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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. Peter Q Wolfe

    Everybody knows that religion was created by the wealthy to exploit the poor and vulnerable for thier own gain. Everytime that I complain about unfairness whether mansions or gold toilet lids that "Life isn't fair" or "life isn't perfect". Ironically this ttranslated means as a blind person your few and a minority and have no power to influence anything, so you don't matter to the economy or me. Selfish that is selfish and short sighted with 70% unemployment and am personally disgraced by the nation of opportunities mantra in this country.

    July 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • lol??

      Jesus is Life and the absolutely fairest judge you will ever meet. And that's YOUR problem. Life is fair.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:33 am |
  2. Jack

    I don't know if the fact that nonbelievers dominate Reddit is something that groups like the Foundation Beyond Belief should be flaunting...

    July 31, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  3. conoclast

    Bumper sticker:
    If You Don't Pray In My School
    I Won't Think In Your Church.

    July 31, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  4. thes33k3r

    Religion is both false and immoral.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Austin

      choosing hell is immoral. God is Holy. that is something you have to submit to or you will perish.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
      • Joe

        @ Austin. I didn't understand any of the nonsense that you just said.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:13 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Do worry about what Austin writes – it's just standard "believer speak" – it's not suppose to make sense, just sound mystical to keep people within the cult.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • Hello

      Atheism is both false and immoral.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:15 am |
      • Observer

        Read a Bible and you'll see all kinds of immoral commands from God.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:44 am |
  5. Grant Dykstra

    If God doesn't exist, none of this matters. If God doesn't exist, why do you even care what I believe in? Life is meaningless. Your atheism is hypocritical as you try to convince me that your meaningless life (as atheism truly believes)has meaning.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Why do you believe some god must exist to give life meaning? Why do you believe atheists believe life is meaningless? What other delusions are you suffering from?

      July 31, 2013 at 1:04 am |
      • Hello

        Ok, i'll bite, explain to me how life has meaning if it came from nothingness?

        July 31, 2013 at 1:18 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Who said anything about nothingness? What do you mean by nothingness? This isn't about what I think – it's about the unsupported statements a beliver has made about atheists and atheism.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Lou

      The meaning of life is to live,build, and learn and leave something positive behind for others to build upon........

      July 31, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Nightlyt

      What you state is a fallacy. My life DOES matter, the way I treat people DOES matter. I don't do what I do because I am afraid of any "hell". I do things because they are the right thing to do. This is something many so called "Christians' could learn.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
      • Hello

        Why does it matter? You are living in delusion if you think that there is no God and you're life still matters.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:16 am |
        • Lou

          Delusion? Which one between you two believes in invisible people? Talk to any snakes lately?

          July 31, 2013 at 1:19 am |
        • Dippy

          Your, not you're. You religious nitwits are barely literate.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:24 am |
        • Hello

          Ok, really? get to the point, how does you're life matter if it came from nothing and will disappear into nothing?

          July 31, 2013 at 1:27 am |
        • Hello

          Ahhh yes, the spelling and grammar argument, the argument is a fallacy if things aren't spelled correctly... luv it.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:29 am |
        • Dippy

          Bad spelling and grammar present a rather poor frame of reference for a comment. Can someone using fifth-grade writing skills really be taken seriously?

          July 31, 2013 at 1:35 am |
        • Lou

          I didn't come from nothing. I came from the love of my parents bore each other at the time, as was my ancestors. I am made from the same stuff as the rest of the universe and when I die my matter will be reformed into other substances as it was before it was mine. Our mother ( the sun) warms us and feeds us from the darkness of the void. Our destiny is to spread into the stars that our ancestors stared and wonder over.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:37 am |
        • Hello

          And...the 'stuff' you refer to came from where? ahh yes from nothing.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:41 am |
        • Lou

          Quantum theory teaches that all types of matter phase in and out of existence right before our eyes...scientists have seen this occur in the sub-atomic level, something from nothing because truly there is never really nothing...

          July 31, 2013 at 1:59 am |
      • Lance

        You're wrong. I have a question for you. If we are just a product of randomness and evolution (survival of the fittest), what benefit would there be for us to have an understanding of RIGHT and WRONG? Why would we need love? Why would there be good and evil, and for what reason would we understand the difference?

        This is the dilemma atheists face when they prescribe to the theory of evolution and the idea we are spawned by randomness and dumb luck.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:26 am |
        • Hello

          Strongly agree.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:31 am |
        • Lou

          Our species have survived countless extinctions because of the fact that we care for each other. We have cared for each other longer then the concept of god was first explained by shamans around camp fires.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:31 am |
        • Hello

          Yeah, we care for each other 'survival of the fittest' doesn't seem to fall into that category...

          July 31, 2013 at 1:38 am |
        • Lou

          survival of the fittest is for animals without conscience. We are good to each other so the kindness is returned, preferably in an hour of need. Ancient man understood this ....a religious man believes it only comes at the cost of a deity's blood...

          July 31, 2013 at 1:44 am |
        • redzoa

          Read "Sociobiology" by E.O. Wilson for a primer of how altruism is a favorable evolutionary strategy. We also know that other species recognize concepts of "fairness" and "right and wrong" apparently with no help from a good book. There's actually a lot of interesting information out there relating to this topic if you cared to investigate.

          July 31, 2013 at 2:32 am |
  6. DeBunkoMatic

    Ah, ye of little faith...repent. Here is a parable, if I have to submit to the conditions in which Moses, Jesus, or or any other prophets lived I would be seeking the magic sky god as well. We have moved beyond that, please study your science and math rather than mythology, it will serve you far better and far longer.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • AE

      There are great scientific minds that claim studying science drew them closer to God.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • AE

      And that is not really a parable.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:57 am |
  7. Bo

    Atheist are just stupid, period. They have no "morals" to speak of, and offer you the worst mass murders in history. See Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and all those lovely communist pimps. Make no mistake, a world of atheist is a world of trouble. No atheist will ever be elected to public office because most people, rightly, don't trust them. Its damn funny to here an atheist take credit for young Americans "qoute" leaving the church, Atheist have created their own little gods, themselves!!

    July 31, 2013 at 12:51 am |
    • Observer

      Bo,

      Get an education. Claiming that atheists have no morals is incredibly ignorant and embarassing for you.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:54 am |
      • Bo

        Like it or not, if you have any morals, they came from religion, moron. Study your world history before you speak.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:59 am |
        • Observer

          Bo,

          Speaking of MORONS, do you need ancient writings to do your thinking? Are you so dense that you'd go around killing everyone and couldn't figure out that it's not a good idea for the long term.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
        • Athy

          Apparently Bo does need someone else to control his behavior. He can't do it on his own. So religion is good for him (and us!). He needs it. And we should be thankful that religion exists to control such cretins.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:14 am |
      • Hello

        If they had morals, what would they be? Did they 'evolve'? Why would yours be better than mine??? How can an atheist claim to have morals? Who would judge what was 'right' and what was 'wrong'?

        July 31, 2013 at 1:08 am |
        • Observer

          It is society as a whole that sets "morals". That is why they vary so much. As people grow older, they decide for themselves which morals they will follow. It's like Christians picking and choosing from the Bible.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:18 am |
        • Hello

          So it could feasibly be 'moral' in a society like Nazi Germany to kill a race of people....

          July 31, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • DeBunkoMatic

      Very well written Bo. Have you ever heard of the Spanish Inqusition? How about a little Austrian Corporal? Not atheists, too old perhaps? How about TImothy McVeigh? Read more, you will begin to learn and consequently to understand.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:58 am |
      • Bo

        The "greatest" mass murders in history have all been atheist. You missed your world history class.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:03 am |
        • Hello

          Exactly... selective 'athiestic' memory is at play here....

          July 31, 2013 at 1:10 am |
      • Dippy

        You expect Bo, who doesn't know the difference between "hear" and "here", to understand your argument?

        July 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
        • Hello

          ha! Sure, like usual, blame the source, arguments stand on their own, with or without 'Bo'. Stick to the subject.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • John

      " No atheist will ever be elected to public office because most people, rightly, don't trust them." It took about one minute on Google to refute that claim. I actually had no clue but your inaccurate statement helped educate me. Thanks.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • Nightlyt

      I bet I have more morals in my little finger than you do in your whole body.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • erivera63

      Thank you Bo for proving my point about how religious people are hypocrites..Thou shalt not judge, and yet thats wht you do so well....I grew up in the church to find out priests were abusing alter boys, my priest and his wife funded their vacations on our collection plate, Our congregation made my godmother who divorced her husband who physically abused her feel unwelcomed , because she chose divorced, and the vatican in bed with the mafia...Doesn't sound too moral to me.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • hee hee

      Actually, the evidence appears to point to non-believers being somewhat more moral than believers. It's not an overwhelming effect after you factor out education and income – which correlate positively with belief and negatively with non-belief, and also have been known for some time to correlate negatively with crime – but there is certainly no positive correlation between religiosity and morality. I invite you to look into the data; it's quite interesting and I can't do it justice with a couple of links, although you can start here. http://secularist10.hubpages.com/hub/Religion-Atheism-and-Crime

      There is on the other hand some evidence that people are more likely to make moral choices on a questionnaire, if you first prime them with thoughts of religion and god. This is also interesting.

      To be honest I think the effects in both cases are going to be small, and that the data will in the end show that, all other things being equal, the religious and non-religious make similarly moral choices. More data is required.

      In any case, the idea that "atheists have no morals" appears to be no more than wishful thinking.

      August 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • hee hee

        One last thing: countries consisting largely of non-believers (such as Scandinavia) do not have higher crime rates than religious countries. In fact the opposite is true. Again, the lower crime may be due to quality of life, income, and education, which are quite high in Scandinavia.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  8. OldMo

    I don't think the falling away from the church is due to all the "smart, reasoned" atheists offering up a superior alternative to Christianity. I think it's that the churches began offering a watered-down gospel to conform to a morally decaying relativistic society to be "relevant". Too many churches are willing to present a false gospel so they can keep attendance numbers up and keep the money rolling in and/or they're legit saboteurs of the faith.
    The author of this piece doesn't even know what true Christianity is, that's why he offers up guys like Rob Bell and Rick Warren as examples. Rob Bell isn't a Christian, he's a wolf. Rick Warren (Council on Foreign Relations) is a fraud too. It's all a counterfeit Christianity like the kind Joel Osteen or these prosperity preachers peddle. True Christians who present the real gospel won't get the national exposure like these "rock stars" of the church.
    People look at these weasels and clowns who present their corrupt gospel and they either reject it or delude themselves that they're Christians by following it. Don't read these get rich or "life coach" type books sprinkled with scripture these wolves sell, read your Bible and sincerely pray, even if you only start with a very small amount of faith. There will be a test at the end. 😉

    July 31, 2013 at 12:51 am |
    • DeBunkoMatic

      Well written OldMo. I agree with you. I suggest that others study the bible, torah, and qur'an as well. There is much to be learned from human history and most of it relates to the faith of populations. If more people read books rather than watching televangelists I am certain the world would improve...more rapidly anyhow, I still believe it is improving but hampered by the grip on historical issues that are no longer relevant. As an example, you may be aware of this but many people think Christians, Jews and Muslims have different gods. The foundation of all of them is that they believe in the same single God. Yet most conflict over the last 2,000 years has a foundation in the tiny differences between them. Thank you for your well presented comment.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Sue Anne

      OldMo
      So, you're saying that people are leaving churches because they aren't conservative enough?!?

      Did you read the original article?

      July 31, 2013 at 1:31 am |
  9. Gue

    Jesus.....a man so powerful that in three years of ministry He revolutionized the world. & today He is still the center of conversation! The Jewish leaders didnt understand Him either, nor did they want to acknowledge His existence, just like you atheists. But the reason why people cant and wont stop talking and believing in Jesus is because what God has blessed-no man can curse. The proof is in the pudding!

    July 31, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • DeBunkoMatic

      Pudding? I thought he made wine? Pudding is good too...

      July 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
      • Ken

        The real miracle is that Jesus made MORE wine, and better stuff, for a bunch of wedding-goers who had already drunk the whole supply. Clearly, Jesus was not against drunken parties!

        July 31, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • Ken

      People have been talking about the Buddha and Confucius for a lot longer. Suddenly, your "pudding" looks a like it might win third prize, eh?

      July 31, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • tm17

      Wow! Apparently you're one of those folks who *does* believe everything he reads & hears. You are blindly following the teaching of others who preach a story that has been regurgitated & modified repeatedly over the past 2000 years.

      Do a little research on the historicity of Jesus. You'll find that it's all made up. The authors of the gospels lived decades (centuries?) after the supposed life of Jesus. It's all a myth. No amount of proselytizing in these comments sections will convince us otherwise.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:34 am |
  10. Dean

    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--------–
    God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow..........Is that not tradition?

    July 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  11. Lou

    Prayer = spell casting

    July 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • AE

      Uh, no. God is not a magical genie.

      Pray to God for the knowledge of His will for you and the power to carry that out.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
      • Lou

        When a wizard is spell casting they are invoking a higher power to fulfill their request...whats the difference?

        July 31, 2013 at 12:56 am |
        • AE

          I think a Christian prays to find out what God wants from them.

          Not to tell God what we want Him to do.

          God is not like a magical genie.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:59 am |
        • Nightlyt

          As much as they would like to believe, there is no difference.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:14 am |
        • Ken

          AE
          This is what the NT has to say about God answering people's prayers

          "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7)

          "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

          "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22)

          "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24)

          "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13)

          "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

          "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." (John 16:23)

          "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the peti tions that we desired of him." (1 John 5:14-15)

          Where do you get the impression here that people are only asking God for instructions. I might ask someone for advice, but I might also ask them for something else, or like a favor. Clearly, if the NT writers meant that prayer is just asking for direction from God, then they all chose language too general to actually convey that idea.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:22 am |
  12. fggggg

    i don't understand why people rally against or for religion when there's 1000's of more noble things to rally for.... what a waste of time and energy...

    July 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Ken

      However, one of the most, if not the most, persistent obstacles to virtually every noble thing worth to rallying for are conservative forms of religion, so fighting them often serves as aiding those noble causes, see?

      July 31, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  13. conoclast

    The pope, with his "who am I to judge?" humility is effectively countering the rise in atheism as we speak. The antics of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist flock on the other hand drive people from the church in droves. See a pattern here?

    July 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Ken

      He may be putting a happier face on the Church, but there aren't enough words out there to make the lack of evidence for any gods less convincing to atheists.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:09 am |
  14. Raven

    No one is telling you to believe in God. You can live your life as you choose. Just quit fluttering around like a butterfly in a spider's web. Don't try to force your disbelief down the throats of those who have religious convictions. Isn't that what you strongly oppose...forced beliefs????? Leave the believers alone...shut up, and get a life.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Russ

      @ Raven: here's one atheist who disagrees with you... and as a Christian, I'm glad he does.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZc3Xq8obk

      July 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • Kingfissure

      That's pretty rich coming from a theist. Ever hear of missionaries? I live in the USA. Religion is constantly on TV. It is "shoved down our throats" every day. If you could get all the theists together and get them to agree to keep their beliefs to themselves and not require others to live by their tenets then that would be the end of it. Also, while you are at it, can you get theists to stop killing other theists and atheists for not following their god? That would be ideal.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • Lou

      Your suppose to "pray in the closet" like your deity commands....your treasures are in heaven so just wait to die and leave this wicked world for us heathens to clean up

      July 31, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • conoclast

      I think you've got it backwards: atheists aren't 'forcing disbelief...'; they're simply beginning to question a paradigm-one which HAS been forced down our throats now for ages. If christianity is so touchy about simple questions regarding their basic beliefs what distinguishes them from, say, the Taliban?

      July 31, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Sue Anne

      Raven
      How about Christians forcing their beliefs down the throats of people with rational convictions? Honey, missionaries invented this kind of intrusion. I guess you can't take your own medicine.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Chris

      I'll go ahead and say right back at ya. Religious individuals are the gold standard for berating people who otherwise don't believe or couldn't care less with why people need God to lead a happy life. Believe it or not, you can be a good person....and in my opinion a far better person that an uber-religious type without having to blindly and irrationally choose to put all your faith into a grand tale of something that has never been proven. I could care less what anyone else thinks but religious people preach one thing and ignore the facts of both their religions history as well as the tenants of those who don't believe. Cause if God was real and made one man die, bring him back to life, walk on water, and this and that.....then I'm Santa Claus and I deliver presents to all Christian homes every December with my magical flying reindeer. Religious people shove myth after myth after myth down others throats as if telling someone..."you just have to have faith that it's true"....uhh yea...you go ahead and double down on that one...just incase when you're dead you're walking on a cloud at some pearly gates that you're waiting to open up. So you go and close you're eyes and pray for "gods guidance and strength and wisdom"....do you ever gain knowledge or have a blueprint of what you should do after you pray? No cause your'e talking to yourself with your eyes closed. So why don't you open up your own eyes and at the very least question some of the things that you're told every Sunday. To be naive is to be without hope of ever thinking for yourself.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Nightlyt

      Oh, so it is wrong for us to want to try to educate you, but it is fine for you to want to force your beliefs? To make laws according to YOUR Sharia law? I think not.

      July 31, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  15. fggggg

    i don't believe in god, doesn't mean im an atheist, i just don't believe in that stuff...

    July 31, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Stevie49

      That's pretty much the exact definition of an atheist.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Russ

      @ fggggg:
      "a-theist" = "no god" literally
      saying "I don't believe in God" is virtually the definition of an atheist.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Friendly One

      Theist: One who believes there exists a personal god. Atheist: One who does not believe there exists a personal god. Believing in no gods does not mean you believe a god cannot exist. There is a difference. I suggest you are an atheist and you were just unaware of it. Welcome.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • mickey1313

      fggggg, um by definition, if you do not believe in god, than you are an athiest. Just because one does not rally against thiesm (known as anti-thiesm) does not make one not an athiest. If you do not believe in a thiestic god, than youare are by definition an athiest.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  16. John the electrician

    I like cults. They have guns.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Ken

      You're invited to bring your guns to some churches these days. Remember the old Westerns where the pastors would forbid firearms in church? When did this nation abandon it's traditional sense of morality, eh?

      July 31, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  17. Lou

    With all the religious texts that have been created all over the world what gives one power over the others? Most teach the "golden rule". They all require some sort of sacrifice .i.e. blood. They claim to know the beginnings of existence and the path to a blissful/painful afterlife. Most claim to know how it will all end....Ancient peoples have been looking for the answers and out of their ignorance of the natural world they all came up with basically the same conclusions......the similarities show that we humans share the same hopes,dreams and fears....

    July 31, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Russ

      @ Lou:
      every other major religion: it's what *you* do that gets you in. obey & get love/in/heaven/etc.
      Christianity: you can't do it. it's what *He* did. you are loved first, now live in that love.

      every other religion: the Golden Rule is a test you must pass.
      Christianity: the Golden Rule is a test that you fail, but shows you that you need a Savior.

      every other religion: the Founder points to a way (follow these rules, etc., and save yourself).
      Christianity: Jesus claims to BE the Way. (He does what we can't.)

      July 31, 2013 at 12:41 am |
      • scottywinster

        Your simplistic interpretation just reflects your version of Christianity. Take a look at Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Armenian Apostolic and others of the oldest churches and you'll find much difference your interpretation.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:48 am |
        • AE

          Most denominations support those simple claims.

          It is about what Jesus did and does, not what we do.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:51 am |
        • Russ

          @ scottywinster: on the contrary, pretty much everything i've asserted here can be found within the first 7 ec.umenical councils of the church (before any divisions occurred). and that's just codifying what they all believed Jesus taught originally... because they appealed to the biblical accounts (as the earliest, most reliable sources). but that only makes my case stronger, as you find each of those things clearly taught in the NT.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:52 am |
      • Lou

        I don't fail at the golden rule...I live by it. Dr Suess taught me "a person's a person no matter how small". It's such a big world why do you have to think so small.So one guy's death about 2000 years ago quenched the blood thrust of his deity father( or self depending on the sect) to give us a way out of living as humans and relegate ourselves to waiting for his return to make everything better, why can't we make things better ourselves and stop waiting for a superman to come and save us?

        July 31, 2013 at 12:50 am |
        • Russ

          @ Lou:
          a) as Francis Schaeffer famously pointed out: if you had an invisible recording device around your neck your whole life, and you just listened to what you said about other people, you wouldn't even need to be judged by someone else's (i.e., God's) standards to fail... you'd simply fail by your own standards.

          missing that is simply lacking self-awareness.

          b) "quenched the blood thirst of his father..." no. John 3:17-18 says we stand condemned already because of what we've done to ourselves. like a lamp that's unplugged itself from the wall... we did this to ourselves. and if we're left to our own devices, we've *earned* our own ruin.

          and yes – seems pretty clear from the rest of the NT that Christians are supposed to work to make this a better place. for example, it's why Paul slams the Thessalonians for sitting around and waiting for Jesus to come back. but he's also pretty clear about the fact that what enables us to do that is not merely our own efforts but God at work in us.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:01 am |
        • Lou

          I may fail at times but I keep trying, thats the key... I don't need to invoke a deity to try or to succeed. quoting 5000 year old goat herder scribbles does not work with me, you might as well quote the TV Guide. If you guys are trying to make THIS world better then all you religious guys have an awful way of showing it....remember religious people have been running the show for thousands of years now, where's the paradise?

          July 31, 2013 at 1:15 am |
        • Nightlyt

          As a fellow "Lou", we would get along fabulously. I couldn't agree more with all you said.

          July 31, 2013 at 1:19 am |
        • Russ

          @ Lou: so you admit you fail it, but you don't see yourself as part of the problem? that seems a bit hypocritical.

          as Christians, we admit we need a Savior. it's not an excuse to continue such immorality (which is why your critique is well taken), but it does give us an answer to the question you seemed to have glossed over: how do you fix the failings – especially once you've realized your *best* efforts don't get you there?

          furthermore, you seem to have noted the tragic failings of Christians while also strategically ignoring the historic changes wrought by Christians – things that Western Civilization now assumes that it once did not... hospitals, public education, welfare, etc. I think you would cry foul if I only spoke of atheists in terms of Mao & Stalin.

          and according to the Bible, the paradise doesn't come in fullness until Christ's return. until then we will see higher highs (such as medical advances) & lower lows (such as WMDs).

          July 31, 2013 at 1:38 am |
        • Lou

          I just live my life. I try not to hurt anybody and I live and let live. I don't take more then I need and really don't desire much other then the advancement of Humanity and a bright future for my children's children.. All the "good things" that you say where invented by religion where around before religion. Medicine was actually believed to be works of the devil until the church realized it worked and the flock like getting better without prayer so they took it over. Schools where used to indoctrinate the gospels and intellectuals, you learned to read so that you could read the bible. Most of human advances occurred despite religion because the truth always wins given time. You said to me that Christians are trying to make the world better in god's absence but now you say it all for not until Superman shows up again...which is it?

          July 31, 2013 at 1:55 am |
  18. Joe R.

    I find it ironic and humorous that atheists are spending so much time and money attacking God(s) that they don't believe even exists. It's like me doing the same thing to convince the world the Easter Bunny doesn't exist. Hmmmm......maybe atheists actually do believe in God?

    July 31, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Observer

      It's humorous how hypocritcal most believers are. They tell other people that they will go to hell for not believing a book that they don't believe all of themselves.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:30 am |
      • Bryan Rick

        No this guy has a huge point–and you are missing it. Most atheists, or at least the type on this thread, are very preoccupied with Christianity. They can't stop talking about it. Their are lots of things Christians are atheistic about, but you don't see us engulfed in the realm of what we regard as: lies, fair-tails, exaggerations, and fantasy. We don't waste our time with the stuff we don't believe in. Yet, once again, some atheists (probably the new, or insecure ones) won't stop thinking, talking, and typing about it.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:37 am |
        • Kingfissure

          This argument is taking place in english, in America, which is predominantly Christian. If we were having this argument in the Middle East or India then the atheists in the discussion would be discussing those religions. I think you will find that all of my replies have been directed towards theists in general and not just one specific kind of theism.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:44 am |
        • Observer

          Bryan Rick,

          No. You're the one who missed a huge point. Atheists and agnostics are the victims of believers who have forced their beliefs onto others and deny equal rights to others. Obviously, you have no similar point of reference.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
        • John

          Atheists have to talk about the myth of Christianity because every day we turn on the news, there is a new attempt by Christians to impose their system of morality on the rest of us through official legislation.

          If there were a group of Unicornists trying to impose a unicorn's moral book on us all through legislation, then we'd be campaigning against unicorns too.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          As I said below, If we ignore the religious, they attempt to slide all sorts of religious based garbage into our politics and our schools.

          We are starting to push back and you don't like it....welcome to our world....this is what you ve been shoveling on everyone else for centuries. Look on the bright side – you ll never get pairs of atheists showing up on your doorstep.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • WhatGod

      It's not ironic. It's sad how many senseless deaths there are in the name of religion.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:30 am |
      • Polycarp

        God expect's people to OBEY, but many of thousands of senseless death's occur out on the highway every year due to speeding???, caused by individuals who choose for themselves ( I doubt that they are thinking about religion when they are choosing to drive recklessly ) to disobey.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:40 am |
        • Dippy

          Expects, not expect's; deaths, not death's. You really need to learn English, Poly.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:48 am |
        • WhatGod

          Are you actually attempting to compare speeding with religion? If so, I'll play along. Speeding vehicles have occurred for about 100 years. Religion has been around for thousands. I think religion wins. Name me one idea, invention or anything else you can think of that over the course of history has been more responsible for the deaths of people than religion.

          July 31, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • Kingfissure

      Atheists don't attack any gods. We attack blind belief in something that has never been proven to exist. Though some may argue that religion has done some good I think it's pretty easy to see that it has also done great harm.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • conoclast

      Given time and the force of gravity who needs "god"? THAT is the question atheists are finally starting to ask out loud.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Athy

      Actually, I spend very little time and no money at all. It's just a pastime to try to promulgate the truth.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Wes

      No, the thing you're missing is that Atheists have been persecuted and treated like a lower form of life for a long time now. We're chastised and told we're somehow not good and decent people because we believe in one less god than you. In additional, believers love to push their beliefs down the throats of others, including those who believe different (either other religions or non-theists). We've finally started to say enough is enough and we're not going to be treated this way any more. We're good people, we don't believe in god, and we're not going to accept being treated like we're below you because we don't believe what you do.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Lou

      Money is our new god, bankers are the new priesthood. They read the entrails of birds to decipher it's will....

      July 31, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Jerry

      No, we believe in mental health. It's worth a few bucks to help cure the insane.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Joe

      But if people who believe in Easter Bunny made it mandatory to have an Easter Bunny image or money, or you wouldn't be able to be elected for public office on the basis of your non-belief in E.B., or if E.B. people opposed the same-hair marriage so if you are a red-hair in love with another red-hair you are denied to marry the person you love AND you will burn in hell, maybe you would understand then why we the atheist feel it is necessary to be vocal about our atheism?

      July 31, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • One one

      In the Easter Bunny we trust !

      July 31, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • hee hee

      You're right. You should only discuss things with people who agree with you. Otherwise you are insecure.

      August 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  19. WhatGod

    How many religious people actually pick their religion? Most people's religious beliefs are determined by their parents. For those who have selected their own religion, I am curious as to what you spent more time time deciding on, your choice of religion or the last car you bought. My point is that unless you look at all religions then how do you know your belief is correct? By the way, when you deny the existance of other religions and gods, that makes you and atheist.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:25 am |
  20. Erik

    A lot of people who don't identify with any faith are agnostic. I don't identify with a faith, but I also don't identify with atheism. There might be a larger purpose for creation. There might not be. I simply don't know.

    July 31, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • AE

      I'm a Christian. But there are some things I am agnostic about.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Benny

      You can be an agnostic atheist if you don't claim to know for certain that no gods exist. Gnostic atheists claim to know for certain that no gods exist, which assumes knowledge that nobody has. It's perfectly all right just to reject the claims of gods if you feel that they are unfounded.

      July 31, 2013 at 12:30 am |
      • Erik

        Combining those two words makes no sense to me. My position is more - I don't know if there is a larger purpose to creation, but I'd like there to be. I'd like there to be a higher power, some controlling principle, but I recognize there might not be. I don't think atheism fits me. It just means I don't want to spend my time listening to someone who thinks they have the answers to questions no one has the answers to.

        July 31, 2013 at 12:54 am |
      • Erik

        That's why I say I'm agnostic. I want there to be a higher power. I also want to win the lottery, LOL. But I recognize that just wanting something doesn't make it so. I have doubt.

        July 31, 2013 at 1:01 am |
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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.