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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. matt

    one easy and simple answer to as why religion is declining and people leaving the church...

    information....and the ease of obtaining it. Freedom of Speech will kill religion because it highlight s the stupidity of it without the fear of being punished.

    Thats why they say that religion comes to the internet to die.

    August 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • joe

      Agreed 100%. Information kills religion and dictatorships–like vaccinations.

      August 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        That is why the number one priority of despots, dictators and church leadership has been the control of information. Information is power and there have been none quite as powerful for the last 3000 years as the worlds organized religions. Every single one of them has been a bastion for the elite to ride on the backs of the poor all while claiming to be saving them from themselves.

        They follow a simple formula:

        Step 1. Create a need. On Sundays preach vehemently about inherited sin, turn the thumbscrews of guilt, get parishioners worked up with music and emotional tales taped together from some mosaic of religious old wives tales. Make sure and reference the bible every now and then with a few words that seem to support your premise. It doesn't matter how messed up your message is, with the right scriptures you could preach the benefits of inc est if you wanted to...

        Step 2. Offer a cure, but for a price, i.e. forgiveness of sin, relieve guilt, confession etc.

        Step 3. Collect the money and deposit it in a tax free Church account, then cut yourself a check, you earned it!

        Step 4. Feign humbleness while you go pick up your new Mercedes...

        Step 5. Rinse repeat...

        August 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  2. Salero21

    In any season of the year atheism is stupidity in Full bloom. Just so you know.

    August 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Just so you know, S21 is a lying troll

      August 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • joe

        Sorry, but nobody using their intellect is a fundamentalist. You have to put aside all logic, all science, all reasoning, all common sense and choose to believe despite.

        Same as for Islam. They can see the absurdity of your religion and you can see the absurdity of their religion but you can't see the absurdity of your own religion because it's a mental delusion. An addiction you use to make you feel good, to get you through the day.

        August 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Withholding believe in something until there is proof, requires critical thought. Believing in something without any proof whatsoever, other than your mommy and daddy said it was so, indicates gullibility.

      August 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • EnjaySea

        Search and replace: "gullbility" with "ease of indoctrination".

        August 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • fintastic

      Hey saltshaker! how's it shakin?....... still posting your "I know you are but what am I" childish attempt at humor?.. how very embarrassing for you.

      August 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  3. aaron bates

    Nice to see people thinking for themselves. I think Socrates would like living in this age where we can use science to arrive at conclusions. There was a Tibetian writer who thought that religion will be replaced by scientific explanation of everything and that the science of ritual will be decovered and that even the so called soul will be discovered by science. The soul may be discovered as a energy field that surrounds the dense body. If we can make all our beliefs along the line of science we can, world wide we can start to live more like real peaceful beings.

    August 6, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Reality

      A major problem:

      “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today
      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      August 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Reed

        When and where we were born makes the best sense as to what determined our religion, and the same elements determined the language we speak. English is no better a true language to communicate than French, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Swahili, Chinese and all the other thousands of languages and dialects. If I had been born in an Amish community, most likely my language would have been Pennsylvania Dutch, and my taught religion and life style would have been Amish. Religion and language define who we are, and most likely where we're from. Who is to determine what the right language is or the right religion or location to be born? We have no choice in that. The only choice we have is to relocate and learn a different language and perhaps practice a different religion. Religion and language define everyone. Not one is better than the other, but my adult preference is to be born America, adhere to the English language, and choose my own religion ... if I choose one at all.

        August 17, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • hee hee

      Energy is one-half mass times velocity squared. It's not something that tickles new-agers.

      August 6, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  4. Her Royal Highness, Princess of Joysville

    After reading comments from the unhappy atheists, will say, no thanks, have to pass up on your offer.

    August 6, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Doobs

      Feel free to stay in the comfort of your delusions, Princess, and be sure to check under your mattress for a pea.

      P.S. It's not really a pea, it's cognitive dissonance that's bothering you.

      August 6, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • Richard

        LOL!

        August 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Atheists aren't unhappy. You're confusion fervor, frustration, and anger in our debating style for unhappiness. As an atheist, I can proudly announce that when I'm not sparring with Christians, I go home and have a perfectly lovely evening.

      August 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • EnjaySea

        Search and replace: "confusion" with "confusing".

        August 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • Nonsense

        Then why spar? Why not just walk away when you're approached by them? By arguing, all you're doing is getting their blood to boil which only serves to bring them closer to what they believe is true, and further from what you believe. In an argument, there are no winners, it only widens the gap between you two.

        August 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Athy

          Widening the gap is the whole point!! The wider the better.

          August 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • hee hee

          You're right. You should only discuss things with people who completely agree with you. Otherwise, you reveal your unhappiness and insecurity in your views.

          August 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • EnjaySea

          I don't post here to change the minds of believers, but to present alternate points of view for those readers who are, as yet, undecided.

          In "real life", I don't bother debating with Christians. But debating with them here has the added advantage that others are listening in.

          August 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
        • Mark from Middle River

          But debating with them here has the added advantage that others are listening in.

          It's called preaching to choir because it is rare for people to post and visit here who already have do not have their beliefs set into stone.

          August 7, 2013 at 4:32 am |
        • EnjaySea

          Really Mark, only atheists come here? Then that must mean you've come over to the dark side!

          August 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • EnjaySea

          Oh, now I see what you're saying, Mark.

          Strike and reverse my previous post. ^ ^ ^

          Interesting thought, but I'm sure there are those who visit here who are in a gray area, who maybe go to church (as I once did), and think they've settled on a philosophy (as I once did), but are still open to new ideas.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Reality

        And now to summarize and save everyone a lot of time:

        Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

        • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

        • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

        • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

        • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

        • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

        • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

        • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

        • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

        Added details available upon written request.

        A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

        e.g. Taoism

        "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

        Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

        Sincerely,

        Another Happy Atheist

        August 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • craig

        Who or what do you put your hope in?

        August 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • Reality

          Rational Thinking based on the studies and conclusions of contemporary scholars.

          August 7, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • hee hee

      I'm atheist, and I'm friggin' joyful.

      August 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Walter Midly

      Heheheheheheh hahahahahahahahah hohohohohohohoh laugh laugh laugh hahahahah hahahahahah

      Does that sound like a post from an unhappy person?

      August 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  5. Atheist, me?

    FR
    Why don't u cut and paste a post which was made the same time as the ones here!
    Momoya/skytag was the first person I had a run in with on this blog.
    The emotional signature is very unique.

    August 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  6. A Frayed Knot

    Why are random blogs being linked to this article in the "Recent Comments" section and CNN can't even get the real new comments to sync?

    August 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  7. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    The long and short of it is that Millenials and their children will believe in religion less and less as children have access to actual information at younger and younger ages so the indoctrination into any religion will be tempered by real data and science instead of just buying into the hocus pocus that is religion.

    August 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  8. Atheist, me?

    skytag
    So u indoctrinated your own children? Don't be sad. I was raised by an Atheist father the rest of us later converted. My mum was very happy the day she died because I got to explain Xtian spirituality to her. She was spiritual by nature but she did not know its full extent.
    The Church mostly teaches religiosity because most preachers are. However if you are able to learn spirituality u will realise it is not the Christianity that is the problem but your understanding of it!

    August 5, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      The probllem here is that faith is never meant to mean blind belief in the Bible.
      Christ t

      August 5, 2013 at 2:59 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        Yes-Christ even taught that we will have more doubt than faith.
        So what then is faith?
        Faith is belief that your positive action will give you a positive result.
        Search the Bible for yourself. Apply it to your life. You will understand it. You will have eternal life(spiritual enlightenment/emotional mqturity) and ultimately maybe life after death.
        Remember
        Love your neighbor as yourself.

        August 5, 2013 at 3:07 am |
        • joe

          Christ was no more a real figure than Forrest Gump was.

          August 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • skytag

        "The probllem here is that faith is never meant to mean blind belief in the Bible."

        There is no evidence whatsoever so suggest there is any god and even if there is one, there is no evidence that the Christian understanding of him is correct. This dictates that blind faith is required at some point.

        This is how the conversion process typically goes:

        A Christian you know and respect tells you what he believes about God. You find the narrative appealing because it offers an alternative to death, one of man's greatest fears. It tells you that you can see your loved ones again, that you have an all-powerful friend who will help you as you go through life, protect you and your loved ones, and so on. It is indeed a very appealing narrative.

        Wanting to believe that narrative, and having some amount of trust and faith in the person or people who introduced you to it (in you rmother's case that would have been you) you set out to learn if it's true, but with a very distinct bias toward wanting to believe it, and you apply that bias to any evidence or argument you come across. You'll interpret ordinary events as evidence the beliefs you're investigating are true. You'll find logically weak arguments for it compelling and reject logically sound arguments against it. Eventually your bias will ensure the pros outweigh the cons and you'll conclude it's true.

        The same thing happens when people choose to embrace Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism or any of hundreds of other religions. It was true when people believed in the Norse gods and the gods of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. It's true when people in remote African and South American tribes embrace the religious teachings of their tribes.

        It's a fact of human nature that if we want to believe something enough we can usually find a way to convince ourselves its true, and that's not just limited to religion. You see in nationalism, where people believe their country is the best, or here when people believe we have the best health care system in the world.

        It's part of our nature, and it's particularly prominent in religion since religion relies exclusively on feelings, emotions, and personal interpretation for confirmation, all of which are highly subjective and notoriously unreliable indicators of truth.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:43 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        In order to have religious faith, one must accept certain supernatural proposition as ineffable, unquestionable dogma.
        The willing suspension of critical though required to do so is not a virtue.

        August 5, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • skytag

      You're babbling, and it doesn't interest me. It's all standard Christian platitudes and rationalizations, wholly unsupported by any evidence whatsoever and with no more reason to believe any of it than the claims made by Muslims, Buddhists, Shintos, Hindus, or followers of any of hundreds of other religions.

      You believe it because you live in a predominantly Christian country and you want to believe it. It's a comforting narrative, so appealing people want to believe it, and because they want to believe it, if they're subjected to enough influences promoting it they can convince themselves it's true.

      "Search the Bible for yourself. Apply it to your life. You will understand it."

      Just how dense are you? You talk as if I was born yesterday and have no experience with any of this even though I have repeatedly explained I was a Christian for four decades. I know all the excuses, the rationalization, and the platitudes. I've read the Bible, all if it, and many parts more times than I could count. I know the stories, I've heard everything you're dutifully regurgitating more times than I can count. I've attended church religiously, supported it financially, taught Sunday School, the whole nine yards, so please get it through your tiny little brain that I am not a stranger to Christian who just hasn't tried it yet.

      It's just that at this point in my life I am not taken in by a comforting fairytale and I'm able to question what I'd believed and been told for so long.

      I'm sick and tired of simpletons like you spewing platitudes at me like a bunch of mindless drones.

      You seem oblivious to so many realities, such as the fact that less than a third of the world's population is Christian, and the religious beliefs people adopt are determined largely by circumstances of birth. Or the fact that if you look at all the religions men have created there is nothing they all have in common, making it clear there is no god behind them. And not only do you have no evidence God exists, you definitely have nothing to suggest Christianity has the correct understanding even if he did.

      Your mom liked your comforting fairytale as she was dying. Big whoop. Is that supposed to prove something to me?

      "However if you are able to learn spirituality u will realise it is not the Christianity that is the problem but your understanding of it!"

      Learning spirituality = embracing a delusion. Yes, once you embrace the first delusion it's a pretty simple matter to embrace more of them.

      "So what then is faith?"

      Here's what the Bible says about faith:

      Hebrews 11:1
      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

      In other words, hoping something is true is evidence it's true. That is: Faith = Evidence. This is why you simpletons always claim you have evidence. Giving words a special meaning within the context of a belief system is a propaganda technique. "Faith" is evidence; "truth" is what the Bible teaches; do this enough and it doesn't take long before you're living in a world that has little connection to reality.

      August 5, 2013 at 3:51 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        Aaah! I just wanted to see if skytag was not Granny Momoya!
        Yeah and I was right.
        Momoya you shud read the Bible like a story book and pick the moral lessons out rather than memorising verses.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Mark from Middle River

          You got to be kidding... SkyTag is Momoya?

          SkyTag , please say it ain't so 🙂

          ROFingFL

          August 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • Atheist, me?

          Hmm
          Mark she has such a distinctive writing style coupled with an intolerance for being preached to. If you preach to her she will react.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • A Frayed Knot

          skytag is not momoya.

          Here's momoya:

          @ HeavenSent

          "I used those sorts of arbitrary statements for the fifty years I was a believer and minister–and I fully believed it then just as you do now."
          May 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
          http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/11/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-friday-may-11/

          Furthermore, momoya, is an older woman and does not live in Florida, like skytag; and skytag was not a minister. Don't ask me to look for other old posts - you can do it if you like.

          Just because they have similar valid points and write very well, does not mean they are the same person. Sheesh, you guys!

          August 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • joe

        No way this person was a true believer at one point. Way too smart.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • Atheist, me?

          Joe
          so your definition of a true believer is someone who doesn't know a thing about religion!
          This is sooo funny!
          And your definition of smart is someone who makes long posts against religion?
          In that case do u count yourself smart?

          August 6, 2013 at 2:40 am |
        • Layla

          If eloquence of a post is any indicator, skytag has you beat, Atheist, Me?. Using ridiculous text-speak on a blog looks unbelievably childish.

          Care to counter anything skytag actually said, or are you going to continue to use snark as your argument?

          August 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
        • joe

          Hah? Give me any argument you want in favor of Christianity and I'll rip it to shreds in one post.

          Christianity is for children who need make pretend friends to help them get through the day.

          August 7, 2013 at 12:47 am |
        • Mark from Middle River

          Give me any argument you want in favor of Christianity and I'll rip it to shreds in one post.

          Please give me your parameters. If you wish. 🙂

          Are we talking about Faith vs Non-Faith, Religion vs Non Religion, or positive works by Christians vs negative acts by Christians. Will I need to defend all Christians since the beginning of time or my own personal Christianity?

          I will wait. 🙂

          PS. I guess since your first statement was to assume.... I will say that Atheism is for people who fear judgment so much that they have to hope God away.

          I hope we can proceed forward beyond this type of silly response to a respectful dialogue.

          August 7, 2013 at 4:45 am |
        • joe

          I'll help you out. There is no contemporaneous evidence that Jesus was a real person. None. Zip. Zilch. God comes to earth, stops a star, has maji bringing gifts, all babies in an entire community are murdered, great lectures take place, followers by the thousands, people healed, people brought back from the dead etc. etc. and not one person who was alive at the time thought to memorialize God's presence while God was actually present. Not one written account. Not one piece of jewelry. Not one piece of pottery. Nothing. Nobody cared about memorializing anything until 5 to 10 generations after God left.

          It's a patently absurd story. Nobody with any reasoning skills whatsoever would have any reason to believe it without and incredible amount of evidence–and not only is there not an incredible amount of evidence, there is zero evidence.

          August 7, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  9. hisgoodteenr

    i was born and raised in a traditional catholic family. I did believe in God that at grade 5, every Wednesday before I go to school, on my own accord I woke up at 5am, travelled via public transport to the big church to serve in the early novena mass as altar boy.

    At age 21, I met an atheist for the very first time and it was a shocker for me – how can one exist and not believe in God? But we became friends and discussed religion in great length. I was astounded by the simplicity and clarity of her answers to my questions. Questions like "where did we come from", "where did God come from", "how can one be good without God", etc. Her answers all made sense and I started feeling uneasy with my own beliefs. The more I sought the truth on my own, the more I study about all religions, the more I'm finding out I've been duped. I was angry at first but not I'm very grateful for that atheist friend of my from liberating me from that bondage. I'm hoping that by participating in these forums I can pay that friend of mine forward. Sometimes it only takes one atheist to change one's beliefs.

    August 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Congratulations to you. The word "atheist" carries a lot of baggage associated with on Madeline Murray O'Hair. She was to the Atheist movement what the play and film "Boys In The Band" (1968-70) was for the gay movement. In other words, an absolute shocker, very unpleasant on the surface and also below the surface. But both were necessary to wake the sleeping giant.

      We can look back on those fledgling years of sudden openness with a bit of kindness reserved for teenage rebellion: acne, awkward, unpleasant and all that goes with it.

      The Internet is the new medium, and it is serving us all well. The generations that still cling to the old ways will, bit by bit, go to their long-anticipated reward, and good for them. For the rest of us, out and proud and full of hope for the goodness inherent in mankind, let's just enjoy the wonder of life as we know it, and leave the hereafter where it belongs: in old storybooks.

      August 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
      • hisgoodteenr

        Thanks, Jungleboo! I agree with you about the availability of information via the internet. It thru the internet that I discovered the majority of stories and characters in the bible were copied from other religions, which predated christianity for hundreds if not thousands of years.

        August 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • skytag

      Be glad your your eyes were opened at such a young age. It came much later for some of us, after our religious beliefs had influenced so many important life choices and we'd indoctrinated our own children.

      August 5, 2013 at 2:24 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        I am an Anglican. In fact I am a Lay Pastor waiting to enter Seminary. What I can say for oyr Roman-Catholic-turned-Atheist us that a Church which actively promotes religiosity like the RCC always suffers with this. If he/she had not come under the influence of an Atheist she wud have come under that of another belief system.
        Lets not also forget that altar boys are the most religious and least spiritual members of the congregation. Very easy for them to fall away from my own church experience if u r 1.

        Besides this is the net and it cud b propaganda!

        August 5, 2013 at 2:43 am |
        • skytag

          More fact-free rationalizing. Well, when you get to seminary you'll be so surrounded by the propaganda you won't have a chance of being able to think for yourself.

          Out of curiosity, where in the Bible does Christ teach people to become formally trained in religion? As I recall, everyone in the Bible who was formally trained in religion was an enemy of Christ.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:49 am |
        • Atheist, me?

          Sky
          the fact is that the best place to learn Atheism is an Anglican Seminary. I always ask which denomination you ministered in but you refuse to answer. Just let go the anger. I love the improvement I see in your demeanor so far. Keep loving others as yourself, you are free from whatever that Church did to you!

          August 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • LogicalBeliever

      I was also raised a Catholic and had a similar, but not exact experience. I lived in a Catholic bubble nearly my entire life until college – Catholic church and school with nearly everyone in my neighborhood being Catholic. Once I got in college and even later, it was a shocker to me that, despite living in this Catholic world, I really didnt know my faith and started easily leaning toward Atheism – which kind of scared me. Despite going to Catholic schools and labeling myself Catholic, like so many Catholics, I never really did anything to truly understand my faith and never really learned it from an adult perspective – kind of like someone trying to maneuver through a Calculus class with only a second-grade background in math. So before I took the plunge of leaving the Church, I challenged myself to actually learn the philosophy, theology, sociology, and even scientific thought that the Catholic Church has gifted us with over the years. While it is too long to fully chronicle here, I ultimlately made the intellectual choice that it is quite logical to believe in God – like so many great scientific thinkers before me. Just wanted to share this to pay forward the gift that I received from the Church – sometimes all it takes is just one believer to make a real difference to motivate people to go beyond the stereotypes and realize the beauty and logic of Catholicism.

      August 5, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        There continues to be absolutely no logic to leaping to a conclusion that there are any gods. You continue to use the word logic incorrectly.
        We do not know, logic dictates we say we do not know.

        Taking it one step further, to illustrate my point. Logic saays we believe in the Great pumpkin. By your "logic" I can come to that or many other conclusions. Using actual logic, one can only reach one conclusion, and that is we cannot draw a conclusion, therefore, following any one hypothesis, is illogical.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
      • joe

        You lie. Trying to make it seem like you're a thinker and struggled with it and finally decided to go with Christianity on an intellectual level. What a joke.

        You should be ashamed for lying in attempt to turn other uneducated and ignorant people on the fence.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
  10. Human-being

    Thanks for posting the rational side. I don't want to be grouped by future generations with the demon fearing believers that will make us all seem as silly as people praying to airplanes is to us. Thanks for sparing us the shame of all being believed to be believers.

    August 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  11. pierrette1

    All of these comments are a prime example of our human plight. We all need to convince the ones who have different beliefs from ours that they are wrong. Multiply this by billions who all think the same way...I say that evolution has a lot of work left to do or "god" made a mistake. And life goes on...for some of us..others have died from religious crusades and inquisitions. Religion is the main cause of wars on this earth of ours. That is a verifiable historic fact.

    August 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • skytag

      "Religion is the main cause of wars on this earth of ours. That is a verifiable historic fact."

      Actually, it isn't. Most wars have been fought over resources and quests for power and territorial expansion.

      August 5, 2013 at 2:27 am |
  12. IHateFatChicks

    Religion and belief in a "god" is for the unintelligent, uneducated and those who are easily manipulated.

    August 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • skytag

      That's a bit of an oversimplification. Most people who believe in God were raised to believe and leaving a cult is difficult at best.

      August 5, 2013 at 2:29 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        Which definition of cult are you using skytag?
        In most Christian churches, spiritual abuse is abhorred. Leaving is as easy as coming. That is why we have the term backsliders-people who have lost interest and left.
        The problem is the few spiritually abusive ones. They hate losing power over u! No priest or minister worth his salt hates a backslider.

        August 5, 2013 at 3:17 am |
        • skytag

          This one from Merriam-Webster:

          cult noun, often attributive \ˈkəlt\
          2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents

          If you're in a cult it's never a cult. It's always someone else's religion that's a cult. Same rationalization that has you believing your evidence is real but the evidence a Muslim or a Buddhist has isn't.

          A lot of people believe Mormonism is a cult. I've never met a Mormon who would agree with that assessment. An atheist believes they're all cults, and we both know you can't prove they aren't. 😉

          August 5, 2013 at 4:59 am |
  13. hisgoodteenr

    Religions are kidnappers of children's minds . The children, at first hated to go to church but had no choice because of their parents. These victims grew up as adults, bonded with their captors and now resist to leave their captors; now, they even defend their captors viewpoints to death. This is a classic case of capture-bonding or stockholm syndrome.

    August 4, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • skytag

      What idiotic rubbish. The same thing could be said of making kids go to school.

      August 5, 2013 at 2:31 am |
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About this blog

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