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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. Gorsh

    This article is just weird.

    Sounds exactly like a TV evangelist bragging about a successful recruitment drive.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Richard57

    hEY, i SURE AGREE, the churches have problems...they're human....but you gotta love that new pope...livin in a motel, loving people....BUT , HEY....How do atheists help and save people? Is there a Atheist Salbation Army? A GoodWill? A RedCross? How about international Atheists, surely with all their intelligence about the universe and what is real and notwot...they must be involved at the highest levels of government and leadership....I bet they'll bring world Peace! Gotta love those Atheists...guess what breaks the laws of Physics....what is the rarest thing in the universe and what is the second rarest thing in the universe? Tell us Atheists.....hahahahahahahahahaha

    July 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • jsad

      Exactly!!

      July 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Common sense fills both answers.

      Your righteous indignation does nothing for either your spelling or your logic.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • D. S. K.

      I've met plenty of 'Christians' that are just plain horrible people. I've met plenty of Atheists who are good and giving people. And vice-versus. I don't the define a person's worth in terms of their belief. Measure a person based on their deeds; not what they purport to believe in.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  3. ThatsRight

    Hard to believe this man teaches impressionable young minds. Pretty sure he's not gonna be sticking to his syllabus of 'mathematics' since he also speaks publicly on 'the rise of high school atheism' and 'being atheist activists.'

    And as poster CJ so correctly points out – you conveniently forgot to mention ANYTHING about the 3 MILLION faithful who just attended World Youth Day to see Pope Francis! oops – your bad Mehta.

    Lastly.... You really need to return your Math Ed degree to (of all places) DePaul University Mr. Mehta.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      do you see the irony?

      Christianity only continues because Christians brainwash their children with this nonsense from an early age.

      get back in your bubble.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
      • D. S. K.

        You could rewrite the read 'Extremists will continue to exist because they teach their children to be extremists'; that include Atheists and Christians.

        July 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Anton

      the article addresses the status in the USA, not brazil
      READ IT

      July 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
      • ThatsRight

        The Christian religion only – not the current state of (ALL) religions in the USA as you incorrectly stated earlier.
        Either way – our parish & diocese is thriving – as are all parochial schools! God bless!

        July 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  4. Cynthia

    Interesting the article only attacked Christianity! It was Interesting that even more conservative Isalm was not even mentioned. Typical CNN bias and hatred toward Christians!

    July 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Anton

      The article was addressing the current state of religion in USA.
      Read before you exaggerate.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
      • ThatsRight

        Actually Anton, perhaps YOU should go back and read the article. Cynthia is correct in that he only addresses the difference between atheism and Christianity – not the current state of ALL religions in the USA.

        It's the very first sentence/paragraph & throughout the entire ridiculous piece. Read before you try to 'correct' someone. Sheesh!

        July 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • John

      All religion is stupid – not just christianity. But thanks for bringing that up.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      poor persecuted christians. CNN must be the de.vil.

      more fairy stories.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Mike

      It focused on Christianity because that is the dominate religion in America, BY A HUGE NUMBER. That would be like discussing the Holocaust and talking about how disabled people were also killed, for the same amount of time you talk about the Jews being killed.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
      • jsad

        The Author was never a Christian..from his last name its clear he had hindu ancestry

        July 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          Assume much? Or do you just base that on faith that he isn't a christian?

          July 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
        • D. S. K.

          Amazing how to can determine a person's religion based merely on their name; now that is a special gift.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
      • *

        *dominant, not dominate

        July 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • jsad

      Exactly!!..spot on!! these people are cowards..take on islam..oh wait..they know they will die if they do so

      July 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
      • John

        Take on Islam and you die? Oh, but jsad ... you've been taking on Islam and you're still here. What a brave, brave little sheep you are. Bless your heart.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
        • jsad

          I have lived in Islamic countries..so i know what i'm talking about..you may want to get out of your basement for a change

          July 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
        • John

          Oh, but jsad. jesus is here with me in the basement. He's in the closet. I keeping asking him to come out of the closet, but he's afraid of what you chrisschons will say about him. Bless his heart.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        aint religion grand!?!?

        July 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • ThatsRight

      Cynthia – You are correct

      July 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  5. Anton

    Sounds about right.....

    The religious just have a problem with logic, and that is not a great thing when trying to make a case for something.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Junior

      Read Thomas Aquinas much?

      July 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
      • Anton

        yep, love the part at the end where he writes it just come down to faith.
        In other-words.
        It comes down to
        bull crap

        July 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    Yesterday morning there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

    John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

    Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

    John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

    John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

    Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

    Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

    Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

    John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

    Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

    Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

    John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

    Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

    Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

    Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

    John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

    Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

    John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

    Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

    Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

    Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

    John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

    Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

    John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

    Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

    Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

    John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

    Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

    Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

    John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

    From the Desk of Karl
    1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don't use alcohol.
    10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

    Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

    Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

    Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

    John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

    Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

    Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

    Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

    Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

    Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

    Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

    John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

    Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

    John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

    Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

    Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

    Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

    John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

    Me: "We do?"

    Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

    Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

    John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

    Me: "But...oh, never mind.

    from Jhuger.com

    July 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Zon

    Here's another reason, because faith is just another expression for willful ignorance. I'm reminded of a David Bowie lyric: "And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world, are immune to your consultations, they're quite aware of what they're going through"

    We have a generation that is unafraid of the unknown because so much is known. They don't need fairy tales to explain the universe and they have enough knowledge to know when they are being lied to.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Salero21

      Yours is a good example of why atheism is stupidity in Full bloom.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
      • John

        Full bloom stupidity again? Don't have much of an imagination, do you? Look for some possibilities in your fairy tale book – the bible.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        The common argument, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, [the Christian] god must have caused it – does not make sense to us. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to us, much less the Judeo-Christian god. We feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. Yes, we’re the stupid ones aren’t we?

        July 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
        • jsad

          This isn't a 'God of the gaps' argument..when you look at the beauty and symmetry in creation..in the universe ..in the cell, in nature..it begs the question..is there intelligent design..does the dictionary form from an explosion in the printing press??

          July 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
        • Junior

          Yet it was a Catholic priest who suggested the Big Bang Theory.....BOOOM

          July 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
        • lionlylamb

          1. God's spirit is the Nothingness we perceive as being Outer Space. With no known beginning, Nothingness was a forever-ness and will go on being Nothingness long after our corner of the physical Cosmos dissipates.

          2. Big Bangs are a common factor within the vastness of Nothingness and as they once were a happening they still are happening and will go on happening. The absolute numbers of Big Bangs may well be equivalent to the immeasurable numbers of sandy grains we see upon all the beaches' oceanic shores. Science seems to be very fickle in their limitations by upholding to but one Big Bang... Silly are today's scientists who seem unwilling to fathom billions perhaps trillions or more Big Bangs...

          3. The Celestial Cosmos is so vast we will never be able to see it all. For as the distances between Big Bangs are most likely trillions of light years apart from each other, their light has yet to travel the distances for us to see the light being emanated. Science is held into believing that our perceived universe is all there is, is not only a stupid perspective, it flies in the face of constructive reasoning...

          4. The Atomic Cosmos is divided between the Celestial Caverns of galaxies and nebulas while also being interwoven into being Cellular Formations within the very natures of terrestrially woven Life... Atomically formed are all things Celestial and Terrestrial... Life is the final products of permeably made atomically ordained issuances of atomized temporal conclusiveness...

          5. We are this world's earthen finality of indemnified cellular omnipotence made from ever evolving tides of cellular conditionings continually consolidating within improving lusters of trial and errors communing upon the basic fabrics of cellular dimensioning attributes...

          July 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
        • Johnny

          Yes, Junior, because he wasn't content with "god did it" as an answer.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Anton

        Salero
        Sounded pretty logical, you are not helping your side with that response.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
      • Athy

        Salero is a great promoter of atheism. Leave him alone. We atheists need him.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  8. mac101

    Radical atheists are as narrow-minded as radical religionists. For one thing, this is not an either-or proposition – you're either a christian or you're an atheist, you either believe in science or you believe in religion. For another thing, christianity is NOT the only religion in the world, or even the dominant religion in the world.

    As long as extremists on both sides stay extreme and on one side, there will be no understanding and no tolerance.

    Some people believe in a higher power and still delight in scientific exploration – Einstein comes to mind. (Note: not a christian.) Some people believe in a Judeo-Christian god but detest organized religion. Some people aren't sure what they believe, they are just sure of what they don't believe. And on and on.

    For many, many folks, I suspect it is a continuum of beliefs, questions, doubts, and certainties.

    But make no mistake, it is much more than just christians vs. atheists.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Salero21

      Atheists are narrow minded because atheism is stupidity in Full bloom.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
      • John

        Can you use atheism more than twice in the same sentence? Try ... please? It will be fun.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Zon

      Einstein was in no way religious. He defined God as the sum total of all the natural laws in the universe. He identified as a Jew, but only for cultural reasons. When you say atheists are intolerant, to a certain extent that's true. They are intolerant of ignorance, fear and hatred; things many religions have monopolies on.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Anton

      There is no such thing as an atheist extremist: they just explain the side of logic, and some people have a major conflict dealing with reality.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Aaron

      I just think we need to focus on critical thinking and observable truth as a species. It's time to graduate from 8th grade.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  9. John

    jsad - Typical ignorant christian: question Islam. question Hinduism. You are a class-A#1 idiot christian. Go poke your nose in your book of fairy tales and dream about jesus riding dinosaurs.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • jsad

      you know nothing about me..yet personally attack me when presented with facts..typical of how all atheists or anti-Christians argue..grow up..

      July 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  10. bp

    "It is necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff." – Pope Boniface VII

    July 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  11. Richard57

    Jesus just keeps on saving lives every day...He is the way, truth and life....by example....loving kindness, tender mercy, (hell, He saved a few lives I would have taken,...haha) forgiveness, joy, gladness, hope, and faith that there is a God...I call Him...'Big Papa'...haha......and it has been a real and great relationship. He has helped me more times than I can count....and helped me get through some very tough spots....I'm here to say, it's real, wonderful and I encourage any doubter to call on the Lord for help when they need to....I enjoy so much of what What God has given us....can you say AMEN!!!

    July 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      poor, sad, deluded individual ... still living your life by imaginary fairy tales.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
      • D. S. K.

        So, calling people names because they have a set of belief in which they live their lives doesn't do anything except make you look like an extremist. I'm an Atheist, but I can appreciate a christian's faith in their belief. I don't care for it being forced on me, but quite frankly nobody has ever forced me to go to church. Equally, forcing Atheistic beliefs on someone is also wrong. These are personal choices; not public ones that used to validate your own beliefs.

        All religions and Atheist organizations have a need to proselytize and do membership drives; it is what keeps them alive. Both activities are somewhat repugnant to me. As stated by others previously, it is the extremists and the lack of tolerance that is actually the major problem in the discussion.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
      • Bob

        Your ability to copy / paste is amazing. Are you capable of original thought?

        July 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  12. Dyslexic doG

    come on Christians ... exit your bubble of primitive, bronze age voodoo and step into the light of the 21st century.

    another generation or so and the world will look on your god and your jesus characters as we look on thor and isis and zeus (and santa claus for that matter) today.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • jsad

      Christianity has been around for thousands of years and will be for a lot longer after you and your offspring leave this earth

      July 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        yep ... that's what the Vikings and the romans and the greeks thought too. today's christianity is tomorrows punch line.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
        • jsad

          thats what john lennon said as well..'christianity is done'...look who is laughing now..many people over the centuries predicted (or thought they did) the end of christianity..nietzsche for example..it did not..and it is only growing stronger..its just that all the 'keyboard atheists' have a medium to vent.. through the internet these days...they'll grow up

          July 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          John Lennon has only been dead 30 years you tool.

          July 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
      • John

        Thankfully christianity is on its way out due to people like you. Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya. Dumba$$

        July 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
        • jsad

          lol ..you wish..!! thankfully it isn't..otherwise all sense of objective morality will go away from this world..

          July 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        Forgetting how long the Egyptians had their gods? And the Mayans, etc.?

        We're not worried. Logic will overcome. I have faith in that.

        July 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Mike

      And this will help you with your anger issues how? I use to say things exactly like what you're saying and the only person I hurt was myself in the end.

      Not that I'm terribly religious even now; I've come to realize my issues had little to nothing to do with all religion. Perhaps some had to do with how some will misuse religion, though I've found that's the case with some people regardless of what they claim to believe in. If you really believe in science, perhaps your time would be better served actually studying a specific scientific subject in depth (you'll find you know a lot less than you think if you, as with any other subject or discipline as a note).

      July 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Zeus_z

      Jesus was on this earth

      All you need to do is google "prophesies before Christ"... Thousands of years before, there were prophesies of details..that came true to be.

      Im a Christian, although a bad one..im nothing better in any way because I say I am a Christian..The Bible says near the end of times, this exact thing going on in this thread, and the story itself- would happen- People will be drifting away from believing...Its amazing when you read the Bible and see how many signs it points to that are coming to be.

      Dont hate others, love one another. Jesus will find a way to open your hearts.

      He died for us, he was beaten and spit on, and all he said was he loved us, and forgave all those that did that to him.. amazing...

      Wish I could forgive and not get angry about day to day stuff..

      July 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        Yep. Plenty of religions prior to christianity to give them stories to write about and make "true" by writing about them after writing in the prophesies. Not to mention plenty of existing other religions' holidays to usurp and make their own. Kind of like Mormons' mythos and how they change it as the socio-political winds blow.

        BTW – No doubt Jesus existed, just as Buddha . It's their divinity that's in question.

        July 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  13. Kurt

    In the marketplace of ideas, atheism usually wins. And (as with myself), when churches hold down their followers with delusion and lies, when the follower finds out, they become a loud whistleblower to help others out of the chains their minds were once fettered with.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • jsad

      why dont you guys criticize islam, or hinduism..only pick soft targets like christianity??

      July 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
      • LinCA

        @jsad

        You said, "why dont you guys criticize islam, or hinduism..only pick soft targets like christianity??"
        We do, at about the same rate as there are muslim commenting here. But don't worry, islam is just as infantile as christianity.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
      • D. S. K.

        jsad, the article was focusing on Christianity and Atheism, probably primarily in the US. So, by not introducing other religions into the discussion was a way of attempting to stay on topic.

        Belive it or not, there is enough room in the world for all beliefs to co-exist. It's the extremists that are preventing that from happening; extremists from all beliefs.

        July 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        I question all religions and am welcome to have them discuss them here.

        However, there is a vast preponderance of christians here. Feel the martyr much?

        July 30, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      "In the marketplace of ideas, atheism usually wins."

      Ideas are found within a daydreamer's mindedness foraging for the potentials ideas and atheism has nothing to do with anything related to ideas... Sorry to burst your atheistic bubbles Kurt... 🙁

      July 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Mike

      Perhaps it was the particular group you were with rather than the whole? You do realize that the fundamentalists are a minority within Christianity, a very small one at that in world terms. Look, I'm not religious myself, however, blanket statements irk me. There are many denominations that believe in science and evolution, there are many ways to read things and interpret them. Most don't have the knowledge or the context to understand this because they read them from a specific meaning of the words and phrases; they forget words change meaning and context both in time and across languages, as well as there are often different ways to interpret things.

      Here, I'll give you an example: Fundamentalists love to quote John 3:16 in a sense meaning you have to take their literal interpretations without question, right? Could you not also view the phrase that "not come upon the father except through me" as meaning, "if you don't practice forgiveness, focus on fixing your own shortcomings, try to understand and reach out to others without judgment, you aren't listening to what I'm saying at all and you fail to understand God." In that understanding, it's more a reminder that it's rejecting the rigid and orthodox views of the time and saying they've got it all wrong.

      Is that the right way to view it? Not sure, though it seems to mesh better with everything else Jesus said than some rigid view that looks at the failings of others while ignoring their own (which is how I see fundamentalists). As for those who don't believe in any of it, fine, then why not go out and focus on expanding knowledge on a given field of science and ignore those who are religious? Nobody is stopping you in modern society...

      July 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  14. jsad

    or islam for that matter..typical 'pseudo brave atheist' always questioning christianity ..but not islam..double standards

    July 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Islam is just as ridiculous. As is hinduism, the egyptian and greek mythos, and the cuthulhuists.

      Don't feel alone in your ridiculousness – you just happen to make yourself an easy target.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  15. jsad

    hey hemant ..comment about hinduism..easy to poke at christianity..it gave you the freedoms you now have

    July 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • D. S. K.

      A little revisionist history going on there jsad. At the elementary school level it was to escape religion persecution; not necessarily just for Christianity. That is why we don't have state religion; we are free to believe in what we want. Additionally, Christianity, a religion, can't 'do' anything. It is the people who actually 'do' stuff and they the country, while predominantly Christian, had many faiths and atheism represented. Remember, there are no absolutes and when use an absolute (ie. 'all', 'none', 'every') you inherently invalidate your arguments.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  16. CJ

    3 million people showed up just to hear the pope recently. Clearly, all these reports of an "exodus" from religion are a bit premature.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      unwashed, uneducated masses are easy pray for the primitive voodoo of christianity.

      the civilized, educated folk of the world are moving away from the childish foolishness of religion and into the light of fact, logic and science. it's inexorable!

      July 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • jsad

        Steorotype much..you sound like an arrogant, self-righteous person..oh ..is that an atheist?? so insecure in their beliefs or lack of any that they have to criticize others

        July 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          time will prove me right. 🙂

          July 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
        • D. S. K.

          While I disagree with the DO, to say that Atheists don't have beliefs is incorrect. Our beliefs are just not based solely on religion and many beliefs between Christianity and Atheism actually co-exist very nicely. They don't represent polar opposites in beliefs or even the origins of the beliefs.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Brazil's Catholic population has dropped from 93 to 65% since 1960. Pretty steady downtrending.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  17. Donovan Moore

    As a former born again Christian, I can tell you why we are leaving the church. We got tired of being lied to. end of discussion.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  18. aldewacs2

    Lycidas said (elsewhere): "... For some reason many atheists on here don't see a problem with comparing a person's deep belief to obviously insulting childish fiction. It proves nothing and it's only purpose is to try and get the opposition mad. It's a sign of weakness on your part..."
    ======

    Sorry to bring you the news, my friend, but the time when religions could not be criticized is over. Done. History. Every day, and every day in the past hundred years, religions rambled on about their unsubstantiated drivel and attempted to convert, cajole or force people to swallow their childlike fairy takes. Enough. It's time to ridicule the ridiculous ideas and expose them for what they are: falsehoods.

    "A person's deep belief" in this context **IS** childish fiction, and even most people who are church members admit this (albeit not always publicly). To treat those people with arranted disrespect, where it involves their religious delusions, is something that is necessary and good.

    Also, it's NOT to "get the opposition mad". Rather it's typically one of two things:
    1/ being sick and tired of molly-coddling deluded fools out of a misplaced sense of chivalry, and
    2/ generosity towards the person to encourage him to throw off the yoke that keeps him stupid.

    A sign of weakness? No, it's a sign of the times – they are a-changin'....

    July 30, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Eq8nQOhZ3u8

      July 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
      • pjusticern

        Great song!

        July 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  19. qo

    From Hemant's piece: "and let people know that they don't believe in God."

    Loved the article, but take issue with the usage of the singular "God" above. Not only does this provide fodder for, say, Hindus, but it lends credence to monotheists. Better to say "and let people know that they don't believe in gods."

    July 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Ali

      Unfortunately, in this country, the mindset is that there is only one; however, the true meaning of atheist is exactly what you have stated.

      July 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  20. lh

    Matthew 7:13-14

    13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

    14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT.

    Yep- you atheists have more followers than Jesus in this lost and dying world. Just like the Bible said you would. It must be frustrating to constantly prove the Word of God is true. I mean, all the time!! Oh wait- He did. Might want to read a Bible sometime and see how it's all going to pan out in the end.

    Psalm 2 describes you perfectly:

    Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

    2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,

    3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

    4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

    5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

    6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

    7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

    8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

    9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

    10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

    11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

    12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

    July 30, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      All that is gold does not glitter,
      Not all those who wander are lost;
      The old that is strong does not wither,
      Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

      From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
      A light from the shadows shall spring;
      Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
      The crownless again shall be king.

      The Fellowship of the Ring

      July 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
      • Thinker...

        Love it! At least in that mythology there was no pretence of free will while at the same time allowing for prophecy (well specific prophecy anyway, general prophecy pretty much always comes true.)

        July 31, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Phil

      We don't believe in what the Bible says, so why would we take any threats from the Bible seriously? Might as well say, "Santa says he will give you coal, aren't you really scared now?"

      July 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.