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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. Vic

    To: Daniel Burke – CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

    I have been posting comments here for a while, and I never engaged in badgering or name calling nor did I ever post anything inappropriate, yet, a lot of my comments get moderated/deleted, apparently, due to other commentors who disagree and report them for abuse.

    I was wondering why don't reported for abuse comments get checked for content before they are deleted, and if they check out clean, get reactivated?!

    Thank you.

    July 21, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • jazzguitarman

      While I agree with your suggestion it would require a lot of effort. i.e. it would be a full time job for two or three people (depending on how busy the site is).

      July 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

      @Vic. Thanks for your note. To be honest, I don't know. Let me check your comments manually and see what's up.

      thanks,
      Daniel Burke

      July 22, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
      • Maani

        Hi. While you're at it, can you figure out why it is that, even when a post IS accepted, the system ends up returning the person to (i) the post itself, (ii) the top of the page on which s/he posted, (iii) the top of the next page, or (iv) the top of the last page of the thread. Why is it not consistent?

        July 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

      @Vic, I looked at a few of your moderated posts. It looks like a few of them were held up because you included two or more hyperlinks. Our system is set up to recognized those as spam, and there's nothing as moderator I can do about that. So, better to break up your posts into two separates if you want to post hyperlinks.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks,
      Daniel Burke

      July 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  2. Jokestar

    It should be called "The Six Types of Atheist You Meet in Hell". Would be much more accurate!

    July 21, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      That would be less accurate until you can prove the existance of hell, then prove that atheists would actually go there once dead.

      July 21, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • skytag

      Another hateful Christian. Shocker. Why would God punish someone for not knowing he exists? Atheists don't deny something they know it true, they just see no reason to believe any god exists. Is it our fault if God has done such a flawless job of concealing his existence? I'm more than willing to believe in God if I see any evidence of his existence. I've asked countless believers to provide some and all they can do is make excuses. Go pedal your hatred somewhere else.

      July 21, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Observer

      Jokestar,

      Heaven is going to be jam-packed with hypocritical Christians.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      It would be hilarious to see Christians in heaven....the God of the bible is ....fickle to say the least...

      a spoiled 8 year old child and the god of the bible have roughly the same hair trigger in the anger dept.

      July 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • 1984

      The bible claims that few will find the gates of heaven because the road is narrow. Jesus says that only though him to the lord, and the bible also warns about being judgmental. If this is true (even parts of it) then God is truly evil, he puts all other dictators to shame.

      July 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  3. Kenrick Benjamin

    Glory be to God (Jehovah).

    July 21, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Why name a God when it won't come when you call it?

      July 21, 2013 at 8:10 am |
      • Kenrick Benjamin

        Tom, Tom because everyone is doing likewise and you can not with stand his power.

        July 21, 2013 at 8:30 am |
        • skytag

          Another Christian bot regurgitating well memorized sound bites. God's power? Seriously? There is no evidence your God even exists, much less has any power. You people are sooooo brainwashed, so detached from reality.

          July 21, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Skytag – You may not have evidence but I do, lets leave it at that.

          July 21, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Yeah! Let's leave it at that! I have evidence for my invisible fire-breathing dragon that never catches anything on fire, but you don't. Let's leave it alone, now.

          July 21, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Cpt-Obvious and yikesboy- You are atheist yah, it takes much more of a stretch to believe what you believe in, than i believing in God.

          July 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "Skytag – You may not have evidence but I do, lets leave it at that."

          It's truly arrogant to believe only people who share your beliefs have evidence to support those beliefs. In point of fact, there are millions of people out there who embrace different beliefs who are just as sure they have evidence as you.

          When you understand why you don't accept their claims of having evidence you'll understand why I don't accept yours.

          In every case I've encountered where someone says he has evidence what he really has is something he's chosen to believe is evidence, but could be explained without relying on anything supernatural or divine. Even Christians admit this when they explain that if God gave us irrefutable proof we wouldn't need to have faith.

          July 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Ken

          all we have ever had to go on as far a God is concerned is some other peoples' word. You obey their instructions and they will intercede on your behalf and let you in to a glorious paradise after you are dead. It comes with warnings of dire consequences for daring to question. SCAM.....

          What would the Master of It All have to fear from questions.....his supposed creations trying to use what they ve been "given"? why this artificial redline? this is like me buying a powerful sports car and keeping it in the city limits, never once exceeding a posted speed limit.....it makes no sense at all.

          July 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • 1984

          His power? He's all powerful yet had to rest after 6 days? He's all powerful but cannot convince most people that exactly he exists? Religion is laughable, the most stupid of mankinds inventions.

          July 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          When you all can prove that God don't exist, then you will have my ear, until such time seek GOD he is calling you and stop being fools.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          I can give you evidence that makes it highly unlikely – indeed counter to there being a creator ...but nobody will ever outright prove or disprove a non-existent anything.

          Its up to the claimant in the positive to prove btw.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • skytag

          @R.M. Goodswell: I don't believe religions are scams, at least not the vast majority. A few exceptions aside religions are the product of people seeking explanations for the unexplained. What causes rain, thunder, natural disasters, disease, and so on.

          Once they imagine a god or a set of gods who are responsible or these things it's almost inevitable that they'll try to come up with explanations for why those gods do the stuff they do. Why do they withhold rain to create droughts or cause it to rain so much as to create floods? Why do they send tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes?

          Most of the time they end up concluding the gods are doing these things to punish people for displeasing the gods. The natural next step is to decide what people are doing to displease the gods. Of course they're on their own in all of this, so all they end up with is the best their imaginations can produce.

          The next step is to impose rules on the people prohibiting things that anger the gods and requiring things that please the gods. Yes, this is about control, but their intentions are sincere. It's not about scamming anyone.

          Scamming is an issue at times because power always has the potential to corrupt people, and those who are seen has having greater knowledge of what the gods want are generally given some amount of power over the masses, but by and large the vast majority in religious systems are sincere and have good intentions.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • skytag

          "and you can not with stand his power."

          What does this even mean? How can one "not stand" something he's never seen and believes doesn't exist? If there is a god and he has any power he obviously chooses not to use enough of it for anyone to notice.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Skytag,

          You are right about everything you said there. Where my claim of a scam comes in starts when the Christians started killing the intellectuals they couldn't outright control. Lets face it, what happens out there in the cosmos directly counters a supposedly inerrant text. The Catholic Church -the sole purveyors of the bible for centuries guarded against anyone creating an alternate version from the same collection of scolls....it was translated out of the original Greek to Latin for a reason..to control what the book said...as long as the the priests- who all knew latin, could change the texts as needed everything was fine... enter Martin Luther ..I believe he was the one that had it translated in his native german dialect...after that the game was up and the church turned to outright killing people they couldn't control on a grand scale.

          At some point it stopped being about explaining the world and became about power and control...they got used to the money and moving armies at your whim.....

          Today they are still trying to maintain that control in the face of our sciences showing a picture that not only contradicts the bible but does not need any part of their manufactured reality to operate.

          Today its all about the money (Christianity) and control (Christianity, Islam, and to a much lesser extent Judaism)

          July 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "When you all can prove that God don't exist, then you will have my ear, until such time seek GOD he is calling you and stop being fools."

          When you can prove God exists, then you will have my ear, until such time I will continue to believe you are a fool for devoting your life to something for which there is no evidence.

          And for the record, when you can prove Santa Claus doesn't exist I'll accept your pathetic defense for your inability to produce any evidence your god exists.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • skytag

          @R.M. Goodswell: "Where my claim of a scam comes in starts when the Christians started killing the intellectuals they couldn't outright control."

          I don't see how this justifies the scam angle. Even in these cases the believers believe they're eliminating pawns of Satan whose mission it is to destroy people's faith.

          "Lets face it, what happens out there in the cosmos directly counters a supposedly inerrant text. The Catholic Church -the sole purveyors of the bible for centuries guarded against anyone creating an alternate version from the same collection of scolls....it was translated out of the original Greek to Latin for a reason..to control what the book said...as long as the the priests- who all knew latin, could change the texts as needed everything was fine... enter Martin Luther ..I believe he was the one that had it translated in his native german dialect...after that the game was up and the church turned to outright killing people they couldn't control on a grand scale."

          Even if your assessment is correct you're still just talking about one religion out of thousands.

          "Today they are still trying to maintain that control in the face of our sciences showing a picture that not only contradicts the bible but does not need any part of their manufactured reality to operate."

          Religions offer very appealing narratives that effectively eliminate the most unpleasant realities of the human existence. They offer an alternative to death, injustice, helplessness, insignificance, the loss of loved ones, and so on. They're such appealing narratives people who embrace them will cling to them at all costs. It is the nature of human beings to reject what is true but unpleasant and embrace what is obviously false but comforting.

          I've known a lot of Christians, and some in various ecclesiastical positions. In every case the person was very sincere.

          "Today its all about the money (Christianity) and control (Christianity, Islam, and to a much lesser extent Judaism)"

          This is cynicism talking. Cynicism isn't a valid argument.

          As an aside, one reason believers try to convert people to their beliefs is to validate their beliefs. If they can get you to believe what they believe in their minds it validates what they believe. When rational, intelligent people reject their believes they have to rationalize why that would be.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Skytag,

          If you want there to be something more than there is -so be it....but don't try to tell me for one second that any of the churches today are straight up...none of them are...they are all based on a false foundation...its all BS ..... all of it

          July 21, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          You could say I had any illusions about the human race and how it operates torn away from me at a very young age. after I learn to control my anger, started watching people to figuring out why they do what they do – then I started studying history, and when you stand back and look at humanity and its history, a pattern emerges...and it can make one very cynical.

          Scams that harm good people infuriate me, – There is no lasting dishonesty in the sciences- if you try to fudge the science you don't last....what we ve done scientifically we ve done with one hand tied behind our backs so to speak.

          I see what might have been...I see whats coming and all I can do is shake my head....

          July 21, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • skytag

          @R.M. Goodswell: "If you want there to be something more than there is -so be it....but don't try to tell me for one second that any of the churches today are straight up...none of them are...they are all based on a false foundation...its all BS ..... all of it"

          I agree they're all based on myths, but that only proves the people in them are misguided. It does not prove they are a scam. I believe the vast majority of religions are the product of sincere people trying to fill in holes in their understanding of the universe, the world around them, of the people around them.

          It is part of our nature to want answers to want answers; to know how things work, what causes things to happen, to understand why people, animals, even bugs do what they do. In the right amounts this is a good trait. It's what's allowed us to make advances in medicine, science, agriculture, society and governments.

          But as my mother used to say, you can have too much of a good thing. In this case you have too much of a good thing when people can't accept that they cannot or do not know something. When that happens they often fabricate explanations out of thin air to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. This is the basis for much of religion.

          I can accept that I have idea how the universe or life on this planet got their starts, but many people can't accept not knowing, so they create a fairytale in which an all powerful being created the universe and the first examples of life on this planet.

          This only kicks the can down the road, however, as they don't know how God came into existence. But apparently they can accept the explanation that this god doesn't want them to know how he came into existence. Furthermore, they seem happy to accept one unanswered question in return for being able to use God to answer any number of other questions, at least until better answers can be found through science and reason.

          So are churches "straight up?" Kind of depends on your definition. All of them are based on false assumptions, but almost all of them are sincere in their beliefs and most of the people in them seem to be pretty decent by and large.

          July 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
        • skytag

          @R.M. Goodswell: "then I started studying history, and when you stand back and look at humanity and its history, a pattern emerges...and it can make one very cynical."

          Being realistic isn't being cynical. Human beings just aren't the noble creatures we were raised to believe. Once you fully let go of that delusion and see us for what we are, just another specie vying for survival and dominance based on instincts that evolved before we had the ability to inflict widespread death, suffering, and destruction on other people, there is less cause for cynicism.

          But you should also note that much of the history you study is about major religions that rose to positions of power over the people.

          "I see what might have been...I see whats coming and all I can do is shake my head...."

          I know. How well I know. Imagine what the world would be like today if human history had been one of cooperation to improve the human condition instead of one of advancing self-interest. We have wasted so much time, energy, blood and treasure competing for resources, control, and promoting "us" over "them" over the course of human history it's not hard to understand why people want there to be a Satan to explain it so they don't have to accept the reality that people aren't anywhere near the noble creatures we were raised to believe.

          In all of human history there have been less than 200 years without war. We have enslaved one another, engaged in wholesale slaughter, committed genocide to wipe out whole groups of people, discriminated and persecuted to promote and maintain our status and power — it's really not a pretty history at all. If this is God's ultimate creation I'd say God needs to find another line of work.

          In fact, maybe that's exactly what happened. Maybe God created this world and started the human race. At some point he was so disappointed in the way it turned out he destroyed all but eight of us in a flood so the human race could start over from scratch. At some point he realized the second try was also a failure and, attributing it to inherent flaws in people that can't be corrected, gave up, abandoned this failed experiment, and headed to another planet to try again based on what he learned here.

          July 21, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • Maani

          Skytag: "It's truly arrogant to believe only people who share your beliefs have evidence to support those beliefs."

          There is an obvious problem here. the problem is one of "language." Let's try a thought experiment.

          A person is born blind. During their lives, they can learn a great deal about the "sighted" world: hot, cold, hard, soft, solid, liquid, gas, shapes, etc. But how would you explain "color?" How does one explain "red?" "Magenta?" "Periwinkle?" the question is, of course, rhetorical: you can't. The language simply does not exist for you, as a sighted person, to explain to a blind person the concept of "color," much less specific colors. Thus, the blind person would have every right to say, "Well, you cannot provide any evidence that there is something called 'color,' so I do not believe in it." If they DID decide to believe in it, they would be doing so without evidence; i.e., "on faith."

          The problem with believers trying to explain either the existence of God or their own relationship to Him is one of "language"; the language simply does not exist for us to adequately explain it to non-believers. I accept that you and others will simply see this as a cop-out. But it is no more a cop-out than a blind person believing in the concept of "color" because the sighted person tells them it exists, and they are willing to accept it "on faith."

          July 22, 2013 at 2:26 am |
        • skytag

          @Maani: "A person is born blind. During their lives, they can learn a great deal about the "sighted" world: hot, cold, hard, soft, solid, liquid, gas, shapes, etc. But how would you explain "color?" How does one explain "red?" "Magenta?" "Periwinkle?" the question is, of course, rhetorical: you can't. The language simply does not exist for you, as a sighted person, to explain to a blind person the concept of "color," much less specific colors. Thus, the blind person would have every right to say, "Well, you cannot provide any evidence that there is something called 'color,' so I do not believe in it." If they DID decide to believe in it, they would be doing so without evidence; i.e., "on faith." "

          There are two kinds of faith. One kind is when you believe something based on past experience. For example, you have faith the sun will rise tomorrow. You can't prove it, but it would be consistent with all historical evidence. You can have faith someone you've always known to be honest is being honest when he tells you something, or you can have faith someone will "do the right thing" in a situation because that would be consistent with what you know about him. This kind of faith is both reasonable and necessary. On occasion this kind of faith turns out not to be warranted, as when a family member abuses a child or a business partner steals from the business, but by and large it's useful in helping us make decisions.

          The other kind of faith is faith in things for which there is no evidence, historical or otherwise. Religious faith is that kind of faith. There is no basis for it other than the desire to believe.

          In your example, the blind person would or would not accept the word of another person about color based on his past experience with that person. If he trusts him he will believe him. If not, he probably won't. And, unlike religious issues, we can assume a person with normal vision has the ability to know whether there are colors or not. In matters of religion there is no reason to believe anyone knows, and in fact, it is your position everyone is operating on faith.

          If every person in the world were blind and one blind person told another about color, why should the second person believe him?

          "The problem with believers trying to explain either the existence of God or their own relationship to Him is one of "language"; the language simply does not exist for us to adequately explain it to non-believers. I accept that you and others will simply see this as a cop-out. But it is no more a cop-out than a blind person believing in the concept of "color" because the sighted person tells them it exists, and they are willing to accept it "on faith." "

          You just don't get it. I'm sorry you're too brainwashed to see the obvious, but it's not a language issue. It's a "no one has any verifiable reason to believe any of it" reason. It's like a whole society of blind people who have never known a sighted person making various claims about color.

          Can you see God? No. Even if he existed you couldn't see him. You don't know anyone who has seen God. In your analogy we're all blind and God is color. A bunch of you are claiming grass is red and the rest of us are asking why we should believe you.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:46 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Kendrick, You should know that one cannot disprove the existence of something – just as you have never disproved Zeus, Odin, etc. You are the ones making extraordinary claims and should therefore provide the evidence of a god. No evidence has yet been provided nor answers to "if a god can just exist why can't a universe" and "what created god".

          July 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • skytag

        @Kenrick Benjamin: "Cpt-Obvious and yikesboy- You are atheist yah, it takes much more of a stretch to believe what you believe in, than i believing in God."

        Not to any rational person. I don't believe in God, leprechauns, vampires, Santa Claus, or monsters under my bed, and all for the same reason. To believe something doesn't exist when there is no reason to believe it exists requires no stretch at all.

        July 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Good for you, now seek god and stop being a fool.

          July 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • skytag

          Ken: How am I being a fool? What is wise about seeking something I have no reason to believe exists? Should I seek Santa Claus and leprechauns too? I don't have any reason to believe they exist either. What about extraterrestrials? I don't believe they exist either. Should I seek them too?

          And where should I seek god? In the Koran? The Torah? In the sacred works of some other religion? In the Bible, and which translation? Perhaps in the beliefs of some tribe in Africa or South America?

          No, I'm not the fool here.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Skytag -You want me to tell you why you are a fool, do your homework and you will find out why you are a fool.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "Skytag -You want me to tell you why you are a fool, do your homework and you will find out why you are a fool."

          These copout answers are pathetic. I feel no obligation to validate your delusions by participating in them. So far you haven't offered a single reasonable response to any comment. Mostly you've just been the stereotypical Christian who acts like a jerk when people stand up to you. If this drivel is the best you can do you'll never give anyone a reason to "seek God" if seeking God produces people like you.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          People who "find" god when they look, and he just so happens to agree with them on every point are fools. Stop being a fool, Kenrick Benjamin.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Skytag- Science have taken us back to the orgin where pure energy is eternal, we all know that Energy is govern by properties (Motion, Heat and Light) however energy it self is not sentient, so how did the porperties get it's LAWS. Homework Skytag homework..

          July 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Have a nice day skytag got to run duty calls.

          July 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
        • Gia

          Duty calls, Kenrick? Does that mean you are going somewhere else to do a dump, instead of doing it on this site?

          July 22, 2013 at 2:33 am |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "Skytag- Science have taken us back to the orgin where pure energy is eternal, we all know that Energy is govern by properties (Motion, Heat and Light) however energy it self is not sentient, so how did the porperties get it's LAWS."

          I can't explain how the universe came to be, but I can accept there are things like that I don't know and almost certainly never will know. I can make peace with that reality.

          You obviously can't. Unable to deal with that you need some kind of explanation, so you've decided there is an all-powerful, all-knowing sentient being you call God who is responsible for, well, pretty much anything you can't explain with more verifiable causes. How convenient.

          Of course all you've done here is kick the can down the road by explaining one unexplainable thing with a different, equally unexplainable thing. How did God know the laws to establish when he created the universe? How did he create all this from nothing?

          What created God? You'll almost certainly dodge that question by claiming he has always existed, so if that's the case, what suddenly prompted God to create a universe filled with over 100 billion galaxies containing a trillion trillion stars after spending an eternity extending into the past existing alone in an absolute void of nothingness?

          And then, having created this universe of over 100 billion galaxies containing a trillion trillion stars he decides to focus his attention on one planet where he creates life "in his image" as if such a being would even have an image.

          Oh yeah, you got all the answers. I can see that now.

          "Homework Skytag homework.."

          Don't waste your smug Christian condescension on me. If you actually did some homework you'd understand just how naive and brainwashed you are.

          July 22, 2013 at 4:14 am |
        • TG

          No one created God, for he has existed forever, having had no beginning, being "from everlasting to everlasting".(Ps 90:2, KJV) This is incomprehensible from human reasoning, for all that we see has had a starting point. Only our Creator, Jehovah God, is unique in this.

          Can you comprehend deeply the workings of the atom, its inner structure ? There is much theorizing on its nature down to this day, such as the Higgs boson. Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein debated the structure of the atom several times, with no real agreement.

          Or what of the terms "dark matter" or "dark energy" ? These are also hot topics among physicists. And of the "laws" that govern how the universe functions, many astrophysicists reject that someone, which can be readily be called a Supreme Designer, created the universe and all life. Evolutionist Richard C. Lewontin said some years ago concerning only what he could see: "That materialism (or what can be seen) is absolute, for we (the atheists) cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

          Hence, what is some evidence that we are the product of a Supreme Designer ? For example, life is made up of proteins, called "the building block of life". What are the odds of a single protein coming about accidentally ? It has been estimated at 10 followed by 113 zeroes. Yet mathematicians have said that anything above 10 followed by 50 zeroes is impossible.

          But lets raise the stakes. What about acquiring the approximately 2,000 proteins needed for a cell to function, that serve as enzymes ? The odds have now risen to 10 followed by 40,000 zeroes. Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), a British astronomer said that this was "an outrageously small probability, that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup (as evolutionists have proposed). If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by scientific training into the conviction that life originated spontaneously on the Earth, this simple calculation (of the 2,000 proteins coming about chance) wipes the idea entirely out of court."

          He further stated that this is "the same as the chance of throwing an uninterrupted sequence of 50,000 sixes with unbiased dice!” (The Intelligent Universe, F. Hoyle, 1983, pages 11-12, 17, 23) Those who put aside bias or prejudice, but allow reason to dictate, can see that the universe and life did not come about at random, but is the work of a Supreme Designer, which the Bible identifies as Jehovah.(Isa 42:5)

          July 29, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • photografr7

          If God can always exist then so can the universe, or perhaps the basic laws of physics such as gravity, momentum, etc. always existed until the Big Bang when heat, light and matter was created from "nothing." By the way, in physics, a universe of nothing can still contain the laws of physics.

          July 29, 2013 at 11:24 am |
        • jaareshiah

          Can "a universe of nothing still contain all the laws of physics" if there is no physical matter ? Can there even be a universe without anything ? This logic is flawed. The laws of physic requires that there be forces and objects that interact with each other, such as the four forces now known, of gravity, electro-magnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces (and now there is possibly dark energy) that is interwoven within matter.

          Has anything ever been "created from nothing" ? No. It is established that life only comes from life. In 1864, Louis Pasteur proved that point in one case, showing that spontaneous generation (that life could originate from nonliving matter, also called abiogenesis), though accepted by some in the scientific community (such as Belgian chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont about 200 years earlier, who also believed that the basic elements of the universe was just air and water), was untrue.

          Francois Dagognet (now 89 years old), a French philosopher specializing in the sciences, observed that Pasteur’s “adversaries, both materialists and atheists, believed that they could prove that a unicellular organism could result from decomposing molecules. This allowed them to take God out of creation. However, as far as Pasteur was concerned, there was no possible passage from death to life.”

          Hence, the belief that the universe came from "nothing" is defective. Though many now discount the Bible and its account of creation, it satisfactorily answers where the universe and all life originated, saying: "In the beginning God created the heavens (universe) and the earth (with its abundance of life)."(Gen 1:1)

          May 1, 2014 at 11:32 am |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Skytag- If you are ignorant as to the facts as to how the Universe got started, how could you tell me God don't exist.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "Skytag- If you are ignorant as to the facts as to how the Universe got started, how could you tell me God don't exist."

          First of all, there is absolutely no evidence to support it. I could just as well claim the universe was created by aliens from another dimension who create new dimensions, then initiate a Big Bang needed to fill them with all the stuff we see around us, and we're just one of those universes they've created. Can you prove that's not what happened?

          Just because you can make up a story doesn't mean it's true.

          None of the god narratives limit themselves to explaining the creation of the universe. All of them claim God or gods are still actively involved in the lives of people and events that transpire in this world. Unfortunately for you, not only is there absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any of these claims, the existence of any such God leads to numerous questions and apparent inconsistencies for which none of you can provide convincing answers.

          Don't get me wrong, you folks almost always have answers, just like any good conspiracy theorist always has an answer for any objections to this theory. Only you never have any evidence to support any of your answers either. And there are questions I've asked countless times no one has ever even tried to answer.

          Sorry, but I am convinced that if this all powerful being you claim exists, performs miracles, answers prayers, changes people's hearts and minds, and so on really existed, there would be some minimal amount of evidence of his handiwork, and there is none. Instead there are just a lot of excuses offered by people like you. Look, you can buy into all the excuses if you want, but don't insult me because I won't buy into them with you. That wouldn't be Christian.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • skytag

          "Good for you, now seek god and stop being a fool. — Kenrick Benjamin

          Matthew 5:22
          But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

          Uh oh.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Skytag- You don't believe in God, how convenient.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Kendrick doesn't have answers so now come the evasions: seek and ye shall find god, etc.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          In Santa we trust- Here it is, God who is eternal and the first, came to be when they were only 3 things that existed, Je, ho, vah, I will call them elements for the sake of such. So it was God casuing God to come to be, because God is a part of Pure energy which is eternal, He was able to transpose Pure Energy into matter, First by creating Nothing and then Matter. Much like you would do when you are going to creat a house.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
        • TG

          You are right that God is eternal, having had no beginning (this being incomprehensible by us) and is the Creator of the universe and all life.(Isa 42:5) At Revelation 15, loyal ones from the earth said: "Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity."(New World Translation)

          The name Jehovah comes from the Hebrew word ha·wah´, meaning “to become” and thus the meaning of Jehovah is literally "He Causes to Become".

          At Exodus 3, before Moses was sent to Pharaoh and the "sons of Israel" in 1513 B.C.E., Jehovah explained the meaning of his name, after Moses had asked how he would elucidate his name. The account says: "At this God said to Moses: "I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE ." And he added: This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ' I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to you."(Ex 3:14)

          Then God continues: "This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ' Jehovah the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation."(Ex 3:15) Thus, God gave himself the name Jehovah, for he becomes whatever he needs to be to fully accomplish his purpose, and of which transforming the earth into a paradise is at the "top of the list".(Matt 5:5; Luke 23:43)

          August 3, 2013 at 8:54 am |
        • photografr7

          I personally believe that the universe had no beginning. It's existence can be traced infinitely back in time. Matter is another thing entirely. You'd have to ask cosmologists but I believe it is possible for matter to come from certain fundamental characteristics of the universe. The universe was "empty," and matter arose from that. Therefore, if God (who is infinite) produced "the universe," what I am saying is not much different: The laws of physics (which are infinite) produced the universe and all matter in it, from nothing. That event is called... wait for it... The Big Bang. It's OK if you don't believe it. People didn't believe you could split the uranium atom at first either. It's called "science." Read about it in your spare time.

          August 3, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "Skytag- You don't believe in God, how convenient."

          Snide, obnoxious Christians like you only offer evidence that Christianity is a fraud. So while you foolishly think you're outdoing me in some way with these childish comments, in reality you are only adding ammunition to my argument.

          That said, there is nothing "convenient" about not believing in God, so your comment was more stupid than clever. I don't believe in God, monsters under my bed, extraterrestrials living among us, Santa Claus, leprechauns, vampires, the Easter Bunny, talking horses, or any of a thousand other things, and all for the same reason. I'd venture to guess you only believe in one of these yourself.

          Look, I am not responsible for your determination to embrace a belief system for which there is no evidence. I had nothing to do with that choice. So if it upsets you when people challenge you on it you have no reason to take your frustration out on me. Doing so only proves you don't follow the teachings of Christ you seem convinced you believe.

          July 23, 2013 at 2:26 am |
        • skytag

          @Kenrick Benjamin: "In Santa we trust- Here it is, God who is eternal and the first, came to be when they were only 3 things that existed, Je, ho, vah, I will call them elements for the sake of such. So it was God casuing God to come to be, because God is a part of Pure energy which is eternal, He was able to transpose Pure Energy into matter, First by creating Nothing and then Matter. Much like you would do when you are going to creat a house."

          Christian gobbleygook. Nothing but wholly unsupported claims. I say aliens from another dimension created a new dimension here and implanted in our empty dimension a device that triggered the Big Bang. Prove me wrong.

          July 23, 2013 at 2:34 am |
        • TG

          @skytag

          Kendrick Benjamin has a glimpse of what is true, for there is a Supreme Maker, whose name is Jehovah.(see Ex 6:3 in the KJV) And he changed energy into matter, which Albert Einstein established with his famous equation of E=mc2 or the amount of energy released when an atom is split equals the loss of its mass times the speed of light squared. He set the stage to understand the relationship between matter and energy.

          In fact, one pound of any substance completely converted into energy equals: (1) 11 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, (2) the power needs to drive a car around the earth 180,000 times, (3) the power required to propel the largest oil tanker around the earth 400 times, (4) the electric power needs of the United States for one day.

          The sun converts by fusion some 564 million tons of hydrogen into 560 million tons of helium every second, with 4 million tons becoming energy, with only a fraction reaching the earth. The reverse can also be true, for the World Book Encyclopedia says that "energy changes into matter when subatomic particles collide at high speeds and create new, heavier particles."(also quoted in Matter and Materials, grades 4-6, pg 6)

          Thus, Jehovah God took from himself energy and created all the universe and its life, establishing the atomic layout, and the laws that govern how atoms act, whereby God asks the man Job: "Have you come to know the statutes (or governing laws) of the heavens ?"(Job 38:33)

          August 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
        • skytag

          @In Santa we trust: "Kendrick doesn't have answers so now come the evasions: seek and ye shall find god, etc."

          Kendrick is one of the brainwashed. He believes unquestioningly what he's been told by people he trusts and respects, and he one of those nonthinkers who believes if enough people say something often enough it must be true.

          July 23, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Skytag- Why do you think I am upset or angry with you, for you it's all a belief, I can support my claim.

          July 23, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • yikesboy

      Kenrick, a question. You appear to be deeply committed. I, as a non-believer, have always said that if presented with any natural evidence of God's existence, that I would then I would not need to "believe", rather that I would then know. How long without any evidence will you continue to believe? I bet that your answer will be "never will I stop believing, no matter what evidence I'm presented!"
      Frankly, it seems rather convenient that during man's long, hardscrabble struggle over the last 100,000 plus years, God only saw fit to intervene (and what an intervention it was!) in a backwater part of the world for a very short amount of time. After this he seems to have gone back to sleep.

      July 21, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • skytag

        Here's how it works if you're a believer: Someone or some people you respect tell you their God narrative. It sounds more appealing than the alternative, and you're face with the following options. You either reject it for one less appealing and conclude these people you used to respect and whose respect you want are delusional nut jobs, or you allow yourself to consider the possibility they might be right and that you should investigate it, or as some would say, "seek God."

        At this point your indoctrination into the cult begins. You spend time with nice, seemingly rational folks who deeply believe the things you're trying to decide whether they're true or not. You read their sacred writings, be they the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, whatever. You ask questions and people respond with their theories intended to answer them. You pray, you sing, you read, you fellowship, and if you do it long enough eventually there's a good chance you'll convince yourself it's all true.

        It should be pointed out, however, that while you're doing this there are people in other parts of the world, your country, even your city who are going through the exact same process with a completely different set of beliefs. So every day, around the world there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people who trade their old beliefs for new ones based mostly on who they know and where they live. Christians become Muslims, Muslims become Christians, atheists become Christians, Christians become atheists, Catholics become Baptists, Baptists become Mormons, Methodists become Episcopalians, and so on. And they're virtually all convinced they have personal evidence that what they believe is true.

        July 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • Maani

        "I, as a non-believer, have always said that if presented with any natural evidence of God's existence, that I would then I would not need to "believe", rather that I would then know."

        You have answered your own question here. If God were to show Himself to every single human on earth at the same time, then what happens to "faith?" As you suggest, all the current non-believers would "believe" in Him because they would "know" that He existed. However, God does not want automatons who believe in Him because they "must." This is, in fact, the ultimate expression of free will: the free will to accept or reject the God who gave us that free will. You have chosen to do so because you want "proof"; incontravertible, unquestionable proof. You will never get that because God would never provide it.

        You then ask, "How long without any evidence will you continue to believe?" See my thought experiment to Skytag a few posts above. The answer to your question is: I DO have evidence, thus I believe. Simply because the "language" doesn't exist for me to explain that evidence to you does not make it any less real.

        July 22, 2013 at 2:34 am |
        • skytag

          @Maani: "You have answered your own question here. If God were to show Himself to every single human on earth at the same time, then what happens to "faith?" "

          Truth is, the only reason you've been taught faith is so important is that the creators of your religion know there is no evidence to support anything they want you to believe. So to counter the problem of not having evidence, they don't just claim it isn't a problem, they spin it into a good thing.

          They brainwash you to believing faith is better than knowledge, that somehow unsupported belief is better than reason, facts, and evidence, and they do it because belief is all they have. They teach you this not because it's true, but because it is essential you believe it if they are going to have any hope of convincing you to believe what they tell you. It is essential they have something to counter the question, "What's your evidence?" They know that, and this is what they came up with.

          "As you suggest, all the current non-believers would "believe" in Him because they would "know" that He existed. However, God does not want automatons who believe in Him because they "must." This is, in fact, the ultimate expression of free will: the free will to accept or reject the God who gave us that free will."

          Again, this is part of the rationalization. Look, people know they have parents, but they still often reject the wisdom, instructions, and advice of their parents. Children are not automatons of their parents simple because they know their parents exist. The same would be true of God. Not only is this a logical conclusion, it's consistent with stories in the Bible about people who, according to the Bible, had dramatic proof of God's existence yet still chose not to be faithful to his teachings.

          Sorry, but there is no reason to believe knowing God exists would turn people into automatons.

          "You have chosen to do so because you want "proof"; incontravertible, unquestionable proof. You will never get that because God would never provide it."

          And the simplest explanation for this is that there is no God to provide it.

          "You then ask, "How long without any evidence will you continue to believe?" See my thought experiment to Skytag a few posts above. The answer to your question is: I DO have evidence, thus I believe."

          You continue to deny reality. Any experience or "evidence" confined to your mind where is cannot be subjected to external, objective verification is highly suspect. See my post to Kindness where I discuss this at length.

          There are lots of people who claim to have personal evidence, knowledge, or experiences confirming what they believe, but they don't all believe the same thing. When a Baptist, a Catholic, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Mormon, a Shinto all say they have personal knowledge that what they believe is true, how do you reconcile that? If you think the only people who believe they have personal evidence confirming their beliefs are people who share your beliefs you really are clueless.

          "Simply because the "language" doesn't exist for me to explain that evidence to you does not make it any less real."

          And just because you believe you have evidence doesn't make it real.

          July 22, 2013 at 3:08 am |
        • skytag

          "As you suggest, all the current non-believers would "believe" in Him because they would "know" that He existed. However, God does not want automatons who believe in Him because they "must." This is, in fact, the ultimate expression of free will: the free will to accept or reject the God who gave us that free will."

          How can I have the option of accepting or rejecting something if I have no reason to believe it exists? What say we compare your rationalization with what the Bible tells us about Jonah:

          Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

          2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

          3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

          How do you explain Jonah's disobedience? Did Jonah not know God was real? That seems unlikely given this account. After all, if he didn't believe the Lord was real why would he flee from the Lord's presence? According to this story, then, the Bible makes it clear one can know God exists and still be disobedient, which contradicts your claim knowing God exists would turn one into an automaton.

          You just don't get it. You are clearly well versed in all the standard Christian beliefs and explanations, and can reproduce them on demand. But what you consistently fail to do is give us any reason to believe any of this has any connection to reality. They are all premised on certain key beliefs for which you have no evidence, the most critical of which is the existence of God.

          For every explanation you offer I can, and on many occasions have, offered an alternative explanation that's consistent with what we know about human psychology and human history, yet mine require no leaps of faith in a God whose existence I can't prove.

          Suppose I tell you Santa Claus is real, and you respond by ask why we have no evidence of him if it's real. I explain he is unhappy with us because so few of our modern homes have fireplaces and chimneys, and that if we all had chimneys he would reveal himself to us. I just explained why you see no evidence of Santa Claus. Can you prove me wrong? No. Does it sound silly? Yes.

          But it illustrates how, when you start from a premise you can build an entire mythos around that premise, even if that premise has no basis in reality.

          Suppose I claim beings from another planet have visited Earth and live among us. You ask why we can't see them, and I explain they have mental powers that cause them to look like human beings to us when we see them. Again, I have an explanation. Again, you can't disprove either the premise or the explanation.

          This is basically how religion works. It starts with some premises no one can verify or refute, and then proceeds to spin a web of theories and explanations based on those premises, all the while never supporting any of it with any evidence that can be objectively verified. The end rest is a very comforting fictional narrative you've chosen to believe, while people in some other part of the world have chosen to believe a completely different fictional narrative. Seriously, you're going to have to do better than that. I'm just not that easily taken in by some feel-good stories."As you suggest, all the current non-believers would "believe" in Him because they would "know" that He existed. However, God does not want automatons who believe in Him because they "must." This is, in fact, the ultimate expression of free will: the free will to accept or reject the God who gave us that free will."

          How can I have the option of accepting or rejecting something if I have no reason to believe it exists? What say we compare your rationalization with what the Bible tells us about Jonah:

          Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

          2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

          3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

          How do you explain Jonah's disobedience? Did Jonah not know God was real? That seems unlikely given this account. After all, if he didn't believe the Lord was real why would he flee from the Lord's presence? According to this story, then, the Bible makes it clear one can know God exists and still be disobedient, which contradicts your claim knowing God exists would turn one into an automaton.

          You just don't get it. You are clearly well versed in all the standard Christian beliefs and explanations, and can reproduce them on demand. But what you consistently fail to do is give us any reason to believe any of this has any connection to reality. They are all premised on certain key beliefs for which you have no evidence, the most critical of which is the existence of God.

          For every explanation you offer I can, and on many occasions have, offered an alternative explanation that's consistent with what we know about human psychology and human history, yet mine require no leaps of faith in a God whose existence I can't prove.

          Suppose I tell you Santa Claus is real, and you respond by ask why we have no evidence of him if it's real. I explain he is unhappy with us because so few of our modern homes have fireplaces and chimneys, and that if we all had chimneys he would reveal himself to us. I just explained why you see no evidence of Santa Claus. Can you prove me wrong? No. Does it sound silly? Yes.

          But it illustrates how, when you start from a premise you can build an entire mythos around that premise, even if that premise has no basis in reality.

          Suppose I claim beings from another planet have visited Earth and live among us. You ask why we can't see them, and I explain they have mental powers that cause them to look like human beings to us when we see them. Again, I have an explanation. Again, you can't disprove either the premise or the explanation.

          This is basically how religion works. It starts with some premises no one can verify or refute, and then proceeds to spin a web of theories and explanations based on those premises, all the while never supporting any of it with any evidence that can be objectively verified. The end rest is a very comforting fictional narrative you've chosen to believe, while people in some other part of the world have chosen to believe a completely different fictional narrative. Seriously, you're going to have to do better than that. I'm just not that easily taken in by some feel-good stories.

          July 22, 2013 at 3:50 am |
        • skytag

          Ignore the second half of my last comment. Apparently I accidentally hit the Paste key twice when i copied it from the application in which I composed it.

          July 22, 2013 at 3:54 am |
        • Damocles

          @maani

          I got involved in the whole 'colors to a blind person' topic earlier and do not wish to repeat all of that, but let's be clear about something: an unscrupulous sighted person could really screw with the blind and make them think all sorts of whacky things.

          About this whole 'faith' thing though, I am curious as to how much you apply this in your everyday life. Do you, for example, take it on faith that the used car you are looking into purchasing really 'handles like a dream', or do you ask to take it for a test-drive? If you are into buying a house, do you take it on faith that the basement doesn't have mold?

          July 22, 2013 at 4:24 am |
  4. faith

    burke does a wonderful job.

    July 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  5. 741am

    "In a sense we let the participants inform our theory." What? Really. Wow. How can you lose with an operational definition like that from a collection of a laboratory of 'from anywhere' without, well, with I suppose, there own added variables to...test. Test? What theory. I was under the impression theory was out of the almighty equation. Or is it just my unbelievable eyes and ears.

    July 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • 741am

      oops. an edit for there> their. my bad. bad. 🙂

      July 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I'm not sure I catch your drift. What do you mean?

      July 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  6. swingstater

    Atheists are being a little deluded if they think they don't also actively hold a belief. They actively disbelieve in God, which is as much a marked faith in the unknown as any other religion.

    July 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Observer

      What difference does it make it atheism is called a religion or not? What changes?

      July 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Doobs

      Do you "actively disbelieve" in Allah? Buddha? Aphrodite? Santa Claus? How does one inactively believe or disbelieve in deities?

      July 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • 741am

        Duh! In 6 ways or more. And not to forget maybe less as well.

        July 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
        • Guster

          " Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color".

          "Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby."

          Laugh or weep.

          July 20, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Atheism is a religion like "off" is a tv channel.

      July 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        I like this:)

        July 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
        • Guster

          Ditto, what RMG said.

          July 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • skytag

      I believe there is no God just as I believe there is no Santa Claus, no vampires, no leprechauns, and no monsters under my bed. None of this requires any faith at all. Lacking any evidence none of these exist I draw the obvious conclusion that they don't exist.

      July 21, 2013 at 3:53 am |
  7. Vic

    @Daniel Burke – CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor,

    I have been posting comments here for a while, and I never engaged in badgering or name calling nor have I ever posted anything inappropriate, yet, a lot of my comments get moderated and deleted, apparently, due to other commentors who disagree and report abuse.

    I was wondering why reported comments don't get qualified before they are deleted, and if they check out alright, why not get reactivated?!

    Thank you.

    July 20, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

      Huh?

      July 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
      • faith

        lol

        July 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
      • gait

        huh?

        July 20, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  8. Austin

    Tom, Tom, the Other One
    Ah... I hadn't noticed that Daniel Burke is the originator of this article. No wonder things are so dead around here. Comments disappearing. Free debate quashed. Shame on him and his minions, human and otherwise.

    July 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Austin

      Daniel Burke must be friends with End Religion, because they have been erasing my question

      Is End Religion replaced by the Sky Tag Handle? My question just disappears.

      July 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • Austin

        If I am wrong, then I should be able to ask anyway.

        July 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
        • Austin

          Topher, is that me?

          July 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • skytag

        I can answer your question, and the answer is "no." As for why your questions may be disappearing, they may have rules against such speculations about other commenters. In any case, worry less about who people are and more about the fact that all you have are a lot of personal feelings and beliefs you can't support with objective evidence.

        July 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
        • Austin

          as soon as someone cares to study the reality here, they would see what I have.

          Jehovah Shammah
          Our Lord Provides Faith

          July 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
        • skytag

          @Austin: "as soon as someone cares to study the reality here, they would see what I have."

          I have spent considerable time studying the realty you are so determined to avoid. It's obvious what you have: A lot of faith. It's equally obvious what you don't have: Any evidence to back up anything you believe.

          July 23, 2013 at 2:15 am |
  9. The Syed Atheist

    Reblogged this on The Syed Atheist.

    July 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • niknak

      What is the syed atheist?

      July 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Ah... I hadn't noticed that Daniel Burke is the originator of this article. No wonder things are so dead around here. Comments disappearing. Free debate quashed. Shame on him and his minions, human and otherwise.

    July 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • niknak

      Not familiar with Mr. Burke, but the article is mostly filler designed to get people to read it for the advertizements.
      Had been off this board for about a year, and I can see I did not miss much.
      But already have had my screen name jacked and am pretty much persona non grata after only two days back.
      Pretty good work if I don't mind saying so myself.
      Is Tom the Pipers son still around?

      July 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Unfortunately, Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (more recently using The Real Tom) wasn't treated particularly well by Daniel and hasn't been on for a few weeks.

      July 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
      • Observer

        Tom, Tom, the Other One

        "Unfortunately, Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (more recently using The Real Tom) wasn't treated particularly well by Daniel and hasn't been on for a few weeks"

        Get serious. As smart as Tom is, how many times did she ever respond without insults and name-calling?

        Get real. She constantly violated the Rules of Conduct. Skip all the "treated well" nonsense.

        July 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
        • tom dick harry

          i'm convinced

          whatever happened to smitty?

          July 23, 2013 at 8:06 am |
        • tom dick harry

          "Unfortunately, Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (more recently using The Real Tom) wasn't treated particularly well by Daniel and hasn't been on for a few weeks"

          Get serious. As smart as Tom is, how many times did she ever respond without insults and name-calling?

          Get real. She constantly violated the Rules of Conduct. Skip all the "treated well" nonsense.

          tom became mary and married saul then became terri.

          July 23, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        So she had a particular style. So do you. I'm glad to see you're still on. People come and go, I guess. But it seems like a number of engaging people, believers and non-believers, have gone recently. I regret it.

        July 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
        • Observer

          Tom, Tom, the Other One,

          Thank you.

          When I first came on here, I had a discussion with Tom. I told her at the time that I thought she was very smart and it was a waste to see her engage in name-calling and insults when she had much more to offer. Her reply was basically that she enjoyed the combat more. I am still sorry that she chose that path since all the name-calling and insults greatly detracted from the worthwhile things she had to say.

          July 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
        • Akira

          There are certainly those who enjoy being combative, I'll give you that. They are on both sides of the aisle; I suspect we'll see more deletions as time goes on.
          The biggest deletions seem to be for profanity. I have been guilty of this in the past; it makes me more cognizant of what I am posting.
          I've been lucky. The last posts of mine that went into moderation were those on the "Be Nice, Christians" blog. I haven't had any since.

          Nice to see you back, niknak. It's been a year already?

          July 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
        • Austin

          I miss the real Tom calling me names.

          July 20, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
        • Akira

          She did have some rather inventive ones for you, Austin.

          July 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  11. Vic

    Here is what happened to my comments since last night, before I even got to follow up on everything:

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    "The main Business of natural Philosophy is to argue from Phenomena without feigning Hypotheses, and to deduce Causes from Effects, till we come to the very first Cause, which certainly is not mechanical."

    Isaac Newton

    July 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    "God created everything by number, weight and measure."

    "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being....This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God "

    Isaac Newton

    July 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    "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 | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    July 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Candiano

      Poor persecuted you.

      July 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Colin

      Neither CNN or so called atheists can stand Truth. Truth and freedom of speech are immediate casualties around here.

      July 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • skytag

        I can stand truth just fine. What I can't stand are people arrogantly insisting something they believe that has no basis in fact, isn't objectively verifiable, and often seems inconsistent with logic, facts and reason, "the Truth."

        July 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Vic

      And this one too:

      [
      Vic
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      I posted the following yesterday:

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

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

      July 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      ]

      July 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • snowboarder

      big deal. newton was a victim of the same brainwashing as you.

      July 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Non-theists are edited out (dare we say censored) at at least the same rate as believers. Of course what "truth" it is that is being censored depends on one's perspective. Personally, I enjoy the contributions of believers that make for lively conversation. There seem to be fewer believers these days that put together an engaging argument.

      July 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • skytag

      I asked if you believe Newton was infallible and you never answered.

      July 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Vic

      Every creature is fallible!

      BTW, regarding engaging discussions, whenever I started one, I get moderated anymore. I am a person who never engaged in badgering or name calling, and I never posted anything inappropriate.

      July 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Newton...

      Believed alchemy was just out of his grasp....practically drove himself mad trying to make it work..also thought there was something to astrology if im not mistaken...that said, The man was brilliant – developed Calculus, gave us the Laws of motion.... with the knowledge of the day one can hardly fault the poor guy on the alchemy.

      July 23, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • photografr7

      I hate to see how CNN moderates me. moderation is a form of censorship.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  12. toothbrush

    I'm not a number! I'm a free man!

    July 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  13. Vic

    I posted the following yesterday:

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

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

    July 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Just thought I'd check in, Vic. Any evidence that your God exists, or, more importantly, interacts or has interacted with our world at all?

      July 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  14. Vic

    "The main Business of natural Philosophy is to argue from Phenomena without feigning Hypotheses, and to deduce Causes from Effects, till we come to the very first Cause, which certainly is not mechanical."

    Isaac Newton

    July 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • bostontola

      Vic, please clarify your point.

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

        Science has never been able to explain the first cause of this existence to this day!

        The first cause of this existence is NOT physical but metaphysical, that is God Almighty, Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

        July 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • bostontola

          Thanks Vic. No one disputes that science can't explain the first moment of creation, so what? You think that implies a god, I don't. Quoting Newton doesn't bolster your case, he was a genius and a nut case, neither of which qualifies him as an expert witness.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Vic

          First Cause and NOT first moment, totally different things!

          July 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Religion does not explain, as in prove, a first cause either – it merely carries on unfounded desert dweller mumbo jumbo. Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking and other real scientists provide a far more likely explanation than The Babble. Please provide a reference to a single scholarly paper, published in a recognized scientific journal, that concludes with "and some god did it."

          July 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
        • bostontola

          Ok, same thing I said for first cause. You think it implies a god, I don't (I don't even know if there was a first cause). Newton doesn't bolster your case.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • Vic

          You are welcome to ask the 33.33% of the Elite Scientists of this day and age and the rest of the 40% of all Scientists who believe in God.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Observer

          Vic

          "You are welcome to ask the 33.33% of the Elite Scientists of this day and age and the rest of the 40% of all Scientists who believe in God."

          So 2/3 of all "elite scientists" and 60% of all scientists don't say they believe in God.

          I thought you were supporting religion.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • bostontola

          Vic,
          How else can I say it, argument by popularity is not persuasive to me. There was a time when virtually all top thinkers thought the earth was the center of the solar system.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • Really-O?

          @Vic – "... 33.33% of the Elite Scientists...40% of all Scientists who believe in God"

          Can you provide an authoritative source for those statistics? I bet you can't.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • Vic

          You never know, those are the outspoken ones. I personally believe that there are more scientists who believe in God that we might never know about. Many in the Academia and the Scientific Community refrain from disclosing their belief in God for social constraints.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • skytag

          You believe science's inability to explain something is evidence of something you can't explain. Specifically, you can't explain the "first cause" of God. You try to avoid dealing with this by claiming God has always existed, but obviously this is just another in a long list of claims unsupported by any evidence. The only basis for such a claim is a need to avoid dealing with the question, "What created God?" It's a copout, nothing more.

          The only evidence here is evidence that religion makes people stupid.

          Apparently we're supposed to believe:

          – God existed for an eternity in the past prior to creating the universe. This raises the obvious question, what was God doing for an infinitely long period of time all alone in complete nothingness?

          – God suddenly created the universe out of nothing. Believers laugh at the idea the universe could come into being out of nothing, but have no problem with the idea of a magical being for which there is no evidence creating it out of nothing.

          – After creating the entire universe containing billions of stars, God focuses all his attention on one planet revolving around one star, terraforms it, and creates life, one form of which he claims is in "his image." (How exactly does a being who existed before the universe existed have an image?)

          – After using his infinite power to do all these things God ceases to do anything people would attribute to him.

          Out of curiosity, where do dinosaurs fit into all this? Did they coexist with Adam and Eve? Did they come along later, and if so, why did they die out but not people? Did God create and bury fake dinosaur fossils around the planet to confuse us?

          July 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

          What's the first cause of God's creation? And the first cause of that? And that?

          That ridiculous argument leads to infinite regression.

          July 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • bostontola

          Vic,
          If 100% of scientists believed in god it would change nothing. Scientists are expert in their narrow field, they are no more qualified to comment on god than anyone else. Why do you harp on this? The aspect of science that bears on this is not one scientists opinion, its the body of scientific findings that conflict with many religious beliefs(Especially Christianity and Islam).

          July 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • OTOH

          Yes on the dinosaur deal, skytag; and how about bacteria?

          Bacteria far, far, far precede humans on Earth; they have survived numerous catastrophes; and they inhabit virtually every location on the Earth, including frozen Antarctica and super-hot thermal vents on the ocean floors. They adapt, they multiply, they outfox human efforts to eradicate them. Bacteria Rule!

          July 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • bostontola

          OTOH,
          I agree. There are way more bacterial cells in our bodies than there are cells with our DNA, we couldn't live without them.

          July 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • skytag

          "You are welcome to ask the 33.33% of the Elite Scientists of this day and age and the rest of the 40% of all Scientists who believe in God."

          What is an "elite scientist?" I've never heard that term before. In any case, no scientist, elite or otherwise, has found any scientific evidence for God's existence, so the basis for their belief in a god has no different than anyone else's. Like everyone else, they have chosen to embrace a God narrative because they like it better than the alternative.

          Being a scientist, even an "elite" scientist, doesn't make someone infallible. The greatest scientific minds in history were wrong sometimes.

          What you have here is a logical fallacy known as an "appeal to authority." You want us to believe that because an "elite scientist" is an expert in some field of study unrelated to God or the divine believes in God it somehow makes his belief more credible because he's a scientist. But if his belief isn't the direct result of objective research in his field of expertise his opinion is no more valid in this matter than anyone else's.

          You desperately need to take a course in logic, because you really stink at it.

          July 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • skytag

          OTOH: According to the Bible bacteria preceded humans by one day. Still waiting to hear back from Vic on the dinosaur thing, though.

          July 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
        • OTOH

          bostontola,

          Yep. They can obviously live without us, but we need many kinds of them for us to survive & flourish; and they also maim and kill us. All Awe, Fear and Worship (hmmm?) to the almighty Bacteria 😉

          July 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          So Vic cannot provide evidence for his god(s), cannot provide a reference to a single scientific article that concludes with "some god did it" and cannot provide a reference for his stat about scientists who believe in some god. I think this confirms that Vic is just another mentally ill delusional liar.

          July 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Newton was born in 1642. I can see why a guy, who was raised in a religious society, who lived during the infancy of modern science, might actually think that. However, it is currently 2013, and science has progressed exponentially. We now learn things in elementary science classes that Newton, as intelligent as he was, couldn't even dream.

      Certainly Newton is worthy of respect, but using him as a reference to support creationism is beyond silly.

      July 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  15. Vic

    "God created everything by number, weight and measure."

    "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being....This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God "

    Isaac Newton

    July 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Damocles

      That's nice. A smart person can have a sudden brain fart and proclaim jumping off a cliff is good for you, but that doesn't mean I'd take his or her advice.

      July 20, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Vic,

      Isaac Newton lived in the 1600s and early 1700s. He figured out some important concepts, but he was still under the spell of primitive superst'itions.

      He "spent more time studying the occult than anything else – numerology and alchemy... making gold using the magic Philosopher's Stone. Keynes called him: "not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians.""

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton%27s_occult_studies

      July 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • skytag

      Do you believe Issac Newton was infallible? It's a simple yes or no question. I look forward to your answer.

      July 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Vic

      "Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the invention of the infinitesimal calculus."

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton

      July 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • skytag

        I asked you a simple question and you failed to answer it. Your refusal to answer questions is not helping your case.

        July 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  16. bostontola

    SteveB made some good points below, that disbelieving in god doesn't make you smart, that not all religions are nuts, etc. I agree. I believe there is no god, but the deist point of view is sensible. My issue comes in with the majority religions (Christianity, Islam...) that assume if you believe in god it must be theirs. I find these religions the least credible, and they may actually reduce your intelligence.

    July 20, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  17. Observer

    Walt,

    The most common type of Christian:

    Hypocrite

    July 20, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • lol??

      About what??

      July 20, 2013 at 11:53 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.