November 7th, 2013
12:30 PM ET

Even atheists love this Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

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(CNN) - With his penchant for crowd-pleasing and spontaneous acts of compassion, Pope Francis has earned high praise from fellow Catholics.

Hell, even atheists love him - as amply demonstrated by the surprising displays of affection tweeted after the Pope publicly embraced a severely disfigured man on Wednesday.

MORE ON CNN: Why the pope's embrace of the disfigured man is so powerful

Here's what some atheists had to say on Twitter:

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Internet • Nones • Pope Francis

soundoff (756 Responses)
  1. me ll

    god? what r u hollering? what is it?

    November 16, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  2. Cpt. Obvious

    No one is good except god

    November 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Cmd. Moreobvious

      And Superman. Superman is Good.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Mythcantor

      God, who murdered millions of children after he "hardened" pharoah's heart so he could show how truly awesome he was? Yeah, that's good.

      December 8, 2013 at 8:49 am |
      • peregrinusmmvii

        My friend, your ignorance of scripture is showing, best advised to study it properly and within context of historic customs, traditions and morals of the period. Nothing in life is so easily simplified. Only the ignorant simplify what they cannot understand.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  3. PaulH

    You don't need to believe in god on high to be Christian ... Christ would be pleased.

    November 16, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  4. dopey

    sometimes ...I pray to the creator ...and ...well ...it's complicated....but...hook line and sinker....I am a believer...and while your listening ....I believe Pope Francis...is trying to be humble...not an easy task....so I hope he has sucess as his post is not so easy to be...humble or otherwise.
    keep the faith
    it is certain to be a lesson in humility

    November 15, 2013 at 2:24 am |
  5. shamgar50

    I don't love him.It's not what he's saying. It's what he's not saying. He hasn't really done anything, except reject some of the trappings of his predecessors. Only emphasis has changed. A mere diversion, to slow the loss of sheep.

    November 14, 2013 at 8:23 am |
  6. Opposing View

    It's no wonder the atheists love the Pope. He's of the devil....

    1 John 4:5 – They are of the world (the Pope): therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them (the atheists love hiim). 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us....

    November 14, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  7. Jessica Christ

    You don't have to believe in the flying spaghetti monster to know love and compassion. Compassionate among the last 60 yrs of Popes? John XXIII, John-Paul I, and Francis. The rest were just politicians. And not very good politicians at that, publicly condemning millions of "sinners" while letting the vilest monsters carry on behind closed doors.

    November 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • thinker

      If atheism is true, then every moral judgment you make toward the entire universe is completely meaningless because there cannot be right or wrong. This is the painful truth of atheism.

      November 12, 2013 at 4:02 am |
      • Atheist4Life

        Just because life is not eternal doesn't make it meaningless. The question of meaning is really an existentialist one.
        I personally find meaning in life without God. Perhaps it is temporary and not as grand as your continuation to an afterlife, but this temporary existence feels rooted in reality to me. It also guides my morality. Life is short and every minute should be spent enjoying it... Understand that everyone else is under the same gun... Death is always standing there at the finish line. Morally, I treat all those who share my fate just as I would expect to be treated, to know and give compassion just as one appreciates receiving it. The temple of the mind does not have to be a holy ground to hold a moral compass. It simply has to share in the experience we all share in, to understand we are all a part of one, no god necessary to apply.

        November 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • thinker

          I certainly do agree the consideration of morality do not need to consider our possibility of being with God for eternity. Of course you could choose to find your own meaning for life for yourself. However, remember that if atheism is true than all your moral decision becomes nothing more than your personal opinion. As you know, moral value is really interpersonal matter and since it is nothing more than a personal opinion, saying one pope is better than another is fundamentally meaningless. The list of "good" quality of life you stated is again becomes nothing more than one way to live and it is not right or wrong. Choosing to be a serial killer or be like the current pope makes no difference from the grand scheme of things, if atheism is true. My point is we all strive to follow good desirable moral values as if there exists ultimate purpose and meaning in life, as if God exists. Remember that I never said you need to acknowledge God to be moral! So my argument is deductive, not prescriptive. (This is called the moral argument for God)

          November 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
        • L

          Most of your "morals" are laws that were put into place long before you were born. You were taught by human beings NOT to do something that violates those "morals"(laws). Give me a break about morals. 99.99% of your morals comes from laws that existed long before you were born. You aren't "born" moral. You are taught morals by others including your parents, school teachers, society etc. stop lying to yourself.

          November 13, 2013 at 8:32 am |
        • Bro

          Nope. Wrong again.
          Everyone is born with primate instincts, tendencies, potential talents and skills based upon brain structure, growth patterns, and feedback from the environment.
          We are animals evolved from other animals.
          We are born with primate 'moral' instincts. We use those instincts automatically to maintain our relationships with others and ourselves. You can call them "morals" but there is no such thing as an absolute moral value to be found anywhere, not even in your religion, which, if you have one, is going to be delusional, illogical, unreasonable, arbitrary, and grossly damaging to any human being who is so unlucky as to be saddled with it, and is not a clear basis for guidance or judgement.

          Try reason. Try logic. Try thinking an actual coherent thought rooted in something besides rabidly frothing religious chanting.

          Everyone, including you, use moral relativism in everything everywhere. This is because there are no intrinsic moral values to be found anywhere in the universe. We are relying upon the compassion of others to survive and dying by the millions instead.
          If you believe anything anyone says, then why not my words too?

          Why must I glow or fly before you will even listen to my entreaties to realize that your religion will never be a moral guide to anyone,.... but it will always be used as an arbitrary source of justification for every hateful action you've already chosen to do,.... as a primate blinded by his/her own emotions and uncontrolled instincts that tend toward the xenophobic thanks to your delusional brainwashing....another animal 'weakness' that shows we are little better than robotic in our neurological processes....you cannot force compassion with your little red book of intolerance also known as the Bible / Torah / Koran / etc.
          It is you who are mentally ill. You have been forced into illness through brainwashing and a culture filled with idiocy and madness..

          November 16, 2013 at 3:32 am |
        • thinker

          Of course we are born with primate 'moral' instincts (and I am open for evolution). That is my very point. Again, I said you don't need an ancient book to be moral. I would say there are awesome moral people among atheists that put so called religious folks to shame! Now why do you say there are such things as "damaging", "hate", "illness", and "madness" in this universe? If you truly BELIEVE there are such things, then you do BELIEVE (have FAITH) that human beings have an objective purpose and reason to live! That is NOT relativism. Are you saying everything is relative except for human survival? Do you BELIEVE human survival in this universe is ABSOLUTELY necessary? Is anything contrary to that grossly damaging? Is highest goodness truly exist? If so then you do agree with my point.

          November 17, 2013 at 1:35 am |
        • Observer


          I'm still waiting to hear why you need a 2,000-year-old book to do your thinking for you. Why wouldn't you be bright enough to not go around killing everyone?

          November 17, 2013 at 1:42 am |
      • Matt

        How does that make any sense? A human being can only judge right from wrong or know right from wrong if they believe in a higher being? I have met many more atheists that are compassionate and do not judge than I have from any other religion. I don't know if you are making blanket statements to anger others on here but your ignorance and lack of understanding is astounding.

        November 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • thinker

          Hello Matt,
          Consider this. If atheism is true, it makes no difference if we love each other or hate each other. It is merely that the universe is at one state to another state. It is no different than saying blue is better than red. In this cold universe, the existence of the human kind on this planet would make no difference to other planet or to the rest of the universe. Love or hate becomes nothing more than man-made neurological concept. However, if God exists, then there must be the reason and meaning to every existence in this universe. The difference is significant.

          November 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • Neat-O

          I can fully respect any atheist who is trying to do their best in life and allows religious people their right to their opinion. Just like I can respect any religious person who allows atheists or believers of other religions to believe as they will. The only people I don't respect are those who don't live the values they espouse.

          November 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
      • Commenter


        You go ahead and stick with your ancient book... please. It's obvious that you have no innate empathy nor compassion and only feel love or kindness because you are commanded to do so (or else!). You'd probably be dangerous to real thinking, feeling humans.

        November 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • thinker

          Remember that I never said you need to acknowledge God or read the ancient book to be moral! My point is we all strive to follow good desirable moral values as if there exists ultimate purpose and meaning in life, as if God exists. So my argument is deductive, not prescriptive.

          November 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
      • Mariette Harcombe

        Why should moral judgement and right & wrong be linked to the existence of God? If you make any decisions, based solely on your belief that actions are either rewarded, or punished, then you are not being truthful or in fact, moral, about your decisions; because the only reason you are choosing "right" over "wrong", is because you fear internal judgement from God.
        So, if an atheist chooses right over wrong, he/she is actually more of a 'good person', than one that chooses right over wrong just as a free ticket into heaven. And, if you think about it, if God actually exists, He is more likely to reward good behavior based on ethical/moral guidelines, than good behavior performed entirely for the sake of pleasing Him. To use an analogy: most teachers (God) don't like teacher's pets who suck up (the majority of Christians) just to get good grades, they prefer children who do their homework irrespective of whether they'll be praised for it by the teacher (atheists).

        November 13, 2013 at 2:36 am |
        • Romane Petiot

          I think so too Mariette. I was brought up in a very Christian environment and we would often have to read the bible for a few hours in Sunday school as well as learning Christ's teaching. And being a kid I never paid attention except for one account/story that we read. It was a man praying for help; the man was saying that if he's prayers got answered he would go to church, pray everyday, be a great believer and follower of God and be good and kind. Then God answered and told him that if he needed help he could just pray. But if he wanted to be all the things he said he was going to be, it had to come from him and his heart and mind. Not just because he was forced to out of a bargain or because he was obliged because of religion.
          My point is if you want to be a good/generous/kind person it has to come from you and you have to want it. You HAVE free will. And this, I was taught in Church. Although now my views on religion and God have shifted, it's still a good thing to remember.

          November 15, 2013 at 12:29 am |
        • Bro

          Romane, there is no such thing as free will in this universe. You have no choice on how your brain activity works at the cellular level.
          Newsflash? Have you never tried to examine how much of your thinking and reactions you can actually influence?

          We are totally constrained by our neurological limitations. You can no more suddenly become a genius by intent than a bug.
          You can do nothing more than what you are already limited to do.
          And the brain can and does respond to stimulus. It works by feedback. If you want me to have compassion for you, you'd better show me you aren't a threat to me first.
          Threat / no threat.
          Oh, wait, you are delusional. That means I cannot trust you at all. You will always be a threat due to your delusional thinking.
          You are schizophrenic insofar as you truly believe in things that are not real.

          Morals? Where are yours? You are no better than a stupid herd of cows. Sheep, mindless, easy victims for those who prey upon you, fool.
          Where is your sense of right and wrong? You think your book of lies will help you find the truth, but you don't care about truth, do you?

          Try worshiping TRUTH, not your disgusting lies written to fool stupid people like you. Try seeking the truth of everything.
          The absolute real truth.
          It's out there. There are no gods in reality. That's why prayers do not work unless you also pretend that they work. Bias is not truthful, objective, reliable or moral. Bias is distortion.
          Reality is real. If you hate reality, then I guess cartoons are more your speed, eh?

          November 16, 2013 at 3:51 am |
        • thinker

          Mariette Harcombe,
          If there is no God, then right is just a state A and wrong is just a state B. Your choosing A over B is simply arbitrary. Whatever reason you attached to A would solely based on your personal opinion. State A could make you "feel good", but that is not what "goodness" we are taking about, because we sometimes say pain is good if it produces the "goodness". Now so called the "fear for God" has nothing to do with my argument. You and I certainly do NOT believe helping others is good just because we believe God will throw a lightning over our head and kill us if we didn't.

          November 17, 2013 at 2:08 am |
        • Observer


          Since the Bible has so many totally HEARTLESS "morals", it's not surprising that there may not be ANYONE who supports and believes the so-called "morals" in the Bible.

          November 17, 2013 at 2:39 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 11, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Science Works

      And the pope for the first time is asking American Catholics what they think about divorce and contraceptives.

      They work, contraceptives anyway religion not so much .

      But he stated using contraceptives is a sin.

      What a JOKE.

      November 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  9. saggyroy

    A cute little boy, a disfigured man. Gotta hand it to the Marketing Dept. at the Vatican. Sales are up, everyone will get a Christmas bonus.

    November 11, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  10. Jesus Christ Son of God

    Yes, everything is great now! No more abuse to little boys by the priest, well, at least thats not in the headlines right now.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  11. One one

    Has the pope made a clear and UNEQUIVOCAL statement about whether non-believers go to hell ?

    November 10, 2013 at 8:52 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.