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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. red alert

    To acknowledge that we cannot fully comprehend the great truths of the Bible is only to admit that finite mind is inadequate to grasp the infinite; that man with limited human knowledge, cannot understand the purpose of Omniscience.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      To acknowledge that we cannot fully comprehend the great truths of the Harry Potter series is only to admit that finite mind is inadequate to grasp the infinite; that man with limited human knowledge, cannot understand the purpose of The Deathly Hallows.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Pete

      "we cannot fully comprehend the great truths of the Bible"

      The bible is made up of literary genre and folk tales, that is not truth.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • thomas

      to acknowlege that the writings of St Thomas got left out of the bible because his view of the possibility of having the same relationship with God that Jesus did threatened the hierarchical church and roman empire is to acknowledge that the Bible is not what you pretend it is

      July 31, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Sue Anne

      The authors of the Bible were men with equally "finite minds".
      Besides, it takes very little imagination to come up with a god that's bigger and more powerful than any other imagined god before him. It's like little kids saying "times infinity"

      July 31, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  2. guest

    For those who, along with teaching the love of Jesus the Christ, and study Bible prophecy, it is no surprise that many are leaving the congregations of Christianity. There are several points that the author has made that should be addressed, but to answer them all would require a book length post pointing out the various prophecies that tell of this time in the history of the world which points to the soon return of the Christ. It would point out the false church, it would point out the apostasy of protestant churches, it would address the falling away from faith, and it would teach how Satan makes sin so attractive and the pleasure of sin more desirable that the obedience to God. All this, and much more, is revealed in Bible prophecy.
    So much of the appeal of Christianity and the message of evangelical preaching is based on the euphoria of emotional highs which soon wears out and the people leave the church; the appeal of sin is greater because it satisfies the evil nature of man; unfortunately the people are not truly converted. True religion is not based on emotions.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Sue Anne

      Why do you assume that people are leaving in order to have a better opportunity to "sin"?

      Maybe they feel that the church is pressuring them to sin with it's various bigotries and political agendas, and that leaving will help them live better with their conscience?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • ed dugan

        You could be right although the catholic church has made a fortune on letting people know they can sin, sit in a little booth with a pedophile, and then mumble some mantra like a hail mary and it all goes away. If that wasn't enough they invented purgatory in case you couldn't understand their gibberish.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Tell you what – the day I see a 7 headed dragon that spews torrents of water snacking on a pregnant woman, as prophesied in Revelation, is the day I drop to my knees and beg Jesus for forgiveness.
      Swarms of armour clad, crown wearing locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion would also suffice.

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

      The Church Organism, like all organisms needs nutrients in order to survive. The primary nutrient of the Church organism is money, therefore it must continue to recruit new followers who can continue the contribution of money. This is done by indoctrinating the young and the ignorant. The CO is very good at brainwashing, using different techniques that may vary with the specific CO and honed, in most cases by centuries of experience. The bottom line for believers: Watch your wallet, it contains a needed 'nutrient'.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  3. thomas

    GOD does exist because we create it!!!!!

    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

    God is whatever belief we choose

    that does not mean God created earth or there is a heaven you know.

    my imagination exists too and if any of you atheists suggest it does not, I will tell you a story about how God gave his only son and you will agree

    July 31, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  4. Clever Pseudonym

    I don't think you can reduce atheism to simply being a rejection of Christianity. It may have evolved from a need to seek an alternative to organized religion, but it is its own school of thought. Also, atheists can be found globally, not just where Christianity is the dominant religion. There's no need for churches to "win back the youth" – we aren't in some limbo stage – this is what we believe to be true.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  5. mchasewalker

    Thankfully, we are at a point where the greatest threat to fundamentalist christianity comes from those who claim to practice it.

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

      the only threat would be if Jesus was no resurrected and if there is not Holy Spirit. I happen to know otherwise. I have data and proof.

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

        Elaborate please.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
        • Sue Anne

          All he has is dreams and jottings. Come on, we've heard his speal a hundred times, and it doesn't get any more compelling. Why encourage him?

          July 31, 2013 at 9:39 am |
        • My God, it's full of stars

          Please don't.

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

          Austin
          yes i was at a co ed jail and the chicks wanted to have se.x. well I was fighting my flesh so I prayed about lust. one night i had four dreams. all of them had water in them. one of them, i was in a who.re house and up on the third floor there was nothing but a water spigot. i turned it on and left it running, went 2 floors down to the basement where all the women were naked and crawllng around. many different rooms.

          Austin
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          i had a dream that there was a beautiful tile patio with a whole chizzeled out, and there was a hiding place. a detatched arm reached down in the whole and pulled out a bag of gems. wrote it down at 4 am. the next day after lunch, i read 4 more chaters deeper in Jeremiah , i had never read the book of Jeremiah

          So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the LORD and went as far as Tahpanhes. 8 In Tahpanhes the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 9 "While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh's palace in Tahpanhes.

          a few weeks later i noticed all four dreams i worte had the water in them, so i did a word study on water.

          this was one proverb.

          15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. 20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?

          do you see? I had zero memory of this proverb. and my dream WAS about this proverb as i was praying about lust.

          and THAT, would have gone undetected had I not allready experienced major revelation spirit, and been writing them down.

          it got better, and better. 4 times, I handed someone a dream, pullijng it out of my file right

          ustin
          ok one of the jail mates that hated me in there the most and hated my testimony, he would throw trash on my bunk when i was gone and all, and he came back in and was cursing about loosing his money. and i said, hey scott, watch this, and i pulled a dream out of my file from 30 days earlier that he had last his money.

          when i got to jail, i woke up and told one of the kids next to me at that time who i knew, i just had a dream about a rattle snake and a viper and i said "just wait , something is going to happen, i know it" it went dow 30 minutes later to bible study, and the leader on the second verse said ( turn to prov 23:32)

          Who has woe?
          Who has sorrow?
          Who has contentions?
          Who has complaints?
          Who has wounds without cause?
          Who has redness of eyes?
          30 Those who linger long at the wine,
          Those who go in search of mixed wine.
          31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,
          When it sparkles in the cup,
          When it swirls around smoothly;
          32 At the last it bites like a serpent,
          And stings like a viper.
          33 Your eyes will see strange things,
          And your heart will utter perverse things.
          34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
          Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:
          35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt;
          They have beaten me, but I did not feel it.
          When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

          THAT NIGHT, after the book of Jeremiah, i had a dream i was being chased by a motorcycle gang,and the leader had a huge horn on his bike, he could not even sit down because the horn was right on his seat. they were a dirt head rebel gang. they were scraping their grill off with a mop handle with razor sharp fish gills duck taped to the mop, and they were eating meat that was so rotten it was blue.

          that day , I read into the book of lamentations. I had never read lamentations.
          17 The Lord has done what He purposed;
          He has fulfilled His word
          Which He commanded in days of old.
          He has thrown down and has not pitied,
          And He has caused an enemy to rejoice over you;
          He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.

          Austin
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          CHECK CHECK
          then some kids were taunting me. and they threw a huge roll ofT.P. at my privates from point blank range when i was de. ad asleep with the flu. I was really mad. they were laughing at me and saying "poor austin is trying to sleep"

          ok so i said to myself in my head, "i wonder if they have the light in their eyes" becasue i had been studying this pa.r.able.
          22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,c your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are unhealthy,d your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

          that NEXT MORNING, one of those kids, who is not versed in the bible, came up to me and said, "i had this dream last night that i was going around looking into peoples eyes to see if they had a special light to see if they were posessed or not.

          THAT IS THE SPIRIT, THAT WAS SUPERNATURAL

          July 31, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • Jim Jones

        > :I have data and proof."

        Congratulations on being the only person in recorded history with either.

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

          i can understand why you feel that way. i sat there thinking the same thing you all are thinking, where is the evidence?

          then the Holy Spirit gave it to me. can i ask you this, do you really think i had allready been writing my dreams down, for a few years at least, and then i get to jail and suddenly i have 8 visions and they involve other people, right before them, that this was no exactly how God works?

          You deserve HIs spirit too. He wants to give you your own proof. maybe he wont do it on a television, he does it in your heart.

          take the evil image out of your heart and mind. and Let the living God be your ligth. you are a receiver.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        Austin: Oh crazy hypocritical one, you use the word supernatural like it means evidence is shown. Have you ever used a dictionary???
        Let m help you out a little:
        "of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal. "

        See crazy one, your dreams and so-called experiences are not real!! Now please get some mental health help, you're sounding as crazy as Andrea Yates and probably just as dangerous-oh wait, we already know you are-you got behind the wheel of 3000 pounds of metal while stupidly drunk and put peoples lives at risk...sounds like a danger to society to me.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Your prophetic visions of feline slaughter don't quality as objective evidence.
      Your "proof" is supernatural and that not subject to rational an.alysis.
      Why not docu/ment your dreams online as they occur? Then if/when they come true, you can show some kind of photographic evidence, corroborating testimony, etc.

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

        doc, this has ALLREADY BEEN DONE

        the snake dream, i woke up and wrote it down in front of Travis munden, talking to him i said, something will happen this is a vision. AND IT DID HAPPEN

        scott stayburger was like yall, and he threw trash all over me, and one day he lost his money, and when i found out, right then and there i pulled out a dream from a month ago that he lost his money. in jail.

        and then Sheldon Clay brought me a blue print, two days earlier i wrote the blueprint down in my dream, in words not picture, and i pulled it out right in front of him.

        and then also Danny Mahon and his cousin Shawn, were in for interstated trafficing 5 pounds of weed, and this unversed kid came up to me and had dreamed the parable that i had judged them with, mentally, not vocally, . the light in their eyes.

        it just went on and on and on. It was completely other worldly.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:59 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          You need mental health help and an education!

          July 31, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • tallulah13

        The sad part is that I think that Austin actually believes that he has a god-given gift. I bet he thinks that he's being persecuted for his faith because no one believes in his vague, rambling and rather useless prophecies.

        I wonder how many of his friends in real life are laughing at him behind his back instead of trying to get him help. Sad.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  6. thomas

    your school maybe, not mine

    July 31, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  7. Roger that

    "Hitchens' Third Law.”

    Nice.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  8. paulmm82

    As a self described "heretical" Christian Deist I find the idea that Atheism is the only choice outside of organized religion to be so silly. They will attack religion for lack of reason and logic while holding a religious belief based on even more flawed reason and logic, that the Creator does not exist. Lack of evidence is not evidence one way or the other, to say your belief has more validity or is more logical based on the sane thought process as your ideological opponoent the only difference being you chose "door #2" or "the glass looks half full" to you.
    Stop being arrogant and thinking you have all the answers and open your mind. There are some things human beings are not able to comprehend as individuals and may never meant to be. By saying you know there is not God, you are applying powers of knowledge and reasoning that you do not have and place human beings in the same place that traditional Judeo-Christian teaching places them, at the center of the universe as the greatest of all flesh and blood beings.
    Give up your arrogance.

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

      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 9:32 am |
      • paulmm82

        I suggest you read Plato's Republic. The idea of one creator is not in any way primitive, nor is it exclusive to Christianity and Christians, in fact Hinduism also believes in one creator, with all it's gods merely the many faces and tools god uses to carry out its will, in fact a higher philosophical order in Hinduism openly acknowledges that the many gods are just descriptions used to describe one being that cannot be comprehended by human consciousness.

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

      Yea okay, not believing in a creator is a religious belief, just like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

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

      Walt – I'm a self-described atheist and "claiming to have all the answers" is PRECISELY the one thing I don't and cannot do.

      I'm a non-believer simply because I was raised in Christian schools by a Christian mother and after a decade or two of listening to the claims of churches and holy books (which certainly DO claim to have answers which it should be self-evident they have no way of knowing), I found the evidence for these claims to be terribly lacking. That does not mean I express complete certainty about anything, including the possibility of an intelligent prime mover or some kind of deity, it just means that the 'evidence' touted by the religions I see reveals itself as absurd and self-contradictory on its own terms, and therefore I withhold "belief" until something better is presented. This is basic epistemology – perhaps best summarized by the phrase popularized by Carl Sagan: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". The claims of Christianity are certainly extraordinary – at best.

      Meanwhile, cultural anthropology and other types of science have been doing a very plausible job of explaining why people do believe (Pascal Boyer et al).

      At this point you will usually beg a semantic discussion and say I'm an agnostic, not an atheist. The two are not mutually exclusive, and you can be an agnostic atheist as well as an agnostic theist, the former word describing merely the extent to which you hold doubt about your positions. I cannot disprove the existence of fairies in my back garden, which hide when I try to observe them – this makes me technically agnostic about them but it also gives me no good reason to believe they exist, or to act as though they do, or might. The same applies to the Christian deity and all the thousands of others which have run through human history. This is Bertrand Russel's teapot discussion, which you might acquaint yourself with.

      Christianity claims to know not only that there is a creator of the universe, it also, by and large, claims to know its historicity (OT) and its mind and desires, the moral edicts it espouses or demands (currently especially hot on matters of who can get married and who may have an abortion or use contraception), and will rain down threats and condemnation on anyone who disagrees. Most galling, these same claims are the result of a billions-of-dollars funded political movement which is currently passing US state and federal laws daily, based on religious certainty about the nature of this deity (and, of course, they have the correct deity, here in America, as in Iran and Afghanistan and everywhere else that religious certainty pops up). Who's the arrogant one?

      Nevertheless, I don't expect the religious in America to stop calling ME arrogant any time soon.

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

        Should have address that comment to paulmm82, not walt.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'They will attack religion for lack of reason and logic while holding a religious belief based on even more flawed reason and logic, that the Creator does not exist. '

      How is it a religious belief?
      what makes a disbelief in a god 'flawed reason and logic'?

      July 31, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  9. Dirk the Daring

    The number of fedora wearing neckbeards on this comment section is too high. Why do atheists think wearing a fedora, being overweight and having a neckbeard is a good fashion? Also add in a smug sense of self importance.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • mk

      Riiiiiight, because there is no self-importance in thinking that your religion is the right religion, your god is the one and only god, and your book is the only book that has scientific and historical facts. Don't get me started on the self-important Pat Robertsons of the world.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • Dirk the Daring

        Haha...you're assuming I am a Christian. You need to check you bias, actually I am agnostic, but I find atheists to be just about as annoying as the fundamentalist Christians.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • mk

          I didn't assume anything about you Dirk. There you go again, being all self-important. I was simply responding to your comment that atheists are self-important.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  10. baelknight

    "God" is a label to whatever we don't currently understand that can destroy us.

    Religion is a tool used to control people through fear of this unknown. Fear of punishment. Religion is a tool used to make sheep of humans. To have them follow you. To have them give you worldly wealth.

    Religion is poisonous to the advancement of mankind.

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

      Have to disagree. Religion, in general, is not primarily about punishment. As a moral compass, it's not more different than what we see in the real world everyday. You do good things, you get ahead, you do bad things and there are consequences.

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

        @rapierPoint -> sure it provides a moral compass, but in my opinion if you need religion to impose a moral compass then that person really has no morals to begin with.

        Also to the good things you get ahead, bad things you don't, I think that's how it should be... however speaking for just the primary north american religion... not only are you required to do good things but you are required to believe in that particular religious theory or else you are punished with an eternity of hell. (I can't think of another way to describe the concept of flinging a being into a fiery pit where they will be tormented and abused for eternity as anything but)

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

          Fear of that punishment is what keeps many people "in line".

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

          So you are saying that mankind is inherently moral? That's it's part of our genetic makeup or something? Guess we don't need laws or philosophies either. Just where do you think people learn to "do the right thing" or follow the law, etc. It's from religions, philosophies, social adaptation. There a lot of tools in the toolbox that can accomplish the job. I wouldn't turn my nose up a one simply because I don't personally tend to like it. If it works for some, then more power to them.

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

          Religion does not make one moral. Fear of going to hell keeps people in line. That is not morals. That is fear of punishment making you fall in line.

          One does not need religion to be a moral person that does the right thing.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • rapierpoint

          you are assuming that fear of punishment is the only thing that keeps mankind in line. Period. I don't agree. You also assume, falsely, that I'm claiming people "need" a religion. I never said anything of the sort. You have quite a few misconceptions about religion in general it appears. While there are those "hellfire and damnation" religions, there are quite a few that aren't anything of the sort. Yet you seen to broadbrush them all with the same disdain.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • mk

      Riiiiiight, because there is no self-importance in thinking that your religion is the right religion, your god is the one and only god, and your book is the only book that has scientific and historical facts. Don't get me started on the self-important Pat Robertsons of the world.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:38 am |
      • mk

        Oops, meant to post that up above.

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

      It all comes down to money, the primary nutrient of the Church Organism (CO). Each religion can be considered a different specie of the CO, each must brainwash and indoctrinate its followers/victims to feed it this key nutrient. Thus the young and the ignorant fall prey to the CO as they are the easiest to brainwash. Once the religion related neural networks are established in a victim's brain it is difficult to deprogram that person's belief though not impossible. Also self-deprogramming can also happen. I was fortunate to have learned the concept of brainwashing at the age of 10 in 1952 because of the brainwashing of US POWs in the Korean War raging at that time. I realized I was being subjected to brainwashing at Sunday school and put up a mental resistance to religion ever since. Thus I remain a religion free person and have lead a very good and productive life.

      August 1, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  11. weasel1613

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ma8X-mU4yMA

    July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  12. Tim

    As I read the comments form the atheist, I do buy the hate of God and the intolerance of people of religion. For one thing, Jesus religion would have fallen apart under Roman rule and in fact the pulling of skin off their feet while still alive. Fear of daily death because the Roman government would just kill you for your belief that your God is bigger than Caesar. To this day, Christianity has always had its vast amount persecutors. To say that Christians are haters I know that for a fact they are not. They do dislike sin like an ice cube on a hot day, but hate people they do not. Jesus is well and alive and for me I have been given many miracles in my life, nothing about money, kids or wife, but a sudden cure from depression, great peace during difficult times and great understanding of being loved by God.

    Back to my original point maybe this is why early Christians marched to their violent public death. They truly understood the love of Christ and willing to die for that love, oh and they saw the miracles, the resurrection of Jesus, and their gifts from the Holy Spirit after his ascension into Heaven of speaking/understanding different languages and many people were converted. Stupid people don't march to their deaths and proclaim their beliefs.

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

      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 that they are short bus riders.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:26 am |
      • Joe2

        Kind of like you are doing with an opinionated response like this? Are athiests the only individuals with the powers of thought and reason? If so...who says?

        July 31, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Misotheism and atheism are completely different. By the way, 400-2013 CE, who was the largest group of persecutors on the planet? I'd say it's a tie between Christianity and Islam.

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

        I disagree in the last century communism has killed over 50 million people out side of wartime to is own people.

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

          Well, that doesn't equal to the Islamic conquests. Also, persecution isn't limited to murder. Billions have been persecuted by Christian and Islamic regimes.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:46 am |
        • tallulah13

          Atheists generally don't kill in the name of atheism. They have killed in the name of their political systems, certainly, and for their own vanity, but I have not heard of any who have used their lack of belief in any god as an excuse to wipe out entire populations. That honor goes to believers.

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

          Communism is not a form of religion. It is statism. I think it is disingenuous to equate the non-belief in God to communism. I am a libertarian, I think people should live their lives and suffer the consequence of their choices. How does this make me a communist?

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

          Tim: you need to read Fox's Book of Martyrs.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:13 am |
      • rapierpoint

        Seems to me that, in this day and age, one of the larger groups of persecutors are atheists. It's funny that some feel themselves so advanced in thinking because they are atheists, yet seem to subscribe to "an eye for an eye". Some wail and moan about the persecution at the hands of those of religious faith while persecuting them in the same breath. To be fair, those of religion have been known to do the same thing. It's really interesting how the "faithful" and the atheists really are quite similar.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • tallulah13

          Your problem is that you see disagreement as persecution. Religion has been allowed to dominate cultures for centuries, but that has changed. In free societies non-believers are now allowed to defend ourselves. What you see as persecution is actually people speaking out against institutionalized oppression.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • rapierpoint

          tallulah13

          I'm not talking about disagreement. I'm talking about the bullying and ridicule that some atheists seem to find a perverse joy in when talking about those of religion. But, I guess bullying and ridicule isn't considered persecution by some people.

          No, there are a lot of similarities between the stereotypical atheist and religious person. They tend to persecute and be hypocritical.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • tallulah13

          So are atheists beating you up and shoving you into lockers? Are they spray painting or peeing on your stuff? Or are they verbally telling you that your beliefs are outdated and without any basis in reality, and sometimes not being nice about it? You really are a delicate little petal if you can't take an extremely light version of what christians have been dishing out for centuries.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • tallulah13

          "I guess bullying and ridicule isn't considered persecution by some people."

          If you think that being called names by anonymous people on the internet is "bullying and ridicule", then you have probably not suffered real bullying and ridicule.

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

          tallulah13

          Never said anything of the sort. But to be fair, it's not limited to the anonymity of these comment boards. You can go out and see it everyday, in public, at schools, etc. No matter how you slice it, bullying and ridicule is still persecution. You, yourself, are doing just that here. But you satisfy yourself by saying, "well, mine isn't as bad, or as intense, so it's ok".

          July 31, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'You, yourself, are doing just that here'

          sorry but posting on a forum is not in any way persecution.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • guest

        Dave: if you were a student of Bible prophecy you would find that you are very correct and there is more sever persecution of true Christianity and nonbelievers to come via the same people, i.e. Catholicism, apostate Protestantism and Islam, even the threat of death if you don’t join them. (To avoid the persecution, many nonbelievers will join them.)

        July 31, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Sue Anne

      Not all, but many Christians will tell you that you must be a bad person if you are gay, an atheist, or a member of another faith. Not all are so pig-headded as this, but a very vocal subset are trapped in the mindset that following Jesus (their way) is the only way to live a moral life, and everyone else simply must be bad people by default, and thus deserving of eternal torture.

      I don't know about you, but doing that to people isn't exactly a sign of "love", now is it? Personally, I wouldn't wish a hangnail onto the people I disagree with.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • rapierpoint

        Sort of like the very vocal subset of atheists that are pig-headed enough and trapped in the mindset that believing in nothing is the only way to go and that someone else does believe in something is a bad person and must be cast out.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • tallulah13

          I find if funny when christians complain about being treated the way they have, for centuries, treated others. At least you don't have to worry about being burned alive for heresy, rapier. All you have to deal with are words and logical refutations of your belief system. (Though I can see how those logical refutations might be the scariest thing of all for someone whose entire belief system is based on ancient myths which are unsupported by actual evidence.)

          July 31, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • Tim

        The same is as an atheists says about a Christian, life is a journey to learn to became better people. why does my journey offend. Because people choice to live within guidelines, or that people ask you to drink my cool aid.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • edward

      I always hear this argument, that people march to their death therefore somehow the belief in Jesus is true. Why do you think 9/11 happened? Because people think there beliefs are true? Why did Waco happen? Why did Jonestown happen? Why do monks set them selves on fire? Why did Kamikazes do what they did? People die for causes ALL the time. Usually for patriotism or religious belief. Both patriotism and religion are tools of control.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • Tim

        Sorry I don't see your point of Christians doing honor killings also during inquisition the church was not doing honor killings. Also, the Church during the war between Islam the "crusades" never killed as many people as communism. 50 million people would have been 25% of the worlds population at the time. Atheists believers have killed many more outside of war.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  13. Kyle Dasan

    Whenever someone asks if I believe in God, or why I don't, my response has always been, "Which God are you referring to?"
    Inevitably, I always get the response of "There's only one God." That's a fallacy. Why is your God "the only one", and other "Gods" such as Odin, Zeus, Jupiter, Shango, Anibus, the Coyote God, and all others myths? When that question can irrefutably be answered, then I will believe. After all, that's what Atheists really want. Proof.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Kevin H

      I wish that you were correct that Atheists really want proof. From talking with atheists I know, most don't care a whit about proof. What they want is to have other people acknowledge that they are right. Which is why I find most atheists just as annoying as evangelical christians. Both are out there pushing their belief systems with little regard to the thoughts and feelings of other people. They just want other people to validate them by agreeing with them.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:41 am |
      • Kevin

        I couldnt agree more. Billboards promoting atheism is no different than mormons knocking on your door and pro life billboards littering the highway. I am an atheist becuase i dont believe in god or organized religion. These athiest groups are just becoming organized religions themselves (just on the opposite end of the spectrum). Bottom line is that pushing beliefs is wrong from any side.

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

          I disagree. Once we get passed unfounded beliefs what ever is left to be true has to be true for good reason. Those who are religious generally tend to disagree with good science, like evolution, stem cell research, climate change. One book (the bible) is literally correct and nothing else could possibly be correct.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  14. deklen

    ggg

    July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  15. ssprince1

    What is IN the bible is the problem and that they copied/translated from Pagan Gods that were written way before the Christian bible was written. (God of Sun, talk about a bad translation!) 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 9:21 am |
  16. thomas

    ...maybe it's true, maybe false - don't expect us to know what happened so far and long ago...

    not being able to explain it though does not mean stories about God are correct.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  17. Cheri

    I totally disagree that the scientific explanation of how the earth was created devours the religious one. It takes more faith to believe that the world just happened to evolve slowly over time than it does to believe that The Creator made the world according to His perfect design. Look at the eye or even how life begins. How can this be happenstance?

    July 31, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Darwin himself had this to say about the development of the eye:
      "To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.
      Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real."

      July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • cedar rapids

        believers usually only post the first paragraph and claim it as proof of Darwin's doubt.

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

      No, it doesnt take more faith. Science has the evidence, thats why faith is not required. Religion has no evidence, thats why faith is required.

      And how about instead of remaining ignorant on evolution, you actually read a book about it. The eye evolved over thousands of years through countless numbers of species. Why do newts have eyes, but are blind? Why do whales have vestigial leg bones? Becaus of evolution. Read a book and stop embaressing yourself and your religion.

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

      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 that they are short bus riders.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Ken

      There's actual evidence for the Earth being billions of years old, and for life evolving. Religion claims otherwise, that some magical being created everything at once not so very long ago, and there is zero evidence to support any of its other supernatural claims. Accepting the facts that science has and is discovering requires only that one be rational enough to accept the truth when they see it. Only religion of the two requires faith.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Felix Sinclair

      You seem to confuse faith with ignorance. Perfect? Natural disasters, disease, birth defects, a universe that is currently almost entirely uninhabitable? How hard do you have to squint when you look around to see perfection in this?

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

      Cheri – "happenstance" is precisely what the evolutionary explanation for the current species we see (and their distribution) does NOT describe, and Ray Comfort's "it takes more faith..." argument has grown very old.

      With due respect, it takes a willful misrepresentation of natural selection to make these arguments (hint: it's the opposite of random, and no faith is involved), and your comments betray the fact that your knowledge of the biology involved is coming from religious arguments. If you take the time to read, for example, Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins' books (I don't mean the God Delusion – I mean, for example, his book The Greatest Show on Earth about the evidence for evolution, or his early books The Selfish Gene or The Blind Watchmaker), then you would at least understand what evolutionary theory says, and why "chance" or "it takes more faith" are arguments from personal incredulity and/or ignorance of the subject matter.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'It takes more faith to believe that the world just happened to evolve slowly over time than it does to believe that The Creator made the world according to His perfect design'

      How does it take more faith to say its a natural process than to believe that it was all done by magic?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  18. Steph's Pineapple

    I am a Christian through & through. And Mark Driscoll is an a**hole.

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

      judging by what you just wrote, i totally believe you

      July 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • Steph's Pineapple

        Thank you.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • devin

      I'll go out on a limb here and say, a "through and through" christian may not want to direct that kind language to another believer. Capish?

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

      That's super-christian of you.

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

      a testament to your faith

      July 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  19. joe

    Me be, CNN is just tryin to learn you some in?

    I mean if it takes you your whole life to read and study one book, we're talkin short bus material.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  20. popseal

    Human arrogance is offended by the cross of Christ that shouts man's inability to save himself. The empty tomb declares the regenerating resurrection life given to the repentant soul, Spiritual death hates it when that happens. As America's pop culture morons spin down into the modernist toilet, its nihilistic members wonder , "What the Hell happened to us?"

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

      Yea, it sucks how so many prefer reality to your chosen myth.

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

      I'm sure the Catholic Inquisition thought the same thing when Galileo and DaVinci came along, but Europe managed to cast aside all of that rubbish and start a new Renaissance age. The same will happen now when we figure out: (1) Like any pregnant 14yo girl, the first story is "I don't know how this happened–I'm still a virgin!". (2) There was no resurrection–just came out of a coma after 3 days. (3) The "miracles" did not get written down until after 400 years. What happens when you tell people about a fish you caught? It gets bigger every time you tell the story. And this is a big fish tale for sure. In fairness, Jesus was a brilliant philosopher and should be respected as such, but not a deity. I'm sure plenty of folks thought Merlin was a deity too (and Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, etc.) and how did that all turn out?

      July 31, 2013 at 9:31 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.