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July 30th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

Why are millennials leaving church? Try atheism

Opinion by Hemant Mehta, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Articles and books about why millennials are leaving Christianity often focus on what churches are doing "wrong."

They're anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, 
to name a few of the most common criticisms.

I don't disagree with those critiques, but there's another side to the story.

While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion.

For instance, atheists dominate the Internet, rallying to thriving websites and online communities in lieu of physical meeting spaces.

Even a writer for the evangelical magazine Relevant admitted that “While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers.”

Atheists outnumber Christians on popular discussion forums like Reddit, where subscribers to the atheism section number more than 2 million. The Christianity section is not even 5% of that.

The Internet-based Foundation Beyond Belief, which encourages atheists to donate to charitable organizations, just celebrated raising $1 million for worthwhile causes. (Disclosure: I serve on its board of directors.)

Moreover, blogs and websites espousing non-religious viewpoints and criticizing Christianity draw tons of Internet traffic these days. For every Christian apologist's argument, it seems, there's an equal and opposite rebuttal to be found online. I call that "Hitchens' Third Law.”

READ MORE: Why millennials are leaving the church 

Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can't protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs.

If there's an open comment thread to be found on a Christian's YouTube video or opinion piece online, there's inevitably going to be pushback from atheists.

There has also been a push by atheists to get non-religious individuals to "come out of the closet" and let people know that they don't believe in God.

Among other things, this proves that anti-atheist stereotypes aren't accurate and, just as important, that atheists aren’t alone in their communities.

There's the Richard Dawkins Foundation's Out Campaign, with its Scarlet A badges.

There are atheist-encouraging billboards in 33 states financed by groups like the United Coalition of Reason.

There's even going to be an 1-800 hot line for people "recovering" from religion.

READ MORE: Atheists to start 1-800 hot line for doubters

And last year, an estimated 20,000 atheists turned out for the Reason Rally in Washington, a tenfold increase from the previous atheist rally in 2002.

But more than anything else, atheism's best advertisements may be the words of Christian leaders themselves.

When Pastor Mark Driscoll belittles women, Rick Warren argues against same-sex rights or Rob Bell equivocates on the concept of hell, we amplify those messages for them - and it helps us make our point.

(It goes without saying that the pairing of Pat Robertson and YouTube has been great for atheists.)

Pastors are no longer the final authority on the truth, and millennials know it.

Even if they hold Jesus' message in high esteem, the Bible as it has traditionally been preached by many evangelical pastors is becoming less and less attractive to them.

A 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PDF) showed that many Christians aged 18-24 felt that Christianity was hypocritical (49%), judgmental (54%) and anti-gay (58%).

In addition, Christianity Today reported last year that fewer than half of born-again Christians under 35 opposed same-sex marriage.

When millennials' pastors and hearts are going in different directions, church leaders should be worried.

Can churches win back the youth?

Barring a complete shift in beliefs, that may not be possible. Some of the proposed solutions seem ludicrous to millennial atheists like myself.

For instance, there's been talk of finding a better way to reconcile science and religion. Whenever that battle takes place, religion loses.

There are some questions we may never know the answer to, but for the ones we can eventually answer, the scientific explanation will devour the religious one. Mixing science and religion requires a distortion of one or the other.

READ MORE: Behold, the six tribes of atheism 

What about focusing on the message and life of Jesus?

While this sounds good philosophically, the myth surrounding Jesus is part of the problem with Christianity.

To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles.

There's no proof of any of that ever happened, and atheists place those stories in the same box as "young Earth creationism" and Noah's Great Flood.

To be sure, if Christians followed the positive ideas Jesus had, we'd all be better off, but it's very hard to separate the myth from the reality.

In short, there are many reasons the percentage of millennials who say they've never doubted God's existence is at a record low, and nearly a quarter of adults under 30 no longer affiliate with a faith.

The church has pushed young people away, yes, but there are also forces actively pulling them in the other direction.

It appears that atheists and Christians are finally working together on the same task: getting millennials to leave the church.

Hemant Mehta blogs at The Friendly Atheist. The views expressed in this column belong to Mehta. 

Photos: Famous atheists and their beliefs

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Culture & Science • Faith • Internet • Nones • Opinion • Science • United States

soundoff (5,653 Responses)
  1. Lionly Lamb

    The fielded streams of socialistic clemencies will forever be...

    July 31, 2013 at 7:14 am |
  2. hubert39

    Having a religion and being a member of a church etc. is OK. Just don't take your religion too seriously.
    It can cause you to not like certain people, or cause problems in your family, and not like other religions.
    Look at religion like you do a sports team. Have your favorite but remember their are hundreds of other religions out there.
    Amen.

    July 31, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • Mr. Bungle

      That's right. Yankees and Giants fans go to Heaven. Cowboys and Red Sox fans go to Hell.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  3. ProCatholic

    After having grown up in a Christian home, and having left 'organized religion' as an 'enlightened' young adult, and then experiencing the nothingness that atheism/agnosticism has to offer, I came back to faith, converted and am now a practicing Catholic. Credo in unum Deum... (I believe in one God....)

    July 31, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • Emmessjee

      Sounds like a pretty poor reason to start believing again. Did you even take a look at Buddhism or anything else?

      July 31, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      The nothingness you feel atheism offers bears no relevance to the existence of deities. The origins of Yahwism can be traced back to the Canaanite pantheon. Assuming Saul was a historical figure, his unifying of Israel under Yahweh marked the growth of Yahweh/Abrahamist religions. If you research most modern religions, you can pinpoint the moment where they began to grow exponentially. Discovering the truth of Abramism/Yahwism, the bronze age myths of the Middle East, is so easy. Anybody who knows their origins and still believes is just being wilfully ignorant.

      Still though, different strokes for different folks. If you want to be a Catholic, good luck with that.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • John Sharp

      You certainly didn't' know what you were doing when you were practicing atheism.
      But you are right maybe having an imaginary friend to tell you how to live your life will work out better for you.
      Me, I prefer rationality.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Michael

      It sounds like you failed to reach enlightenment. The nothingness I felt growing up in a Christian home was the vacuum surrounding explanations or answers to "Why?" I've read the Bible, twice, cover to cover and have had many long and sometimes heated ... discussions ... with the other members of my family. Even afterwards, I'm more convinced than ever that atheism is my path. But that is MY choice; you are fre to follow yours. Just please don't try to shove anything down on me or tell me that I'm doomed because I don't thenk or feel as you do. If you can show me the same dignity that I'm prepared to show you, we'll get along fine.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  4. Tkp353

    Unreal doubt is not surprising in this day and age. Why would anyone believe in a God that has so many rules that contradict diversity, tolerance and coexistence? Couple that with the headlines that tell about Christian leadership that embezzles, cheats, lies, and abuses children. And couple that with Churches that have the outward appearance of opulence. Lots of money for themselves, their clothes, homes and personal possessions, with little or no outward assistance to homeless, fatherless, weak, informed, etc. feel good messages are not what God is supposed to be about. We Christians are supposed to be a light in a dark world that is full of greed, corruption and doubters of the true faith, Jesus Christ. Instead, we give Atheists a stronghold by not walking the walk as well as talking the talk. Shame on us. Even me just limiting Gods power in my own life by posting comments and thinking this is enough. I need to look at myself as a professes Christian and be more assertive in trying to mirror what Jesus said and did in his 33 years. It is not easy. That, in itself, is what I think makes it easier for one to profess to be a non believer. Too many rules and inconsistencies to totally buy into believing in the one true God. All I can say to my own comments are that He is REAL. He is too much into my heart and has influenced me to the point of thinking of others more than myself. And I have felt His touch in my heart. I can't describe it, it know He is there. For all of us. Even the professed Atheist who will know on some day that He is Lord of Lords and the one true God. I just pray it is not too late for America to humble themselves before Him so we can be healed.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • John Sharp

      Even the professed atheist?? Too funny. I like how people spout ridiculous ideas with no supporting evidence as though it were fact, and they know the facts.
      Way too funny. The sooner we put religion in our rear view mirror the sooner we evolve as a planet.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:27 am |
      • Pete

        Your statement shows that you, indeed, do have faith. The world has shown no proof at all that the lack of religion will make anything better.

        You can point to bad things happening histoically in the catholic church. You can also point to WWI and WW2 and see the modern state dwarf all horrible things religion has done. The totalitarian states that have been the bane of the past century and a half have been mostly secular, yet amazingly, things were still pretty bad.

        People have done a lot of crappy things in the name of religion, and they have done a lot of crappy things in the name of a state. People DO crappy things. Getting on your athiestic high horse and telling folks that things will be better without it is without merit.

        You can make a great argument against religion by lack of proof and by pointing out that the rules of them conflict themselves. That I am down with. But the whole "things will be better off without religion" stuff is bunk.

        July 31, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  5. Mike

    I think the real distasteful thing for millennials is that today's Republican party, which hates gays, women, minorities, and especially the poor, presents itself as the face of Christianity. The millennial generation is far too accepting of people's differences and struggles to accept that hypocrisy.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Saraswati

      I know an eighty year old who recently left the Republican party because he could no longer tolerate its ties with the Christian Right. The swing to merging Christianity and politics really started in the fifties and built up through the 70s and 80s. We've been trying to dismantle that error ever since.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:16 am |
  6. ACJS

    All three of my church's Mass celebration are full, with some SRO.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • One one

      What's the attraction ?

      July 31, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • bk1024

      hTje last Comedy Club show I went to was SRO, too.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • John Sharp

      Well that certainly is evidence....

      Geez..

      July 31, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • fintastic

      So was the Heart concert I just attended....

      July 31, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  7. One one

    Easy steps to starting a successful religion.

    First, the rules:

    Rule number 1: Believe or else
    Rule number 2: See rule number 1.
    Rule number 3: See rule number 1.

    NEXT: Convince vulnerable, prospective devotees that they are worthless trash; sinners, who are certain to burn in hell and suffer the brutality of their loving god's wrath because they deserve it.

    NEXT: When the vulnerable, prospective devotees have been sufficiently pounded down by indoctrination and fear of death, promise them a "get out of hell, go directly to heaven" pass.

    HINT: This last tactic is most successful if you play to their emotions with a story full of drama, torture, blood, sacrifice and death. Teach them that it is moral and just to absolve the "sins" of the guilty by punishing the innocent. And for good measure, dazzle them with stories about miracles.

    NEXT: To obtain a " Get out of hell, go directly to heaven" pass, See rule number 1.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • Tkp353

      Obviously, you have only one form of reference. God is not limited to religion, but faith in Him.

      All He asks is that a person believes in his or her heart that Jesus is who He said He is, and did what He did for all of us. Period. Simple.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:52 am |
      • Aimleft

        And why would anyone "simply" just believe? And why would anyone with half a brain believe that by simply believing, they would be saved? How do you justify the VAST differences in interpretation of the Bible in protestantism alone? Way too many contradictions and differences of opinion going on for most thinking people to blindly accept and "just believe."

        July 31, 2013 at 7:12 am |
      • PaulB

        You've clearly never read the Bible, since Jesus (you know, the Christians' god) asks for FAR more than what you claim. "All He asks is that a person believes in his or her heart that Jesus is who He said He is, and did what He did for all of us. Period. Simple." That is BS! God calls those who would follow him to LEAVE THEIR FAMILIES for one thing.

        Don't spout crap about "all He asks" when you are lying. The Biblical God, both testaments, asks for FAR more than that. You are misrepresenting the Bible, or you're just ignorant. READ the Bible before spouting off about what God does or doesn't want, mm'kay?

        July 31, 2013 at 7:14 am |
      • John Sharp

        You are way too funny. You actually pretend you know what your silly little god wants.

        Hint.

        There isn't one you fool!

        July 31, 2013 at 7:29 am |
      • Dylanj

        What a pile of tosh. I'll just ask you to provide one peice of evidence that your god is great and true. Just one peice of evidence is all I ask for.
        Oh you have none, so there for your point is totally irelevant. You have an opinion about something as we all do, but alas you have nothing but faith in someone elses opinion. I have my own opinions backed up by science and a mind that follows it's own path.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • bababooey

      you forgot the rule about collecting their money

      July 31, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • Saraswati

      Not all religions believe in hell...not even all Christian religions.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:19 am |
      • Ernest T Bass

        Christians are constantly back peddeling in a lame attempt to fit in with reality.. I friend of mine who is catholic recently told me "the catholic church now believes in evolution"

        July 31, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  8. joey

    there is no god or gods. easy

    July 31, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • Tkp353

      That feeling you have I. Your heart that asks "is this all there is, and is there nothing more" is God. Be honest with yourself and trust your feelings a out Him, without contempt, and you will find this to be true in your life.

      Only God can fill that void.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:54 am |
      • Harvey

        That question in my heart is still just a question in my heart. If that is God, what is the point? There is nothing omnipresent about that. It's just my conscience working in my brain tissues.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:03 am |
      • eadams

        Have you considered that it is your own inner voice that fills that void?

        July 31, 2013 at 7:05 am |
      • PaulB

        Not all of us have an emptiness inside, and not all of us ask "Is this all there is?" Some of us are secure in our beings and in our lives, while people like YOU are so insecure that you have to turn to "God" to hold your hand. God is just another non-answer to any question.

        It's funny how most of the people who spout off about God "filling an emptiness" are the ONLY ones I hear complaining about being empty. Gee, maybe the emptiness is a sign of psychological issues or, I dunno, being rotten people who don't know how to fill themselves with anything real but only with myths of a bygone era.

        Fill your emptiness with God. The rest of us are too busy filling ourselves with life, science, facts, love, people, and the all the glorious things that ACTUALLY EXIST in our world. Maybe you wouldn't feel so empty if you tried reality, too.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:18 am |
      • Logic led me to atheism

        And only the gullible will actually believe what you just posted

        July 31, 2013 at 7:30 am |
      • Dylanj

        Is there nothing more, you ask. Of course not, you get one shot at it. When you die, you hope that you have been true and honest to yourself and your family. By doing that you can pass on what is important about being kind, loving, honest caring, empathetic, brave, educational, amongst other things. If you need to look outside of yourself for anything more than this, you aren't spending enough time doing these things with those that you love and care about.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:46 am |
      • Michael

        "Trust your feelings, Luke ..."
        Same idea, different story ...

        July 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  9. One one

    Atheism = Truth, facts, and reality

    Religion = Lies, mythology, and fantasy

    July 31, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • Tkp353

      Atheism is science explaining God away. Nothing more. Lean on your own faith and listen with your heart instead of your head when He speaks to you.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:55 am |
      • eadams

        Its reality – explaining why things are. Not explaining god away, but explaining that god is not necessary for these things. Instead of embracing the larger reality far to many people cower and cringe and say, "No! I want my god to be a small god"

        July 31, 2013 at 7:07 am |
      • SentTheWave

        Since when has it been a good idea to ignore your intellect? "Listen to your heart" is a cheap and pedantic phrase meant to appeal to the ethos of people too stupid to apply their knowledge and experience.

        July 31, 2013 at 7:22 am |
      • Ernest T Bass

        I listen with my ears.... my heart pumps blood.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Michael

        Science is the best attempt to explain the world around us based on our understanding of physics, chemistry, biology, et al. Aside from the first Plank Second (1 x 10 -41 second, the time it takes a Cesium atom to vibrate and the smallest unit of time currently capable of being measured) everything that happened afterwards is explained by science. Religion is attributing the universe and world around us to a deity because primitive man did not have the understanding that science has provided since the mid-1700's. I know how the earth came to be, how mankind evolved from a common ancestor of the great apes, why an airplane flys. I neither want nor need a superluminal being to lean on. Reality Rules !!

        July 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  10. Richard the Lionheart

    So atheists are winning on the internet? Lucky for us Christians there is no internet in heaven. There is also no internet in hell, where all of you atheists will go for all eternity, where you can scoff at God all day and night and nobody will care. Just like nobody cares now.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • Colin

      Ya gotta love it when a Christian scorns you with the admonition that you will "go to hell" .

      Out of all the silly superst.itious beliefs of the Christians, I think the myth of hell is my favorite. Think it through. I don't have to kill, I don't have to steal, hell, I don't even have to litter. All I have to do is have a reasonable, honest and rational disbelief in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty upon me an infinite times worse than the death penalty. And he loves me.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:22 am |
      • sam stone

        i find it amusing that they desire etenity with a being from whom they feel they have to be saved

        July 31, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • sam stone

      don't you just feel that good old christian love seeping through?

      July 31, 2013 at 6:27 am |
    • One one

      Isn't it funny how the biggest sin is not an act but rather a belief ?

      I guess god loves the sinner but hates the belief.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • Harvey

      I'm sure that makes you feel better. Enjoy spending time in heaven with your spiteful god.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Aimleft

      HAHAHA. Just head-shakingly funny. It must be a huge weight on your shoulders to Know It All. YOU – your absolute "certainty" and total judgment against others, as if you yourself were god, are a perfect example of why people with actual brains avoid religion like the plague.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • PaulB

      Richard the Lionheart, the atheist are not winning ON the Internet. They are winning BECAUSE of the Internet. This story isn't about people losing faith ONLINE. It's about people losing faith in their real, day-to-day lives. So the atheists are winning in REALITY.
      You say there's no Internet in heaven" According to who? The Bible never mentioned an Internet at all, but here it is in THIS world, so why couldn't there be one in heaven? The Bible says heaven is paved with gold, a very Earthly element, so why not all the silicon chips and wiring for an Internet? Heck, God runs the place, so I bet heaven has the best wifi ever!

      See? Even when talking about your imaginary heaven, you're incapable of picturing a God as big and powerful as the God atheists can imagine. Can't you see how silly that makes you look? You believe in a very small god, and you so fear truth that you make up silly reassurances for yourself like "There's no Internet in heaven."

      July 31, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • Logic led me to atheism

      Now Richard........think.......WWJD

      July 31, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      If by a very slim chance we are wrong and you are right, most of us would rather not spend time with pompous, judgmental people like you.

      July 31, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • Mel

      As a christian, all I can say is satan has a strong hold on you.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Michael

      Over the past half century, man has mapped the interior of the earth in remarkable detail. Guess what's missing from that detail? Some spot that can be best labeled as "hell". Likewise, when I step outside on a moonless and cloudless night, I cannot find "heaven". It doesn't show up in any Hubble images, which can reach out almost 14 billion light years. So where is it? Inquiring minds want to know ...

      July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  11. Hooligan

    LOL

    I am an atheist, I don't try to convert anyone. The Bible does all the hard work.

    After all, that is how I became atheist. I simply read the stupid, hypocritical, a$$ backwards thing.

    July 31, 2013 at 6:13 am |
  12. Lionly Lamb

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v5uX2-9bms&feature=player_detailpage

    July 31, 2013 at 6:09 am |
  13. Margaret

    When you find your belief system "working hard" to be relevant...you're likely not. I am a non-believer, but was raised and still live in a predominately religious community. I think religion went off the rails when it became more preoccupied with "proof" than "faith". People underestimate the importance of myth...and are often insulted at the suggestion that their religion be anything other than absolute truth. Human beings are built to respond powerfully to myth...we are by nature storytellers. I Evan as a non-believer, I greatly respect people of faith...and their right to believe as their respective religions require. Religions (Christianity specifically) efforts in my lifetime (I'm 45) to turn our democracy into a theocracy is, in my opinion, the driving force behind the atheist movement of the past 10 years.

    July 31, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • sam stone

      well put

      July 31, 2013 at 6:14 am |
  14. Altee11

    Every religion should be challenged by Atheism or individual belief because religious leadership has been hateful and spiteful. Some religions even try to force people to remain part of a religion by making conversion punishable by death; this is very anti-free will, very anti-human rights.

    July 31, 2013 at 5:51 am |
  15. Diana Clifford

    'To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles. There's no proof of any of that ever happened.’
    So 2000 years later, we dismiss the story of Christ (there are theories to the greatest scam of human kind – doesn’t really add up.) Every church Fathers, martyr, saint, philosopher and theologian between Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin and Barth fell for this scam because why exactly? Your understanding of the faith is very superficial. Whatever it is that atheism offers (how about nothing) competes and wins over the mystery of Faith.

    July 31, 2013 at 4:55 am |
    • sam stone

      faith is not a pathway to truth

      there are faithful people in all religions

      it does not prove that those beliefs are true

      July 31, 2013 at 5:00 am |
    • sam stone

      atheism offers a different view than you have. if it ain't for you, fine, but to claim it offers nothing is absurd. i do not believe in "god", but am willing to acknowledge that belief has a lot to offer

      July 31, 2013 at 5:09 am |
    • ACJS

      Polite way to put this.

      July 31, 2013 at 6:38 am |
  16. Christopher Lewis

    Good Night!! For real!!

    July 31, 2013 at 4:52 am |
  17. Christopher Lewis

    Disbelief in Satan as a myth and fable: This is what makes the great predators of the earth so dangerous. The prey don't believe that they are there until it is too late. All of the great minds that are dead but spew atheist ideas when they were alive are like that gazelle in the clutches of the lion or the wilder-beast in the mouth of the crocodile.

    Praise God! You are speaking through me tonight. Use me!!!!

    July 31, 2013 at 4:51 am |
    • sam stone

      "This is what makes the great predators of the earth so dangerous. The prey don't believe that they are there until it is too late"

      including those who purport to speak for god

      "All of the great minds that are dead but spew atheist ideas when they were alive are like that gazelle in the clutches of the lion or the wilder-beast in the mouth of the crocodile. "

      only if the gazelle or the wildebeast are dead.

      July 31, 2013 at 5:04 am |
  18. Tyler

    The Church is not going to move into the 21st century as much of the world would love it to do. The LGBT movement will never be supported by the Church. Abortion will never be supported by the Church. There are simply many things the Church is not going to ever accept. With all this being said, none of you nor any of your descendants will ever see the end of the Church. No amount of efforts from Atheist will ever bring the end to the Church. There will always be people in this world who are willing to keep to the faith no matter what societal pressures may exist in their lives. This is not the easy path to take. The idea of faith is the fundamental disconnect between believers and atheist. It is simply impossible to argue past this point. God bless everyone. I mean no hostility or ill will to anyone. While there are many rifts between the Church and non-believers, I think there are still points of common ground that can be exploited for the greater good of humanity. I believe we all want the best for ourselves and others. At least where there is common ground, I hope that these large groups of people can put away their differences and see the amount of change that is still very possible.

    July 31, 2013 at 4:50 am |
    • Colin

      There is no common ground" with the supernatural garbage you believe. Christians complain that people oppose them, but believe in the most stupid and childish of things. If your core theology if that of a fifth grader, don’t complain if people call you stupid and childish and try to stop you from spreading your nonsense. Here are a few:

      1. An infinitely-old, all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, impregnated an Iron Age Jewish virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself, then sacrifice himself to himself to forgive the “original sin” of a couple we now all know never existed.

      2. This son died and then rose from the dead (like a Hollywood zombie) and walked around Jerusalem for a few days before being whizzed up to heaven.

      3. When I think silent thoughts like, “Dear God, please help me pass my exam tomorrow,” this all powerful being reads my mind and may alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to answer my prayer.

      4. In addition to this God and his dead, but risen son, there is (i) a holy spirit; (ii) a large number of angels; (iii) a lot of saints; (iv) an infinitely evil devil; (v) a virgin Mary, all of whom inhabit some kind of never-never lands where all dead humans are actually not dead but live forever, either blissfully happy or burning for all eternity based on a final judgment made by this god.

      I am sorry, but you people should be kept away from impressionable young minds. Now before any believer rants back at me that I am evil, angry or going to burn forever, please point out what of the above beliefs are not straight out of mainstream Christianity.

      July 31, 2013 at 5:06 am |
      • Tyler H

        My theology is the same that has survived for 2000 years. I choose to believe while you choose to be hostile. There are plenty of Atheist in this world that do not act with hostility and would love to make the world a better place along with Christians. Please, stop with the 5th grader name calling. That should not be a befitting argument for someone of your "superior" intelligence. When you can make it through a prestigious school and receive a double major in anything comparable to Physics and Nuclear Engineering, then come back to me and call me an idiot. I have a lot to contribute to society. If hostility is what you wish to pass on to young minds, then God help us all.

        July 31, 2013 at 5:20 am |
        • Colin

          You said "My theology is the same that has survived for 2000 years." That doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

          You said "There are plenty of Atheist in this world that do not act with hostility and would love to make the world a better place along with Christians." So what? I don't take issue with morality, just supernatural nonsense.

          As to your quip about your qualifications, I sincerely doubt it, but am obviously not in a position, on an anonymous chat site, to know. But, if you do hold those qualifications, it makes your childish sky-fairy beliefs even more ridiculous, because you have the education to know better.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:26 am |
        • kevinlyda

          "My theology is the same that has survived for 2000 years."

          That is clearly untrue. No Christian sect would be recognisable to a follower of Jesus 2,000 years ago. Christianity didn't even split from Judaism for over 100 years.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:28 am |
        • Colin

          By the way, I notice that you didn't try to argue that what I wrote above is not straight out of mainstram Christianity. How can you believe this utter cr.ap?

          July 31, 2013 at 5:29 am |
        • Tyler H

          My qualifications are actually true, however you would probably never believe it. I mean you would have to think that it would be pretty difficult to have just come up with those two majors right off the top of my head. Not to say that would be an impossible feat, but an unlikely one that you probably realize. I don't want to sit here and argue with you over theology. If you take no issue with morality, then we actually do have common ground. While there are parts of morality that we may find different, there are many things we probably see the same way. If that can develop a better common good, then by all means I would love to exploit these ever so few places where Christians and non-believes share a similar sentiment. You can think that my beliefs are hogwash, but if you truly believe that someone of high education cannot make a positive contribution to todays youth, then you are simply misguided.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:35 am |
        • Colin

          No, it would be very easy to pull a couple of degrees out of thin air. You are correct, I do not believe you.

          You said "I would love to exploit these ever so few places where Christians and non-believes share a similar sentiment." For what?

          You said "You can think that my beliefs are hogwash, but if you truly believe that someone of high education cannot make a positive contribution to todays youth, then you are simply misguided." Not quite. I know your beliefs are hogwash.

          Secondly, I never said people with a higer education cannot make a positive contribution to today's youth!! Argue what I say, not what you wish I said. I believe supernatural nonsense like Christianity should not be taught to children. Most people with the qualifications you claim make very valuable contributions to education. About 90% of them are atheists, which is one of the reasons I am deeply skeptical of your claimed degrees.

          I cannot fathom a person with advanced science degrees believeing in Greco-Roman Jewish sky fairies. It happens, but it's pretty rare.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:45 am |
        • Tyler H

          "I am sorry, but you people should be kept away from impressionable young minds."
          These are your words. Thus, if I do have a high level of education, then you are saying that by default I have nothing to offer to society.

          Do you know how to right a wavefunction in the spherical coordinate system? Do you know what kinds of solutions to this differential equation exist? Could you name the types of radionuclides that are released from all nuclear reactors directly into the environment that contaminate drinking water and reach the crops that yield the food we put into our bodies everyday? For instance, do you know that in the lakes near a nuclear reactor there are higher concentrations of Tritium (Hydrogen-3 if you didd't already know) that can reach the soil, plants, trees, people, pets, etc? Maybe the project I am working on will yield a successful detection system that can monitor these levels (not a trivial task since most likely you have absolutely no clue that the beta decay for this radionuclide has energies of around 19 keV which is an extremely low energy to detect since it is just a wee bit higher than radiation present in the background).

          Please, you can think of me what you want. I guess I am just even more of an idiot for believing what I do given the amount of education I have. However, I am not alone in my cause. There are more professors out there that do believe than you may believe. Ironically, I am working for one right now. He has every reason to not believe. His wife developed cancer during pregnancy. His son is actually going blind. Yet he still believes. Probably makes him an idiot too in your book.

          July 31, 2013 at 6:03 am |
        • Tyler H

          I will fix my grammar once more. Write instead of right. My goodness it has been a long 24 hours.

          July 31, 2013 at 6:04 am |
        • Tyler H

          I would like those few areas of common ground to be utilized to make sure that life can be as good as it possibly can be. I don't think you would disagree that cooperation is necessary between these two groups. Since both are not going anywhere, you are better off trying to find the best way of getting along.

          July 31, 2013 at 6:11 am |
        • Colin

          Once again, my concern with you educating children comes from your belief in Greco-Roman mythology, not your higher education. See my original comment where I said this for context. I would not necessarily describe your boss as an idiot, I would describe his religion as idiotic, though, because it is.

          July 31, 2013 at 6:31 am |
        • Tyler H

          To kevinlyda:

          I am Catholic. I believe that it is the one holy apostolic Church. I do believe that if a person from that period of time could see the Catholic Church, it would appear very different yet still contain the basic tenets of the faith. If they saw a Protestant sect, then yes they would be appalled since they don't even believe in the Eucharist. But with that being said, it is ridiculous to claim that Christianity didn't break up from Judaism for over 100 years after the fact. Jews were disgusted with the idea of Christianity. Jesus was telling them that He was God. Jews thought Christians were cannibals for believing in the Eucharist. How could these religions coexist as one for over 100 years after the death of Christ? It is simply impossible. Peter is considered the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Therefore, how could the Church have been established 100 years after the fact?

          July 31, 2013 at 6:32 am |
        • Colin

          It is a matter of degree, but I think a case can be made that Christianity did not speciate off from Judaism until Paul's theology of salvation through faith in the resurrected Jesus alone and without adherence to Mosaic law became accepted in nascent Christian Theology (about 55 C.E.). Until then, the Christians were simply a sect of Jews called the "Nazarene Jews" because of their following Jesus of Nazareth.

          Once the requirement of adherence to Mosaic Law was dropped (primarilly to attract pagans) at the early synod in Damascus, it became a real stretch to consider the growing faith as a sect of Judaism. It would be like a sect today claiming people could get to heaven by eating a healthy diet and without believing in the divinity of Jesus and calling themselves "CHristians."

          July 31, 2013 at 6:40 am |
        • Tyler H

          Yes, you can argue these details, but to say that Christianity did not split from Judaism for over 100 years simply cannot be substantiated. If the Church is considered Christian and established by Peter then this 100 years argument is not valid. Of course there were going to be Jewish influences on the Church that would make certain traditions familiar, but at the end of the day it didn't take 100 years for the two to differentiate. It is definitely correct to say that the Church took time to form itself into a final product. The apostles of course had to spread the teachings around which takes time.

          July 31, 2013 at 6:52 am |
      • Tyler H

        If it would make you feel better, I do not think that school is the appropriate place to be teaching children religious beliefs. I think that if you are going to believe in any religion, you will gain this belief through your own life experiences regardless whether you grow up in a Christian family or not. School is a place to gain knowledge that can help better society regardless religious affiliation. I respect an Atheist as much as a Believer. In the academic world, I find both to be equally competent.

        I think the better question is this: Why sit here and argue over something that is going to get us nowhere? Putting so called fairy tales aside, is it important to make our lives on Earth the best they can be? If this is important to both of us, then why sit here and argue over something that we will never resolve?

        July 31, 2013 at 6:42 am |
  19. Christopher Lewis

    Sam Stone

    Everything I have said is substantiated in the Bible. If you see it as a proxy threat or warning, you will have to take that issue up with the God you don't believe in. So, either you are going to get in that narrow line the Bible speaks of or you will get into that wide line that the Bible speaks of. I'm just the messenger and the here's another proxy warning: There will come a time when they will not "endure sound doctrine" but will turn away to "fables" and "false teacher" because their ears are "itching" for what they want to hear an not what God wants them to hear.

    Look, if you are atheist, feel comfortable in your skin. I am completely comfortable in my skin as a Christian. However, I find it ironic that atheist spend more time and energy trying to de-Christianize Christians than Christians spend trying to de-atheinize atheist. Yeah, I know I made up a word.

    Truth be told, I am on this blog tonight not for the atheist but that one person who might be deceived by you. I want to save them even if it's only one because heaven shouts at the saving of one soul. That's in the Bible. It's 3:30. Though I am off for the summer as public school teacher, I need to get up to work out. Yeah, a Christian in the public school system. Remember, we are in a spiritual war and God has his agents doing battle on the frontlines too. Blessings!!!

    July 31, 2013 at 4:38 am |
    • Colin

      Oh dear god. This idiot educating children........Be afraid, be very afraid.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:48 am |
    • David

      Are you honestly saying that xians don't spend more time proselytizing than non-believers? If so, then I think you are breaking one of your basic tenants. I also think it means that you believe your own lies, which is common, and which is why it is not possible to have a rational conversation with fanatics like you.

      July 31, 2013 at 5:04 am |
      • Tyler H

        I think that as a Christian talking to an Atheist it would be best to leave out the Bible versus and start from a point of common ground and move the discussion towards the idea the idea of faith. Without faith, there is simply no way that someone can be a believer. It is simply not possible for a Christian to successfully argue with an Atheist because the basic idea of faith is a fundamental disconnect. What meaning is garnered from Bible versus when one simply cannot believe something through faith alone?

        July 31, 2013 at 5:12 am |
        • sam stone

          if you can't be a believer without faith, what is the point of the belief? to have faith? if so, does it matter what you have faith in? faith is not a pathway to truth. lots of people have faith in many different gods. which one is right? which one is wrong?

          July 31, 2013 at 5:21 am |
        • kevinlyda

          It's verses. Please. Versus is an entirely different thing.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:22 am |
        • Tyler H

          It is 4:30 in the morning. I have been up a while. Since that isn't an excuse for poor grammar, I apologize for offending you

          July 31, 2013 at 5:39 am |
        • Tyler H

          One must have faith in order to believe Church teaching. Faith does not directly yield truth.Faith means you have already accepted the teaching to be true. Discerning which groups teaching is the correct one is totally up to the individual. This is not a science. There is not a definitive answer that everyone will agree on.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:48 am |
        • Michael

          My sole reliance on "faith" is the first Plank Second of The Bang. A Plank Second is 1 x 10 -43 seconds, the time it takes a Cesium atom to vibrate and is the shortest possible measurable time unit. After that Plank Second, all else is defined and understood by physics, checmistry and other sciences. That includes gravity, light ... everything. Religion makes no sense to me. I don't bash the other members of my family for believing, but do ask that they stop shoving their beliefs down my throat; my mother continues to ask that I get saved. "From what, Mother?" Nobody has answers, only the constant, "If you only had faith." If you had proof, I might have faith. Without one, there can never be the other.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      more empty proxy threats, christopher.

      how exactly does one fear (or have any feellings toward) a being i which they do not believe?

      can you fear bugs bunny?

      can you fear any of the other thousands of gods man has made? even if you try really, really hard, can you?

      if not, why do you think others can.

      fvck you and your sanctimonius drivel

      July 31, 2013 at 5:14 am |
    • sam stone

      ".....that atheist spend more time and energy trying to de-Christianize Christians than Christians spend trying to de-atheinize atheist"

      really? where are all the atheist evangelical churches?

      July 31, 2013 at 5:17 am |
  20. Tyler

    I am a Christian and I despise most Christians. The problem is that people judge Christianity by the people that follow it. Would you judge a song by its fans or by the music? Would you fashion opinions and ideas about the song without hearing it for yourself? This is the most unintellectual process by intellectuals. Frankly, you don't have a frame of reference to judge anyone about their beliefs, be it Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Yet somehow atheists are so threatened by someone's beliefs that they feel the need to convert anyone that disagrees....and then they use references about internet chat rooms and websites to perpetuate their importance. This article is ridiculous, to say the least.

    July 31, 2013 at 4:37 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.