September 14th, 2013
08:01 AM ET

Hey atheists, let’s make a deal

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has been rightfully criticized this week for saying the “mild pedophilia” he and other English children experienced in the 1950s “didn’t cause any lasting harm.”

This comes after an August tweet in which Dawkins declared that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

Dawkins is known for pushing his provocative rhetorical style too far, providing ample ammunition for his critics, and already I’ve seen my fellow Christians seize the opportunity to rail against the evils of atheism.

As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it.

I can’t bring myself to do it because I know just how frustrating and unfair it is when atheists point to the most extreme, vitriolic voices within Christianity and proclaim that they are representative of the whole.

So, atheists, I say we make a deal: How about we Christians agree not to throw this latest Richard Dawkins thing in your face and you atheists agree not to throw the next Pat Robertson thing in ours?

Now I’m not saying we just let these destructive words and actions go—not at all. It’s important for both believers and atheists to decry irresponsible views and hateful rhetoric, especially from within our own communities.

(Believe me. There are plenty of Christians who raise hell every time Robertson says something homophobic or a celebrity pastor somewhere says something misogynistic.)

READ MORE: Why millennials are leaving the church

But what if we resist the urge to use the latest celebrity gaffe as an excuse to paint one another with broad brushes?

What if, instead of engaging the ideas of the most extreme and irrational Christians and atheists, we engaged the ideas of the most reasonable, the most charitable, the most respectful and respected?

Only then can we avoid these shallow ad hominem attacks and instead engage in substantive debates that bring our true differences and our true commonalities to light.

It’s harder to go this route, and it takes more work and patience, but I’m convinced that both Christians and atheists are interested in the truth and in searching for it with integrity, without taking the easy way out.

Pope Francis took a step in that direction this week with a letter in a Rome newspaper responding directly to questions posed by its atheist director and inviting respectful open dialog between nonbelievers and Christians.

READ MORE: Why millennials need the church

So, yes, Richard Dawkins is an atheist. But so are authors Greg Epstein and Susan Jacoby. So is my friend and fellow blogger Hemant Mehta. So is Sir Ian McKellen. So is ethicist Peter Singer, who may or may not be the best example.

And yes, Pat Robertson is a Christian. But so is Nelson Mandela. So is acclaimed geneticist Francis Collins. So is Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. So is Barack Obama. So is Stephen Colbert.

And I'm willing to bet that the same collective groan emitted by millions of Christians each time Pat Robertson says something embarrassing on TV sounds a lot like the collective groan emitted by millions of atheists when Richard Dawkins rants on Twitter.

Still, in the end, it’s not about who has the most charismatic or generous personalities in their roster, nor about who has the most “crazies.” It’s about the truth.

So let’s talk about the truth, and with the people who most consistently and graciously point us toward it.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" and "Evolving in Monkey Town." Evans blogs at rachelheldevans.com, and the views expressed in this column belong to her.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (5,916 Responses)
  1. Seth

    Richard Dawkins equals Pat Robertson in terms of extremism? No. Just no. Lady, you and I are not operating on the same fundamentals of reality.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • James

      Thank you, Seth. Also, I think what Rachel fails to understand is that her belief system is based on the same foundations as Robertson's... atheist's on the other hand are in a completely different boat. If one were to ask you, myself, or Dawkins why we were atheists, you may very well get three unique answers.

      September 14, 2013 at 9:01 am |
      • Rett

        Please, ask any christian what led them to become christians and you will get a plethora of responses. Now, yes they may agree on a basic premise but so do all atheists

        September 14, 2013 at 9:36 am |
        • JLS639

          For all religions, the overwhelming majority of their followers were either born into it or married into it. Plethora of responses, indeed.

          September 14, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • bspurloc

          what led a christian to be christian?
          90% of the answers will be... "because my parent forced it on me when I grew up and beat us if we didnt conform"

          September 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • Mitchell

          More made-up stats from atheists. What a bunch of lying, doubt-filled losers.

          September 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • t2vodka

          The vast majority of people I new when I went to church were born into it. As for athiest, I don't know about a bunch of reasons, I've only heard a few, and they all seem to have a common thread.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
        • aldewacs2

          @t2vodka: "The vast majority of people I new when I went to church were born into it. As for athiest, I don't know about a bunch of reasons, I've only heard a few, and they all seem to have a common thread."

          ... and that common thread is: ability to think independently.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:00 am |
        • Joey

          Rett that is laughable, as every single Christian I know is a Christian because their parents made them go to Church when they were kids.

          September 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • Rob-Texas

          Strage. I go to a large church (few thousand) and I have never met a Christian that says they are a Christian becuase their parents forced them to go to Church. There are many that say that is where they first learned about Christianity, but everyone I have met would tell you if their parents forced them to go to Church, they eventually left the Church. They are now a Christian because of a personal experiance with God. Many religious and Christian people are independant thinkers. Generalizations like that make you sound like an idiot sheep yourself.

          September 26, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Cristeros for Satan

          Religion does serve a purpose for the weak minded.

          October 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • Rob-Texas

        So James, you are saying that Athiest doesn not = belief that there is no God. Seems odd that has always been the definition and what all Athiest's believe. Maybe you can explian furthur how that is not the root of Athiesim.

        September 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • #3

        Yeah, "Everyone in YOUR group is the same while everyone in MY group is completely different." That is all kinds of logical. Tons of Christians disagree with Robertson, just like tons of atheists disagree with Dawkins.

        October 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • Toast4

          Dawkins exposes that there simply is no evidence for the existence of gods. "Tons of atheists" do not disagree. Tenants of religions on the other hand MUST disagree. They are all making up different stories and versions of stories without caring for facts and evidence.

          October 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Christian

      No because Pat Robertson is not a christian.

      September 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Angry Lice

        No True Scotsman penalty. Please find yourself to the nearest 20+ story building, toss yourself off the top of it, and ask your sky fairy to save you.

        September 15, 2013 at 12:37 am |
        • jinxmchue

          I'm an atheist who believes in God. Please refrain from telling me that I'm not a true atheist.

          October 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
      • Seth

        And there it is! The NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy.

        September 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • jinxmchue

          I'm an atheist who believes in God. Please refrain from telling me that I'm not a true atheist.

          October 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Jody

      I was just about to say the same thing, but luckily I clicked on page 1 and you have already said it best. Pat Robertson is a hateful bigot. Dawkins is one of the smartest people on the planet. One uses hatred and lies to make his followers hate entire groups. The other is brilliant and uses humor and satire to make a point. Bit of a difference there.

      September 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • Rob-Texas

        The smartest person believes that mild pedophilia is Ok? Your Crazy!

        September 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • jinxmchue

        Dawkins actually isn't that smart and his effeminate, British accent doesn't mean he's not hateful

        October 25, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      Really??? Anyone that claims that mild pedophilia is Ok is not a nut case? Maybe you should get yourself checked out.

      September 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  2. Dale

    Okay I'll agree to do that when you also agree to stop brainwashing children into a world of guilt, by calling them sinners. I can do that when you stop letting yourself off the hook because 'satan' made you do something evil. I could go on, but the delusional rarely listen to reason.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Dyslexic doG


      September 14, 2013 at 8:43 am |
      • crtRodney_unBeliever

        You sly doG, at least you spelled dyslexic correctly... hahahha. There's hope you may not end up in spelling-hell.

        September 14, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • ed dugan

      And you haven't scratched the surface with those jerks. How about trying to corrupt our laws to suit their hateful beliefs? Or labeling people using that book of christian fiction they call the bible? Or picking out those parts of the bible they choose to follow and those they choose to ignore. How about if they just agree to believe what they want but just keep their big mouths shut?

      September 14, 2013 at 8:48 am |
      • Irona

        They can't do that because then they wouldn't be spreading the word of jesus to the masses. It's in their religion to be bigoted spiteful people to anyone who disagrees with their faith.

        September 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • t2vodka

          There you go painting blaming those things on everyone, no all christians are like that.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
      • Rick

        How about you agree to the same thing? You want Christians to just shut up but you don't want to do the same thing. You want the right to keep on calling us evil, deluded, irrational, and a dozen other insulting names but we're not allowed to say a word? Nope I don't agree to that. Until you stop castigating and blaming us for the evil that exists in this world, you can just go defecate in your hat. I will continue to defend my God using the same tactics as you.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • t2vodka

          There is a huge difference, our beliefs do not force anything on you. You can still do whatever you please. However, your beliefs effect laws, and determine what people can and cannot do. I do not see how that is similar at all.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          1. your god is indefensible and he is proved evil by the very fact that he will torture people forever and ever for not svcking his d!ck in the right way.
          2. you threaten to hurt people if they say certain WORDS to you.
          3. you two deserve each other

          September 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
        • sickofU

          Christianity rocks! I love it that I can screw someone over in the most willful callous way, and then get forgiven! Woo hoo!

          September 14, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
        • Angry Lice

          When people stop doing evil in the name of your sky fairy, come back and talk to us again.

          September 15, 2013 at 12:39 am |
        • cbtx67

          When was the last time your foot ball team had to run through a banner with atheist sayings? That is why the atheist point has to be stronger. Christianity is already established. We can't put up billboards or signs on busses without people freaking out. Christians can do it all the time. Until all faiths can do that without lawsuits or camping out at funerals, then the fight has to continue.

          September 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • justine

          If God is God and all powerful, why does he need a weak human like you to defend him. I would think that an all powerful god doesn't need one of his little creations to defend him. Sounds to me like you just want to defend your beliefs, which isn't really necessary in this country. You are quite free to worship any god you choose, and no one, not even the all powerful atheists can keep you from praying. What are you so afraid of.

          September 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Jim

          Now is the time to save the United States of America before it is too late.

          saveusa (dot) us

          September 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • Ken

        Sry, but at the root of our justice system and common law is the Bible.

        September 15, 2013 at 1:28 am |
        • aldewacs2

          In those few places where the bible and reality intersect, that is based on common sense.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:03 am |
        • Observer


          Nope. Look at how little the Ten Commandments have to do with law.

          September 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Rett

      You know people who try to escape responsibility for their actions because Satan made them do it? BTW the delusional also scream the loudest sometimes at how reasonable and sane they are

      September 14, 2013 at 9:41 am |
      • Joey

        All Christians try to escape responsibility for their actions by letting Jesus take their punishment.

        September 16, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Christian

      Satan never made anyone do anything, they do it becaue they chose too. Do you tell your children not to steal?? why? becuase its wrong. How dare you! your idea is inconsistent

      September 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Rick

      I tried to reply to Dale but the reply was not allowed I guess. I will try one more time. And this time it will be shorter and to the point. I am a Christian, but I have lost patience with you Neanderthals. I am a martial artist and the next one of you self-centered bigots who insults me to my face is going to get clocked. HARD.

      September 14, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Yep, you sound like a Christian to me. No sense in turning the other cheek or loving your enemies when you can be like your god and threaten to cause pain if people won't agree with you. Nice.

        September 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
        • Rick

          Even people like me who would normally not think of doing something like that can be pushed too far. I daresay one of you could be pushed into doing the same thing by Christians pushing you too far. In fact, one of you who calls himself Haha said that atheists not only want to destroy my religion but they want all religious people dead. I promptly replied that in all seriousness and not just keyboard bravery as some of you would no doubt scoff, I would instantly shoot the first atheist who said that to my face. And I meant every word of it.

          September 14, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
        • Ken

          Yep, we are not allowed to defend our faith or call-out lies against it!
          Granted, we probably shouldn't 'clock people hard' no matter what, but in light of the millions killed by atheists, it's really not that extreme.

          September 15, 2013 at 1:34 am |
        • Observer


          Just like God, your response to everything you don't like is violence.

          Grow up, "good" Christian.

          September 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • Scott

        Poor response bud. I am a Christian too, and that response is just fuel to the fire of those who believe differently than us. Thanks for not helping how we are seen.

        September 15, 2013 at 12:18 am |
        • One Squared Media LLC

          That's actually the typical response. Look in the Bible at how many times God instructed his followers to KILL those who disagreed with Christianity. Rick is just doing what any good Christian who can't intelligently defend his beliefs does, resorting to Neanderthal tactics, which people accuse atheists of doing.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Nimrod

        Thank you for showing us what Christianity is really like.

        September 15, 2013 at 1:22 am |
      • Nimrod

        Rick is a martial artist, and a christian, and you're going to get clocked hard, in his words.

        Rick doesn't like that "turn the other cheek" part of christianity. He picks and chooses what's convenient.

        Rick's a moron.

        September 15, 2013 at 1:38 am |
        • One Squared Media LLC

          Very perceptive, Nimrod. Excellent. Typical of Christians, do this, ignore that, pick-and-choose religion. "Buffet religion".

          September 15, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • One Squared Media LLC

        Wow, this is just one of the things that turned me from religion. Once you get to the meat of the matter, Christians REALLY can't defend themselves, and then as history reveals, turns to labeling and violence, just like God instructs his followers to do in the Bible. What a loving God you have there.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • John

        Why does your god need martial arts? Kind of like in the Old Test. Could not conquer the plain because of chariots of iron. Your god is WEAK if it needs puny you for defense.

        September 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
      • KC

        If you kill in the name of God, you have missed the point and become the very thing you despise.

        September 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • #3

      Yeah, morals are overrated. I'm gonna go rob a liquor store.

      October 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • Lou

        Dale, morals exist in spite of religion, not because of it.

        October 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
        • Lou

          Correction: $3, not Dale

          October 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  3. Charles

    Sounds fair to me. Whenever you paint with a broad brush you are certain to go outside the lines.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  4. Jones

    A well written piece, until the last two sentences. The issue of name calling, contrary to this item, doesn't have anything to do with concerns for truth, it's simply about respect. And respect is important. Truth is about the veracity of facts. Religion doesn't tender facts; that's not its function. Religion is about faith.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • John Sharp

      She doesn't realize it but that is exactly what Atheists want and demand. The truth. Not mythology.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Charles

      Au contraire! Religion contains many facts. The historical facts of the people's lives, the historical facts of the religion's effects on culture, just to name a few!!!

      September 14, 2013 at 8:39 am |
      • tom LI

        But those alleged facts, do not in anyway prove the fantastic, faith based beliefs demanded of Religion.

        Sure, some faith MIGHT have helped some people conquer their issues, pushed some towards charity – but that in no way proves anything related to the myths.

        The trouble today is that those faith based beliefs and personal stories have been deemed Hard facts and therefore proof of the Gods. We live in an age where personal opinion and belief is now a hard, undeniable facts – which of course they are not, never have been! But thats the American Xtian meme!

        September 14, 2013 at 9:55 am |
      • John Sharp

        Too Funny,
        Yes there maybe a fact here and there, like as in even a broke clock is right twice a day.
        But the falsehoods and myths are overwhelming and abundant.

        September 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • One Squared Media LLC

        Unfortunately, "religion's effects on culture" are not ALL positive, and as a matter of fact, MOSTLY NEGATIVE!

        September 15, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  5. okay?

    Hey Rachel Held Evans, how about you be quiet. This shouldn't even be on CNN.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Idjit

      What a well thought out argument .. its a belief blog ...

      September 14, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • mac12311

      Why shouldn't this be on CNN?

      September 14, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Al

      Atheist evangelsm 101: if they don't agree with you then insult. Count me out

      September 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Nimrod

        Except that she wrote from the point of view of a person of faith. Oops, you failed, again.

        September 15, 2013 at 1:31 am |
      • One Squared Media LLC

        What's worse, insult or violence? According to history, religion is full of violence, including your sacred Christianity.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  6. Barry

    Well written article, and the points are very well taken. Sadly, our social media culture thrives on the sensational and bombastic. Not much stock is given to intelligent, thoughtful debate.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  7. William Fox

    "So let’s talk about the truth, and with the people who most consistently and graciously point us toward it."

    Well I think you just said a mouthful.
    How can someone who pays homage to a made of blend of bronze age stories and a history of horrible violence against others as well as their own (pick one: Christian, Muslim , Jew...) talk about truth? And certainly one need not venture far into the past to be overwhelmed with stories of hate, fear and persecution. Take a look at all of the violence, fear and hate in the world, the middle east, Russia, the American South and it is all rooted in religious conflict.
    NO where will you find this type of violence and horror being done in the name of atheism!
    Stupid pedophilia and bloody AIDS rings aside, comments about TRUTH coming from ANY religious person are quite a non sequitur!

    September 14, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Barry

      You're not much of a historian, are you? "These horrors are never perpetrated in the name of atheism"? Seriously? You've never heard of Joseph Stalin, Mao? Pol Pot? This afternoon, why don't you go to the library and pick up a book or two.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:39 am |
      • ed dugan

        None of those people were athiests. They did not believe in God, which shows they weren't totally crazy. Stop trying to reach so far to defend your hateful beliefs.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:51 am |
        • Thinking Man

          According to the American Heritage Dictionary,

          atheist: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

          The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

          September 14, 2013 at 9:03 am |
        • Nathan Hevenstone

          Wrong. They absolutely *were* atheists, as an atheist is a person who does not believe in a higher power or powers.

          They just didn't do what they did in the name of atheism.

          That said, Hitler (I don't recall if he was listed; I apologize if he wasn't, but it always needs to be brought up just in case) was NOT an atheist. He claimed to be a Christian. Christians are welcome to argue amongst themselves whether that's true, and I'll certainly agree that Hitler completely violated Jesus's teachings in the most extreme ways possible. But since Hitler basically outlawed atheism (and also much of science, including Darwin) in Germany, and even made the Nazi motto "God with us", whatever he was, the man was clearly not an atheist.

          September 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
      • Derp

        So you are saying that Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot...... were perpetrating horrors "in the name of Atheism"
        That is kinda un-atheistic.
        Educate thyself dummy.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:56 am |
        • Ken

          They were atheists, and they slaughtered millions. Why didn't this enlightenment lead them NOT to slaughter millions? Why did they do such heinous things? Kinda puts a crimp in the old 'religion causes all the evil in the world' nonsense.

          September 15, 2013 at 1:53 am |
        • G to the T

          Ken – because unlike with religious certainty, atheism doesn't speak to anything other than a lack of belief in a deity. What these men did, they did in the name of political power, a power they didn't want to share with the church.

          September 16, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  8. JCS


    September 14, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Quit quoting your mother. No one cares what she says about you.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • mac12311

      That's interesting. What would you say about an adult who comes on a forum to pour out insults on others.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  9. Jeremiah

    "...I know just how frustrating and unfair it is when atheists point to the most extreme, vitriolic voices within Christianity and proclaim that they are representative of the whole."

    But what about the Christians who proclaim that the good parts are representative of the whole? I have experienced many who only touch on the good bits, and have blinders on for the bad parts.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  10. Grey Freeman

    I can't find any fault with that. If we are going to argue, it should be over substance and not silliness.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  11. Idjit

    I just don't want laws based on any religion. Any one is free to believe whatever they want, just don't force beliefs on me.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      You oppose the 10 commandments?

      September 14, 2013 at 8:36 am |
      • Dale

        Yeah, because there were no rules before the 10 commandments. Try reading history, it will help calm your delusion.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:40 am |
      • Idjit

        I support well thought out morals to the benefit of all people. The ten commandments may fit in with them. So may some Sharia law. I dont have to take the whole thing and it does not form the basis of my personal moral code.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:41 am |
      • John Sharp

        No, they are asinine.

        You shall have no other gods before me
        You shall not take
        the name of the LORD your God in vain
        Observe the sabbath day,
        to keep it holy

        These are just plain stupid.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:43 am |
      • ed dugan

        The ten commandments are a trifle out of date of all those christian "leaders" who committed adultery are phonies. I'll go with that. Better tell Jimmy Carter to stop lusting.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:54 am |
      • Doug

        How many of the 10 Commandments are actually laws? My recollection is only 3 - killing, stealing, and perjury (false witness). So yes, I would oppose the other 7 being laws. So would our founders, since one of the Commandments in against worshiping other Gods, and the founders were very explicit that this should be a law.

        What about you? Would you really support it being illegal to not honor your parents? To worship other Gods? To check out your neighbors wife?

        Anyone who claims the Commandments are the basis for our laws has clearly never actually read them, or doesn't understand our laws.

        September 14, 2013 at 10:58 am |
        • John Sharp

          How cute, they all used to be laws in the dark ages. When the religious were in absolute power. But we evolved and got smarter.

          They would do it again, if they could get away with it. Geez see North Carolina passing a bill making Christianity the religion of the state. An absolute affront to what our forefathers intended. And that was with only the littlest bit of power.

          So we guard against the crazy people and what they think their imaginary friend tells them to do. We secularists have to.

          The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

          September 14, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • Redoran

        I am a freethinker. The ten commandments make for entertaining reading. If I had children, I would teach them moral principles. Such as: If my child were to slap another child/sibling, I would "preach" to them that is not right and how would they like getting socked in the nose. The bible is unecessary for anything other than entertainment, if you can call it that. The bible should be looked on as what it really is – A book of very ancient folktales written by itinerant goat herders. That is the reality. BTW- Freethinkers oppose irrational believing in the supernatural which does not exist.

        September 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • mac12311

      What beliefs have been forced on you and who has forced them on you. Please be specific.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:54 am |
      • nick

        Marriage? Really, what is the one thing holding this issue back.....a law based on what is in a fiction book..some use your so called religion as an excuse to be a bigot. You might not be one of those, but plenty of your "brethren" are.

        September 14, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  12. us_1776

    Dawkins is a kook and has no bearing or relationship to mainstream atheists.


    September 14, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      Sorry, but you are stuck w/him. With Hitchens out of the way, Dawkins and that Sam whatshisname is about all you have left.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:30 am |
      • Idjit

        Then you are stuck with Terry Jones

        September 14, 2013 at 8:32 am |
        • us_1776


          September 14, 2013 at 8:34 am |
      • Dale

        "Sam whathisname....." Shows you only read to reinforce your mental illness. If you actually read someone logical you might have more time for this life. The only one you'll have.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  13. veep

    Or you could just get Pat Robertson to stop saying stupid things...

    If you can't do that, you could stop giving him money to say stupid things.

    but you'll do neither, I'm afraid.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      The majority of Christians don't support Robertson. He speaks for himself. The Scriptures speak of false teachers. Christianity will still exist regardless of Robertson. I don't throw our country overboard because of Obama and the RINOS-no reason to abandon Christianity because of some money-grubbing preacher.

      By the way, ever wonder how much Dawkins makes on his books and tours? Could it be he may have the same motivation. No, me dare not think such things.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:35 am |
      • John Sharp

        Weak attempt from an American Christian. You dorks have been pushing this "Life of Abundance" crap for the last decade even though Jesus was absolutely clear. No rich man is going to heaven, period. He could have not been more direct. And yet all of these mega churches work only with rich white people. Just like Jesus???
        Sorry but if you are not spending the majority of your time working with the poor and disadvantaged then you are Christian only because you gave yourself that name. Not because you are actually following his example.
        Now Mother Theresa was a real Chriistian and she is to be admired. You won't find any Atheists I know saying one thing derogatory about her, she had integrity.
        But as Ghandi said, if only the Christians would act like Christ we would all be Christians.
        But they don't, that would take work and sacrifice. Which I believe was the point. But what do I know. I can only read.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:49 am |
        • Rett

          Read it again John, Jesus said it was hard for a rich man to get to heaven and then added but With God all things are possible...i think the point he was making was that the rich tend to put their trust in their riches which will not get them to heaven.

          September 14, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • John Sharp

          Too funny, I love when I know this better than Christians. You left out the part that proves my point conveniently.

          “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard[b] to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

          So by all means point out how you can get a camel through the eye of the needle. I am listening.

          Even if your point is that he said all things were possible, he made it perfectly clear what he felt about the rich. All things possible doesn't give anyone an out.

          and it would be easier to get a camel through the eye of the needle. He could not be more direct. But sure all things are possible so continue to live your life in direct opposition to one of his few direct quotes.

          Not too Christian.... Just an excuse to be selfish and self absorbed.

          September 14, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • John Sharp


          and if you think that is what he meant, you are simply not literate. He said it in black and white.

          September 14, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • John Sharp


          But I do love your ability to "interpret" something so direct. It is also very convenient that your interpretation allows for you to do none of the heavy lifting.
          It is amazing how the American Christian picks and chooses the parts that create convenience in their life but somehow leave out the parts that take work and sacrifice.
          The rest of us call it hypocrisy.

          September 14, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • J-staff

          John, think about the people that Jesus tried to reach. Did he hang around and preach to the people he thought were a good fit for heaven or did he hang around and preach to people that needed to be saved? Church targets the super white rich because they are the ones in need of saving. The bible quote that you provided reinforces that idea.

          September 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • John Sharp

          @ J-Staff,

          Hilarious, is that the excuse they are using these days. I have 16 years of theological education by the Jesuits. If they needed saving so much the evangelical minister would be taking the whole bunch down to work in the soup kitchens or even working with the disadvantaged. You know like Jesus.
          But they only do that in a "very" superficial way if at all.
          Nope they spend all of their time reading and then "interpreting" the bible so that it allows them to continue living the way they do and still call themselves Christian.
          Being a Christian means modeling your life like Christ. It is a fundamental aspect of Christianity.
          And no, Jesus would not be wasting his time with the rich when there were so many people that needed help. He certainly wouldn't be preaching in a Mega Church wearing $1,000 suits and driving a Mercedes Benz.
          Man they really have these people brainwashed. It is almost like they have lost the ability to read.

          September 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • Skippy

          The "eye of a needle" was an entrance into Jerusalem that was only high enough for a man to walk through. For a camel to get through, the camel would be forced to enter in a nearly kneeling position with head bent down, which alludes to entering with humility. Thus the idea is that a rich man would find it very hard to enter unless he is humble. Now the question is, can you find any humble, rich people?

          September 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • YOLO


          Unfortunately, the "eye of the needle gate" explanation is thoroughly debunked. While I imagine you will continue to interpret Jesus' words here in the manner that best suits your lifestyle, please do not attempt to rationalize it by pointing to fictional locations. Historian appear to all agree that no such place existed in Jerusalem, and was merely postulated in the Middle Ages.

          September 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • Nimrod

        Elliot, I feel sorry for you, I really do. Pat Robertson doesn't speak for you, but to you, Osama Bin Laden speaks for all of Islam. I pity your pathetic, stupid world, in which logic and consistency are suspended in the name of "faith."

        September 15, 2013 at 1:34 am |
  14. SFAW

    Ah, the old "both sides do it" BS. When Richard Dawkins, or Madalyn Murray O'Hair, or any other "famous" atheist starts having as much of a "bully pulpit" as Robertson or any of the other nutcases who pass for "thought leaders" for the right wing, then maybe there'll be something to talk about.

    Until that time, your energies are better spent getting your own house in order, rather than the right's eternal search for some ridiculous example to supposedly absolve them of their theocratic yearnings.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  15. JCC Jr

    I have never once seen you 'authentically honest and understanding" Christians ever, EVER, confront these extremists bozo's either through sermon or using the media.

    Never. Not once in my 48 years.

    All talk and no action against them as per usual.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      You don't get out much apparently.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Jeff

      I attend mass at an episcopal parish in Flowery Branch, GA. I regularly hear the priest talk reject the kind of repressive and prejudicial comments fundamentalist Christians (of which there are many around us) make. So maybe the reason you've never heard "n authentically honest and understanding" christian is that you've never listened to one of the millions out there.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Dan

      You could use google and in about 5 minutes find thousands of Christians disagreeing with and criticizing Pat Robertson.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:48 am |
      • the real god

        what about billy graham, do christians disagree with him?

        September 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  16. Martin

    False analogy. What Dawkins said has nothing to do with being an atheist. When Robertson says something it's usually based on his religious beliefs.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Dan

      Nobody can escape their worldview. It affects nearly every aspect of their life.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  17. Haha

    No deals for you. That's the difference between Christians and atheists. Christians are supposed to try to be nice people that do the right thing and keep the peace. Atheists have no such directive. You might meet an atheist that would be willing to keep religion around for novelty's sake, but most atheist want to live in a world without religion and are not willing to bargain. They want it annihilated, and soon they usually want religious people anhilated too, like they did in 1930's Germany.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • JCC Jr

      No we don't. We just don't want their nonsense in our laws. Period and final. They are free to worship however they want. Just leave it out of my government.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:25 am |
      • Haha

        We all know how it went for black people, Jews and gays when they were "left out of our government."

        September 14, 2013 at 8:27 am |
        • Robert DarthMortis

          Yea, ironic that your tired Hitler invocation leaves out the fact that whilst not a Christan himself, Htler used Christianity to justify the extermination of the Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses and all other non Nordic races. Much in the same way the slave holders used Christianity to suppress the slaves in for several hundred years, using passages in the bible to remind the blacks that they were only worth 2/3 of a man. Or how women weren't considered anything but chattel for about 19 centuries because, despite Jebus boning Mary Madeline, the bible never defined women as 'people'.

          Hell, you didn't even mention the invocation of Christ in Darfur as the catalyst to a genocide...but I guess, according to the bible, they were only 2/3 a person anyway...

          You can't have it both ways. You cannot invoke half a historical truth to make a point, when the other half is just as evil.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:44 am |
        • Dan

          Interesting how Robert talks about historical truth while making claims about Jesus that have never been taken seriously by historians outside of pure speculation.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:53 am |
      • Elliott Carlin

        Same here. We just want you to respect the Declaration of Independence which asserts where our human rights come from..

        September 14, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • veep

      just plain hooey

      September 14, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Joe

      You are aware that Hitler was Catholic and cited his religion to support his persecution of the Jews.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:36 am |
      • Dan

        Hitler was really inconsistent with his religious views. At times, Hitler was clearly using religious arguments, not because he believed them, but because he knew he could use them to win the support (or at least apathy) of those he lead. Some of his writings show he didn't really believe in Christianity. Others suggest he did.

        September 14, 2013 at 8:51 am |
        • noly972

          Hitler was an extremist nut-case. Why would you expect him to be consistent? Are any of our extremist nut-cases always consistent?

          September 14, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Dale

      Idiotic post. Try actually reading the history of WWII.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Rick

      If indeed most atheists not only want religion destroyed but want all religious people dead, not one them had better ever say that to my face. I am not being "brave from behind a keyboard" as most of you self-centered Neanderthals will say, I am quite serious when I say that if I ever hear that from one of you, I will instantly shoot you.

      September 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
      • Nimrod

        Rick, shut up, seriously, stop typing, put down the bottle, and stop typing. You're not helping the "christian" cause, whatsoever.

        September 15, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  18. truthis

    Reality is not always pretty.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  19. huhb

    It's not so much having "extreme" Christianity – or any Christianity, for that matter – "in our face" that bothers me. This is America, and we can all disagree with each other, even vehemently.

    It's having Christianity in our LAWS that's the problem. It's our country, too.

    September 14, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Brian B

      So you think that the problem with our country today, is that "Christianity is in our LAWS."?

      Let me enlighten you for just a moment. The very same freedom you enjoy by not having a God, was given to you by a country that was built on Christianity. It is naive to think that todays problems in our country come from Christian values, instead of the incompetence on Wall Street and Washington. I believe firmly that you have the right to "not worship" anyway you want to, just like I can worship my God as I want to. But to use a religion as a platform for your problems in not only extreme in itself, but ignorant as well.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:50 am |
      • bill

        country that was built on Christianity. burn any Witches lately

        September 14, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • John Sharp

        Not hardly. They fought hard to keep religion out of everything. Christianity was imposed on non believers and as stated above they were even burned at the stake.
        So saying that this country was built on Christian beliefs is a bit disingenuous when there were no non-believers allowed at all. It is like in Saudi Arabia in which they are all Muslim but when I lived there I ran into a huge amount that were non-believers but they would not voice their opinion in public.
        Thomas Jefferson wrote his own version of the bible in which he removed the supernatural. And here is his direct quote.
        Jefferson's claim to be a Christian was made in response to those who accused him of being otherwise, due to his unorthodox view of the Bible and conception of Christ. Recognizing his rather unique views, Jefferson stated in a letter (1819) to Ezra Stiles Ely, "You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."
        If Jefferson couldn't say he was a non-believer publicly than who could.
        And there was no greater American in my book.

        September 14, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • Angry Lice

        The Treaty of Tripoli would like to have a word with you: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"

        September 15, 2013 at 12:53 am |
        • jinxmchue

          Oh, that old canard, huh? Let's see... That section from the treaty was nothing but gibberish in the Arabic version. The section was completely dropped when the treaty was renegotiated a few years later. Oh, and even so, it's actually quite correct that the GOVERNMENT was not founded on Christianity. The other poster was talking about our COUNTRY, which actually WAS founded on Christianity. That fact is completely undeniable. The country is not the government and the government is not the country. Our country was founded in 1776, a few years before the government came into being in 1787.

          October 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  20. Word?

    I guess the only difference being is that Dawkins was JOKING, where Pat Robertson is SERIOUS

    September 14, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • SFAW

      No, Robertson's a JOKE. Well, to the rational world, at least.

      September 14, 2013 at 8:26 am |
      • okay?

        well said!

        September 14, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • jinxmchue

      No, Dawkins was dead serious and continued to defend his statements after people started criticizing them.

      October 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
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About this blog

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