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. edmundburkeson

    You missed a few! Mayans with bones in their noseswho worshipped the stars! New agers who secularized spirituality and worshipped the Mayans. Hindus who worshipped their own consciousness. Scientists who worship dinosaurs, apes, and the billionz of newly forming starz.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • ME II

      "Scientists who worship dinosaurs, apes, and the billionz of newly forming starz."

      Careful, your ignorance is showing.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  2. Erlo

    Just talk to yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself if you believe in magic men in the sky who grants wishes, but only sometimes. What did we find out here today?

    July 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      but only sometimes. What did we find out here today


      Sometimes thank God for unanswered prayers. 🙂

      July 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        He's wearing a cowboy hat and a guitar... if you click on this uTube video your brain will seize...

        July 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Mark from Middle River

          ...If I remember correctly, that concert was not in the deep south but deep in the center of New York city.



          July 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • skytag

        That's like thanking Santa Claus for presents I didn't get.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • Mark from Middle River

          Still upset about that one pump Daisy BB gun you didn't get? 🙂

          July 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • Peter

          If god doesn't answer prayers sometimes then Jesus is a liar.

          July 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  3. wild

    Yet another pro-atheist article on the front page of the main CNN page. Surprise, surprise CNN!

    July 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • jimsmixedviews

      I'd hardly call it pro-atheist... it's more like "Here's a laundry list of what we think the kinds of Atheist there are out there so you good Christian folks can arm themselves".

      People don't fit into simple boxes. Religious people believe in a Deity or Deities... Atheist have an absence of that belief.... then you can color each of those groups to lots of different shades...

      July 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Fiona

      Shall we shoot them, Michael?

      July 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      The internet in your trailer-park must of cut off all of the other predominantly pro-christian articles on CNN.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • JJ

        His 9600 baud dial-up modem has been infected by Satan who is filtering out nothing but evil atheist posts.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • silvawebdev

      So if there was an article putting Christians into categories it would be pro Christian?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  4. Mark

    Atheists and agnostics (to generalize, scientific thinkers) try to know how the universe works, and so often they discover that they were wrong – about phlogiston, about Lamacrkism, about aether. And when they discover that they were wrong they eventually recognize it, edit the texts, conduct new experiments and come up with new ideas. They make silly mistakes that waste centuries and deadly mistakes that kill thousands, but they keep on trying, being ever more motivated by the inadequacies of the present. What better story could there be?

    And what do the Christians do? They worship a missing corpse.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Melissa

      Its worse than that... they wear the body of their "savior" suffering torture around their necks. Its just creepy.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Hal

      To be fair, Mark, didn't Christians recognize the mistakes that their predecessors made in the Hebrew Scriptures when they chose to correct them in their own books, which eventually became the New Testament? They clearly improved on the character of God in their version, but they made him too convoluted to be really believable when they described him as a trinity. Later writers, like Luther, Billy Graham, and Lee Strobel have tried to make the trinity make sense, but none of them really have. Science would have abandoned this idea long ago.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • Mark

        Never lost, however, is the narrative of a messiah bound to Old Testament prophesies, with the life or lives of the man/men known today as 'Jesus' distorted in an obvious pseudo-history to ensure that, for example, Jesus of Nazareth is born in Bethlehem and not Nazareth. I don't consider it anything like a scientific process – it's very much like the revisionist fan fiction of the Star Wars or Star Trek universes that often drop old ideas as 'non-canon', keeping whatever they can pull into their own story. Though we sometimes call such devoted fans 'losers' if they can quote entire episodes or speak in one of Tolkien's fictional languages, they at least should be given credit for knowing, deep down, that it's all fiction. Genuine believers in scripture are pathetic beyond these 'losers': by quoting a story to confirm the story, they are betraying possible non-sentience.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • silvawebdev

        Hal – I don't think Christians realized anything – I believe it evolved in the new urban landscape in which we learned to control our environment better, had more stable environment, more readers and communication, and the quality of life was more improved – a larger middle class was forming. Since we were now reliant upon others, and had more self worth and value Christians were also trying to differentiate themselves from the pagan gods of the Romans which were not very charitable – one of the most important aspects of any religion (or sect of a religion) is defining yourself from others.....

        July 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  5. Syd

    I'll just stick with rational.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Benny

      When people call atheism a "religion" I just like to say that I have "A close, personal relationship with reality." 😆

      July 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • ME II


        July 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  6. lionlylamb2013

    The "degrees" of atheistic comraderies are made as conditional accolades begging them to be and become societal within natured conditionings. For each degree of atheist enunciation the most séance evoking terminologies keep their socialized dementias afloat upon their communal circles.

    Don't get me wrongly for Christendom needs atheisms in order for both parties becoming clairvoyantly alive in sedentary vespers and/or individualist thoughtfulness regarding socialized bereavements. It is neither wrong to believe in Gods or disbelieve in Godliness profiles for as I see it, we need both sects in order for socialized liveliness to conjure upon within lively séances of either the written or the spoken kinds. Toward my beliefs, the Gods all live deeply inside our embodied buildings of entrenchment upon the atomized scales of cosmic dimensional controversies.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • .

      LL is the belief blog pseudo intellect, don't bother reading their posts since they are poorly written, just laugh... and move on.

      A pseudo intellect is someone who acts pretentiously and wishes to impress, rather than modestly trying to communicate effectively uses rhetoric over content.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • snowboarder

        do you really think he is trying to sound intelligent? i just thought it was his shtick.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • .

          no, it's why this poster is a pseudo intellect.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Yo!

          As LiionlyLamb has admitted:

          "Long winded are many of my worded phraseologies but alas all the good people seek their way around and away from confrontational summations"

          This posters writes like this so no one will challenge what is written because they actually think no one can comprehend his word structure or "big" words. The reality is this poster really just suffers from low self esteem since they can't handle confrontation so they hide behind their long winded posts.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • lionlylamb2013

          Hi again snowboarder...

          Yes, my shtick makes other folks like my dog dot-A-jot bark and howl irreverently posting the same copy-N-paste infidelities. His dogged wants to insinuate me falls short for he is still yet a child in the making. maybe when dot grows up and becomes a fruition of elderly connotations, dot (my dogged pet) will have been fully trained and will bring home the bacon instead of living in its doghouse chained up where dot cannot poop and pee in ma and pa's house. You see, I tried training dot not to poo or pee in the house but alas dot could not be trained...

          July 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Paul

          Actually you've been proven wrong about your writing style. It's why Observer made this comment about you.

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it (writing short and concise). POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Hey look, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments once more.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Ma! My dog dot wants to play with me while I work! Please ma, take dot outside and let him do his thing. I really think he wants to do a number one and poop. Don't let dot poop and pee in pa's garden for pa would get quite irate and wind up kicking dot down the road! Thanks ma! You are a peach!

        July 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
        • UhOh

          Uh Oh dot you done made lionlylamb mad. Keep up the great work!

          July 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • snowboarder


      July 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Must be an injun in saying ugh... How is also an injun slang for saying hello.... Go figure!

        July 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Paul

      ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it (writing short and concise). POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

      Hey look, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments yet again.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Pablo Paul...

        Your continually copy-N-paste "fruitology " stymies no one and it wastes space. Be a good youngling and try finding dogs of your own breed to linger with. I'm too damn old Paul for you to be yapping away and barking incestuously at my words of wit!

        July 18, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • Paul

          If you think it's words of wit you are sorely mistaken.

          ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it (writing short and concise). POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

          Hey look, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments once more.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Jinx

      "Toward my beliefs, the Gods all live deeply inside our embodied buildings of entrenchment upon the atomized scales of cosmic dimensional controversies."

      22 words.

      "I believe God(s) dwell within me."

      6 words.

      Dot is right.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013


        "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God..."

        Don't you or anyone get it? For the continual learning of ever more words and worded phraseologies are paramount to one's ongoing educational vespers for all folks concerned in becoming better orientated with the highly organizational folds of debutant societies instead of remaining in the bucket brigades...

        July 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • snowboarder

          that isn't what you're doing. you're just being corny.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • skytag

      What a bunch of pseudo-initellectual gibberish.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        That's pseudo-intellectual not pseudo-initellectual.............

        July 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • skytag

          "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." — Eleanor Roosevelt

          "Tiny minds discuss people's typos." — skytag

          July 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • charchil

      I find myself becoming clairvoyantly alive in sedentary vespers. But it’s bad for my digestion.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  7. Edward

    I don't believe that "5. Non-theist" is the smallest group. I count myself in that group, and I believe we're a silent majority. Why would we speak up? We have nothing to gain or lose by doing so.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Benny

      Depends on whether you feel comfortable remaining quiet about any negative political positions people may be mobilized on based on religious belief. I'm sure that there are plenty of "Non-theists" who are very much in support of gay marriage, for example. If you are, how can you possibly not be drawn into a discussion about the religious person's underlying argument against it?

      July 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Hello Edward...

      We all need social stimulus and societal comraderies to gain sensations of gestured reasonable clairvoyance in one's psychological attitudes Edward. For without a steadied amount of socialized comraderies we would all be as animals doing the emotional instead of the intellectual.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Paul

        ""his ego will likely not let him absorb it (writing short and concise). POMPOSITY is more important to him than actually imparting any wisdom he might have to others.""

        Hey look, Observer was correct in their evaluation of your comments once more.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Edward

        All animals display a steadied amount of socialized camaraderie's to one extent or another. It is the basis of pack or hive intellect. To wit, each group would thereby have an "alpha" or leader and I submit to you that we here are indeed in glorious repose that you are a member of the pack and not disposed to be it's leader.

        September 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  8. thalazy

    People are outspoken because they have to be. they fight for gay rights because people want to discriminate against them for religious reasons. I could care less if you hate gays if you present me with a reason that doesn't involve religion. The problem is Woman's rights and the rights of others are being fought against my churches and many religious leaders. In America it's separation of church and state. Some feel the need to defend that. If we could keep religion where it belongs which is at home or at a church we would all be better for it.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • P.J.

      Except for all that pesky charity that the churches do. They should especially keep that at home. Also, those religious colleges and universities and hospitals. Shut them down as well.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Blissful ignorance... the majority of the largest charity organizations are secular... and I suspect that the hospital and university's names that are spinning in your head right now are also actually secular

        July 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
      • Melissa

        Really? You mean during Katrina when churches were refusing people refuge before, during and after the storm while atheists were bringing people water, food and blankets?

        July 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • SWbeth


          My church sent down several truckloads of assistance and we were only one of many churches that assisted post Katrina. So glad to know that athiests also took a loving approach to helping after the hurricane.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
      • thalazy

        Charity and politics are two different things. They can do charity just as many others have including non believers do as well. schools or hospitals as well as it goes along with churches, which is religious freedom. What people shouldn't do is interject their religious beliefs into politics, remember that one religion is not all. If we all follow Christian beliefs then we must also include Muslim, Hindu, etc. When I am donating money I am not doing so as an atheist I am doing it as a human being who wants to help my fellow man. If churches want to help people that is great and if they get followers because of it so be it. Using money and trying to influence beliefs into politics and trying to pass laws are on a whole other level.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • JimK57

      While some of what you say is true be careful because ignorance is not bound by religious borders.
      There are athiests who are racist, against gay marriage and pro-life.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  9. Mopery

    Too bad there's only one type of believer, the fool.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Benny

      They're not fools. Many of us were once believers just like them. We believed because our parents taught us to believe. You wouldn't call a kid who took his parent's word on Santa a "fool", would you?

      July 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • ME II

        If the kid is over, say, 16 then yes.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • NorCalMojo

        born agains are always the most annoying

        July 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • Melissa

        Depends on the age of the child. There comes a time when its time to grow out of childish things, including belief in magic and invisible deities that live in the sky who know and see all but never do anything about what they see and still expect to be called "loving".

        The bible itself has a great quote for just this thing...

        "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

        Belief in a magical invisible being that is both omnipotent and omniscient is one of those things. Even the ancients knew there was a time to grow up.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
        • silvawebdev

          I think religion was created – if you are Christian then I am talking about all the other religions – to give people guidance when young and create continuity and community when older. As an atheist I am actually worried about not having religion – especially in the young as ALL people have created religion – for a reason. As such an omnipresent facet of society to just dismiss it, or not understand it's uses in all aspects of society would be foolish.

          I believe many people cannot live "rationally", and especially children cannot – I get tired of mothers in the suburbs (where I live) asking their 1 year old (and up) what they want – before they can even talk... Rules are important, belief is important and I believe Athiests need to think about the role of religion and replicate the positive aspects in some way.

          I have hear many older religious scholars – even the Pope – have a more "realist" view and some even talk about the bible as more of a guide, and not "the exact unerring word of God"

          To see what we have today where we have "Creationist Museums" where they have Dinosaurs and say that all animals lived in harmony and were vegetarians – until that evil snake tempted Adam...." and so many taught to distrust educated individuals is not the right direction.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Melissa

          I have rules and morals. They did not come from religion. My parents weren't religious. My father never mentioned religion to me one way or another. My mother wasn't religious until she was dying on cancer and a catholic priest decided he would "save her" by converting her back to religion and "give her comfort" where she then tried everything she could to convert me before she died. Children need morals and rules taught to them by their parents, not religion. If you think the bible is a good thing for your children to read, maybe you should try reading it. The bible is just as filled with violence as the Star Wars movies.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • Benny

        Depends. If the older kid is living in as much isolation from the real world as some Christians do, especially deep within the Bible Belt, and they still got their presents from Santa every year, and especially if their community and parents put as much effort into keeping them a Santa believer as some Christians do for their kids and God, then it's very possible that they wouldn't be fools for believing.

        Would you honestly be surprised if there were actually adults who still believed in Santa?

        July 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
      • Benny

        Problem is, Christians don't think you ought to grow up. They think that you should be answerable to your "heavenly father" forever, doing exactly as he says. How on earth is that analogous to people's relationships with their actual human parents? God never allows people to grow up, start thinking for ourselves, and living our own lives. That's a terrible example of what a good father ought to be, right?

        July 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Melissa

          Benny, yes actually its terrifying. Why would you want your children to remain children for eternity? Wouldn't you want them to grow and be productive on their own? I would. In real life, there comes a time when children need to decide for themselves and face the consequences on their own. Telling them that "if you don't do what I say, you are sending yourself to hell where you will suffer for all eternity, but I love you and won't lift a finger to stop it" is the dum best thing I've ever heard. Terrible parenting.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
        • Benny

          The goal of a good parent is to prepare their children for life independent of their control. That's called "raising them right." How many grown up Christian adults, I wonder, would tolerate their elderly parents physically whipping them for getting a traffic ticket?

          July 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
        • Richard

          It amazes me how many experts on what other people think there are.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • Ivan

          You guys don't get it. Most Christians don't get it. I'm sorry you haven't been taught correctly about what being children of God is. We have freedom to live our own lives but are asked to become perfect like our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:48). We are taught that we are gods, children of the Most High (Psalms 82:6, Romans 8:16-17), his spiritual offspring (Acts 17:28-29).We are taught that since we are in the form of God, that it is not robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2:5-6), which means to do so, we must humbly follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He showed us how to become perfect like God by eliminating our sins and bad habits from our life through the process of repentance. I say this because most Christians believe we will always be something less than God, and that is not biblical.

          You think life begins with birth and ends with death? Many atheists believe we can become gods and develop the technology to overcome death and become immortal, thus eliminating the need for God and the scriptures (I've already showed you that we are gods and it is biblical). If we can develop immortality, then somewhere in the billions of galaxies found in our universe or another, immortality has already been developed, perfected by a team of highly skilled and extraordinary scientists who long ago became equal with our Father in Heaven. Our Father in Heaven is also a perfect and loving scientist as well as a master of poetry and riddle. This is why we have the scriptures, and why the scriptures are found in every world where man exists. Everyone on Earth is an eternal being like our Father in Heaven. It is the building blocks of intelligence forming our spirits that makes us eternal. God is a spirit (John 4:24), but there is a spirit in man (Job 32:8), thus making our spirits coequal with God's spirit. And because our intelligences having no beginning and no end, we are here with mortal bodies to experience choices with clear consequences. The lessons we learn on Earth under the careful framework of mortality can't be learned any other way. If we don't learn these lessons now, how can we learn them with out death knocking at our door in the immortalities? This creates a much clearer understanding of what Heaven and Hell is all about.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • Melissa

          Ivan, oh grow up. You are NOT a god. Talk about delusions of grandeur.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Edward

          Ivan, replace the word "taught" with "indoctrinated" in your statement, it is far more the truth in that context.

          September 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • lol??

      Offensive WINS!!

      July 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Adam

      As an atheist myself, I don't like the bad will towards those who believe or have faith. There are problematic aspects to religion, surely – it divides lines to create war, discrimination, and quietly encourages harsh judgement of others for making choices differently than you would make them – but there are many people who just have belief or faith without all these problematic issues. When an atheist attacks a theist just for having faith, it's just as divisive, judgmental, and problematic.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • Melissa

        The bad will is started as a reaction to the behavior of religious people. No one cares if religious people believe in a deity or not. What they care about is how self righteous, arrogant, ignorant, and pushy they are. People care when they have their door knocked on so someone can preach to them to convert them into followers. People care when religious people try to get their morals legislated in to law (like abortion and gay marriage). People care when religious people won't shut up about their religion and talk about it all the time. People care when religious people outright say "Hey I did this good thing and I'm christian" because it is incredibly arrogant and sounds like they are expecting to be patted on the back for doing something good.

        Religious people bring it on themselves. If they'd learn to butt out of other peoples lives, it would stop being such a big deal.

        You can believe that the sky is purple and pink polka dots, a unicorn lives in your garden and a monster lives under your bed and no one will care until you expect them to live as though they believe it too.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  10. lol??

    A&a's sure are bullies deleting all my comments. MOB POWER from Sodom!!

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Don't let an A&A anywhere near a lawmaker. They cant tell the difference between a prophecy and a commandment!! Girly bwains.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Jinx

      Your persecution complex is high today.
      As for your comment, you clearly don't understand the concept of separation of church and state. Fortunately, our FF, deists themselves, did. Keep your "prophecy" out of our civil, secular laws.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  11. silvawebdev

    OK, this is a bit ridiculous as with religious believers everyone has a different belief – no two are the same on everything. You can make LOOSE classifications, but Athiests generally don't align themselves with "faiths", or groups that have shared beliefs as those in religions do – Athiesm or being an Agnostic are beliefs and not religions and by their nature are independent and varied – soon their will be more structured groups of "non-believers", but at this time we are mostly on our own.

    I used to be less confrontational about religion, but as "the religious" are feeling the pressure of logic and reason they are digging their heels in their ignorance and trying to push their religion on others by influencing government – while many also push for a weak central government – except when that government can further their beliefs, or push their religion on others – I have had enough. Religion was used to keep women from voting, blacks from having rights, gays from existing (it's their choice...).
    This departure from "reality" is causing millions of people and students to not trust education, the educated – as you really can't learn the sciences without learning the earth is more than 6,000 years old many just don't learn, and don't trust and in the end are not educated and as the uneducated are not able to compete in the economy as it is today. I have no problem leaving any religion alone, as long as they leave me alone. I would much rather have a person following the rules of a God – as most have pretty good rules – then destroy their beliefs and leave them adrift. I am not adrift without religion, my life has purpose, my partners on space ship earth all have value and my respect.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • richunix


      Exactly. Teach them the following 10 Commandments..
      1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
      2. DO NOT think that claims about magic, miracles and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
      3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
      4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars want to prohibit you from looking under the hood.
      5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and ghouls and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
      6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should you believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
      7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
      8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of God,” “God is outside the Universe” or “God moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
      9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
      10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
      I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • JimK57

        I agree with all of these. Good post.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
      • Fred

        You missed one:
        DO question evolution and the concept that creatures can morph over time into completely different animals.
        All animals reproduce after their own kind. It doesn't matter how much time transpires, lizards will NOT turn into birds
        and one-celled organisms will not morph into humans.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Melissa

          But they did Fred. You denying evolution doesn't make you right. Get educated. There's a reason most biologists don't believe in deity.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Science – read into it... it's not just for breakfast anymore...

          July 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Ed

          You question evolution because its implications rock your deeply held fairy tale to its core, as it should. Once the religious concede evolution, the wheels begin to come off. It is just sad that so many are brainwashed to the point that they reject science to passify their fears.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Yet, DNA, the fossil record, etc. all indicate that you're wrong.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          Morph into other animals? If you think that is what evolution claims then its no wonder you spout nonsense.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • snowboarder

          of course you should challenge every idea or at least try to understand them.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • Athy

          Some lizards turned into dinosaurs, some dinosaurs turned into birds. The fossil record clearly shows this. But it took longer than 6,000 years.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • skytag

          So dumb, so terrified of reality.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • silvawebdev

          So Fred, should we believe in talking snakes?
          Beings in space that look like us, but are all powerful?
          We are in his image, yet some are born without legs, mentally challenged, blind, without a brain, hermaphodites, hyperactive or dead?
          Churches are destroyed by natural disasters?
          Not believe in all the other religions that are older, younger, similar?
          I honestly want everyone to believe what they want, but not if they want to make decisions that adversely affect me due to their beliefs. The bible, or the belief in the bible has constantly had to be rewritten to take into account the things we have learned, and the respect we know have for women and children. Science has had to be amended as things are learned and generally follow a logical path with facts that build on each other and complete an entire picture that we are still filling the pieces to, and will for the rest of time. Just because someone says they have the answers (as most religions do) does not mean they have the right answers (as has been proven time and time again)..

          July 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        Evolution happened. It's just that simple. The gigantism of the late Cretaceous period dinosaurs (98-65)mya is a prime exemplar. The dinosaur fossils going all the way back to the the late Triassic period (225)mya were not the famously huge monsters of the movies. And they didn't live during the Jurassic either. At that time T-Rex's ancester was no bigger than an emu. Their growth was the result of a survival arms race between predator and prey.. Helped along by a verdant environment and a high atmospheric oxygen level. An evolutionary dead end for these highly specialized monstrosities. They could not adapt to abrupt change to their environment.caused by a major meteor impact. But not everything died. Benefactors of the demise of the giant dinosuurs were those that became our modern day birds and of course our own shrew-like ancestor.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  12. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Dan – why was an entire thread removed? Took all the fun out of that...

    July 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Melissa

      Because religious people don't like the truth, including dan.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I noticed a rather large number of posts being removed...

      July 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • OTOH

        I wish they'd spend the time fixing the technical problems first - like the "Recent Comments" section that is sprung... and that word filter fiasco.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • OTOH

          * and flipping you to the last (blank) page after you post...

          July 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  13. dooopeydo

    this study is a waste of money. why do we care??

    July 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  14. Vic

    I see God's revelation everywhere I look in everything. That's how sentience works.

    Jesus Christ Is Lord.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      I am not. I'm dead.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      maybe if you're a bunny rabbit...

      July 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • ME II

      That's how delusions work too.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Delusion can be very convincing.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Ken

      And someone else see Vishnu revealing himself everywhere, just like people use to see Baal revealing himself everywhere. If you choose to put on God-colored glasses of course you're going to see God everywhere. Atheism is taking off the colored glasses and seeing the world as it really is.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @vic, that is just the brainwashing talking.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  15. dooopeydo

    th stupidEST study i have ever heard of. who the f cares??!! we live in a stooopid wurld

    July 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      O' the irony... lol

      July 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  16. David

    If people want to have imaginary friends – why not? Well... unless they insist that their imaginary friend is giving orders to those of us who have grown up and given up our imaginary friends....

    July 18, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  17. Anti-religion Theist

    I believe there is a god (but he is NOT perfect) and I also believe that every religion on earth is ridiculous (except perhaps Buddhism, which is the only religion to concede that they may not be correct) and only induces violence.

    And based onthe comments I've read, the athiests are winning the crap out of this arguement. They are using reason and logic as well as offering positive messages for how to live your life and make others lives better, while the theists are spouting the same garbage they've been spitting out for centuries.

    Also, I LOVE Penn's comment about religion and science from the captions.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • richunix

      That is true, but we don't use Simon-says and Uncorns are real either...Question: What was YAWEH wife name (and she is listed in the Bible) bonus question who was Baal (also listed)? The plot thickens

      July 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Fred

        All the atheist needs to hear is "a scientist said..." and it's accepted as incontrovertible fact.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Melissa

          No, its not, that would be religion. But if an atheist here's that dozens upon dozens of scientists agree on the same thing after it has been tested for years, then its likely to be true. If a religious person says "I saw a cloud shaped like a big hand giving you a finger and took a picture for proof" (I've actually seen this picture btw) that does NOT mean that a deity, ghost, or spirit was giving you the finger. It's much more likely that it was a chance formation that the religious persons mind gave meaning, nothing more.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • Ed

          All the religious need to hear is "The BIBUL SAYS" and it is accepted as incontovertible fact. Puting our trust in methodically tested hypotheses beats trusting a 2000 year old text written by Bronze Age herdsmen. Loose your chains, my friend.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Bob Bowen

      You can't be both an athiest and agnostic because as an athiest you know that there will never be proof of the existance of a god. He doesn't exist.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  18. Unknownian

    Another waste of time Study, and Article. There is one type of atheist. Any person who doesn't believe in any creator, whether it be a "God" or an alien from outer space.
    Agnostics are not atheists, they're Agnostics. What you've done here is simply remind us of the varying personalities of the human race. You can apply the same nonsense here to a person of faith. This article is the usual waste of time that CNN loves to post. I've got to find a more intelligent site to hang out on. This place is going south quick.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • ME II

      Sorry, but what do aliens have to do with Atheism?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      I don't think atheism has anything to do with aliens. They are not supernatural.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Agnostics are not atheists, they're Agnostics."

      The two terms are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism refers to knowledge/certainty. Atheism refers to belief.

      An agnostic atheist does not believe in God, but can't prove non-existence.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  19. jimbojonesiv

    The authors state that these are the six types of atheists. They seen to me to be more of a listing of behaviors atheists use when interacting with non-atheists. Were any of the study's authors atheists themselves, and was any consideration given to the evidence that atheism (and hence religion too) is genetic in origin?

    July 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • snowboarder

      @jim, i have often considered that the propensity for religious spirituality could certainly be genetic.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      The main researcher was almost certainly an atheist activist as you can read here:


      Many people are working on the genetics of religiosity, but I don't think it's very relevant to what is here a breakdown of the observable characteristcs. It would be interesting, though, if the tendencies for certain beliefs and behavior characteristics were genetically linked...is that the kind of thing you are thinking of wrt the clusterings?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "They seen to me to be more of a listing of behaviors"

      Agreed. I used the same word in several of my comments.

      "Were any of the study's authors atheists themselves"

      The author:
      "Christopher F Silver served as board member of the Chattanooga Free Thought Association for 2 years. He currently served as the public relations co-chair for the Chattanooga Free Thought Association. He has assisted in organizing and scheduling speakers for Skeptics in the Pub, a lecture and debate series in Chattanooga. Mr. Silver also serves as the faculty advisor to the UTC Secular Student Alliance. Mr. Silver’s research has focused on a variety of topics including religious deconversion, spirituality, new religious movements, and research theory. He has co-authored a variety of academic publications and has served as a speaker for different types of groups. He is currently completing his doctoral degree in learning and leadership from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he teaches psychology courses in research methods and tests and measurements.

      I didn't see any reference to any consideration genetics. (And I don't believe this is a factor either way.)

      July 18, 2013 at 11:44 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111
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.

July 2013