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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. Andrew

    This was a good article until - like so many people on his side - he couldn't resist becoming offensive and snarky.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      You know, I've notice that, when religionists can't find any misrepresented fact or failure of reasoning in the writings of atheists, they're reduced to throwing around words like "hate", "arrogant", "offensive", "snarky", "disrespectful", "intolerant", "condescending", etc. — all amateur psychoanalysis about the ADVOCATES of atheism (invariably cited without a lick of supporting docµmentation) without ever addressing the SUBSTANCE of atheism.

      Frankly, this is just a slightly more literate version of "nyah, nyah, nyah, you're one too". Sadly, it's a tactic that religion encourages and rewards, which is probably why you guys are so fond of it.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • Mentalle Condeshawn

        So you think being an arrogant and insulting arrse is OK as long as they agree with you?

        This is an argumentative piece plain and simple.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • Jean Sartre

          You cannot prove or disprove a "belief" as they are far outside the rigorous canons of logic, and the usual rules of evidence, which require empirical data for support of your position.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Again, simply SAYING it's so doesn't MAKE it so.

          But let's grant your premise and go with the unprovable value judgment that Hemant Mehta's essay IS arrogant and condescending. So what? Is it WRONG? That's the question you guys seem ever so eager to dodge by desperately trying to pull the ole switcheroo and foisting your amateur psychoanalysis on us in lieu of addressing the actual topic of the discussion.

          Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. Thanks for the additional supporting evidence.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

          Because it disagrees with YOUR illogical presumptions, right? Facts and logic have absolutely NOTHING to do with it, huh? I have never witnessed a more delusional and self-righteous group than religous believers...

          July 31, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • RareRationalism

        Russel, maybe respect differences of opinions by yourself would be more convincing ?

        July 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  2. bmkinz1510

    Millennials Atheists are nothing new. Just a new name. A new label. There has been Atheists, skeptics, and doubters since the beginning of recorded history and there will be until the end of time. They are just now more prominent appearing because they can gather on blogs and are given a daily national platform on CNN to spew their hatred, intolerance and condescension of believers.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Jake

      Has it occurred to you that as we learn more and more about the universe over time, it becomes harder and harder to believe in religion?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • bmkinz1510

        Heard it all before. Same stuff, different day!

        July 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • floridamom1

        All this has been prophesied about already. Nothing new here. We all know it was going to happen. Which is why it's another sign of the times. Christ is coming soon. And won't everybody be surprised.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Pick a number between 33 and 2013.

          What did you get? (Insert answer here: ______)

          YOU'RE A WINNER!

          Yes indeed, that WAS a year in which Jesus was due to return, as irrefutably revealed by infallible prophecy. You're brilliant!

          July 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • RareRationalism

          Richard, won't you look foolish IF FloridaMom is right ? 🙂

          July 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Just as foolish as YOU'LL look IF Osama bin Laden was right.

          IF!

          July 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          floridamum, i wouldnt recommend selling your house and packing up your goods, you will be disappointed.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • ATPMSD

        Exactly! Our kids are much better able to see and avoid the "religion" brainwashing by their parents

        July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • bmkinz1510

          So your prefer the brainwashing by Atheists???

          July 31, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          To the extent that "think for yourself" const¡tutes "brainwashing", yes. An alien concept to you, I know, but there it is.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • Mentalle Condeshawn

        Has it occurred to you that what humans know is insignificant compared to what we don't?

        July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Jean Sartre

          Has it occurred to you that "Religion, in all its forms" is nothing more than an essentially "untreatable mental illness?"

          July 31, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • JR

      You hear more from atheists these days because you Christians are being outed more and more and can't easily persecute people who are not like you as much as you could say 20+ years ago. You bullies are finally being stood up to and it's too bad if you have a problem with it.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • RareRationalism

        Incredibly ignorant, asinine and blind.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • bmkinz1510

        Atheist = Cyberbully!

        July 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Good, BM, good. You just keep telling yourself that.

          And keep telling US, too. I'm sure it's slipped our minds each of the previous 47 times you copy-and-pasted it here out of your little handbook of Christian trollery.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Bobby Rabino

        They don't like it when the shoe is on the othe foot.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Jez

        Religion is just so ridiculous. I can't believe anyone believe Eve ate an apple given to her by a talking snake. Seriously?? Everything in the bible is absolutely preposterous.
        Its time for me to take my daily walk across the swimming pool.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
        • RareRationalism

          We are not talking about Adam and Eve, we are talking about belief in a God.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • David

      Sorry mate but if you're talking about spouting hatred I'm afraid you're going to have to look in the mirror. Cause the most hatefilled messages i've ever read always came from the religious side of the arguement.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • SkepticMario

      Well, call them young atheists, but the author is talking about Millenials, a generation born in the 90s.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Jerome Giraffe

      Hatred and intolerance? Oh please. Mainstream christianity says non-believers are going to hell, is rabidly anti-gay, completely intolerant and lets not even get into all that old testament stuff. Atheists have found a voice and it scares the dickens out of certain segments of the christian mainstream. Bad for revenue I guess.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  3. Observer888

    It is much much easier to deconstruct that to construct. To reject the existence of God needs no proof - blind faith suffices. As to "The fool says in his own heart there is no God", one can just say he does not subscribe to Biblical injunctions. The phenomena of millennial leaving Church may be an indication of the success of the education establishment in 'Dumbing down of the American mind.'

    July 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      What really requires dumbing down is the believe in sky fairies who are "omniscient and omnipotent", yet lack the ability to end wars, disease and personal conflicts started by themselves. If there really is a god, then he is the most incompetent deity ever created in the minds of man and he is unworthy of admiration, adulation and respect.

      His followers set a shining example of why people should always shun religion and avoid contact with those who preach it.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • bmkinz1510

        God is the most incompetent diety made up in your mind. You have a skewed perception of God. For your information, God is not Santa Claus. He has not failed anyone. Man through sin has failed man not God!

        July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • libertyadamson

        It is not a lack of ability by which God does not end wars. In the OT, God ended wars, sometimes with no battle being fought at all. It is not lack of ability.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • SkepticMario

          In the Old Testament, god started wars. Remember the one he ordered to slay the Caananites so his people could inherit the land?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • T

      While I agree that the American educational system leaves a lot to be desired, I must point out that you're shifting the burden of proof.
      If I were to assert something exists, I would need to work to prove it. If religion asserts that a god exists, then religion needs to prove that a god exists.
      It's impossible to prove that something doesn't exist. For example, how could I possibly begin to prove that unicorns don't exist? I can't explore every square inch of existence and confirm that there are no unicorns anywhere.
      While I can't thoroughly disprove unicorns, it would be silly of me to assume that since I can't find proof that they don't exist, they must surely exist!
      The burden of proof lies with the one that makes the claim.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • Observer888

        BTW the claim is that there is NO God.

        August 1, 2013 at 1:32 am |
        • T

          It's actually not, that would be the anti-theist position.
          Theism – positive assertion that a god exists
          Atheism (literally "without theism") – a lack of belief in a god one way or the other. It's important to note that a rejection of the affirmative does not necessarily mean an acceptance of the opposing position.
          Anti-theism (literally "against theism") – an assertion that a god does not exist.

          If I were to take the anti-theist position the burden of proof would fall on me. I would have to prove that no gods exist. However, I take the neutral position of belief, or atheism.
          When I say "there is no god," what I probably should be saying is something more like "we have no evidence to suggest that a god exists, so we shouldn't live our life based on something we don't know to be true."
          So since theism is a positive claim, the burden of proof lies with the theist in this debate.

          August 1, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • sybaris

      Wow, THAT was dumb.

      Takes a lot of willful ignorance to subscribe to a religion

      July 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Joel

      Correction, to accept the existence of God takes no proof – blind faith suffices.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  4. Lukas77

    With respect to questions from atheists regarding where I got my definition of atheism from, it mainly comes from my discussions with atheists that I have encountered on the street. They are honest and say to me they simply do not believe in God. When I talk to agnostics on the street, they tell me they do not know whether God exists. I never have dealt with atheists, until recently on blogs, who have such a relativistic approach to atheism.

    Other than that, I have already referenced a well known online source that defines atheism as: "Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist."

    If you get down to the crux of this foregoing definition, it is presupposed that atheists, using basic reasoning (i.e., major premise, minor premise, conclusion), had to come to the conclusion that God, or generic deity, does not exist based on an assortment of major and minor premises.

    If atheists truly believe that they simply have no belief in the existence of deity, their intellectual arrogance is revealed through their lack of reasoning to get to that conclusion in the first place. Atheists, who hold to this particular definition are saying they have not even given thought to whether deity exists because according to their own personal dictates, they claim their is no practical evidence of deity in creation that could even lead to a consideration of possible belief in the existence of deity. From the perspective of a reasoning critic of atheism, this type of intellectual pride is based on a "begging the question" fallacious reasoning process used by some atheists.

    The intellectual pride of some atheists, in this regard, is that they will not tell you how they got to the absolutist conclusion that they have no belief in the existence of deity; this is faulty argumentation lacking a major and minor premise(s). Practically speaking, I sincerely doubt that there are any atheists that have not considered directly whether God does exist or does not exist, before they came to the conclusion they simply have no belief in deity. Otherwise, they are arguing from their conclusion, rather than from sound premises.

    Additionally, once atheists are called out on their faulty logic, they resort to circular reasoning to defend their claims that either God does not exist at all, that they have no belief in the existence of God, or that they have an absence of belief regarding the existence of God. If atheists cannot demonstrate, through sound reasoning, how they came to these conclusions in any realistic manner, their conclusory unreasoned arguments come off as intellectually unsound and irrational.

    With respect to agnostic atheists, I have never heard this oxymoronic phraseology used until I started hearing about "new atheism". If atheists are not completely certain about the nonexistence of deity, then they are agnostics. I would go one step further and say that if atheists cannot absolutely prove the nonexistence deity, they would by necessity be agnostics, not atheists.

    My question is why do not atheists just admit they do not know whether God exists. There is nothing wrong in being intellectually honest. No critic of atheism buys the argument that atheists simply have no belief in the existence of deity (please rationally explain why?).

    My feeling is that, deep down, all persons know that God exists and they either hate or are angry with Him regarding the harsh
    realities of our fallen human natures, and the consequent fallen world mankind has to live in. Ask God the Holy Trinity for a repentant and contrite heart and a mind of humble submission to accept God's ways (His supernatural law) and reject irrational man made laws/beliefs.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • snowboarder

      you are a wonder of fallacious thinking.

      "I would go one step further and say that if atheists cannot absolutely prove the nonexistence deity, they would by necessity be agnostics, not atheists."

      by your own logic any theist that can not absolutely prove the existence of their deity is also an agnostic. you might as well stop while you are behind.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "My feeling is that deep down all persons know that God exists and they either hate or are angry with God ..."

      I commend you for being honest enuf to accurately identify your psychological projections as "feelings".

      As to why we atheists don't just come clean and admit we can't possibly know that God doesn't exist, I cited the argument from ultimate characteristics several pages back as to exactly why and how we CAN know that. I'm not going to reproduce it again here, but your browser's Find command can probably turn it up if you look for "ultimate characteristic" for several pages back.

      So, in short, don't assume that just because YOU'VE never heard the argument that there ISN'T one. We atheists are perfectly willing to address the far-fetched claims that true believes make on behalf of their imaginary friends without having to invent straw men to knock down. You guys come up with enuf thigh-slappers all on your own.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Cyle

      your "feelings" aside. there simply is no evidence supporting the existence of any of the 2,800 or so gods that have ever been worshipped by humanity.

      the only reason to believe in anything is that you are compelled to do so, either by facts or by indoctrination. once you get past the indoctrination (i know from experience) the facts remain that in all probability gods are as real as leprechauns... you can't prove that they "don't" exist, but you sure as heck can't prove that the do.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      Simple answer to your very long winded generalization. There is no evidence to support a "god" existing, period. Books are great, I enjoy reading them from time to time, stories are a great way to pass morals and thoughts as well as traditions from generation to the next. But when you get down to it, there is no actual physical proof that any gods do or ever have existed. None. This is not me claiming to be agnostic, this is me stating that based on the evidence, I can confidently say that there ARE NO GODS.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I do not believe any gods exist, so I am an atheist. I am open to the possibility that there might be god(s) so I am also agnostic. One can be both, such as I am.

      I, and everyone else on the planet, have never seen any verifyable evidence that there are any gods.
      Since I do not know, there is absolutley no reason to choose one of the infinite hypotheses about what might be. All religions are such hypotheses. Logic and reason prevent me from accepting "faith"
      Is there a god or gods, I do not believe so, but there well could be.

      There is a higher PROBABILITY that we are inside a speck of dust, on the end of a flower, being held by an elephant named Horton. Why is there a higher probablity for that than the god hypothesis?...simple, we know and can veriffy that dust, flowers and elephants exist.

      Hope that clears it up for you.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Lovecrafty

      Isn't it arrogant to think that every believes the same things in YOUR mind...and just chooses to reject it out of spite or hatred? Don't you think if God was self-evident that we would all share the same faith, the same beliefs? Instead we have thousands of religions worshipping everything from elephant-headed deities to suicidal God's on crosses! And why do you not believe in Zeus? Or Thor? Or Krishna? When you can answer that question honestly then you will come a long way to understanding REALLY what an atheist is...and why they truly think that way. I don't hate God. I don't hate Santa Claus either. But I believe in neither. Rational and logically explain that. Tell me again why I don't believe in your bible and God...I love hearing people read my mind!

      July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • raw75

      @Lukas77 I have read several of your inane comments regarding what your percieve to be the definition of atheism (Quoting Wikipedia is not a reliable source, by the way). Regardless of your personal opinions are on the subject, atheism comes from the Greek atheos (a = without, theos = god). Since theism is defined as a belief in a deity or deities, atheism is defined as without a belief in a deity or deities.

      When you start posting stuff like, "If atheists are not completely certain about the nonexistence of deity, then they are agnostics. I would go one step further and say that if atheists cannot absolutely prove the nonexistence deity, they would by necessity by agnostics, not atheists.", you dealing in knowledge which is not what atheism is about. Agnosticism deals with the idea that the existance of any gods is unknowable, such as "My question is why do not atheists just admit they do not know whether God exists. There is nothing wrong in being intellectually honest."

      It's real simple – gnostic = knowledge, theism = belief and a = without. Please educate yourself.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'No critic of atheism buys the argument that atheists simply have no belief in the existence of deity '

      Thats more of your issue than theirs.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • waterman

      Replace "God" with "Flying spaghetti monster" in your whole post and read it again.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  5. Sivick

    All religions are nonsense. They have nobel asperations but in the end they are all corrupted into a system of control over their followers. Leave your faith behind, keep the message if you want, but leave all the other crap. It's just a bunch of bs.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  6. Mark

    Are all atheists a bunch of people with no life besides trolling comment sections under CNN articles? That is definitely the impression I get whenever a religious article is posted. Atheists must be sad, lowly individuals with no joy or social lives. I feel sorry for them.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • sly

      Thank you Mark – that is kind of you to care.

      Don't you worry about this here non-believer though. I make $350,000 a year, and I don't have to work. Today I'm going surfing, followed by an expensive delicious dinner at Mortons Steakhouse, with a really really hot woman. Good wine, maybe a bit of cush Northern Cali sens, and if I'm lucky, I'll get to enjoy what us non-believers call 'the fruits of our earth'.

      So ... while I appreciate your concern, don't you worry your sweet little azz over me, cause every day is a party, and I'm sure loving this good earth. If your God made this earth, please thank him for me.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Lovecrafty

      Maybe we are at work and bored. It's hillarious sometimes to read Christian apolegetics. "Turn to Jesus and get eternal life" "You are gonna regret non-belief when you die" "How can we all just appear from nothing without a God?" Sigh...I'm just hoping for a different kind of argument...

      July 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      Pot meet kettle.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • OOO

      Step 1. Ask a question.
      Step 2. Answer your own question with missing data.
      Step 3. Come to a wrong conclusion.

      Thank you for showing the rest of us how not to reason.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      I pitty a person who cant think for themselves and believe what they are taught about a 1900 year old book. Not that you would probably know what is in it.

      I'm happy, healthy, have a great family and a wonderful job working for the government. Couldn't be happier unless I won the Powerball.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • Red

        Have you ever been in the tomb of Tutankhamun? How do you know it exists? You probably read about it somewhere or saw it on the television. You trust someone. You trust them blindly. I am not a Christian, but I will not fault anyone for putting their trust in others or in a book, even if it's absurd in nature. Perhaps the Bible is fiction...perhaps people since the time of Jesus have been lying...but do not close your mind and mock believers for trusting blindly when you do it every day. I can't buy the Bible as being real either, but I sure as hell won't disrespect other for choosing to do so.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'Have you ever been in the tomb of Tutankhamun? How do you know it exists? You probably read about it somewhere or saw it on the television. You trust someone. You trust them blindly.'

        I can trust someone that it exists, especially if i can see the pictures of the tomb somewhere but if someone claimed that because king tut walked on water and rose from the dead and that because the tomb existed then it must be true then i would laugh in their face. To try to claim your analogy is even close to being the same is simply not true.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • snowboarder

      ironically, we see all the same theistic trolls on the atheist articles producing their blather. pot, meet kettle.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So, usually when the Belief Blog posts an article about Christianity, or newage (rhymes with "sewage") thinking, or Islam in America, or Romney's Mormonism, etc. — you know, some RELIGIOUS topic — we get guys like you showing up wondering why atheists would bother to comment on a religion article. And yet, when the headline and byline both shout ATHEISM at the top of their lungs, here you are, perfectly willing to serve as a representative of religion on the subject. Do you see no irony at all in your comment?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        So true – so with this article we get to say things like "You're not an atheist, so you should just shut up and leave." and how about "You're going to die and rot in the ground – you don't understand because you just haven't done the math"?

        July 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  7. Lovecrafty

    Can ONE Christian explain to me why someone would desire eternal life? Eternal conciousness. Always on..forever? Give me the comfort of oblivion please! To know everything, to exist forever even having a sustained orgasm, is itself a hell!

    July 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Madtown

      For me, it would be eternal access to women, and pizza.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Yeah because women love a guy who equates them with pizza

        July 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • Madtown

          Fail. I didn't equate them, just listing some of my favorite things in this life, and that which I would look forward to in the afterlife!

          July 31, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • sly

        That's a good reason to believe. Thousands of gorgeous teenage virgin chicks in Heaven who unfortunatley never got the chance to enjoy the 'fruits of the earth'.

        No laws.
        No wives.
        The Big fella likes to voyuer a bit (see: Adam/Eve palm 14.2a pg 234).

        Sounds like Wilt the Stilts famous '10000' record is gonna fall to me within, say, 6 weeks?

        July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • snowboarder

          i would prefer a couple of sIuts over an abundance of virgins any day.

          July 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Red

      Because Christians believe that you will have eternal life in paradise...not on earth. To Christians, paradise is indescribable and unable to be understood as it has never been experienced. It's one of those things they just have faith in.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • sybaris

      Seriously, you would have to have a lobotomy or something.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      christians hope to become communists when they die.
      They want to go to a place where everyone is equal, no rich or poor, no possessions.
      All their wants and needs are provided for by the authorities.
      They spend their days praising the authorities, who will always remain in charge, unchallenged by anyone.
      And if anyone disagrees with the authorities they will be sent to a fiery gulag for eternity.

      ideal communist afterlife.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Paul

    Just to be absolutely clear....You want me to believe in a guy who was born from a virgin, rose from the dead and performed miracles, yet you have zero proof that any of this happened. All you have is an old book with stories that talk about things that have yet to happen ONE SINGLE TIME since they were described. Oh ya...and you want me to give money to help perpetuate this idiocy? ohhhhhhhhkay!

    July 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  9. JoJo

    As an agnostic Humanist, here's my advice to people who call themselves "Christians". Try making an honest attempt to actually follow the primary ethical teachings of Jesus. But that would be difficult - you would have to work & care for the poor and disadvantaged, and you would have to be pacifists or at least strong advocates for adhering to Just War Criteria. But as long as you keep supporting unnecessary torture-laden mass murder like the unnecessary War in Iraq, I'll have no respect for you. Sorry.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  10. Michael B

    I am 25 and have been an atheist since I was 12. I lied saying I was a Christian though until probably 3 years ago out of fear of being judged. Now I just don't care and I feel more comfortable with it as a lot of other people come out as atheist as well. I don't hate people for being a part of religion, but I ultimately dislike religion though as it has been a direct cause for millions of deaths on this planet, started countless wars, and has been a cause to persecute people who were not of a particular faith for much of mankind's history. No religion is immune to that. Christianity in particular annoys me because they act like their religion is so good, but the fact is it was incredibly violent for most of it's history. A few decades of relative peace cannot change over 1500 years of hate and violence. If I lived as an atheist a few hundred years ago, I would be executed even in Christian countries. Not to mention the whole concept of religion is BS as there is no god. I hold nothing against Buddhism though as it is a lifestyle and not a true religion. There is no belief in a god in Buddhism, but it is still wrongly labeled a religion. I just hope that the hatred can stop.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kermit

      Its sad that all you see is the bad things of Christianity. Of course there are good and bad people. There ARE good things..in fact...let me ask you this if youwant to be so negative...WHY didn't atheists start the first hospital???? WHY are there hardly ANY atheists in the list of Nobel Prize winners? WHERE are the atheist soup kitchens??? Pol Pot, Stalin Mao Tse Tung...ALL are atheist with violent histories..murdering millions. I guess by your logic..I should remain Christian...I certainly don't want part of atheism like that

      July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • Lebowski

        Epic fail bro... You assume too much. You assume that modern Atheists are down on all fours with those creeps you just mentioned? Hardly. State sponsored atheism IS in and of itself, religious in it's design. Case in point: North Korea is probably THE most religious state that has ever been. it's about questioning. Always questioning. It's a healthy thing. It's a good thing. It's good for you.

        July 31, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  11. Lukas77

    With respect to to questions from atheists about where I got my definition of atheism from, it mainly comes from my discussions with atheists that I have encountered on the street. They are honest and say to me they simply do not believe in God. When I talk to agnostics on the street, they tell me they do not know whether God exists. I have never dealt with atheists, until recently on blogs, who have such a relativistic approach to atheism.

    Other than that, I have already referenced a well known online source that defines atheism as: "Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist."

    If you get down to the crux of this foregoing definition, it is presupposed that atheists, using basic reasoning (i.e., major premise, minor premise, conclusion), had to come to the conclusion that God, or generic deity, does not exist based on an assortment of major and minor premises.

    If atheists truly believe that they simply have no belief in the existence of deity, their intellectual arrogance is revealed through their lack of reasoning to get to that conclusion in the first place. Atheists, who hold to this particular definition are saying they have not even given thought to whether deity exists because according to their own personal dictates, they claim their is no practical evidence of deity in creation that could even lead to a consideration of possible belief in the existence of deity. From the perspective of a reasoning critic of atheism, this type of intellectual pride is based on a "begging the question" fallacious reasoning process.

    The intellectual pride of some atheists, in this regard, is that they will not tell you how they got to the absolutist conclusion that they have no belief in the existence of deity; this is faulty argumentation lacking a major and minor premise(s). Practically speaking, I sincerely doubt that there are any atheists that have not considered directly whether God does or does not exist, before they came to the conclusion they simply have no belief in deity. Otherwise, they are arguing from their conclusion, rather than from sound premises.

    Additionally, once atheists are called out on their faulty logic, they resort to circular reasoning to defend their claims that either God does not exist at all, that they have no belief in the existence of God, or that they have an absence of belief regarding the existence of God. If atheists cannot demonstrate, through sound reasoning, how they came to these conclusions in any realistic manner, their conclusory unreasoned arguments come off as intellectually unsound and irrational.

    With respect to agnostic atheists, I have never heard this oxymoronic phraseology used until I started hearing about "new atheism". If atheists are not completely certain about the nonexistence of deity, then they are agnostics. I would go one step further and say that if atheists cannot absolutely prove the nonexistence deity, they would by necessity by agnostics, not atheists.

    My question is why do not atheists just admit they do not know whether God exists. There is nothing wrong in being intellectually honest. No critic of atheism buys the argument that atheists simply have no belief in the existence of deity (please rationally explain why?).

    My feeling is that deep down all persons know that God exists and they either hate or are angry with God regarding the harsh
    realities of our fallen human natures, and the consequent fallen world mankind has to live in. Ask God the Holy Trinity for a repentant and contrite heart and a mind of humble submission to God's ways (His supernatural law) that will lead to rejection of irrational made laws/beliefs.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • MM

      "Practically speaking, I sincerely doubt that there are any atheists that have not considered directly whether God does or does not exist, before they came to the conclusion they simply have no belief in deity. Otherwise, they are arguing from their conclusion, rather than from sound premises."

      Aside from your belief of this rather convoluted idea, you have any evidence for this?

      Didn't think so.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • sybaris

        never mind that we are all born with a disbelief in any god

        July 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Wes Scott

        Lukas 77 don't need no stinkin' proof! He has his religious dogma, and that is good enough for him.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "My feeling is that deep down all persons know that God exists and they either hate or are angry with God ..."

      I commend you for being honest enuf to accurately identify your psychological projections as "feelings".

      As to why we atheists don't just come clean and admit we can't possibly know that God doesn't exist, I cited the argument from ultimate characteristics several pages back as to exactly why and how we CAN know that. I'm not going to reproduce it again here, but your browser's Find command can probably turn it up if you look for "ultimate characteristic" for several pages back.

      So, in short, don't assume that just because YOU'VE never heard the argument that there ISN'T one. We atheists are perfectly willing to address the far-fetched claims that true believes make on behalf of their imaginary friends without having to invent straw men to knock down. You guys come up with enuf thigh-slappers all on your own.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • snowboarder

      "their intellectual arrogance is revealed through their lack of reasoning to get to that conclusion in the first place. Atheists, who hold to this particular definition are saying they have not even given thought to whether deity exists because according to their own personal dictates"

      this is plainly untrue. first, the vast majority of atheists come from religious upbringing. second, a simple glance at history shows the innumerable deities, religions and doctrines invented by men. third, the christian doctrine in particular is absurd.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Lebowski

      There are mountains of evidence that support your assessments: That we as pattern seeking mamas don't want the pattern to end. We desire immortality. But we atheists are healthy and strong enough to face our own morality. Making this world and our time on it even more precious.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • JimNamsium

      Do leprechauns exist? Clearly, if you don't believe in leprechauns, then the argument you use to attack atheists applies equally to you since you can't prove that leprechauns don't exist yet you don't believe in them.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • jwt

      "My feeling is that deep down all persons know that God exists "

      Your feeling is incorrect.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Buckeye Nut Schell

      I am a Christian but I do not believe as you do. I do not condemn people who have weighed the evidence that has been presented to them, their life experiences and their trials and tribulations and came to the conclusion there is no God. I do not believe that God will punish someone for using the gifts that God gave them to try to understand the clues that God showed them and came to what I believe is the wrong answer. I came to the wrong answer as far as an athiest is concerned. I do not believe that God would allow a child born in Iraq to Sunni parents, raised entirely by and around Muslims to go to eternal damnation burning forever in the everlasting fire just because they believed what their parents taught them.

      That is why God said, Judgement is mine". We are not smart enough to understand all of these rules and how they apply differently to each individual based on each person's unique relationship with God. God goes by many names and is seen differently by many people based on their unique relationship with Him.

      How can someone like ourselves say we have a personal relationship with the supreme creator of the entire universe, a relationship where we speak together on a daily basis consider someone who believes in nothing to be arrogant.

      I hope that they recognize one day that they do have a wonderful relationship with God whether they speak to Him or not and whether they believe in Him or not. Jesus gave us only one commandment and although it is impossible for us to achieve it, I believe He judges us based on how hard we try. He said, "Love one another as I have loved you". I believe if you truly do that, the other ten commandments take care of themselves. I think that God realized that the book of rules He had created was too difficult for people to follow. Jesus simplified the entire will of God into one simple sentence.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  12. todd cook

    Oh, how great to be young, edgy, intellectual, modern, cynical and hip to shrill, uninformed organized religious blather. But then when your plane starts to go down (either figuratively or literally), guess who you're going to be addressing? It ain't gonna be Santa Claus or Zeus or Mother Nature– it's going to be God. Atheism isn't much to stand on, is it? Goodbye.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      When my wife called out "Oh God!" in bed last night, was that a sign of her conversion to Christianity?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • Tim

        Now who is delusional?

        July 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Probably an involuntary cry for you to stop using her as a seex toy and relate to her as a human, woman, wife.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          Or perhaps Doc and his wife are not stuffy jerks who understand that sex can be pleasurable when enjoyed by two people in love.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • Doobs

          Bill Deacon shows his lack of understanding about women. We want to be treated as a human being, a woman and a wife (if we are one) outside the bedroom, but have no problem being a sex toy, using our partner like sex toy, or using sex toys together. It's fun and adds to the intimacy of our relationship.

          Of course, when you're required to play reproductive roulette every time you do the deed, that puts a huge damper on it.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • QS

      Religious arrogance at its finest. Good riddance d-bag zealot.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • snowboarder

      neither are any of the numerous religions.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      As it happens, I was once ON a plane that was going down — a Cessna 150 trainer. I was piloting it, in fact. Wanna know who *I* was talking to? My flight instructor.

      Reminds me of this little bit of wristband logic:
       • "I am a Catholic. In case of medical emergency, please call a priest."
       • "I am an atheist. In case of medical emergency, please call a doctor."

      July 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Baldie

      When the plane starts to go down, there is nothing for anybody to stand on.

      And why is what somebody does in a moment of sheer panic and fear more important than what they do during calm reflection? Or while on the can for that matter? Or while in sheer panic while on the can?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Andy

      I'm not sure I see your point. The atheist and the believer hit the equally as hard...

      July 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Nigel

      Been at deaths door 3 times Todd,last thing on my mind was god,you fail

      July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  13. sybaris

    the christian god........an alleged omnipotent spirit that had to use a human to recreate itself though it made the first humans out of dirt. It disappears for many years, comes back to orchestrate the death of its rented flesh then poofs itself back to where it came from.

    Yeah, some sacrifice

    July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • QS

      No no no – he made the first HUMAN out of dirt, he made the female from that one's rib!

      Geez, if you're going to mock the incredibly ridiculous beliefs of any religion, at least mock them correctly! LOL! 🙂

      July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  14. Bob

    Cue the anti-christian hate, go !

    July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bob

      You said, "Cue the anti-christian hate, go !"
      Pointing out how infantile a belief in imaginary friends is, isn't hate. It's a public service announcement.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Mark Twain once asked "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Five? No, four! CALLING a tail a leg don't MAKE it one."

      So you call the discussion you see here hatred. Calling it so don't MAKE it so.

      You'd have a stronger case if you could quote some examples, but you don't, probably because it would show how utterly fatuous your definition of "hate" is. (BTW, calling a STATEMENT "fatuous" is not an indicator that I hate the person who stated it, since you seem to be having some trouble grasping the difference.)

      July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Doobs

      Bob, you can believe anything you like. Just don't tell me that you and your sky fairy are going to start making my medical and reproductive choices for me, and don't try to weasel your fantasies into civil law, our educational system, our government or our public buildings and we'll get along just fine.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  15. Shirley S.

    Let's face it. We all die. That is what God the Son came to deal with. The first Human Beings broke the first universal Law of the created Earth. When you break a Law, there are consequences. In this case, it was Death. All descendants of Adam and Eve got their DNA, and thus the tendency to die. Jesus, the Son of God, came to pay the death penalty of all of mankind. Adam brought the death penalty on us, Jesus paid the death penalty for us. The Law is satisfied that the penalty is paid. However, each one of us has to choose whether to accept that payment as applying to him/her. Then and only then will that person be freed from having to pay the penalty. Spiritual death happened with Adam and Eve. That is why science prevails. We are not capable of understanding or accepting things of a spiritual nature. Jesus fixed that. Although we may experience a physical death, if we claim Jesus died for us, we will be resurrected in new physical and spiritual bodies. Or if not, we go to hell where no God is. We may be arrogant and say we don't need a God, but the fact remains, if God created us, we need Him to continue in living the good life. All the bad stuff on Earth? ... a result of that first broken Law.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "if God created us, we need Him ..."

      *IF*

      If not, we don't.

      So it's now up to you to supply some evidence for your premise before you have any chance at all that we'll buy your conclusion.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • sybaris

      Yeah, religion is a filthy perverted disease of the mind. You have my sympathies.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • kaliko88

        Right. Calling me sick and crazy for choosing to believe is really gonna convince me that I'm wrong. You sound as pushy and judgmental as you accuse religious leaders of being. If being hateful is what you consider being reasonable, no thanks!

        July 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lebowski

      My goodness Shirley what a terrible doctrine to teach to our most precious of resources (the minds of innocent children). It's an inhuman doctrine of servility to an unproven idea but you are quite right in your description of Christian doctrine which you have laid bare at our feet for examination. Millenials are leaving in droves because of people just like you . You are doing the idea of critical inquiry a great service.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      So, if Adam and Eve were god's first creations, and god created no other (at least, as far as we know from your "good book"), then that means the world was populated by incest between Eve and one or more of her sons.

      And, if god destroyed the world by flood, as in the story of Noah, and Noah's family were the only humans who survived, then the world was again populated by incest for the second time.

      All that being true, then we really are all related! And, that means that EVERY sensual relationship is incestuous. Think about that the next time you are in bed with your wife/sister or husband/brother.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Madtown

      Jesus, the Son of God
      ----
      I believe God to be quite powerful, having created the entire universe and the building blocks of life. I find it curious why God only had 1 son? Seems to me God could have as many children as he wanted. Wonder why he only had 1, and only sent him to a small area where he'd only reach a small amount of the humans on earth at that time? Very curious.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      And yet how did that first law come to be broken?
      why did god put the tree in the garden?
      why did god create satan?
      god supposedly knows everything that will ever happen, so he knew this would happen.
      The whole thing stinks of a deliberate setup.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  16. Billy T

    Never talk to invisible people.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Jamie

    Since many church leaders have themselves departed the traditional faith by teaching principles of humanism, mysticism, or works of prosperity, it isn't the traditional faith that the younger generation is departing. Where false gospels abound, people are fleeing dead religion and futility in droves, and rightly so. The true gospel as the apostles preached it remains the power of God to save, heal and transform lives – and where we see the Person and Name of Christ exalted in truth, people are drawn to Him and experience the freedom and joy of saving grace.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Sounds like your reaching for scraps now.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • kamamer

      What you consider "traditional" teaching would have seemed heretical 1,000 years ago. What seems heretical today, two generations hence will claim is traditional. Sorry, there never was an great golden age.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Lebowski

      They are demanding evidence and are receiving none but are being told to believe non-the-less or perish. You are quite right when you say that the manacles of organized religion are being broken by the millennials. They are. But if you think that they will pick up the bible and have a "relationship" with an invisible friend you are engaging in wishful thinking, for the Bible itself is open to criticism by them (as it and every other book demanding blind obedience to an unproven idea should be).

      July 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @jamie, i doubt that anyone can really tell the difference between one group of mumbo jumbo from another.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Caleb Hale

    Great article, good read. Thanks!

    July 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  19. Lebowski

    I read somewhere that (according to Christian doctrine) something like 257,000 humans go to hell every day. That is a quarter of a million of God's own children sent to a lake of fire to burn in eternity every day for simply having a different opinion. I don't know too many parents that would cast out their own for having a different opinion but the ones that have done that have almost always been religious.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      And don't forget, they worship a God who believes it is justice to sentence one of his own children to an eternity of torment for the few years they misbehaved on earth.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Avery

      God gives us free choice... By not choosing God, you choice the absence of God, also known as Hell.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Kris

        Ah yes, free choice. A lovely gift GIVEN to us by an OMNISCIENT God who specifically made each of us KNOWING exactly what we'd do and set up the rules of the Universe by which one can be sent to Hell. Free will, sure.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • Lebowski

          I concur with Kris. It's not free will, it's blackmail. Who would knowingly choose hell over eternal salvation?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • Avery

          You do know.. Either you choose God or you're choosing Hell... it's not difficult really. And just because He knows what we're gonna pick ahead of time doesn't mean we don't choose it ourselves

          July 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • Thinker...

          Considering that omnicience and free will are mutually exclusive one of them must be wrong. If god were all-knowing then it is evil (it created the world and put the tree there knowing adam and eve would eat of it, thus creating death and daming billions), if we have free will then it is not all-knowing, and therefor failable. If it is failable is it truely a god?

          This reasoning is one of the many contradictions of the abrahamic faiths.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'And just because He knows what we're gonna pick ahead of time doesn't mean we don't choose it ourselves'

          actually it kind of does. It means your path has already been determined and nothing you can do will change that, so that free-will is just an illusion.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "the absence of God, also known as Hell." So is it or isn't it a burning place of eternal torment? Just the absence of God doesn't seem so hard to deal with considering we have thousands of years of human history we can study and so far there is no evidence God has ever shown up.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • Avery

        The absence of God means the absence of all the good things he created.. Thus meaning Hell is a place of fear, hopelessness, devastation, pain, suffering, anxiety, anger, and hate for all of eternity...

        July 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
        • Thinker...

          But isn't your god also responsible for all the bad things?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • Avery

          No, sin is... Turning our back on God allowed sin to enter the world, and it is that sin which causes all the "bad things" that happen in the world

          July 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'Turning our back on God allowed sin to enter the world'

          to enter the world from where?
          and for something to be sinful requires someone to declare it sinful. If god declared it to be sinful then god created sin.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.