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. Awda Abu Tayi

    Don't want to put a damper on things, but if we can all get fired up about something as trivial as religion, why can't we get incensed about the important stuff? Like war, poverty, famine, and disease?

    July 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Say Wha?


      July 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
      • Awda Abu Tayi

        Yes, "incensed", transitive verb, in·censed, in·cens·ing, in·cens·es. To cause to be extremely angry; infuriate. English is fun, ain't it?

        July 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • Say Wha?

          My bad. I had a spelling failure. You are indeed correct.

          July 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • Athy

          You thought it was outcensed?

          July 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
      • Say Wha?

        Satan made me blow it. Yeah. No. I was thinking in tongues. That's it. No. Uh, I've got it! I had a demonic where a demon squish-kitty spoke demonically and told me in Jerry Lewis' voice that I must drive my pick-up through three churches and get stuck on the state capitol lawn before I blow my spelling.

        Satan. Really.

        July 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • G to the T

      Trivial? The primary method of explaining reality for the majority of history is somehow trivial? People live, die and kill in the name of their beliefs and you think it's trivial?

      Holy crap, I'm an atheist and even I don't believe that!

      July 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  2. tyfosho

    What do atheists believe becomes of the conscience at death and after? Likewise, what of the conscience before life? I have wondered this for some time. If the answer is "it ceases to exist," then what does that mean? Serious questions, hoping for a legitimate answer. Thanks.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Bob spelled backwards

      You would have to have a very distorted notion of what atheists believe to ask a weird silly question like that.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • John

      The only logical answer is "I don't know".
      You can't expect more until we have more data.
      If you don't like that answer then you're illogical.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Dalton

      My person view is that the brain is merely a physical piece of your body. It works like a computer chip, and like a computer chip, will just stop working if you unplug it. However, the brain requires constant power. Without that power, the brain literally begins to decay, so shutting off the power is not an option. Basically, when you die, your brain dies too. There is no soul that is separate from the body.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Katie

      We believe it is the same as before you were born–a simple nothingness, no consciousness.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • stu

      what happens to it? It gets burried 6 feet under and eaten by worms. The discomfort you feel with that answer is what leads you to believe in God, I assume.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
      • tyfosho

        Your assumption is wrong. But, by your answer, I think it's a fair assumption you believe the consciousness to be as tangible as many other parts of a person, like an arm or leg, both of which can be buried 6 feet under. If that is the case, can the consciousness be separated from the body like an arm or leg might be amputated, and the body continue to live?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:32 am |
        • G to the T

          I think what you are referring to is known as the "mind/body duality" in philosophical cirlces – is there a "me" that is distinct from my body?

          Personally – I don't see any evidence that this is so. People with specific brain abnormalities and/or injuries have shown just how tenuous our grasp on "me" really is.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Awda Abu Tayi

      I can only speak for myself. Conscience can come only with existence – without existence, there is no conscience. Sort of Descartes', "I think therefore I am" in reverse.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • ggargoyle

      I consider myself and atheist and I also have the same questions, which you have worded very well although I would say consciousness. It is a good question for Richard Dawkins.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • tyfosho

        you are correct; consciousness is what I should have written. For me, yours (and others who answered similarly) is the only sensible answer. To state, as others have, that a person ceases to exist or there is "nothingness" does not compute for me. Nothingness is still a sense. Sure, it could be that I am not capable of comprehending actual nothingness because I am conscious, but that seems much more an ad hominem approach than an actual explanation. Thanks for your thoughts.

        July 16, 2013 at 12:25 am |
        • G to the T

          The total sum energy in body dissapates as heat into the environment over the course of the decomposition of the body into simpler forms. Total overall change in energy levels = 0.

          July 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Dana

      I think it depends on the atheist, some honestly believe nothing happens before or after death. Personally I don't know and I think most atheists would admit they don't know. Atheists and Agnostics usually (I think) go off scientific proof. I do not know of any way to find evidence of the afterlife, so I'm ok with not really knowing. I would probably consider myself agnostic instead of atheist because although I completely reject the concept of Christianity, I have no proof for or against some form of deity.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Tanker

      I imagine that before the brain there is nothing and after the brain there is nothing.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Privacy

      Ever play with Legos? Ever make a really cool fort, or spaceship, or car? Where does the car go when you disassemble it? It's simply gone... there is no "car lego" afterlife.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • William

      What happens to a chicken's soul after you eat his little wings? Same thing.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • ggargoyle

      Further I would add that if you can be born into consciousness once it should not violate any physical laws to be born into some other form of sentience again or prior to this life. Although not too likely into a middle-class western family. Maybe a grasshopper...

      July 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
      • tyfosho

        But what part of you is being born again? If the sentient part of you continues on, what happens to that part between incarnations? To where does it go? Or, is there no lapse of time between incarnations? If so, what dictates into what body or form your sentience enters?

        July 16, 2013 at 12:40 am |
      • G to the T

        The sum total of everything that was "you" dissapates into the environment. As such I believe in recycling, not reincarnation.

        For me, any attempt to have the mind exist after death is just ego. It's that part of our brains that can't believe the world would exist without us. Kind of like children seeing everything that happened before they were born as "a long time ago" even if from our perspective the events were fairly close in time.

        July 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  3. John

    1 and 4.
    Well..actually I'm a deist. I KNOW there could be something that started all this but I also sure it doesn't fit the traditional definition of god as most define it. I DO know that religion is pure and utter BS...a fairy tale created by man to control men.
    i WILL debate a theist and ask them to prove their side..which they can NEVER do. So they lose the debate.
    And no, you DON'T have to have faith. Faith can be defined as "belief without proof" and it's asinine to believe something that you can't proof.
    IOWs...I have more "faith" that there is a Cap'n Crunch than all knowing god who watches over man's existence.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  4. lolCAT2000

    Atheists are hands down the most interesting group of people in the world, I could hear about them everyday, thanks CNN.
    :/ 😛 😉

    July 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  5. Raison

    Everyone is an atheist, unless one can claim to believe in every conceivable theory, or theology. The more deeply one is into one particular religion, for example, the more vehemently atheistic that person defines themselves to be toward other religions. Words are strings of abstract notation, the meaning of which seems to boil down to remembrances of personal experiences associated with that particular abstract expression. The weighted center of associated experiences presently clustered around the abstract expression "atheist" would include a state of being "not one of us," and in a most negative context. There's an even more fascinating question, to wit ... why is this so? Save that one for another time.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  6. jazzguitarman

    I disagree that nature provides answer. Instead nature doesn't seek answers.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Xavier

    I think many atheists simultaneously share the qualities of several of the groups discussed in the article. Sometimes we are angered and frustrated by what we see as the ignorance and stupidity of religion and faith. Sometimes, we can also see the value that it can hold for individuals, although we also realize that it would ultimately be in their best interest to give up their beliefs in imaginary gods and worlds.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  8. Dan

    I would consider myself a non-Theist and do not preach my non-belief and respect that others have their beliefs. Live and let live. Unless, you want to engage me in discussion then I become an anti-theist. I wont knock on the door but if someone knocks on mine I will answer and defend my position strongly. Also I do respect other views but I believe they are less evolved or just scared of death. Lastly I am also a ritual theist. I still celebrate Catholic holidays with my very large family because of the tradition. I dont attend Church or anything but we do the pagan stuff, Christmas tree, big dinner, etc...

    July 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • John

      If one (you know..bike riding, white shirt\black tie wearing) knocks on my do I invite them in and then offer them a beer. Then I tell them to NOT tell me anything they can't prove. It's fun watch them stumble and mumble as they try to find some proof in their faith.
      Then I show them the door.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
      • DJ

        SO not necessary, John. These people believe what they're doing is right. Just tell them no thanks, maybe offer them a drink of water and send them on their way. What do you think you accomplish by attacking their beliefs? This is what makes the religious folks think we're attacking them. Some of us are. No reason to do that unless they won't get out of your face.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
        • G to the T

          THEY KNOCKED ON HIS DOOR! That they believe that what they are doing is right IS the problem. I dont' have a problem with people having faith, but once you COME TO MY HOUSE to prove me wrong, you had better be able to BACK IT UP.

          July 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  9. bostontola

    I'm 50% type 1, 20% type 6, 15% type 3, and 15% stuff they didn't identify.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  10. Guest

    Why does CNN continue to reuse old articles?

    July 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Bob spelled backwards

      I guess there was nothing for them to use on twitter.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • DJ

      Same reason every other news site does. The 24/7 news cycle.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  11. Joe

    I used to ask my dad, what does God look like. And he'd say like us, that we were made in his image.

    And I'd say, well does he have eyes? And my dad would say well I believe he would. And I'd say "Why? Eyes are photon receptors. Why does God need a surface to capture photons. Doesn't he just "know" everything?"

    And I'd say, well does God have feet? And my dad would say well I believe he would. And I'd say "Why? Can't he just appear anywhere?"

    And I'd ask, well does God have a penis? And my dad would get angry. And I'd say "What would he need reproductive parts for? Is there a lady God out there he wants to get all up inside her?"

    And I'd ask, does God have a stomach and intestines and does he go poop? And my dad would basically just stop talking with me and say there was a God and that was that.

    July 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • John

      Pretty much rules out the whole "made in his image" thing huh.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
      • Joe

        Yeah, I would just say well if he is NOTHING LIKE US, then what kind of crazy looking alien is he? Some amorphous cloud? A ball of lightning, what?

        July 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • sybaris

      and that Joe is a classic illustration of willful ignorance.

      Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate

      No offense to your dad of course.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  12. Andrew

    My dad describes himself as that kind of atheist. (Is that you pop?!?)

    I can't say I quite understand it myself, and am surprised to even see it on a list. But each to his own. It is food for thought.

    I am more a 1-2-4 intellectual, anti-theist, activist type – also called a "rabid atheist."

    July 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Mac

      Yes, son, it is me...and I just want you to know that I've always thought you were a loser.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
      • Andrew

        Well now I know you aren't my dad, because he has FAR, FAR more grace and class than you.

        July 15, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  13. lionlylamb2013

    I see atheisms lacking in faithfulness issues... and yes while I'm devotionally faithful to the godliness ideals of Christian scriptures resonating peaceful declarations, it seems that much of the gospels teachings go way beyond peaceful dedications. To my perspectives, atheists may lack religious faith yet they excel in their faiths of others who deem reflective of distaining their distances from any and most all religiously substantive devotionals. Atheists tend to demoralize and demonize their religious cousins whose only understandings are maintained by issues in both opposing parties of their "underlying" faiths... July 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Could it be that closeted atheists likened to other closeted socialisms are nowadays flexing their societal weightiness upon the land's shores of nurturing rationalisms establishing many beachfront proprietary landing zones in fielded somberness? I for one do not mind 'sharing the open fields of perspective nuances'. Our humane freedoms should recognize all patronizations of social recognitions from the most feeble to the most indignant and even to the most apathetic... July 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    The fields of socialisms reach from many weeded variations to the mighty oaks of the religious and well maintained fig leaves of organized aristocrats whose roots are all found under the many guises of ground up histories' watery shoals... July 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Ever since humanisms became known of the "Big Bang THEORY" our social cultures began to let loose of their somber social shackles freeing them of their devoted civilities and moralizing declarations long held mutually accepted perceptions. Is it a good thing to allow freedoms of civil disparagements branching away from long held moral beliefs just to satisfy minor brooders? Of so then, how many branches of moralized civil declinations will humanities allow to unfold? July 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    July 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, imagine that! Atheists lack faithfulness! I'd have never guessed!

      July 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Harumph

      LaLa the Village Idiot hath spokeyed wordfop flounderbabble.

      Didn't bother with it, didn't read it.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • On Christianity

      Experiencing the Holy Ghost is one of those subjective things like a premonition or a ghost sighting. Once you've had the experience you know you've had it. Unfortunately from that point on the world assumes you are a liar, a bigot, or a Republican. Also, mysteriously you become responsible for every other person's behavior but your own.
      Peace Lionly.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
      • Bob spelled backwards

        Had lots of ghost sightings, have we? Not exactly the best way to build credibility, saying things like that.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
      • John

        You sure that ghost thing wasn't an alien, Bubba?

        July 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
      • Candiano

        No, but you automatically assume that others who don't share your beliefs are immoral animals, and if you can't take it, you shouldn't dish it out.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Candiano

      "Atheists tend to demoralize and demonize their religious cousins whose only understandings are maintained by issues in both opposing parties of their “underlying” faiths…"

      You posted this already. And if you devotional people would stop demonizing people who don't goosestep to your religion, they would demonize YOU. It gets old, and tired, as do trying to get through your posts to parse out one salient point.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • John

      You've never met a devout southern baptist, have you?

      July 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  14. Scotty Cherryholmes

    I do believe in life. Not the individual's life. We know that ends. - I believe in the long line of life. It can't be stopped. There is an innate ability of life to reproduce itself, to mutate, to survive. It is extraordinary. And with most beings, it's not the survival of the individual, it is the survival of the species. A mother bear will die to save it's offspring. I believe in the wonder of life and how it strives to be infinite. I'm just not someone who can believe in man's mythology. - This is what it means to be an atheists. There is no God fashioned after a man. No God resembling a father figure. But it is easy to understand how people would want that. And to honor and respect my friends who do chose to believe, I spell God with a capital "G". - But lately as I look at the Christian in the country, I wish they would have chosen a better God. I can not imagine anyone who want a God of hate.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Good evening to you Sire Scott,

      Thoughtful words are emphatically austere and non-repulsive toward both fields of moral sovereignties. If only the major "influentialists" would be so considerately enamored, then life would not find itself within precariousness positions upon which only the vocally embolden brooders taking center stage...

      July 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  15. Joe

    I grew up in the church and believed that stuff wholeheartedly for many years.

    Once I became a father, I realized how religion is just bunk. For starters: Hell. As a father, no matter what my child does there is no way I would ever, ever, ever craft and create some place for him to be tortured for eternity. Apparently that makes me more loving and forgiving than this so-called "God"... thereby negating him/her/it.

    At this point, I just don't care. I think the life and death cycle is beautiful and I have zero problem becoming a part of the earth. I don't have a need to live forever. In fact, I don't want to live forever.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • bostontola

      Sounds very sensible to me.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Bob spelled backwards

      I too have no problem with it all just ending, and I don't know why Christians are so obsessed with living forever. I can't tell if it is extreme cowardice or extreme egotism.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • Joe

        It is actually intense fear. Go to church and talk with them, they are so afraid of the thought of dying and there being nothing. They smugly smile and say they can't wait to die, because they think they'll be playing harps and singing songs of praise for the rest of eternity (which sounds abhorrent to me). But ask them what happens if there is nothing and they get crazy on ya and go back to quoting Scripture.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      “….A child lay restless in her bed. A man, with a severe and stern look, stealthily entered the bedroom and softly approached her bed. The moment the little girl saw him, a terrified look came over her face, and she began to scream. Her mother rushed into the room and went over to her. The trembling child threw her arms about her mother.

      The man withdrew to the telephone, called someone, who was evidently an accomplice, and in a very soft voice made some sort of an arrangement. Hastily the man reentered the room, tore the child from the mother’s arms, and rushed out to a waiting car. The child was sobbing, and he attempted to stifle her cries. He drove madly down street after street until he finally pulled up before a large, sinister, and foreboding-looking building. All was quiet, the building was partially dark, but there was one room upstairs ablaze with light.

      The child was hurriedly taken inside, up to the lighted room, and put into the hands of the man with whom the conversation had been held over the telephone in the hallway. In turn, the child was handed over to another accomplice-this time a woman-and these two took her into an inner room. The man who had brought her was left outside in the hallway. Inside the room, the man plunged a gleaming, sharp knife into the vitals of that little child, and she lay as if she were dead…”

      “….You see, that little girl had awakened in the night with severe abdominal pain. She had been subject to such attacks before, and the doctor had told her parents to watch her very carefully. It was her father who had hurried into the room. When he saw the suffering of his little girl, he went to the telephone, called the family physician, and arranged to meet him at the hospital. He then rushed the little girl down to the hospital and handed her over to the family physician who took her to the operating room and performed emergency surgery.

      Through it all, every move and every act of that father was of tender love, anxious care, and wise decision. I have described to you the dark side of love-but love, nevertheless….

      …love places the eternal security and permanent welfare of the object of love above any transitory or temporary comfort or present pleasure down her upon this earth. Love seeks the best interest of the beloved…”

      References provided upon request.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
      • Bob spelled backwards

        Yes, Buddha is most wonderous. Nice Buddha parable.

        Your imaginary friend can work like that too. It's your imagination, so sure.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • G to the T

        Holy crap! maybe he could have lessoned his child's terror with a clearer explanation of what's going on? If this a god = father comparison – he's still one of the worst deadbeat dad's I've ever heard of...

        July 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Appalled

      The whole heaven concept is just plain horrifying, if you think about it. Suppose you have a person who has happened to buy the correct brand of religion and gets to heaven, but there are others in the family (or friends) who have gone to hell for whatever reason. How could it possibly be heaven for the person, knowing that friends and loved ones are in eternal torment? Or even, simply knowing that anyone ever has been condemned to eternal pain in suffering? What, they don't know that anymore? Worse, they just shrug off the thought of others suffering forever and go off to worship the one that set up the torment?

      That is no heaven, but a true hell.

      July 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  16. pazke

    Hey – I've been calling myself a non-theist for years – and guess what? That's the category I fit into best!

    July 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  17. devin

    I always enjoy the condescending, elitist tone of the atheists on these blogs. You know, that group of individuals who comprise 2% of the worlds population.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Observer


      I always enjoy people trying to support a book that talks about unicorns, talking nonhuman animals, the earth stopping still, and discrimination against slaves, women and the handicapped.

      Too much HYPOCRISY for me.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Candiano

      Could you BE any more condescending? Yes, I suppose you can.

      July 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • devin

        You may want to learn how to differentiate between condescension and sarcasm.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      2%? Wow you are way off.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • saroban

      Ha! You really think we're only 2%? You're in for a very rude awakening when, one day, you wake up and realize no one still believes in the nonsense that you do ...

      July 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • devin

        I guess on some level that makes you feel better.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Andrew

      I wouldn't hang my hat on that 2% number. The number of people who are in the broad category of doubting, agnostic, non-believer, non-believing spiritualism is much higher than 2%. When you lump in people who view their religion as more of a tribal thing (like "catholics" who never go to church, and protestants who like the daycare) the number gets even higher still.

      The bottom line is that now that the genie is out the bottle, now that it is acceptable to question the myth, the number of non-believers is just going to grow. This is how all gods die out. The only way to reverse it is for the invisible and silent god to show herself, to stop doing a perfect imitation of a mythical god (evidenceless), but that ain't gonna happen.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • devin

      Glad to hear you're on our side.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • devin

      I do what I can.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • hee hee

      Devin, you rock the sarcastic Casbah!

      July 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  18. gabeh

    This is like asking what kind of non-believer in pixies are you?
    Since there is no evidence for or need for a God for the universe and life to exist why would we have to invent a means to cause these to be?
    I can understand how religion helps some and why it came into existence in the face of absolute ignorance of science millenia ago, but to perpetuate this myth is sheer nonsense.
    I guess this makes me a reasoning, scientific atheist who will argue if the topic comes up but see no need to speak out on the subject unless provoked.
    Growing up in a commumist country with intelligent, modern parents I don't think I even heard of the idea of a God till I was perhaps eight or ten and by then its absurdity was obvious.

    July 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Awda Abu Tayi

      Good show. A well placed pary to a poorly planned thrust. Touche!

      July 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I always said the one good think about those communist governments was that religion wasn't a key part of society.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  19. CommonSensed

    Agnostic is not atheist.


    July 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • smartguy999

      I would tend to bet that most agnostics if forced to bet their life would say they don't believe in a god. but being the good little scientists that they are, realize how silly it sounds to believe in something that is not proven. they don't want to be just like the religious nuts so they say with humility they don't know. the true problem is this notion of believing. it comes from religious people and then the anti religious people adopt the same stupid idea that they need to believe. why not say instead "not sure, wish I knew, if forced to bet then i say probably no god". so simple, non-arrogant, and factual.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
      • saroban

        I actually think that, if forced to bet their lives, many agnostics would say that they do believe in God (even if deep down they don't) out of fear of consequences if they're wrong. That's why I call them cowardly atheists.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • smartguy999

          i think you are mistaken my friend. many are like me. i definitely bet the odds are much more likely that there is no god and have no fear to say so. but unlike you, i find no need for taking a leap of faith. that seem just ignorant to me and just the opposite side of the same coin. people who believe. heads and tails. theists and atheists. you are an atheist. give up your faith my friend and join the thinkers and contemplaters of the world. with humility and grace say you don't know and wish you did. ready for anything. use this as learning opportunity my friend. fyi, you sound dumb. lose your faith.

          July 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • cm

      an agnostic is just a term for a lazy atheist.

      July 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
      • smartguy999

        no just a smarter one with some humility. how can you fight faith with faith. just admit you don't know. very simple. lose your faith my atheist friend. call yourself who an agnostic who bets their is no God but who doesn't know for sure. resist the temptation for faith. makes you look like a religious nut job.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
        • Dave

          Great response, identifying atheism as a form of faith. Even though I'm a theist, I appreciate clear thinking.

          July 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
        • hee hee

          I am also certain that there are no trolls in my garden. Call it faith if you want, but that is a rather unusual use of the word.

          At one time, much of Europe believed in trolls. Must I be humble about this too, and say "maybe there are trolls, I don't reckon anyone can know for sure", in order to be a clear thinker?

          July 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  20. Joe

    Well, I'm a non-theist according to this. Didn't even know it!

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

      I believe that term was coined by Hitchens, who used it to mean he, unlike some, does not wish religion to be true, as it would entail an unenviable servitude.

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

        You're talking about anti-theism, which Hitchens coined and identified himself as.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • faith

      joe, what are your thoughts on jesus christ?

      July 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
      • howabouthat

        What are your thoughts on Vishnu. Zeus, the Buddha, Thor, yggdrasil? Let me gues....

        To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, mythology is other people's religion.

        July 15, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • howabouthat

          "guess" that is.

          July 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
        • faith

          they ain't jeebus! lol

          July 17, 2013 at 7:49 am |
        • TDH

          ...also according to Campbell- The Grateful Dead are the cure for global nuclear war. Really. Jesus would have definitely been a Dead Head.

          July 19, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • faith

      i'd be interested to know

      July 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
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About this blog

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