home
RSS
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. ROCKWOOD

    I'm a firm believer in some type of supreme being, who I choose to call God. For me personally, I don't believe Atheists have that type of power. I've never found a church that I feel comfortable in. At first I might feel comfortable, but then when judgement and absolute persecution of anything that confronts the churches ideals, I'm out of there. The church has pushed people away by their doctrine. Instead of embracing those who are perceived as different they are banished.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      I think the 'God' concept is born from mankind's lack of omnipotent knowledge, mixed with the innate feeling of being 'one' with something greater than ourselves. The universe.

      The realization of knowing we're part of a bigger picture, but needing to have an explanation for everything gives birth to 'God'. 'God' can explain everything, 'God made everything', and to ultimately "God IS everything' Once the 'God' concept has been introduced, it's incredibly difficult for the average person to shake it. My brain goes in loops about the concept, and I believe others find themselves in the same loop. Maybe oneday, 'God' could be defined as some kind of innate imaginative Pandora's Box that if stumbled upon and opened, cause this malware effect to normal brain thought.

      Idk...... maybe it's just my crazy- a_s_s.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Find a Unitarian church near you – I think you may be surprised.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  2. modmom2010

    God not creating Lucifer/Satan/sin = no death.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Besomyka

      Why? The first two things aren't real, but even if they were I don't see that it follows that death is a necessary consequence. It doesn't seem to be related at all, really. Death with satan, or death without... both would be coherent.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • cedar rapids

      then wouldnt that just make the same environment as heaven, and thats a bad thing?

      July 31, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • modmom2010

        I hate Word Press. That comment was in reply to someone and not a stand alone one.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Susan

    I do love when they paint Christianity with broad strokes. Quite frankly, I'm sick of the ignorance. In my Christian denomination, Episcopalian, we marry SS couples, we aren't anti-science, etc. We do all those things that atheists love except we believe in God, but we're lumped in with the extreme Westboro-types who don't represent the whole of Christianity by any stretch. But sure, if you're going to give credit to atheists for the Millennials, then they can own all the BAD stuff that comes with this generation as well. And for future articles please do me a favor: Beat up on the Jews or the Muslims for a while. I'm sick of having to correct the ignorant and blatantly rude.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Pest

      Did you actually read the article? He is saying that the fundamental theology is the reason many people leave, not just the intolerance and bigotry of the religious. It's nice to know that you're fine with attacking religions other than your own though. Maybe you're not so different from the Christians you attempt to distance yourself from.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • Mark from Middle River

        There are Atheist who act more like the Westburo type of Christians. Often their post sound like edited 700 Club transcripts.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  4. Toby Ellis

    Can one of you ignorant Athiests tell me where we came from? There has NEVER been any proof of us being derived from Science. What is the proof? There aren't any fossils that prove the "theory" of evolution...where is the half-man half-fish fossils and everything in-between? The fact is...God is real and he gave his Son to forgive all of our sins and give us everlasting life. There is still time for the ignorant to repent and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You can be the best person on the planet and you will burn in hell for not believing in or accepting Jesus Christ. Gob bless you all...you are in my daily prayers.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Derived from Science? Who said we derived from Science foolish one? We evolved, which is called Evolution. I suggest you look into it, especially since new fossilized remains have been found in Africa pointing to human existence over 10 million years ago.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Angry Marine

        Evolved from what?

        July 31, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • XDReTarT

      Theres plenty of skeletal structures that differ among humans from that past to the present, that prove evolution over time. Those are your "fossils".

      Now prove your sky fairy exists.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Pest

      Even if you ignore the actual evidence supporting evolution (you know, the kind that you do not have to support your theological claims), then you still have no justification for expecting us to tell you where we came from. Your argument is an appeal to ignorance. You having a an answer doesn't automatically mean it's the correct answer. My not having an answer would not mean that your answer is correct by default.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • bgtinc

      There are many plausible theories as to where we came from, how we developed. The myth of Adam and Eve, to name but one of many myths, isn't one of them.

      I may not believe in your rendition of what God is, but I certainly believe in hell: reading posts such as yours.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There are plenty of transitional fossils.
      For an example of how life began to move from the sea onto land, do a little research into Tiktaalik.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Baldie

      Do you have any idea how ignorant you sound? The answer is simple for the athiest: we don't know. We may one day know, we may never know. That's the rational answer in light of a lack of evidence. And yet, you have the exact same lack of evidence but instead of admitting you don't know, believe it is basically fairy tale magic. The cognitive dissonance is stunning.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Theories can't be prove FALSE

      I think you aren't looking at things, you are just calling people ignorant and insulting them simply for believing things you do not. That is prejudice. I think you have the idea of a theory backwards. A theory is a theory because it cannot be disproven. Also, when tested, the results are predictable based on the theory. The theory of evolution is nothing like you are presenting it. Half man half beast creatures are in the bible, so I guess you don't believe in the bible either, but they aren't real and they also don't fit the theory of evolution either, which is more evidence that the theory of evolution is correct. If anything, religion is a theory just like evolution. It is an explanation that cannot be disproven. That is where science and religion differ. Science actually tries to disprove theories, that's the whole point of scientific research. If you can disprove something, then you can LEARN from it and it gives a clearer look into what CAN be proven. Religion does the exact opposite. It shuts out any and all new information that may contradict an already held belief. That way of thinking does nothing but hinder progress.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • noone

      "half-man half-fish fossils" really? Do you even understand how evolution works in the slightest?

      July 31, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • dave

      Okay, since your logic is that we *must* have come from *somewhere* = there must be a god(s), then where did your *god* come from? Does you god then have a god to explain his/her/its existence? And by the way, which god of the people of Earth is the *true* god, or do they all exist?

      July 31, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Can one of you ignorant Athiests tell me where we came from? There has NEVER been any proof of us being derived from Science. What is the proof? There aren't any fossils that prove the "theory" of evolution...where is the half-man half-fish fossils and everything in-between?'

      If you believe that evolution suggests a possible 'half-man half-fish' fossil then it isnt the atheists that are ignorant.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  5. Believer

    It looks like there will be a lot of room in Heaven for those who know how to get there. Think about it, eternity is a long time. Trust in Jesus and His teachings, not man. Man, whether Christian or not, is full of faults by the nature of being humans.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Pest

      Looks like more baseless assertions from someone with a really low standard of proof (at least with regard to one of thousands of gods man has worshiped throughout history).

      July 31, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • noone

        What? Cherry picked ancient myths aren't enough proof for you?

        July 31, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • joeynew11

      great argument, you should believe in a fairy tail told to keep people in line because if you don't you will go to hell (which so happens to be a part of the same story told to keep people in line). Why don't you just use your own logic and make decisions based on mutual interest in progressing humanity as a whole.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Perhaps you'll miss out on Valhalla becuase you won't die gloriously in battle.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      "Think about it, eternity is a long time. "

      No – eternity is illogical. Infinity is only a mathematical concept, nothing in reality is infinite (not even stupidity).

      July 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      why? whats the point? what actually is the point of heaven, and an eternity to boot.

      I mean at least the norse had a reason for their afterlife.....to get heroes together for the final battle....but what is the point of the christian heaven?....oh we sit and praise god for eternity.......and?

      July 31, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  6. Johm

    I grew up Methodist and had a Catholic education. I have witnessed the anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-science comments and actions. My favorite example is a girl in a college evolution/anatomy class who raised her hand to correct the professor about twice a class. I now no longer feel comfortable in the church I grew up in or around those I used to be close friends with (who are now what some would call Jesus-freaks). I used to at least enjoy discussing religion academically, but even that has become tried and boring these days.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  7. kgavranovic

    You know...Articles like upset me. I am a Christian and some Christians upset me.

    Their is no proof of God. It's a belief. You can't intellectually wrap your mind around it. If I have a friend who wants to have the logic argument, I ask so explain how everything came from nothing?

    You believe or you don't. You are open minded or you are not. You make the world and it's people better or not.

    I like church and I will invite my friends. Will I argue they need to convert? No. Thats for them to decide.

    I really wish people would stop pushing their belief. You can introduce them to your thoughts, but let them decide.

    At the end of the day..whether you are atheist or no...It's what you do, not what you say.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Toby Ellis

      Getting to Heaven has nothing to do with "what you do" as you suggest. Jesus died for you, he gave his life so you could be forgiven by God for your sins and be accepted into Heaven. You cannot go to Heaven for good works like the Catholic church believes. You must accept Jesus Christ into your life and admit you are a sinner. There is no other way.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Besomyka

        That the truth of the message of the gospels is so clear is why there are some 40,000 denominations. That's about one disagreement about the meaning of some bit of the bible for every 20 words in it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

        Clear like a mudslide. How do people take this seriously?

        July 31, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • cedar rapids

        'Jesus died for you, he gave his life so you could be forgiven by God for your sins and be accepted into Heaven'

        which means what EXACTLY? how did he give his life to save us? especially as he was up and about 3 days later, thats hardly a sacrifice. And wasnt it just a case of god 'sacrificing' himself to save us from himself? how the heck does that nonsense work?

        July 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • rockystar

      This is a blog piece not an article. Its full of opinion.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • noone

      There are actually some really good explanations from quantum physicists as to how something can come from nothing. Are we sure they're 100% correct? No. But they sure make a lot more sense than The Big Man in The Sky Theory.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        From what I understand of modern physics – there really isn't a "nothing". It is another math concept that does not apply to the real world (like infinity).

        July 31, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  8. KTShamim

    God is not enough (He needs a son God forbid)

    versus

    We don't need God

    Foolish people don't understand that we certainly need God and He certainly does not need a son.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  9. C Murdock

    The problem with atheism is that it doesn't offer up anything better than the religions they are tearing down. Like Republicans, who have become nay-sayers without having any solutions of their own, all that atheists can offer is the cold, hard 'reality' that you are REALLY GOING TO DIE when you die. Another part of the problem is that people who are religious are not curious. They want their religion handed to them in sound bites, and they want their religion full of mystery and mysticism. Well, there ARE alternatives, and the alternatives come from 'New Age' sources, mostly from psychics. My religious views are based on the Seth Material, which was given to us by the psychic Jane Roberts. The Seth Material answers all the questions about who God is and what our position in the universe is. But the Seth books are very long and dense, and people don't want to take the time to read them.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Like Republicans, .....handed to them in sound bites,

      Yeah, not like the Democrats who believe that we can just keep spending and spending like there is no tomorrow.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • C Murdock

        The last president who balanced the budget was Bill Clinton. And the defiicit that he erased was the one given to us by Ronald Reagan.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      I for one will take cold hard reality over a comforting lie every time.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • C Murdock

        Yes, but you don't know if it's a lie. That's just YOUR opinion. The thing that galls me about atheists is that they have the nerve to call everything that everyone believes a lie, when in fact they don't know what the truth is either.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • ksb

          Ok, we don't KNOW its a lie.

          WHat we DO know, is that there are no facts supporting it, no evidence, no nothing. There is every bit as much evidence supporting the existance of Zeus and Thor as gods, as there is that Jesus was (is?) god. Without any evidence, your story is no more than a hypothesis.

          All scientific progress has been made by making hypotheses then looking for evidence to support or debunk said hypotheses. If most evidence supports it, the hypothesis becomes a theory. If no evidence can be found to support a hypothesis, it is abandonned (or put on the shelf until supporting or contravening evidence is found). It is not believed. Your story of god is a nice story with no evidence to support or deny it. THat makes it an interesting story – just not one anyone should believe in.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          C murdock
          Do you believe in the story of Adam and Eve, and Noah's Ark?
          Genetics has disproven both, and various other sciences disprove Noah's Ark.
          If you believe in those myths, then you DO believe in a lie.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Jake

    It's a bit arrogant to claim sole reason as to why folks are leaving Christianity...after all if atheist were so effective why is membership to Islam on the rise? From this article it would seem to me that Mr. Mehta is claiming athiesm is just anti-Christian (because all the examples he illustrated in comparisson to athiesm was with Christianity). Using internet usage is not the best comparrison, since anyone can be anybody on the internet. Additionally, let's not forget the largest growing community with regards to religion (or lack of) is not atheism...it's agnostics. I consider myself agnostic and question many religions to the point where I sound atheist...but it doesn't mean I don't believe in any omnipotent being or even a higher-form of being at all. I just don't think I know enough to make that final conclusion regardless of how logical I make my arguments. Making a final decision based on sheer strong feelings and validating your own logic is not knowledge it's arrogance. An atheist is not different than a hardline fundamentalist-they both believe they're right-even though they have zero proof.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • C Murdock

      I suggest you look at the Seth Material. It has so much information in it that it is a complete theology unto itself (and it is modern). Of the ancient religions, the one which is most logical is Buddhism. The question is, are you really curious about religion? If you were, you would be willing to investigate other sources, such as pychic sources. If you can't be bothered to pick up a book to find some answers, maybe you really are an atheist.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • Mark from Middle River

        I suggest you look at the Seth Material. It has so much information....

        Are you ready to look at all of other pro-religion books? From Christian to Muslim to even Wiccan. It is a weak argument to state on a blog that unless a person read this article or this book then they are not open to questioning their beliefs or view. Both sides have truck loads of books and enough digital articles to make a kindle explode. Should a person be required to read all or any of the other sides material?

        July 31, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        You may find it interesting that atheists DO NOT BELIEVE IN PSYCHICS!

        The supernatural is the supernatural, and your belief in psychics is just as ridiculous as believing in an afterlife.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • C Murdock

          Atheists don't investigate the things that they don't believe in. If you were very familiar with psychic phenomena, you would believe that SOMETHING is going on. It isn't all made-up stuff. There's plenty of evidence that psychic phenomena is real.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • C Murdock

          As for the after-life, near-death experiences are common and can't be explained away. If you can explain them away, it means that you haven't really investigated them.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • uos_spo6

          Yes, and the internet works through magic!

          July 31, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          NDEs have straight forward medical explanations. If psychics were real, James Randy would be out a million dollars. The paranormal has been investigated and that is why it is called "paranormal". You are just as deluded as any other "believer", and that is another reason why we (atheists) have come out of the closet, because this "New Age" BS is just as smelly.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Cronus

      You are absolutely correct, the religious sleeping giant is Islam, a more anti-gay, anti-women anti freedom faith that atheists foolishly ignore or not confront. Most atheist openly criticize Christianity while they refrain from critizing Islam. Cartoonists lambast Christ while they they dare not say anything about the prophet Mohammed in order not to offend Muslims. What hypocrisy. Such intellectual shabbiness shows one thing, the American Atheist movement is primarily composed of anti-christian bigots.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • cedar rapids

        76% of the US claim to be christians so of course christianity is going to be targetted more you fool.
        and personally i think islam is just as much bunk as christianity but i wont talk about islam being bunk to someone claiming to be a christian either, that would be pointless.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  11. Help Me God I'm Weak

    It's not just younger people that are leaving. I am 44 and all my friends don't believe in fairy tales forced on us since birth and haven't since the mid 80s. You can try to place blame but overall we won't believe in your super being overlords anymore. Religions are for weak minded fools who feel they need a god to tell them to do what is right, or those who want to be rewarded with an afterlife. Weakness is what religions thrive on, and of course brainwashing children by their parents and community.
    BOW!!!!
    YIELD!!!!!
    KNEEL!!!!
    AND GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, ERR UMM, I MEAN DONATIONS!!!!!!

    July 31, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • C Murdock

      The god described by Jane Roberts in the Seth Material isn't an overlord. I believe that Roberts gave us the truth about God and the afterlife. The most accessible books about the Seth Material are, first, the book by that name, and then Seth Speaks, and then The Nature of Personal Reality. Do yourself a favor and read them.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  12. bmkinz1510

    Where is the author getting his stats about millennials leaving the church? The only statement in his article that is correct is the one about Anti-Christian Godaphobes dominating the on-line blogs.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      This essay is in response to one a couple of days ago — page back thru the Belief Blog to find it — in which an evangelical Christian woman (Rachel Held Evans, author of "Biblical Womanhood: A Year of Living by the Book") tried to explain the same phenomenon from a religious perspective. Most of the underlying statistics were quoted there.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      "anti-christian godophobes". What exactly is that?
      For someone to be afraid of a god, they would first need to believe in a god. So an anti-christian godophobe would have to be someone who believes in god, but is against christianity. There are some of them around, but dominating the internet blogs?

      July 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    I suggest one possibility; there is a “Great Controversy” or war taking place between the finite and the infinite. On the finite side of this controversy or war you have the beings of Satan or Lucifer, fallen angels, and humankind being influenced by these finite beings. On the infinite side you have the infinite beings of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, unfallen angels, and humankind being influenced by these infinite beings. It is impossible for the finite to understand the infinite. And, just because something cannot be proven does not make it untrue. We, humankind, accept many things as true even though the vast majority of us have never seen them proven with our own eyes. Examples of things we accept are the words we read in science books and non-fiction literature, the Bible, the Quran, etc. We accept by faith the things we have read or otherwise learned about, and not witnessed firsthand or discovered for ourselves. If there truly is a controversy or war taking place between the two aforementioned sides, then those on either side must choose which side of the conflict they are willing to die believing in, because after all there is a war taking place. Those who die on the side of the infinite, die believing they go to a perfect place where there is perfect love and communion with their creator, and no pain, suffering, evil, etc., while those who die on the side of the finite go nowhere, because they believe only what can be proven. Which side of this war we choose to be on will greatly influence the choices we make, how we treat others, and how we choose to live our lives.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Suggest the possibility all you want, but until you show up with Shred #1 of actual evidence, you are just another smoke blower.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • only one side is fighting

      What war is this you speak of? The only war I see is one being waged by religion against people who are doing nothing more than simply stating their beliefs. Athiests don't care what religious people do/don't believe. I accept and respect your right to believe as you choose, even if it is different than mine because you have that basic right as a human being. With that in mind, don't talk down to the beliefs of athiests because they have the same earthly rights to believe or not, just the same as you do, so saying that there is a war going on is not only false, it shows a prejudice against the "other side" as you call them. We are all humans, so stop compartmentalizing your fellow humans based on what they choose to believe or not believe.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • cedar rapids

      why would a god create a system that was a constant war?

      July 31, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  14. isylumn

    Torn between the revelations of Atheism and the deceit of religion, I vented my fears into my Pazuzu Trilogy. The very core of the story – the reason it exists – is the question "What comes after God?" And my answer, "Well, the creatures in my sketchbooks couldn't possibly exist if there was some divine creator watching over his living clay sculptures." So, of course, now my own monsters live!

    July 31, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  15. denim

    This article is not looking at the real issue. The real issue is, what does religion offer anyone? What actual verifiable answers does it offer? So far, I've seen nothing other than tedious dogma and political power plays from any religion. Nothing useful, lots of drama and war, and lots of "bury our heads in the sand" instead of adjusting for reality. Otherwise, religion would have become science back at the end of the Dark Ages, which were largely caused by religion. And I'm not a millennial. Nor was I ever a Christian.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • bmkinz1510

      Christianity does not offer life's answers but only Hope!

      July 31, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • Doobs

        Hope for what?

        July 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Besomyka

      Well, it offers community and acceptance. It offers people a way to feel like they matter in a broad and fundamental way. Those things are real, but they can also be gained without wishful, magical thinking. You don't need to believe in myths to matter.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  16. Middleway14

    When you see the truth of reality, there is no turning back. It is like in The Matrix when Morpheus gives Neo the choice to choose the red pill or the blue pill. Choose the red pill and life can no longer be framed in such antiquated, simple, reductive terms. Or choose the blue pille and be blind to the truth, wallowing in self-gratifying, pacifying ignorance.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  17. tlsivart

    The biggest reason is just truth. The best way to find the truth is through the scientific method. We know enough now to unravel everything about religion – Christianity in particular. Life was spontaneous and evolved to this point. There was no garden of eden with man made out of clay. There was no original sin – therefore no reason for a christ to be sacrificed to save us. Knowledge is the biggest threat to Christianity – that is why they've always discouraged finding it.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  18. George

    The largest reason why atheists have any problem with religion, especially Christianity is because they unfounded fear that Christians politically swing laws and freedoms their way. Problem with that is there are many other special groups that do that, not just Christians.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • HITLER WAS A CHRISTIAN

      YEAH.... BUT 99% OF THE TIME IT'S LOUSY CHRISTIANS DOING IT

      July 31, 2013 at 11:10 am |
      • George

        You sound like a cry baby to me. Not to mention uneducated. Christians as a whole group are too diversed in their political leanings to control any more than some centralized groups.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • lol??

      Skeletons should stay in the closet instead of bringing out the darkness with them.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • uos_spo6

      No, the problem is that "Christian Sponsored Legislation" doesn't really have anything to do with guaranteeing people freedoms, they trend to be more about restricting them. The latest Christian war cry of persecution is simply because the secular realm doesn't want to sit by the sideline and allow those beliefs to be translated to law so that they can lord their self-righteous morality over people who don't drink the same color kool-aid.

      Just as people today look to and study the anthropological relevance of ancient dead religions, thousands of years from now they will be doing the same with Christianity and Islam.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • cedar rapids

      The fact that other groups do it does not change anything.
      And it is hardly an unfounded fear as we have seen laws and bills passed that are pushed by religious groups.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  19. annebeth66

    I believe in God but not in organized religion. It has become too much of business, with rules, regulation and expected dues. The money that many of these churches collect, go to fund a preachers lavish lifestyle, while ignoring needy poor people in the community.

    July 31, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • kdd2010

      You are very right. And the Bible says something about those by whose actions will cause others to doubt the existence of God. They are on the same elevation and consequences like the beast – Satan himself.
      I also think that Christains who believe and worship God and not their Pastors are using the Word of God to reach out to many poor souls around the world for years.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Don

      Please don't let the bad churches color you opinion of ll organized faith. There are churches like the ones you describe, but many are not. I am active in the Methodist church. I have been on committees that reviewed and set salaries. Believe me when I tell you that none of our ministers and staff are getting rich. I have some issues with some (by no means all) of the ways money is spent by the United Methodist Church in general, but at the local level, we watch every penny and try hard to dedicate as much as we can to community service.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  20. AM

    To those who believe that Christians and their beliefs are based on ignorance, myths, or that it is contradictory to science, etc... I would challenge you to do a bit more research. There are a great deal of resources available out there ... scientists, philosophers, academics, etc who are Christians....REAL Christians and who have debated people such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Stephen Hawkings. You can find articles/books written by people who are equal in intelligence – Dr. John Lennox-Mathmetician/Scientist, Ravi Zacharias-Christian apologist along with many within his organization, Dr. Francis Collins-physician/geneticist...to name just a few. You can also find recorded interviews with these individuals. They do not and have not crumbled or walked away with their tail between their legs when asked whether they believe that God exists. Is it not an ignorant thing to say that Christian beliefs are based on ignorance, when there is evidence to the contrary?

    July 31, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • HITLER WAS A CHRISTIAN

      JUST BECAUSE A SCIENTIST BELIEVES IN A MYTH DOESN'T MEAN THE MYTH IS TRUE

      July 31, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • Avery

        Haha, then tell us whats a myth and what is true.. I could say the same thing about scientists who don't believe in Divine Creation.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Ive seen Dawkins debate atheists. Why do you think im an atheist. Im with you, lets encourage everyone to go to youtube and tyoe in "Dawkins religious debate." Thanks for helping the cause!

      July 31, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Linus Pauling was one of the most brilliant scientists in history. He won 2 separate Nobel Prizes, for chemistry and peace. He was one of the founders of quantum chemistry, which also requires a deep knowledge of physics. He was also a complete quack when it came to his promotion of vitamin C as a panacea for what ails ya.
       
      Isaac Newton — need I say more to establish his street cred as a scientist? — believed in numerology and the occult.
       
      Thomas Jefferson, an intelligent, accomplished renaissance man and natural scientist, couldn't see any way around the need for a Creator to get the universe started, so he was a deist who acknowledged the existence of a non-participatory "Nature's God" (definitely not Yahweh) in the Declaration of Independence. A thorogoing skeptic, he also said of 2 Yale faculty members who had verified a meteor strike: "I would rather believe two Yankee professors would lie, than that stones have fallen from the heavens."
       
      And there are countless other examples of scientists who may be brilliant IN THEIR FIELDS OF EXPERTISE but who are just as gullible and prone to confirmation bias and conformity in other areas as you and me. The endlessly adaptive human brain is marvelously adept at compartmentalized thinking. It's a survival trait.
       
      Besides, reality is not subject to majority rule. There was a time when almost everybody in the world thot the earth was flat and the sun went around it. Didn't make it so, no matter HOW many people believed it.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Besomyka

      Honestly, the more I read and learn the more ignorant and ridiculous devout christians' beliefs are. The arguments made by apologists in particular are mind-numbingly silly and seem to always be an elaborate version of the 'Liar, Lunatic or Lord' argument, a gussied up version of Pascal's Wager, an appeal to Ignorance (God of the Gaps), or First Cause.

      Over and over and over.

      Then you have the people trying to establish myth as history, which only makes the Bible less authoritative.

      Here's the bottom line: nothing supernatural has every been shown to exist in any way that could possibly matter to the natural world. All believers have going for them is a strong personal conviction – a conviction that's share by every believer of every conflicting faith. Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Scientologists, and every member of every cult that's been dreamed up by the minds of mankind.

      And it's all bollocks.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • kgavranovic

        To you.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • steelerguin

      Well put. Another good resource is Dr. Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist. Atheism and science can still not explain creation. They have their theories and as Christians we have our "theories" which translates as faith.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • cedar rapids

        saying 'it was magic' is not a theory.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43
Advertisement
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.