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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. doubting-c

    I am a half religious & half aesthetics. Few questions that I cannot get out of my mind is like everyone else's, are there heaven and hell? hence the eternity? If not, all good – like paying automobile insurance – money wasted but had just in case security. But if the religious theory turns out to be right, than my "valid insurance policy" could be a deciding factor. I just can 't erase "what if there are... " question. Hope you are not wrong on your decision brave people..

    July 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Hello Pascal.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Ron

      You are the first person to come up with that reasoning ever in the history of earth. Congrats.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It can be very difficult to cover all the bases when it comes to afterlives.
      Should I endeavour to die peacefully so that I can get to Heaven?
      Should I die in battle, bathed in the blood of my vanquished foes so I can get to Valhalla?
      Do I need to know the masonic handshakes and passwords to get past Joe Smith so I can hie to Kolob?
      I'm wearing leather shoes today – will my disrespect for bovine superiority mean that I get reincarnated as a dung beetle?
      Will Ma'at weight my heart against a shu feather?
      Do I need pennies on my eyes to pay the ferryman on the river Styx?

      There are endless afterlife myths, many of which are mutually exclusive.
      Are you certain you've picked the right one?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • What IF

      doubting-c,
      "But if the religious theory turns out to be right, than my "valid insurance policy" could be a deciding factor."

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century, when it was first proposed.

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly, gullible sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • Jack

        – Unfortunately all those gods are conflicting. I can’t choose all. So I have to pick only one. I pick the one I think is the right one and then hope.

        – You are now adding a new god to the list above. Call him the “logic god”. Again in the end you make your choice and live with the consequences.

        – The “logic believer” would be screwed. So in the end only if you believe on faith you will make it. You can’t prove religion or the need for faith. Pascal’s argument is that having faith makes statistical sense.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • sealchan

      I don't think that is the right sort of reasoning with respect to faith...it is not important to a psychologically healthy faith to believe in a literal heaven or hell–what value is there in defining the meaning of your life and your choices out of fear?–but rather to contemplate what is heaven and hell? And how does one act in order to invoke that experience in one's life now. How can you make real world changes that make the world more like heaven than hell? Don't let your sense of faith be a "dead" belief in static truth propositions, but rather be a living conversation, exploration of life as you know and experience it now.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Hope you aren't wrong – there's thousands of religions – your odds are no better than mine.

      But – you suggest believing just in case? Any god dumb enough to be taken in by someone faking a belief is not a god at all. Any god callous enough to send good people to hell just because they didn't believe in him is also not worth believing in. Perhaps you should consider that and think of how much of your irreplacable life is used up on things that don't make sense?

      July 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • mindless lackey # 473

      I would say that a God would never be fooled by a "just in case" scenario – but then I remember that this is the God of the Bible we are talking about who's knowledge and mental capacity seems to be that of a typical bronze/iron age holy man.

      So by all means – believe just in case.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  2. LogicalBeliever

    I must say, I find many of the comments from the Atheists on this blog rather curious. The general theme seems to be that anyone who believes in God is a primitive uneducated boob while the Atheist stands out as the only adult in a room of children – someone who only embraces science and intellect at every turn. The problem for me is two-fold 1.) my faith (in this case Catholicism) embraces our intellect and does not reject science, in fact, it has historically encouraged it 2.) Atheists can never seem to answer why they believe we got something (i.e. the universe and everything we experience) from nothing. There is nothing in the scientific realm to support matter magically appearing from absolute nothingness. In fact, matter naturally migrates toward chaos left to its own devices. So what we have is Atheists actually believing in something that science patently cannot prove and then pointing the finger at faith believers for essentially doing the same thing. The difference is that faith is not science and as such, does not require proof, but it should be logical. However, the Atheist position, with their emphasis on proof and science, would still demand proof for how we got something from nothing, and in absence of that proof, they are following their own primitive religion if they still cling to that belief. Atheists really can have it both ways, you know, logic demands otherwise.

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

      I'm glad someone understands that conundrum other than me

      July 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Byron

      Things that don't require proof aren't logical.

      Can you remind us which church it was that tortured Galileo, please?
      Which church it is that said the earth isn't round?
      And which church said the sun revolves around the earth.

      The catholic church doesn't encourage science. It's stood in its way, and held us all back, for thousands of years. To deny this is to ignore history and evidence (ironic really).

      July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • LogicalBeliever

        Do a little research on the controversy that the Church had with Galileo at that time. HIs scientific research was actually encouraged by the Church and he had a personal/professional relationship with the Pope. While Galileo has since been proven correct, he was not able to prove his theory at that time – that did not occur until after his death. The Church was willing to accept his science as an unproven theory. The problem arose when he published his book and arbitrarily said he was correct (without proof) and the traditional views of the Church were wrong – he mixed his science with faith. As such, he required the Church to step in. By the way, his "torture" was house-arrest and he basically lived as he pleased. Look it up

        July 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
      • rapierpoint

        Byron

        "Things that don't require proof aren't logical." Funny, when things appear to be illogical, then all I hear is the desire for proof or an explanation of how they can happen.

        "Can you remind us which church it was that tortured Galileo, please?"

        Hardly torture. But don't let a good story get in the way of the truth. Next you'll be telling me there was a Great Flood. 🙂

        "Which church it is that said the earth isn't round?
        And which church said the sun revolves around the earth."

        It was more than simply the church that had those beliefs. They didn't originate with the church either. Once proven, the church did come to accept it.

        "The catholic church doesn't encourage science. It's stood in its way, and held us all back, for thousands of years. To deny this is to ignore history and evidence (ironic really)."

        Actually, the church, though admittedly standing in the way of some scientific inquiry, has endorsed scientific inquiry in general for many centuries.

        July 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      First cause demands a first cause, and that needs a cause. And that. And that.

      It just leads to infinite regress.

      Using the cosmological argument is disingenuous. Unless it's turtles all the way down.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • QS

      Occam's razor pretty much makes your entire comment moot.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It only took around 300 years for the Vatican to admit that Copernicus might've had a point.
      Prior to that, your friendly neghbourhood inquisitor would have invited a heliocentrist to have a seat on the Judas Cradle.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • LogicalBeliever

        Umm, you do know that Copernicus was a Catholic priest, don't you? While his scientifc thoughts were new at the time and he was asked for further explanation – he was never excommunicated and this scientific study was used by later scientific thinkers to further our collective knowledge. You can thank the Catholic Church for that and many other advances as well.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • Doobs

          Yes, we all know Copernicus was a Catholic priest.

          His religious beliefs are irrelevant, because scientific knowledge remains the same no matter what, if any, religion you subscribe to.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
        • LogicalBeliever

          Well, obviously from the post above, it seems that many don't know that Copernicus was a Catholic priest; and secondly, the reason for pointing it out is to respond to the anti-Catholic bigotry that so many Atheists seem to display. Whether you like it or not, history demonstrates that it was the Catholic Church that preserved law, order and yes, science, after the fall of the Roman Empire.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Copernicus hung out in Poland and never went anywhere near Rome, unlike his naive adherent Galileo. They both professed to be believing Catholics, because — hey by golly — you know what happened to people who DIDN'T?

          July 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Nonbelievers do not need to come up with alternative "answers" for the ones in yours and others' various myths. The truth is that we don't know, so........wait for it......atheists say "We don't know" how the universe came about. It's a better answer (because it's more honest) than "Big invisible sky daddy-wizard chanted magic spellz!!!!"

      But, if you can't stomach the honest "we don't know," then by all means, pick an origin myth and enjoy.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • LogicalBeliever

        OK, then believers can just as easily say that we cannot prove there is a God today, but wait for it, we will be able to in the future! Hey! I think we are bridging some gaps here – you might actually be more of a believer than you realize.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
        • El Guapo

          One cannot disprove that which does not exist. Thefore, your non-point has no bearing on anything.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Blair

      That is not correct. Most atheists are in agreement that we cannot explain how we get something from nothing (Kraussians aside). However, since we have the observable evidence that there is "something" we leave it at that instead of invoking something that we have no evidence for to explain why there is "something". If you open that door you also open the the infinite question of well who made god? who made the thing that made god? etc.

      In the words of the un-wise "Its turtles all the way down!"

      July 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
      • El Guapo

        It is possible for nothing to come from something. Scientists have worked out that it can happen under certain conditions. This has been out of the closet for some time now. It astonishes me how few know about it.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • LogicalBeliever

          Wow, and you believe that? Where is the scientific "study" that "provied" that? If your mind is that easily maliable – I have some snake oil I would like to sell ya

          July 31, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • El Guapo

          It's humorously ballsy for someone of your status to mock the assertion of belief. Oh my. First, I never said I believed it. I said it is possible. Reading comprehension is important, especially when it comes to the topic of belief. After all, if believers possessed it, they would no longer be believers.

          As for something coming from nothing, please do a little research. It may seem like a foreign concept, but do try. It is enlightening.

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

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-virtual-particles-rea

          http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16095-its-confirmed-matter-is-merely-vacuum-fluctuations.html

          One has to question the validity of any statement or question of belief coming from that which obeys the orders of a man in a dress and calls itself the "pope." Do try harder next time.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
        • LogicalBeliever

          I still say that I find the responses from Atheists as rather curious. You claim to be non-religious, but in defending your non-scientifically-proven beliefs you end up sounding an awful lot like religious folks. The one thing I seem to be walking away with from this blog is that Atheism is indeed a religion despite what its disciples may want to call it.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • El Guapo

      How humorous. As if this statement hasn't been used a thousand times before, and answered accordingly. However, the answer is always ignored.

      There is no faith in thesis. Merely the possibility of an idea. At best, a guess. None of us were around at what might have been the "big bang." So, we don't know for sure. At best, we can say that all evidence points to that. But nothing more. See how that works? No absolutes. And we're fine with that. Science continues to progress, and maybe someday we'll know for certain. If not, oh well.

      It's not rocket science. An intellectual such as yourself should have been able to figure this simple answer out a long time ago.

      As for catholicism.... ugh. It is quite possibly the most detestable of the lukewarm Abraham cults.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • waterman

      Note that religion does not explain how something came for nothing either. It say "God did it", as if it that explains something. Who created God? How did God come from nothing? If you say that "God was always there", you could also say that "universe was always there". Inserting God in between does not explain anything, but for many creates an illusion of explanation.

      In other words, science can take us very very far back, but at some point in the chain of "where did _that_ come from?" questions, it will say "I don't know". Religion aims to end this chain with God, but of course it doesn't end there. It is also doesn't know where God came from. So inserting an imaginary being in the chain does not explain anything.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Wrongheaded

      Wrong. Atheists don't claim to know that "something came from nothing"...however you define "nothing". What we claim is that "we don't know" and you don't really know either. We require evidence for claims.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Doobs

      Here's an interesting bit of information regarding the RCC and it's legendary promotion of science and education:

      "On February 15, 1990, in a speech delivered at La Sapienza University in Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, cited some current views on the Galileo affair as forming what he called "a symptomatic case that illustrates the extent to which modernity’s doubts about itself have grown today in science and technology." As evidence, he presented the views of a few prominent philosophers including Ernst Bloch and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, as well as Paul Feyerabend, whom he quoted as saying:

      "The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune."

      "Ratzinger did not indicate whether he agreed or disagreed with Feyerabend's assertions, but he did say "It would be foolish to construct an impulsive apologetic on the basis of such views."

      "In 1992, it was reported in the news that the Catholic Church had turned around towards vindicating Galileo:

      "Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture...." -Pope John Paul II, L'Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264) – November 4, 1992

      "In 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for all the mistakes committed by some Catholics in the last 2,000 years of the Catholic Church's history, including the trial of Galileo among others." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

      It was only thirteen years ago that the RCC apologized to those it persecuted, incarcerated, tortured, excommunicated and murdered because their scientific discoveries conflicted with religious dogma.

      And you wonder why we think you're stupid.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • LogicalBeliever

        Do a little research on the controversy that the Church had with Galileo at that time. HIs scientific research was actually encouraged by the Church and he had a personal/professional relationship with the Pope. While Galileo has since been proven correct, he was not able to prove his theory at that time – that did not occur until after his death. The Church was willing to accept his science as an unproven theory. The problem arose when he published his book and arbitrarily said he was correct (without proof) and the traditional views of the Church were wrong – he mixed his science with faith. As such, he required the Church to step in. By the way, his "torture" was house-arrest and he basically lived as he pleased. Look it up

        July 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • waterman

          So church was scientific and demanded evidence, while Galilio was irrational! ROFL.

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

          You can't change history – once again, look it up 🙂

          July 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Doobs

          I have done my research. Here's another interesting bit about the RCC and Galileo:

          "Galileo was highly regarded by many among the Catholic hierarchy who wielded far more power than these academics, and whom he took greater care not to offend. It was here that the case must be made that Copernicanism didn't threaten religious faith. Galileo wanted to make that case not merely as a political move but out of strong personal conviction. He didn't oppose the idea that the Church should exercise authority in scientific matters. He wanted it to do so, to throw its weight on the side of the truth emerging from his science, a truth he believed did not conflict with Scripture. For a time it seemed Galileo's campaign would succeed. Eminent churchmen discussed his discoveries intelligently and seemed to find his arguments compelling. However, when urged to support Copernicanism officially, they dragged their feet.

          It was one thing to espouse new theories among intellectual Catholics, and quite another to dub them as truth, announcing a change in the centre of the universe to Galileo's enemies and to unsophisticated believers who thought Scripture dictated an unmoving, central Earth. How to insist that the Bible could be seen to support either cosmic arrangement, that it might even, as Galileo claimed, better support the Sun-centred scheme? How to explain that what most people thought was a literal interpretation of Scripture was actually an ancient metaphorical interpretation incorporating Aristotle's ideas into Christian doctrine . . . and that the Church had never had an official policy on cosmological matters?

          Finally, Galileo was admonished to cease campaigning until he had proof. Galileo didn't force the Church off the fence, but in an astounding coup he made it seem he had. In the guise of an "impartial" book – which a new Pope, Urban VIII (a friend of Galileo's), had encouraged – he wrote a best-seller demolishing the old Earth-centred astronomy. When it was too late to do anything but accept the situation gracefully or overreact, the Pope decided he could not brook such a usurpation of authority.

          This was no abstract contest between science and religion, but something far more personal and political. Galileo had stolen the Pope's prerogative – an unforgivable insult. Neither science nor religion received more than lip-service at Galileo's trial. He was sentenced to house arrest for life and forced to renounce Copernicanism publicly.

          In spite of his calamitous clash with the Church, Galileo wouldn't have been pleased to learn that he would become, for many, a symbol of enmity between religion and science. Those who suggest he is would have felt the brunt of his riducule and ire, for he never recognised such enmity, insisting "that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect does not intend us to forego their use". Kitty Ferguson, author of 'Measuring the Universe

          You seem to think that going through a trial that took years, during which he was incarcerated, the threat of excommunication, and a life under house arrest are no big deal. Really?

          He was presenting revolutionary science and the RCC's main concern was a public relations issue: How do we support what we can see is true without looking like we are changing our minds about what we previously said was true?

          Why did it take the RCC until thirteen years ago to apologize?

          July 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • Doobs

          BTW, I never said Galileo was tortured. The 2000 apology from JPII was a blanket apology to scientists who were persecuted over the years by the RCC, including Galileo. Some of the scientists included in that apology were tortured.

          Reading comprehension is your friend. Try using it before you ridicule someone else.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • LogicalBeliever

          Doobs, there is really no "ridicule" here – I simplly told you to do some research about Galileo which you apparently did. Most people think the Chruch had him thrown in chains and whipped to a bloody pulp due to much historical misconception on this issue – the reality is much different. As you note above, the Church did actually want to learn more about his scientific views before making any statement. It only makes sense that they became concerned that he was crossing the line into theological matters, so they wanted to have proof before accepting such thought. I would think this approach would actually appeal to a scientific Atheist. Can you tell me who the other scientists are who you say the Church actually did treat in such a tortuous way?

          July 31, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • Doobs

          The general theme seems to be that anyone who believes in God is a primitive uneducated boob while the Atheist stands out as the only adult in a room of children – someone who only embraces science and intellect at every turn.

          This was your opening statement, and you assumed this about me, as well as insinuating that I was claiming Galileo was tortured. Were those supposed to be compliments?

          July 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • LogicalBeliever

          Doobs, so who are these other scientists that you claim the Church tortured?

          July 31, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the religious are simply brainwashed.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  3. Doc Vestibule

    Darwin's laws apply to religions as well as species in that different environments have brought about different religions.
    The sooner religionists accept the realities of moral relativism, the better off we'll all be.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Seriously

      So what you're saying is that religion should abandon its principles and become relativistic? The problem with that is twofold. A then it's not still religion and B and more importantly moral relativism is self defeating

      July 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        I'm saying that religionists shouldn't be so quick to condemn that and that from a fiery pulpit becuase they are the sole arbiters of "The Truth", whatever they believe it to be.
        Of all the "sins" man has invented, "heresy" is among the most absurd.
        Nobody is a villain in their own eyes. Keep this in mind and it may offer you a way to make friends of an enemy. If not, you can dismiss them quickly and without hate.
        And how is moral relativism self-defeating?

        July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        I won't speak for Doc Vestibule, but what I'M saying is that religious people should abandon their religions and think for themselves, rather than letting some ignorant, arrogant, self-important, bloodthirsty nomadic shepherds from a primitive Bronze Age culture do it for them.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • Blair

          Well said my Atheist brother.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • QS

          Also agreed.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Debunking Atheists

          God does not send people to Hell for denying what they do not know, but for sin against the God that they do know. Hell's gates will be locked from the inside, as CS Lewis pointed out.

          Because you have railed against God your entire life and not have God's will be done, i.e. repent and placing your entire trust in Jesus Christ for your Salvation with your heart, mind, and soul, then God will have your will be done and that is separation from Him. We call it despair.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
        • mindless lackey # 473

          Debunk,

          Eskimo: 'If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?' Priest: 'No, not if you did not know.' Eskimo: 'Then why did you tell me?'

          Annie Dillard

          seems to me that 'sharing' your religion would be a mean spirited thing to do, based on what you said.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • scanboy

        So what counts for moral absolutism? The Biblical definition of marriage– one spouse? Two if the first can't produce a male heir? Hundreds of wives and concubines? Thou shall not kill? The problem with absolute behavioral directives is that they are still derived from human-written texts.

        I would favor adoption of the second greatest commandment (as attributed to Jesus). Anyone care to guess what that is?

        July 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • Blair

          Thall shalt be an atheist?

          July 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  4. Kenneth

    I have a friend from school. Great guy. Smart. Good job. Hot wife.
    Rabid atheist. I mean rabid.
    We were talking about religion one day and he goes off on a rant about how stupid, deluded and irrational religion is and religious people are. About how science and reason has done away with all need for religion and how much he hates religious people. He was practically spitting in his food by the time he finished.
    I found it ironic that someone would rave about the irrationality of religion to the point of almost having a stroke.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      And you are saying that religious folks do not do that?

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

        Religious people seldom lay claim to rationality.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          So you are basically saying that someone of a religious nature doesn't go crazy about his or her religious status?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • Christopher Lewis

        No, but what I get out that is the blind hatred that atheist have for Christians while TRUE Christians will actually love and pray for an atheist. However. atheist seem to seem themselves as superior to irrational Christians. This hatred that I see in atheist towards Christians is much like the hatred their father has towards my Father, Jehovah.

        July 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • sybaris

      Maybe your friend had been a Catholic altar boy

      July 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Roger that

      Maybe he had abusive religious parents.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Doobs

      There are atheists who do stuff like that. What's your point?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • QS

      That's easy to relate to....the sheer amount of irrationality and false logic that comes from religion, that the religious just expect everyone to accept is fact or truth, becomes extremely frustrating over time to those of us who really do see religion as dangerous due to its effects on humans.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Ironic. Same as those who are like that about religion.

      Although I do get it sometimes, when you see so much damage done to children and adults, to entire countries about religion. So many people killed, so many people living in fear, so much harm done in the name of religion, and far too often it's just accepted.

      But I too don't agree with getting that rabid on any subject – that much intensity of emotion tends to close down your reason and make it impossible for you to see the full subject, the different ways religion works for different people, to see the worst problems that need to be dealt with first.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yes, and there are about 1.3 million Americans who self-identify specifically as "atheists" (not counting the 50 million or so who are merely "non-religious/secular" or agnostic), and each and every one of us is EXACTLY LIKE THAT!

      (Data from ARIS poll of 2004, quoted on adherents(dot)com)

      July 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • denver

      It's unfortunate that he gets so worked up but, then again, atheism doesn't make one rational any more than theism makes one irrational. We're terribly complex, convoluted creatures.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  5. Ron

    Religion – the less you know, the more you believe

    July 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • sybaris

      Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate

      July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • Kenneth

        Research John Polkinghorne before making such irrational statements.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • silas

      as a christian (and former atheist) i would say the attraction of feeling intellectually sincere and honest as an atheist does have an effect...something difficult to cultivate as a believer. But overall i think atheism plays a small role. The biggest is simply that belief in a Loving God that sacrificed for us is really bizarre. Combine that with an age where more and more of life can be measured through mathematics, physics....and real good cameras, computers etc. ...it just becomes harder to carve space for something immeasurable and romantically conjured. It's been very hard for me to believe in a God and even harder to believe in a Loving God...but still i persist. I'm very quixotic i think. I like to believe in beauty, in romance, in love, in the impossible dream. I want to believe that what created matter from anti-matter what moved the higgs-boson whate-have-you's ...i'd like to think the remaining mysteries...the missing immeasurables...was an intelligent force of Love. By definition ...a type of supernatural force... and to that end the only force i have ever experienced outside of the measurable natural world...is Love. So for me it is not intellectually dishonest, just a little crazy and hopeful, that some parallel universe, or alien life-form, or a 5th as of yet unmeasured force ..beyond gravitational, electromagnetic, and the two nuclears-–that something beyond our eyes and instruments is out there. When i think about that experientially my thoughts often go to the miracles of Love amidst the meaningless chaos. It's very wishful thinking...but i don't see why it's not in some surprising way ...possible!
      To believe we need imagination, vulnerability, humility, courage, and a willingness to not be in control....these are all traits important to cultivate in a relationship. Please...i'm not saying atheists can't also cultivate those traits. I have found i am a better person when i believe in such romantic notions as a Loving God....but i completely understand and relate to those who don't.
      It's very hard sometimes to believe in a Loving God. It used to be very hard to deal with the cruel nonsense written throughout the holy book of the desert religion i follow. But i studied, i asked the difficult questions, and today intellectually i'm in awe of Christ...let alone spiritually/relationally. Faith does not have to be an intellectual joke...and i haven't had a conversation with anyone in recent years that could shake me of that. I'll take any of you on...and i bet your worldview will be more shaken than mine when the dust settles. 🙂
      Faith is tough in our age because humanity has grown haughty and busy with our inventions and information...and we have less need for a relationship (faith amongst the poor and oppressed is stronger than ever fyi).
      i still hold out hope, in science and life, for miracles

      July 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'The biggest is simply that belief in a Loving God that sacrificed for us is really bizarre'

        I will agree with that part at least, and stop there.

        July 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • sybaris

          Sacrifice?

          A god allegedly rented some flesh for a while then poofed itself back to where it came from.

          Yeah, some sacrifice

          July 31, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  6. NJreader

    Baloney. There are no "tribes" of atheism. And people of no faith, like people of faith, cannot be measured by percentages on the Internet. Real people are out working, not inside typing.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  7. sybaris

    If all we knew of religion ere wiped clean from the earth and started again a thousand different gods and "explanations" would appear from the minds of man. If all we knew from science disappeared eventually the same evidence would reveal itself.

    Choose wisely

    July 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  8. Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

    Yes, the hypocrisy and intolerance of the church is a major issues. Yes, the internet (and other sources) now offer opposing or alternate views. However I think the biggest reason for the shift is due to the fact that “faith” is an outdated concept created by the ignorant. When I say ignorant I’m using the word as defined, not as an insult. Faith and the teaching of religion simply do not stand up when fact checked against reality. There is currently a move to the “don’t take the bible literally” perspective. This is simply a desperate attempt to keep a primitive belief system alive in face of overwhelming scientific scrutiny. The hypocrisy and intolerance just make it all the easier to see religion for the caveman explanation of the natural world..that it is.

    I would also note that atheism is not an equivalent to religion, it is the ant.i.thesis. So the as.sertion that one chooses atheism over Christianity is a false. An accurate statement is that Christianity has failed to make (and by definition of the word Faith, cannot) a case compelling enough to abandon common sense and factual based evidence for the supernatural claims.

    Yes, the hypocrisy and intolerance of the church is a major issues. Yes, the internet (and other sources) now offer opposing or alternate views. However I think the biggest reason for the shift is due to the fact that “faith” is an outdated concept created by the ignorant. When I say ignorant I’m using the word as defined, not as an insult. Faith and the teaching of religion simply do not stand up when fact checked against reality. There is currently a move to the “don’t take the bible literally” perspective. This is simply a desperate attempt to keep a primitive belief system alive in face of overwhelming scientific scrutiny. The hypocrisy and intolerance just make it all the easier to see religion for the caveman explanation of the natural world..that it is.

    I would also note that atheism is not an equivalent to religion, it is the ant.i.thesis. So the as.sertion that one chooses atheism over Christianity is a false. An accurate statement is that Christianity has failed to make (and by definition of the word Faith, cannot) a case compelling enough to abandon common sense and factual based evidence for the supernatural claims.

    In short…this is exactly what religious leaders of old were afraid off. Why do you think they tried so hard to ban certain books and silence people that disagreed with them? The death of superst.i.tion.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

      of the church ARE major issue*

      Still waiting on my edit button CNN.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      For reference, you can say ass. It's not on the ridiculous CNN list of censored words.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        HOW TO EVADE THE CNN NANNYBOT

        Posted as a public service

        http://richardsrussell.livejournal(dot)com/133379.html
        http://richardsrussell.blogspot(dot)com/2013/07/evading-cnncom-nannybot.html

        July 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  9. Salero21

    Winter will be here soon and atheism will still be in Full bloom.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Salero21

      The stupidity of Atheism will also be in Full bloom.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        Are you capable of doing anything more than being a judgmental ass?

        July 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Ignore S21, he is a troll.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      Salero: Eat the business end of your sidearm. Jeebus is waiting for you to come up to svck him off for a few hundred years.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  10. Dustin

    Thank you for your observations. While I do not agree with the atheists in his/her belief, I understand where he/she comes from. I am a Christian and I believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the love they espoused and try to show it to the world.
    I am saddened that the community of Christians have made it hard for you to expres your opinions. thank you for the critique. I see it as a way that we can improve upon the way that we show Jesus to the world... Peace be with you.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • JR

      I suspect most of the atheists on this board were former Christians and probably know more about your religion than you do. But thanks for not being the typical "I'm right and you're wrong and gonna burn in hell" typical Christian.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  11. Ron

    Atheism = I dont know all the answers, but I'm not buying your argument

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

      i don't know all the answers, but your answers are obviously made up.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  12. Kevin Harris

    I can't believe Mehta said there is "no proof" for Jesus' resurrection, etc. Has he been living in a cave? This article proves that there is no intellectual muscle in the "New Atheism"! It's all just emotional nonsense!

    July 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Ummm, what is the proof?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • flying spaghetti monster

        To true believers, "proof" doesn't mean what you and I (and all scientists who have been responsible for the amazing advances in our day to day lives) take it to mean. It means "woooooo, I felt it! Proof!!!"

        July 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I believe you are correct unfortunately.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Kevin Harris

          Two more cave dwellers!

          July 31, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Whiteman

      What proof have you? I'd really like to see it.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • Kevin Harris

        Seriously? Give me one indication that you have read something on this and I will be glad to discuss it with you! Sincerely!

        July 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Lovecrafty

      Assume I HAVE been living in a cave...now show me the proof that Jesus ressurrected. And show me proof that God made rainbows..and that a 3-Toed Sloth walked from where the Ark landed after the flood to South America at 6.5 feet per minute? Explain to me why how my mind believes religous principles, or not, determines my eternal fate regardless of my actions? And if a God is inside my head and knows how my mind works..then how he cannot undertand my athiems based on my experience and observations and just accept that?

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

      Praise Elvis, the truth will be revealed here, today, before our very eyes.

      Enlighten us oh prophet, and go collect your Nobel and Randii Foundation prizes while you're at it.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • ALinoge

      Come again?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

      There is NO proof that Jesus ever existed in the first place! Of COURSE there is NO proof that he "arose from dead"!
      That is extremely laughable! You have to understand that the modern Jesus myth is entirely copied from scores of MUCH OLDER myths which contain the exact same stories and details as the modern Jesus myth with different names, of couse! Throughout the history of early civilization there have been scores of imaginary religous figures with the EXACT same traits and alledged "life experiences" as the mythical Jesus! This is an VERY, VERY old tale that has been borrowed/stolen from civilization to civilization, from the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Phonecians, Babylonians, Ionians, etc. over and over again! There is absolutely NOTHING unique in the Jesus myth when compared to these OTHER ancient legends! Jesus is simply the religous "magical" hero de jour...

      July 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      • Kevin Harris

        You've been reading hack websites, not historians on this! Had you read historians, you'd know the "pagan savior" myths are not accepted in scholarship. First, similarities do not prove same source (unless you want to say Kennedy was borrowed from Lincoln)! Secondly, any similarities are very superficial, reflecting mostly pagan agricultural deities and crop cycles. Third, the record of Jesus comes from a firmly Jewish milieu. There is no evidence of pagan myths and deities in first-century Palestine. They abhorred such things! Fourth, most of what we *know* about pagan deities came after the Christian era. So there could be Christian elements influencing the records (as in Mithraism). Finally, to say "there is no evidence Jesus existed..." just makes me very embarrassed for you!

        July 31, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      oh come on, there is no 'proof' for the resurrection. You have stories, and thats the best you have.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • Kevin Harris

        (sigh) All these cave dwellers! 🙂 Read my other comments in this thread and let's go from there.

        July 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      Isn't that what faith is, kevin? Emotional nonsense?

      July 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
      • Kevin Harris

        Sam, It can be, but it doesn't have to be. I reject fideism (blind faith). I think one can have reasonable faith. Faith is the assent, or trust, or confidence that a given proposition is true. And it can be supported by reason, facts and evidence, etc.

        July 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  13. Gordon

    This article states that the move toward atheism is driven by the young "millenials." Have the young now solved the mysteries of the universe where all generations before now have failed? If they have, they certainly have not revealed their analysis, only a vitriolic stream of antireligious blather, totally devoid of rational thought, and often demonstrating complete ignorance of the religions they reject. Paul, who appears to have been much brighter than any of those commenting here (including me), describes them accurately in one word. - fools.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Just because we don't have all the answers in this world does not mean one gets to plug god in to the factor. It is far more honest to admit not knowing and it certainly leads to a more interesting life.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      The vast majority of religious people are completely ignorant of the 5,000 or so other religions they reject (and generally their own religion also).

      July 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Steven CaboWabo

      Solved (as in have good working models backed up by testing/evidence) many of the mysteries.
      If you have some in particular people might be able to give you some pointers to the information, but only if you are open the exploring them and studying to understand them better. If your goal is to simply disprove them because of your belief, then there might not be much point.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • joe

      Your Paul, who wrote, 2/3 of the new testament admits that he never even met Jesus. Rather, he claims to have had a vision.

      so pathetic.

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

        Was it a "vision" or was it a hallucination?

        July 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Stephen

      Ah yes, the "rational thought" that declares the earth is only 2500 years old. Young people are much too foolish to understand that one.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Please read more carefully. Several days ago Rachel Held Evans — an evangelical Christian — wrote an essay here on the Belief Blog bemoaning her thesis that organized religion was PUSHING people away from Christianity. Hemant Mehta's essay was a follow-up to that, pointing out the other part of the equation — that atheism is PULLING them. Neither Evans nor Mehta claimed that their proferred explanations covered 100% of the trend, only that they were influencing factors.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  14. Jeff E.

    I actually didn't read anything in this article that Atheism offered except a loud and oft annoying presence on the internet. Patting yourselves on the back for the failures of some religious leaders is pretty sad IMO.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Atheism DOESN'T offer anything. It's not a set of beliefs, it's a condition — a state of being, not an inst¡tution.

      Religion, on the other hand, will offer you LOTS of stuff. It's kind of like Bernie Madoff that way.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  15. sly

    It is quite enjoyable here in Heaven, and I am happy to tell you the Big Fella exists. I am having a beer with Him right now.

    This, you silly non-believers, is proof of the Heavenly Kingdom. Lots of cute chicks up here also.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  16. J

    I am a Christian, and I am not bothered by this article at all. True Christianity has never been mainstream. I grant you, lip-service to Jesus has been widespread, but it is all in the service of nationalism, corporatism, or some similar lust for power.

    Actually following Jesus is not easy. What the author and others like him are pointing out is that most people don't really try to follow Jesus. Recognizing this and drifting away from the church is better than denying it and poisoning the church.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • flying spaghetti monster

      I agree with and respect what you have written here.

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

      "True christianity" – i sense a "No True Scotsman" fallacy in this one

      Christianity has been mainstream since Constantinople declared it the state religion around 325 CE

      July 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Cyle

        * Constantine the person... not Constantinople the city

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

      I've never met a True Christian®. Are you actually one of those extremely rare birds?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Cyle

    The simple reason that atheist are "winning" the internet battle is that there is a heavy burden of proof on any supernatural claim. I don't care if you believe in gods, mermaids, space fairies, or Bo-Bo the Galactic Wonder Chicken, if you don't have any evidence to support the outlandish fantasy of a supernatural being or beings, all you have is a cute work of fiction.

    Most people won't believe you if you tell them that the paint is wet, they've got to touch it. But tell them that there's an infinitely old invisible bearded man living the sky who created everything last Thursday, and they'll line up to give you money.

    It's well past time we recognized the socially acceptable schizotypal behavior for what it is.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • flying spaghetti monster

      I'll pray for you that one day Bo-Bo the Galactic Wonder Chicken's holy light will fill you and you will experience his deliciousness.

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

        LO, for Bo-Bo is the reason that all of creation tastes like chicken...

        July 31, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      The problem religions have with the internet also is just how much information is available. Just type 'origins of Judaism' or 'Canaanite pantheon' into google and you can get a fairly accurate progression of Yahweh worship from the Bronze Age Middle Eastern desert to 21st century Abrahamic religions, which takes away most of the mystery. The chances of one god (Yahweh) among many in the Canaanite pantheon being 'the one true God' is very, very, very slim.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  18. skb8721

    Don't forget us agnostics, who neither believe nor disbelieve in God. There are more and more of us, too. To quote Monty Python, "There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not."

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

      Really? You don't know if you have an imaginary friend or not?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • goddog

      In fact, yes, let's forget Agnostics. Can you explain what Agnostic means to you?

      July 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  19. Alex

    I'm not Christian, but I do realize that science can currently only address a fraction of the way the universe works–and much of that understanding is theory. Science will clearly advance and begin to answer some more important mysteries, but I really doubt we'll ever have the complete picture.

    The hardest part of reason is that you have to be comfortable simply not knowing some things. Not knowing exactly how the universe works and not knowing what may or may not come next for us as individuals or humanity as a whole. I feel that Christians try to fill that information void with stories and rituals, while atheists seem to pretend there is no real void and that we've already got the answer to everything.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      No they don't. Atheists are generally the ones who admit just how little we all know.

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

      I was with you until the last part. I don't think atheists pretend we know everything. We know that religious stories are blatantly untrue, but that doesn't mean we claim to have all the answers.

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

        Then doesn't that technically make you an agnostic? That's the point I was trying to make–albeit imperfectly.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • Jake

          I believe there is no such thing as "god" which means I'm an atheist. If I didn't think there was enough information to come to a conclusion one way or another, I'd be agnostic. We don't need to have all the answers to conclude that the concept of god is not the right answer.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Cyle

      A generalization at best... here's one atheist who recognizes that we do not have "all the answers", but science isn't about HAVING the answers, it's about SEEKING the truth.

      The answers change every day as we find more truth... and we're OK with that.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • OldSchool

      Atheists will be the first to tell you "I don't know" when it is an appropriate response. Atheism is the base position that all life starts with, it is very simple: a – lack of, theism – belief in god/gods. It is the theist who will answer the question with "because God did it", a position that any person with the capacity for reason and logic can see is clearly indefensible...

      July 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Paul

        Old School – Would it not be possible that the energy that defines us (and I'm referring to the energetic transfer across the soma in the neuron that is the inception of thought.) follows the same first law that the rest of the energy in existence follows? In his theory of the conservation of information across the event horizon of a black hole, Steven Hawking postulates that it's possible (and I'm taking a liberty here) for information to continue across what would be an otherwise destructive event. Would it not be a possibility that our intellect is conserved across the membrane of death and therefore possible that we "continue" as an energetic signature after we experience biological death? Since there is no proof either way, isn't it our responsibility to hold open the possibility, no matter how remote we may feel it is, that there is an existence after death? Because we can't see it and measure it today doesn't preclude its possibility. Lack of a the ability to collect a data set doesn't empirically imply that no data set can exist.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jeff E.

      These replies make me think most Atheists are Agnostics and they don't know it yet...

      July 31, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Atheism (not strong atheism I guess) is a sub-group of agnosticism.

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

        I see agnostics as atheists who are too cowardly to use the word atheist because of it's notoriety. In a literal sense, the "agnostic" position is that the existence of a god is unknowable – a position that I find to be in direct conflict with science and the scientific method. Ultimately, EVERYTHING is "knowable"...

        July 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Many agnostics don't claim that the existence of a god is unknowable, just that it's currently unknown.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • Jeff E.

          You have great faith in the limited intellect of man. You presume we have to capacity to design and build an instrument that can "see" God. Do you even know what said instrument should be looking for? A guy in a white robe in outer space?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          To presume limits on scientific discovery is a far greater presumption.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • OldSchool

          @Jeff E.

          EVERYTHING that occurs in nature (I.E. reality) can be measured and quantified, it is simply a matter of whether we currently have the capacity to do so. The natural world consists of definable properties that are consistent and repeatable, so it is hard to conceive where a "god" in the sense of how humans have imagined it would fit into that anywhere. Anyone who doesn't subscribe to the monotheistic/polytheistic beliefs constructed by man over the millenia is by literal definition an atheist. Even if one were to claim that such an idea isn't "knowable" it means that they are admitting that they do not subscribe to the monotheistic/polytheistic belief system, and thus, are an atheist...

          July 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • Jeff E.

          How can you possibly disprove the existence of something that you don't even know how to define?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          Everything is not "knowable". If there is a 'god' that implements the laws of physics and provided the energy for the big bang – it would be impossible for us to know that, since the universe with and without such a 'god' would be identical. We can't know most things, not for sure. That's the power of science, not pretending we KNOW things, but accepting that we should be open to change our minds as new information comes to light – while working with the best theories we can.

          You can disprove a specific variety of god – if I say there is a god who gives you a purple penguin everytime you say the word mushroom – you say the word mushroom, and my god is toast unless a purple penguin pops up. But for any concept of a supernatural being? That you cannot know, not for certain.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • Jeff E.

          We have different ideas of what Atheism is then... I consider Atheism a belief system of the ego. It's the assumption that man has ALREADY disproved the existence of God and I just find that ridiculous. Perhaps my definition of God is a lot more flexible than that of a Christian or Muslim or Hindu who follows the doctrines (which just so happen to be written by men). If your proof that God doesn't exist relies on things like the age of the Earth then I feel that's pretty little to go on to make such a grand assumption about existence.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • Cyle

        The probability of a god is about as likely as the probability tha you'll lay a gold egg the size of a buick sometime in the next 5 minutes. you cannot deny that in a universe of infinite possibilities it "could" happen. The probability is so low that you're better off countinuing your day as if it isn't gonna happen.

        that's the difference between an Atheist and an Agnostic. i don't worry about the egg.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        I define myself as an Agnostic Atheist. I in no way can know for certain that a god or gods do not exist but given the complete lack of evidence for any I simply see no reason to believe.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • Josh

        Even thought it is incorrect to do so, Atheist and Agnostic are used interchangeably.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        Actually – if you know the definition of these two words – they don't contradict each other at all.

        Atheism means simply and literally, lacking a belief in god. It's not the media portrayed rabid certainty there is no god, let alone believing that you have proof there is no god. It means simply and only that you lack a belief in a god.

        Agnosticism is not atheism-lite, as it's often portrayed. It means that you believe the existence or nonexistence of god cannot be known. You might be a theistic agnostic – you believe in god, but don't think you can be sure – or an atheistic agnostic (as most atheists are), you don't believe in god, but don't think it can be conclusively proven.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jamie

      Atheists (and scientists) are usually the FIRST to admit just how little we know about the universe. It's the religious who claim to have all the answers. If someone is unknown...well, God did it. End of story. As soon as you use "god did it" as your claim, then you are useless to scientific advancement.

      July 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  20. RareRationalism

    It is extremely ironic we endure muslims and Hindus telling the west the foolishness of Christianity and our metro-ised Teddies with porridge in their headies (Millennials) drink it all up like seals.

    There is not a society on the face of this Earth predominated by Islam or the 'religions' of the East that is not corrupt, tyrannical, unjust, dysfunctional for politically and socially. Yet, it is these losers that are influencing our soft-headed youth and will drag further our societies down their sink-holes.

    I know we are discussing Christianity relative to atheism, but the agenda is stealthily more than is obvious.

    The problem with the Christian Story is not Jesus, it is how we have become distanced from what the message of the story is. I personally have no Church because of that, yet my life is comforted by my belief in Jesus. Jesus' story is the most beautiful story ever told as a guide to mankind. The values and morals of Jesus' message inspired the greatest enlightenment in the history of mankind. It's imperfections are all human, not those of Jesus.

    Science vs Faith in a God, a Creator ? I respect science, to a point. Science can not explain the indescribable and miraculous diversity of our present universe, of how presumably from zero/nothing came matter and life.

    The certainty of atheists arrogance is humorous to the extreme.

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

      Yet you believe your god created the universe out of........................nothing

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

        And you BELIEVE 'something' is possible to come from ............'nothing' ?

        July 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • denver

      I've never heard anyone use the figure of speech "drink it up like seals." Where are you from? Anyway, regarding this:

      "I respect science, to a point. Science can not explain the indescribable and miraculous diversity of our present universe, of how presumably from zero/nothing came matter and life. The certainty of atheists arrogance is humorous to the extreme."

      Science is really the only game in town if you want meaningful explanation of any aspect of the physical universe. Religion is only equipped to comment on matters of spirituality and Science has no interest in such things. As regards the purported arrogance of atheists, I'm quite certain that assuming your faith is above all others and confidently asserting that you know seemingly unknowable truths is more arrogant than acknowledging the need for more inquiry.

      Scientists look at the night sky and say, "I don't know where it came from but we should try to figure it out." Theists look at the same sky and say "God did it!!"

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

        “A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.”

        –Joseph H. Taylor, Jr.
        (an actual scientist)

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

          People who know about the "God of the gaps" might disagree. But, hey, you can be a religious scientist; there's nothing wrong with that. And if you contextualize God in such a way that he's not harmed by us unraveling the universe through science, more power to you.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • AE

        “It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.”

        –Physicist Paul Davies
        (Another actual scientist)

        July 31, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • denver

          Again, super! I don't know where you guys got this idea that scientists can't be religious. I'm talking about philosophical differences between science and religion. One is based on observation and repeatable experiment and the other is rooted in assumption and spirituality.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          I think they're right – if you believe there is a god, the best way to understand him is to use something you KNOW he did – not something created by people, not something translated and warped. If you believe in god, studying science is the way to look at his hand and his choices. Far more sure than the Bible or other similar books.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • AE

        “Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join ‘the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’”

        –Astrophysicist Hugh Ross
        (yet another scientist.... and a theist who does more than just look at the sky and say "God did it".

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

          So hypocritical when Christians try and use science. They'll reject 99.9% of all scientists, call them quacks, say their "belief" is outside science and then when 1 in 10,000 scientists makes a statement that they think they can use to support their leather bound book of short stories–Wham!–all of a sudden the Christians purport to support science-but only for a split second and then they are back to denying evolution, biology, chemistry, astronomy etc. in favor of their invisible fairy who makes things out of fairy dust.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • AE

          No, not all Christians.

          "The Big Bang Theory" is credited to a Catholic man.

          A scientist can be an atheist, agnostic, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, etc.

          Are you a scientist?

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

          Characterizing provisional acceptance of the best available scientific model at a particularly moment as religious faith is disingenuous in the extreme.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • RareRationalism

        This is exactly what many are saying. It is what I am saying. My point is that pure atheism is as arrogant and naive as 'religion'.

        I believe in a God, ultimately, as the 'creator'. I am open to be proven wrong.

        My belief in a God is molded by the ethos of Christianity as the most progressive and moral of religious spiritual guidance, but am again 'open' to ultimately to be disproven or confirmed.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • joe

          but am again ‘open’ to ultimately to be disproven or confirmed.
          --------
          Suuuurrrreeeee you are.

          You'll reconsider whenever someone can prove to you that you invisible fairy didn't make everything with pixy dust.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • RareRationalism

          Joe, whoever/whatever 'made' you was short some pixie dust 🙂

          July 31, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • DR.E

        I am a scientist, I look and say "God did it, but how...how does it work?" There can be both!

        July 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          In what other field of science do you start with the conclusion and then seek out the evidence for it, making sure to accept only the confirming evidence while ignoring the refutational stuff and the internal contradictions? You may be a scientist in your professional career, but you clearly leave the scientific method at the door when it comes to your preferred superst¡tions.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Jean Sartre

      The certainty of Christian's arrogance is humorous to the extreme...

      July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Steven CaboWabo

      Actually modern science can explain most of those things, and do so better (IMO) that old myth and magic and deity stories. Most people just don't understand it beyond a few simple talking points. Most religions do describe it in very simple terms, but simple does not mean correct, it just means simple.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

      It is strictly a RELIGIOUS delusion that the universe was "magically" created from nothing! Science claims nothing of the kind!

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

        “I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”

        –Lord William Kelvin,

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

          Kelvin was a product of a extremely religious 19th century culture. Does it surprise you that he found god in science?

          July 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Robin Jones

      "Rare Rationalism" is obviously self-descriptive. If your psyche cannot tolerate the ambiguity of not knowing something to the point you have to make things up to fill the void, go ahead; it's your mind and you can do with it what you will. Just don't expect others to buy into your extraordinary claims without credible evidence.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • frankcanadian

      Reason, wasn't that mentioned?
      More individual research.
      Collective response.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'yet my life is comforted by my belief in Jesus. Jesus' story is the most beautiful story ever told as a guide to mankind. The values and morals of Jesus' message inspired the greatest enlightenment in the history of mankind. It's imperfections are all human, not those of Jesus.'

      Did these morals and values of jesus' message lead you to believe that comments like

      'It is extremely ironic we endure muslims and Hindus telling the west the foolishness of Christianity and our metro-ised Teddies with porridge in their headies (Millennials) drink it all up like seals.
      There is not a society on the face of this Earth predominated by Islam or the 'religions' of the East that is not corrupt, tyrannical, unjust, dysfunctional for politically and socially. Yet, it is these losers that are influencing our soft-headed youth and will drag further our societies down their sink-holes.'

      and

      'The certainty of atheists arrogance is humorous to the extreme.'

      were the correct way to behave?

      July 31, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
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About this blog

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