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July 18th, 2013
03:14 PM ET

`Six Types of Atheists' study wakes a sleeping giant

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - They were trying to prove a simple point: That nonbelievers are a bigger and more diverse group than previously imagined.

"We sort of woke a sleeping giant," says Christopher F. Silver, a researcher at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. "We're a bit overwhelmed actually."

Silver and his project manager, Thomas Coleman, recently released a study proposing six different types of nonbelievers - from strident atheists to people who observe religious rituals while doubting the divine.

The study clearly struck a chord, particularly among triumphal atheists and uneasy believers. Articles appeared in in Polish, German, Russian and Portuguese, Silver said.

Here on CNN.com, our story "Behold, the Six Types of Atheists" garnered about 3.14 gazillion hits and thousands of comments.

Half the fun seemed to lie in atheists applying the categories to themselves, kind of like a personality test.

"I guess I'm a 1-2-4 atheist," ran a typical comment.

Other commenters questioned the study's categories, methods, and even the religious beliefs of its authors.

Silver and Coleman agreed to answer our readers' questions via email from Tennessee. Some of their answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Several readers asked how you came up with your six categories of atheists? 

A: In a sense we let the participants inform our theory.

The categories were devised from a series of 59 interviews conducted with people nationwide who don’t believe in God. Participants were asked to define various terms of nonbelief as well as their own religious views.

We also asked participants to tell us their stories and how their religious views have changed over time. We found the most commonly repeated stories and descriptions and formed them into types.

We then used those types in the survey portion of the project. Each of the six categories proved to be statistically unique in a wide array of psychological measures.

Q: @PaulTK asks: Are atheists limited to the six categories your study proposes?

A:  We suspect that further research exploring people who don't believe in God will certainly expand the number of categories and fill in more details about the six we've named.

For example, we found that the Intellectual Academic Atheist type may produce a 7th type reflecting those who are more "philosophically orientated" versus those who are more "scientifically orientated."

Our study also gives some evidence that individuals may not believe in God but still identify with religion or spirituality in some way.

Q: @JessBertapelle asks: Can people fit into more than one category? 

A: The typology of nonbelief is fluid. Based on our interviews, we suspect people transverse the various types over the course of their lives. Since we did not conduct a longitudinal design (a study conducted over time tracking the same people) we are unable to validate this assumption.

For those of you who found yourselves agreeing with multiple positions, you may find characteristics that you identify with in all types but there is likely one type which is your preference.

Q: @Melissa asks: Why isn't there a category for "closet atheists"? 

A: This is an excellent question. Many of our interviews were done in strict confidence where the participant’s own parents, spouses, or children had no idea they were participating in the study. One participant hid in the back of her closet because she did not want her parents to discover she is an atheist.

But while there were plenty of “closeted” participants, they didn't agree in how they describe their religious views. That is, they ranged across a variety of our six types.

Q: stew4248 asks: How is this any different than religious divisiveness?

A:  There is vast diversity among religious believers, but it's unclear if such diversity exists within nonbelief.

We do know that the Antitheist category has much in common with religious fundamentalism. Likewise the Intellectual atheism/Agnosticism type has a lot in common with intellectual theology, although they are clearly not the same.

Q: How did you find the participants for the study?

Participants were recruited through nonbelief communities across the country. They were recruited face-to-face, through snowball sampling (participants sharing the study with friends), and through the Internet.

Project manager Thomas J. Coleman III is well known in the atheist community because he is suing the Hamilton County (Tennessee) Commission for their involvement in divisive sectarian prayer at meetings. His reputation helped locate “closeted” atheists to participate.

The regional breakdown of participants is presented on the project website.

Q:  A number of readers have also asked about your own religious affiliations, if you don't mind. 

Christopher F. Silver answers:

I was born and raised in the rural South to a deeply religious Methodist family. In my hometown everyone was Christian.  As was the case for many in our study, during college I was introduced to people from different cultures and ideologies. I was interested in studying different faith traditions and why people believe.

In many respects, research for this was a selfish enterprise for me. There is nothing more transformative than sitting with someone as they share their life story with you. Today I consider myself an agnostic in the real philosophical sense. The more I learn, the more I recognize the extensiveness of my ignorance.

Thomas J Coleman III answers:

My mother has been active in the Methodist church as a choir member and pianist for most of her life. My grandparents were very active in the church and went every Sunday. Growing up, I would often go as well.

But for me, “religion” was always something that other people did. I prefer to identify as a secular humanist.

Silver and Coleman would like to point out that their study was supported and conducted in collaboration with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Psychology and the Doctorate in Learning and Leadership

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Faith • Nones

soundoff (4,594 Responses)
  1. tracy

    Its truly sad that people choose not to believe. The fact of the matter is that god / Jesus do exist and he believes and loves each and every one of us....that's why we have the free will to NOT believe in him. Anyone that has doubts or questions needs to Google a couple of "near death experiences" for both heaven and hell....there's only about a billion examples out there of the SAME experience. WAKE UP PEOPLE.

    July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Nick p

      maybe they have the same experience because the brain does similar things when it shuts down.. In life, it is more common the most simple answer are true rather than the most interesting answer.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • tony

      But the huge majority don't get to choose. Religion is showered on impressionable young children before they are too mature to reason. Only the few of us that ask the obvious questions later, and get really stupid or dodged answers, gradually come to realize it's all a really wicked con.

      If you don't believe that, ask yourself why religious diversity is geographic.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Loathstheright

      "WAKE UP PEOPLE", well they are waking up, that is why atheism is on the rise, they are realizing that God is all just a made up faerie tale.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • snowboarder

      it is impossible to "choose" to believe something. you either believe it based upon it's own merits or you do not. i can not choose to believe in a god that i find unreasonable or absurd.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • William Demuth

      Tracy, if your mama had been shaging with a camel jockey, you would have blown yourself up in a Disco for the greater glory of Allah long ago.

      You are just parroting the puke you were force fed by rednecks.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Eric

      What about the countless Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. who have had a spiritual experience, thus confirming their beliefs? They have the same psychological experiences you do, thinking, "How can people not believe in my God(s)?". They would say the same exact thing you would and that it's a false feeling/experience. You say it would be the devil, how do you know it's not the devil deceiving you instead and that one of the other thousands of religions is correct? That overwhelming sense of peace and love you feel when you pray sometimes? Muslims feel that too, as do many other religious followers. Why are they any different when they feel and experience the same things as you do on an every day basis with their relationship with their god?

      July 19, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  2. Nick p

    “God's nonexistence is easy to prove. It is impossible to accept, for example, that a certain solemn, almighty and wiseacre Jehovah would spend his time in such a stupid game, like the one with the mannikins , and – what's even more irrational – would limit his play at the extremely mediocre laws of mechanics, chemistry, mathematics, and would never – pay attention, never! – show his face, but he would allow himself various stealthy look-ins, evasive language and whispering (revelations , what can i say!) of arguable truths in the back of a harmless hysteric.” - Nabokov

    July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  3. Vic

    Continuing on the earlier discussion of Science and God, I just found this by chance and would like to share it. Keep in mind the following fact from the article when go through the details:

    "The picture that’s emerging from Ecklund’s research shows that the reality is more complex than the simple dichotomy of science versus religion."

    http://www.annarbor.com/faith/science-vs-religion-what-are-scientists-religious-beliefs/

    July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • bostontola

      The article has some good data. I don't subscribe to the science vs religion framework. They are independent things. Science isn't scientists, and belief in god isn't religion. These things get conflated with dull thinking, resulting in poor conclusions. There is clearly a correlation between being a scientist and having a lower rate of belief in god, and a lower rate of thinking any religion has a monopoly on truth. I would speculate that the underlying factor of those low rates is innate rational thinking, reinforced by a career that demands rational thinking.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Jim

      That is B S appeal-to-authority. Claiming that religion or atheism is more credible because of what more "smart" people think is erroneous either way. Consensus, by definition, just means common agreement; it doesn't guarantee correctness.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • bostontola

        Who said it did?

        July 19, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Vic

      I am not sure people are reading this article right!

      The research basically suggests that one third (33.33%) of the elite scientists believe in God in comparison to the vast majority of Americans believing in God, let alone the general scientist populace. In other word, there is more believe in God amongst scientists than generally perceived! That goes along with the 40% of scientists believing in God, that I posted earlier.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Vic

      ".. In other words, there is more belief in God .."

      July 19, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  4. KIRK

    i confess with my mouth to ALL the WORLD
    i believe in JESUS CHRIST who was crucified and GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD he now lives sitting on the right hand of the father I AWAIT HIS RETURN
    even if the WHOLE WORLD DOES NOT FOLLOW HIM
    AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE WE WILL FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST

    July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Philip

      That's nice. Now run along and play and keep doing what Mommy and Daddy tell you.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • William Demuth

      All right, you wait here and I will get on with my life

      Do drop me a text when he shows up.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • Jim

        "All right, you wait here and I will get on with my life" – William Demuth

        This is the proper answer. Well said.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Troy

      You typed this with your mouth?! Talented!

      July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Lawrence

      What do you mean, god raised him from the dead–Jesus is god, right? So he raised himself? And is he sitting at his own right hand?

      July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • doctorstrangeluv

      ... and I am the Walrus, koo koo kachoo

      July 19, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      That's great, Kirk.
      The world needs more forgiving, charitable, compassionate, humble people.
      Let your faith guide you in quiet passion, never seeking praise nor adulation.
      Offer love and acceptance to those who don't share your belief and refrain from preaching, prosthelytizing, doom saying or condemning this and that from a fiery pulpit.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • JJ

      Y'all, stop responding to this deluded individual. He gets off on the "persecution" complex and feeds on it thinking he's just like jeeeezus. I honestly believe he actually gets sexually aroused by the responses to his trolling.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • snowboarder

      i don't believe it because there is no compelling reason to believe in the divinity of anyone. at best jesus was a decent philosopher who's life was grossly embellished by his followers after his death. at worst he is entirely fiction.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  5. Really people

    really people... stop sounding like idiots and enjoy each other for who they are. Not one of can prove ether side, so just shut up about it.

    For someone like me who has shed blood for this country and served with all different types of believer and non believers we've had discussions and didn't sound like a dumb dumb

    for believe and non believer if you don't respect each other you are just making yourself look like a crappy low life blogger who needs to get a job!!!.

    July 19, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Really people

      sorry my spelling and grammer sucks

      July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • tony

      Your posting is appreciated and your service thanked.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Troy

      Exactly! Neither side can prove that their faith is well placed. The position of the agnostic is the only true position. Thanks for your service.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Chuck

      It's easy to say both sides are equally bad. However, only one side publishes a book calling everyone on the other side utterly no good people, passes blasphemy laws, passed laws barring the other side from public office, etc.

      July 19, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Troy

        That's a good point!

        July 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  6. WM

    OK...... beyond a shadow I have proof there is a GOD...
    How do you explain that our ears are in a perfect location to support our glasses??? If that is not inteligent design I dont know what is...............lol

    July 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Jim

      @WM

      You are dangerously close to Poe's Law.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Funny, thanks!

      July 19, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • tony

      A more subtle effect is that cloudy sunsets are always beautiful. But just try painting one that well.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • lol??

      A barber once told me ears on a person's head are not the same height. I told him to give me my ears back cuz I don't lend them out.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    Given all the "atheism is a religion that requires faith" nonsense being tossed around, let's make things all nice and sparkling clear.
    'A' = lack of
    'Theism' = belief in gods.
    'A' + 'Theism' = lack of belief in gods.

    That's it, that's all. Atheism is a negative statement that describes only what one does NOT believe.
    It is akin to describing the singer in a band as an 'a-instrumentalist' – the term is technically correct, but it doesn't tell you what the vocalist does.

    .

    July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • William Demuth

      So AAMCO means a lack of AMCO?

      So the United States of America means a union of 50 states that all lack in Merica?

      What's Merica?

      July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Jim

      @Doc

      I believe you are making the mistake of responding to an emotionally motivated attack with reason. This isn't about the meaning of words, it's about the need to attack the legitimacy of opinions and observations which contradict their own beliefs. Its kind of like how a child may defend the existence of Santa Claus after hearing that he doesn't exist.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  8. lol??

    The cheerleaders in the scientific community don't mind that the average dude takes their assumptions as facts. It keeps the money flowing for the lifestyles they have grown habituated to.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And who do you think makes more money – a pulpit pounding revival tent preacher or a theoretical physicist?

      Science is predicated on falsifiability and transparancy.
      All theories, whether proven true or false, are meticulously docu/mented so that any interested party can repeat the experiments that led to a given conclusion and decide for themselves.
      Religion will not allow such scrutiny – there is always some absurd, supernatural proposition that must be taken on "faith" as the base.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • lol??

        You can scrutinize the KJV all you want.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • snowboarder

          the kjv is a collection of myths and fables.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Yeah – there are just tons of millionaire scientists.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • abstract_painter

      Trust me, I live with a scientist, we sure aren't cashing in

      July 19, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  9. tony

    MY collection plate, is the ONLY TRUE collection plate. Bow down before it and empty your pockets with joy!

    July 19, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Matthew

      This is the exact list from an article I read on CNN months ago...

      July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  10. ElmerGantry

    Michael Mitchell stated,

    The faith based, religion of Atheism sure is getting a lot of attention lately.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:35 am | Report abuse | Reply

    _________________________________________________________________

    "...faith based..." says it all.

    Faith: Belief in something without ANY EVIDENTIARY support.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • tony

      Saying something stupid twice, doesn't make it less stupid.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • ElmerGantry

        saying something similar to different people who may or may not have read a comment is not redundant.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |
        • tony

          Sorry. My mistake.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • ElmerGantry

          @tony
          Ahhh, I see that you have repented. all is forgiven. chuckle chuckle. Have a great day!

          July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • snowboarder

      i have not "faith" that there is not god, but i have reasoned that there is no evidence to support the religious claims of men.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Dean

      An atheist has more faith than a Christian. At least a Christian has some sort of evidence there is a God. An atheist has no evidence whatsoever that there is not God.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |
      • tallulah13

        So what proof of god is that, Dean? Apparently you've been holding out, because no one before has been able to provide any proof of the christian god, or any of the thousands of gods that humans have worshiped throughout history.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • ElmerGantry

        The burden of proof is on the claimant. Try going to a court with a claim and asking the judge to make the defendant prove your claim. You would get thrown out of court.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

          Exactly right, Elmer. And Christians are the ones claiming there is a god. Atheists make no claims, they say there is no proof of YOUR claim.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

          Sorry, I meant to throw it to the top, to Dean.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • tony

        errr. . . you got that exactly backwards.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • snowboarder

        lol! that is just plain stupid.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        What is the religionist's objectiive evidence for God?

        July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Troy

        Both positions require the same amount of faith.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  11. Don

    Lets try this approach....do you agree with these premises?

    1. Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence.
    2. That explanation is that it does so because of its nature or due to an external cause.

    If you agree how would an Atheist explain the Universe

    July 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      Didn't you just answer yourself? Because of it's nature.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • Don

        That would imply that it therefore must have always existed. Do you believe the universe has always existed?

        July 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • snowboarder

          it does not imply that it has always existed.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

          I (you) didn't say it always existed, I said it's in its nature to exist.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:59 am |
        • Don

          If I were to agree with you that it is the nature of the universe to exist, then why was it not its nature to exist before it existed. Logic demands that it could not have created itself. That would imply something came from nothing. The only rational conclusion if you believe the universe is not eternal is that something beyond the universe caused it to come into existence.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

          And how come god gets to come into existence from nothing, or always existed, but nothing else can? A physical universe that evolves, has laws, and we can observe and test seems much more likely to come into existence than an already perfect, all powerful and omniscient (even though something can not logically be both, and he seems rather emotional for such a thing), supernatural being.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • Damocles

          You are boxing yourself into a corner. If you say that a deity created the universe and there was nothing here, that is something from nothing, yes? If you say the matter was here and it just whipped it into shape, then the matter was always here, yes?

          July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • kerfluffle

          Let's try your angle, Don.

          Why did your creator wait until he did to create stuff? What was he up to before he had this crazy idea to make stuff?

          July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • snowboarder

          @don, that is a fallacious argument. if the universe is not infinite, then we do not know what came before it, but we can theorize based on every other bit of evidence that has ever been observed that the process was of natural origins.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Don

          My belief is consistent. I believe that God is eternal.

          The problem with your point of view is you do not have an answer, you can have "belief" to not agree with what I believe. But you reach the end of your logic. My God exists beyond space and time so my logic follows logically in my argument. You may not agree with my conclusion, but science does indicate the universe is not eternal. That implies then that it is not its nature to exist and therefore must exist from an external cause.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • kerfluffle

          Don, you are tweaked. Your illogic is stunning.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • not my chair

          @don- you keep using that word logic, but i dont think it means what you think it does.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • Damocles

          A rather boring routine and an awfully clumsy dismount. I give it a 2.

          You just gave the equivalent of a three-year old sticking its tongue out and jamming its fingers in his/her ears.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Troy

          Actually, stuff couldn't exist until the universe colled down enough for protons and neutrons to coalesce into deuterium. Just sayin.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • OTOH

          Don,
          "science does indicate the universe is not eternal"

          Shouldn't that be "the *known* universe"? We do not know everything about it (yet, if ever). Inserting a god as the explanation for all of the unknown - not to mention assigning this god an array of human-like emotional characteristics... wants, needs, demands, rewards & punishments, etc. - is not valid.

          July 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • not my chair

      saying i dont know is a hard concept for some to grasp, but its better than saying I know the answer its magic

      July 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • tony

      I haven't seen an atheist try to explain how or whether the universe came to be. Same I haven't seen a religion try to explain how it's god(s) came to be.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • jemram

        Google "A Universe from Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • snowboarder

      explain what about the universe? saying "god did it" is not an explanation. it is a cop-out. a plea of ignorance.

      nearly all things once attributed to the supernatural have been determined to be of natural cause. the realm of the supernatural has always been relegated to that of which we are currently ignorant, simply waiting for a natural explanation.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Damocles

      My chadar is beeping a warning.....

      July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      Let's try this approach: Ignorance is not proof of god. Not wanting to wait for real answers is not proof of god.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • skytag

      People used to explain disease by claiming it was caused by evil spirits. Then we discovered they were caused by bacteria and viruses. My point is that just because we can't explain how the universe was created doesn't mean it was created by some all power being for which there is no evidence. All it means is that we don't know how it was created.

      For the record this is one of the dumbest arguments believers throw out, because they can't begin to explain where God came from. All you've done is kick the can down the road by explaining one unexplained phenomenon with another equally unexplained phenomenon.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  12. hockeyfan

    OK, so you believe there is no proof that God exist. Now, show me proof that he doesn't exist.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • tony

      Same proof that faeries, goblins, elves don't exist. Or do you believe in those too?

      July 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • dfgsh

      Burden of proof, idiot. Crack open a logic text sometime.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • wOw

      Show me proof a purple elephant does not exist.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Pharel

      Way to answer yourself without realizing it.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • not my chair

      you can not prove something does not exist, thats like me asking for proof that unicorns dont exist. you can not make something up then ask for proof for its none existence.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • mk

      Fine. But prove to me there isn't a 100 eyed green invisible weightless monster sitting on top of your head. Or maybe he has 99 eyes. Or maybe there are two of them. There are an infinite number of possibilities out there that can't be disproven. Judo-Christian God is just one of those.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • kerfluffle

        "Judo-Christian God"

        And everybody was kung-fu fghting.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • Damocles

          Hah!

          July 19, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Peter

      No, I prefer to withhold my belief until you prove that god does exist.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • snowboarder

      lol! that is just stupid.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • skytag

      It's right next to your proof Santa Claus doesn't exist.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  13. fred

    dingle

    July 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  14. Michael Mitchell

    The faith based, religion of Atheism sure is getting a lot of attention lately.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Damocles

      Golly gee yes! We've had what, 4 articles on atheism versus 10k on religions? The horror!

      The sky is still in its upright posistion.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • William Demuth

      Oh, please do tell how Atheism is a religion?

      Like baldness is a hair color?

      July 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • tony

      You have to be incredibly uninformed to think atheism is a religion

      July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      1) Atheism is a religion

      LIKE

      2) Not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • lol??

        The leaders in the atheistic wurld collect A&A's.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • not my chair

        awesome i have tons of hobbies then

        July 19, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's amazing how difficult it is for some christians to grasp the concept of atheism. Let me explain it (again!), Michael. An atheist is someone who does not believe in any gods. That's it. No dogma, no priests, no central authority, no commonality other than we don't believe in god.

      I hope that clears that up. I'd hate to see you continue making posts like this that make you look like an ignorant fool.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • lol??

        Why's it such a big philosophy for communists and Sodominian demobocratists??

        July 19, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          It is obvious that you are deluded about religion and politics – do these delusions extend to other parts of your life? Is there a conspiracy around ultra-pasteurized milk? (it can sit on a shelf without refrigeration!)

          July 19, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Jim

      Passing over the fact that calling atheism a religion is a contradiction in terms, whats the point of your statement? If you are trying to weaken the legitimacy atheism by calling it just another belief system, what does that say about the legitimacy of your own beliefs?

      July 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • skytag

      I don't believe in God, leprechauns, vampires, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, and all for the exact same reason: I see no reason to believe in any of them. No faith required, just a brain.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  15. kathy

    Please remember that a true Christian does not hate anyone and respects their right to believe as they choose. However, they will stand up for the Truth and they can't be silent if the opportunity comes for them to share the dangers of choosing to live a life without God. I believe with all my heart that anyone who is willing to open their mind and heart to the Truth will no longer want to accept the responsibility and the results of a life without Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Damocles

      Clearly you have a skewed sense of what the word 'respect' means. Constantly haras-sing and trying to guilt trip people into believing is as far from respect as you can possibly get.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      So your version of Christianity is the one and only one true version?

      There are no true Scotsman fallacy.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

      What is the difference between Santa Claus and God? One is an omniscient being capable of bringing joy and hope to all 7.1 billion persons on this earth... and the other is God.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • William Demuth

      Your doctrine says Christ plans on killing at least one third of the population of this planet.

      In round numbers that is equal to around two billion people.

      You worship the largest killer in history, who is planning on killing BILLIONS more of his supposed children yet you claim you don't hate?

      I submit to you your level of hatred far exceeds ANY benevolence your cult might offer.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:38 am |
      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        You're confused,Demuth.The idea that"everyone is a child of God"has no Biblical basis whatsoever;who told you otherwise?Only those born again in Christ via the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit are children of God in the Bilical sense.If you are going to comment on biblical issues at least get your theology straight;otherwise you sound just as silly as the other God-haters on this blog.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:05 am |
        • Damocles

          That's strange, I've seen a few believers on here prattle on about how we are all supposedly children of this deity. I guess those poor believers weren't privy to what the deity actually said like you are. Meh, send 'em to hell along with everyone else. This deity sure is confusing a lot of people for some reason.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • tallulah13

      kathy, all that is required for atheists to believe in god is proof of god. Any god.

      Since every true believer of every religion has the exact same conviction that you do that theirs is the only way, why should we believe any of you? There isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any of the thousands of gods created and worshiped by humanity. Not even yours.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • not my chair

      danger?

      July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • skytag

      True Christians seem incapable of knowing the difference between something they believe with no evidence to support it and "the truth."

      July 19, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  16. Peter

    If you have questions or want answers go to Exploregod.com

    July 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      The place to go to outsource your thinking.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |
      • palintwit

        LOL

        July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • William Demuth

      Christian enlightenment via the Internet?

      How creepy is that!!!

      July 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • skytag

      I have no questions and already have one answer: There is no God. Life is much simpler since I accepted reality.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  17. Jerry

    Many use religion as a last bastion for believing that when life gets tough, there is always the alternative of prayer. Although I don't subscribe to this belief myself, I can understand certain among us, even the elite, in some cases preferring to tell a little lie to themselves rather than face life at its worst. I believe that it is these people who still claim to believe in "the classic idea of God", and I'm reasonably sure that it's only because they need to have something to fall back upon. Whether they "believe" it, is a subject for much debate.

    The religious use God as Floaties. Atheists are just naturally buoyant.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Bob

      Praying doesn't mean avoiding "life at its worst." Rather, it's relying on the One who gave us life to get us through life at its worst.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:29 am |
      • Damocles

        Huh, that's weird, I use friends, family, the occasional co-worker, past experiences and myself to get me through the worst that life has to offer. Good thing about that is that I don't have to try and explain how any of those people would make me and then put me through a bunch of crap just so I would come running to them in time of need.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |
      • Closet Atheist

        So god hears your prayers and helps you through the tough times...??

        Why does he ignore the millions that are dying of starvation, sold into modern day slavery, tortured, etc...?? Are they not praying hard enough? To the wrong god..??

        July 19, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • kerfluffle

        You still go crying to your mom, do you?

        July 19, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • William Demuth

        Life at its worse is death.

        I know TONS of dead evangelicals!

        Why did God fail them?

        July 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • skytag

        Prayer is a placebo. There is no evidence that any prayer uttered in the history of the world has ever been answered or changed the outcome of any event. Any benefit you derive from prayer is the result of the placebo effect.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Belief in God is the defense mechanism that some brains use when they just can't comprehend something. It's like when a person experiences a traumatic injury their bodies often delete that moment of extreme injury from our memories to save us additional trauma. Well when some people lose loved ones or go through tough situations it becomes easy for the brain to attempt to fall back on any crutch learned from their childhood indoctrination. Much like a child a few weeks before Christmas that get's some sort of bad news or get's injured, what keeps their spirits high is the thought of Santa bringing them presents in a few weeks... it enables their mind to be distracted enough so they no longer think about the bad news. It is the same with God. When people experience hardships they easily fall back on belief in the supernatural to get them out of it "Please God" "Dear God" "Oh God, I know you won't let me be tested beyond what I can bear" which distracts them from the hardship. It doesn't actually make any difference but much like a placebo can make a person THINK it had an effect. I wonder sometimes if the Jesus of the bible might not have been an atheist as he informed people that it was not he who did the healing "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." Mark 5:34 Maybe he was just understood the power of the human mind and the possible effects of placebos.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:50 am |
      • kathy

        I know that I cannot change your mind-but I am going to pray that God does and if you allow Him to open your eyes, you are really going to be surprised.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • skytag

          If God can change people's minds why didn't he change Hitler's or Stalin's before they slaughtered millions of innocent people?

          July 19, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • kathy

      Seriously, what is the problem with using God? What really happens when you honestly use Him?

      July 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • Damocles

        Seriously, what's wrong with using your friends and family to help you through?

        July 19, 2013 at 9:59 am |
      • not my chair

        i am sorry but you are not using god, the power to get through rough times is with in you the whole time, you just believe you are week and need some one else to get through. look inside your self an realize its always been you

        July 19, 2013 at 10:07 am |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        Which God again Kathy? There are many apparently that one can pray to, is there any better record of praying to one God over another? As far as my research shows the number of claimed answered prayers is almost exactly the same no matter which religion you profess and no matter which God you implore. Would that not indicate that either Allah, Vishnu and Jesus have the same level of power or that none of them exist (also meaning they have the same level of power, none).

        July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • skytag

        How does one "honestly use" something that doesn't exist?

        July 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • kathy

          Very good point! My answer is-you can't-but my question is still the same.

          July 19, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  18. Jim C

    I'm 55, brought up catholic, went to parochial school, but always thought of God like kids think of Santa until I took history and philosophy courses in college. You can't have an understanding of history, philosophy, or scientific method and really still believe in magical revelation and ghosts as reality! Also have a problem with the writer' answer to the posted question below:
    Q: stew4248 asks: How is this any different than religious divisiveness?
    A: There is vast diversity among religious believers, but it's unclear if such diversity exists within nonbelief.
    We do know that the Anti-theist category has much in common with religious fundamentalism.
    My atheism could not be further from religious fundamentalism! My anti-theist view is NOT based on archaic rituals and supernaturalism that has no evidence whatsoever of reality. Carl Sagan said it best, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary eveidence." There is NO evidence of god.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      I don't think they were comparing their diverse population through similar practices, they were simply saying that, for instance, some atheists just say they are atheists to themselves, while others might go out and pronounce it to the world and strongly make there case to others in hopes of converting people.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  19. Colin

    The interesting thing is that you get elite scientists who still believe in the classic idea of God (apparently about 5% of them do). One can understand the poor in third World countries or even the less educated in the USA believing, but it is remarkable that only 95% of elite scientists are atheists.

    As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, if we want to understand religion, we should be speaking to and studying this 5%.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      Proof that insanity knows no bounds. Even educated established people have their own insane ideas about gods and goddesses. However, until anyone is able to prove without out a doubt that there is a creator and our lives are linked to him/her these scientists/poor that believe in this nonsense will just be continuing wishful thinking. There are no gods and you know it!

      July 19, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • Colin

        Of course there are no gods, ghosts or other sky-fairies. My point is that, in order to understand the human predilection toward religious belief, we are better off trying to understand those who, despite having the mental wherewithall and educational background to disabuse themselves of these silly views, maintain them.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          Just because someone is intelligent does not mean that they are psychologically well. There are many intelligent people with irrational phobias. There are many intelligent people that are just plain crazy – like the Unabomber and Newt Gringrich.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • guest

        If there were proof of god there would be no room for faith. Go said, through Paul, without faith you can not please God.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
        • Jim C

          That's quite the circular argument there! God exists because god said you cannot please god without believing in god????

          July 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • ElmerGantry

          Faith: belief in something without evidentiary support.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:24 am |
        • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

          What is the difference between Santa Claus and God? One is an omniscient being capable of bringing joy and hope to all 7.1 billion persons on this earth... and the other is God.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |
        • skytag

          The simpler explanation for why there is not proof of God is that he doesn't exist. Your argument is one religions feed their believers so they won't ask for evidence everyone knows doesn't exist.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • Knuckles Nuclear

        It's not really insanity. It's biology.

        Dr. Andrew Newberg a neurobiologist has done research and study that shows that the inclination for spiritual belief is literally hard-wired into the human brain. From a scientific viewpoint this might have provided an evolutionary advantage. But it also shows that just as we have other "non-rational" (not necessarily irrational) behaviors such as love, the desire to work cooperatively, art, and music, this is just another thing that a person can have as part of their personality.

        It's only human.

        You can google for him . There are various articles, interviews, and videos online, and a couple of books he's written on the subject.

        July 19, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Exactly correct!

      July 19, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • snowboarder

      i suspect that there may be a genetic component to predilection to religious belief.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Vic

      Not exactly. Two in every five scientists believe in God. That's 40%.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |
      • Jim C

        Can you cite your source of 40%? Comments above show less than 5%

        July 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • Vic

          I posted it below but here it is again:

          http://news.yahoo.com/science-vs-god-does-progress-trump-faith-202019706.html

          July 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
      • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

        What if God was a pedohiliac half-hippopotamus half junglecat. would you still believe in him?

        July 19, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • Colin

        I said "elite scientists". Memebers of the Royal Society or the American Academy of Scientists.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:49 am |
        • Lmerr

          Again, not saying you are incorrect but where did you get those numbers from?

          July 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Joe Stellbrink

        There's no real source cited there. Here's a real source...

        http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html#394313A0r003

        Looks like it's 7% of scientists who still have a personal belief in a god.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • skytag

        So what?

        July 19, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • JJC

      I think it speaks volumes on how effective the brainwashing of cults really are. How can the common person expect to resist the brainwashing that occurs during childhood when even our most intelligent and open minded scientists still have a 5% failure rate at throwing off the shackles. Like the Catholic Church says, give them a child for 10 years and they will give you a Catholic for life.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Lmerr

      You cannot prove non-existence. Your non-belief is as unfounded as you seem to feel religion is. There is no explanation of what happens before the big bang. A theory that will likely change as we make more scientific discoveries. Where did you get your 5% from? I would like to see the poll, who conducted, etc. I'm not saying you are incorrect but just having you say it doesn't make it fact.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • sarahfalin

        The burden of proof is on those that claim there is a god.

        Also the Big Bang theory will change because that is the nature of the scientific process. Got it?

        July 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
        • Lmerr

          There is no burden of proof. That is faith. I choose to believe. Absolutely I understand. I studied physics extensively in college, work in industry that requires it and read regularly about current advancements. Have you any background in this? You miss the point of the big bang reference. It like other theories are sometimes used by those who really do not understand what they are talking about to point blankly prove non-existence. That is not the case.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
        • tallulah13

          Actually, Lmerr, you are right that non-existence can't be proven. But given the utter lack of evidence in support of existence, it is only logical to conclude that there are no gods. You can believe all you want, but it doesn't make your god real.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • Timodeus

          Tallulah, you can carry on with your non-belief all you want, it won't make you smarter or morally superior.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • Lmerr

          @tallulah13: The evidence is personal to those that believe. It isn't quantifiable and therefore may never satisfy you. That's up to you. You saying that there is no God also doesn't make it true, obviously.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • tallulah13

          Timodeus: Your words, not mine. I never made that claim.

          Lmerr: Personal evidence is hearsay and has no real value. It is simply you choosing to believe that your god did something to convince you. And I never said that I can prove god doesn't exist. However, the complete and utter lack of real evidence that any does god exist has led me to the logical conclusion that there are no gods.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

        What is the difference between Santa Claus and God? One is an omniscient being capable of bringing joy and hope to all 7.1 billion persons on this earth... and the other is God.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |
      • Doug

        Agreed. We don't know what happened before the big bang. So tell me what happened before God. How was He created? Where did He come from? The story in the Bible is that he has always been there and always will be, but he had to come from somewhere. So how is that any more logical than the big bang theory. At least with BBT we have proof that it happened.

        I really am not trying to belittle faith, but to argue that scientific study is as faith-based as religion is silly.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:48 am |
        • Lmerr

          Again, the point is missed, see my reply above regarding BBT.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • skytag

        "You cannot prove non-existence. Your non-belief is as unfounded as you seem to feel religion is."

        I can't prove Santa Claus doesn't exist either. What's your point?

        "There is no explanation of what happens before the big bang."

        True enough. What's your point?

        July 19, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Vic

      Not exactly. Two in every five scientists believe in God. That's 40%.

      Here is a reference:

      http://news.yahoo.com/science-vs-god-does-progress-trump-faith-202019706.html

      July 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
      • Jim C

        The article you referenced only says that an ABC correspondent opened a debate with that statistic. John Donvan doesn't cite any study and it seems spurious at best without some kind of evidence. The resto of that article doesn't mention that comment at all.
        "Three out of five scientists do not believe in God, but two out of five do, said John Donvan, opening a debate on the issue of science and religion yesterday (Dec. 5) in New York.

        The discussion pitted the perspectives from both sides against one another: Does science refute religion? Or does science address a different set of questions, with answers that can point toward religious truths?"

        July 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • Joe Stellbrink

        There's no real source cited there. Here's a real source...

        http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html#394313A0r003

        Looks like it's 7% of scientists who still have a personal belief in a god.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      It's proof of the power of childhood indoctrination.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • ElmerGantry

        Hit the nail squarely on the head!

        July 19, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • guest

      Where do you get your percentages? I suspect there are many more than 5% that acknowledge God.
      Unfortunately, I believe that atheists only consider geologists or anthropologist as scientists. Any study can be considered a science. I recall one time that someone referred to me as a scientist because just because of the interest I took in my job and learned a lot about it. (I didn’t consider myself a scientist so I went and looked up the word, indeed I was a scientist because I studied all I could about the work I was doing. I was a paper cutter in a printing shop.) Have you ever considered the phrase: the science of medicine? There are a lot of doctors that believe in God.

      science defined:

      1. The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural...
      2. A particular area of this: "veterinary science".

      July 19, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        So you consider yourself a scientist because of your "intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural..." of cutting paper?

        I have a degree in "Computer Science" – but I do not consider myself a scientist.

        "I believe that atheists only consider geologists or anthropologist as scientists." What???

        July 19, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • CommonSense

      Why do you say "elite" when referring to scientists? Are you referring to a subset of the larger scientific community? Are you saying that all scientists are elite?

      July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  20. tcp

    What an absurd piece designed to conclude that "atheism" is somewhow a "religion" of sorts, with it's own doctrine, rituals, etc. There is but one type of "atheist"; one who believes in NO theism whatsoever. No god, no religion, just birth, life, death.

    July 19, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • IpseCogita

      And yet there are vocal, organised, evangelical atheists that do, in fact, have their own doctrine and rituals, even their own saints and prophets. Don't believe me? Try suggesting that Dawkins is a misogynist and watch them come out of the woodwork to defend him even though he clearly is.

      The vast majority of atheists are just atheists. We just pretty much ignore religion, we don't care about it, don;t get upset about it, don;t bather with attacking it. This article, and this "research" is about that loud minority that are every bit as annoying as folks that come to your door proselytizing for what faith they are into.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • georgex9

      As far a worldview goes they are varied. Humanists are concerned with increasing the total happiness of all humans.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      You could try and apply a strict definition of a christian to christians as well, but that doesn't mean they all believe in exactly the same manner.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Don

      I notice you did use the word "believes". Atheism is a system of belief with its own arguments, proof points, etc. Just read this Blog and you can see that is obvious

      July 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
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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.