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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. Cynic

    If I were Hemant Mehta, I wouldn't break my arm patting myself on the back for disillusioning millennials.

    He gave the real reason in his second paragraph. Young people are just sick and tired of bigotry masquerading as faith.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  2. jazzmanjimmy

    Atheists have no real answers. They don't even ask the right questions. Why are they so concerned with ohters believing in God? Be an Atheist. That is your right.
    I was once ina bar with an atheist. We were drinking beers. When i finished i asked him if ir would be a miracle if i snapped my fingers and my beer filled up again. He agreed it would be. Then iI looked at my empty glass and pointed to it. I asked him where the glass came from because science shows us that matter cannot create matter. After he talked about the sand and fire that made the glass I simply said that the real miracle is that mattered exists at all. It had to be CREATED. Atheists have no answer to this questions.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Who created the creator?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:13 am |
      • Robert

        There had to be a first cause. The first cause had to be timeless, spaceless, self-existent, immaterial, powerful, intelligent, and wise. We call him God.

        The observations of the COBE satellite and Hubble telescope were the death kneel of atheism as any pretense of a rational religion. The universe could not create itself out of a steady state of absolute nothing. Nor could it be eternal. God is the only rational answer.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          First of all, a cyclical universe model can be eternal.

          Second, this "timeless, spaceless, self-existent, immaterial, powerful, intelligent, and wise" enti.ty is entirely hypothetical and proposed by men. You may as well say the first cause was a crime fighting ninja hamster.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • justageeker

          Pfft...A cyclic model is a cop out as to when everything began.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:30 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It's far less of a cop-out than 'god/gods did it'.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
        • justageeker

          I disagree. A cop out is a cop out. The excuse my dog ate my homework versus I just didn't feel like doing it is still a cop out and still results in only one thing.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:37 am |
        • Deflator

          Quantum fluctuations happen all the time...

          July 31, 2013 at 9:39 am |
        • EPaul

          That is quite the opposite of rational. A paradox is not a logical hypothesis to a question. In fact, it's actually more reasonable to believe that our Universe, and the building blocks of life, always existed – as opposed to inventing something more complicated for no reason and claiming he/she always existed.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:47 am |
      • ensense

        God can exist on his own. but for an athiest the answer needs to be answered by science, since magic wont do.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • justageeker

        And by that question you show you are no different than a believer. Both have no answers but only questions. Both like to believe they are right. Funny.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:19 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I admit that I don't have the answers. That's how I differ from believers.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • justageeker

          But not believing is no different than believing with regards to choices. You made a choice and you are standing by it. Nothing wrong with that but still a choice without being in the know.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          My choice (although it wasn't a conscious decision) is based on analysis of evidence. It's just how I chose not to believe in Skeletor.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:30 am |
        • justageeker

          That's my point. An analysis of incomplete evidence. I don't blame you at all and please don't take my comments to mean anything negative. I just find the irony in the battle of believers and non believers fighting over a truly unknown subject.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:35 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Why? Virtually nothing is 'known' in science, so a side has to be chosen. To be honest, I don't care what people believe in. If you want to be an Abrahamist, even though Abrahamism can be pretty much disproven by reading up on the origins of Judaism, good luck with it. My fight is against the theocrats.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:40 am |
        • justageeker

          Again...I don't blame you one bit for taking a side. Without empirical evidence belief kicks in. You believe you are correct in being a non believer. Ironic.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • devin

      "Atheists don't have an answer to this question". Don't be silly, of course they do. You may not agree with it, but they do.

      On a side note, I'm a theist.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:16 am |
      • ensense

        They don't because if they had, they would have jumped to answer it.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • justageeker

        Do tell. What is the answer. There are a lot of scientists and such spending billions and billions of dollars for the answer but you have it...please tell us.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Gadflie

      God, being obviously the most complex possible being, is also, per Occam's razor, the least likely answer to ANY question.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • justageeker

        He may be the most complex 'thing' but he is certainly the simplest explanation so I think Occam wins here.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'It was magic' is hardly the simplest 'real' explanation.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • justageeker

          Really? Why? At one point in time I would argue that all humans were capable of believing in magic at some point in their lives.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'justageeker
          Really? Why? At one point in time I would argue that all humans were capable of believing in magic at some point in their lives.'

          Whether they did or not is beside the point. Unless you can prove that magic actually exists then you cannot claim that saying it was magic is the simplest explanation.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • justageeker

          It is the point. An explanation doesn't have to be proven true to be believed. At one point I believed the magician could pull the rabbit from the hat even though I didn't have proof. Some people believe in God. Some people believe in the big bang. Neither one has been 'proven 100%' so to what the poster said I say a God is easier for most people to believe in than a big bang theory. Today anyway. That may certainly change.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'It is the point. An explanation doesn't have to be proven true to be believed.'

          No but if you want to claim its the easiest to be believed then you have to have a basis for that to be so. As we have no evidence that magic exists then to claim something was as a result of magic is not the easiest explanation. It would be like claiming that arson in an empty building with no evidence of anyone being around must have been the act of a dragon because they can fly and thus leave no trace, and they can breath fire.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • Gadflie

          Yea, God did it has often been used as a simple explanation. But, well, it has never been shown to be actually correct. And, well, the simplest explanation is still "It just happened'".

          July 31, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • joe

      Atheists have no answer to this questions.
      -----–
      This poster's post is a perfect example of how religion appeals to the uneducated and ignorant. They will come up with the most astonishingly asinine thoughts and brazingly wear them on their shirt sleeves like a badge of honor having no idea whatsoever they are short bus riders.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
      • justageeker

        Because you know for sure they are wrong?

        July 31, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Interesting, but....

      We do have an answer, actually. You don't know about it because you choose to ignore information.

      Also, this whole "friend at the bar" thing carries with it the familiar story of arrogance. You know, like that little girl on an airplane atheist joke? How the joke is supposed to make atheists look stupid because they don't know fecal matter? What if the atheist answered that despite similar diets, fecal matter is different due to a number of factors, but most heavily influenced by the digestive system of the animal and the climate the animal is native to? Just, what if?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:51 am |
      • thomas

        god is merely the mis-application of human's social ability – namely to infer intent and expectations of others – to try to explain the natural world.

        when we can't explain nature, we create a being and talk about intent and expectations of that being

        it's that simple really

        July 31, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • cedar rapids

      '. I asked him where the glass came from because science shows us that matter cannot create matter. After he talked about the sand and fire that made the glass I simply said that the real miracle is that mattered exists at all. It had to be CREATED. Atheists have no answer to this questions.'

      You asked a question about glass, he answered it. Then you made a claim about a miracle and stated an opinion that it has to be created.
      There were no outstanding questions that you asked.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  3. modmom2010

    I have just 2 things to say:
    1 Canon Jesus is nothing like fandom Jesus and this hurts Christians because it's their fault.
    2 If there is a god he has a lot of explaining to do.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • stacy

      You do realize that man has free will. God has no explaining to do....he's done all his teaching in the Bible. Supposed Christians have done so much damage to the term "Christian", I don't blame people from turning away. God doesn't hate guys, oppress women, practice racism.... where in the Bible would any one find these things. No, God hates sin...straight people sin, guy people sin. Jesus is the great liberator. Jesus said for men to love their wives like Christ loved the church...which he died for. Jesus was from what is now the mid-east....Jesus was not white.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • Interesting, but....

        Incorrect.

        Free will cannot exist under a being that already knows everything. It is a paradox the cavemen authors of the myth-text unintentionally created when they made up that particular deity on the spot.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • justageeker

          Really? So if I put a rat in a maze that has only two exits and I 'know' it'll go through one of them then that's not free will for the rat? That's what believers believe. That God may know the paths but he allows you to choose the path.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'justageeker

          Really? So if I put a rat in a maze that has only two exits and I 'know' it'll go through one of them then that's not free will for the rat? That's what believers believe. That God may know the paths but he allows you to choose the path.'

          If god already knows what exit you will take and has already labelled that exist as the doorway to hell, then no its not free-will, its the illusion of free-will.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:33 am |
        • cedar rapids

          *exit

          July 31, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • JIm

      You are right, Christians have done a terrible job representing Jesus.

      If there is a God, who are you to question him?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • ReligionIsBS

        Who are you to question someone questioning your god? &*%$ your god, he isnt real anyway.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • justageeker

          Ah. True conviction emerges. A non believing sheep that gets emotional enough to write those words about something he has no real clue about. Amazing.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:32 am |
      • modmom2010

        Let's see, According to the Bible and most Christians god is both omnipotent and omniscient yet he created Lucifer knowing that doing so would bring misery to untold billions. (Nice job "dad")

        In line with the idea that he's god the father, let's say you as a parent knows in advance and have the power to stop it from happening that if you do just one thing your children will suffer extreme misery and horror for their entire lives Would you create Lucifer?

        July 31, 2013 at 9:55 am |
        • justageeker

          We kinda do when we allow them to live on their own. By your statement we should not allow them to experience anything that may cause them harm or we're being awful parents. Things like driving in a car where they can kill themselves should be stopped by the parent and so on. Good luck with those lines of thought.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:27 am |
        • modmom2010

          Not even close to the same thing.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:34 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'justageeker
          We kinda do when we allow them to live on their own. By your statement we should not allow them to experience anything that may cause them harm or we're being awful parents.'

          Except god creating satan would be like you arranging for someone to break into their house, or turning the gas on etc.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • justageeker

          Why is it not the same? But OK...let's try this. Every parent knows that their kid will die someday. So the very act of creating them condemns them to death. So – (Nice job "dad"). Thank your parents for putting you into a no win situation they knew would happen to you.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • modmom2010

          Still not the same thing. Look, according to the Bible humans would be living forever in paradise except for the little problem of god creating evil. Yes, that's right, by creating Lucifer (again according to the Bible) your wonderful all seeing all knowing supposedly upset when a sparrow falls god created all the suffering and sin in the world.

          So, as far as the free will kids driving argument, You're going to buy the kid a car. You know if you buy the 'Vette it's curtains for Jr. but if you buy the Mustang things are simpatico. Which one do you buy?

          July 31, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • justageeker

          Which one do you buy?" – Emotionally speaking I buy the one that they don't crash in. Technically speaking, by creating them I've condemned to death already so what's the difference? Either way because of me they die therefore as the other poster said I must be a horrible parent.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  4. Truth

    Another day, another Christophobic article from CNN.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Um...Yeah, right

      And what about all those Christ-centric articles on Belief Blog? I guess those don't count.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      a phobia is an irrational fear of something. There are plenty of rational reasons to fear christianity.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  5. el flaco

    If you can't see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, or taste it there is no reason to believe that it exists.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • justageeker

      Did you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste the big bang or you think we got here another way?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:15 am |
      • cedar rapids

        er actually technically we can, yes.
        We have detected the background radation that is the result of the big bang.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:05 am |
        • justageeker

          A result is not the same thing actually observing the original something. A believer can just as easily say we exist so that is proof of a God.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • cedar rapids

          The radiation we are detecting is the echo of the b ang, kind of like hearing the b oom of a fire c racker. Unless you claim the b oom can happen independently of the fire work then the b oom is part of the event, it is the hearing part.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • justageeker

          The big bang is still a theory. We're not 100% sure it happened even though it sure does look that way. So that radiation is the product of 'something' which is still debatable.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • rabbitcommarogerindyreader

        We literally see the leftover light – the cosmic background radiation – that gave us the idea for the hypothesis of the big bang in the first place. Math and knowledge of physical laws tell us now that the current Theory is the most consistent with all the available data. That's a big, big step ahead of the ad hoc hypothesis that there's an all-powerful, anthropomorphic personage who purposely created everything and who is also direly interested in what appendage we stick where and is willing to consign any of us to eternal (!) pain if we don't go along with its way of thinking.
        Science is all about simply seeing what is, and how it works. Religion-based philosophies weigh it all down with the baggage of all those "shoulds" – about behavior and thought. If you can't see it for a control-mechanism and then separate out all the origin questions from simple reality,...

        July 31, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Mike H

      Hmmm, I guess based on that logic, the moon doesn't exist when you can't see it in the sky. Yet, it DOES exists when it manifests at night.

      🙂

      July 31, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  6. MarylandBill

    1. Why is it that CNN feels they must trumpet atheism at every turn?
    2. Why is it that Atheists don't seem to understand that Christianity is much bigger than fundamentalist evangelical Christianity (2/3-3/4 of the world's Christians are either Catholic or Orthodox).
    3. Claiming to have moments of doubt about God's existence is not the same thing as being an atheist. Many Saints have had doubts from time to time.
    4. Having seen the comments of most people online, I would hardly count it as a plus that more atheists are online.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Pete

      "Why is it that Atheists don't seem to understand that Christianity is much bigger than fundamentalist evangelical Christianity (2/3-3/4 of the world's Christians are either Catholic or Orthodox)."

      A pew study done in 2010 only shows Christianity makes up 33% of world religions. How are you getting 2/3-3/4? What site are you getting that number from?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:13 am |
      • rgcheek

        Pete that isn't what was stated. Good grief, take a reading class.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Gadflie

      1) They don't. The articles about atheism are appropriate to the percentage of atheists. Now quit whining.
      2) Why do you believe that we don't understand this? Or is it just to enable you to think that atheists don't disagree with you personally?
      3) So what? I for one am not expressing temporary doubt. Sorry kid.
      4) I read your post. "Nuff said.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Felix Sinclair

      1. An increase in religious non-belief is news. Is your faith so weak that it is threatened by those who do not share it?
      2. Many demand an elevated status for claims of belief in the supernatural. Many others who rely on reason and critical think are no longer willing to let those claims go unchallenged.
      3. Belief and knowledge are not the same. (A)theism and (a)gnosticism address two different questions.
      4. Are we on street corners threatening non-non-believers with eternal punishment? Do we demand that church books be re-written because contradictory and morally questionable teachings are an insult to science and reason?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
      • Felix Sinclair

        2. *thinking*

        July 31, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • stacy

      1-Because CNN must have a large number of atheist in management positions.
      2-Jesus wasn't evangelical, catholic, baptist, methodists...etc. Jesus was all about..."Do you believe, Do you have faith, and Do you have a relationship...man put the labels on religion.
      3-Of course followers of Jesus have time of doubt, but those times are just a test of faith. Faith is some is the "kicker", Christians live by faith....because you have no seen with our eyes.
      4-I think Christian are to blame for much of the tone of atheists.....Don't look to man for how to live your life or what real or good. You need to learn about Jesus and what he was really all about. Once you focus on Jesus, I'm not sure how you remain an atheists. How do you live with no Faith?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Wag

      My god is bigger than your god. LMAO

      –Wag–

      July 31, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  7. J Ryan

    The definition of hell is a place without religion. Sounds like heaven to me.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • TheyBelieve

      Your definition is incorrect. It also depends on the belief you're talking about. Eskimos hell is a place it never stops snowing..

      July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Surely they'd be used to that?

        July 31, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  8. J Ryan

    The good thing about hell is there will be no christian or other righteous religious fanatics there. Sounds like heaven to me.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • justageeker

      Have fun.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Ummmm

      Hell doesn't exist, it's a man made concept to use fear to sell religion.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  9. dwayne

    If any reasonably intelligent person, not just millennials, dissects the "Marketing Campaign" of Christianity, it all falls apart. Why would an "all knowing" God want all people to know of its existence, but yet only initially divulge its existence to a small group of people in the Middle East? If it is the one, true God, then why are there so many other religions?

    July 31, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Gadflie

      It's worse than that. Supposedly you have an omniscient god and free will. Two things that obviously cannot exist together.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:08 am |
      • justageeker

        Really? Without a God you cannot have free will as you are confined to plain old universal physics...action/reactions...nothing more.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          If there is a personal god who created you knowing exactly what you will do and how your life will pan out, there is no free will. It's the ultimate determinism.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • justageeker

          And if we came about in a big bang then all things were set in motion that has a set path. Therefore even the smallest of particles making up your thoughts were nothing but a product of action/reaction started a long time ago. Only something capable of breaking those laws could change it.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I never argued otherwise.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • joe

      The fact that each culture has it's own God is powerful proof that the God is a cultural creation.

      Religion is intellectually unsustainable. That's why it appeals to the uneducated, ignorant and mentally deluded in each society.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • justageeker

      Hmm. Choice maybe? Who knows. But why ask those questions when there are much bigger ones? Like where did all this 'stuff' around us come from originally?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  10. James PDX

    The real problem with Christianity is that you can't leave out the ridiculous book portraying a fallible and childish god that it is based on; the Old Testament. Anyone who believes in the OT is clearly incapable of reason or intelligent thought.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  11. Peter Q Wolfe

    How is Jesus equated to being synonymous with life? I thought that was Buddah, Thor, Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, Sheeva, or other imginary friends that I have when I'm dreaming? Whoopes just kind of forgot that naustics were around at the time of the Church father's like equating God as the Evil Deity that we know and supposedly should bow to right? God is a joke like Jesus is a joke just to opress like look at the areas with the most religious communities have the highest poverty, lowest literacy and most war mongering in current political literature man.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  12. J Ryan

    Thank god I am an atheist.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  13. SV

    Why does God let bad things happen? Apparently he's just too overwhelmed with doing things like helping NASCAR drivers win races and baseball players hit home runs and football players make receptions and country singers win awards to get out there and get his hands dirty stopping earthquakes and runaway trains and such. In other words, God is too busy hanging with the super elite to help the little people. What a dick.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • cristian

      BTW.....people do bad things. God gave people freedom of choice but I guess that's not good either huh? Just blame god when the world doesn't go your way. maybe if people would make more GOOD choices LESS bad things would happen to them...doooh! Have u ever heard of common sense?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:14 am |
      • cedar rapids

        'people do bad things. God gave people freedom of choice'

        why does god only give free will to the bad guys to do bad things? why doesnt god ever give free will to the victims not to be murdered today? Surely intent and attempt to do a bad act is enough to condemn so why doesnt god 'save' the victims when the attempt is made?

        July 31, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • G

      Folks – this is what years of government indoctrinated schooling does to one's brain.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  14. demovsemperor

    Read Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein and you will no longer believe in invisible sky gods.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Gadflie

      That's kind of funny since it is a rewriting of the Jesus myth.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The martyred pacifist is a mythological archetype.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • justageeker

      Read about William Rowe and you'll understand why your comment make no sense. Atheists and believers are no different and will continue to fight a silly battle of wits without being in the know. Funny.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • Walt

        Atheist and Christians are identical with a small difference. A Christian dismisses Thor, Zeus, Vishnu, Sun God, Moon God, Brahma, Iris, Krishna, Odin, Pan, Poseidon...etc.....as primitive non existent imaginery beings an Atheist dismisses one more.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:29 am |
        • rgcheek

          The God of Abrahamic faiths is not some created little godling that came from space and time. The Creator created space and time. That you cant grasp the difference shows that you do not know what you are talking about.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:48 am |
        • justageeker

          With no real proof that 'one more' can be dismissed. Brilliant.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:49 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'justageeker
          With no real proof that 'one more' can be dismissed. Brilliant.'

          The proof required is why one more should be accepted when others have been dismissed.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'rgcheek
          The God of Abrahamic faiths is not some created little godling that came from space and time. The Creator created space and time. That you cant grasp the difference shows that you do not know what you are talking about.'

          There is no difference, you only claim there is because you follow that god. There is nothing about those previous faiths that makes yours different.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  15. MRD

    I like the thread about atheism, the "organized church", and millenials. May I suggest another thought about the "unofficial" church that doesn't meet in homes, but lives out faith in a more communal way. This is more applicable outside of the United States and has a story that reaches back 2000 years while we follow the Roman/Greek version. Recent threads are also very US centric, assuming that the center of the Christian faith is somehow here in America. As a Christian in the US, I am not kidding myself. The best examples of Christ today are found in the poorest and most persecuted sectors of the world and it is they that millenials and all generation should look to and not the trivalized and intellectualized version you see here.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • thomas

      Dad paid to spread the word in China but wouldn't help me with grad. school. Love ya dad. No problem. You were just trying to encourage me. It's cool.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  16. JBW

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

    When one places oneself in a sounding chamber, then naturally this is the result one can expect.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  17. Wayne.C

    I am an atheist and I do not care what people do with their lives. We should not encourage people to be like us. Let people find life on their own and if it is Buddhism , Muslim, Christianity or whatever that is them and their life. What the world does not need is racism and hate in general and their is lot of that on these comment areas.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  18. Paul

    How is believing in a "big bang" theory and that our existence is a product of happenstance any more intelligent than believing in, as some have stated, Skeletor? Maybe this entire argument is simply a distraction to keep us unaware that we are nothing more than batteries for the matrix. But from where did the matrix originate? Oh yeah, Hollywood. Therefore, Hollywood is God. No, wait! There is no God. What, no Hollywood?

    July 31, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Gadflie

      Well, for one, the Big Bang theory has made predictions that have been shown to be correct. I'm afraid you can't say that about Skeletor.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • SimpleLogic

        I hope you're not serious. Big Bang is all theory. Scientists are hoping and praying to their ape ancestors that this theory is correct. Let me guess, you believe evolution is fact too? I don't understand how all the sheepole can believe this nonsense. Yes there are highly educated people on either side of these arguments, but come on. An explosion created order? When has anyone ever seen a constructive explosion? I think I know which side I'd agree with. The side not smoking the old humanist peace pipe.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:17 am |
        • Ernest T Bass

          @Simple mind...... so you don't believe in evolution?.... god did it? right?...

          July 31, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'I hope you're not serious. Big Bang is all theory. Scientists are hoping and praying to their ape ancestors that this theory is correct.'
          Oh dear. You know that there was a scientific hypothesis that said that background radiation would exist if the big bang was correct, and lo and behold they discovered that background radation? Scientists dont need to 'pray' to anyone that the theory is correct, they pretty much have the evidence for it.

          'Let me guess, you believe evolution is fact too? I don't understand how all the sheepole can believe this nonsense. '
          I dont understand why you sheeple think that evolution is nonsense. I really dont. What honestly is your issue with it? Heck even the catholic church says it has no problem with the idea of evolution, what is your beef with it?

          'An explosion created order? When has anyone ever seen a constructive explosion? I think I know which side I'd agree with. The side not smoking the old humanist peace pipe.'
          Interesting statement but one that only makes sense if you think the claim is 'bang!' – 'everything in place in an instant' ........which it isnt.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:44 am |
        • CosmicC

          First, faith differs from science in that the faithful believe without proof. Second, your statements reveal a lack of understanding of basic concepts of both physics (big bang, etc.) and biology (evolution). I'm sure there are many people here on this board who would be willing to enlighten you on either topic. Before I would spend my time, I'd need some assurance that you would let go of your death grip on your faith long enough to listen.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Ummm, evidence?

      July 31, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      The Big Bang happened. That is fact. What led to it is the question.

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

        Your ignorance is astounding. The Big Bang has been proven to be a farce. There are certain aspects that may be believable, but as a whole it is not true.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:04 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Please elaborate on this 'proof'.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • Gadflie

          Sorry Joe, you shouldn't take what you read on creationist websites as "proof'.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:10 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'The Big Bang has been proven to be a farce.'

          Oh now this 'proof' I have to see.
          I could do with a good laugh.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:14 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          A farce?...In 2006 they awarded the Nobel Prize to 2 scientists that provided the final proof that the Big Bang is factual history.

          They don't give out the Nobel Peace Prize for farces

          July 31, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • MarylandBill

      You do realize that the Big Bang theory was proposed by George LeMaitre, a Catholic Priest right? And that the Fred Hoyle, the Richard Dawkins of his day, hated the theory because he felt it implied the existence of a creator.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  19. Mel

    The problem is faith in God must be given freely, it can not be forced. An so many christians think they are supposed to froce it on everyone.

    July 31, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Sam

      Not true. They simple try and guide people towards God. Atheists though pass their beliefs off as fact, and are bigoted towards anyone that opposes them. Until they change that facet of their belief, they will lack believability.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:55 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        1500 years of torture and coercion say otherwise.

        July 31, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • Gadflie

        Sam, Christianity has a long history of harming or even killing those that don't share their beliefs. They also use the legal system to push their beliefs on others. Talk about credibility issues!

        July 31, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • joe

      Religion is a mental delusion. An evolutionary left over. It is slowly being evolved out of the gene pool.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • ssprince1

      I think the problem is WHAT's IN the bible: God said in the 400 yr old bible that you should sacrifice your son. He also said that women were third class citizens that could be treated like dirt. 8."Then God said: 'Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you'."(Genesis 22:2) "do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet." (1 Timothy 2:12)"; 2."Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses." (1 Samuel 15:3)10."Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse." (1 Peter 2:18)

      July 31, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • supermagicmusic007

      This article implies the that young people are "leaving Christian churches in droves." Maybe there are some sort of agenda driven stats to support that somewhere but it the opposite of what I'm seeing. I just started re-attending church after 38 years of not stepping foot in a church.. One of the two churches I've attended is expanding so rapidly it now has multiple services at 5 different campuses with the pastorat the main campus being televised to the other 4 campuses. And it's all growing, not shrinking.

      The other church I've attended (Nazarene) announced last Sunday an increase of over 100 members over the last year to the point they are crammed and must expand their building which begins in a couple of months. The entire front row there is filled only with college kids worshipping.

      And wasn't there an article in the national media a couple weeks ago about 200 new Christian churches starting up in Manhatten?

      And TBN is expanding their many Christian channels worldwide with millions tuning in, and accepting Christ.

      People need God and are hungry for Him. Maybe it's different elsewhere but this article doesn't jive at all with what I'm actually experiencing: Teens and college kids on fire for The Lord and breaking attendance records.

      If you don't believe, fine, many of my friends and family are non-believers.. But what sort of person dedicates their time or their life to destroying other's faith and hope? Only one fully given over to the service of Satan.

      This guy is implying Christianity is on the ropes when what is happening is his side getting desperate in their attempt to stop the rolling tide of ultimate truth: He lives, Glory Hallelujah He lives!

      July 31, 2013 at 9:20 am |
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About this blog

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