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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

    Hemant! Thank you for an articulate explanation for disbelievers. People here have blogged that you can't 'prove' atheism ... any more than you can 'prove' their god. It seems to me this is a truth. But the burden here is on the believer. Believers claim so many fantastical things without a shred of evidence. So, I am satisfied calling myself an agnostic. Maybe yes. Maybe no. The evidence, however, swings me to think supernatural events like virgins giving birth (think Julius Ceasar) and dead people coming back to life are consistent with ancient times. I doubt many but the insane would posit such things in the 21st century. Anyway, thanks again Hemant, you are my 'bomb-of-the-day'.

    August 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  2. CSX

    People are so lost and reprobate.

    Until you repent and turn to Christ, you will die in your sins.

    August 18, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • truthprevails1

      People are so gullible. Until you actually read the bible and realize how horrible the christian god is, you can't hope to live in reality.

      August 18, 2013 at 9:26 am |
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    August 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    August 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  4. K Kim

    Perhaps these young men and women realized the "church" that they are leaving is not the "church" that is described in the Bible.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • eeLymmoT

      Perhaps these young men and women realized the "church" that they are leaving is not the "church" that is described in the Bible.

      More to reality, the current churches did that from the previous churches. No current church is inline with the exact Biblical definition of church. Look up the Bible's stipulations of the church and then get back to me on the one that is the closest. Please, no excuses on culture or context, that's all opinion with no true, objective way to determine which is right. And, it's obvious that no god is going to come done and say for himself.
      Let me give you a clue on how difficult that will be; there are more denominations of Christianity (about 41,000) than there are verses in the Bible (about 31,000)... all of which will claim they are the most inline with what the Bible says.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
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    August 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  6. Levine

    A very sloppy opinion piece with no coherency whatsoever!

    August 9, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • reddragon

      I found it to be lovely.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  7. ImLook'nUp

    Because the older you get, the less you knew what you thought you knew and God was right all along...

    August 8, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Dennis

      Science has not proven that God does not exist. Absence of proof is not proof. Thus, one must rely on faith to claim God does not exist. Believers and athiests are both at faith's mercy.

      August 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Science has not proven that Skeletor does not exist. Absence of proof is not proof. Thus, one must rely on faith to claim Skeletor does not exist. Believers and aSkeletorists are both at faith's mercy.

        August 8, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        Dennis
        Men have created a great may " realities". To believe there are any gods, is to accept a hypothesis as if it were a reality. Do you have any verifiable facts as to the Great pumpkin?

        August 8, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
      • Athy

        Well, if science can't prove it one way or the other, why not rely on common sense to settle it? Does common sense lead one to believe that some supreme being created the entire universe, controls all of it and listens to groveling humans praying? Or is it simply explained by a progression of nature as has been observed over the last thousand years or so? Tough call for the IQ-challenged, bible-washed religies, but not for me.

        August 8, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
      • JSID1981

        I believe that Cookie Monster is real. He is whole hearted, he doesn't judge and he will love me forever, plus we have something in common: we both sound retarded.

        August 13, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      imlookup
      There is still nothing to go on. Any belief in gods is just you being lazy.

      August 8, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
      • ImLook'nUp

        RC,
        I saw your comment this morning and I wasn't quite sure exactly how to reply, seeing as I don't find myself being a lazy sort.
        So, I went to the kitchen to cook up some breakfast and the guy on the radio asked a question: "What percentage of readers read the last page of the book they are reading?" I chuckled at the thought because I am guilty of doing this very thing! My husband says I'm cheating. (I just want to know how it ends –first!) The DJ gives us listeners a choice of three answers. Since it's a game, the person who calls in first gets to answer and if they are correct, they win a pizza or something like that from one of the local restaurants. The answer is 15 percent and the caller wins!

        So, I go to the book I am reading and flip to the last page of the Bible. I read it. It's REVELATION chapter 22 verse 10 thru 21.

        So, I know the ending. My life book is still being written. That is what keeps me going!

        August 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Ummmmm

          "I saw your comment this morning and I wasn't quite sure exactly how to reply, seeing as I don't find myself being a lazy sort."

          They were talking about being mentally lazy.

          August 10, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • ImLook'nUp

          Hmmmmm, can't see the forest for the trees?

          August 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • mike

          it's funny because you did just what he said, you were mentally lazy.

          August 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  8. P NESS

    CHRISTIANITY

    THE BELIEF THAT SOME COSMIC JEWISH ZOMBIE CAN MAKE YOU LIVE FOREVER IF YOU SYMBOLICALLY EAT HIS FLESH AND TELEPATHICALLY TELL HIM THAT YOU ACCEPT HIM AS YOUR MASTER,SO HE CAN REMOVE AN EVIL FORCE FROM YOUR SOUL THAT IS PRESENT IN HUMANITY BECAUSE A RIB-WOMAN WAS CONVINCED BY A TALKING SNAKE TO EAT FROM A MAGICAL TREE

    MAKES PERFECT SENSE

    August 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Dr. Smiley Friend

      So in other words you haven't studied Christianity. You just copied and pasted that from a website.

      Zombie:
      – dead body given life by voodoo: in voodoo, a dead body supposedly brought back to life again without a soul

      – voodoo spirit reviving dead body: in voodoo, a spirit that supposedly brings a dead body back to life again

      – the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.

      Jesus is not a zombie. He wasn't raised from the dead by voodoo. He's not soul-less, mute, or will-less.
      Jesus was resurrected, which is not the same thing as a re-animation. Jesus is alive; He's not a re-animated dead person.

      August 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
      • hee hee

        Zombies also can't recognize facetiousness.

        August 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
      • AE

        Yes and thank you!

        August 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • Reality

        Only for the new members of this blog:

        Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

        From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

        Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

        To wit;

        From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

        "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
        Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

        Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

        Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

        The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

        Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

        The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

        "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
        http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

        The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

        With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

        An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

        p.4

        "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

        p.168. by Ted Peters:

        Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

        So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:55 am |
      • The Eternal Satyr

        You're right. Jesus isn't a zombie. Jesus is a myth. Zombies are real.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • Reality

          You might want to re-read the comments about the historical Jesus.

          August 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • Dandintac

        "Zombie" need not mean just those corpses resurrected by Voodoo. Any supernatural force will do.

        Dictionary.com
        Zombie
        1. a. the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.
        So, yes, the resurrected Jesus character in the Bible was a zombie. I know Christians hate the word in connection to their beliefs, but it is totally true.

        August 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Dr. Smiley,

      Although P NESS may have exaggerated a bit, isn't that the basic "nuts and bolts" of the thing? Does it really make any sense at all? Really?

      August 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • hee hee

      Your point is made so much more forceful by the all-caps. I'm going to try it:

      POSTS IN ALL-CAPS ALWAYS COME ACROSS AS INSANE

      August 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Salero21

      One more piece of evidence that atheism is stupidity in Full bloom in any and all seasons.

      August 7, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
      • joe

        Not really. The guy basically has it right. It's a patently absurd story from beginning to end.

        If you weren't mentally deluded into believing it to be true because it makes you feel good (addiction) you'd be laughing at its absurdity.

        August 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
      • evolvedDNA

        salero21.. evidence what do you know of evidence? you have none what so ever for your alien..

        August 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        S21 is a lying troll. Ignore it.

        August 8, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Your life is a story and you play your part. Most people don't want to admit that every good story has a Villain. The Villain in your story is the Evil One. Some call him Satan. He is very happy when you say you don't believe in God. He rules the world, but if you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, he will give you the strength to overcome your tendency to sin. We all sin, but everyone's goal should be to live a life that honors God. For those of you that worry about logic and science and inccongruencies with the Bible, remember that God "confounds the wisdom of the wise".

      August 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • gilbert gomezName*

      Hello all. What I don't understand about atheist is that whether or not u believe. In god the reality is. you do . For the fact of even mentioning his name. They live this world as if he doesn't exist. In search of proving he doesn't. When tragedy happens to them. They call on god for help. All I want to say is stop spending your time energy and money on proving he doesn't and give him a chance. Ask himfor an encounter with him. Test him. It's free doesn't cost u anything to try. This world is full of hypocricy and negatiety that your blinded by it. How many of you would send your one and only child to be tortured and crucified. Think about that. A prayer to god is free
      Try it be cause there's good and bad in this world. Satan is real.he's busy roaming this world to purse you from the truth via internet, prorn social media,etc.try him. Stop being so busy being a non b believer. Please

      August 12, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  9. mzh

    And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. 5:116

    I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness. 5:117

    If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. 5:118

    August 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • P Ness

      Blah Blah Blah

      Go build an Arc

      August 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • Dippy

        Ark, not arc.

        August 7, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I'm confident that the Islam perspective makes as much sense to the Muslim as Christianity makes to the Christian. Both have the same methodology: faith, so there's no "tie breaker" available. They both use the same chemistry and mathematics though......hmmm.....

      August 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  10. Dr. Smiley Friend

    "Why are millennials leaving church? Try atheism"

    So basically the author is an atheist because:
    – atheists dominate the internet
    – atheists can get a "Scarlet A" from Richard Dawkins
    – atheists have a 1-800 recovery hotline
    – atheists advertise on billboards
    – 20,000 atheists attended a "Reason Rally"

    I guess it seems that atheism is all about style. No substance to atheism whatsoever.

    August 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm not an atheist becuase I "joined atheism". I'm an atheist because no one has ever demonstrated to me that a deity exists. It's the default position. It isn't a movement.

      You can disregard atheists as a bunch of trendy idiots if you like, but your disdain is nothing new to us. Christians have been marginalizing non-believers for centuries.

      August 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
      • Dr. Smiley Friend

        Well I'm not a Christian because I "joined Christianity." I'm a Christian because I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. I studied the historical evidence ( the eye witness accounts, the oral accounts, archeology evidence, etc..) and I came to the conclusion that Jesus was who He said he was. It's a logical inference based on the evidence. But for some reason atheists accuse me of having blind faith, or accusing me of disregarding science. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        August 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • joe

          the eye witness accounts, the oral accounts, archeology evidence, etc.
          ----------
          You are either sadly misinformed or you lie. There is no contemporaneous evidence of Jesus. None. Zilch. Zero. God came to earth and nobody cared.

          Your so called eye witness accounts were written 5-10 decades after the alleged events happened.

          It is what it is. Deal with it.

          August 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I don't accuse you of anything I would not accuse the Muslim of. You believe that origin myth you were trained to believe. Most likely, it's the origin mythology of your dominant culture and time period. But no, you have no evidence and you have no proof. It's pure philosophy.

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

          I'm strongly in favor of looking into the evidence.

          Don't stop with that. Look into the evidence for the claims of other religions. Also look into their history, particularly that of Christianity.

          So you agree with the council of Bishops in the fourth century. They also decided that Jesus was the son of God. Did you know that one of their motivations was political, since the enemies of Rome were Arians (those who thought Jesus was a prophet, but not a deity?)

          August 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
        • Reality

          http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

          Religion………………………… Adherents

          Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

          Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

          Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion

          Hinduism 900 million
          Chinese traditional religion 394 million
          Buddhism 376 million
          Animist religions 300 million
          African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
          Sikhism 23 million
          Juche 19 million
          Spiritism 15 million

          Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

          Baha'i 7 million
          Jainism 4.2 million
          Shinto 4 million
          Cao Dai 4 million
          Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
          Tenrikyo 2 million
          Neo-Paganism 1 million
          Unitarian Universalism 800,000
          Rastafari Movement 600,000

          August 8, 2013 at 7:59 am |
        • Reality

          Only for the new members of this blog:

          The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

          Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
          and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
          human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

          I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
          preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
          named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
          girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

          Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
          the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

          He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
          a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
          Jerusalem.

          Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
          many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
          and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
          Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
          grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
          and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
          called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

          Amen
          (references used are available upon request)

          August 8, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Precisely, Enjay.

        August 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  11. Idolatry on the loose

    Friendly atheist-What made you give your roots, one would assume you were some kind of a hindu?

    August 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Pascal

      Isn't idolatry a form of unbelief? elephant god worshippers are probably non believers!?! Different from atheists but most likely identify with them here.

      August 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • Idolatry on the loose

        hindus are the active spokespersons for atheists on this blog.

        Entire families congregate here, day after day!

        August 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • Layla

          What?? Oh, I don't think so.

          August 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Ed

          You mean a mouthpiece 😉

          August 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
        • hee hee

          What are you talking about?

          August 7, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
      • hee hee

        There you have it – there is only one religion according to some. All other religions are a form of non-belief.

        August 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  12. Dyslexic doG

    the other 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

    August 7, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  13. Risk TAKER

    It takes courage to believe in something. You are atheist, you believe in the belief that there is no God. You found peace in that belief of No God. You are taking a risk. But as long as SCIENCE cannot explain the mystery of Death, Atheists are taking a Risk so uncertain and much larger compared to believers in God. Well, atheist decided to face death without an insurance policy, I respect that too. but you take your risks and the believers will take their risks with an insurance policy.

    August 6, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • joe

      Come on dude. That is just babble. Your argument makes Islam just as true as Christianity. Point is, your argument is no argument at all, just self serving babble.

      August 7, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • VampWereGoat

      The problem with Pascal's Wager is that you can apply it to any belief. You are no safer taking out a "policy" in Christianity than you are Hinduism, Islam, or Atheism. We have no way of imperically proving one belief system completely over all others, so I don't see the problem in having doubt. If you value truth (as I think most people do), it's a matter of choosing what you think is the most probable and accurate world view of the cosmos. Remember, we can't all be right, but we could all be wrong.

      August 7, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • hee hee

      Wait... I believe in the belief that there is no God? Oh – the sting! How the tables have turned! I am as faithful as the religious. I hang my head in shame. How could I have made such an elementary mistake?

      August 7, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • fintastic

      There goes another ignorant word twister... atheists believe that they don't believe that they believe that they don't believe.... .... what a laugh..

      August 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      It doesn't take courage to believe in something for which there is no proof. It takes gullibility.

      August 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • JerryG1

        Kind of like the gullible Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs.

        August 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
      • EnjaySea

        Okay, point well taken. The tem gullible is a bit derogatory isn't it? I'll change my terminology then. I'll use the term "easily indoctrinated" instead. Thanks.

        August 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Anon

      Don't you fundies ever get tired of bringing out that Pascal's wager argument?
      It's never going to convince us non-believers.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      HaHaHaHaHaHa

      Atheists believe that none of the thousands of gods the weak men have worshipped exist.

      Why do you not believe that the wind is made by giant invisible dragons?

      August 8, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Happy Skeptic

      What a silly argument. I am a Christian because I need Insurance? That is your reason? REally? Do you also buy insurance that protects against alien invasions? Do you also accept iIslam in case they are right and hey, better get some insurance for that too? How about Insurance for meteor showers falling your head? People who reject your belief don't need insurance for it any more than you need insurance for things you don't believe will happen. it is as simple as that. Your fear of the afterlife seems to dictating your time in this life. Just live your life and fill it with friends, family love and good behavior. You will find it quite fulfilling.

      August 18, 2013 at 1:28 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.