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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. Hell and destruction are never full

    Hell and destruction are never full
    Can't you at least hate the correct text??

    "Mat 27:52-53 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

    The critics shouldn't appear so sloppy. 🙂

    September 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    Commenter
    That would have been quite a sensational event! Dead people walking the streets of Jerusalem! Odd that there is not one single mention of it from a single person living at the time (even Gospel writers) other than this author of the book of Matthew. Not. One. Report.
    Matthew is the single report.
    Does a SINGULARITY bother a mob?? A paid mob, as in a made man??

    September 16, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  2. AgingHippyIsAwesome

    No deal.

    September 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  3. Hell and destruction are never full

    I really am joyful the Lord took pity on dirtbag dust balls. They get wet and they stink like dawgs. However,

    "Isa 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."

    September 15, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  4. Robert Brown

    Divider,

    You ever catch one of those shows on television where they interview people who coded and were brought back?

    September 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Argo21

      I have 17 guys here on the ready to urinate on his corpse...as it been confirmed yet? Thanks. ouch, my free noodles from church that I'm reheating in an old microwave are really hot, and oh look, American Idol is coming on!

      September 16, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  5. Robert Brown

    Divider,

    Would you like to meet my God?

    September 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Multiplier

      He'd be the first to do so.

      September 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      oooh ... sounds like fun ... will santa and the tooth fairy be there too?

      September 15, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Shelley B. Worthington III

      Seriously. What if its really Zeus. No, seriously. What if the one true god was really just a change-your-name power play by Zeus to not be forgotten by mankind and thus lose his power. Apollo was worshiped as the Sun God for centuries, but his faith has diminished and thus his power waned. Hera, Aphrodite, I beseech you! Is it you ZEUS! Do I need to sacrifice a lamb with a knife because electric carving tools hadn't yet been invented when last we worshiped you?!! oh woe is me. If only I had taken jesus into my heart and thus could consider myself saved! If only I hadn't turned my back on the word of god! because its just all so ... so... so.... so... SO TRUE!. because the bible tells us so, come on and sing this one with me if you know it....BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO! BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO! BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO! BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO! BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO! BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS US SO! ...

      ... but I digress.

      death is coming. Our star will exhaust its fuel in UNDER 14 billion years!!! get ready, the end is coming...

      September 16, 2013 at 1:46 am |
      • nclaw441

        Shelley, your post is a good one. It reminds all of us that whatever it is we believe– that there is no God, that we cannot know if there is a God, if the Christian God is the one true God– we believe by faith. None of the assertions can be proven or disproven, but SOMETHING is true.

        Although there are many religions, it is interesting to note that almost every culture has at least one religion that refers to a Supreme Being. Man naturally seems to seek out the source of his being. It seems built into our DNA– with some exceptions.

        September 16, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • sam stone

      robert: why should anyone want to share in your delusion?

      September 16, 2013 at 3:24 am |
      • Mark

        Good point just ask God he'll let you know. In their case the god of this world(Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Even first century Christians knew what you would be saying Sam.

        September 16, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  6. YourONEtruegod

    I'm going to create man and woman with original sin. Then I'm going to impregnate a woman with myself as her child, so that I can be born. Once alive, I will kill myself as a sacrifice to myself. To save you from the sin I originally condemned you to.

    COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU...

    September 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • M

      You know, i've seen this persuasive argument before, but it was much more polished (not vitriolic). If you want a believer to take you as a thinker and not a sociopath, you may want to change your approach.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Your,

      You goofed up in your very first sentence, Adam & Eve weren't created with sin. Try again.

      September 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
      • M

        Ah, don't get tied down in that detail – you see the point. Condemnation for eternity. How is it my own mother can be more forgiving than that? And that would make her more powerful, more loving, than God.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
      • sam stone

        still blathering out pompous declarations, are you robert?

        never considered the possibility that you could be wrong?

        family told little robbie he was defective and needed to plead for salvation and you took it from there?

        it's got to have worn out many pants, being on your knees for so long

        September 16, 2013 at 3:27 am |
        • Mark

          Sam your condemnation is a direct result of your insecurity. Let it go your going to be ok someday when you beg for forgiveness. Stop swearing, it is self indulgent.

          September 16, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Jenny

      Just because literal interpretations of the bible are implausible does not negate the entire notion of a spiritual existence. Aggressive atheists are just like fundamentalist, literalist Christians: forcing their beliefs on everyone without realizing that they may not actually know everything there is to know about human existence. You do realize that any belief system can only be judged by its practical effects, right? No one holds the market in objective truth. And don't babble on about the Big Bang...great explanation for the evolution on the universe; no explanation for the creation of existence itself. The main point is: all beliefs are beliefs. We choose what works within our own lives, so you should keep your condescention to yourself.

      September 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
      • Jenny

        *evolution of the universe

        September 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Interesting topic starter. I too don't think much of a dumbazz god who puts his entire creation on a razor's edge like that. One twist of one woman's arm put the whole thing in nuclear meltdown, that'd be like designing a car that if you accidentally put on the wrong turn signal, it blows up and levels several city blocks.

      September 15, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  7. TJ

    I'm sorry little girl, but your condescending BS is well, condescending BS. I'm sorry, but the best I can do for you is fIush your words (and perhaps you) where you belong – in the cesspooI of Iiberalism.

    If the best you can do is insult as a retort because you don't like what I said about YOUR god (Dawkins), rather than communicate in some effective manner, then why should I reciprocate any differently? (rhetorical question here)

    Your fecaI brained attempt to insuIt me in your first line is exactly what I was speaking about; You are one of those who there is NO talking to, especially when you hear something YOU do not agree with. How does Dawkins affect OUR conversation? Why and how is he relevant to YOU and I? Can you not present your own case, your own opinion, without standing on his? Apparently not. For every insuIting word you threw at me, there are three fingers pointing back at yourself. You are, as I stated, exactly what is wrong with people in this country today – you ARE part of the problem.

    Have a nice day anyway child.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Dairy

      are you talking to yourself?!!! 🙂

      September 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  8. M MURDOCK

    I am the great and powerful Murdoch.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • M MURDOCK

      We will dine on the rotted flesh of those who burned alive on 9/11

      September 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
      • M MURDOCK

        LOL

        September 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • M

      Are you lonely? You know, you might be able to engage some folks outside of the cyberworld at meetup.com. I mean, it seems like you want attention.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Akira

      Can't figure out which spelling to use for your last name?

      September 15, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
  9. M MURDOCK

    U will bow b4 me

    September 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  10. joell

    "And I've never known a single atheist who was afraid of speaking their mind – even at the most inopportune time."

    That says a lot.....

    September 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Seriously flawed logic – there are probably more closeted atheists than there are closeted gays.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  11. TJ

    As I wrote to JerryMCM1970 above, I'll re-post for all to see here:

    I'm sorry, but Dawkins is a narcistic ldiot seeking attention from others. I've listened to him. He has nothing intelligent to say.

    And I've never known a single atheist who was afraid of speaking their mind – even at the most inopportune time. They have been vocal, abrasive, aggressive, and deriding. They are more cult-like than some of the far flung religions in this world, and unable to conceive of anyone greater than mankind (not necessarily a god).

    Then there are those atheists who are respectful, caring, and who don't mind the beliefs of another, no matter what those beliefs are, because they are true Americans that believe in 'live, and let live".

    Grouping people in convenient little "generalized" cliques is nice. EVERYONE DOES IT. Yet it is so wrong. There are Christians who are less "Christian" than many atheists, and many atheists who are righteous in how they conduct themselves, yet simply don't believe in God, or any deity. As Christians AND Americans, it is up to us to allow them to choose their own path (as GOD intended them to do), and as Americans, it is up to them to allow us "FREEDOM OF RELIGION", and not "freedom FROM religion".

    Get it together folks – or our nation WILL fall apart further.

    September 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Mary

      TJ, it's pretty obvious that we can put you in the "abusive people of low intelligence" "generalized clique".

      Also, viciously insulting Dawkins in the manner that you just did, e.g. "He has nothing intelligent to say.", hardly represents a unifying "get it together" approach, when some readers in America clearly think highly of him. So, you can fairly be called a hypocrite too.

      So there.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
      • TJ

        I'm sorry little girl, but your condescending BS is well, condescending BS. I'm sorry, but the best I can do for you is fIush your words (and perhaps you) where you belong – in the cesspooI of Iiberalism.

        If the best you can do is insult as a retort because you don't like what I said about YOUR god (Dawkins), rather than communicate in some effective manner, then why should I reciprocate any differently? (rhetorical question here)

        Your fecaI brained attempt to insuIt me in your first line is exactly what I was speaking about; You are one of those who there is NO talking to, especially when you hear something YOU do not agree with. How does Dawkins affect OUR conversation? Why and how is he relevant to YOU and I? Can you not present your own case, your own opinion, without standing on his? Apparently not. For every insuIting word you threw at me, there are three fingers pointing back at yourself. You are, as I stated, exactly what is wrong with people in this country today – you ARE part of the problem.

        Have a nice day anyway child. (Sorry about the double-post folks... not sure how that happened.)

        September 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
        • Bennett

          Good job at making Mary's case, TJ.

          September 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • heehee

          Your posts are incoherent, yet smug and impervious. Insults, anger and disrespect are sprayed out recklessly, while somehow you posture at maturity. All-caps are used liberally. You completely ignore the responses except to react to a few words like triggers. Essentially you're arguing with imaginary people, who apparently torment you.

          That's a serious talent you have there, TJ. Please post some more, it's very entertaining.

          September 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
        • TJ

          @Bennett: Sorry, but I've not made her case, and what's more sorry is that you somehow believe I have. I simply mirrored her mentality... nothing more. Nothing less. To think otherwise would be foolish.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
        • TJ

          @heehee: Good troll. Nice troll. Down troll... DOWN I SAID. Now, go chew on your foot like a good little troll.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
        • hee hee

          @TJ; that's great! one of my few direct and non-sarcastic posts gets me called a troll.

          Completely impervious I tell you. It's fascinating.

          September 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • M

      Well, I believe in respectful discourse, and I'd be willing to engage you in your and my beliefs. Are you up for that?

      September 15, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
      • donna

        I'm still waiting for you to explain how agnosticism is dishonest... 😉

        September 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
        • M

          Gosh, I thought I had. It still gets down to an inability to make a decision – agnosticism is very non-committal. The beliefs we have in religions are based on worldly involvement by various gods at various times, yet there is no proof of any of that. So there is no reason to be an agnostic. Being a deist falls in the same group.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
        • sam stone

          agnosticism and atheism are not mutually compatible
          nor are agnosticism and theism

          one deals with knowledge, the other with belief

          September 16, 2013 at 3:31 am |
      • donna

        Can you tell me what you think Agnosticism is? Because what you're saying doesn't make sense to me. It's not actually non committal. You can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic deist, it just means you understand you don't know for fact.

        It's a philosophical observation that you can't know whether something mystical exists for certain. It's not supposed to be a creed- not a belief- it's method of thinking.

        Huxley coined the term to oppose people who professed to know the truth- with certainty (it was partially directed at the Gnostics who professed to have knowledge of things others groups didn't have).

        So agnosticism means that you understand you can't know the answer, for certain, as fact.

        In the last conversation when I said that we can't prove a negative (we can't prove something doesn't exist), you complained that that could not be possible, or else we would never be able to prove something did not exist. And the bottom line is that we cannot prove things don't exist. We can prove that things don't exist in a given space, but we can't prove that something doesn't exist in the universe.

        Agnosticism is almost like skepticism. It doesn't say that you can't believe there is a god or believe there is no god, only that you can't know for sure, as truth, as fact, that there is or is not a god.

        Any good scientist, like Dawkins, will point out that in the scientific method, hypotheses are not proven, they are supported. So even if we think all of the evidence we have about the universe tells us that there is no a god, we still can't know that as fact. We can really really believe it that we're right, but it's not possible to prove. Dawkins, who believes very strongly that there is no god, will admit there's a chance that there is, because he knows there's no way to know as fact.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
        • M

          Ok, but you've gotten it right here with what you've said, "You can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic deist, it just means you understand you don't know for fact." That same thing could be said for many of the gods that exist in other cultures. It's very non-commital. Are they all wrong? Do we have facts to say they are? And so, I'd say dishonest (to one's self).

          September 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
        • donna

          M, I have already answered that. We cannot prove a negative. We cannot prove Zeus doesn't exist, we cannot prove Santa Claus doesn't exist, and we cannot prove pink unicorns don't exist.

          If you disagree, please explain how. And I saw earlier that you said you were a geologist, I'm a biologist and this is a scientific question. Please explain, from your position as a scientist, how we can know for a fact if a god (Santa, unicorns) does or does not exist?

          Because I'm a little worried as this is intro scientific method here.

          I think what's dishonest is pretending we can know things as facts without proof. Suggesting that people should lie just to appear committed is dishonest....

          September 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • M

          The argument for agnosticism is a logical argument, but not one based on evidence, so what value does the position of agnosticism hold? The way just about everything that has ever existed in our civilization has come to be accepted or rejected is based on facts, religion aside.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
        • donna

          The argument for agnosticism is that it's not possible to know as a fact whether or not something exists in the universe.

          And you call that dishonest. You have evaded every attempt I've made to get you to explain how you think understanding the limitations of testing knowledge (or the scientific method) is "dishonest."

          And now you claim there is no value in understanding the limitations of science? What kind of a scientist are you?

          Are you are really advocating that people should lie about their knowledge just because it's more useful to civilization (which is a crock)??

          I don't even know what yo mean by this: "The way just about everything that has ever existed in our civilization has come to be accepted or rejected is based on facts, religion aside." It's doesn't seem true, but it doesn't really make sense. Can you explain that?

          Don't worry, I don't expect an answer, you have evaded almost every question I have asked. What a disappointment.

          September 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
        • M

          Well, it's unfortunate that I can't explain it any better than that, but there it is.

          September 16, 2013 at 5:28 am |
    • Observer

      TJ,

      "they are true Americans that believe in 'live, and let live".

      It's refreshing to hear Christians who put down gays or pro-choice supporters called not "true Americans".

      September 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
      • TJ

        I tried to reply six times now. No bad words or anything. CNN won't allow it. Sorry, but I give up.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Bennett

          try googling "CNN word fragment filter".

          September 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
        • TJ

          @Bennett: Thanks. I found LinCA's Python Script. I tried getting it to work with Ultra-Edit, but it won't run the script. So I'll download Notepad++ later on and follow his instructions. Ah well, at least now I know why seemingly mild posts won't post at all, and those of others that are just plain crude, will. Not that I'm an angel myself, but I found it funny I could get some words to post that are offensive, and yet when there's nothing offensive, I lose all I wrote (if I didn't copy to clipboard first). Take care, and thanks for the head's up. 🙂

          September 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • Observer

          TJ,

          So summarize your reply. DId you use words like h0m0s3xual or Consti-tution?

          September 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • Dippy

          Or "head's" instead of "heads."

          September 16, 2013 at 1:09 am |
      • TJ

        @Observer: Yup... and (laughingly) I subbed-out many letters in H0m0se xual, though always using the word in a respectful way. So, I just tried again. Failed. I give up... for now. I'll try LinCA's Python script later on. I'm outta here!

        September 15, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
        • Do it like this

          Homosexual. Easy.

          September 16, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Divider

      "less christian" ... "more christian"...

      Look, ALL christians believe in utter nonsense. Even the ones who no longer consider themselves church goers but who instead "maintain a personal relationship" with god. Its ALL bunk, that's the larger point. Metaphysical claims with zero proof.

      Prove you have a soul.
      Prove you have a god.
      Prove there were creators.
      Prove there is life after death.

      Just one little shred of evidence on any of these would be great, but until that day comes, all religions will continue to look pretty darn stupid to the educated Humans.

      Not angry, but certainly tired of a world with theism. Just 100 years ago, I would have been killed for saying such things. Now I can look forward to the next hundreds of years hoping that more and more Humans will continue scientific research across all fields and we will grow as a species and become a little bit more worthy of this astounding gift that is EARTH.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • TJ

        I just tried to post six times to Observer... finally giving up on what was a few paragraphs of well-thoughtout text. I'm not about to go through that nonsense again... it's a waste of time.

        However, I will say this; for every "prove" statement you've made, prove the opposite. Either way, you lose. Sorry, but you're wrong, and of that, I'm 100% certain, with no doubt.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
        • heehee

          How I wish I could have read that well thought out text.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
        • Bethany

          As a sane observer reading your post, you belong in an asylum (OR AT LEAST BACK TO SCHOOL) with than insane illogical leap of non logic. Try again, off the meds.

          September 16, 2013 at 1:30 am |
        • Argo21

          Sir.
          by your logic, one would also have to prove or disprove the existence of..

          1. undersea mauve unicorns
          2. moles on Mars
          3. Parakeets surviving in our troposphere on "jetstream flotsam"
          4. wind gods
          5. rain god
          6. Lock Ness monster
          7.
          ...
          104589766546233. a Chinese teapot in orbit around the Sun

          ... you get where this is going right?
          Now do you see why so many non-believers appear angry?
          It's because deists are just ridiculous in their ability to not see what is right in front of their eyes!
          I read my 6 kids fictional, magical, fantasy stories every night at bedtime. They love it. I strongly clarify what is real and what is imagined by the wonderful mind of Man. Your bible would fit in 100% with imagined, fictional stories (and even one with a bright shiny happy ending that makes us feel good 🙂 Be well Deist, but keep questioning your faith, because it is certainly erroneous. (no, I do not have a faith, just beaucoup unanswered questions but thankful to be on Earth)

          September 16, 2013 at 1:37 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Divider,

        You know that little boy or girl inside you? Say hello to him or her for me. I just met your soul, how about you?

        September 15, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
        • heehee

          Did you meet his cat? Tell him "meow" from me. He'll understand.

          September 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        After you create your own universe, one special little planet, and some living things then you will be qualified to discuss creators.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
        • heehee

          They say when the student is ready, the master appears.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
        • sam stone

          why don't you take your own advice, robert?

          September 16, 2013 at 3:33 am |
        • Mark

          Sam I was wondering have you replicated the evolution/ big bang experiment to prove it is what actually happened or are you relying on others experience and opinion?

          September 16, 2013 at 6:43 am |
      • Jenny

        As an individual with a Master's in Anthropology, I will tell you that "objective truth" is not the best yard stick by which to measure beliefs. You live by many social constructs without feeling hateful and aggressive because you cannot prove that these are objectively required by some "truth." For example, you may live by the notion that monogamy is preferable to polygamy; that girls should not be married at twelve; that people are endowed with certain "rights." These concepts are all social constructions to which you adhere because you feel they have positive effects on society. Religion is the same way. You cannot prove there is a God in the same way you cannot prove you have human rights. Yet you yourself adhere to these concepts without question. No human holds the market on objective truth. We believe in things because of how those beliefs function in our lives.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
        • donna

          Jenny,

          While I appreciate our condescending tone to put these uneducated people in their place (note the sarcasm), you seem to suffer from a lack of education in the area of biological anthropology. Not reproducing before the body and behavior are developed isn't just a cultural construct, and neither is the preference for mating (which in humans varies greatly in response to resource distribution). Religion likewise is not exclusively a cultural construct as it is the result of numerous biological adaptations and history.

          You seem to discourage people from looking for objective truths and I have to wonder why...Your argument that we live without it everyday is insufficient and short sighted. When your child gets an infection, do you tell them that people survived for eons without antibiotics, or do you seek out the objective truth and the antibiotic with the greatest success rate?

          I suspect you are a hypocrite and you value the objective truths that benefit you while telling others, they're okay without it.

          September 16, 2013 at 2:51 am |
  12. Ted

    The atheists really aren't under any pressure to make a deal. The Christians are in declining power and can't produce any evidence for their god fraud/ ponzi scheme and so they aren't in a negotiating position.

    It's also a bit amusing to see the Christians squirming, after so many centuries of them dishing out hate, racism, and bigotry, and having too much influence on government. Tough on you, Christians, but you have it coming.

    Go down, Christians. Go down. It's just time, and your sky fairy cult is dying. Better to jump out of sooner than later.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • M

      We can always be civil in our discourse – it's a mark of having confidence in the strength of your argument. It does not mean you have to accept religious opinions, but if we believe atheists are "better educated," then I would expect to see a higher level of discourse.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
      • Mary

        Your expectations are a little high for this blog, but methinks you already know that.

        September 15, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • frederick johnsen

      Well said.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  13. Robert Brown

    I agree with Rachel, y'all be nice now, ya hear.

    September 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  14. frederick johnsen

    god is good, god is great,
    just not real, oh yea he's fake!

    EVERYBODY NOW!

    September 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  15. David

    "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?"

    Why would we? Even were I to grant that what he said was as awful as Pat Robertson's recent remarks, PR says something awful every time he opens his mouth. You had to wait YEARS to get a faux pas out of dawkins.

    If dawkins is really the atheist equivalent of pat robertson than the christian has effectively admitted that our position and community are many orders of magnitude more reasonable and well behaved than christianity. If dawkins saying true things in a clumsy manner is to atheists what pat robertson saying gays intentionally spread aids using secret rings, as she implies then I'll GLADLY have her bring it up. And keep bring it up even as Robertson and the dozens and dozens of other evangelical nut jobs say even more terrible things on a weekly basis.

    “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.”

    Atheism is not prescriptive. I’m not required to do the things any atheist tells me to do. Christianity is BY DEFINITION prescriptive. You have an immortal omniscient leader who cannot be questions on pain of eternal torture. You have a holy book that tells you exactly what to do. When Pat Robertson says gays are bad, he’s taking it from the book you think came from an infallible god. That’s why Christians don’t get off the hook. You can yourselves christians as does he and the only difference between you are the parts of your book you choose to belive count. Me? The only thing dawkins and I necessarily have to agree on is that we don’t think there is a god.

    Don’t mistake this to mean I don’t like Dawkins. I’d gladly hold him up against any religious figure you can prove actually existed.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • aldewacs2

      NOT for the better, though...

      September 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Observer

      The Bible says that God killed ALL HUMAN BEINGS.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  17. Reality # 2

    Now that the topic has been removed on the CNN Headline News site, the traffic has slowed so again to summarize with that famous Creed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    September 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • jens gessner

      Yup, just about sums it up.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • God

      ok thanks, been wondering where he got to...

      September 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • jens gessner

        Well? Go on, comment as 'Jesus' now.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  18. Hell and destruction are never full

    The haters are too lazy to get the correct Jesus to hate and that ain't right, no siree, no righteous amigo. It makes you sound like an ex-preacher from one of the Beast's churches.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Akira

      Lol?? That you?

      September 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • Hell and destruction are never full

        Yup, pithyism is too heavy a cross with no rewards. Look how Hemingway found his way. No hemmin' and hawin' for him.

        September 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
        • Akira

          Lol.....
          Well, maybe a new name will keep your posts from going into moderation. The new name is very...brimstone-y.
          Proceed.

          September 15, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Meredith S.

      Who are the "haters"?

      September 15, 2013 at 9:09 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.