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December 7th, 2013
09:16 AM ET

An atheist photographer focuses on faith

Opinion by Mark Schacter, special to CNN

(CNN) - I don’t believe in a divine presence, nor do I subscribe to any organized religion.

And that, perhaps oddly, is why I am drawn to the mystery of faith.

With the wonderment of an outsider, I try to understand the seemingly incomprehensible (to me, at least) pull that faith exerts over so many people's lives.

As a photographer approaching this mystery, I am confronted by what might seem like a contradiction: Photographs capture what can be seen, and yet faith is often invisible.

But even if personal faith can't be seen directly, there are some tangible traces of its existence, and that's where I point my camera.

In particular, I photograph houses of worship, whose bricks and clapboard, stained glass and steel are often the largest and most visible manifestations of religious faith.

I've photographed Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Baha'i sanctuaries in the United States and Canada.

I've also interviewed Christian ministers, a rabbi, a imam and a Buddhist scholar about the significance of their spiritual homes, pressing them to explain how they reconcile their sometimes opulent houses of worship with the fact that religion is ultimately about transcending worldly things.

Often, they answered that the magnificent building is of little consequence. It serves a valuable purpose only if, through its grandeur, it transports worshipers to a spiritual state of mind.

“The point of the building is to leave people feeling awestruck,” said the Rev. Michael Busch, rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto.

But is it the building itself that gives the space a sacred quality, or is holiness derived from the devotions of worshipers, present and past, who have occupied the space?

I don't pretend to know the answer to that question. But I do know this: Even an ardent atheist can look at a house of worship and see the signs of an invisible human longing that is common to us all, believer and unbeliever alike.

Mark Schacter is a photographer based in Ottawa, Canada. Mark's newest book of photography, Houses of Worship, has just been published. It's available now in Canada and will be released internationally soon. His website is www.luxetveritas.net.

The opinions expressed in this commentary belong to Mark Schacter.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Buddhism • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Houses of worship • Islam • Judaism • Mosque • Opinion • Sikh • United States

soundoff (2,235 Responses)
  1. phantom235

    Enough if this boring faux civil rights garbage

    December 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  2. k-dog

    The irony of religion is: "mine is better than yours so f#@k you". If there was a god, he would take much better care of his "flock". At least atheists can take a practical solutions to the table instead of depending on prayer to fix things. Prayer is useless, hopeful wishing and has zero effect on the outcome of a situation. Do the math people. It doesn't matter what religion you belong to, you are a product of your geography or your environment or of your choosing or your family, whatever. I gave up on Catholicism long ago and the idea of god, long ago. I am sick of all of us chunking rocks at one another over such a trivial matter. Primitive cultures still believe extermination is the solution to conflict. Believe what you want to believe, just shut the f#@k up about it.

    December 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Wie Khiong

      "The irony of religion is: 'mine is better than yours so f#@k you'" is itself an irony. Perhaps, you may not realize that beneath all your frustrated expressions is a belief that you should have questioned the way you question or reject the others; until then, your belief is simply unexamined, which is not worth according to Socrates.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
      • k-dog

        Surely if I spend my time studying Catholicism, Prespyterianism, Protestantism, Methodism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnessism, Southern Baptistism, Calvinism, Judaism, Sunni, Shiite, Muslim, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity,(sorry about the spelling on some of these), I am certain to find "the answer". Oh, by then I may be extinct. Frustrated? Yes, that I spent much of my young life force fed a philosophy that I cannot knowingly embrace.

        Nature is beauty, life can be simple, people can care about each other and we can and should work for the betterment of humanity instead of arguing about whose god reigns.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
        • Wie Khiong

          Truly sorry to hear about your frustration of having been force-fed. Would have been the same if I were you. Also, couldn't agree more with your kind exhortation. But still one thing remains, how we know what we know needs to be answered, especially that it be true or false; otherwise, you've simply exchanged from one unexamined belief into another, ad infinitum in the circle game.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • Gavin Ford

      Thank you! I wish more people had the courage to say it like it is. Bravo.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
      • k-dog

        Thanks Gavin and thank you Wie for reminding me to keep my mind open. I think my point is there are some places I don't need to look.

        December 8, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • lol??

      N Korean doggie?? They have BIG campUSes, err doggie obedience schools.

      December 8, 2013 at 12:17 am |
      • Wie Khiong

        @loll?, gratuitous, isn't it? If I can borrow Winston Churchill's phrase to Lady Astor, k-dog may be intoxicated with frustration today, tomorrow he shall be sober.

        December 8, 2013 at 12:34 am |
  3. Grace

    Elsewhere on CNN – atheist church story. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area an atheist church has been operating for almost 20 years. And in Houston a sister church for almost as long – look at churchoffreethought.org and hcof.org !

    December 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Justice

      Grace, I don't get it. Why would one want to go to church if not for God?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • Jeff Williams

        """Why would one want to go to church if not for God?"""

        Think about this for a moment... What is the commonality between all the organized religions of the world?

        It's not the "holy book", it's not the god. It's certainly not the beliefs.

        It's the community. A church is a social construct.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  4. Randy

    I am a christian, I have had to near death experiences. I know that there is life after this one, I have seen beyond this lifes veil. YOU ask how can people believe in something that can't be seen? You cant see the wind, microbs, atoms , cells etc. Except you know they exist, It is the same with God the creator, faith is the most important thing in a persons life, for without faith. what would be the point in life.

    December 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • CAW

      Actually it seems to me, if there is such a great afterlife waiting, what's the meaning of living to a Christian?

      As an Atheist, I know that this is all I've got so living is the most important thing.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • ooo

      Randy,
      I'm sure you mean well, but there is a lot of research out there giving very plausable reasons for what is happening in the brain during near death situations of various kinds. It does not indicate the existance of any afterlife.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I have had near death un-experiences too: profound anesthesia. Basically there was no me for a few hours. Death is like that, it just goes on forever.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
      • Justice

        Roflmao!

        December 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Kat

      Actually you can see all of those thing with the appropriate technology.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • ???

      Do you know for a fact that atheists don't see anything with NDE? Are you sure about that?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • sybaris

      There is this thing invented a long time ago called a microscope and this other thing called an anemometer. You might google them and learn what they are capable of doing

      Research and science are your friends

      December 7, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • BONNIE SHARKBONES

      Except we have laws and theorems of science that allow us to make predictions based on the theory of wind, etc. The fact that reality matches up with the theory is evidence that these things exist. There is no scientific evidence that after life exists; you literally have to have faith to believe in religion in the first place.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Justice

      I hear ya! There's more to life than we could ever imagine. A whole universe of angels. And, some on earth, too. You're blessed.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Alias

      So why is it that so many people have completely different near death experiences?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • k-dog

      Insert YAWN here. Dreaming is different than dying.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  5. dennis galloway

    "Faith is believing what you know ain't true"....Mark Twain

    December 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
  6. Irwin Graulich

    I do not know anything about Mark Schachter, However, I would bet a lot of money that he is a secular Jew who does not have a clue as to what ANY religion is all about. Shame on him for trying to write a book about a subject in which he is totally ignorant. This is so typical of non Jewish Jews!!!

    December 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Graeme from Ottawa

      Religion is not hard to figure out if you remain objective.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Alias

      Stereotyping amd spewing hate.
      You're not christian, are you?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • ooo

      Come on. It's widely acknowledged and understood that athiests/agnostics know more about the world's religions than the religious.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • sybaris

      yes! shame on him for questioning and learning cause after all..........religion requires ignorance to perpetuate

      December 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
      • Irwin Graulich

        Judaism is the ONLY religion that require extreme knowledge. Belief is secondary and not even very important. But of course, you would not know that.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
        • ooo

          So why don't you state for us the list of supernatural beliefs in Judaism. Then we can discuss them intelligently 🙂

          December 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
        • Irwin Graulich

          I have no clue as to what you mean by "supernatural beliefs." What I can tell you is that Judaism stresses life on earth and good behavior. Everything else is secondary.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
        • Please!

          Well, you keep mentioning the religion of Judiasm:

          re·li·gion
          /riˈlijən/
          noun: religion
          1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • ???

      He's a photographer that put beautiful pictures of houses of faith into a book.

      Oh! Put him to death!

      December 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
      • Irwin Graulich

        I wouldn't call those photos beautiful. However, it is not his photography that I have a problem with–it is his ignorance of religion, yet he is writing a book about religious houses of worship. My point is that he still has a religion and it is called secularism.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          So what? He is a photographer interested in artifacts of belief and he has a point of view that he's as entitled to share as anyone CNN brings on here.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
        • Irwin Graulich

          For you or I to take photos of an atomic reaction and then write a book about nuclear physics would be stupid. For a secular ignorant Jew to give his opinions about religion is a joke.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
        • ???

          Except he didn't. From the article: "Mark’s newest book of photography, Houses of Worship, has just been published."

          December 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
        • ???

          And for you to assume anything about a man you admit you know nothing about is just as ignorant, Irwin.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
        • jimbob

          And not collecting stamps is a hobby...

          December 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
  7. lolCAT2000

    See, now it moved up again into a de-facto headline on cnn.com

    Atheists get more coverage these days than any other "faith"-group.
    Evidently someone buys their self-presentation as "a totally reasonable+common-sensical group".

    Super annoying!
    Believe or don't believe what you want, but don't shove it down my throat, OK?

    December 7, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Alias

      Let me guess – you are a christian who keeps trying to make laws that will force me to abide by your rules>

      December 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Graeme from Ottawa

      That goes for both religious and non-religious. Fair is Fair

      December 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Justice

      LoL at CAT, they can't make you swallow. Men. What egotistical creatures they can be.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
      • Justice

        Oops! Did I day that? 😀

        December 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
        • Justice

          Say... does spelling count against us?

          December 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
        • ???

          Nah. Happens to everyone. 🙂

          December 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Bill

      If you don't want it "shoved down your throat", then why did you click on the headline to read the article?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
      • Irwin Graulich

        Because I like to read about things I do not agree with. Sometimes it helps me change my mind. Your comment was foolish.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
        • ???

          The comment was a reply tot lolCAT. Are you lolCAT?
          Can you follow a thread?

          December 7, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
        • Irwin Graulich

          I am sorry but I am new here. I made a mistake. All the best.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
        • ???

          Gotcha. Back atcha.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
      • lolCAT2000

        I'm worried about an ideology calling itself "scientific and reasonable" takes over a news platform like CNN – a place I have come to appreciate as providing comparable neutral news coverage.
        That's why I click and comment.

        December 8, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • sybaris

      Let's see, in the U.S. we have:

      Bibles in every motel room
      God on our money
      Prayer before public events
      Christian cable networks 24/7
      Discounts on insurance for being christian
      Churches every 6 blocks in every city over 100,000
      Laws that prevent non-christians from holding public office
      Christian bookstores in every town over 12,000
      God in the Pledge of Allegiance
      Televangelists 24/7
      Christian billboards along the highway advertising Vacation Bible School and “Repent or go to He.ll”
      Federally recognized christian holiday
      Radioevangelists 24/7
      Religious organizations are tax free
      75% of the population claims to be christian
      National day of prayer
      God in the National Anthem
      Weekday christian education for elementary students.
      Christian clergy led prayer at Presidential inaugurations

      Who is shoving what down whose throat?

      Please take the persecuted christian whine line somewhere else.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
      • k-dog

        Thank You! Well pointed statement.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
      • lolCAT2000

        Yes there is a lot of signs of religious life around – I must admit though that I never really felt proselytized at in the U.S. so far.
        And I'd honestly love to have a Quran or another spiritual inspiration thing in my hotel room – but that's just me, I can see how it seems annoying.
        There are some christian radio and bible TV stations that seem very strange to me, but I can turn them off easily.

        But the current wave of anti-religionism seems to me a little like an "anti-starbucks" protest saying "NO to coffee" with the tone of full conviction.
        Yes and..... ?
        (BTW – the above article is a comparably nice read. Where things really go awry is the comment sections of all these stories about atheism... always the exact same discussion...)

        December 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
      • Bushidokop

        Best comment ever!

        December 7, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • lolCAT2000

        Atheists proselytize by saying that their perspective is in-line with science and therefore "neutral" –
        "the only reasonable way" etc.
        That's what currently makes it so successful.
        Catholicism has this 4000 year old text in the background written practically by stoneage guys.
        It's just hard to adapt it.

        But there are a lot of things about religion that are completely ignored in the current debate,
        and facts of life kept out of the discussion pretty "religiously" by reducing the discussion to "evidence and scientific facts".
        There is just a lot more to life.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
      • Humanity4All

        And None know where the Original Bible gone, yet continues with Versions after Versions chewing Swine early in the Morning.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  8. Jeff from Upstate

    Seriously, does anyone realize that that Unitarian Universalism already exists as the church for atheist, agnostics, Jewish, Christian, Humanists, etc?

    http://www.uunashua.org/100quest.shtml

    December 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Alias

      No, taking what you like from different religions will not convince me to convert.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
      • Jeff from Upstate

        You don't convert. You join.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's best not to congregate for no reason.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I have nothing in common with those people.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    One of the most perfect descriptions of the Christian mindset:

    “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'

    - Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

    December 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  10. tightywidey

    It's a coin toss – a 50 / 50. Yes, there is a heaven and life ever-after, or not. I'm betting there is and that's what I am working towards. Christians aren't perfect and, yes, many who think they are embarrass the stuffing out of the rest of us. So I just work on myself, every day, trying hard to be like Jesus (which I will never accomplish). so don't put me down, call me names. I'm not doing that to you. As Rodney King said, "Can't we all just learn to get along?"

    December 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • ooo

      Sorry, but invoking Pascal's Wager is not a 50-50 proposition. There are countless gods that people have invented. The chances the one you believe in is "it" is very unlikely just from that standpoint.

      And then if you are somehow lucky and you picked the correct god, don't you think he knows you are just hedging your bet in this "belief and faith" business and you are not actually sincere?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • WilltheFree

      I respect your beliefs. However to say that it's a 50/50 coin toss is ridiculous. There is nothing to substantiate the 50% that says that heaven/god/angels/etc exists. That's like saying that there's a 50/50 that Odin and Thor exist.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  11. Alias

    Why is it so hard to see that all the ancient civilizations made up their own religions?
    Once you open your eyes far enough to see that, how can you think your religion is the only one that is different and actually has everthing figured out?

    December 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think it's a useful exercise to come up with your own religion. Think about what it should demand and provide. Come up with ways to make it something people will want to believe and more – something they will feel they have to believe. Work through it and then examine some of the current religions.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
      • Alias

        Isn't that how scientology got started?

        December 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I guess there is that danger.

          December 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  12. Apple Bush

    The real bottom line relative to “belief” is do you actually feel the need to place yourself into a category of any kind? Love Jesus but not Christians. Bow to Buddha but don’t buy reincarnation. Look, some dudes and gals are smart and we listen to them, and sometimes we should (and sometimes we shouldn’t). There is no place for religious dogma in this common sense proposal. Just dig the guy, buy (or don’t) what he says and cruise. Simple as that isn’t it?

    December 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  13. Susanne

    I really liked this piece, he was respectful to my Christianity yet left a lot of questions open. Thanks!

    December 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  14. WhatDidYouSay

    Science is the study of how God creates.

    December 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      hilarious!

      December 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • wilf

      This is something that a lot of Christians have a problem understanding

      December 7, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Most scientists don't find much use for God.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • WilltheFree

      God is made up of answers that science hasn't found yet.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      It is not and this is why; there is no god to be a creator. Science is the study of everything with a completely open mind relative to where the facts will lead, and with total acceptance that some things are difficult or impossible to discover at this time. This doesn't mean however that they will "invent" a creator to fill the gaps. On the contrary, science will always move forward searching from true meaning.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • ooo

      Metaphores are religious certainties before science proved them wrong.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Noel

      Which god does it study? Zeus or Allah?

      December 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  15. Dandelion

    Odd squealing things profess faith but are not allowed inside the beautiful shrines.

    December 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
  16. JM

    People of great faith are beautiful.

    Unfortunately, there are too many people (in this country) who claim to be Christians but seem to be anti Christ's teaching: Pharisees, not Christian.

    " If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

    "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails."

    December 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • RapistsActLikeVictims

      Cool! Now, let's get rid of the "in dog we trust" and "so help me dog" and let's talk about true love and compassion!

      December 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  17. correctlycenter

    Scoffing against, disproving, demeaning, using unscientific theories to persuade the gullible that the Intelligent Designer, the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the earth and all living things on it must take on lots of time and endless energy with atheists. Notice they do not attack a l l a h, b u d d a h, the b r a h m a n- a t m a n or any other god, only the Lord...

    December 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Unfounded belief is all pretty much the same. Christians do seem to feel a need to step up to the plate and defend theirs more often than most believers do.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • fnordz

      No. "They" attack the others as well, but in the west, you hear more about the judeo-christian god because religions based on that god are far more prevalent.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Alias

      Not true.
      All you religious people need help, I'm just surrounded by christians here in america.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • RapistsActLikeVictims

      Even rapists play the victim role when caught red handed! Christians excel at that.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • RapistsActLikeVictims

      f ya's dog, whatever it is.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I have the largest Buddha painting in North America on the south wall of my living room. (and many other Buddha around the house). I bow to the Buddha everyday to say thank you for the wisdom. I don't believe in the "religion" but I'll buy the guru.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      how do you make the logical leap from a creator to a god, corruptly center?

      also, fvck you and your persecution complex

      December 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • WilltheFree

      Sad and misguided comment.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • wilf

      Why do believers get so upset that people do not believe them. Why should they even care..

      December 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
      • Noel

        Not all do, but the ones that do get upset sure let you know about it. I think they're the ones who give the rest a bad name, and make the rest of us who don't believe what they do, think that all theists are like that. It doesn't help though that many Christian churches feel it's part of their religious, or even worse, moral obligation to try and "save" anyone who doesn't think the way they do. That mentality REALLY needs to be mothballed, because it just makes the person attempting to do the so called "saving" look like a complete tool to those of us that don't want to hear it.

        December 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  18. Alfredo

    Yes even Atheists are fascinated with the form of religious structures. I have visited churches , synagogues and mosques all over the world simply to enjoy their architectural beauty alone...

    December 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  19. devent

    atheists are given a very significant role in this dialectical process in the evolution towards Panthrotheism,the belief that God give to humanity the privilige or responsibilty of charting human history.since you are not indoctrinated to specific dogma and doctrines ,your open mindedness enables you percieve a deeper understanding of reality,
    simple logic but more profound scientific knowlege will lead you to God.religious humanism through science is your guiding spirit .all religions are Gods and we are his choosen creatures to effect his will.Unity for all is his ultimate will and history is its reflection

    December 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • coby7016

      Don't mix religious with science. If you believe in God or whatever name in your religious, all you needed is faith. Try to tie science to justify its existence only show you that you are lacking in faith.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Alias

      Science keeps proving the bible wrong.
      How will that lead me to believe it?

      December 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
      • devent

        Panthrotheism does not discriminate or believe the bible is wrong,in analogy no one can claim that our human ancestors are wrong because they were naked or ate raw meats.We have now to accept that we are evolving.What is important that we survive.and still love each other in general despite conflicts.No one is wrong in believing and practicing any religion that is pro life.Some people thinks that any contadiction to classical faith is wrong,un aware that humans survive the trials in history was because of change and adaptation,in short evolution.its not anti religiom

        December 8, 2013 at 3:06 am |
    • wilf

      How arrogant that you think you can speak for god or that ny other human being can speak of him or know of him.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Noel

      "but more profound scientific knowledge will lead you to God"

      Might want to change that to:

      "but more profound scientific knowledge will lead you a few of you to God", rather than being so positive about something you can't be positive about.....especially since, I would never be one of "God's followers, believers, whatever", even if I saw him face to face and shook his hand. It wouldn't be because I no longer believed in him, but it would still be because I would never even give the time of day to "someone/thing/it" that would send even a single person to a "hell" to scream and burn and suffer and cry for all of eternity. Idk, maybe it's me, but I have a hard time getting behind something or someone who would knowingly allow even one person to have to experience something like that for all of eternity. It's just sick in my mind.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
      • devent

        yes closing all argument against reason because of priority to faith without reason is in history itself.beyond the lifetimes of the pre-christian times they never had any inkling that they will be superseeded by new religions,they died and their teaching lost to oblivion.new doctrines was revealed to Abraham and later to Jesus and mohamad.Where are they now.They are in heaven now,as a proof they are immortals in history for they serve God in their times.Service to humanity is service to God.be it in any human moral,economics or religious endeavor.Your contribution to humanity and therefore to God is in its efficacy in implementing his will.but what is it.Computational theology using the most powerfull operational computer has determined his will as revealed in historical algorithm.HUMAN UNITY is foremost for survival.God is not faith selective but performance appreciative.He is not self centered tyrant but PRO LIFE.think that our specie is unique through out our solar sytem ,our galaxy and the whole universe ,yet we are materially a speck of dust and irrelevant with out Him.

        December 8, 2013 at 1:50 am |
  20. popseal

    I struggled for several years trying to be an atheist or at least an agnostic. The testimonies of friends whose lives were profoundly changed by suddenly trusting Christ to be Who He claimed to be brought me to my senses. I turned to Christ and found a regenerating spiritual birth. Now 44 years later I say that was the most important and good decision I ever made. The whole thing proved to me that a man with an argument can not stand against a man with an experience.

    December 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • ooo

      pop,
      You may see your friends lives and your life as being profoundly changed by god, but we (or at least I) see it as people who have decided to profoundly change their own lives. This appears to be similar to the claims of seeing a bright light during a near death experience. The human mind is easily deceived.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • wilf

        +1

        December 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Perhaps you'll meet someone who has not believed in gods, nor had reason to even consider gods as things that might be real. We all start out that way.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • JJ

      Why would you try to be an atheist? All atheists I know, including myself, have no other alternative than to be an atheist just the same that you have no alternative but to lack a belief in fairies or leprechauns (assuming you do). When you realize there is no evidence when absurd claims are made then there is no struggle to not believe.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
      • Noel

        To JJ and anyone else who echoed the same sentiment. You should never have to "try" to be anything when it comes to your beliefs. I mean, isn't that the reason it's called a belief in the first place???? Sorry pops, but that story stinks of "here's how I'll win them over and do my due diligence as a Christian and try to save some people. First, I'll tell them that I was just like them once....not only was I just like them, but I TRIED HARD to keep being just like them. Yeah, that'll get them to relate to me. Then, I'll tell them about how after trying and trying and trying to be what I always wanted to be, just one of them, I was won over by an overwhelming onslaught of miracles, and facts, and evidence that I just couldn't try any longer. It was useless to fight another second, and by just not trying anymore, finding religion was the best thing that ever happened to me, half a century later. HeeHeeHee! All those atheists out there will be thinking; Gee, he was one of us... and not JUST one of us, but one who tried really gosh darn hard to REMAIN an atheist. I mean, he said it's all he ever wanted to be. But, if all I have do is STOP TRYING to be an atheist.....just stop fighting so hard against organized religion, well, maybe 50 years from now, I can be just like pops!!!!! Yeah!!!!!! I'm calling the nearest church to schedule my baptism right now!"

        Ok, maybe that was a little over the top. But, you kind of brought on my ire with the whole "really tried" thing. Not smooth....

        December 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
      • Jeff Williams

        """All atheists I know, including myself, have no other alternative than to be an atheist"""

        Include me in that group. It's not a choice – it's a consequence.

        December 8, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • joe

      Baloney. You are looking with your religious goggles.

      Try taking a little broader look around at the innocent children and Christians better than you dying of horrible diseases and car accidents and natural disasters etc. and you will see your God is nowhere to be found.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      that story was as big a lie as the ones in your bible.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • Gene

      I might be reading too much into it, but it almost sounds like you wanted to be an atheist/agnostic (which are not mutually exclusive, mind) for no good reason, whatever your reasoning might have been. Personally, I did not have a struggle to become an atheist, but rather a struggle with my religious beliefs, and the immense effort it took trying to justify them.

      Ultimately, I couldn't deal with the logical fallacies, inconsistencies, brainwashing, scientific disconnects, extremisms, and other things that make faith in a 'higher power' or general organized religion possible. And I immediately became an atheist once I realized that I couldn't believe anymore. It wasn't a struggle to become an atheist – one moment I wasn't, then the next I was.

      Regardless, it sounds like you have a happy and content life as the result of your thinking, as do I. I've only wanted to offer my own thoughts and experience on the topic, and I hope it will be of interest to others as well.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • jerrymcm1970

      I find it hard to believe that you struggled to try and be a social pariah, because that's what atheists are in most of America. Nobody goes out of their way to disbelieve in gods, quite the opposite, the total lack of evidence and an inability to self delude makes it inevitable.

      December 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.