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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. Mike

    Deal, Rachel,

    As an "atheist" (really more agnostic, but I know some won't allow me to use that term), I sure hope I wasn't one of those who "paint one another with broad brushes"; except you all are Christians 🙂

    September 15, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • donna

      Who won't let you use that term? I think people just want to see it used correctly: as a method of thinking about the ability to know things.

      If you don't believe in a deity, you are an atheist. If you don't think you can know as certain truth that a god does not exist, you are an agnostic atheist.

      September 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

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

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

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

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

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Me: "We do?"

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

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

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

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

    from Jhuger.com

    September 15, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Marty Nee

      Good one. Had not seen that.

      It is amazing that people who believe that a supreme being with power to create a universe out of nothing would also think that he/she would need for us to constantly praise them. If I built an ant farm I certainly would not need the ants to be kissing my ass all the time.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  3. Uh Huh?

    Umm. Really...Mentioning Dawkins in the same article as Pat Robertson??? Like they are equals? Credibility = Zero.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • M

      She's not saying they're both delusional, she's saying they're both vitriolic. And I would agree, let the strength of your argument do your talking, and keep in mind that a few people will never be convinced no matter how persuasive your points are.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        FAIL

        September 15, 2013 at 8:21 am |
        • M

          If you are trying to convince someone of your point of view, do you think they will believe you because you rail them with ridicule? Honey and vinegar, honey and vinegar.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:23 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Dyslexic: It would appear that 'M' is more christard and thus a poe than the Atheist it claims to be...it defends the christards point of view more than it does the Atheist point.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:35 am |
        • aldewacs2

          @truthprevails1
          "Dyslexic: It would appear that 'M' is more christard and thus a poe than the Atheist it claims to be...it defends the christards point of view more than it does the Atheist point."
          ===

          It's OK and a very atheistic thing to do, to defend even the enemy where facts are in their camp. I think M is likely a bona fide atheist.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • sqeptiq

          Dawkins gives you reality and you see ridicule; maybe the problem is that ignoring reality is ridiculous and believers don't recognize that.

          September 15, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  4. cdub

    So the lesson here for all Christian's is that we should keep our mouths shut, and worship our way while we still can without persecution-especially considering how many people are atheists and how many atheists vividly hate/push hate upon Christians. Atheists decry freedom from how we push our faith upon people, but honestly there has been a reverse trend. There is now a majority that are atheists and they do things today that only Christians of the middle ages could come up with.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Sane Person

      Preventing you from forcing others into following your deluded rules is not persecution. Preventing you from making religious laws, is not persecution. Preventing you from injecting your fantasies into public schools, is not persecution. You have churches on every street corner in America. You have 100% representation in government. You have your motto imprinted on every dollar bill and uttered at every baseball game. You are the persecutor, not the persecuted. You confuse "not being in charge" with persecution.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:18 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        well said SP!

        September 15, 2013 at 8:21 am |
      • Bill

        Thank you! Well said!

        September 15, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • M

      Geese – no! She's saying be respectful, polite, kind, courteous.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:20 am |
      • Bill

        I don't know any instance where atheist would have persecuted or killed a religious person for his/her belief. But atheists have been killed by religious people! Telling straight the truth into the face of the religious I think is then quite all right even if occasionally it does not appear civil!

        September 15, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • M

          And that vast majority of religious people do not kill each other as you indicate. How many Muslims in the U.S. are doing this? How many christians? How many Hindus?

          September 15, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • JeffreyRO5

      Nonsense. The fundamental problem for Xtians is that, lacking any evidence for their beliefs, they rely on sheer numbers of believers ("it must be true, if so many people believe it to be true!") and squashing dissent or doubt. So with more and more visible doubters and outright non-believers, you take that as a threat: "You're either with us or against us!" when in fact there is a third and more likely path: we are indifferent to you. But indifference is just as threatening, right?

      Religion is like money: it only has value so long as everyone agrees it has value. Once people start having doubts, things get dicey for religion or money.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:20 am |
      • M

        I agree – nonsense. It doesn't mean you have to be hateful in response. Disagree – yes. Strongly disagree – yes. Protest – yes. Act childish – no!

        September 15, 2013 at 8:32 am |
        • JeffreyRO5

          What was childish about my remarks?

          September 15, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • One one

      If we start seeing "in god we do not trust" printed on dollar bills or have your 6 yo children recite "one nation without god" every day or politicians professing their lack of belief in god you would have a point. But we are not anywhere close to that.

      It's funny how people don't seem to notice their own stink as much as others do.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Where do you find a majority that are atheist?

      September 15, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  5. Holy Man

    Dear "Christians."

    It is not persecution when you are told you can't force others to practice your religion. It is not persecution when you are told you cannot legislate bigotry.

    It would be persecution for you to be told you cannot practice your own religion in the privacy of your own homes and places of worship.

    Quit saying you're being persecuted when you're not allowed to persecute others. It only shows what low IQ most "Christians" have.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!

      September 15, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • cdub

      "What low IQ Christians' have", and what do you call that? I don't cry persecution, and most Christians I know don't. I have witnessed it on places like here from people like you who for some reason think that it's alright to judge and criticize us, and then turn around and tell us how evil we are for doing the same.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • JD

      I couldn't have said it better.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  6. JeffreyRO5

    The problem with this article is that Dawkins isn't saying outrageous (supposedly) things as an Atheist. He just likes to say provocative things, and the examples you cite are not particularly outrageous observations at that. On the other hand, the Pat Robertsons of the world are usually saying ridiculous things in Christ's name or on god's behalf, such as when they say that god is punishing such and such a place with extreme weather (a favorite accusation of religionist leadership).

    I'd also like to note that their is nowhere near the number of people making outrageous or ridiculous claims in the name of atheism, compared to christianity. Atheism doesn't really lend itself to colorful and ridiculous behavior: there's no god, so there's no infrastructure and systems around which to make absurd claims. Christianity, on the other hand, is rich is infrastructure and symbols to employ in order to make bizarre claims. With Atheism, an atheist can't take a piece of toast and not see god and therefore have his non-faith reinforced. A christian, however, can see the virgin mary in a piece of toast, and thousands, maybe millions, will see that as a sign.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Bill

      I agree with all that you said and add the following. It is outrageous to compare Dawkins to Robertson. Dawkins has done a lot of good things for humanity such as all the scientific publications. He also tries to raise people out of their delusion! The believer will say it's evil, but I am sure history will show that Dawkins' teachings were right. But what good Robertson has done? He only taught people fraud and things that are delusional!

      September 15, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 15, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • JeffreyRO5

      And how is teaching children to believe in make believe good for them? Especially when you indoctrinate them to keep believing in make believe into adulthood?

      September 15, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        don't feed the trolls ...

        September 15, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  8. Dominic

    It is interesting to read all these comments. I am a fellow atheist and i mean no harm to religion. You can believe what you want, go about your life. But I just gotta say this article is one of the most confusing, illogical, and simply disturbing things I have read in a while. "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". I wasn't aware that this even happened. You guys do realise we dont have meetings in big houses or anything right? I'm also very curious as to why this all boils down to defending against Pat Robertson comments. We dont call religious people crazy because of Pat, we call you crazy because you praying, at least to us, looks like a child talking to a tree. With that being said I have no ill will towards religion go on your way in piece you crazy lunatics! lol

    September 15, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Sane Person

      Give her a week, she'll change her position to whatever flavor captured her attention most recently.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    The use of supernaturalism to manipulate and control people is the world's oldest confidence scheme, it relies on the ritual abuse of children at their most impressionable stage by adults who have themselves been made childish for life by artifacts of the primitive mind.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  10. Sam

    One of the worst articles on a news site I have ever seen

    September 15, 2013 at 8:02 am |
  11. kahnkeller

    I find it most entertaining that these "good" Christians quote parts of this...bible... to support their beliefs... and that they would ...in extreme cases...give their lives for these words...yet...most don't know that many of the original books of this bible were removed...because they had so much conflict with the other parts... if this is the word of ..."god"... how could any
    part be removed... and how can you not see the humor of quoting your mythical book to those that do not believe in your mythical god.... sigh.....

    September 15, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      he King James version of the new testament was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the church of England. There were (and still are) NO original texts to translate. The oldest manuscripts we have were written down 100's of years after the last apostle died. There are over 8,000 of these old manuscripts with no two alike. The king james translators used none of these anyway. Instead they edited previous translations to create a version their king and parliament would approve. So.... 21st century christians believe the "word of god" is a book edited in the 17th century from the 16th century translations of 8,000 contradictory copies of 4th century scrolls that claim to be copies of lost letters written in the 1st century.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  12. Sam

    Hey Rachel Evans, lets not.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • M

      No, let's do (be respectful, courteous) – that doesn't mean you have to agree...it's the manner in which you disagree.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  13. Balthazaar

    Hmmmmm.... Sems like an unfair deal. She can point to one over the top Athiest. Anyone on this board can think of half a dozen loony toons certifiable insane televangislists without any effort......robertson, falwell, roberts, swaggert, baker, van impe, dobson, huckaby........feel free to continue the list.....

    September 15, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Jesus
      Peter
      Andrew
      James
      John
      Philip
      Bartholomew
      Thomas
      Matthew
      James
      Simon

      (these were from very early religious programming but just as crazy)

      September 15, 2013 at 7:57 am |
      • Mark

        For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
        Paul was smarter than you. Your time is short.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:15 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          sheep.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:23 am |
        • Mark

          Blip

          September 15, 2013 at 8:30 am |
        • sqeptiq

          Mark, name one person you can prove has been "saved."

          September 15, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • ohgadman

      OK...I'll take a shot at it for the other side: Hitchens, Harris, Hawking, Singer (as mentioned in the article), Atkins, Maher, Gillette, and Tyson. Left out a number of Hollywood types, but left in Gillette and Maher because they are so outspoken about it. Could probably have added the entire theology staffs of Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford but that wouldn't have been fair to the agnostics in the group.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  14. One one

    Dear christians,
    I fully understand that you find your beliefs a source of comfort. However, I respectfully request that you practice your faith privately and stop trying to insert your religious beliefs into the public space.

    It's one thing for people to believe a magic man killed himself to save us from his wrath of eternal torture after death, and that one must believe this to avoid his eternal punishment. But it's quite another to teach this to my children and use them to promote your religious enterprise by trying to put prayer, creationism, "one nation under god", and the ten commandments in schools and other public places.

    Thank you.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      beautiful!

      September 15, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Hell and destruction are never full

      Keep yer silly notion of man granted rights out of the law and gubmint, silly socie.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:58 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        try using your real name lol??

        September 15, 2013 at 8:06 am |
        • Hell and destruction are never full

          Pithyism is a heavy cross.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • kahnkeller

      hummm... after 2000 years of forcing their evil and hate filled religion on us non Christians... they just can not stop.... that would require them to admit that what they did to people who did not believe in their invisible...three head ...sky gods.... was wrong.... not going to happen...

      September 15, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  15. niiiice

    Here's the deal...Christians voluntarily report to the microchipping station and we won't fire up the FEMA camps.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Hell and destruction are never full

      Ten toes of FEMA districts?? No deal. 🙂

      September 15, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  16. Hortus rarus

    I can only doubt Ms. Held Evans sincerity when she, as an Editor and presumably Writer, repeatedly uses the upper-case "Christian" and Lower-case "atheist".
    Since both are are proper nouns they should BOTH be capitalized!
    So, should we infer that she is a poor Writer and Editor?
    Or should we infer that she feels Atheists are not due the same respect that she gives Christians in here writings?

    September 15, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Glenn Parker

      Somebody get this guy some tissue.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:52 am |
      • Hortus rarus

        Obviously, you are as illiterate as the author!
        Too bad you are not smart enough to know of what I am writing!

        September 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  17. Dyslexic doG

    atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

    atheism is a religion like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby.

    do you have any idea how mind numbingly foolish you sound when you say atheism is a religion?!

    September 15, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • Glenn Parker

      You can't have your cake and eat it too. Just like a donut hole is where the donut ain't, there is also something *IN* that space. You seem to want to define atheism as what you DON'T believe, when in fact there is a strictly positive definition that guides your worldview. I'm sorry, but when your axiomatic belief system is based on real axioms, you cannot defer to what you DON'T believe. Axioms, by definition, must be positive assertions about reality.

      Let me clarify this for you, since you most likely have no idea what I am talking about: As an atheist, you live by what you DO believe; it is not possible to live by what you do not believe. When you come to understand this, you will understand why atheism is a religion.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:00 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        more hokey, analogies.
        like safety blankets for Christians.
        they can spit them out on demand.
        and somehow think that they proved a point.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:08 am |
        • tbone123

          Awesome 7th grade come back.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:36 am |
      • Mindforms

        This is why the Pat Robertson Vs Richard Dawkins trade is so unfair. The primary difference between the two being Dawkins had a functioning brain.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:13 am |
        • Mark

          Shame his throat stopped functioning. Irony!

          September 15, 2013 at 8:20 am |
      • Dominic

        I honestly dont know what your talking about Glenn. See in my mind im not an atheist. Im what you call a human being. If religion was to never exist there would be no term Atheist. You call us that because we dont follow what you believe."You seem to want to define atheism as what you DON'T believe, when in fact there is a strictly positive definition that guides your worldview". Not believing is actually the correct definition for atheist. And if you allow your belief in god to affect your world view and how your precieve reallity than you need some help. Falling down a flight of stairs hurts us just as much as you. But if at the end you stand up and go thank you lord for making my trip to the basement a little faster im not gonna lie im gonna be a little scared.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • Donuts

        You Christians want so badly to give religion to atheists that you just can't help yourselves.

        If you think the space between donuts are really just donuts – try bringing those imaginary donut holes to work and watch the expression on your co-workers faces as you explain your point.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:26 am |
      • usmovers

        Sorry, but your logic is flawed: In a world of IceCreamLovers, there may be those who love Chocolate, those who love Strawberry, etc. But to say that he who doesn't eat ice cream is still an IceCreamLover because he is a consumer of food is just ludicrous. Go back to the drawing board; just because we Atheists have a positive axiomatic system regarding our understanding of how the universe came to be doesn't mean it falls into the category of creation views that involve magic beings (i.e. religion, in case you didn't understand).

        September 15, 2013 at 8:48 am |
      • sqeptiq

        Failed logic, didn't you?

        September 15, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • tbone123

      Do you realize how silly YOU sound when you defend Atheism as FACT yet belittle Christians for believing in God?
      Do YOU know for a FACT how everything came into being?
      If so, please share.
      If not, stop believing you somehow hold the moral high ground.
      Both concepts require a degree of FAITH.
      NEITHER should be taught in school and if one is taught BOTH should have equal time since they are both theories.
      Problem here as I see it is that you want everything your way and ONLY your way.
      Atheism may not have started out as a religion but when you declared war on anyone with views outside of your own you joined the crowd you say you hate.
      Welcome to what you call religion pal.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:34 am |
      • usmovers

        A couple of things: how is it that when a small (but growing) group of people begin to stand up to and voice a world view that conflicts with the vastly prevailing view, you religionists start crying about a ‘war’ on your way of thinking? Please try to be fair: we have a right to our view and we have a right to NOT have your view shoved down our throats in the public square (and at our expense). As to your question about how we know better what is true than you, please keep in mind that the vast number of scientists have been and still are religious. This is an important point because it demonstrates what science does: it provides an evidence based collection of facts. Everyone thinks this way whether they admit to it or not. We all want to have evidence support our understandings. When there is paltry evidence to support a person’s view, then they say their belief is based on faith. Scientific thought gives everybody, including you religionists, the chance to put your views out for consideration. So use it if you’re so sure of yourselves. Science says nothing of religion. It is merely a tool we all use to understand our world. Removing science and/or its conclusions from the classroom is tantamount to tyrannically and arbitrarily forcing one’s favorite view on everybody else. And as Americans who love Freedom, I don’t think any of us want that.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  18. vonn

    The Bible does say few will inter the the Kingdom of Heaven.. I have no problem with that..

    September 15, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      The Harry Potter books say you can fly on brooms. I'm OK with that.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:45 am |
      • Mark

        Nerd alert.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:06 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          guilty, your honor ...

          September 15, 2013 at 8:09 am |
        • Mark

          Don 't read about Paul or Stephen, sit around and watch The Big Bang Theory. Simple minds.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:18 am |
      • kahnkeller

        ouch....ouch....ouch....

        September 15, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      If God is powerful enough to create the universe, don't you think he'd have a more foolproof way of getting his exact message across to future generations than this endlessly translated, edited, confused, modified, twisted, corrupted book of stories that is changed by religious power brokers to suit each generation?

      Wouldn't god's word be carved on the moon, unchangeable and for all to see? Wouldn't it be spoken unchanged by a species of animal? Wouldn't it be written microscopically on every stone or every tree? Wouldn't there be some space age material that had god's voice recorded, uncorrupted over the centuries and there for everyone to hear.

      Wouldn't there be parts of God's word that reflect computers or artificial intelligence or DNA or modern medicine or future medicine or electricity or space travel to other parts of this amazing universe he created? Wouldn't there be talk of gender and race equality? Wouldn't there be talk of Asia and Australia and the Americas and Europe and Africa?

      Instead the bible is limited to horses and carts and herbs and grain and swords and shields and misogyny and racism and slavery all set in the deserts of the middle east. The Bible is so obviously a product of bronze age man, you must be in denial to even argue that it is the word of god. There may or may not be a god or gods, but this book of bronze age voodoo and oppression has nothing to do with him, her or them.

      And stop it with this "not the word of god but words inspired by god" cop out. That just means it was written by greedy, evil men who got their way by claiming that god told them to do something. That's a self serving scam that should be scorned, especially by anyone claiming to love an omnipotent god. That scam is an abomination and an insult to your god ... as is the bible!

      September 15, 2013 at 7:47 am |
      • Hell and destruction are never full

        Greedy men wrote the Bible?? Paul did admit to a problem with covetnous but never acted on it like americultians.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:53 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          so mind numbingly naïve ...

          September 15, 2013 at 7:59 am |
        • Hell and destruction are never full

          Obey yer master, dog. Ever see your dog pals dragging a sweet young thing down the street with a leash??

          September 15, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • Mark

        Oh wait your that person that wants everything handed to him, over and over gain. Generation give me give me.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • usmovers

        Oh, poor Dog! Don't you know!?! God demands FAITH! What faith would be required if God made it so easy to believe as you suggest? Very little! So the more unrealistic and evidence-less a concept is, the more FAITH it takes to believe in that concept, am I right? YES! But lets be verrrrry clear: the faith required to believe in Islam or Buddhism or Shintoism or any non-Christian religion is bunk faith...there's a difference! Good faith / bad faith...you can learn all about which is which by regularly attending your local religious group meetings...they'll keep you on the Right Path!

        September 15, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • SeeAllEvil

      "The Bible does say few will inter the the Kingdom of Heaven."

      I mentioned this very quote to my atheist husband while talking about his aging parents and whether they were believers, Christians, atheists, agnostics as he doesn't know their belief. Since his parents don't speak of their beliefs, I said that few get into heaven and their chances of getting in are slim, but I am not the judge of their salvation. He fumed over my comment and a true atheist should know it makes absolutely NO DIFFERENCE whether they believe, are saved, or are eternally dead. My conclusion? He's not atheist as he claims as there is SOME shred of belief, perhaps self-doubt there and I'll bet most atheists are not really atheists but rather agnostic.

      September 15, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  19. NavinJay

    1 person having an imaginary friend is crazy. Many people having the same imaginary friend is a religion.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:38 am |
  20. Beagle

    I think she's saying that we humans have more that connects us than separates us. The deal she is proposing is that we focus on what connects us so we will be able to more effectively address important issues that affect us all. The "truth" here is that we are all individuals, not just inkstamped images of the loonies who hijack national attention. Consider if the "two sides" addressed in the essay were Christian and Muslim, or conservative and liberal, or salaried mom and stay-at-home mom.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • M

      But that is a bit of a problem. If you believe that your life is in the "afterlife," then the "here and now" doesn't matter as much. It contributes to disconnectedness.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:17 am |
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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.