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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. Shockwave

    All I want if for the religions to stop pounding on peoples doors, trying to get people to come to their side.

    September 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • 21k

      you have to advertise if you want to grow your tax-exempt business.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • lziggan

      TRUTH AND TIME GO HAND IN HAND, GIVE IT ENOUGH TIME TRUTH WILL RULE! Everyone may seem like they are searching for truth, but only those that are humble to seek it not to justify their doing or thinking but to find out what is actually is, will always find it. One day, every individual on the planet will be responsible before Creator for their hearts, meaning if they truly whole heartily searched to know the actual truth from what is already known about things that are visible. The truth about the Creator is displayed in everything we see around us, so no need to argue, and fight for truth, it defends itself daily in our conscious. If a person humbly and honestly seeks truth from what is visible about the Creator, this will lead to God and the Gospel. Time has proven that, so that is truth about the truth.

      September 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  2. Todd

    Don't have to make any deals. Atheists can live as they choose, it is their lives, their choices, good or bad as they may be.

    September 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  3. Tired of Publicity Seeking Extremists of ALL Kinds

    Thank you for publically saying what I've felt for a long time. I'm an atheist and I'm tired of Dawkins and others of his kind (atheist and Christian alike) flapping their lips and saying obnoxious things to get the world's attention. Why anyone pays any attention to these blowhards is beyond me. They are all narcissists trying to make money, as far as I can tell. I have many friends who are Christian and many who are atheist and many who classify themselves as "other". We all have more in common than we have things that divide us. For a country who touts "religious freedom" many of us seem awfully intolerant of anyone who believes differently. But those are the folks we see in the media. Normal everyday folks quietly live side by side, are friends, BBQ together and get on with life. That's where the real bridges between us get built. Ignore the media and the people who seem to just want to fight. Thanks for the essay.

    September 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Yahweh

      Well, that's all fine and good but let's not forget we have leaders starting wars because Jeebus told them to (cough, Bush, cough). So, I was ripped from my home at gunpoint and sent to a hellish desert, placed in very dangerous conditions, and separated from my family all because of religious delusion. I'm sorry but we're well beyond "Live and Let Live" at this point. I will speak out against delusions every chance I get.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Worse still, we have a little boy providing an air force to Qaeda now.

        Kerry and Obama are impotent before the alpha Putin.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • TiglathPileser

        Minor correction, that particular war was started because Bush's ADVISOR'S (not Jebuss in this case) told him there were WMDs...turned out to be liars but may as well get the facts straight. Oh wait, that wouldnt fit with the atheist agenda!

        September 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Yahweh

          Might want to recheck those "facts".

          September 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        The war was started by 9-11. There were WMD in Iraq, they just did not know how to aerate the anthrax yet.

        Making the Taliban an enemy and funding Qaeda are all Obama and Uncle Joe.

        Thank you Mr. Putin, something I thought I would never write.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Nick

      How you and your friends choose to carry yourselves is up to you, and perfectly fine. But let's not forget that Dawkins is one of the most accomplished evolutionary biologists this world has ever seen. When he speaks, he is not speaking opinion in the sense that you or I would. He is speaking extremely education opinions based off scientific fact that 99% of us have never bothered to learn. Of course what he says is going to anger people, because he is leading a charge to hasten the departure from archaic, harmful social constructs like religion. You may be turned off by his intensity, but without people like him, your atheist friends could not have safely 'come out' as atheist.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • donna

        Nicely said.

        September 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • Bob Bales

        When Richard Dawkins says that there is no God, he is not basing that on scientific fact, since there is no scientific fact that indicates God does not exist. There is no reason to believe that he knows more about the existence/non-existence of God than anyone else.

        September 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
        • donna

          Bob, I can't reply to your other comment so I'll do it here:

          "What makes the existence of Jesus (exceedingly) likely is that people who would certainly have known whether or not Jesus existed behaved in a manner consistent with His existence, but completely opposite to human nature if He didn't exist. ."

          What are you referring to? What behaviors, that there is historical evidence for, do you think people engaged in that were new to human nature? Storytelling was the way they passed on their ideals about behavior, so all their stories about gods and heroes were idealizing behavior. What do you think is so unique and contrary to what we know about human nature that were associated with the time Jesus was supposed to have lived?

          "Your theory doesn't begin to explain why people – for no benefit and at the risk of their lives – would follow someone as God because of what He had done, when they knew he had not done those things because He didn't exist. Did this happen in any of the other cults at the time"

          Yes, people followed cult heroes/gods/demigods because of deeds they supposedly did but did not witness. Do you think they actually saw Zeus with their own eyes?

          The only difference between the cult of Jesus and every other cult at the time is that it was free of charge and open to people of all walks of life. Hence it became very popular.

          September 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          Apparently, you are not getting what I am saying. Would you agree that when people proclaim that a person is God, they are behaving as if they believe that that person existed? Would you also agree that if a person such as Jesus came to Jerusalem over a period of years, frequented a common public gathering place such as the Temple, and was crucified in the city by the Romans (who would have made a spectacle of such things to showcase the power of Rome), the people living in the city would have known it?

          I consider these two statements to be non-controversial. It follows, therefore, that if Jesus did not exist, those events would not have happened, and the people in Jerusalem would have known that also - would have known that the Jesus being portrayed did not exist. So it follows, according to your theory, that people who knew that Jesus did not exist behaved as if He did. Especially when done at the risk of one's life, such behavior is contrary to human nature.

          ""Did this happen in any of the other cults at the time?" Yes, people followed cult heroes/gods/demigods because of deeds they supposedly did but did not witness." People followed Jesus because of things that they *did* witness. Therefore, the answer to my question is 'no': the same thing did not happen in the case of cults that people followed because of events they did not witness.

          "Do you think they actually saw Zeus with their own eyes?" No, I don't. This is exactly my point. Many of the followers of Jesus claimed to have seen Him with their own eyes. This makes Jesus different than Zeus. "The only difference between the cult of Jesus and every other cult at the time is that it was free of charge and open to people of all walks of life. Hence it became very popular." The real difference is that Jesus's following was based on events of which his followers had, or at least would have had knowledge. Your theory is that it became popular for people to proclaim - at the risk of their lives - something that they knew to be false. Why would that happen?

          September 15, 2013 at 2:55 am |
        • donna

          "Would you agree that when people proclaim that a person is God, they are behaving as if they believe that that person existed?"

          I'm not sure I agree with that. It's not a clear question.

          Are you asking if people who believe in gods think they are real or not? When you say "proclaim a person" do you mean a person who they can see existed, or a person from a story they have heard?

          "Would you also agree that if a person such as Jesus came to Jerusalem over a period of years, frequented a common public gathering place such as the Temple, and was crucified in the city by the Romans (who would have made a spectacle of such things to showcase the power of Rome), the people living in the city would have known it?"

          NO. Most of the historical events that people know about aren't known personally to the majority of the people who hear the story.

          Are you aware that there are zero contemporary accounts of Jesus? Do you understand that there is no evidence from anyone that he was anywhere during the time he supposedly lived? You seem to be writing as if you think there were. Where did you get the idea that people were a

          "I consider these two statements to be non-controversial."

          Then that's our problem- you assume too much. ; )
          "People followed Jesus because of things that they *did* witness"
          Based on what? Where's the historical evidence that someone witnessed things? Beyond stories that were written about a hero, decades and decades after he died, no one clams an eye witness account.
          "Many of the followers of Jesus claimed to have seen Him with their own eyes. This makes Jesus different than Zeus. "
          In all the stories about Zeus mortals claim to see him with their eyes. There are no historical accounts of people seeing Jesus- just stories written decades and decades after his supposedly death….

          September 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  4. HITCHENS

    What does Richard Dawkins comments have to do with FACTS?
    Your imaginary friend Jesus or Allah are still fictional and people of FAITH belong in a MENTAL hospital with other SCHIZOPHRENICS where you guys can talk day and night about each others imaginary friends.

    September 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • TiglathPileser

      Umm, just as a point, there really is no debate anymore of wether Jesus existed or not. He can be considered historical fact, feel free to debate that he was the son of God or not but to suggest that he is/was imaginary is just silly.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • donna

        That's completely false, there is not agreement that Jesus was a historical figure. There is no historical evidence that would support his existence outside of fictional stories, which would not be considered evidence for the existence of any other fictional character.

        September 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Robert

          There is zero evidence that Jesus existed. ZERO.

          September 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
        • donna

          I agree with you Robert.

          September 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          It is a historical fact that the Christian church developed at the time Jesus is reported to have lived in the place he is reported to have lived. If you want to put forth the idea that Jesus never existed, then you need to come up with a plausible explanation of why people suddenly began to claim that a man their listeners were familiar with (although they would have known that their listeners knew didn't exist) was God, when doing so brought them no benefit, but cost them their lives. And you also need to explain why people not originally His followers, responded to what was said and also risked their lives to follow a man they knew didn't exist. Historian Will Durant (who didn't believe Jesus was God) said that would require a bigger miracle that any recorded in the Bible.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
        • donna

          Bob, there were thousands of cults with fictional heroes at that time. There's nothing about the existence of this one that makes it more likely their demi-god hero was real.

          September 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          What makes the existence of Jesus (exceedingly) likely is that people who would certainly have known whether or not Jesus existed behaved in a manner consistent with His existence, but completely opposite to human nature if He didn't exist. Your theory doesn't begin to explain why people - for no benefit and at the risk of their lives - would follow someone as God because of what He had done, when they knew he had not done those things because He didn't exist. Did this happen in any of the other cults at the time?

          September 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  5. bad2worse

    I let people believe what they want.
    Let me believe what I want.
    We will have no problem.
    Just don't force your beliefs on me.

    Or we will have a problem...

    September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  6. John

    "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?"

    Deal!

    I might love you. But don't tell my girlfriend...

    September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  7. sick and tired

    I have a different deal in mind. Religionists, stay out of my schools, stay out of my laws, stay off my front porch, and for my part, I won't shoot you in the head.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Yahweh

      For the record, I retain that right. No warning shots either; ammo is waaaaay too expensive for that.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
      • calmdownabit

        I'll hazard another reply to you Yahweh, but is this the typical response to be expected by the atheist lobby? Lock and load??

        Christians were killed for their beliefs through the dark ages. We seem to be closer to that again.

        On second thought, I've changed my mind. Can I be an atheist too? The ability to chastise, threaten, stereotype, and even kill with impunity sounds just too tempting to me. Thanks for setting a leading example.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Yahweh

          Oh relax Mary. It was just a joke. I am a very peaceful person, unlike my namesake who ordered people to be killed for mowing their lawn on Sunday.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • Joey

          During the Dark Ages Christianity ruled Europe, so by and large any Christian killed was killed by another Christian who did not agree with their interpretation of the Bible.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • Nick

          I believe you are wrong in the short term.

          Expect jihad, first. The Muslims will be purged. I don't see a way around it.

          But yes, the world will turn back to Christian and Jewish persecutions, again. It is, in fact, regressing again now.

          – N

          September 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • calmdownabit

      I agree with much of what you say. But separation of church and state was deemed more for the government keeping their business out of churches too.

      And as much as this won't go over well with all the angry and stereotyping atheists who chose to deride rather than agree with the author of this article, the United States really was a Christian nation. I'm not even American and it's obvious to see that. One or two quotes from Jefferson to the contrary doesn't prove otherwise (a common and tiring proclamation used by some).

      Without guidance, such as the laws that you might attribute as being solely Christian, the children of children of children in any non-secular society have never survived into a healthy nation or culture in any recorded history. Try naming one nation or society that has not loved God, and yet has prospered over 100 years or so. Now try naming cultures that have not loved God, and suffer generation after generation.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  8. Yes to Reason

    After decades of shrill, vociferous, mean-spirited social order-challenging attacks by uppity suffragette, civil rights, feminist, LGBT and now atheist voices, embattled White Christian Americans like Rachel Held Evans can't take it any more. Truce, please!

    September 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Sorry, as long as there are people who entrap themselves or are indoctrinated into superstitious nonsense that inspires them to force their ideas on the rest of us there is work to do.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  9. Lou

    When Dawkins speaks, he is expressing his own opinion. When Robertson or any other religious leader speaks, he/she is claiming to speak for God. Big difference, wouldn't you say?

    September 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That depends on the opinion Dawkins has of himself.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  10. cleareye1

    Fair enough proposal, but first she must offer something that Dawkins said that is as outrageous as most of what Robertson says! Dawkins speaks only the truth as supported by science. Robertson, on the other hand, is a fabulist, a fantasizer of the most primitive sort.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      As for getting rid of “extremists” on both ends, and looking in the middle… “When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong.”

      But then, that was said by an extremist.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Rick

      Just a disclaimer....there is nothing in science that can prove the non-existence of Gog

      September 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • zeyn2010

        LOL, science isn't in the business of proving or disproving non-scientific claims!

        September 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
      • donna

        There's is nothing that can disprove the existence of ANYTHING including pink unicorns, what's your point?

        September 14, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Pieter

    If a deal is what you seek then I have a counter proposal.
    First. Take every mention of "your" god off our money.
    Second. Take the "Under God" out of our pledge of allegiance. It is a pledge to our country and not to your god.
    Once you Christians stop trying to make this a country of one religion and realize not everyone believes what you believe the whole world will be better off.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • cleareye1

      Bravo!

      September 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • His Noodly Master

      Yes!

      September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • jens gessner

      Third, stop trying to influence public policy based on irrational, religious views.
      Fourth, stop giving religion undue tax breaks.
      Fifth, stop demanding religious adherence from your lawmakers.
      .....

      The problem with religion is not its irrational view. – A lot of people believe in weird stuff. The real problem is that irrational religion tries to influence public policy.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • zeyn2010

        I agree completely!We all had enough of fantasies trying to influence politics!

        September 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • zeyn2010

      LOL

      September 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      In God we trust

      September 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  12. sybaris

    Making a "deal" with religionists would be like passively endorsing willful ignorance.

    If someone told you that 2+2=fish wouldn't you feel even slightly obligated to correct them?

    September 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      How can you correct religionists when you don't know they are wrong?

      September 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  13. wakeup333

    Test: Muslims Muslims Muslims. (Whaddaya know, even 3 got through!) So why didn't my defense of Dawkins' tweet post?

    September 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  14. wakeup333

    Test: Muslims Muslims. (Curious if saying the word more than once is why my comments don't post!)

    September 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      crac-ker…
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      inf-orms us…
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      ni-gra…as in deni-grate
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!
      x-xx…

      September 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • wakeup333

        appreciate your help, but I haven't used epithets, obscenity or derogatory terms. Just facts & irrefutable numbers. I guess CNN doesn't want facts to interrupt a good smear of Dawkins!

        September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Hints

          Check over your post carefully. Did you say "const-itution" or any other words that have "naughty" word fragments within them?

          September 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • sick and tired

        I can't tell whether you are trying to prove you can defeat the filter, or that you have the maturity of a five-year-old.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I didn't beat the filter and it's not my list. I copy and pasted it.

          September 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • doobzz

          I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't care about "defeating the filter" just for its own sake. It would be nice if I could type the word "constitution without having to add characters because the filter edits the very, very naughty word "tit" that it contains, though.

          September 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • Hints

          @sick and tired,

          Good thing you didn't try to say "bad att-itude" and get all frustrated (or paranoid) because your post did not appear...

          (I purposefully left out the no-brainer cuss words - these are bugbears that are ***hidden-within-other words***)

          September 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • calmdownabit

        I'd sure hate to play Scrabble with you.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  15. Robert

    As an atheist I do not care what Dawkins says BUT it is a fact. Islam is aggressively anti intellectual. Christians by virtue of living mainly in democracies are actively anti intellectual. There is a difference. You have a deal though; I guess. I suspect only christians would even care....

    September 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • An Anti-theist

      ALL religions are anti-intellectual.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        If you can read you are a threat to most pastors.

        September 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Kenneth

    Luckily, Christians in the US are dying off faster than they can be replaced. Like Western Europe, people who profess belief will be ridiculed by anyone who has am above-high-school education.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm not sure that ridicule is effective. It takes time, but education will prevail. Give the children of believers the tools of logic, science and historical criticism and they'll see through the indoctrination their elders may try to press on them.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
      • His Noodly Master

        The Internet will destroy religion. Unless religion destroys us first.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  17. Not Too Hard to Understand

    On the other hand, no atheist ever killed a believer for failing to drop that belief. Wouldn't it be wonderful if religious persons could make that same statement?

    September 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Um, the League of Militant Atheists did.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Nate

      I'm an atheist but that just isn't true. Many officially atheist states have imprisoned and killed believers who refuse to conform. This is much less frequent than in states with state religions however.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Douglas

        Actually, that isn't about athiests inflicting their beliefs on others, it's about dictators eradicating dissent. VERY different things

        September 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It still involved atheists killing religious people.

          September 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Eric

      Ha-ha now that is a compromise i think they should be trying to make. I have no idea who this guy is but really what does being an atheist have to do with saying something stupid about pedophilia and Muslims. This person just seems to be stupid.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • cleareye1

        Dawkins said nothing stupid about pedophilia or Muslims.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Andy

      mmmm.go read for example the history of the soviet union and the opression of religion, killing of religious clergy.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • Douglas

        That's eradicating dissent. Had nothing to do with atheists insisting everyone be atheist.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • calmdownabit

      The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and Red Purges in 1949-1953 killed, collectively, between 40 -60 million (both forgotten holocausts by most Westerners). Those who refused to give up belief in God rather than their Dear Leaders were amongst the groups most executed.

      Try again.

      September 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  18. King of Eldorado

    Discussions of religious belief or non-belief often overlook the fact that many people go through the motions of practicing a religion without actually believing its teachings. They do this out of familial or other social pressure, or because professing atheism carries a stigma damaging to their ambitions, such as politics. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I doubt that someone as intellectual as President Obama deep in his heart actually believes the whole virgin birth, Christ died for our sins, etc., doctrine of his professed Christianity. And no, I'm not suggesting he is a Muslim; he would likely disbelieve those teachings as well.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Obama, intellectual? What have you been smokin'?

      Anyway, look at Francis Collins. He's significantly more intelligent than Obama (than most people), yet he's a devout believer.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Kenneth

        Collins is a top-notch government bureaucrat.

        September 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Yes he is, although calling him a bureaucrat kinda detracts from his work (even though he is technically a bureaucrat).

          September 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • His Noodly Master

        Which is nothing more than a demonstration of human's ability to compartmentalize. Collins can easily wall off inside his scientist mind, a tiny little bubble of batsh**t crazy.

        A does any intelligent person who professes belief in an invisible, foreskin-hating Sky Pixie.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • One one

      I wouldn't be surprised if many clergy didn't believe, deep down inside, including the pope.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • cleareye1

        They will all admit to having doubts but claim that overcoming those doubts is a testament to their faith. Mind boggling logic.
        But you can be very smart and still be a fool.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  19. Keith Bosenberg

    What about Grebnesob's Law of Atheism? As matter or an organism or a device tends to infinite complexity so the probability that it had a designer / creator tends to zero. Fascinating law!!

    September 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  20. Jared

    So, you don't want to argue in the extremes, but you want to use one man's gaffe as collateral against all the religious hypocrisy and fraud throughout the last several thousand years? Seems like this cunning opportunist is less the genuine deal maker than she puts on. Not buying it. I will say however, that Richard Dawkins and "atheists" who claim that there definitely is no God have no more proof than people that know that there definitely is a God. Both statements are equally definitive and equally unprovable. If you want compromise, everyone should just admit that they don't know the truth and put their beliefs in what the can prove and observe – which is science. But alas, one must fight fire with fire – so if the only way to break free from the bondage of thousands of years of religious manipulation is to challenge the very existence of it, period, then there is some good in a purely atheistic argument. Ultimately we'll all have to admit that we simple don't know, and that to speculate either way is equally flawed.

    September 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Which speculation is more preposterous?

      1. I own an invisible and undetectable dragon the size of Jupiter
      2. I do not own an invisible and undetectable dragon the size of Jupiter

      September 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • bmurdoc

        Cpt.

        Well said

        September 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • cleareye1

        3.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      We also don't 'know' Skeletor doesn't exist. Is speculation regarding his existence flawed?

      September 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
      • One one

        Idle speculation is one thing, devoting ones entire life and actions, and perceptions of others according to the belief is quite another thing.

        September 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Robert

      Amen to that oops. Religion is a kind of mental illness. Invisible beings in the sky, voices in the head, magical thinking, OCD rituals, and the topper a half naked man being tortured to death around their necks. They easily scoff at other religions without even being capable of understanding why theirs is just as laughable.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Shayna

      The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Yoi cannot prove a negative. I do not have to prove the moon is not made of green cheese, you need to prove that it is. I do not have to prove there is no god, you have to prove that there is.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • cleareye1

        No they don't. Logic plays no part in faith.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Bob Bales

        If you claim there is no God, then the burden of your claim is on you. If no one provides evidence for God's existence and you provide no proof of His non-existence, the conclusion is not that God does not exist. The conclusion is that His existence is unknown.

        September 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • nojinx

          Correct. When we encounter one of the infinite number of things that we have no reason to conclude exists, we therefore have no reason to believe it does.

          September 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          You may have any opinion you want, for any reason you want. However, many people have found reasons to believe that God does exist. If you want your view to carry more weight than their view, then is is up to you to show that your view is correct.

          September 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • donna

      Jared,

      Dawkins and atheists who claim there is no god are not claiming there is proof of that. They are aware that that is an OPINION based on the evidence about the universe that we do have. So you are coming close to a straw man there to argue that there is no proof of that belief because people who hold that belief do not claim there is proof.

      If you've ever heard Dawkins speak on the matter, you'd know he makes those distinctions quite clear. He remains one of the leading evolutionary biologists in the world, and nothing he has said about atheism damages his credibility for understanding the significance evidence, opinions and facts.

      September 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.