in god(s) is an aberrant condition.

        Babies are born as atheists. It is the natural state.

        July 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
        • Saraswati

          You do realize he's anatheist activist?

          July 16, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Oregon Jeff

          "Silver is a moron."

          Well, nothing like an ad hominem to strengthen your argument.

          "The 'survey' is based on the false assumption that non-belief in god(s) is an aberrant condition."

          No, it's not. If it were based on that false assumption, there'd have been no work on typing. It would have sought to cast every single atheist as the same and separate from "normal" people.

          "Babies are born as atheists. It is the natural state."

          Yes, and the sooner we can get theists to understand this, the better.

          I don't see how railing against other atheists achieves that. Do you?

          July 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
        • crackwalker

          ..whut? Not sure what you're getting at.

          I will rail against people that need to be railed against. I don't check to see their affiliation first.

          Atheism isn't a church. You don't sign up, and choose a type that matches your atheistic needs.

          If Silver is an atheist, he can still be a moron. That doesn't make all atheists morons... that's flawed logic, chum

          July 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
        • 7

          Actually babies are born with a ton of faith but, and aren't aware enough to not believe. This how they learn to walk.. it is the belief that they can. With knowledge comes doubt with doubt comes disbelief with disbelief come skeptical beliefs. This turn you into a spiritual zombie

          July 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • crackwalker

          Babies are born with a ton of faith... in their mom.

          That's pretty much all they are aware of

          July 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
        • Kindoalkun

          You're also born completely ignorant and defecating in your clothing. Your point???

          August 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
        • photografr7

          Babies aren't atheists!!!! An atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a divine power. Do you think babies thought that concept through? Half the people here haven't even thought it through yet, and I assume they're older than babies.... although they don't act it.

          August 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
        • The Dagger

          photografr7, you are literally mentally challenged. They haven't thought of a divine being, so how could they believe in one. All they know is warmth food and water/milk. They do not follow a divine being nor believe in one, hence, an atheist.

          August 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • photografr7

          MODERATOR: This is my second request. The Dagger is annoying and insulting. Please BLOCK HIM, thanks!

          August 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Timodeus

      I'll go ahead and put you down as a number 4.

      July 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Honey Boo Boo

      Do not suckle up to religion because it is a bunch of lies created by hillbillies and other primitive people with low behavior

      July 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
      • Ex-Veteran

        I guess one those hillbillies was Sir Issac Newton – "We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatever."

        or Max Plank (father of quantum physics) – “That God existed before there were human beings on Earth, that He holds the entire world, believers and non-believers, in His omnipotent hand for eternity, and that He will remain enthroned on a level inaccessible to human comprehension long after the Earth and everything that is on it has gone to ruins;"

        July 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • G to the T

          I wasn't aware that Newton or Plank started their own religions. 🙂

          Seriously though – appeals to authority don't really sell a case. Many very smart people have believed "crazy" things.

          July 16, 2013 at 9:32 am |
        • Mike

          Smart people, too, can believe stupid things.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Beebop

          So you are saying that some smart people are religious so I should be too?

          July 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
        • Oregon Jeff

          So if I quote any number of smart people about atheism, that makes for a compelling counter-argument?

          Seriously, appeals to authority aren't particularly compelling. Try again.

          July 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Honey Boo Boo

          Just because a scientist or theorist believed in religion does not make it real. Infact, anyone, when constantly brainwashed for their whole lives, is willing to believe anything even a fiction book like the bible.

          July 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
        • sophie

          both of these comments can easily be interpreted to show disbelief, I don't think any faithful person would call their god 'omnipotent'

          July 17, 2013 at 3:07 am |
        • crackwalker

          Max Planck and Isaac Newton are respects for their scientific work, not for their religious views.

          Every work they spoke is not gospel truth. Their contributions to science were proven, though reason and logic.

          Their feelings about the supernatural world, while interesting, are not relevant.

          July 18, 2013 at 8:50 am |
        • Candide33

          Do you know what happened to nonbelievers during Newton's lifetime? The believers would harass them, shun them, make their kids suffer, tell lies about them and even jail or murder them.

          So it stands to reason that people would lie and claim to believe even when they didn't just to save their lives and the lives of heir families.

          You cannot say for certainty who was a believer and who was a poser back then, still can't because believers are still making life miserable for nonbelievers when they think they can get away with it.

          July 19, 2013 at 1:29 am |
        • Jonathan V

          Anyone, regardless of how smart they are, can be brainwashed. Even Newton.
          Any all major religions use brainwashing techniques to 'teach' (or, using the actual words of some american politicians – 'Capture') children.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • Kon

          This comment is really in response to the replies on Ex-Veteran's post rather than to Ex-Veteran him/herself:

          I'm pretty sure Ex-Veteran's point was just that not all believers of religion are "hillbillies and other primitive people with low behavior" as Honey Boo Boo claimed, not necessarily that people should be religious because a few smart guys were. I was raised a Christian and now consider myself an agnostic leaning strongly towards atheism, so there is certainly a possilibity for bias in my comment, but I have encountered a number of Christians who are very intelligent (yes, scientifically) and who have excellent critical thinking skills. While there certainly are many mindless Christians and other religious followers who blindly believe in their faith, there are also those who have analyzed many possibilities and thought quite a bit about what they believe to be true. In the eyes of atheists, maybe they missed a couple steps, but that doesn't mean they're stupid. There are idiots in every religion just as their are intellects in each. Such assumptions of religious-based (or lack-of-religion-based?) superiority that I've seen in reading the other replies to this post only parallel the type of behavior you all claim to abhor.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • johnfmayer

        Well, Honey Boo Boo, I happen to be a hillbilly and I am neither primitive nor one who engages in "low behavior" of any sort. Regionalist bigotry is just as bad as any other kind. I'd be happy to match the intellect and ethics of any number of my hillbilly friends—most of whom, by the way, are atheists or agnostics—against yours any day.

        July 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • Sarah Divine

        Is that not the same reason that people accept none religion
        Because some one gave them the nudge in that direction
        OR your life REALLY sucks my friend..

        September 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • mark troiano

      you sound kind of angry. jut an observation. I don't believe in god but I see no point in taking away from people something that gets them through life, it's like telling a kid there's no santa clause except the result is much more brutal. I wish I did believe in god instead of knowing that nothingness awaits us.

      July 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
      • Bob

        Mark (and others),
        You SOUND intelligent to a degree. But have you ever read the bible? I suggest starting with the book of John in the bible. If you care about your family will you not at least do that? The greatest comfort and joy comes from a PERSONAL relationship with the God of the universe! And if you decide to read it, ask God to help you apply it personally. He will.And then pay attention to your thoughts about what you read.

        I know some of you will laugh at this. But, pay attention to who you are listening to about God. You don't know me, but you probably don't REALLY know any of the other so-called atheists on this website. What do you think about when you're afraid?No hope? No life after?No...

        Listen to God. Don't listen to the lies of the world. All of these superstars and "Heroes" will be gone someday. Just think about what you're gambling with...
        "May the peace of God which transcends all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4

        July 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
        • Candide33

          Hahaha We did read the bible, that is why most of us are atheists. If you ever read it, all of it you would see how ridiculous it is. You are telling him to be careful of who he is listening to but you fell into the same trap, cherry picking the least insane bits to base your entire life on.

          Do yo even realize that you are worshiping a being who sent bears to kill little kids because they teased a guy for being bald? What kind of monster would ever do such a thing? A thinking human being would have seen it for what it was, a bald guy writing self-serving passages in a book of fairytales.

          ""And 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. And 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" 2 Kings 2:23-24

          July 19, 2013 at 1:41 am |
        • jdk1.0

          Two she bears is a pretty cool guy. eh tare forty and two of them and doesn't afraid of anything.

          July 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • David

      You're only a threat to yourself. No true believer is in any way intimidated by someone who doesn't believe in GOD. Only a "fool" would utter such nonsense. You think I am a fool for believing and I say you're a fool for not believing. Bottom line: One of us is a fool and it's definitely not me.

      July 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
      • Soren

        So question, if you were not really intimidated by us then why do you speak out so loudly against us.
        maybe its just that you're scared of us.

        July 19, 2013 at 12:29 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.