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. TDM

    I see they are still holding the pages at about 10 responses to cut the possibility of and conversation continuing. Well done, CNN. Not.

    Fix this glitch!

    July 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The biggest problem is that the recent post links (and the return after posting link) are all off by one page.

      Once this is no longer on the front page, conversations will be more practical.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Vic

        I think that may be due to dynamic pages sizing or so.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • OTOH

        I'm not getting anywhere by clicking a name on "Recent Posts" - tried paging back one # - no soap.

        I hope they fix it soon.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Vic

      I think it is a threads per page limit to allow for more nested replies allocation. Depending on the number of replies per thread, some of that allocation may end up unused.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  2. Lisa

    I think a lot of these labels are wrong, but the one that fits me the most is intellect atheist agnostic.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  3. Real atheist

    This attempt at categorization is hilarious. It's like saying there are 6 kinds of fingers – those with nails, those with knuckles, those with prints, etc... In other words, they aren't separate categories at all. If this actually gets published in a scholarly journal, I would add that journal to the rapidly expanding list of "junk" journals that will publish anything they receive (usually for a price).

    July 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Madtown

      Yup. They publish this stuff because they know it will draw a lot of comments, and web traffic. It's business, they're looking to please advertisers. 5000+ comments, looks like they were successful.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This interpretation misrepresents the study.

      I agree that the categories are overlapping – they represent behaviors more than they represent common 'schools' of disbelief.

      The purpose of the survey (and the creation of the categories) is to refute the idea that all atheists are militant anti-religionists (the anti-theists). It does that. The survey demonstrates that about 15% of the non-believers surveyed self-identified as 'anti-theists'.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  4. Reason+

    Most of the slaughter in human history was performed by armies marching into battle under the mantle: God (under whatever name) is on our side. Those slaughtered probably felt that their God had betrayed them or their misdeeds brought down the fury of their God. I do quite well without the shackles of religion. I also believe that many morals and mores in religious works were the product of the human brain dealing with human interactions of the times, not the hand of God wielding a judgmental pen..

    July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • hls08@msn.com

      Can you give me numbers of "most of the slaughter in human history". I always hear this, but I wonder where the numbers are. I hear millions and millions etc. I would bet most of the slaughter on earth has occurred because of greed and power (under the guise of religion) which I'm sorry to inform you, will not disappear from the earth if religion does. Good luck with that pipe dream.....

      July 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Wrong Reason

      A proper examination of history will find that far more people have been killed by those who would end religion. It is a common straw man argument to toss up the Crusades, as deplorable as they were, as the great example of religion-justified genocide. One only need glimpse at the twentieth century to witness the bloodshed caused by anti-religious leaders and their followers. Furthermore, it is fallacious to characterize a religion by followers who do not properly embody the tenets of the belief system. However, atheism has no belief system except the belief that there is no belief system. Therefore, it is proper to judge atheism by the actions of those who declare no religion to be the proper non-belief system.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Don't malign the Crusades. From what I can see, it's not that they occurred that chafes. The biggest problem people have with them is they don't like the fact of who won

      July 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  5. Human

    Why does anyone need to be categorized? This idea that the media is trying to impose on people is just ridiculous. Another way to keep people from being peaceful. Why does it matter what religion a person is or not? People worry way too much what other people do. Just mind your own business. Simple as that. We are all in this together anyway. The funny thing is, we as human beings should be able to get it by now. Throughout all of history some race, religious sect or country has tried to extinguish the other labeled race, religious sect or country. Why? Because people always feel others are trying to impose their ideas on others. The same with government. We the people are all governments. We just have been brainwashed by these oligarchs to believe that we need to follow and fear. The whole idea that we live under fear for or of government, police, military, god, country is beyond absurd. We don't need any of that stuff. We are who we are already. We police ourselves, we protect ourselves. We don't need this whole idea shoved down our throats anymore. With the amount of technology that we have, why do we even elect officials? People should have their own vote and own say. Or even why do we have a say in what others do anyway? People are smart enough to know that death and killing are bad. But, we have a created this false illusion that we need policing, we need government, we need religion. When in all reality, we just need to live, love and be ourselves. There is no liberal, there is no conservative. Just be an individual. People scream about racism when actually screaming about it is actual racism. No race is superior to the other. It's just a false illusion that we have all duped ourselves into believing. We as human beings can have structure without having to fear. It's pretty simple really. We do it already, but we all get worked up about what others do. It doesn't matter. Be yourself. Do for yourself. Throw away the security blanket and realize we are all individuals. We were born alone, we live alone and we will die alone. Everything else is just a mix of heresy.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Wrong Reason

      Therefore, you are declaring yourself a god; all of life's answers can be self-attained. Therefore, since you believe in yourself to possess this capability, you are not atheistic.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • Human

        I haven't declared myself anything. And I don't need to. And to be honest the answer that I may be looking for may not be the right answer for you or anyone else. And I'll even go so far as to say, who says I am looking for an answer anyway? Just live. Be who you are, be who you wanna be, not what someone else tells you. I'm not telling you to follow me or even asking to be followed.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  6. Vic

    Jesus Christ Is Lord

    July 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Who's Jesus?"

      – your human brother who God placed in an area where I'll never learn about christianity.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • lol??

      A&A's don't know who Jesus is but they sure know a Christian when they see one.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Doobs

        Yeah, it's the one pointing fingers at everyone else.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Doobs

      Why did Jeebus have to come to the Americas on a boat, then?

      July 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • TDM

      The Word according to Vic. Gee, that was convincing. Guess I'll not question anything anymore.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Observer


      That's strange. The Bible talks about them being two separate people and Jesus talks about his "father". Strange.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • mzh

      Dear Vic,

      I felt obligated to let you and others know that what one of the things that Quran teaches about Jesus:

      3:49 – And [make him Jesus] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah . And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.

      3:50 – And [I (Jesus) have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allah and obey me (Jesus).

      3:51 – Indeed, Allah is my (Jesus) Lord and your (companions) Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path."

      5:116 – And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.

      5:117 – I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.

      5:118 – If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

      5:119 – Allah will say, "This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness." For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment.

      5:120 – To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is within them. And He is over all things competent.

      Peace be upon all of you!!!

      July 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  7. Justanothered

    After reading your types, I would have to say I fall into your 6th category.
    But I would like to add that I firmly believe that without organized religion, there are just too many members of our society that would be completely lost.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  8. Jay Darby

    I'm not sure if I am an atheist but I am not religious. I do believe there is a higher power out there, in some form, but
    disagree with what we were taught in Sunday School. I seriously doubt there is an afterlife but it would be nice if there
    was but how can a single being, which cannot be seen, have all of the love and compassion that a God is supposed to
    have and yet, allow all of the death, disease, difficulties, and other maladies to afflict humanity. The "God is testing us"
    doesn't cut it anymore. Show me the proof of God's existence, and I will believe in Him.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  9. Journey

    This story is a rehash from a few months ago. Nice agenda pushing CNN.


    July 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Are you talking about the article or the pictures?

      The pictures are a rehash. I have not seen this study before.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  10. Susan

    I believe in God, no doubt he has been in my life. Even if we find out there is no God, wouldn't it be better to believe and there not be a God then to disbelieve and there be a God? Do atheists talk to themselves when they feel they have been wronged, had to suffer a death of a friend, or even been close to the death bed themselves?

    July 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • JimK57

      Ofcourse they do. Even though those feelings are irrational they are human.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • sam

      That's as dumb as me saying that when you pray, you too are just talking to yourself.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • raw75

      Pascal's Wager is a weak argument for believing in any god(s). What if the god you choose to believe in is the wrong god, what then?

      July 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Indi

      I always find this argument odd. Either you believe in something, or you don't. You can't MAKE yourself believe in something if you don't believe it. At least, I can't without being presented with some objective evidence.

      Could you make yourself believe in Zeus or Odin, just on the off chance the Greeks or Norse had it right? Atheists view the Judeo-Christian deity the same way you view all the thousands of gods in whom you DON'T believe.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  11. Reality

    Only for those still believing in the "Easter" con:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • JimK57

      Good post.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • faith

      yea, but we can't rest. we gots reli types teachin at harvard and m.i.t. and all over poppin up preachin hate. we got 2 work harder!

      July 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  12. Jack

    After-life. Humans are just greedy by nature, always wanting more. However, I have no problem with religion or those who believe in a "God", I simply do not and that is just how I feel about it. I feel like religion became a tool to used to control people over time, that is why it was actually an early form of government.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • lol??

      Abe didn't buy a marriage license from Sodom so he must have had a defiled marriage bed, at least according to socies.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Candiano

        When God Himself comes down to marry people personally, you will have a point. Otherwise, you have none.
        Don't like government? Try and find *one* place to live that doesn't have some form of it. And then move there. You can be your own King.

        And what is a socie? You keep dodging an answer.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  13. Jeff

    I view myself as more of a 3.
    I try my best to live my life based on one rule, "Be good to people."
    If there is a god and an afterlife, if he/she is worth being worshiped then he/she will reward those who are good people regardless of where they spend their Sunday mornings.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  14. Sybil J

    I am an atheist, but I do admit that one cannot prove that there is no god. One also cannot prove that there is one. I find it more logical not to jump to supernatural conclusions just because we don't have answers for questions like: how did the universe come into being?, what causes "miracles"?, etc. Just because we don't know answers to these does not mean we must jump to the idea that a god made all this. I know many people would call this agnostic, but I still do not believe in a supernatural cause for things, so I really am an atheist.

    I do observe Dhristmas because my friends do, but only for the company and the parties. I also find a psychological change in my brain when I engage in ritual but it is the same change that occurs when I attend really good theater or a wonderrful concert.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You describe an agnostic atheist. It is a sensible position to hold.

      There is a lot of confusion as to the best meanings of the words atheist and agnostic. One of the goals of this study is to refute the idea that all athesists are militant anti-religionists (the anti-theists). This definition of 'atheist' is the one promoted by the religious right. It is inaccurate.

      The study demonstrates that about 15% of the non-believers surveyed self-identified as 'anti-theist'.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Melissa Greene

      I was raised a Christian and it's been a long hard road and a lot of education to get where I'm at today. I am a seeker-agnostic that at the same time thinks that religion is pretty dangerous to society. It has hurt people from the beginning, as a child I had a very low self esteem due to religion and knew that I would never be as good as a boy and spent the majority of my time terrified of hell. None of this was necessary, I was drug from one redneck church to another, they all broke up usually because the preacher was sleeping with a member. I am much happier now and embrace science and feel that I actually have some control over my own life. I was always taught that at any moment the devil could take over your mind, I never knew if what I was thinking was a result of my own thoughts or the devil, very sad. I of course am raising my daughter "totally" different and we do celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter. I celebrate them as agnostic cultural holidays, you spend time with family and they started as pagan holidays anyway! Oh, and they're FUN!

      July 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • OTOH

        Good for you, Melissa!

        I know the feeling. Raised Catholic, we were taught that all of humanity is basically a pile of poop. We, dear, special Catholics, though, were at the top of the pile - prime poop, as it were. Being taught that we would disappear if "God" stopped thinking about us for even a millisecond, was terrifying.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  15. CRG

    The idea of Atheism is as silly as the religions it purports to negate. You cannot disbelieve in something unless you consider the possibility of its existence. Therefore Atheism is meaningless. To me, there is also a problem with our idea of existence. The human mind based on its limited experience seems incapable of considering the possibility of something beyond existence other than non-existence. Thus, the argument can be made that if evil exist then God does not exists. That is the limit of our logic and our experience. To quote Aldous Huxley ('Island"): "God give us faith, but deliver us from belief."

    July 17, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Atheism doesn't purport to "negate" religion. And the rest of your post is almost as bad.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • FAITH

        amen bro. what bird brains. we love religitards. what else would there be 2 do all day if we didn't have them evil group of morons 2 trash? nuttin. they gives meaning to our empty lives

        2.3 million 4 nuttin!

        July 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
      • FAITH

        amen bro. what bird brains. we love re lig itards. what else would there be 2 do all day if we didn't have them evil group of morons 2 trash? nut tin. they gives meaning to our empty lives

        2.3 million 4 nu tin!

        i prefer a nghf to explain how posting works

        July 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Zeus

      You have poor understanding of atheism and logic

      July 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • TDM

      Do you believe in Thor? No? Same concept. Easy.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You cannot disbelieve in something unless you consider the possibility of its existence.

      Nonsense. The existence of religion forces a consideration that it is based on material tenets. Rejection of those tenets (disbelief) is a reasonable conclusion.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Doobs

      So you're saying that I have to believe in the possibility of leprechauns, Santa Claus and Medusa in order not to believe in them? How silly.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • Doobs

        Sorry for the double post – something wonky going on with my posts.

        July 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • D00BS

      So you're saying that I have to believe in the possibility of leprechauns, Santa Claus and Medusa in order not to believe in them? How silly.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • What?

      What? You cannot disbelieve in something unless you admit it exists?

      I don't believe in Bigfoot, does that mean bigfoot must exist if I don't believe in it? What are you saying?

      July 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  16. KevinLP

    I too am a combination of the "types". When struck by the assertion or expectation that being a Christian (or in my state, Mormon)is the only acceptable way for my family (particularly my kids) to live and breathe. When under pressure to be "more Christian", I tend to become more active or anti-theist. Surrounded at work and home by a variety of "believers" can be frustrating. Were I to dare utter comments about past executions and "us-or-death" genocide at the hands of monotheistic religions or their corporate-style fixation with wealth, power and money, or my inability to accept stories of miracles passing by word through thousands of hands in different languages, I become a social pariah. Its really strange how religions harken back to past oppression or imposed disadvantage as a minority population, and when a religion becomes the mainstream "standard", it inevitably imposes its norms and standards on the indigenous and the unbelieving. We are living a subtle but obvious move toward a Christian Sharia system of laws and values. SO this aethist is not quite ready to move to Salem... in time, we'll be burning witches again and declaring blasphemous any science that doesn't fit the all-encompassing bible... The dark ages could only happen when religion became so powerful it swung like an axe upon those who dared to act, or worse, think independently. If we can break free of political and religious correctness, we will first tax the wealth of all churches which preach political dogma or prop up their candidates of choice, and allow people to choose to value worship, if any, on individual terms. Leave ancient stories of miracles and damnation out of politics. I have kids and I want them to choose a faith, not be indoctrinated by a "born-again" social system. So box me in wherever it appears I might fit.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  17. Bill

    Is there a name for not believing that the moon has a chocolate center? Let's sit down, over-analyze, and categorize the different ways in which people don't believe that the moon has a chocolate center. Some of us would say it is impossible. Some of us would say that we haven't ruled it out and thus should afford it some consideration. Some of us would say that we simply don't have evidence either way. And some of us would say that this entire conversation is absurd and that there is no practical value in carefully delineating the infinite number of ways we can express disbelief and doubt in things we haven't been provided sufficient objective evidence to bother considering in the first place!

    July 17, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Your chocolate moon analogy leaves out a society where 90% of the population believe it, have buildings built to discuss it, have special laws in place to protect believers of chocolate moon. For an analogy to work, it's got to represent the object accurately.

      July 17, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      your attempt at reductio ad absurdum fails.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  18. Melissa Greene

    Atheists however, are shown to have higher IQs and the part of their brains that deal with critical thinking is larger, in conservatives studies have shown that the part of their brain that senses fear is larger,

    July 17, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  19. DC

    It doesn't help advance any discourse, when opposition to a belief becomes almost as fanatic as the belief itself.

    Atheists (of almost any persuasion) claim that the world would be better off without religion. As if, all the horrors in the world were perpetrated solely by the religious. Anybody remember Communists or is it passe to talk about them?

    Bottom line is – religion isn't necessary to form a moral code of living, but (and one cannot deny this), more often than not it helps. Neither atheists nor 'believers' have a 'superior' outlook or position.

    Atheists usually forget that the religion forms an inextricable part of the human history, with its myth and lore. To reject all that is to state that merely one's being here and now matters and nothing in the past was of any consequence.

    What is really needed is for more and more people to discover their own individual selves, not necessarily allied with this -ism or that.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Soviet style communism had NOTHING to do with converting people to atheism. If the state wants to assume total control they will have to discourage and shut down all other forms of social control. Soviet style communism was socialism in name only, in truth it was just another autocratic state, a very few ruling many. In the neither here nor there category Nothing about socialism say you have to give up one shred of personal freedom. Socialism simply mean that SOME resources are set aside for those that need a hand (elderly and handicapped) or large civic works.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      you need to actually look at the survey.

      The whole purpose of the survey is to demonstrate that your statement: "Atheists (of almost any persuasion) claim that the world would be better off without religion" is patently false.

      The people you describe as atheists are the "anti-theists" and yes, there are atheists like that. The study demonstrates that about 15% of the non-believers surveyed self-identified as anti-theists.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • sayit

      Agreed on the point that it's not the religious or non-religious that cause the problems of the world. It's fanaticism and intolerance.

      If atheists are correct and religion is all in the mind, then they can not blame religion for abhorrent behavior. You have to blame the human mind. It's human nature. It doesn't matter what you believe or don't believe. If you're willing to do harm to impose your view of the world on others, you are exactly what you claim your opponents are.

      July 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Wait a minute there.....

      Religion doesn't have to own up what is done in its name? how nice..... Yup lets let the religions continue a few more centuries – should turn out well for us....

      July 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  20. Larry L

    Interesting somebody felt the need to classify atheists. I wonder how groups it would take to classify the religious folks?

    July 17, 2013 at 11:51 am |
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About this blog

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