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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. Truth Prevails :-)

    CA is that you?

    July 20, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  2. skytag

    More evidence Christianity is a fraud. Thanks for playing.

    July 20, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Austin

      ER?

      July 20, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • skytag

        "ER" is an acronym that stands for Emergency Room.

        July 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Austin

        End Religion

        July 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  3. snowboarder

    it is pretty hilarious to see all the same folks who complain about atheists on all the religious articles are all here on this atheist article doing exactly what they complain about.

    July 20, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  4. dangeroustalk

    I take issue with this "study" for many reasons. First, the sample size seems ridiculously small. Second, the categories are way too broad and ambiguous. Third, I most atheists I know (and I know a lot more than 59) fit in at least 4 or 5 of these categories and some fit all six. Fourth, I don't really see the point of the study.

    One Type of Christian – http://bit.ly/12D24Rd

    July 20, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • niknak

      The point of the study was to get people to come to CNN and see their ads so they can make money.
      Kinda like religions making stuff up to get people in their houses of worship so they can make money.

      July 20, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  5. Topher

    Austin, is that me?

    July 20, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Austin

      hey quit. this is not making sense who ever we are.

      July 20, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  6. thematrixq

    Reblogged this on ?verything!.

    July 20, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  7. Karin Werner

    Thanks for misquoting me 🙂
    Again, I believe it is disingenuous to the human mind to place one in a Type A or B group. We are much more complex than what you are putting together here.
    Another way of putting it is, how are children (different) in a part of the world whom do not grow up with the tradition of Santa Claus versus children whom do grow up with this tradition? Your grouping of atheist is just silly. About the only difference between religious tradition and being an atheist is all the crap that an atheist has to filter on a daily basis. And, for outspoken (individuals) such as myself who just happen to be an atheist (<– I could be a vegan too) I do not hold back my thoughts. Which of course, can be misscrewed by the religious. Also, different religious sects are constantly stating the other is worshiping a false god. How are they different from one another. What groups do each of these individuals fall in that worship completely different gods. In the end, you are grouping individuals religious or not. And, neither individual falls into any one group. Ever!

    July 20, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  8. SteveB

    There is is a pathetic and pervasive belief that somehow merely mocking the possibility of God equals intelligence. A frail, desperate hope that snorting and rolling your eyes at the notion of something more important than humanity conveys wisdom. It must, right? Because the only other alternative is being one of those feeble-minded believers. One of the sheeple, right, man? (And yeah, using the term "sheeple" is another telltale sign of not being smart.)

    While there are certainly many intelligent atheists, the mere act of not believing will not increase IQ. Reading Richard Dawkins is as likely to make you a genius as reading the Bible is to make you a saint. There are horrible believers, and there are mentally challenged atheists. Faith, or the lack thereof, has nothing to do with intelligence.
    Even worse, so many of today's half-assed atheists pervert the words of older, more articulate atheists with flawed paraphrases they spew across social media. Bertrand Russell - philosopher, logician and leading atheist - was clearly a brilliant man, and he's famous for his "celestial teapot" argument regarding the burden of proof: "Nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely." The point is, Russell made that argument in response to Christianity. It was his way of saying, don't tell me I'm going to hell for not believing. If you're the one trying to convert and proselytize, then it's your burden of proof.

    That context seems lost on many today who feign intelligence while pimping their non-belief. After all, there are faiths that do not try to win new converts, and do not damn others for not adhering to their way of life. They don't need to hear how much smarter you think you are just because you're not open to the same possibilities. They have no burden of proof to convince you, because they're not asking you to believe. So spare them your Ricky Gervais quotes - especially considering that he talks about God the way someone describes an ex-girlfriend they're "like totally over." And spare them your contempt. It makes you look many things, but smart isn't one of them.

    July 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Reality

      Or,

      Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      July 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
      • SteveB

        I am an atheist.

        July 19, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
        • mzh

          Not good for you... like a child does not know what to do...

          July 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • Athy

          I am too, and I know what to do.

          July 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • skytag

          @mzh: "Not good for you... like a child does not know what to do..."

          Unlike a child who needs a 2000-year-old book to tell him he shouldn't kill people and tell lies, and other things atheists manage to figure out on their own. Got it. This is the kind of stupid stuff believers say to convince themselves they're getting something for letting others tell them how to live their lives.

          July 21, 2013 at 7:52 am |
        • mzh

          Dear Skytag:

          Which of these verses can you deny while you look into yourself:

          34:4 – It is Allah who created the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them in six days; then He established Himself above the Throne. You have not besides Him any protector or any intercessor; so will you not be reminded?

          34:5 – He arranges [each] matter from the heaven to the earth; then it will ascend to Him in a Day, the extent of which is a thousand years of those which you count.

          34:6 – That is the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, the Exalted in Might, the Merciful,

          34:7 – Who perfected everything which He created and began the creation of man from clay.

          34:8 – Then He made his posterity out of the extract of a liquid disdained.

          34:9 – Then He proportioned him and breathed into him from His [created] soul and made for you hearing and vision and hearts; LITTLE ARE YOU GRATEFUL.

          2:28 – How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned.

          July 23, 2013 at 9:09 am |
        • TG

          @mzh

          The Qur’ān is basically quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called the Old Testament) of the Bible (compiled from 1513 B.C.E to about 443 B.C.E), that predates the Qur’ān by about 1,000 years (composed after Muhammad's death in 632 C.E.)

          It is the 1st book of the Bible, Genesis, that gives us how long our Creator, Jehovah God, took in preparing the earth for human habitation (when it reached the proper point of preparation), a period of six "creative" days, with each "day" being several thousand years long.(Gen 1)

          And the Qur’ān does not use God's name of Jehovah (which is in the original Hebrew almost 7,000 times), but just calls the one "who created the heavens and the earth" as Allah (this is a contraction of Al-Ilah, Arabic words meaning “The God") The name Allah appears in the Qur’ān some 2,700 times.

          August 29, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • Thoughtful Evangelical

        I accept your right to disbelieve, but you should distinguish between the (in)ability to prove something historically or archaeologically and the existence or non-existence of that person or thing. Genetics suggests that Jews have a common ancestor, specific genes are also found within people with the "cohen" name – which is supposed indicate a priestly or levitical ancestor. The fact that Jews exist proves they had ancestors – but we cannot prove Abraham. However, why should we be able to? Apart from his spiritual significance, he was not an emperor or king and was not mummified, so its about as likely as you being able to prove the existence of my ancestor from 4000 years ago. I assure you I must of had one, since here I am. As for Easter, we cannot prove the events, since Jesus was a crucified peasant and again, not an emperor or king. The Romans would not keep records of such unimportant victims, but no serious scholars deny that Jesus existed. The attempts to argue that he did not die, or did not die on a cross, have proven futile and many scholars would argue that it is very difficult to account for the early church without recourse to "easter". The problem is methodological. Most academic history considers any recourse to resurrection as outside of their scope. This is NOT to say the resurrection did or did not happen, it is to say with Troeltsch, that the resurrection is not a "historical" fact in the sense that it is not possible for historians to consider it – just as a supernova would not be a biological or sociological "fact" because it is outside their scope, don't mean novae don't happen!

        Look at N.T. Wright on how it is possible to take the resurrection seriously. esp "Christian Origins and the Question of God" volume 3 "The Resurrection".

        July 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • GodFreeNow

          "Genetics suggests that Jews have a common ancestor, specific genes are also found within people with the "cohen" name – which is supposed indicate a priestly or levitical ancestor."

          Uh... yeah. Genetics don't suggest, but rather they clearly tell us that we ALL share a common ancestor. If you're really interested in genetics and how far back the traits go, you'll have a suitable foundation for evolution, which if you're looking at it the right way, won't support your belief, but rather contradict it.

          So I wonder now, if you are going to use genetics as a foundation for your argument, are you willing to follow it to it's obvious, scientific conclusion that we, and all living things share a common ancestor?

          July 21, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Elle

      You are no better than those you rail against.

      Ricky Gervais is a tool, though.

      July 19, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

        Why is he a tool?

        July 20, 2013 at 12:02 am |
        • Elle

          Just my personal opinion. Rubs me the wrong way. Shrug.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:26 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

          Fair enough, although as the co-writer and star of one of the greatest television shows ever made (in my opinion), he'll always have a special place in my heart.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:31 am |
        • Elle

          Lol, that's cool. It's funny you should say that, because that's what got on my nerves; that show.
          Don't like the American version either.
          Ah well. Different strokes, and all that.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:40 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

          Well, the American show started well but became too unrealistic, which was one of the key facets of the original. Also, it's nice that two people can amiably disagree about something here, it doesn't happen often.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Derrick Yu

      True, disbelief doesn't equate to higher IQ. However, compared to people of faith, atheist continue to look for concrete answers to questions about life and our existence as compared to most believers who gave up and simply put it on faith. That still makes atheists better than believers.

      July 20, 2013 at 1:23 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

        Better in what context?

        July 20, 2013 at 1:26 am |
      • Kev

        As opposed to taking the easy way out for simply concluding there is no such thing as a God who does not want to be made known but would rather want us to develop faith. Since you can't prove a negative such as proving that there is no such God. Then you just take the easy way out and conclude that there is no such being.

        Then you continue to justify that easy out conclusion by putting God in the same category as Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, or the Flying Spagetti Monster since you can't prove that they don't exist and it's ridiculous to believe in those ergo that automatically means that is just as ridiculous to believe in a God, like a one conclusion fits all scenario even though that scenario still doesn't change the fact that you are concluding something that cannot be proven.

        Now there is no indication that such an opinion is automatically incorrect, but as far as empirical evidence is concerned, that opinion is just that, an opinion, and it is no more solidly based than those who are of the opinion that there is a God who does not want to be made known but would rather have us develop faith, which for many who are believers it is not so easy to develop their faith in God and maintain it.

        July 20, 2013 at 5:35 am |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Kev,

          The whole thing reeks of a scam from start to finish. Why would such a being as God..go through the whole scenario...first of all, why:

          would he be regional?
          why create the human body in one way – then demand parts of it get cut off?
          why animal sacrifice? please explain how the suffering and death of animals is important to a supreme being.
          why set up the stage of "original sin" in the first place?
          how does sacrificing a elevated, favored Son counter all the "sins" of every human that has ever or will live?
          why is the creator worried about other gods and idols?

          the above are concepts from a bronze age philosophy ... not an all knowing enti ty....and this is a tiny taste of the problems with this planet's religions.

          our sharpest minds would be schooled HARD by a supreme creator...not the other way around...an average joe off the street could write a better, more moral book than the Bible and utterly destroy the god of any of the holy books in a general knowledge debate with ease.

          The whole thing is looking more and more like exactly what it is – a scam that thrives on ignorance.

          July 20, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • Kev

          "The whole thing reeks of a scam from start to finish. Why would such a being as God..go through the whole scenario...first of all, why:"

          "would he be regional?"

          For one thing God being only regional may not be as regional as you may think. There may be a lot of different religions and a lot of different beliefs, but there are also allot of commonalities, so if you go back far enough there is a distinct possibility that all religious faiths came from one source and from there was split off by various peoples who wanted to put their own spin for whatever reason.

          Why would God let that happen would be because humanity was granted freedom to chose our own religious paths, even though they may be paths in which God would not want to see happen. As to those who may have gone through life without any feasible knowledge of God, those individuals would still have an opportunity to learn and choose whether or not to accept the newly received gospel as spirits after death. Such as what the apostle Peter said happened between the time of Jesus's death and his resurrection, he was preaching to those spirits in prison. If they were lost souls at the time of their deaths then why would Christ make the effort to preach to them.

          "why create the human body in one way – then demand parts of it get cut off?
          why animal sacrifice? please explain how the suffering and death of animals is important to a supreme being."

          You mean as part of what it means to make sacrifices the greatest of which being God having to make the greatest sacrifice of all that unlike Abraham who was at the last minute spared from having to make the sacrifice of his beloved son Isaac, God on the other hand due to his love for all of us imperfect beings had to actually sacrifice his beloved son. That those animal sacrifices were to learn of what was to happen when God would make that sacrifice and that that is why there is communion today as a means to remember the sacrifice God's beloved son had made.

          As far as creating the body and then demanding certain parts be cut off is also a symbolic and learning experience for Abraham and his seed that Abraham's seed would be blessed and that Abraham and his seed made would continue to make agreements and promises with God, if that keep their agreements they made with God great blessings would be upon them. If they did not keep those agreements they made with God, then those blessings would no longer apply to them.

          "why set up the stage of "original sin" in the first place?"

          For one thing, I don't believe in original sin. I do believe we were placed on this life on this world of both good and evil in order to know first hand what goodness and happiness really is since how can you know what happiness is without also experiencing misery, or knowing what sweet is without knowing the bitter, and ultimately, hopefully we would choose through our own free will to follow the teachings God has given us. God also knew that along the way we all will fall short and make bad decisions that will keep us from fully making it back to him on our own, which is why the sacrifice of his only beloved son had to be made.

          "how does sacrificing a elevated, favored Son counter all the "sins" of every human that has ever or will live?
          why is the creator worried about other gods and idols?"

          Apparently there are certain higher laws out there that even God adheres to. Laws such as there certain things that can keep us from obtaining our full potential and happiness in which God wants to grant to us. Certain things that tarnish our ability to obtain that potential and happiness. Those things that tarnish being sins. If a sin is committed the price must be paid, and there is no way to override those laws, even by God.

          Another condition of us being in this life to experience a world of both good and evil is that we go through this life for a limited time only, and that for us to obtain the greatest happiness that God can give us, it can't be done if were all dead without any means to overcome death. For us to come into this world to undergo God's test it had to be through Adam and Eve, and that could not have happened if they were in a state of innocence and had not eaten the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and because of that we are brought into this world for a limited time as mortals and while as mortals we take the test God has given us to see if we are willing to follow God and not simply made to follow God. It is a test that on our own will definitely fail but through the sacrifice of God's beloved son, who when born into this world through Mary was mortal so he had the ability to die and overcome death for our sakes since God the Father himself could not do since he was already a perfect immortal deity. So, to paraphrase the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians that as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

          "the above are concepts from a bronze age philosophy ... not an all knowing enti ty....and this is a tiny taste of the problems with this planet's religions."

          Since when did people of the Bronze Age were ever less intelligent or developed than we are today other than certain technological advancements, which by the way not even everything technologically speaking is necessarily more advance today it was say two thousand, three thousand, or even four thousand years ago, so I have no idea where you get that reasoning from. Anthropologists pretty much got rid of the idea of unilinear cultural evolution in the last century.

          "our sharpest minds would be schooled HARD by a supreme creator...not the other way around...an average joe off the street could write a better, more moral book than the Bible and utterly destroy the god of any of the holy books in a general knowledge debate with ease."

          So then you had clear idea right from the beginning what God's goals are? Because I certainly don't fully know. All I have is my beliefs, and even my beliefs don't cover everything; not by a long shot.

          "The whole thing is looking more and more like exactly what it is – a scam that thrives on ignorance"

          That may be your opinion, but it is certainly not mine.

          July 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Kev

          my questions were rhetorical and meant to illustrate how absurd ancient thinking is.
          The ancients were perhaps as intelligent as far as understanding how to manipulate each other – but they were dumb as snot in a technical sense....and their deities mirror this.

          You are no doubt a very smart person.....but you are stuck trying to their world work in the modern world- and it simply doesn't.

          July 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          *make*

          July 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • Kev

          @RM, You mean like when you stated that the best minds would be hard schooled by a supreme creator if there was one, when you had nothing to back up that comment with other than that was your assumption. If you sincerely believe that then fine, just proclaim that as your belief, but putting it out there as if that were an established fact when in reality it's not, that is misleading.

          Also, your point of Bronze Age peoples being intellectually inferior, you really didn't put up anything to back up that claim either. Again, if that is your belief then fine, but if your going to proclaim it to be fact instead of belief, it would be good to put up something to back up that claim, after all it's the atheists who seek knowledge the rational way.

          July 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Kev

          Im not understanding I guess....you object to my statement that the creator of the universe, as humans generally portray "him" – would have be superior intellectually to our greatest minds by a wide margin? please clarify for me because that seems like it would be obvious....either through technology or shear force of 'will" (i.e. psionic power on a truly unimaginable scale) such a being would be indescribable in intellect. ....does the god of the Bible, at anytime, anywhere in the whole bloody book, fit that bill? not to me.... you can imagine tribal leader using the logic of the bible...but not a omnipotent being.

          My comment about Bronze Age intellects being being inferior on a technical level should also be....obvious.

          July 20, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
        • Derrick Yu

          Better because non-believers do not stop asking questions. The GOD you so firmly throw your support for might be interpreted as a "higher or superior being" by non-believers. Not the textbook GOD being shoved upon every person on the planet depending on what religion they were born with.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:55 am |
        • skytag

          @Kev: "As opposed to taking the easy way out for simply concluding there is no such thing as a God who does not want to be made known but would rather want us to develop faith. Since you can't prove a negative such as proving that there is no such God. Then you just take the easy way out and conclude that there is no such being."

          Sometimes the simple answer is the correct answer. It is rather repugnant of you to engage is baseless character attacks by suggeting those of us who have concluded there is no god have done so because it's "the easy way out." There is simply no truth to that at all. We have simply decided that the simplest, correct explanation for why there is no evidence of a god is that there is no god.

          Occam's razor ... is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in logic and problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

          The simplest explanation requiring the fewest assumptions in this case is: There is no God.

          July 21, 2013 at 5:22 am |
        • skytag

          @Kev: "Then you continue to justify that easy out conclusion by putting God in the same category as Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, or the Flying Spagetti Monster since you can't prove that they don't exist and it's ridiculous to believe in those ergo that automatically means that is just as ridiculous to believe in a God, like a one conclusion fits all scenario even though that scenario still doesn't change the fact that you are concluding something that cannot be proven."

          Another dishonest attack. The point being made is that an inability to disprove the existence of something is no reason to believe it exists.

          "Now there is no indication that such an opinion is automatically incorrect, but as far as empirical evidence is concerned, that opinion is just that, an opinion, and it is no more solidly based than those who are of the opinion that there is a God who does not want to be made known but would rather have us develop faith"

          Lacking any evidence so support any of their beliefs believers must resort to a variety of rationalizations to explain why the real world seems to contradict what they believe. What you have here is one of the more common rationalizations. You have this "opinion" because you have no choice. How else would you rationalize the total lack of any evidence suggesting the existence of a god?

          A fundamental flaw in this claim, on which I'll elaborate more in another comment, is that lacking any reason to believe anything one could reasonably call a god exists, what incentive do I have to invest time and effort developing faith in one? It makes no more sense to me as an atheist than investing time to develop faith in Santa Claus or leprechauns, or digging up my yard to find buried treasure. Give me a tangible, objective reason to believe there is a god out there I need to understand, something more than your word for it, and then we can talk.

          July 21, 2013 at 5:24 am |
        • skytag

          @Kev: "which for many who are believers it is not so easy to develop their faith in God and maintain it."

          I an well aware that maintaining a delusion in the face of evidence to the contrary can be a lot of work.

          Rationalize all you want, the fact remains there is no reason to believe in your God or any other god or gods. Something you fail to address is why any rational person would be motivated to invest the time and energy it takes to develop faith in any god if he sees no reason to believe he exists in the first place.

          Nor can you explain how, in the absence of evidence of any god, anyone could know in which god narrative he should invest his time to develop faith. Should I spend my time reading the Koran and praying to Allah five times a day until the brainwashing takes hold and I develop faith in Islam? Or should I devoted myself to Buddhism until my faith in Buddhist teachings develops? If I should invest time to develop faith in Christianity, why and which flavor? The Amish faith, Catholicism, Mormonism, some fundamentalist church where people speak in tongues and handle snakes?

          Remember, I'm starting from ground zero here, with no reason whatsoever to believe any of them have any connection to reality. How do I know which one to pick and what's my incentive to do so?

          Here's what happens. At some point in your life someone or some people you respect share their particular god narrative with you. It could be lslam, Judaism, Buddhism, or one of hundreds of flavors of Christianity, or one of hundreds of other religions. Most likely it was one or both of your parents, and it happened at an age when you pretty much accepted anything they told you without question, but that's not essential for what I'm about to describe.

          Whatever they told you, you found their narrative appealing. Assuming it was Christianity, it ameliorated many of the harsh realities of human existence, such as your own death, the death of a loved one, injustice, feelings of being at the mercy of the forces of nature, and so on, gave you answers to questions about life, and so on.

          There's no question it is an appealing narrative. Assuming you were even old enough to question it, you had two choices. You could reject this appealing narrative for one far less appealing and conclude the person you used to respect was delusion, or you could consider the possibility it was all true and that you should invest time and effort to find out.

          At this point you began your indoctrination into a cult. You wanted to believe the comforting narrative. You wanted to believe the people you respected so much were right, and you didn't want to disappoint them by rejecting beliefs so dear to them. This obvious bias in your investigation of their beliefs consistently colored your thinking at every turn, even if you weren't aware of it. Wanting to believe the narrative made it almost inevitable that you would eventually conclude it was true.

          This scenario is true regardless of the narrative. It could be Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, any of hundreds of forms of Christianity, or any of hundreds of other, more obscure religions. The narrative in which you develop your faith is entirely dependent on who you know and the culture in which you live.

          I'm 58 years old. My parents are dead and I have no incentive to convince myself that your narrative or anyone else's is true. If there is a god out there he needs to give me an objective reason to believe he exists if he wants to to invest time and effort in anything related to him. That doesn't make me lazy or mean I'm taking the easy way out, it makes me an independent, rational thinker.

          July 21, 2013 at 5:54 am |
        • skytag

          @Kev: "There may be a lot of different religions and a lot of different beliefs, but there are also allot of commonalities"

          I can't think of a single thing all religions have in common. What does Unitarianism have in common with the polytheistic religion of the ancient Greeks?

          "so if you go back far enough there is a distinct possibility that all religious faiths came from one source and from there was split off by various peoples who wanted to put their own spin for whatever reason."

          You're failing. There's no evidence of this, and even if it were true, if there is a God behind religions why would he allow them to diverge so radically from one another. Even Christian denominations can't seem to agree on much.

          "Why would God let that happen would be because humanity was granted freedom to chose our own religious paths, even though they may be paths in which God would not want to see happen."

          More Christian rationalizing. Every religion has sincere devotees. Why would God or "the Spirit" not guide all who sincerely seek him to the truth?

          You people need to pick a story and stick to it. One minute you're telling us to seek God and he'll respond in some way and now you're telling us he allows even the most sincere in seeking him to wander off in completely wrong directions. If that's the case, why would I want to bother seeking him? According to you I could still end up getting it all wrong?

          "As to those who may have gone through life without any feasible knowledge of God, those individuals would still have an opportunity to learn and choose whether or not to accept the newly received gospel as spirits after death. Such as what the apostle Peter said happened between the time of Jesus's death and his resurrection, he was preaching to those spirits in prison. If they were lost souls at the time of their deaths then why would Christ make the effort to preach to them."

          This is what the Mormons teach and why they baptize dead people by proxy in their temples. Are you a Mormon?

          July 21, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • skytag

          @Kev: "I do believe we were placed on this life on this world of both good and evil in order to know first hand what goodness and happiness really is since how can you know what happiness is without also experiencing misery, or knowing what sweet is without knowing the bitter, and ultimately, hopefully we would choose through our own free will to follow the teachings God has given us."

          Again we come up against questions I've posed none of you will answer:

          – Why incentive do I have to learn these teachings? Remember, I see no reason to believe God even exists. All I see are a lot of believers making a lot of claims — often contradictory — unsupported by any evidence about God and his teachings. Without any reason to believe there is any truth to what you believe, and believing instead that you've just brainwashed to embrace a comforting fictional narrative, what's my incentive to give any of it any credence at all?

          – Which teachings should I follow? Muslim teachings? Jewish teachings? Buddhist teachings? Catholic teachings? Baptist teachings? Shinto teachings? Mormon teachings? The teachings of some primitive tribe in Africa or South America?

          I don't even think there's a god, and even if I did I'd have no reason to believe your understanding of him is any better than anyone else's.

          In point of fact this is one of the reasons I believe there is no God. People like you think we should all "seek" him, yet there is no rational reason to seek anything or have any idea where to seek. You seek the Christian god because you live in a country that's predominately Christian. If you lived in a country where another religion was dominant you'd almost certainly be seeking a different god.

          July 21, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • skytag

          @Kev: "God also knew that along the way we all will fall short and make bad decisions that will keep us from fully making it back to him on our own, which is why the sacrifice of his only beloved son had to be made."

          Look, I was a Christian for 40 years so I know all the stances, the explanations, the rationalizations, the Bible verses and so on. Your problem is that being able to regurgitate them does nothing to prove there is any truth to any of them.

          A religion is basically a conspiracy theory. You start out with some fundamental beliefs unsupported by any evidence. When people challenge you on apparent inconsistencies you respond with various theories, also unsupported by any evidence. Rinse and repeat. Eventually you build a web of explanations and theories, with absolutely no evidence to support any of it.

          Every religion has its own web of explanations and theories. Every religion has smart people involved in its evolution, so these webs are virtually always internally consistent and relatively complete. The webs aren't consistent with one another, but internally they are.

          My point here is that your ability to offer explanations as you have done here only proves one thing, that you are well versed on what's in your web. It's not even remotely evidence that any of it is true.

          July 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • Kev

          @RM, After all of that about your response, you still haven't still haven't brought up anything to back up your claims. That is what's supposed to be obvious.

          July 22, 2013 at 3:14 am |
        • Kev

          @ Derrick Yu, This actually may come as a shocker, but there are believers out there who still continue to ask questions about God, about the Universe, and so forth, and unlike certain atheists out there who if they can't get definite answers to just come to conclusions that cannot be verified like conclude that there is no God, at least there are believers out there who at least are willing to at least be open to the possibility that there is a God, and from there they develop their faith, which even though is not a perfect knowledge, at least can help keep those minds open, unlike certain atheists who take the easy way out and convincing themselves that it is a fact that there is no God, when in reality it is not a fact at all.

          July 22, 2013 at 3:29 am |
        • Kev

          @ Skytag, "Sometimes the simple answer is the correct answer. It is rather repugnant of you to engage is baseless character attacks by suggeting those of us who have concluded there is no god have done so because it's "the easy way out." There is simply no truth to that at all. We have simply decided that the simplest, correct explanation for why there is no evidence of a god is that there is no god."

          Has it ever come across to you that the simplest explanation may not always fit the bill. If you feel that that you can so affirmitvely conclude that there is no God then you would at least have to have to start with very definitive idea of what God is and what are God's intentions. So how does your school of thought apply regarding the fewest of explanations and fewest assumptions apply when it comes to God who does not want to be made readily known in the first place, but wants us to develop faith in that God instead.

          Your school of thought could apply well if the notion of God was a God who either wants to be made known or doesn't care whether or not to be made known, but your school of thought doesn't apply at all if said God does not want to be made known but would rather have humanity develop faith, which is not a perfect knowledge. The problem is most believers believe in that type of God, which your school of thought cannot set those parameters around.

          Now if that school of thought helps you come to a belief or an opinion that there is no God then fine, because I certainly could not bring any solid evidence to contradict that belief, but if your proclaiming that there is no God to be a fact, there really is no basis for that fact.

          The simplest explanation requiring the fewest assumptions in this case is: There is no God.

          July 22, 2013 at 4:16 am |
        • Kev

          @Skytag, You are absolutely right about my beliefs not being verified, and I cannot verify those beliefs. Of course I also mentioned that they were my beliefs as opposed to claiming that they were facts. Like I said I believe in a God who does not want to be made known but would rather have each of us develop our faith. That means that each of us has to find out personally for ourselves and make our conclusions based on our own personal findings and our own personal experiences.

          Although I was brought up in a religious family, I still had questions and concerns about what I was taught if it was actually true. It ultimately boiled down to continually studying and pondering that the challenge was given right in the scriptures is that if you have those questions and concerns, you should directly ask God in prayer.

          I was very reluctant to do that because I felt that I really wasn't sure if I would get an answer, or that I wouldn't be ready for an answer, or that I wouldn't know for certain if I felt that I did get an answer that is was actually from God or whether I was just deceiving myself, so for a few years there I just put that off, however those questions and concerns kept boiling up within me, so at that point I couldn't take it anymore putting it off. I had to know one way or the other, so I finally took that step and asked God directly. I didn't get any visitation or any vision or anything like that but I did a very deep sense of immediate assurance, which was a sense of assurance I never experienced before that there definitely is a God, who does love me, who does have a plan and purpose for both me and for every person in existence.

          Now can I prove that this was an actual answer as opposed to being some sort of delusion I can't. All I can say is that that I felt and believed that I got an answer. The thing is that the challenge I eventually took to ask God sincerely is the same challenge that is given to everybody. That includes you Skytag as well as to everyone else. I can't guarantee that you will get the same answer I did, and I really wouldn't know whether or not it was asked sincerely. All that I know is that the challenge of asking God, with God promising an answer to one's questions about God's existence has been given openly to everyone. Whether or not that was a wise move has yet to be determined by each and everyone of us who takes that challenge.

          That prayer challenge includes not only to those who were brought up religiously, to which many may claim that only reason why they chose that belief was due to the influence of their upbringing, but also to those who never were brought up in any religious setting. It may be interesting to see if those who were never brought up in any religious setting, who do take that challenge to sincerely ask God in prayer what those results would be.

          To those who would automatically conclude that I was delusional or that I was telling myself to believe I got answer to my prayer, since you weren't there at the time of my experience, I would suggest to try it before you knock it. It would have better validity that way.

          July 22, 2013 at 5:41 am |
        • Kev

          @ Skytag, "I'm 58 years old. My parents are dead and I have no incentive to convince myself that your narrative or anyone else's is true. If there is a god out there he needs to give me an objective reason to believe he exists if he wants to to invest time and effort in anything related to him. That doesn't make me lazy or mean I'm taking the easy way out, it makes me an independent, rational thinker."

          I'm not saying you are not an independent rational thinker, but when you are limiting yourself to only accepting truth based on a very narrow-minded school of analytical thought analyzing the nature of God on the simplest of criteria, in my book you are taking the easy way out.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • Kev

          @ Skytag, ""so if you go back far enough there is a distinct possibility that all religious faiths came from one source and from there was split off by various peoples who wanted to put their own spin for whatever reason."

          You're failing. There's no evidence of this, and even if it were true, if there is a God behind religions why would he allow them to diverge so radically from one another. Even Christian denominations can't seem to agree on much."

          Really, the common notions among all religious beliefs that one there is some sort organized creation. Two, that there is something unique and important in the role humanity plays in world or in the universe. A third would be common thread from shamanistic cultures to religions of today is the notion of a spirit; that every natural thing also has a spirit. A fourth would be in most religions is the notion of opposing forces whether that be good and evil, a light side and a dark side, a yin and a yang, and that somehow we are all caught up in choosing which side to take. Another commonality is that a religion served or serves as a means to obtain some higher goal, whether that be Heaven or Nirvana or just enlightenment, but that there is that common goal to obtain some higher form of existence.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • TG

          Skytag has a legitimate thought in saying that "there is a distinct possibility that all religious faiths came from one source and from there was split off by various peoples who wanted to put their own spin for whatever reason." In the Garden of Eden, how many religions were there ? One. But this was corrupted by "the serpent", who is later identified as Satan.(Gen 3:1-6; Rev 12:9) The pure worship of our Creator, Jehovah God, was now adulterated.

          Hence, Satan caused a breaking away from the one true religion, one that honored Jehovah. But the real moving away from the one right religion came shortly after the global flood of Noah's day. Nimrod, Noah's great grandson (Noah served the true God Jehovah, Gen 6:9), began to oppose Jehovah, as a "mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah".(Gen 10:9, New World Translation) He also built the city of Babel, later called Babylon.(Gen 10:10)

          In the Bible, Babylon is seen as the prototype (Jer 50:1, 2) of the mystic city of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion.(Rev 17:5) Ancient Babylon was a noted center of false religion (having more than 50 temples and several trinities of gods and developed astrology), with king Nebuchadnezzar using divination as a mean to determine whether to attack Rabah or Jerusalem.(Ez 21:20, 21)

          There are now over 41,000 different religious sects and denominations of Christendom, and Jesus gave an illustration showing that the Christianity that he established would "fall away" and produce "weeds" or counterfeit Christians.(Matt 13:24-30) But he also said that the "weeds" would be burned in a fire.(Matt 13:40), whereas those of the true religion, known as "wheat" or the "sons of the kingdom", will remain forever.(Matt 13:43) In time, only one religion will be on the earth, the one that honors Jehovah God.(Ps 37:11, 29)

          August 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • photografr7

          If man descended from apes, and apes are in Africa, how can the Garden of Eden be in the MidEast?

          August 3, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Photog
          That's an easy one. The garden of eden is part of myth, wheras humans descending from a common ancestor with other apes is reality.

          Genetics has already disproven the Adam and Eve myth, so since that is myth, the Garden of Eden is also myth.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • photografr7

          So says you and 100 million other atheists! But what makes you "believe" it? FAITH???

          August 3, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Scientific facts dispel many of the myths that make up Genesis.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • photografr7

          If Genesis never happened, what makes you think that the rest of the Old Testament did? And if the Old Testament falls, so does the Christian God. I kinda prefer Buddhism myself, ever read about it?

          August 3, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          photog
          The number of people who belive something has no bearing on the validity of the belief.

          Genetics has proven we did not come ffrom one genetic set. The bible says we did. Genetics has provided verifiable, consistant results in this regard. The bible has not.

          Since we did not come from one genetic set, we did not all descend from Adam and Eve. Since it was Adam and Eve's sin that god allegedly sent his son to save us from, but we are not all descendants of Adam and Eve, then god would not have sent his son to save us from a sin all men have, since all men are not descendants of that one genetic set, we do not all have that original sin.
          Since god did not send his son to save us from a sin that we do not all carry, the whole thing falls apart, simply with the FACT that we did not all descend from Adam.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • photografr7

          I just said that but you said it better. It's all hokey!

          August 3, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          photog
          Yes. I see the Buddha all over the Jesus character.
          Non-viloence, ending suffering, do unto others, community over self, fixing self before criticizing others...all Buddha.
          Since the Buddha was first, and we know that his philosophies made it to the region where the writers of the NT were from, you can clearly see the Buddha's influence in the character of Jesus....basicall he is Buddha lite, with an addition of a god element, something the Buddha basically said was moot, which the writers of the bible could not have.

          To me it is obvious that Jesus, as the character in the bible, was basically modelled after the Buddha, mcuh of his teaching is in the bible, so "christians" are actually pseudo-buddhists wth a god element thrown in so they can still use god to frighten people with.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • photografr7

          I may be a Buddhist and not know it. But I'm an atheist Buddhist which – according to you – is a ... what's the word??

          August 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Buddha was an atheist. He believed to reach enlightenment, you had to give up desires, and belief in a god is nothing more than a desire.
          The existance of a god or gods was really moot. Live in the now, pay attention to your surroundings, participate in community, and if there is a god, he does not need my validation, so worship should be unneccessary, and comes from a desire within us. If a god exists, he will take care of himself. We do our part by taking care of ourselves and those around us.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • photografr7

          We'll discuss this later. I'm headed out to buy candles. I think I'm a Buddhist.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • lol??

          Buddha was rich. Easy come, easy go.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • skytag

        @Kev: "Since when did people of the Bronze Age were ever less intelligent or developed than we are today other than certain technological advancements, which by the way not even everything technologically speaking is necessarily more advance today it was say two thousand, three thousand, or even four thousand years ago, so I have no idea where you get that reasoning from. Anthropologists pretty much got rid of the idea of unilinear cultural evolution in the last century."

        It is human nature to want answers. History shows us that people often make up explanations involving God or other supernatural forces to explain things when they have no other explanation. This is, in fact, a major reason people make up gods to believe in.

        Over the course of time as we learn more about the world around us scientific explanations have displaced many supernatural explanations. For example, at one time people believe disease was caused by evil spirits. Later we learned the cause is actually bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and most recently, prions.

        Obviously science can't explain everything, but in the past scientific explanations have always displaced religious explanations, not the other way around. I fully expect this long-established trend to continue, and as it does religions will continue to see their ability to fool people decline.

        July 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • Kev

          There are also certain technological advancements from antiquity in which we have not fully mastered, such as from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, Mesoamerica, and of course in bronze age China. And of course the great philosophers of antiquity are still readily being taught and continued to be pondered to this day.

          Although there have been great advancements made in recent centuries regarding our understanding nature and the universe, there has not been anything set to conclude that our further understandings has definitively overridden any concept of either a God, or some sort of creator, or at least some kind of order involved in the creation and order of the cosmos.

          July 22, 2013 at 4:32 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Basically, Kev, you're saying that current knowledge does not preclude the existence of some sort of god or larger guiding principle behind the universe. And I and most atheists would agree.

          However, just because the god hypothesis is not completely disproved does not mean that it is a reasonable belief, either. And if existence simply allows for the possibility of god, then yes, one might exist, but we do not have any known, verifiable methods for discovering that god's nature and will. So the number of possible gods and possible desires and natures of those gods is almost infinite.

          Also, we don't have conclusive evidence that unicorns don't exist, but that's not a good reason to believe in unicorns.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • photografr7

          Unicorns exist! I've seen them in paintings. "How can one paint what one cannot see. Yo, the Lord Sayeth."

          August 3, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • tallulah13

      There is no proof that any god exists, yet believers have spent thousands of years killing off people in the name of the god of their choice. Countless thousands dead because of religion... I think you can tolerate a little mockery.

      July 20, 2013 at 2:23 am |
      • Maani

        Tallulah: Rudolph Rummel is a historian who is widely considered the world's foremost expert on death throughout history. According to Rummel, the number of people who have died as the result of holy wars, Crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts, etc. is ~75-100 million – in all of recorded history. Yet just three atheists – Lenin, Stalin and Mao – were responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people in just 75 years. And yes, many of those deaths were the result of SPECIFICALLY anti-theist policies. So before you regurgitate old canards about religion vis-a-vis wars and death, you might want to do some actual research of your own. Peace.

        July 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Stalin and Mao were driven by driven by the desire for absolute power.....the churches, rival political factions, activists all all flavors..died to Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot ...none of these men cared about atheism vs Religions at all...it was all about stamping out possible threats to their authority.

          July 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          source: necrometrics.com
          Russian civil war: 1917 – 1922 est. 9mil – see site for sources-there are many
          Stalin: 1924-1953 est 20 mil – again -see site -extensive list of sources
          Mao: 1949-1975 est 40 mil ditto

          Your religious war figure would be about right for a mean of straight up religion driven wars and genocides... source: Wikipedia.org war and genocides combined.

          July 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          And finally to add

          75+ million gone – dead for beliving in the wrong brand of god....for nothing.

          the 69 mill lost to bull_hit dictators is no less reprehensible, the religious wars are absolutely meaningless

          July 20, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      So who is the Atheist King, Steve? or royalty....you seem more concerned with some form of hierarchy than you are the question.

      I enjoy the so-called new Atheists every bit as much as the next guy. Each of them brings their own take- usually from their branch of study....Im sure the old guard IS every bit as compelling in their arguments...but most of them were gone before the age of mass media. Dennett, Dawkins and Harris are a video away..as is the late, great Hitchens – you would be doing yourself a disservice if you were to avoid the works of these guys simply they happen to use the technology available to them.

      July 20, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • UncleM

      Accepting religious explanations for any mystery is the ultimate in intellectual laziness. In a country that values freedom so highly, it amazes me that so many give up their intellectual freedom for the dogma of religion.

      July 20, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • L.E.A.P.

      Steve B- thank you for your respectful, articulate, response....

      July 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • skytag

      Sounds like a long-winded attempt to disparage atheists.

      July 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @SteveB,
      "There is is a pathetic and pervasive belief that somehow merely mocking the possibility of God equals intelligence. "
      I'd like to question this notion. I'm not sure what circles you run in, but I have yet to meet an atheist that believed that mocking the possibility of a god was equal to intelligence. I'm not doubting that those people exist, but it hardly seems a pervasive belief. No doubt if it were "pervasive" we'd be running into these people all of the time. On the contrary, when I hear people mocking the belief in god, it is usually sharp witted which stems from an underlying intelligence. People that have that underlying intelligence don't need mockery to reassure themselves of their own intelligence.

      Obviously the statement, "mocking is not equal to intelligence" is factual. I don't question the notion, just the application.

      July 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  9. Vic

    "A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding."

    Isaac Newton

    July 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Observer

      Amen.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Austin

      Yes and what did Aaron understand when he saw the shikinah glory of God and went down the mountain and made a golden calf?

      For some people, rejecting the spirit of God is uncontrollable.

      July 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Observer

      Austin

      "For some people, rejecting the spirit of God is uncontrollable."

      Nonsense. Often it's just a matter of logic and reading the Bible.

      July 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
      • Austin

        oops .

        Observer, let me ask you this. If you had proof of God , what would you do with it. what would you do as a person. would it change anything about your behavior?

        July 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • skytag

          What do you see as the value in such questions? It might be an intellectually interesting exercise to discuss what one would do if he had proof there was a God, but since out of billions of believers not one has demonstrated he has such proof, it's a purely hypothetical question. From where I sit it's like asking what you'd do if you had x-ray vision, could walk through walls, or travel through time.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • Observer

        Austin

        "Observer, let me ask you this. If you had proof of God , what would you do with it. what would you do as a person. would it change anything about your behavior?"

        I'm an agnostic. If I had proof of God, it would change me. I'd have to make modifications to my ideas of what is "moral" and what is "immoral". In some cases, it would be a 180-degree change. I might also have less fascination with our world.

        July 20, 2013 at 12:00 am |
        • Austin

          ok but the thing is that you would end up reverting back and doing the things that please you, knowing God is not inspring you to do them. like, going through a yellow light ten over the speed limit.

          or whatever it is.

          Then what would that proof mean? How could you explain struggling? and this is reality. God sustains faith because people cant keep up. it is a supernatural ministry. and satan has a supernatural ministry of deceit. That is why we all fall away.

          This is a major war. There is no greater risk at stake. NOW , TODAY. TONIGHT.

          I know you are not convinced.. But you will be if you seek God.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:07 am |
        • Austin

          This is what makes faith,

          yes, faith, the single most exciting and powerful thing that God gives. not proof. proof makes you increasingly guilty.

          God is protecting us from judgment, and sending you the Helper.

          John 15:26-27
          New International Version (NIV)
          The Work of the Holy Spirit

          26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:11 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

          Supernatural ministry of deceit? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? You're also assuming that this hypothetical proof is proof of the Abrahamic god. What if you found incontrovertible proof of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? How would that change you?

          July 20, 2013 at 12:13 am |
        • Observer

          Austen,

          "proof makes you increasingly guilty. God is protecting us from judgment, and sending you the Helper."

          Yep. God proving his existence takes all the fun out. Much better to let billons of souls be lost. Much better to let billions of good people go to hell for never hearing of God as has supposedly been happening for thousands and thousands of years.

          July 20, 2013 at 12:26 am |
        • skytag

          Austin, you are such a fool. The advocates of every religion know they have no evidence for anything they claim, and they know people will challenge them on this point. So to counter it they all come up with rationalizations such as you offer to justify the lack of any proof or evidence.

          Christians invest considerable time and energy rationalizing. They rationalize the lack of any evidence of God's existence. The claim God answers prayer, then rationalize why there is no evidence any prayer has ever been answered. They claim God can change men's hearts, then rationalize why he didn't change Hitler's or Stalin's or Ted Bundy's. Nothing but unsupported claims, excuses, and mindless regurgitation of sound bites.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  10. elizabeth

    this just seemed silly. A pointless article, if you will. I have been an Atheist all my life, without knowing what the term meant. I just didn't buy it (although fervently believing in Santa). But an all-controlling, all-knowing creator and destroyer of the world was just too much for this lady. Sick of the hypocrites who profess one thing but practice another. who "believe", but I doubt that they do. I think most believers just wish it were so, or want to fit in.

    July 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Athy

      You obviously have an above-average IQ.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Ding ding ding

      'want to fit in.'

      Johnny tell her what she's won.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
      • Johnny

        She's won a life of serenity free from hypocrisy!
        Aaaaaaaaaand.....a NEW CAR!!

        July 19, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  11. Aleksandar

    I just want to say: I can't believe I read all the comments. Cheers

    July 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Judica

      How long did it take you?

      July 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Athy

      But, unless you've read this one, you're not yet finished. It's like a continuously retreating milestone. Like, tomorrow never comes.

      July 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
      • Judica

        This is the song that never ends, yes, it goes on and on and on my friend...

        Sherrie Lewis, RIP

        July 19, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  12. Mark

    To counter, I would say there are two overall kinds of religion humans (let all their little sects and squabbling sub-divisions occupy a lower level): fundamentalists and moderates. Both are reprehensible.

    Fundamentalists must turn religion into a conspiracy theory: any fact or figure, however simple or reasonable, not in accordance with the story must be part of a conspiracy by sinners, a trick by a demon, or a test from a god. The conspiracy can inflate to account for any troublesome fact. This is the logical crime of crimestop, or 'faith'.

    Moderates respond to problematic facts with revisionism: when science shows that the Earth is billions of years old, moderates will simply state that the recent creation of the Earth in the Bible (firmly believed until now as literal) was really just a metaphor all along. It's concession by rewriting history, claiming no conflict with science by denying that the exposed belief was never literal/relevant/real. This is the logical crime of the Ministry of Truth, preserving the dear leader/big brother/savior as being eternally correct.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Judica

      Nailed it.

      July 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
      • Damon

        Let me counter that.

        "Science proves" ah yes, the man made item....tell me, did science make the earth, the stars, the galaxies... the smallest of creations? I think not. So take your science dbag answer and stuff it.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
        • Huebert

          "did science make the earth..."
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          Are you fvcking kidding me?

          July 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
        • Judica

          The hell are you replying to me for? Who's the d-bag?
          Can't figure out how to use the reply buttons?

          And yeah, he still nailed it.

          July 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Moderates", as you call them, rationalize religion the same way all humans do about most things. If you don't realize you do this you are every bit as suckered as your average revisionist Christian. The main problem with these folks is that they drag their feet in coming up with the new pretty story.

      July 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Saraswati, The difference being that some rationalizations have verifiable evidence to support them.

      July 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
      • skytag

        Name one.

        July 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
        • GodFreeNow

          Sure.
          1) Rationalization: If I am positive about my life, then my live will improve.
          => Evidence: Studies show that having a positive attitude actually allows people to make better judgements, cope with stress better, and improve their lives.

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3481605.stm

          July 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
        • skytag

          @GodFreeNow: I was asking for a rationalization put forth by believers that has evidence to support it, not for evidence that rationalizing can have an observable effect on people. The placebo effect is well documented.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:54 am |
  13. CCatte

    Christians are comical and hypocritical. An all loving religion has murdered more people throughout history than any other religion. If religion is so important and makes us better people, how come there are over 200 known religions and how can any one of them say they are right over the others? Religion gives weak minded people a reason "to do the right thing" and those that need to feel there is something bigger than themselves. Life is a series of random events. People have some obsession with trying to find reason in everything...sometimes there is no reason. Fate, karma, religion, etc. are all man made theories that try to give people reason for things.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • JimK57

      The truth is today people who call themselves christians are not killing others for religious reasons. They are killing for reasons like greed, jealousy, ect..

      July 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Sired JimK of Heinz 57...

        Please elaborate and further explain your dire reasoning... please...

        July 19, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
      • CCatte

        I believe Europeans coming to America and killing the natives if they didn't convert their religion was killing in the name of God...smh.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
        • JimK57

          Do you believe christians today murder people for religious reasons? If you dislike a religion that is fine. I just think blaming an entire group of people for actions in the past is somewhat illogical.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
        • Maani

          CCatte: Uh, not quite. And this is something I teach, so I know a wee bit about it. Manifest Destiny – the ideology through which the Europeans and others moved Westward across America, ultimately leading to the greatest genocide in the history of the planet – was an ECONOMIC ideology. (That is, land and resources.) Yes, there was a "religious component" involved in SOME cases. But that was an effect, not a cause – and was at best a secondary or tertiary effect at that. So, no – the slaughter of possibly 50-80 million Native Americans was NOT done in the name of religion, nor even a direct byproduct of religion. Peace.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:02 am |
        • Observer

          Maani,

          The people who cheated the native Americans out of their homes and land and herded them onto reservations were mostly Christians. So much for any of those hypocrite Christians practicing the Golden Rule.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:10 am |
        • Maani

          Observer: Although that was obviously not the point we were discussing, you will get no argument from me on that score. As I have always said, there are all too many self-proclaimed Christians who would not know Jesus if He bit them on the ear. And there are going to be ALOT of surprised Christians when they reach the "judgment day" and find that they are "denied" by Christ.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:54 am |
        • Damocles

          @maani

          Funny that just above your post here you wanted to brand Pol Pot and the rest as atheists, yet are willing to give believers a tad bit of leeway and say that the slaughter of Native Americans was due to 'economic reasons'.

          July 22, 2013 at 4:33 am |
        • Maani

          Damocles: There is a distinct difference between claiming that the genocide of the Native Americans was religiously-based and suggesting that the theft of their lands and their being forced onto reservations was accomplished by people who happened to be Christians. None of this was "motivated" by Christianity, though, in the case of genocide, there was going to be an inherent element in some cases. I was not cutting anyone slack; I was stating historical fact.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "There is a distinct difference between claiming that the genocide of the Native Americans was religiously-based and suggesting that the theft of their lands and their being forced onto reservations was accomplished by people who happened to be Christians." No there isn't. You want to claim that those people who murdered the natives were not "informed" by their Christianity and were just "people" and yet you want to claim that any atheist who commits evil is doing so BECAUSE of their atheism. This is dishonest and you know it. Those Christians killing natives and mistreating them did so in part BECAUSE they were told it was okay by their pastors and priests, they were directly dehumanized from the pulpits that allowed their members to go about their murder and mistreatment without guilt or punishment.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • TG

          @Just the Facts Ma'am,

          Yes, you are correct that the religious leaders of Christendom gave their blessing to its members to kill others "in the name of Christ", such as Catholic Dominican inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada (1420-98) of Spain, who ruled tyrannically for 15 years (1483-98, with the blessings of Pope Sixtus IV [who praise him for "directing his zeal to those matters that contribute to the praise of God"] and Innocent VIII) and saw that over 114,000 (of which 10, 220 were burned at the stake) people were put to death.(Peter De Rosa in his book Vicars of Christ – The Dark Side of the Papacy, published in 1990)

          Torquemada felt that church doctrine justified his actions, for Catholic church theologian Augustine (354-430 C.E.) asserted that "it is necessary to resort to force when words of reason are ignored." And Catholic Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) declared that "heresy....is a crime that merits not only excommunication but even death." He further said "wars are licit and just in so far as they protect the poor and the whole commonweal[th] from an enemy'[s] treachery."

          Down till our day, the churches have continued blessing war and other means of deadly force, as for example during both WWI and WWII, the German soldiers wore belt buckles with the inscribed words "Gott mit uns", meaning "God is with us". Thus, the churches (as a major part of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, Rev 17:1-5) have amassed a bloody record over her history (Rev 18:5), and for which they will pay the price of being wiped off the face of the earth soon.(Rev 17:16; 18:8)

          August 4, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • photografr7

          Does anyone happen to know what the punishment is (in the Koran) for renouncing your Muslim faith? It might explain why there are so few atheists in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, etc. (living ones, anyway) So the next time someone says to you, "Oh yeah, if atheists are so right, why are there so few of them in Muslim countries, smartie pants?", you'll know what to say.

          August 4, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • Maani

          Just the Facts:

          "You want to claim that those people who murdered the natives were not 'informed' by their Christianity and were just 'people' and yet you want to claim that any atheist who commits evil is doing so BECAUSE of their atheism. This is dishonest and you know it."

          First, at no point did I claim that "any" atheist who commits evil does so "because" of their atheism. I simply pointed out that MORE people have died under atheist regimes (and I specifically mentioned only Lenin, Stalin and Mao) than as the result of religion. How do you get from that to my suggesting that ALL atheists who commit atrocities do so "because" they are atheists? Now THAT is dishonest.

          Second, you continue to confuse two things. Yes, the overwhelming majority of those who were involved in Manifest Destiny (the movement of "Americans" westward) were Christians. Therefore, they can – as people – be blamed for both the genocide of the Native Americans, and the theft of Native American land and forcing them onto reservations. What you are incorrect about is the degree to which those Americans' RELIGION was the CAUSE of these things. As I noted, I have studied this quite deeply, and teach it. The overwhelming "reason" for Manifest Destiny was economic: essentially, land and resources. The Native Americans were simply "in the way." In this regard, both believers and atheists BOTH contributed to the genocide BECAUSE it was NOT religiously motivated. (Indeed, there were many Christian missionaries who were trying to convert Native Americans – some successfully – and were vehemently opposed to the ongoing slaughter elsewhere.) Similarly, the fact that Native Americans were relegated to reservations by people who were (mostly) Christian does not mean that this act was religiously MOTIVATED.

          July 23, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
        • Observer

          Maani,

          It was obviously due entirely to religion when the Bible says that God torturously killed every pregnant woman, child, baby, and fetus on the face of the earth.

          July 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
        • Maani

          Observer: Please provide the Scriptural verse for your contention. Yet even if you are right that God did that, it would not be the result of "religion" – since religion is the practice of praising and worshipping God. Rather, it would be God's CHOICE because, well, He has every right to destroy what He Himself created, if He so wishes.

          July 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Apri

      It's sad this is the view you have. Although I agree with you about religions. They suck and suck the life out of peole to the point of suffocation. The simple truth of the love and grace though of a man named Jesus is 100% seperate from said religions. It's so simple I can sum it up in 5 words. "It's just about the cross"

      July 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • lionlylamb2013

        Apri (L)...?

        My aunt inherited her mother's (my grandmother) estate and was hoodwinked by a religious group to sell all she had and give the money to them and in exchange they would initiate her into their fold... That lasted but a month or so and was kicked out and made penniless and had to be helped by our government to live in a hovel with little money left from SS to exist. As is with all Christendom's monetary needs, their inner folds gain and their sheepish ones are left holding their insecurities with little hopes to float above the social waters of communally mundane decencies...

        July 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  14. Sultani

    It is again and again there is 7 types of Atheists but one is missing .... haqjo.com

    July 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
  15. One one

    I wonder if there are six types of non-believers in Santa.

    July 19, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • niknak

      Is there any real difference between Santa and god?
      They both exist to separate people from their money.
      And they both do a bang up job of it too!

      July 19, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • skytag

        "Is there any real difference between Santa and god?"

        Of course there is. Santa is real.

        July 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • One one

        Yes. Santa doesn't torture people for all eternity for not believing in him.

        July 19, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • faith

          that's what u think!

          July 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • Athy

        I know Santa is real because I saw him in a department store once. I've never seen god so he is not real. Can it be any simpler than that?

        July 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          I saw superman in a movie. He must be real too.

          July 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  16. bostontola

    Belief in god(s) is extremely different than religion for me. The deist perspective strikes me as reasonable, while none of the Abrahamic religions, and none of the ancient European religions strike me as having a credible basis (I'm not familiar with most others).

    Another way of expressing it is, I'm as certain that those religions (and their gods) are man made, as my certainty that we are in a real existence and not in the "Matrix". While I believe there are no gods, I am not as certain there is no deist god as I'm certain the gods of the big religions are bunk.

    July 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Gods who just like to screw with people can make a pretty reasonable story, too.

      July 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        The "Hey y'all, watch this" approach to theism?

        Huh. Yeah, some days I can see that.

        July 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • mzh

        Its the ppl who screw himself... no one forces anyone to be something... its ppl who make the choice and we all will be held accountable for it to The Creator who created man from clay and its mate from it and from them all male and female...

        July 20, 2013 at 7:11 am |
  17. skytag

    I've seen Christians say they'll pray for someone to ask God to change their hearts or their minds. If God can do that, why didn't he change Hitler's heart and mind and Stalin's before they murdered millions of innocent people? If you believe God can change my mind or your mind, does it not follow that he could have changed Hitler's and Stalin's?

    July 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      My experience in praying for God to change someone is that I usually end up being the one he changes. Be careful what you pray for!

      July 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • skytag

        In my experience you change yourself. There is no evidence any "God" has ever changed anyone.

        July 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
        • Maani

          "In my experience you change yourself. There is no evidence any "God" has ever changed anyone."

          That's because the evidence is "personal." I know that god changed me, but only I can know and understand how. Indeed, I could not even accurately explain it to another believer. Yes, I could use "language" they would understand. But they could not fully comprehend it, just as they could explain THEIR personal experience to me, and while I would "get" it in general, I would not be able to "feel" it as they did.

          July 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • skytag

          Maani: "Personal" evidence is just another way of saying you looked at something and decided to believe it was evidence. Real evidence is evidence that can be tested objectively. Typically someone prays God will make something happen, and then when it happens he interprets that to mean it was an answer to prayer, even thought there's a reasonable probability it could have happened naturally.

          Somehow when people pray for the statistically impossible it never happens. In general the likelihood prayer will be answered is directly proportional to the probability of the event happening naturally. For example, try praying that the next time someone attempts to commit a mass murder such as killing a bunch of people in a theater, the gunman will have an aneurism and die before he can kill anyone. Go ahead, get all your friends together and pray fervently for that. Then we'll see if it happens.

          July 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
        • Maani

          Skytag: Hi. I beg to differ. SCIENTIFIC evidence is "evidence that can be tested objectively." But that does not make the "evidence" of my relationship with God any less real. And although I do not "test" that evidence scientifically, it is nevertheless tested. And prayer is not the only way to test it. As a famous mathematician and philosopher once said: "There is a point at which the probability of a series of coincidences occurring within a given time period exceeds the possibility that they are, in fact, coincidences. Mathematicians call this 'improbability.' Others call it 'God.'"

          July 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
        • the Modern day Lief Ericson

          I was an accountant...small, pasty and devoid of personality...the accountant of accountants...

          then one night, while assisting a client with his quarterlies, out on his driveway due to a home remodel ...a thunderstorm suddenly appeared. .... I felt the Power.....I felt that I should drink mead...LO.....Not just Drink - BUT SWILL the mead!... and hammers! ..I felt as though I should have HAMMERS ... 10 penny–16 oz... Sledge...JACKHAMMERS....
          And today...I wash not my hands...I wear not a shirt! still an accountant though- with second degree burns and a court order to attend AA meetings.... I felt the power of almighty THOR!

          He said the believers of the Christian God were false and that He shall use Jesus as a sawhorse .....

          I felt this...its true...you cant deny this EVIDENCE!

          July 21, 2013 at 1:35 am |
        • skytag

          @Manni: "SCIENTIFIC evidence is "evidence that can be tested objectively.""

          Scientific evidence is evidence derived by scientific means. Any evidence can be analyzed objectively.

          "But that does not make the "evidence" of my relationship with God any less real."

          To be accurate, the "evidence" is not usually the problem. The problem is almost always the bias involved in deciding whether the evidence supports your beliefs or not. I could offer you what I believe to be evidence there is no God, but you'd dismiss it out of hand with some rationalization because it doesn't pass your bias test.

          "And although I do not "test" that evidence scientifically, it is nevertheless tested."

          A fundamental problem with this approach is that you are not even remotely objective when it comes to this testing. You have a strong bias toward wanting anything you observe as a part of your testing to be proof of what you believe. This is an easily seen phenomena among Christians.

          For example, both of our kids are seriously ill, and we both pray they'll get well. Mine dies and yours recovers. You'll see your child's recovery as an answer to prayer, and then you'll come up with some excuse to explain why God didn't answer my prayer to avoid admitting the fact that your kid's recovery had nothing to do with God, just as the death of mine had nothing to do with God.

          Seriously, Christians engage in this kind of reasoning all the time. Twelve people die in a theater shooting and it's a miracle more didn't die. Really? I hear stuff like that all...the...time.

          Another fundamental problem with your testing approach is the fact that different people using it come to different conclusions. For example, there are people in all religions who use it to convince themselves they have evidence their religious beliefs are correct, even when their beliefs conflict with those of other religions, whose followers also claim they have evidence their beliefs are correct. You believe you have evidence Christianity is true. Muslims believe they have evidence Islam is true. Buddhists believe they have evidence Buddhism is true. And so it goes.

          Even within Christianity people of all Christian flavors believe they have your kind of "personal evidence" that what they believe is true. Mormons, Amish, Catholics, fundamentalists who speak in tongues and handles snakes, Baptists, Episcopalians, they all have people who sound exactly like you, yet they believe very different things. Go ahead, ask a Mormon if he believes he has evidence The Book of Mormon is the word of God. When you dismiss his evidence you'll understand why I dismiss yours.

          Any testing mechanism that allows people to draw conflicting conclusions is unreliable.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:44 am |
        • skytag

          @Maani: "And prayer is not the only way to test it."

          I've never heard of an objective way to test any of this. Christians rationalize the lack of any mechanism for objective testing by saying if such a test existed people wouldn't need faith. The result is that testing is always subjective, which means your biases affect how you choose to interpret the evidence, which in turn makes your conclusions unreliable.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:47 am |
        • the Modern day Lief Ericson

          .... and another thing – he said I should make up or greatly exaggerate numbers...name drop a random professor and claim he a leading whateverIneedthem to be.

          in short, be completely disingenuous like many believers of certain desert tribal war god.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:03 am |
        • skytag

          @Maani: "As a famous mathematician and philosopher once said: "There is a point at which the probability of a series of coincidences occurring within a given time period exceeds the possibility that they are, in fact, coincidences. Mathematicians call this 'improbability.' Others call it 'God.'"

          I never heard of this, and I'm a mathematician, with a BS and MS in applied mathematics, and three years toward a Ph.D. in mathematics that was derailed by a divorce (back when I was a Christian, by the way). But I often heard my master's advisor, who was a mathematician, say the obvious is difficult to prove and often wrong.

          In my experience the probability of a prayer being answered is directly proportional to the probably the desired outcome would have occurred naturally. Tell you what, you get a bunch of your believer buddies together and pray the next time someone tries to carry out a mass shooting that he has a brain aneurism before he can kill anyone. That's something that's highly improbably, but possible. And in the meantime I'll be on the lookout for an article about a would be shooter who died of a brain aneurism on the way to a school with a duffle bag full of guns and ammo.

          July 21, 2013 at 3:29 am |
        • Maani

          Skytag: You do an AWFUL lot of presuming with respect to what I "think" "expect" etc. with respect to my faith – and even with respect to "who I am," what I know, etc.. Even were you correct (which you are not), that type of presumption would be wrong-headed. As for your response to my "probability" comment, once again you defer solely to "prayer," which is NOT what I was suggesting with that quote. You seem to be stuck on presumptions and "canned" responses. Peace.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:16 am |
      • Athy

        There is no evidence of any "God". Period.

        July 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
      • Jenniferrrrrrrr

        Umm, Bill, maybe you should draw a certain conclusion from that.

        July 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
      • evolvedDNA

        Bill ...so god is a he then? what use would a gender be for such a being if " he" has no other to mate with.

        July 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      They are just being hateful when they say that. They make that church-lady face and say "I'll pray for God to change your heart." I always smile and say tell Him to drop on by the house and we'll have a cold one.

      July 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @sky.......................................The best advice I could give you is this. IGNORE THEM! Just be the best person you can be. Make sure you're happy and tell the religious whack jobs to play in traffic.

      July 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Additionally would not that also refute Free Will?
      If / when god changes a persons heart / mind ... he is superceding that individuals free will

      July 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • skytag

        It sure seems that way to me, but then that's logical, and logic has no place in religion.

        July 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Athy

      Best thing to do is just smile say thanks. Sometimes I'll make a little joke out of it. Most of my friends know I'm an atheist, so the jokes are harmless.

      July 19, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • niknak

      Never forget skytag, that god is only responsible for the good things that happen.
      It is never responsible for the bad.

      July 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • UncleBenny

        Isaiah 45:7 "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."

        Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

        Lamentations 3:38 "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"

        Jeremiah 18:11 "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."

        July 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Colin

      Neither hitler or stalin were Christians both were atheist and as atheists murdered without remorse.

      July 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
      • Maani

        Actually, Stalin was an atheist. Hitler was a pagan. And yes, Hitler was an equal-opportunity murderer. People seem to forget that along with 6 million Jews, he murdered 2 million Christians. He attempted to dismantle the Protestant Church. And he tried to murder the Pope. As early as 1933 – just after becoming Chancellor – he told the party faithful: "It is through the peasantry that we will destroy Christianity. One can be a Christian or a German, but not both."

        July 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler were Pagans – Hitler was Catholic.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:12 am |
        • Maani

          RMG: "Hitler was Catholic."

          Not so. Yes, he used Christian rhetoric, symbolism, etc. But he was no more Catholic than Bill Maher. Hitler was a pagan who USED Christianity simply to further his ends. As I have pointed out elsewhere, as early as 1933 – just shortly after he stole the Chancellorship – he said to a meeting of the party faithful: "It is through the peasantry that we will finally destroy Christianity; one can be a German or a Christian, but not both." He then went on to attempt (and came very close) to completely dismantling the Protestant Church, attempted to murder the Pope with an eye to destroying the Catholic Church, and murdered 2 million Christians among the 13 million he ultimately killed. All of these are pretty strange actions for a "Christian."

          As well, If being a Christian is largely (if not primarily) about a belief in the life and ministry of Jesus, then we must ask: what were that life and ministry about? There were eleven main “precepts” of Jesus’ ministry: love, peace, forgiveness, humility, compassion, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice and truth. Again, Christians may (and do) “fail” at one or more of these at various times. But if one self-proclaims as Christian, one is presumably at least making attempts to live these precepts, and feels genuine remorse when one fails to do so.

          What of Hitler? If we consider the eleven precepts above, we find that Hitler lived and practiced the polar opposite of all eleven: he was unloving, warlike, unforgiving, arrogant, lacking in compassion, impatient, uncharitable, egomaniacal, self-serving, unjust and a liar. And there is no indication anywhere that he felt remorse for any of his actions.

          Given all of the above – his 1933 comment about “destroying” Christianity; his attempt to dismantle the Protestant Church; his attempt to kidnap the Pope, and to dismantle the Vatican; his failure to follow even one of the eleven precepts of Jesus’ teaching – under what rubric can Hitler be said to be a “Christian?"

          ??

          July 22, 2013 at 1:24 am |
        • 1984

          Read mein kampf. And as I have said before, according to your belief he was made in God's perfect image. And it doesn't seem God was all that busy stopping Hitler either.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • TG

          Yes, mankind was made in God's "image" (Gen 1:26), able to mirror qualities that are his own, his personality, such as love, mercy, goodness, justice, and patience, whereas animals are governed by instinct. But just because man was made in God's "image", does that mean that he will ?

          Since the rebellion in the Garden of Eden, that introduced sin (which comes from the Hebrew word chattath, meaning "to miss", or missing the mark of perfect obedience to God), mankind has steadily gone "downhill" with regard to imitating our Creator, Jehovah God. Hitler is just one of the masses of mankind that has disregarded how we are made, but allowed selfish ambition to be his driving force.

          Today, the vast majority of mankind are in no way imitating our Creator, but are permitting fleshly tendencies to dominate, casting aside "love of God" and "love of neighbor".(Matt 22:37-39) But the main reason why individuals can do sadistic acts, such as Hitler, is because these are being push along by an unseen wicked spirit force.

          The Bible identifies this ones as Satan in the Bible at Revelation 12:9, being called "the original serpent", the one who seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden.(Gen 3:1-6) The account in Revelation 12 says that he "is misleading the entire inhabited earth." And since his ejection from heaven (Rev 12:7-9), he (along with other rebel angels) have been causing great "woes" on the earth, manipulating mankind to do as they wish.(Rev 12:12) Only those who adhere closely to our Creator, Jehovah God, are not "under his thumb".

          July 31, 2013 at 8:30 am |
        • photografr7

          Before you go around demeaning animals for their lack of "love, mercy, goodness, justice, and patience," I have one question. Have you ever owned a dog or a horse? And have you ever seen how a female ape or orangutan treats her young? Many humans could learn from those so called "animals." More humans act like animals than some animals do.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:41 am |
        • photografr7

          Oh, by the way, some animals act "human" because we evolved from them. But you would't know anything about that.

          July 31, 2013 at 8:43 am |
        • TG

          Hitler was Catholic. In a question to the Catholic Exchange (Nov 21, 2002, answered by David E. Utsler, Information Specialist), it was asked if Hitler was Catholic. He answered: "It is true Hitler was born to Catholic parents. His father was reported to be lukewarm in his faith, but his mother was very devout. Adolf Hitler was confirmed in 1904, but did not often attend Mass......It is no historical secret that Hitler was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic."

          The Catholic church signed the Reichkonkordat (Reich Concordat) with Hitler on July 20, 1933, with Cardinal Pacelli (who later became Pope Pius XII in 1939) and Franz von Papen (became vice-chancellor of Germany after marshalling Catholic Action and leaders of industry to oppose communism) signing the concordat as their agents.

          In his book Satan in Top Hat (1941), Tibor Koeves writes of this, stating: "The Concordat was a great moral victory for Hitler. It gave him the first moral support he had received from the outer world, and this from the most exalted source." The concordat required the Vatican withdraw its support from Germany's Catholic Center (political) Party, this sanctioning Hitler's one-party "total state". By the end of 1933, Vatican support had become a major factor in Hitler's push for world domination.

          July 28, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Hitler was Catholic....and no the Nazis did not try to kill the pope as you claim. Hitler and the Pope had a disagreement of some type, But Hitler and the rest of the Nazi party continued to shell money out to the Vatican till almost the very end when the Nazis were flat broke.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Maani

          1984: Mein Kampf was propaganda, pure and simple. It was Hitler's way of ingratiating himself in the way he needed to in order to make good his plans.

          RMG: Hitler's plot against the Pope is a matter of historical fact. the initial plan was simply to kidnap him. But just as other "kidnaps" and "prison round-ups" led inexorably to the deaths of those kidnapped or rounded up, Hitler would never have allowed the Pope to live. Hitler's problem with the Pope was that, while the Pope himself agreed not to help the Jews, he turned a blind eye to priests who were doing so. Hitler was outraged and lobbied the Pope to excommunicate any priest who did so. The Pope refused. This was what led to Hitler's plan to kidnap (and, almost certainly, kill) him.

          Again, there are matters of historical fact that you seem to gloss over in your myopic determination to claim Hitler as a Christian, including that, as early as 1933, he STATED that he would "destroy Christianity"; that he was nearly successful in dismantling the "confessing" (Protestant) Church throughout Europe; that he planned to kidnap the Pope, with an eye toward dismantling the Catholic Church as well; that among the 13 million he killed were 2 million Christians, the second largest group after the Jews; and that, based on even the BROADEST sense of what being a "Christian" means, Hitler was about as Christian as Richard Dawkins.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Maani

          If the Nazis wanted to kill the Pope they would have overrun the Vatican and killed everyone...even when Italy switched to the allies in 43 the Nazis didn't storm the Vatican..at that stage they were fighting everyone ...

          think about it....

          July 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          kidnapping? now its kidnapping ? : killing or kidnapping the pope at anytime- 1933 – it doesn't matter ... Would have been a very good way to burn Mussolini's hide, at a time when the Nazis really needed friends. Not smart.... Hitler was a military disaster- but the man was a political genius.....this would have been a no brainer.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      powerful

      July 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • Really?

        "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

        That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!!

        July 22, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • TG

          What data ? Could you provide specific studies that have shown this to be true, and that can be verified ?

          July 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Ted

      y did u ask? u knew your answer

      November 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
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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.