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. Christina

    Interesting article. My husband is an intellectual atheist and I am a non-theist/ritual atheist. Glad to see atheism getting more non-negative attention. We are not evil, we do not skin kittens, we are the same as everyone else. We have families, jobs, we recycle and volunteer. I look forward to the day when people of all religions can live harmoniously amongst each other.

    July 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • tony

      Atheism isn't one of the Word's religions.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
      • Christina

        I never said it was. Just tired of all the fighting and hatred.

        July 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • lol??

      What your hubby wants, your hubby should get. (from you)

      July 17, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
      • Christina

        um... no.

        July 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  2. I_LOVe_America_Too_

    6 types of atheistist:

    One who disbelives GOD and is going to Hell

    One who disbelives GOD and is going to Hell

    One who disbelives GOD and is going to Hell

    One who disbelives GOD and is going to Hell

    One who disbelives GOD and is going to Hell

    One who disbelives GOD and is going to Hell

    July 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • An Atheist

      Hahaha! Telling an atheist they are going to he'll is like telling an adult the Easter bunny isn't going to leave them an lollies. You are hilarious!

      July 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • tony

      And hell is what and where exactly? If you ask 100,00 different believers, you'll get 100,000 different answers.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm interested in some of the categories of believers:

      Those who believe almost everyone is going to hell

      Those who believe that most people are going to hell

      Those who believe that some people are going hell

      Those that believe that no one is going to hell

      I imagine most believers agree that God made hell and what God does is good.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Joseph

      I believe in God and everyone knows she's black.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      vindictive petty pr1cks find comfort in a vindictive petty pr1ck god. it comforts them that the creator of the universe just happens to hate the same people they do.

      that being said, go fvck yourself, boy

      July 18, 2013 at 6:07 am |
    • Edward

      I have no fear of this place you call hell and here is why. With sound scientific principle we can emphatically say that hell is not eternal and therefore we have no need to fear being there. Using the premise that E=mc squared we can deduce that energy has mass. Knowing energy has mass and postulating that souls are the energy that lies within us to make us individuals we can use Boyle's law to disprove that hell is eternal.

      To begin with we need to know the mass of hell and assume that it changes over time. This leads us to need to know the rate of which souls enter hell. Since we can assume that no souls ever leave hell, then we need only to know the rate at which they enter. For this we need to examine religions. Since most religions state that if you are not a member of that religion, your soul will go to hell, and since you cannot belong to more than one religion at a time, we can assume that all souls will go to hell. Since birth rates are rising we can deduce that the number of souls entering hell will be exponential in nature.

      Next, we need to look at the volume of hell because in Boyle's Law it states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to remain constant, the volume of hell needs to expand in proportion to the number of new souls added. This leaves us with two possible outcomes.

      a) If hell expands at a rate slower than the rate of new souls entering hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell would increase until all hell breaks loose.


      b) If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the rate at which new souls are being added then the temperature and pressure will fall until hell freezes over.

      In either postulate, the concept of hell being eternal is disproven as in both scenarios it destroys itself, ergo there is no reason to believe you would suffer for all of eternity and hell is not to be feared.

      Just sayin'

      September 3, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  3. markiejoe

    Why is this story accompanied by Daniel Radcliffe's picture?

    July 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • joan

      Why did you not RTFA?

      July 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Please quote the part of the article which explains this? Not some caption visible on only some browsers, the article to which you refer?

        July 17, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


          are the celebrity pictures visible on your mobile?

          July 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • Saraswati


          July 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          The graphic that accompanies this article is a reused slideshow of pictures of celebrity atheists, each with a caption denoting a comment made by the said atheist on atheism.

          The lead is Daniel Radcliffe. His picture is the lead in on the CNN front page as well.

          The pictures and captions have nothing to do with the story and many posters have commented solely on the pictures.

          July 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          The article does not mention Daniel Radcliffe, so you have to make the connection.

          July 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          There is no connection between the article and the slideshow of celebrity atheists.

          That is the point raised by the OP here and I suspect misunderstood by the first commenter.

          A retreaded, irrelevant set of graphics was used to pull people in. It's not a crime, but it is pretty irrelevant.

          July 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  4. MasterWooten

    Funny, they're all famous well to do, white European people who I guess are enjoying their slice of heaven now.

    Of course this group of people are atheists. They confirm the old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes because they live far from any foxhole you could imagine.

    I seriously hope they are enjoying their comfortable lives now while they last.

    July 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  5. downtown dave

    As I was thinking about the "You can be good without God" slogan this morning, it occcured to me that at least on two points this slogan is Scriptural, and I want to commend the people who came up with it. First, in Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,...". Jesus, the Son of God, states that a person who is evil knows how to give good gifts and knows how to do good things. Second, you make the statement that a person can be good without God, not that a person is good without God. This implies you are not there yet and have some work to do to become good. Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,". So, in your slogan you say that a person can do good things without God, and that you fall short of being good...both of these points are Scriptural.

    As far as your hating religion? Jesus hates religion as well. There are those who want to give you a list of things to do and a list of things not to do, and by following these things God will accept you. That is not Scriptural. What Jesus wants is to give you life and a relationship with Him that is free to you. He paid the price. He went to the cross to take away your sin and He wants to credit you with His righteousness, something you cannot earn. That's what the Apostle Paul means when he tells us that salvation is by grace and not by works. http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    July 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Roger that

      Have you seen the laundry list of scripture in the Bible that has been "borrowed" from other religions and mythology?

      July 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
      • zeyn2010

        Specifically Sumerians!

        July 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Akira

      So which category listed do you fall under?

      July 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • lol??

      People accidentally do good all the time. Sometimes God ordains it for His purposes. They are not good.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  6. zdg

    Atheism is a religion!!!!!!!!!! The belief in non-belief is still a belief!!!! There is no escape!

    July 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Observer


      If how you view the meaning of life is considered to be "religion", then atheism and agnosticism are religions.

      I've yet to hear what possible importance this would have. It's all semantics.

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

      a non belief is not a belief.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • mariosphere

      No, zdg, atheism is no religion because there is no belief attached to it, no rituals, no communal meetings, no hierarchies, no categories, no proselitizying. Perhaps you'd do well in learning more about atheism from those who know instead of from those who disparage it.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • dogg44

      Interesting topic, but disappointing and shallow reporting in my opinion. I imagine the study included more information that may have been much more interesting to an atheist. The headline drew us in, but the story really only seemed to provoke the responses it has received. I think it would have been much more enlightening to have learned about how the interviewed individual viewed his/her upbringing (with respect to influences on religion)... and thusly how each faith now considers their views. The age of the subjects is also a major consideration in any survey of this topic, which was not mentioned.
      Dig a little deeper please.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • FactChecker

      Your logic is flawed. Not all beliefs are a religion. I believe that 1+1=2, but that is not a religion. I believe in logic and the scientific method, but that is not a religion. The belief in God is not based on logic or science, so I am an atheist, but that is not a religion.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You are actually using the word "belief" in too different ways here. The first refers to what is right (morally or intellectually, I can't tell) and the second to a question of existence. Either way, however, we aren't talking about "religion". A belief that something is intellectually or ethically correct does not make a religion.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  7. mariosphere

    They came up with just six types of atheists based on interviews? And we are told nothing about the interviewing criteria? Where is this research published? As you can see, I'm full of questions.

    I am an intellectual atheist, but not because I like to go arguing about atheism vs. religions anywhere. I don't need to speak out like some more energetic or active atheists.

    It's not a matter of belief vs. nonbelief. I don't rule my life by beliefs in supernatural or paranormal forces. I prefer to follow scientific knowledge because it's based on empirical evidence, which can be independently assessed, confirmed or refuted.

    July 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      In other words, You deal with reality.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
      • mariosphere

        That's correct, Ken. Reality is more satisfying.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

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

      At least six, according to a new study


      July 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  8. Poclevius

    I'm rather offended by James Cameron (#12). I consider that agnosticism is as far as one can go in this life without making some leap of faith. Both Believers and Atheists have to make some sort of conclusion that can't be proven. Let's ask scientist if they can prove that there is NOT a '63 VW orbiting some undiscovered planet billions of miles away. They can make lots of arguments that say it's just about guaranteed not to exist, but they can't prove it. "God": Love the concept, hate the dogma.

    July 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You can't prove a negative. You'll be arguing a point forever if you tried.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It is logical to be an agnostic atheist.

      "I don't think there's a God but can't prove it."

      Which of A or B best reflects your thinking:

      A – I think there is a God.
      B – I don't think there is a God.

      without resorting to specious weaseling out of the question with sematics. We're all annonymous here. What do you think?

      July 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        What do I think? Something has to back that up, justification along with a belief, I suspect. I know of nothing that suggests that a God has interacted with the world in such a way that it left any traces of having done so – at least nothing that could only be interpreted as having been caused by what people usually mean by God. I think that justifies the belief I have that no God participates in this world, and so none is real. I think God does not exist.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • Austin

          you dont know though. you also don't believe. because I have told you the truth that God has left evidence . And I do have it.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, lay it on us, Austin.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
        • Austin

          at some point in time, someone elses word does matter. . and in this case i have important information . The Holy Spirit is a sanctifying spirit that can supernaturally bear the truth of Gods word directly to you. God, being sovereign, is an all knowing Genius, and He can manipulate your circu.mstances to make you aware that something un natural is at hand. He is supernatural. He is invisible, and you don't hear Him audibly, He speaks through all creation.

          IN my case, I had a whole entire slew, twelve , thirteen fourteen dreams that clearly revealed God's sovereign ability to calculate the exact future,

          involving other people, other things. He knew my thoughts, he heard my prayer, and He spoke through the life around me.

          It is God who provides faith for those who NEED IT. there are many people who hated and rejected God, and God's authority over ruled people who dispised and misunderstood, took offence to the blood on the cross.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
        • Austin

          i don't want to Hear it about the capital G

          July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
        • Topher

          Austin, is that me?

          July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
        • Athy

          Evidence for you, not for me.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
      • zeyn2010

        IF there is/was a God described in scriptures, they would have to be an advanced race who may have terraformed earth and created us... Stories seem to point that way. If I had to bet on it, I would bet my money on the fact that we were visited by advanced beings. I cannot imagine a reason to think anything can be 'supernatural' – we just can't explain it now.

        July 17, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • tony

      Let me say that I believe all the stars have some sort of intelligence, and can communicate and reason with each other, in a way that we can't see or discover. Perhaps very slowly. Or if fast, as though they were all one single being.

      Now do you think disproving that is easier or more difficult than disproving the idea of a god.

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

        stars? are you talking about the big hot thermonuclear fusion reactions visible in the night sky?

        July 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
        • Poclevius

          I think/believe/hope/presume he's talking about fusion balls and not celebrities. But I'm not sure if that's his actual belief or a hypothetical designed to discuss the burden of proof issue.

          July 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Tony...................................... disproving god is the easiest thing anyone can do. The reason is religious individuals believe god has an influence on what I and everyone else does.

      As far as your star theory goes. I don't know. Really haven't thought about it. But I'll leave that to scientists.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  9. LJW44

    What happened to the spelling and grammar police? MplsSteve used "your" when he should have used "you're." Be that as it may, it all boils down to this in the United States: It's not the Christian's (Jew's, etc.) job to "save" me and it's not my job to "enlighten" him/her. Live and let live and don't impose your beliefs on others unless attacked. What I can't understand is Evangelicals wailing that they are being persecuted when it is their movement that is trying to impose their beliefs upon the rest of the nation. "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” ― Blaise Pascal

    July 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jay Hall

      If one should take only a casual look at the laws passed in the U.S. in the last fifty years he/she would realize the atheistic position has been embraced in many of them. Also, Christians in no way attempt to force their beliefs onto unbelievers; it actually the atheists who are so active and vocal in promoting their belief.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Also, Christians in no way attempt to force their beliefs onto unbelievers"

      Tell that to women wanting an abortion in Texas? And I'm not just talking about 20+ weeks. How many abortion clinics will be in operation in Texas once the new law goes into effect?

      July 17, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • JimK57

        There are athiets who are pro life and against gay marriage.

        July 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Doubtless, but it's a very small group – 'Army of one' I'd say.

          Nevertheless, the new Texas anti-abortion law was not promoted by 'pro-life' atheists!

          July 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
        • JimK57

          Maybe, but the pro life athiests did have quite a large group at an athiest convention. I think you will find that the majority of believers are against infringing on civil rights. There are even quite few chriatian groups that are pro life. I do believe common ground will be reached within my lifetime.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Jim, I'm glad you're so hopeful. Christians need to listen to what Jesus said – not the Religious Right. If they did they'd realize that the Religious Right is neither religious nor right* but a political group, and they are certainly not Christian**.

          * in the sense of 'correct'.

          ** Arguably I'm guilty of the 'true Scotsman' fallacy there, but no less accurate for it.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You must be a republican Jay. Or delusional.

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

      It's not "Christian's and Jew's," it's "Christians and Jews." But keep working on it. I know it's hard, but you can do it if you stick with it and really work hard.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:28 am |
  10. faith

    can u dig it?

    you can't have knowledge of god and be a believer. you can only be positive about gawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwd's existence if you know he ain't, cause then, u faith him. since there is gobs and gobs of evidence everywhere that he is, i can't faith him. can't have faith in somethin u no.

    w/o faith = i'm an atheist.



    July 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Tom Wilson

      Is this a form of circular logic? If so, I think I will stick with normal logic LOL!

      July 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
      • faith

        do u no the definition of coincidence?

        i just responded to u on this topic a few minutes ago, not having seen ur comment here

        July 18, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • faith

      in other words, apply heisenberg's uncertainty principle!

      According to quantum mechanics, the more precisely the position (momentum) of a particle is given, the less precisely can one say what its momentum (position) is.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:50 am |
  11. bmb88

    They should do a followup article about 6 different kinds of believers. I think there would be some interesting blending along the spectrum of the 6 groups of believers and the 6 groups of non-believers.

    July 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  12. bmb88

    They should do another article on 6 different types of believers. I think the spectrum of the 6 groups of nonbelievers and the 6 groups of believers would have some interesting blending in the middle.

    July 17, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • bmb88

      whoops, double post

      July 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  13. Ken Margo

    You could come to the same conclusion about religious individuals also. Some are extreme, modera,te, indifferent etc..

    July 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Sorry about the multiple replies. It didn't accept what I posted the first two times.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
      • Athy

        Don't worry about it. The blog has been acting very goofy for the last couple of days. We'll either get used to it, or they'll "repair" it.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Third time's the charm eh?

        Ever since the number of posts per page was changed, when you post you get sent to "posting page + 1" for some weird reason.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
      • Athy

        Actually, they're back to 20 per page, but the goofiness lingers.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Testing: Seems like it's all better now.

        The goofiness has gone away.

        July 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Nope, not quite.

          July 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  14. Ken Margo

    You could come to the same co,nclusion about religious individuals also. Some are extreme, moderate, indifferent etc..

    July 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  15. Ken Margo

    You could come to the same conclusion about religious individuals also. Some are extreme, moderate, indifferent etc..

    July 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  16. canoncritic

    Is atheism a kind of fundamentalism similar to all other fundamentalism, religious or otherwise? There is little in these snapshots of atheisms regarding evidence. That is, on what evidence does one believe in no g-d? Scientific? But surely there are other kinds of evidence to which we routinely appeal when making a good decision. Why not think of "divine revelation" as a kind of evidence to which one may justly appeal in explaining why faith is placed in God (rather than exclusively in science)? What makes faith in the kind of sensual or "spiritual" evidence that proves the existence of God inferior to faith in the kind of empirical evidence that proves the existence of natural selection? One cannot argue that a rational choice demands an exclusively empirical evidence. This nonsense has long ago been abandoned by philosophy (and most scientists like myself). We all gather different kinds of evidence–scientific, historical, existential, spiritual–in order to define our reality. So, again, what makes the evidence to which the atheist appeals (whatever that is–most atheists in my experience haven't a clue about the seriousness of the epistemological question) secure a superior faith? I don't get this.

    July 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Observer


      Read the entire Bible and then you'll have a good idea why there are so many atheists and agnostics.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
      • Corrso

        yeah because most atheists and agnostics have read the whole bible. Nice delusion...

        July 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
        • Observer


          That's for him.

          Didn't say they did, but nice delusion for you.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Cherilyn B

      Canoncritic – Interesting question. I will try to come back to it after dinner.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      I am very interested in reading the answers athiests post to your questions.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
      • Dippy

        Spell atheist correctly, Robert. It makes you seem smarter.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Oops, sorry.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
        • fallen angel

          No Dippy you think correcting people makes you smarter.Why don't you take a look at that mess in your mirror that you look at every day and try and correct that?

          July 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • mariosphere

        Regarding @canoncritic, fundamentalism implies an obsessive or strongly focused belief or system of beliefs. In other words, at the center of the person's life lies a core belief around which he or she builds his/her life and associations.

        Since scientific knowledge requires no belief whatsoever (tomorrow's sunny weather doesn't require me to believe in it, for example), I find absence of any religious beliefs quite liberating in the best spirit of America's Founding Fathers, some of whom were reportedly deistic.

        And the proof of the existence of a god (or gods) lies in the believer. The onus is on the believers who have to come up with empirical evidence (something that can be independently verified by facts, measureable facts), not personal opinion.

        July 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      First of all, there is no canon, so there is no canonical answer as to why atheists reject the concept of God.

      While doubtless there are many commonalities it is personal and everyone has their own path.

      I suspect it starts with skeptical rejection of miraculous dogma. As the miraculous dominos start to fall the key piece of dogma is questioned, at which point everything falls apart. (In a Christian context this leads to skepticism that there was a ressurection and the divinity of Christ.)

      All religions do much the same thing. They establish and reinforce a moral code that is beneficial to preserving the status quo of the society that created them. If they are 'true', then why are there so many of them and why do they differ so widely in the specifics?

      A divine source of morality dissolves with the empirical evidence that morality is contextual to the society that defined it.

      Further study shows the individual canons are all deeply flawed and inconsistent, requiring involuted logic to extrapolate any coherency and in the end the whole system is abandoned as a human fabrication – beneficial in some regards and detrimental in others.

      The root cause is critical thinking.

      Some great critical thinkers (like Einstein resort to variations of desim, Spinoza's God for Einstein).

      I don't know what you mean when you refer to "securing a superior faith" unless you are attempting to label atheism as a faith.

      If there is a faith that atheists hold, it is not atheism. It is more likely a faith in the scientific method, which recognizes that we are limited by our ability to measure the universe around us and changes when a better idea comes along. I presume this is the epistemological problem you refer to.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • CDawg

      Interesting post, canoncritic.. I do think you have the question backwards, though. I don't think it's about evidence to believe in no god, it really comes down to a lack of evidence for any gods. I can't speak for anyone else, but there's never been satisfactory evidence for me to believe in any kind of divine being. We are all born atheists... we have to be told about the concept of gods, then we either accept that belief or we don't. Therefore, the burden of proof rests on those claiming the belief. To me, it's never been proven. Even when i was a theist, i knew i couldn't back it up in a debate. Now i know theists can't back up their beliefs. While they deny the other thousands of gods, they hold tight to their one and cannot imagine how i don't believe in theirs. You have to have faith to believe and faith means believing without evidence. I can't do that.

      An aside: Look up the term Diax's Rake. To me, a huge percentage of theists would be thrashed by the rake.

      July 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Just a Guy

      I am going to attempt a reply, in regards to the question of why does empirical or other scientific data deserve my trust or "faith" as an Atheist. I am an electronics technician, which requires me to fundamentally believe in the rules of electricity, and to be able to assess the path electricity will flow in a circuit based on the components built into that circuit. Now the reason I explained that is that I was simply educated in the laws and theories applicable to the previous scenario, but via practical application I was able to see the direct correlation between what I was taught and the way the current moved about a card. The problem with faith is simply that, it is faith in a religion that I can not see any of the information presented recreated in any way.
      The problem here lies not with religion, but instead with the core concepts surrounding faith, more so the very definition of it bothers me. Utilizing Merriam-Webster's definition excluding the less applicable variants which you can look up yourself. Faith means, "firm belief in something for which there is no proof." Religion from a philosophical point of view is essentially not a bad concept, teach the everyman some core concepts to help enable a better world. The problem is that instilling faith as a norm amongst people allows for people to simply have faith in other things instead of seeking out why this or that happens. People who utilize faith as a means of understanding the world are stating that the world exist because they believe it does without proof. Yet we can obviously argue that the world in fact does exist and you can prove it so faith can not be applied. It is much more meaningful to state you know, than you believe, but some things require you to never say you know without faith which is essentially a contradiction of knowledge. So if you have faith in God, you do not know he exist, you believe he does. The argument could be made that Atheist have faith that God does not exist, but the information presented does not favor the conclusion he does, only that a religious texts states he does.
      I will leave it at that, and I hope that it makes sense to you all, so if anything you can understand where some of the Atheist out there are coming from. Furthermore, I apologize for any typos, grammatical errors, or anything else you may come after me for. Simply look at the meaning of my statement and take it for what it is. Also remember, we all have to share the planet, so let's stop drawing lines in the sand and coexist because the faithless and faithful will find no proof until after life and then it really is sort of irrelevant isn't it?

      July 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  17. niknak

    Man, not sure why I came back to this board, it is as exciting as your average religious service.....

    July 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Tim

      What's really sad is both sides have been spending years saying the same thing over and over wasting their lives but allowing CNN to boost their advertising sales because of all these posters pitiful lives.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Cherilyn B

      Hi, Niknak – I missed you. Welcome back!

      July 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  18. fallen angel

    I believe in god but I do not believe in organized religion like church, evangelists and so called messengers of god.These people use the name of god to prosper and enrich themselves off the backs of truly poor and sick people who in desperation give money to these crooks believing that a true miracle will happen to them.This is why so many people hate all religion when they should be hating the phony church's with their pedophile priests and crooked messengers of god.

    July 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Dippy

      Churches, not church's. You just can't get it, can you?

      July 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • niknak

        I think he might have meant Churches Chicken...

        July 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
      • fallen angel

        Sorry I am not obsessive compulsive over English grammar like you are and have nothing better to do but correct peoples grammar on a blog.Here knock yourself out please correct this again I think you get off on it "PARENT'S,WINNER'S,CHURCH'S go nuts.Why don't you write something so other people can correct or disagree with you.Whats The matter no guts afraid that you might get insulted or afraid to put your opinion out there? I'm not

        July 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • Dippy

          Easy does it, Angel. Don't blow a gasket. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @dippy..................Relax. This isn't college English. As long as you understand the message, the proper pronunciation isn't really important.

      July 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
      • Dippy

        It's not pronunciation, it's proper writing. Bad spelling and grammar indicate a low intelligence level of the writer. And I'm totally relaxed.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        @Dippy.................Some write the way they pronounce it. If someone misspells a word, that shouldn't make them ignorant or non educated.

        July 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
        • Jason

          It doesn't "make" them ignorant, but it sure implies it. The only people who write the way they pronounce are people that can't spell.

          I sumitimes fourget wurds and there meenings.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          @Jason......................OK everybody. According to Jason you can't make a mistake because your intelligence will be questioned.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
        • Dippy

          Misspelling a word doesn't make you ignorant. Being ignorant makes you misspell words.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
        • Dippy

          There's a difference between making a mistake and not knowing how to write. The first only implies carelessness, the second implies ignorance.

          July 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Ken - Anyone can make a typographical error but chronic bad grammer and poor spelling do indicate a person is lacking either in education or ability. Even so they have a right to express themselves. And I, for one, will consider their input as wisdom often comes from unexpected sources.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
        • Athy

          Wisdom comes from ignorance? Interesting concept, I dare say.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          The most important thing is the message. Don't let a misspelled word or bad grammar distract you from the point the individual is trying to make.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          I'm guilty of typos, too. It is "grammar".

          July 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • Athy

          Of course. But, for me, a properly written comment, without fifth-grade mistakes, will carry far more weight for me.

          July 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          @Cherilyn................................I didn't notice your typo because I'm not looking for them. I'm sure in everyone's post you'll find a mistake a two. If the point is a good one. Why should a mistake nullify it or "carry less weight".

          July 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Ken – That's my point exactly!

          July 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Athy – I said wisdom can come from unexpected sources. I have a dear friend who is an idiot savant. He helped me thru a year of college calculus and I taught him to tie his shoes. (He wore velcro till he was 20 years old.) He was called stupid, ignorant and moron etc but he has an incredible insight into human nature.

          July 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
        • Athy

          Cherilyn, Yes, there are such people. Look up Kim Peek, a recent example. Kim died of heart failure just a couple of years ago. I went to one of his performances and was truly amazed. But those kind of people don't post on these blogs.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  19. mzh

    Does anyone know if any religious book talks about the soul in human body except Quran?

    I will inshallah share with you what Quran talks about soul (in arabic it is 'Ruh')...

    July 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • niknak

      In English it is called Rubbish......

      July 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • Ken Margo


        July 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • mzh

        Peace be upon you Nik!!!

        July 18, 2013 at 12:04 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.