October 16th, 2013
03:20 PM ET

What Oprah gets wrong about atheism

Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN
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(CNN) - To some, Oprah Winfrey appears to have an almost godlike status. Her talents are well recognized, and her endorsement can turn almost any product into an overnight bestseller.

This godlike perception is fitting, since in recent years Winfrey’s work has increasingly emphasized spirituality, including programs like her own "Super Soul Sunday."

But what happens when an atheist enters the mix?

A few days ago Winfrey interviewed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Super Soul Sunday. Nyad identified herself as an atheist who experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity.

Nyad, 64, who swam from Cuba to Key West last month, said “I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity — all the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt.”

Winfrey responded, “Well I don’t call you an atheist then.”

Winfrey went on, “I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery then that is what God is… It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”

Nyad clarified that she doesn’t use the word God because it implies a “presence… a creator or an overseer.”

Winfrey’s response may have been well intended, but it erased Nyad’s atheist identity and suggested something entirely untrue and, to many atheists like me, offensive: that atheists don’t experience awe and wonder.

MORE ON CNN: Diana Nyad completes historic Cuba-to-Florida swim

The exchange between Winfrey and Nyad reminds me of a conversation I once had with a Catholic scholar.

The professor once asked me: “When I talk about God, I mean love and justice and reconciliation, not a man in the sky. You talk about love and justice and reconciliation. Why can’t you just call that God?”

I replied: “Why must you call that God? Why not just call it what it is: love and justice and reconciliation?”

Though we started off with this disagreement, we came to better understand one another’s points of view through patient, honest dialogue.

Conversations like that are greatly needed today, as atheists are broadly misunderstood.

MORE ON CNN: Behold, the six types of atheists

When I visit college and university campuses around the United States, I frequently ask students what words are commonly associated with atheists. Their responses nearly always include words like “negative,” “selfish,” “nihilistic” and “closed-minded.”

When I ask how many of them actually have a relationship with an atheist, few raise their hands.

Relationships can be transformative. The Pew Research Center found that among the 14% of Americans who changed their mind from opposing same-sex marriage to supporting it in the last decade, the top reason given was having “friends, family, acquaintances who are gay/lesbian.”

Knowing someone of a different identity can increase understanding. This has been true for me as a queer person and as an atheist. I have met people who initially think I can’t actually be an atheist when they learn that I experience awe and am committed to service and social justice.

But when I explain that atheism is central to my worldview — that I am in awe of the natural world and that I believe it is up to human beings, instead of a divine force, to strive to address our problems — they often better understand my views, even if we don’t agree.

While theists can learn by listening to atheists more, atheists themselves can foster greater understanding by not just emphasizing the “no” of atheism — our disagreement over the existence of any gods — but also the “yes” of atheism and secular humanism, which recognizes the amazing potential within human beings.

Carl Sagan, the agnostic astronomer and author, would have agreed with Nyad’s claim that you can be an atheist, agnostic or nonreligious person and consider yourself “spiritual.”

As Sagan wrote in "The Demon-Haunted World,":

"When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”

Nyad told Winfrey that she feels a similar sense of awe:

“I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching being who created all of this and sees over it,” she said. “But there’s spirituality because we human beings, and we animals, and maybe even we plants, but certainly the ocean and the moon and the stars, we all live with something that is cherished and we feel the treasure of it.”

MORE ON CNN:  'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman

I experience that same awe when I see people of different beliefs coming together across lines of religious difference to recognize that we are all human — that we all love and hurt.

Perhaps Winfrey, who could use her influence to shatter stereotypes about atheists rather than reinforce them, would have benefited from listening to Nyad just a bit more closely and from talking to more atheists about awe and wonder.

I know many who would be up to the task.

Chris Stedman is the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard University, coordinator of humanist life for the Yale Humanist Community and author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Celebrity • Ethics • Faith • God • Inspiration • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality

soundoff (4,964 Responses)
  1. Doc Vestibule

    Religion is an artefact. We've managed to describe, well, almost everything, in physical terms. We've even managed to explain a great deal, too.
    God, well, he and his kin have been relegated by science to the very beginning of time, the exact moment of the big bang, when all the matter in the Universe was concentrated into one minute area. Everything after that time is accounted for by physics, if only in a general way. And even then, God seems highly improbable. Science says that God is irrelevant to everything we do and everything we are; that means we have to work to make everything we do and everythig we are relevant; and that's hard.
    Religion is an impossiblity our mind allows because it makes us feel safe.
    Religion is the ability, honed by our parents in our youth by the impatient hushing of our incessant "why?"s, to completely fail to learn how to reconcile some parts of one's knowledge with other parts into a coherent worldview.
    Religion is the cave-man instinct that comes upon us when we're confronted by something we don't understand.
    We have a difficult time getting beyond the conditioning we received in early childhood: "stop talking and take our word for it."
    Religion is the emotion that precedes thought.

    October 18, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Colin

      We said, my pierced, tattooed, Canadian musical friend. God is always around the next corner, over the next hill. As science and knowledge expands, he contracts. He is the “go to guy” for the weak and ignorant, the fairy in the sky for the emotionally enfeebled. Fortunately the inexorable march of reason and knowledge have banished him to the outermost reaches of time and space.

      He exists now only in the few remaining dark crevices that the penetrating light of science and knowledge is yet to illuminate. The origins of the Universe is one, the unquestioning mind of the believer is another.

      October 18, 2013 at 9:19 am |
      • Brother Maynard


        What did the flight attendant do when that woman next to you notified them of your posts on your flight ( NY to Chi I think?) ?
        just curious

        October 18, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • Colin

          She didn't do anything. I actually turned it off because I was frightening the poor woman. Silly, I know, but I did feel sorry for her.

          October 18, 2013 at 9:57 am |
      • jken

        Hi Colin, your argument about science pushing God into some small corner that will someday be illuminated is short sighted because it fails to account for the very distinct possibility that the universe is infinite, thus there are no dark corners and no final illumination...study this thoroughly and also the incompleteness theorems of the great mathematician Godel.
        This is not to say that God exists, just that you should reexamine this argument and how you view...well everything 🙂

        October 18, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Colin

          Probably is infinite. Which means there is no room left for the Bronze Age Jewish sky fairy, no?

          October 18, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • James

        Science has done a great job of prying into the dark crevices and now we know much more than we used to, but as you mentioned, Colin, the Origins of the Universe are still eluding our minds. Hopefully science can figure that out but I am not going to hold my breath... it is hard to know who to believe with so much conflicting bias research. We are in the "Age of Reason" but we seem to be very good at following hair-brained ideas without thinking them through or reasoning much. I like to think stuff through and not follow every new idea and theory, which should be distinguished from facts proven scientifically. We do have to work and do in our society to make it better... why do I feel so good when I do social things in the community if everything only boils down to science? I do not have many answers for that one.

        October 18, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • Trish

        Hey Colin, the very God that created you has mercy on you. Do you have control of your death and tell me why you can't live forever? No one yet can tell me why we die and where we go? Only the Bible tells you this. The very God that created you provides for you every day and keeps the very breath you take in and exhale. The heart that pumps the blood so you can take the next breath is his having mercy on us. He is God and God alone.

        October 18, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • mk

          But other books say other things about where you go when you die. Why believe what only one book tells you?

          October 18, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  2. AtheistSteve

    Christians are quick to point out that they believe God is love, God is beauty, God is compassion etc. etc.
    They conveniently forget to mention or downplay that the Bible also shows that God is anger, wrath, jealousy and judgment. There can only be two interpretations of this. Either God is fettered and unavoidably subject to petty human emotions or humans are imbued with godlike characteristics. In the case of the former God cannot be all powerful and in case of the latter our emotional makeup is beyond our control thereby absolving us of all responsibility.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      What people see in God suggests that people want to worship and be loved and punished by something very much like themselves. Belief as narcissism.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Posts are disappearing again. Looks like facts are too frightening for some to face head-on.

      October 18, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  3. KGuldin

    Ok, folks, –in case you missed it– here's what happened: A celebrity athelete who professes atheism stopped in nature and had a moment of awe and inspiration. Oprah witnessed this and said, "Oh, if you feel awe and inspiration, then you are spiritual, therefore you cannot be an atheist. Therefore, being the great Oprah that I am, I now pronounce you a believer in God. " So, atheist Pastor Chris Stedman (contradiction in terms, in my opinion) comes along and writes an article on Ophrah's faulty logic–and it was indeed. And all hell breaks loose. Whether or not one believes in God, this is certainly evidence of Satan–not a character in a red suit with horns and a pitch fork, but a spirit of strife and evil. For 2 days and 26 pages of site entries people from around the world have thrown anger and curses and hate at each other and at God–and for what??? No arguments have been won, no souls have been won, no peace has been gained, no problems have been solved, no hunger has been fed, no bank accounts have been increased...get the picture? The strongest arguers claim to be the greatest people of sanity, logic, and reason. Well, the BE the sanity you are advocating....stop feeding the insanity...Let's all stop this and go do something productive, loving, peaceful and prosperous.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      There isn't a single "spirit", Satan, that inspires us to do evil things. People have in themselves, to varying degrees, the ability to do things outside of the range of what another person, or society, would accept (the ability to do evil).

      October 18, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  4. bananas

    Why does DM Murdock claim to be a scholar, when she is barely literate and obviously a fool?

    October 18, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  5. Gatorfan

    Religionists are constantly trying to insist that we atheists really do have faith or acknowledge god or whatever. Best to pat them on the head, give them cookies and send them on their way.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Ah ha

      Pat, pat, pat... There, there little lost sheep, you'll find your way back from the evils of atheism one day. I believe in The God-given goodness buried deep, deep...um, deep withon you.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • mercfan

      @Gatorfan – My peronal belief is that people can have faith and not be part of organized religion. I think people get way too defensive when you challenge their beliefs and too serious about religion. I have friends that are athetist and agnotics and I would never consider trying to "convert" them to my beliefs. In fact, we make fun of each other's beliefs and let it roll off our backs. I think Jesus had a sense of humor.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Truth

      With the way you adhere to your zealotry, trying to say you have no religion is like trying to say 0 isn't a number.

      You exhibit all of the chracteristics of holding to a religion. Why would anyone outside yourself think you weren't?

      Religion does not require a god.

      October 18, 2013 at 9:05 am |
      • Lisa

        Is not playing a sport a sport in itself?

        October 18, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  6. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    God is, first of all, imaginary. Even people who believe in God have not seen God or had direct experience with it. Believers have to make something up that they can grasp from what they've read or been told. When you sit in your church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, how likely is it that your neighbor's idea of God matches your own sufficiently so that if God were real, you could be sure you have in mind the same God?

    October 18, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  7. Jenny

    Orpah (bible name her mother intended to give her but could not spell) is an ass as are all other religionists.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  8. Christina

    Physical proof isn't always necessary to prove things. In mathematics, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, etc, it is possible to prove things abstractly without having any physical evidence.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • truthprevails1

      However those are all testable, god isn't.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Lisa

      And God supposedly interacts personally in the physical world, and numbers do not.

      October 18, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  9. Nu Soard Graphite

    I disagree with this guy about one thing: You CANNOT be an Atheist and consider yourself to be a spiritual person. Atheists only believe in the physical world. They do not believe in spirituality in any WAY, SHAPE, or FORM. That is the very definition of Atheism. If you believe in something beyond the physical world but do not wish to define what that is, that makes you AGNOSTIC. I recently had a discussion with a friend who told me she was Atheist. After we finished with out discussion, she had decided that what she really was is an Agnostic and not an Atheist. That's not to say that Atheists couldn't be in awe of the beauty and wonder in this world and the universe, they absolutely can be (and they should be if they have any form of empathy and sense of wonder) but they can never consider themselves to be at all "spiritual" because that instantaneously makes them no longer atheist!

    October 18, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • mk

      Sorry, the religious do not have a monopoly on spirituality. When I was religious, I was more worried about pleasing a god, following rituals, doing what the church said to do. I did have spiritual moments, but not nearly as many as I do now that I'm atheist. I don't have to worry about rules, rites, etc. I can look at anything and see the beauty. I can go anywhere and see the awe. I can look at things as amazing even though I'm not crediting a god with creating it. This is exactly what the author is saying: you don't understand because you are not an atheist and probably know none.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Jerry

      Wrong. Atheism is the answer to a single question. Someone can lack faith in supreme being but think ghosts souls, etc. exists.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Atheist only defines a disbelief in a god(s). Dictionaries are useful tools!
      Religion defined is:
      1.a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
      b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
      2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
      3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
      4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

      None of that is pertinent to Atheism.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • nataliabasiat

      I suspect that it's about definitions. Atheist means, "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods." Spiritual means, "of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." An atheist wouldn't take the word spirit or soul literal, but rather, think of it as you might the word 'metaphysical' and refer to the very awe and wonder that Nyad spoke about. Being an atheist doesn't mean that you ignore that intangible for the pragmatic, only that you refuse to accept myth and legend as literal truth. There are mysteries to the human condition, and the universe, but we don't feel a need to attribute them to a man in the sky but rather, give credit to where credit is due, ie, the world around us. And in fact, it is all the more wondrous for the fact that it's not some construct of a God that wriggled his fingers and poofed it into existence.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • brian

      I am an atheist. For the uninformed, this means that I do not believe in god. I am a very spiritual person. I see and feel the wonder of nature every time I look outside. I have a good moral compass. I treat people the way that I wish to be treated. To say that atheists cannot be spiritual is the same as saying that Christians, Muslims, or any other theists cannot be spitual. Get a dictionary.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • Lisa

      I think a lot of animist religions believe that animals, plants and other things have "souls", but do not believe in gods as such. Most Buddhists don't believe in gods, but do believe in the soul's survival of death. Atheism really is a simple question:

      a) You believe in a god, or gods = not an atheist.

      b) You do not believe in a god, or gods = atheist

      If you are uncertain about whether gods could exist you are an agnostic, but you are also an atheist because you don't actually believe in a real god.

      See how that works?

      October 18, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  10. 3Davideo

    I personally draw a distinction between atheists and those who are nonreligious. In my view, atheism is itself a religion, preaching there are no gods and trying to convert others just like any other religion, whereas the nonreligious don't mind other people practicing as long as they don't have to themselves. I draw this line to distance myself from the views of my father, who practices the former form of relatively intolerant atheism, whereas I am a member of the more tolerant nonreligious. But of course I'm aware that this isn't the distinction that many use, so I don't interpret other people's writing using the same metric.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Jerry

      Atheism is not a religion. It has no tennants or doctrine.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:26 am |
      • Truth

        And yet here you are, preaching them.

        October 18, 2013 at 9:11 am |
        • cedar rapids

          except he isnt of course.

          October 18, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • macstephens

          Atheism is not, in any way, religion. There is no place for "faith" in atheism.
          If you think it is equivalent to religion in any way you are operating under a fundamental misunderstanding. Atheism is, in a sense, without content. It is non-belief in those things for which there are no facts/observations/evidence.

          October 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • rick

      Atheists do not generally preach there is no god. They merely do not see any reason to believe in a god

      October 18, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • mk

      The distinction is that the only thing that sets apart an atheist is that they don't believe in god(s). There are no books, no rules, no set standards to follow. There are no obligations, rites, leaders that have to be followed. We don't have to do or believe anything other than the fact that there is no god(s). That's it.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  11. Christina

    Everything could NOT have always existed, because the Big Bang started 14 billion years ago.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  12. steve-0

    Oprah is the queen for 5 million American women–the other 295 million Americans dislike her.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  13. zampaz

    For some, part of the human experience is the sense of "awe, wonder and perhaps connectedness" as described in the article as "spirituality."
    I believe some are more apt to experience these feelings than others, and consider the propensity for awe and wonder to be an element of personality that some are predisposed to experience to a greater degree than others. This sense of awe and wonder drive many to explore, inquire and understand their relationship to nature by understanding more about nature.
    I have the propensity to have a deep sense of awe, wonder and connectedness with nature and my fellow creatures. I value the transient nature of all life but especially that of my fellow human beings. I value peace, harmony, honesty and knowledge. Overcoming religious indoctrination was a major hurdle in my life. Core childhood programming goes deep.
    I used to describe myself as a deeply spiritual person, but the term "spiritual" was often misunderstood.
    I do not believe in a soul, spirit, the supernatural or god(s). There is no evidence to support such claims or need of deity in understanding nature. To me understanding the universe is all the more fascinating when left to it's own devices. As humanity continually probes nature with deeper and better understanding we share with each other the thrill and triumph of discovery of natures devices.

    October 18, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • mk

      Well said.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • nataliabasiat

      I agree with MK, well said.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  14. ghost2012

    My response is how can you be insulted because someone has definition of what you believe or choose to not believe in. Since you are taking a stance on the subject then you are either mad or confused. You say you do not believe yet you would have others know it is not cool for them to question your choice or should we say your belief. I myself am not religious but spiritual. I believe in a creator just no one the Torah, Bible or Qur'an portrays. And since everyone has a belief it really is just a theory since no one alive today can prove to us other wise. That is my opinion.

    October 18, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  15. Reality # 2

    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??

    October 18, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • Bosco

      No. You shouldn't believe in any of that. It is all way too specific and unknowable from where we sit.

      October 18, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Nu Soard Graphite

      You don't have to believe in anything. Or you can believe in everything. Or you can come up with your own conclusions. That's the awesomeness behind Free Will. I am personally Agnostic. I believe in the spiritual. I believe there are worlds upon worlds within worlds beyond the physical realm that we experience. Out of all of physical reality, we experience only a tiny fraction of it (through our 5 senses. To "see" beyond that, we require technology to translate physical interactions into something we can understand and even then, there are still elements of this universe that remain invisible and intangible to us) add to that the concept of consciousness and the potentiality that implies is staggering.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:16 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Or we are putting too much credence in the math of quantum mechanics?

        October 18, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  16. Bosco

    For me, the only difference between me being a spiritual person and an atheist is this idea of "overseer". I believe in God as the creator and the intent behind the formation of atoms, molecules, suns, planets, and the complex patterns of molecules that make life as we know it. Does he give me great parking places because I'm such a wonderful believer? No. Is there a heaven or hell? I don't think so. When I talk to God in prayer, I am talking to something deep within the fabric of my own being and asking for a better way, a better idea, and intuitive thought rather than to have some trivial thing of substance delivered to me on a platter. Claiming that God doesn't exist simply because He doesn't fit one's idea of what God should be is a weak argument. When I check my own experience in life, I have no doubt about God. It is not debateable. But that doesn't mean that I know what God is, what He looks like, and what He wants me to do. And I'm pretty sure that praying for victory in battle is more about being a better soldier than it is about tilting the tables in my favor. The same is also true for all other prayer. It's mostly an inside job.

    October 18, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Realist

      yes,, and small children create make believe friends too. It's really too bad we don't all take care of one another instead.

      October 18, 2013 at 7:32 am |
      • Bosco

        I'm sorry that you feel the need to attack such an innocent comment. It reveals far more about you than it does about me, my beliefs, or the existence or nonexistence of God. Hopefully you will find something more worthy of your energies to grapple with.

        October 18, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Epidi

      You don't know that God is strictly a "he" either.

      October 18, 2013 at 7:39 am |
      • Bosco

        Any fool would realize that this is rhetorical. Oh, I guess not...

        October 18, 2013 at 7:41 am |
        • Christina

          I get you, Bosco.

          October 18, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Lisa

      How can you "know" that there's a God without knowing what God is? Maybe this thing you know is out there isn't any kind of god at all, but something completely natural to humans? Why assume that it's something supernatural like a god?

      October 18, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • calebmurdock

      Bosco, you need to look into the Seth material. It has all the answers, and you would like what it says. It even explains who God is. Start with the book The Seth Material, and then move on to Seth Speaks. The pychic who channelled Seth is Jane Roberts, so she is the author.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  17. calebmurdock

    I'm a liberal, and I was once an atheist, but I can't put any stock in the opinion of someone who has deformed his ear lobes by stretching them, and who wears a ring in his nose. Get thee to a circus!

    October 18, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Mariah

      Get thee some tolerance for those who look different from you!

      October 18, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • Lisa

      Probably half of the male youth ministers in America have these kinds of earrings, piercings and a bunch of tattoos as well. It's pretty standard uniform for 20- early 30-somethings.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:00 am |
      • calebmurdock

        I don't know what a youth minister is, but unless they are all part of the same church, I doubt what you are saying is true. Stretching one's ear lobes is something imported from Africa, and I think it's bizarre. Rings in the nose are also rare. I find it all revolting, and I make no effort to be tolerant. I can't look someone in the face who has done all that to himself or herself. All those young people who are stretching their ear lobes will eventually have to get them sewn up to advance in any mainstream career.

        October 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Raoul Duke, Jr.

      And that Albert Einstein guy sure had a funny looking haircut.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  18. matie matzek

    people really need to study the bible–not for Christianity sake but for theirs-the athiest would like everyone to understand them and used this phrase--But when I explain that atheism is central to my worldview — that I am in awe of the natural world and that I believe it is up to human beings, instead of a divine force, to strive to address our problems — they often better understand my views, even if we don’t agree.
    I cintend that the bible also calls us to do the same thing–it calls us to action and then says when we have donr everything we can and there is nothing else we are to stand in faith that it will work out–of course i paraphrase–but wht do people think all christians do is sit on their butts and pray and look pie eyed at the sky-this christian worked her butt of on the streets-and look at Mother Thresa-and other christians working for humanity all over the world-i think athiests have the wrong idea about chtistians..........

    October 18, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Realist

      great, then we can throw stones at women and children that don't behave.. Naw,, you can have the bible.

      I treat religion as p-o-r-n,, when children reach 18, it's their option then. Then again, the religious don't like that because if you don't begin brainwashing at an early age, it doesn't stick as well.

      October 18, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Paula

      Better update your view of Mother Theresa. The shine has left her saintliness lately. She raised a lot of money, but where did it go? Certainly not in building hospitals, like she promised. More likely, into building convents to mint more nuns of her order, or into paying off folks suing the Church for se x offences.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:06 am |
      • Realist

        yes,, Mother Theresa,, become catholic and I'll fed you. Her priests mentor was a known pedo... Just google

        October 18, 2013 at 8:25 am |
        • Realist

          feed.. meant

          October 18, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • zampaz

      I know of many Atheists who study the bible. The history of the OT/NT is fascinating. Those who take "the bible" as the literal word of god would do well to study the factual history of the compilations of ancient stories of the OT and NT that they cherish.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:42 am |
      • Lisa

        Many people became atheists because they studied the bible, studied it in its entirety and not just from the cherry-picked list of verses Christians are usually told to stick to.

        October 18, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • zampaz

          The religious whose doctrines rely strictly on a literal interpretation are most at risk of losing their faith through education and understanding the history of the bible. Most literalists will read what they are told to read and interpret what they read based upon the local authorized interpretation.

          October 18, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  19. matte

    If someone describes something as awe and wonder and my interpretation of that same awe and wonder is god, why can't I make that known? I don't practice religion, but have no problem someone expressing how they interpret the things that I experience and discuss with them. If I state is amazing the thesis this world is capitals of and someone says God created some amazing things, I'm not offended or feel belittled. I just acknowledge we both feel the same way...Just interpret it differently.

    October 18, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Lisa

      Good for you, but Oprah's insisting that what atheists feel is actually her God. That's pretty typical Christian arrogance, sadly.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:09 am |
      • zampaz

        Lisa, I've encountered the same misunderstanding and "identification" when expressing a sense of awe and wonder and response of; "Then you must believe in a god..."
        But I've encountered the same kind of mistaken identification from Atheists. I'm a scientist. In science there are no absolutes, only degrees of certainty with regard to that which is known. There is only uncertainty with regard to the unknown and undefined. Like Sagan, Dawkins, and Tyson I identified myself to an Atheist as an Agnostic Atheist even though I believe a possibility of a "theory of deity" based upon evidence is infinitesimally small. The response was quite sharp. "Well, then you are an Atheist because the possibility is so small..."
        What is interesting is how people, social primates, morph a perception of what we say so they may include us as fellows in their "clan." We will remain welcome as long as we don't breach the particular rules/beliefs/notions of that clan.

        October 18, 2013 at 9:20 am |
        • Lisa

          The way I see it, if you aren't actually convinced that a real god, or gods exist, then you're an atheist. If you're open to the possibility of gods being real somewhere in the universe, then you're agnostic. You can be both, but you can't be an agnostic theist. Some gods are just too illogical or too full of contradictions to be taken as even a remote possibility. The Christian god is one of those. If he exists then it's beyond all reason, and if he takes offence in my not realizing his unreasonable existence, then that's his problem, not mine.

          October 18, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • zampaz

          I would much prefer spending eternity in hell than spending eternity in worship of an ego-maniacal god that created a hell. If worse comes to worst at least I'll be in hell with some good company.

          October 18, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  20. lilyq

    God IS love.

    October 18, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • truthprevails1

      god is imaginary

      October 18, 2013 at 7:16 am |
      • lilyq

        He lives.

        October 18, 2013 at 7:31 am |
        • truthprevails1

          And you're in need of good meds for those delusions.

          October 18, 2013 at 7:35 am |
      • lilyq

        Bless your heart.

        October 18, 2013 at 7:48 am |
        • truthprevails1

          What special brand of crack are you smoking?

          October 18, 2013 at 7:56 am |
        • lilyq

          If you want to live without God in your life, okay.

          October 18, 2013 at 8:12 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Some of us are not so weak minded that we need imaginary friends to get by. Do you really need to book to tell you that killing is wrong?

          October 18, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • Lilyq

          It isn't about me.

          October 18, 2013 at 8:48 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Who is it about?

          October 18, 2013 at 9:05 am |
        • lilyq

          For you it's about...you.

          October 18, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Realist

      no wonder you have no problem with innocent lives destroyed due to religions and dictators,, you world is a delusional one

      October 18, 2013 at 7:29 am |
      • lilyq

        I don't?

        October 18, 2013 at 7:31 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Stop deceiving yourself! To believe in the christian god is to believe in pure immorality. Read your book of fables (aka bible)...don't dismiss the parts condoning rape; slavery; child abuse; oppression of women and LGBT; murder. If you still believe in your imaginary friend after that then you might wish to consider seeking out the nearest asylum and admitting yourself.

          October 18, 2013 at 7:53 am |
      • lilyq

        Why spend so much time rebuking those who live differently than you? Isn't that what you're here railing against? Intolerance? I get it. You don't know Jesus. Okay.

        October 18, 2013 at 7:58 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Potentially due to the fact that you have nothing to back you and yet feel the need to push it in the public square without one iota of respect or care about how other people believe. I happen to care that what I believe can be substantiated with verifiable evidence, you on the other hand accept things based off of a 2000+ year old book that can be and has been debunked numerous times over.
          You also might wish to put down the crack pipe known as religion and join the 21st century before you get left behind like the republitards are doing. It will be a wonderful peaceful world when religion is not pushed on people and people like you are finally the minority.

          October 18, 2013 at 8:16 am |
        • lilyq

          Why do you come to a blog about a God you don't know and believe does not exist and insult those who do? I wish you knew Him but I'm not going to belittle you because you do not.

          October 18, 2013 at 8:26 am |
        • truthprevails1

          This is a belief blog, not a god blog. I have as much right to voice my opinion as you do. Why do you attempt to suppress free thought? How do you know god? For that it is safe to say you are lying...no-one can possibly say that b/c no god can be verified.
          Why does your god need you to say it exists? Is it not capable of saying so itself or perhaps it is b/c god is nothing more than an invention of man to con man? Do you even care about how your beliefs affect other people? Your beliefs condone rape; murder; child abuse; oppression of LGBT; oppression of women...does this not bother you? Does it make you feel better knowing that you're denying equal rights to people and condoning immorality?
          Keep it in your church and home and out of the public square...learn to respect others.
          Carl Sagan said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Provide the evidence (without using he bible).

          October 18, 2013 at 8:38 am |
        • Lilyq

          I don't deny anyone equal anything. I cannot look at the creations of this world and see anything other than the work of God's hand. You look and see something different. I'm fine with that. I don't have to keep God in the closet for this is America no one has the right to not be offended. Yes, this is a belief blog so I don't understand yiur interest here.

          October 18, 2013 at 8:53 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Your hypocrisy is astounding. You accept the bible as truth and in doing so, inadvertently you do agree with denying equal rights.
          As for me being here, my disbelief in gods does not mean I do not have any beliefs.
          Your lack of comprehension of how everything came to be does not mean you get to plug a god in to it.

          October 18, 2013 at 9:09 am |
        • lilyq

          Glad I could astound you this morning. Peace be with you, my friend.

          October 18, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God's first and foremost characteristic is jealousy, not love.

      October 18, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'God IS love'

      Come now, the god of the OT is a nasty evil spiteful piece of work.
      When he isn't killing someone, or condemning them then he is turning a blind eye to his followers doing it in his name.

      October 18, 2013 at 9:34 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.