home
RSS
After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last?
Sunday Assembly founders Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans have begun to franchise their "godless congregations."
January 4th, 2014
09:00 AM ET

After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last?

By Katie Engelhart, special to CNN

LONDON (CNN) - The Sunday Assembly was riding high.

The world’s most voguish - though not its only - atheist church opened last year in London, to global attention and abundant acclaim.

So popular was the premise, so bright the promise, that soon the Sunday Assembly was ready to franchise, branching out into cities such as New York, Dublin and Melbourne.

“It’s a way to scale goodness,” declared Sanderson Jones, a standup comic and co-founder of The Sunday Assembly, which calls itself a “godless congregation.”

But nearly as quickly as the Assembly spread, it split, with New York City emerging as organized atheism’s Avignon.

In October, three former members of Sunday Assembly NYC announced the formation of a breakaway group called Godless Revival.

“The Sunday Assembly,” wrote Godless Revival founder Lee Moore in a scathing blog post, “has a problem with atheism.”

Moore alleges that, among other things, Jones advised the NYC group to “boycott the word atheism” and “not to have speakers from the atheist community.” It also wanted the New York branch to host Assembly services in a churchlike setting, instead of the Manhattan dive bar where it was launched.

Jones denies ordering the NYC chapter to do away with the word “atheism,” but acknowledges telling the group “not to cater solely to atheists.” He also said he advised them to leave the dive bar “where women wore bikinis,” in favor of a more family-friendly venue.

The squabbles led to a tiff and finally a schism between two factions within Sunday Assembly NYC. Jones reportedly told Moore that his faction was no longer welcome in the Sunday Assembly movement.

Moore promises that his group, Godless Revival, will be more firmly atheistic than the Sunday Assembly, which he now dismisses as “a humanistic cult.”

In a recent interview, Jones described the split as “very sad.” But, he added, “ultimately, it is for the benefit of the community. One day, I hope there will soon be communities for every different type of atheist, agnostic and humanist. We are only one flavor of ice cream, and one day we hope there'll be congregations for every godless palate."

Nevertheless, the New York schism raises critical questions about the Sunday Assembly. Namely: Can the atheist church model survive? Is disbelief enough to keep a Sunday gathering together?

Big-tent atheism

I attended my first service last April, when Sunday Assembly was still a rag-tag venture in East London.

The service was held in a crumbly, deconsecrated church and largely populated by white 20-somethings with long hair and baggy spring jackets (a group from which I hail.)

I wrote that the Assembly “had a wayward, whimsical feel. At a table by the door, ladies served homemade cakes and tea. The house band played Cat Stevens. Our ‘priest’ wore pink skinny jeans.”

I judged the effort to be “part quixotic hipster start-up, part Southern megachurch.”

The central idea was attractive enough. The Assembly described itself as a secular urban oasis, where atheists could enjoy the benefits of traditional church - the sense of community, the weekly sermon, the scheduled time for reflection, the community service opportunities, the ethos of self-improvement, the singing and the free food - without God. I liked the vibe and the slogan: “Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More.”

Shortly thereafter, Assembly services began bringing in hundreds of similarly warm-and-fuzzy nonbelievers. The wee East London church grew too small, and the Assembly moved to central London’s more elegant Conway Hall.

The Assembly drew criticism, to be sure—from atheists who fundamentally object to organized disbelief, from theists who resent the pillaging of their texts and traditions. But coverage was largely positive - and it was everywhere.

In September, a second wave of coverage peaked, with news that the Assembly was franchising: across England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the United States and Australia. That month, the founders launched a crowd-funding campaign that aims to raise $802,500. (As of mid-December, less than $56,000 had been raised.)

Still, prospective Sunday Assembly franchisers seemed exhilarated. Los Angeles chapter founder Ian Dodd enthused that he would “have a godless congregation in the city of angels.” In November, his inaugural Assembly drew more than 400 attendees.

But as the atheist church grew, it began to change—and to move away from its atheism.

“How atheist should our Assembly be?” wrote Jones in August. “The short answer to that is: not very.”

Pippa Evans, Assembly’s other co-founder, elaborated: “‘Atheist Church’ as a phrase has been good to us. It has got us publicity. But the term ‘atheist’ does hold negative connotations.”

Warm-and-fuzzy atheism gave way to not-quite atheism: or at least a very subdued, milquetoast nonbelief. Sunday services made much mention of “whizziness” and “wonder”—but rarely spoke of God’s nonexistence.

The newer, bigger Sunday Assembly now markets itself as a kind of atheist version of Unitarian Univeralism: irreligious, but still eager to include everyone.

In a way, this is a smart move. According to the 2012 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 20% of Americans have no religious affiliation, but just a fraction of those identify as atheists.

A godless congregation is likely to draw crowds if it appeals to what Herb Silverman, founder of the Secular Coalition for America, calls “big-tent” atheism, which includes “agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, nontheists, anti-theists, skeptics, rationalists, naturalists, materialists, ignostics, apatheists, and more.”

But atheists who wanted a firmly atheist church—a Sunday Assembly where categorical disbelief is discussed and celebrated—will not be satisfied.

As the Sunday Assembly downplays its atheism, it also appears increasingly churchlike.

Starting a Sunday Assembly chapter now involves a “Sunday Assembly Everywhere accreditation process,” which grants “the right to use all the Sunday Assembly materials, logos, positive vibe and goodwill.”

Aspiring Sunday Assembly founders must form legal entities and attend “training days in the UK,” sign the Sunday Assembly Charter and pass a three- to six-month peer review. Only then may formal accreditation be granted.

This is not an East London hipster hyper-localism anymore.

Selling swag and charisma

Organized atheism is not necessarily new. French Revolutionaries, for instance, were early atheist entrepreneurs.

In 1793, secularists famously seized the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to build a “Temple of Reason.” They decorated the church with busts of philosophers, built an altar to Reason, lit a torch of Truth - and brought in an actress to play Liberty.

A half-century later, French philosopher Auguste Comte drew acclaim for his “religion of humanity,” which imagined an army of secular sages ministering to secular souls. London has hosted formal atheist gatherings for almost as long.

History suggests, then, that there is nothing inherently anti-organization about atheism. As Assembly’s Sanderson Jones puts it, “things which are organized are not necessarily bad.”

To be sure, Sunday Assembly members in the United States say they've long wanted to join atheist congregations.

Ian Dodd, a 50-something camera operator in Los Angeles, had long been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church; he enjoyed it, but wanted something more explicitly irreligious.

Nicole Steeves of the Chicago chapter found herself yearning for a secular community—a “place to check in and think about things bigger than the day-to-day”—after having her first child.

But it is one thing to support an atheist "church" - where the ‘c’ is small and the effort is local - and another to back an atheist ‘Church’ that is global and centralized.

The former responds directly to the needs and fancies of its community. The latter assumes that its particular brand of disbelief is universally relevant—and worthy of trademark.

Centralized atheism also feeds hungrily on charisma, and Sanderson Jones, who resembles a tall, bearded messiah - and who, despite the SA recommendation that Assembly hosts should be regularly rotated, dominates each London service - provides ample fuel.

But it remains to be seen whether the Sunday Assembly’s diluted godlessness is meaty enough to sustain a flock.

“Because it is a godless congregation, we don’t have a doctrine to rely on,” explains Sunday Assembly Melbourne’s founder, “so we take reference from everything in the world.”

So far, Assembly sermonizers had included community workers, physicists, astronomers, wine writers, topless philanthropers, futurologists, happiness experts, video game enthusiasts, historians and even a vicar. The pulpit is open indeed.

My own misgivings are far less academic. I’m simply not getting what the Sunday Assembly promised. I’m not put off by the secular church model, but rather the prototype.

Take an October service in London, for example:

Instead of a thoughtful sermon, I got a five-minute Wikipedia-esque lecture on the history of particle physics.

Instead of receiving self-improvement nudges or engaging in conversation with strangers, I watched the founders fret (a lot) over technical glitches with the web streaming, talk about how hard they had worked to pull the service off, and try to sell me Sunday Assembly swag.

What’s more, instead of just hop, skipping and jumping over to a local venue, as I once did, I now had to brave the tube and traverse the city.

Back in New York, Lee Moore is gearing up for the launch of Godless Revival - but still speaks bitterly of his time with the Sunday Assembly network.

Over the telephone, I mused that the experience must have quashed any ambition he ever had to build a multinational atheist enterprise.

“Actually,” he admitted, “we do have expansion aims.”

Katie Engelhart is a London-based writer. Follow her at @katieengelhart or www.katieengelhart.com.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Faith • Houses of worship • Leaders

soundoff (4,535 Responses)
  1. Dyslexic doG

    Christians. Why do you continue to quote from a book written by people in the same cult as you? What does that prove?

    January 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
    • Vic

      It proves that we believe in it.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
      • Habe

        Now prove any of it is actually true.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • AE

          You will reap what you sow.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Habe

          I take responsibility for my actions...your point?

          January 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • Habe

          And useless platiitudes didn't address my post; guess you have nothing to add but non sequiturs, AE.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • AE

          I am telling you something from the Bible I have experienced to be true. Our actions have consequences, yes. I guess I should have said "I reap what I sow".

          January 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
        • Habe

          In other words: karma. Okay.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • AE

          Kind of. But no reincarnation.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
        • Fan2C

          AE,
          "I am telling you something from the Bible I have experienced to be true. Our actions have consequences, yes. I guess I should have said "I reap what I sow"."

          This concept is certainly not new or confined to The Bible. It's nice that you find it helpful, but it says nothing of "God-spoken" ideas.

          Someone mentioned "Karma", a much older concept, albeit with some "airy-fairy" components, where one's 'comeuppance' can be quite weird in relation to the offense (i.e. one can be 'punished' with car accident years after he stole a pair of roller skates, or something!)

          This concept was covered over and over in Aesop's Fables, for example, long before Paul of Tarsus stated it in his agricultural way.
          - Slow and steady wins the race
          - The Wolf in sheep's clothing gets killed for dinner
          - The lying boy who cried "wolf" is not ever believed

          January 6, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
        • Madtown

          Have you been reincarnated? That would be pretty cool.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
        • AE

          Fan2C

          Other people have experienced it to be true, too? Cool!

          January 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

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

        so sure ... what's not to believe? Entirely credible.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
      • Vic

        Whatever the scripture we have today went through, we solemnly believe that there is a God, Maker of the Heavens and Earth and the life in them, Who Is The Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          and your belief is based on what?

          January 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          Vic. I ask sincerely.

          I want to try and understand the logic of believing in a god based on a book that christians acknowledge is flawed.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • Madtown

          Other human beings throughout the world with no knowledge of christianity believe the same thing. They have different traditions and methods than you. Their beliefs are not wrong, and yours right. Believe what you want, but keep in mind your beliefs are no more correct or relevant that anyone else.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
        • Vic

          Open your heart and mind to the possibility of the existence of God, and then He will lead you to it. It is evident by this creation, sentience, Natural & Special Revelations, basic instincts, intuition, and common sense.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Facts, Vic? Anyone?

          January 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
        • AtheistSteve

          " It is evident by this creation, sentience, Natural & Special Revelations, basic instincts, intuition, and common sense."

          Let's dissect this sentence, shall we? Look closely at what you consider "evidence".
          1) Creation
          A loaded term to begin with. Calling the universe or anything in it "creation" presupposes a "creator". There is absolutely no way to discern the difference between a "created" universe and one that "emerged" naturally. Why? Because the cause is and remains unknown.
          2) Sentience
          Look up the definition of this word. All animal life exhibits this quality. It is, in short, the ability to make use of sensory information of the outside world. Sight, smell, hearing , taste and touch. Again...not indicative of a divine cause as it is easily explained by evolution.
          3) Natural & Special Revelations
          I'll skip over this one. It's too heavily involved with confirmation bias.
          4) Basic instincts
          Another trait common to all animal life. In fact animal instinct far surpasses ours in many cases and is again fully explained by evolution.
          5) Intuition
          Our brains are capable of abstract and symbolic thought. The development of language is perhaps the most significant and powerful outcome of this ability. With it we can share complex concepts and learn. Intuition is like a "hunch" or educated guess based on experience, pattern recognition or expectation but without a clear reason or explanation. There is a confirmation bias here too since we would never credit intuition when we are wrong. In any case any appeal to our cognitive abilities as evidence of God are not correlated with cause.
          6) Common sense
          Even you should realize this term is an oxymoron. Common sense is anything but common and if this is a trait supposedly awarded to all men by God then he clearly enjoys practical jokes. If common sense is our ability to make sound decisions then education, not some deity, is key.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
        • Chikkipop

          Yuk!

          Your childlike obedience to the script is revolting.

          Please grow up!

          January 8, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
      • Chikkipop

        "It proves that we believe in it."

        Exactly! And it proves nothing to anyone who is not so gullible.

        January 8, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Classic circular logic at play.

      January 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
    • Alias

      I think we non believers need to quote from the bible more often.
      LEV 11:6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

      January 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
  2. lunchbreaker

    Why does it matter whether or not atheism is considered a religion?

    January 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Christians want everybody neatly pigeonholed, so they can judge them.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
      • Doris

        Bingo

        January 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
      • AE

        Uh... you just did the same thing.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          yes I did, didn't I? 🙁

          January 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Every person who makes a sweeping generalization is a jerk.
          It is never, ever proper to speak in absolutes.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • Chikkipop

          "Every person who makes a sweeping generalization is a jerk.
          It is never, ever proper to speak in absolutes."

          Not true. A sweeping generalization is very often >generally< accurate, which, by definition, isn't an absolute!

          January 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          there's an exception to every rule ... except this one.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          "Yeah, but everybody's a jerk. You, me, this jerk." – Bender

          January 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          ahhhh, I love a good Bender quote.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "Why does it matter whether or not atheism is considered a religion?"

      I suppose it doesn't matter if you are willing to whitewash what the word religion means. If it is to mean simply what a group of people share in common then fans of a sport team or members of a book club could be considered a religion too. If atheism is a rejection of theist claims and theism is the practice of religion then atheism is a-religious.
      Religion as it is normally understood refers to people who believe in and worship a god or deity. It also usually includes some type of divine doctrine that believers must follow.
      Atheism has none of this.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • Piccolo

      Because religions are based on FAITH. Atheism is not based on faith, is based on the lack of evidence for YOUR FAITH. Atheism is simply a lack of one belief, but there are plenty of atheistic belief systems out there (ie Buddhism). Generalizing every single atheistic belief system into one called atheism is insulting. Ask an atheist what he DOES belief, not what he doesn't believe and you may get somewhere.

      January 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        A good point. Buddhism is a religion without a god per se but it does encompass the supernatural or the transcendent. The ultimate goal in Buddhism is to become one with the universe...in essence to become divine or godlike.The path to follow in Buddha's footsteps are clearly defined through meditation and the cleansing of worldly needs and desires.

        January 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
    • Chikkipop

      Because someone who holds a particular view of something does not wish to be misrepresented.

      To be told you are religious because you reject religion is dumb.

      It is also convenient for the religious, because they need to believe atheists are just like them; if atheists are religious, they can't very well criticize religion, the thinking seems to be.

      January 8, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    fail.

    January 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
  4. CosmicC

    For years I've been uncomfortable with the idea that atheism can be classified as a religion. Now that I see in-fighting, schisms, dogmatic arguements, I see that it actually is a religion.

    January 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • doobzz

      I saw that kind of thing in practically every corporate meeting I've ever attended, so I guess we can call corporations"religions" now too.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      atheism is a religion like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby

      January 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
    • Vic

      Here we go. A lot of what people blame on God is actually due to the flawed human nature.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
      • BRC

        Vic,
        If you're a person of faith and you believe "God" made humans, that would lead to the position that if we're flawed from the beginning it's "God's" fault. If a car rolls of the line broken you blame the factory, not the car.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • Vic

          We are talking about 'operator error.'

          January 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
        • igaftr

          Vic
          Not operator error if what your premise of human nature, which was created by your god allegedly

          "Here we go. A lot of what people blame on God is actually due to the flawed human nature."

          so which is it...nature ( allegedly created by god) or operator error...can't be both even though you just said it is.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • Vic

          We were created with 'iniquity' and were given "Free Will" to chose right from wrong.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • Vic

          "..choose.."

          January 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • BRC

          Vic,
          As long as you're defining "god" as the operator, then sure.

          God- "Insert "obedience tab A" into "follow my word completely slot B. I don't see either of those anywhere on this thing. Why did I make these humans so small, and complex... and squishy. Whatever I'm sure obeynig my word to the letter won't be an issue anyway."

          January 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • Vic

          I respect your questions and concerns, I have some of my own; however, that does not take away anything from the existence of the Almighty God, His existence is evident to me.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
    • EdSain

      Reminds me so much of the South Park "Go God Go" episode. Funny!

      January 6, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Religions are systems of beliefs. Atheism, depending on definition, is either a lack of belief on a single topic or a single belief. That does not make a religion, even ignoring the issues of rituals, ethics and cultural norms.

      That isn't to say there aren't atheist religions, as some forms of buddhism and atheist Unitarianism. Even Scientific Pantheism is arguably a religion. But atheism is no more a religion than a-easterbunnyism. If people are too lazy to come up with a name for their belief system that contains atheism, eventually someone else will do that for them.

      January 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
  5. psrandy142@gmail.com

    What can I say? THIS makes me smile from ear to ear. Atheist Church? I have far too many comments to start so I will just stick to laughing.

    January 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Only not-so-bright people use their email address as their handle... just an FYI

      January 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        classic!

        January 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
    • doobzz

      That is what the author of the article called it, not the people about whom she is writing.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        I couldn't tell if she was attempting to be sarcastic funny, or she just isn't that bright...

        January 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • doobzz

          I know, neither can I.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
  6. Sarah Waits

    Even if atheist churches imply atheist religion, atheist religion is as unremarkable as belief in a god apart from religion.

    January 6, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      There is no such thing as 'atheist religion' or 'atheist church'. The idiots the article references must have been hanging out with Christians and some of their stupid must have rubbed off on them...

      January 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
    • Sarah Waits

      Of course there's atheist religion. Religion just requires that people have a overarching belief in something, it could be pink flamingos, that they feel is worthy of worship and devotion.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        I suggest you pick up a dictionary... and read what it says about atheism

        January 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
      • Former Xtian

        Sure thing... but then it wouldn't be atheism it would be pink flamingoism. Again, ask an atheist what he DOES believe. The non belief in god is just one thing they don't.

        January 7, 2014 at 1:13 am |
    • Vic

      I believe you have it backwards!

      I would rephrase it to: "atheist religion is as unremarkable as belief in a religion apart from God."

      January 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
  7. Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

    United Atheist League member: Our answer to the Great Question is the only logical one. Our Science is great. Let us not forget the great Richard Dawkins who finally freed the world of religion long ago. Dawkins knew that logic and reason were the way of the future, but it wasn't until he met his beautiful wife that he learned using logic and reason isn't enough. You have to be a dick to everyone who doesn't think like you.

    January 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    You mean to tell me,
    that a Jewish zombie can make me live forever,
    if I telepathically accept him as my master…
    all because a talking snake convinced a woman created by one rib
    to eat from a magical tree?
    Really???

    - Rainer Braendlein

    January 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • Alias

      Give the zombie a little sympathy here.
      His all powerful, all knowing father had no choice. He had to get that virgin preggo and make him into a zombie to undo the sin he blamed us all for in the first place.

      January 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
  9. Patrick

    Any atheist 'church' is likely to fail in the long run because atheists are simply not 'joiners'. By their nature, atheists tend toward individualism, value independent thinking, suspect authority, are skeptical of tradition, and generally avoid social groups.

    Recent research by Catherine Caldwell-Harris at Boston University compared the personality traits of atheist and believers. An October article at pathos.com notes that the study found religious believers to be more socially integrated than atheists, tend to report being more satisfied with their family and social lives, and are likely to be more interpersonally agreeable. Atheists, meanwhile, struggle to form communities as cohesive and long-lasting as those of religious believers.

    The research found positive and negative personality traits for both atheists and believers, but in terms of building long-lasting communities, atheist types seem to be at a natural disadvantage.

    January 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think that's the case when religious people dominate, but in more atheistic regions that trend loses its meaning.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
      • Vic

        Not exactly! The OP said it best, "atheist types seem to be at a natural disadvantage." That is due to the lack of the natural connection to God inherent in His creation. It is something hard to explain to someone who does not believe in the existence of God in the first place.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Vic. It's hard to explain because there's no evidence. This is more circular reasoning – you have to believe to believe.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

          The Wise One: Maybe some otters do need to believe in something. Who knows, maybe just believing in God...makes God exist. [thoughtful, solemn pause]
          Sea Otters: Kill the Wise One! KILL THE WISE ONE!
          [The Wise One is slaughtered by a mob of otters]

          January 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • Piccolo

          You wonder why atheists are upset, people keep insulting them with statements like that. it's pretty much saying that atheists are inferior and are missing something vital, despite the fact that you CAN'T PROVE A WORD OF IT!

          January 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
    • Justin

      You have to remember that some people were born atheist.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        everyone is born atheist.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Frank

          We are also born as completely self-centered cry babies.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • Petra

          Well, I suppose if helpless and dependent on our caregivers is being self-centered, okay.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
      • James K

        All people are born atheist. It's only later that most are taught to believe in some god.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Responding to the Pride

          Taught? By reformed atheists? Classic.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Pride. That makes no sense. Gods are used to explain natural phenomena such as eclipses, tsunamis, etc. which our ancestors could not explain. We know what causes them. As we understand more of our universe, the ancient superstitions have no place. No need to use a god as an explanation.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • James K

          No. If left alone no child would ever invent a god, complete with theology. An invisible friend, maybe, so I can see where you're getting the idea.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • Responding to the Pride

          James...that makes no sense. Who cares what a child will make up or not. Every child is born an atheist? That's like saying every baby is born unable to reason–of course they're unable to reason. As adults, however, we are able to study and discern and come to a conclusion that, in our individual belief system, makes perfect sense. This whole notion that a child is born an atheist is proof that God does not exist (which is really what this is about) is the equivalent of saying "reason" does not exist because a baby does not reason.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
      • Saraswati

        I think Justin's point was that many people are born into atheist communities or cultures and in those environments this is a completely different discussion.

        That said, there are biological differences that can skew religiosity, with persons with schizophrenia more religious and persons with autism less on average. But for the majority of people the culture of birth with be the primary determinant, and those born to atheists hardly need to be independent to stay with their parent's beliefs.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
      • Patrick

        No one is born an atheist (or a theist, for that matter). Atheism is a positive assertion that god doesn't exist. Infants lack the capacity to make that assertion. To state otherwise is a category error.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Positive assertion" – Nope. Feel better now?

          I'm not the one claiming to KNOW anything (I'm agnostic) but based on the evidence provided so far, I don't BELEIVE any gods exist (I'm an atheist).

          Anyone claiming to KNOW either way (and fyi – "Yahweh", "Krishna", etc. are a different matter) is just prideful in my opinion.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Not entirely true. They wouldn't think of a god either. Which is where the rejection of the assertion would come in.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • James K

          Few atheists that I know would positively claim that God, or any god, does not exist. That would require gnostic knowledge. Mostly, what we do is just reject the claims that any particular god exists, usually based on logical arguments or the lack of objective evidence to support sic a claim. Children have to be taught to view the world as a created place, to see "God's hand" in nature, that they are worthless beings without forgiveness by some invisible man, and so on. As imaginative as most children are I highly doubt that many could even come close to inventing a god complete with its own theology matching what the Church has managed to build over almost 2000 years.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • Happy Atheist

          "Atheism is a positive assertion that god doesn't exist."

          No it is not. I am an atheist but I do not assert no God could exist, I just have asked many believers for any evidence of their God and they have yet to present any so I am left with the understanding that there are no Gods like there are no leprechauns, not that there couldn't be some, I just see no evidence of any and thus do not believe in things that lack any evidence.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Chikkipop

          Incorrect.

          Atheism does not assert that a god does not exist.

          Some atheists may assert such a thing, but that is different.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
      • Vic

        That's a false premise. I've seen it very often here.

        Children are born innocent. They do not fall under the belief categorizations. A person can only fall under that categorization when he/she is of the "age of recognition" AND "can choose" whether to believe in [a] God or not. That is an undefined stage in terms of the belief categorization.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Anyone who believes in a god had to be told of that god first – if you were born in India, chances are you'd be told of a Hindu god, in the USA a christian god. Children are told of the god that is typical for that society. If a god were making itself known directly there would only be belief in one god.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • igaftr

          Vic
          If a child is born, does it believe in god? Of course not...they have no concept since they have to be taught about god. So since they do not have a belief in god, they are atheists.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • G to the T

          "age of recognition" Now Vic – You're not adding to the bible are you? As I understand it, that's a no-no...

          January 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • Piccolo

          Yes, children are born innocent until they are indoctrinated by their parents into whatever belief system they are in, thus psychologically destroying their sense of reality in the long term. It's sad.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
    • James K

      I have season's Mets tickets and I only missed my town's Fourth celebration once since moving here 32 years ago, so I don't see your point about not feeling connected to a recurring activity.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
      • Patrick

        The researcher was talking about integrating into social groups, not attending ball games.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • James K

          Being a Mets fan is a social group. I recognize dozens of people every game, including a few fellow season's ticket holders.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • Happy Atheist

          I'm sure 50 years ago the researcher would have found Jewish persons having a more difficult time integrating into protestant communities and not being as outgoing or social, I wonder why?

          This research says far more about the constant but subtle discrimination the religious practice in their daily lives and tend to exclude those who do not fit their christian norms than it does about atheists not fitting in.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • Piccolo

          Talk about denial of reality! How is that NOT a social event?

          January 6, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • CosmicC

        Being a Mets fan is, by definition, a religion: Belief without proof.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • Piccolo

          Haha. As a Mets/Jets fan I can relate, although the Mets are a tangible real team that has real games. You don't imagine them and pretend to psychically communicate with them to win games. I get the jeer, though! 😉

          January 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • Piccolo

      "By their nature, atheists tend toward individualism, value independent thinking, suspect authority, are skeptical of tradition, and generally avoid social groups. "

      Huh? Generalize much? You do realize that atheists have many varying beliefs, right? They all don't gather around the fire and sing praises to god's non existence. They focus on what they DO believe.

      January 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
  10. Saraswati

    Doc, People with delusions regarding their intellectual abilities tend to protect those delusions by ignoring or any instances in which their though processes are challenged. Such behaviors don't normally change as a product of rational debate.

    Just sayin'...

    January 6, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "cognitive dissonance":

      Mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The concept was introduced by the psychologist Leon Festinger (1919–89) in the late 1950s. He and later researchers showed that, when confronted with challenging new information, most people seek to preserve their current understanding of the world by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding the new information or by convincing themselves that no conflict really exists.

      this peculiar human trait has kept religion going through the centuries despite the mountains of evidence proving it's foolishness.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • But...

        "its" foolishness.

        Sorry. The irony was too much to pass up.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • doobzz

          It actually works either way.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • But...

          "It" actually doesn't.

          "Its" indicates the possessive of the it. "The dog hurt its leg."
          "It's" is a contraction for "it is." So, "The dog hurt its leg. It's walking with a limp."

          🙂

          January 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • doobzz

          It can be used either way:

          "its foolishness" meaning "it shows the church's foolishness" a possessive use

          or

          "it's foolishness" meaning "it shows that the church is foolish" a contraction of "it is"

          January 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
  11. WC

    "The Assembly drew criticism, to be sure—from atheists who fundamentally object to organized disbelief..."

    Yeah, organized disbelief really is a silly idea (and I'm an atheist).

    January 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If you look at their website they are rallying around celebrating life, not atheism. But it really isn't a specific enough cause. The nontheistic groups that hold together have much more specific goals and shared values and beliefs.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  12. Doc Vestibule

    And there's an immediate dismissal – "so called evidence"/
    Recent examples of the behaviour to which I am referring:

    Live4Him
    @Doc Vestibule : Not all belief systems are predicated on supernatural enti/ties.

    Agreed – but your argument was that atheist LACK a belief system. Are you now backing away from that posit?
    January 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Doc Vestibule
    No.
    The statement I made is that the term "atheism" describes a lack of belief in GODS – not a lack of belief system.
    January 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |

    You had originally split my comment off from the parent thread to make it another post (pulling it out of context).
    Once i made that statement, you abandoned the thread.
    You were still actively posting afterwards – 1:33, 1:56, 2:08pm etc.

    " I had already acknowledge in my own post (i.e. trade-off between the greater good : loss of some freedoms compared to society's need : i.e. yelling FIRE in a crowded theather)"
    But that isn't so.
    What you said is "The Const.itution supersede ordinary laws. It states that religious beliefs cannot be infringed by ordinary laws without a justifiable benefit to society. However, Observer wants to argue that ordinary law trump religious beliefs. I'm opposing his posit."

    I posted multiple examples of when ordinary law trumps religious beliefs.
    You ignored them.
    As a matter of fact, it was something you said to me that spurred the reply originally:
    "Should they lose their religious freedoms granted by the Consti.tution?" is what you asked in reply to my original post.
    I replied "Religious freedom doesn't mean they're exempt from the law." and gave the aforementioned examples.
    You abandoned the thread, though continued commenting elsewhere.
    Becuase you ignored the perfectly reasonable, verifiable and true reply I gave and proceeded to split things off into myriad other threads, I reiterated the points when you kept up the same arguments in a new thread.

    January 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      ARGH!
      Bitter, bitter irony.
      I accidentally split this reply off from the parent thread!!!

      I have shamefully reported abuse on myself.
      😉

      January 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
      • Saraswati

        lol...that actually is kind of funny.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • Petra

        I hate when that happens! Lmao!

        January 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
      • Piccolo

        Welp, I guess I have no choice to report abuse on this post for reporting abuse.

        January 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
  13. Captain Slapaho

    Welcome to CNN's Belief Blog, where Christophobia never goes out of style!

    January 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Between 1917 and 1990 Christians were responsible for banning not just immigration based on same se.x marriage (as was in effect until last year) but the imigration of anyone not a hete.rose.xual. I'm guessing you are straight, because if you are gay there's nothing remotely irrational about fearing what Christianity can do.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • Captain Slapaho@Saraswati

        Wow, I never knew that the Christian church drafted immigration law. I foolishly though that was the US government.

        Who knew?

        January 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Jane

          Now you do.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          At least seven states–Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas–have in place const.itutional provisions that bar atheists from holding public office. One state (Arkansas) even has a law that bars an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial.

          In Bavaria, Catholic bishops have the right to veto the nomination of a professor of theology, philosophy, pedagogy and sociology/political science at state universities if the candidate does not entertain the standpoint of the Catholic Church.

          The Church of England (C of E) is granted privileged access to the British Parliament. The 26 most senior C of E Bishops are automatically granted membership in the House of Lords – the upper chamber of Parliament – where they have the right to speak and vote on all legislation. They are unaccountable to the public.

          When the American south was forced to rescind Jim Crow laws and accept racial integration, it was Christians who most strongly opposed equality.
          Wallie Criswell, an extremely popular and influential Southern Baptist Minister famously said "Let them integrate! Let them sit up there in their dirty shirts and make all their fine speeches. But they are all a bunch of infidels, dying from the neck up."
          The Mormon position was that ""From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel.
          "Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
          – George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay

          Throughout the history of "Chistendom", pagans, atheists, heathens and other assorted heretics have endured such torture at the hands of the Church innumberable times.
          For 1500 years, Christians outlawed atheists from the universities, or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy. They dehumanized them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off their breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, iimprisoned them, disemboweled them, hung them, burnt them alive...

          Only in the 21st Century have non-believers been free to voice their opinions without fear of such reprisals.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Slapaho,

          You would probably also be amazed to discover the "US Government" is made up of people influenced by their religious beliefs and those of the voters. Really. Amazing stuff.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • James K

          If it suddenly became illegal to own a black cat would you lay blame upon the US government, or all the voting superst-itious people?

          January 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • Piccolo

          I'd do what I normally do. Ignore the law and keep the cat.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
  14. Colin

    To pick up on Charmed Quark's comment, unlike everything else in life, you can never build on religion or religious thoughts. Medicine, mathematics, engineering, computing technology; they all evolve by building on the efforts of earlier researchers.

    We no longer debate whether the Earth goes around the sun. It is an externally validated fact upon which subsequent research is built, resulting, ultimately in our putting a man on the moon and sending probes to the distant planets. Religion cannot be built upon.

    This is for the simple reason that, when you debate issues from the pretend world, there can be no resolution, because no opinion can be experimentally validated or discredited. You can just as credibly debate an issue from the Fourth Century today as you could back then. Religion is stuck on the ground floor, wallowing in the basement, still arguing, 2,000 years later, over what supposedly happens to a piece of bread when a priest mutters some special words over it in church on a Sunday morning. It is stuck in kindergarten, while its brighter classmates, mathematics, engineering and medicine, have all graduated college.

    January 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Thanks Colin could not have said it better. Have often wondered why Christians have had to apologise for themselves for 2000 years. Could it be they had to rejig the old timey crap to keep their wealth and power? Say it isn't so, our Christian bloggers.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • fred

      You are one of the loudest voices in this kindergarten a bit spoiled by science. It is you who is limited because you only see the materialistic which is why we cannot discuss the true things of God.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        fred
        The things to you that are true to you about your god you mean? As a Deist my deity does not need a bunch of hucksters to live off of the myth and why would your god need the likes of you and L4H, LofA, Topher, Austin, you get the idea. to get the message across when you are so inept at the task?

        January 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • fred

          Ah, that Divine word has us covered. God uses the inept like myself as well as a talking donkey to get His message to those that need it. There is not one thing I could say or even the most brilliant of believers that could open a heart set against God.
          What is interesting is that you listen and follow the voice of the serpent yet you know serpents cannot talk. Your inability to see God is the result of personal desire and the voice of the serpent that asked "did God really say that" . Your non belief has very little to do with my inept communication skills.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          fred
          I am a Deist that does not believe in a personal god like you do. Do you really need that belief to keep you on the straight and narrow and feel warm and fuzzy all over. Have you ever tried living without the crutch, fred? BTW if I don't believe in your version of god, I certainly don't believe in your "Satan" either.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • Observer

          fred,

          "What is interesting is that you listen and follow the voice of the serpent yet you know serpents cannot talk."

          Only BELIEVERS can think that serpents talk. Just YOUR side. No atheist was ever that foolish to believe it.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " Your non belief has very little to do with my inept communication skills."
          It is not your communication skills that are lacking, fred. Nor those of L4H, LoA, Topher, etc. It is the absolute disingenuous nature that you all share that turns many off. Contemporary evangelical Christians lead the world in turning people off from Christianity. Kind of odd given that you are commanded to "spread the good news".

          January 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          Fred, there's nothing I can add.
          The wisdom of God is foolishness to the so-called knowledgeable... those whose god is a tie between the ego an"d science so called". ... who pretend they invented science.

          Daniel was a noble and skillful in science, so those purporting a pretense in the scientific will be found naked.

          Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

          I'm glad you're imparting wisdom, but I know it will miss them. 🙁

          January 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          JB
          Sorry if you feel slighted that I left you off of the list of inept messengers of god but you are so easy to dismiss as a shill.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          My reply was to Fred.
          Unlike you, I'm not controlled by my ego.
          The fool says in his heart, there is no God.

          but you are so easy to dismiss as a fool.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Observer

          Jesus' Beloved,

          Midwest rail is completely correct.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          JB
          No ego in you, LOL. You start a post. Fred, there is nothing I can add. Then proceed torun on for three paragraphs or so and quite right there was nothing you added. Keep up the mediocre work, you are a hoot.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          JB
          Look up the definition of Deist, your silly bible quote dos not apply to me. Why are you so obtuse or can you not help it?

          January 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          since that person knows what to do then they should do it. What will be their excuse for knowing a thing but looking to man.
          We're called to follow Christ, not man.
          Will that be your excuse...

          You all blaspheme the name of Jesus and Father here everyday, while calling believers derogatory words, but want to take offense when one is quoted from the scripture.
          You may not want to be called a fool based on your beliefs... no one does...

          January 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • fred

          Midwest rail
          I would agree with you that we turn people off when we call sin for what it is. We cannot turn our back and simply pretend there is no everlasting consequence. Saying it in a political correct way does not work either.
          My reply to Quark was out of the Bible because it is Gods word which was attacked. What is said is true and applies to Quark, you and me. Separation from God came about when man first listened to the voice which asked "did God really say that?" You can argue as the atheist does that it is just a coincidence that the Bible is again correct concerning a basic human nature but that does not change what is evident. Doubt in Gods word brings separation from God.
          Exactly what was more desirable than God was the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were not prepared for that knowledge so God warned them they would surly die. Death is exactly where we are and what we see when separate from that life which God breathed into his creation. The atheist sees only death in contrast to life eternal which is only in God. Confirmation again in the words of the Bible even for the atheist.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " You all blaspheme the name of Jesus and Father here everyday, while calling believers derogatory words..."
          Please cite one of my posts where I've done either – unless "disingenuous" is now somehow derogatory.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • Madtown

          Doubt in Gods word brings separation from God.
          ----–
          Alright, then which version of God's word should we follow? So many variations, are they all to be considered God's word?

          January 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " I would agree with you that we turn people off when we call sin for what it is. "
          Yet that is not what I said turns people off, fred. You conveniently ignored what I DID say, confirming your disingenuous nature. That is what turns people off.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • fred

          Charm Quark
          "Do you really need that belief to keep you on the straight and narrow"
          =>Yes I do. At the end of every day I review events and hold myself to the standards clearly set by Jesus. I pray about that which I should have done and ask forgiveness for failures (specifically so as to correct my course).

          "feel warm and fuzzy all over."
          =>I call it joy but yes I do. It comes from an overwhelming thankfulness which I see as the extension of blessings from God.

          " Have you ever tried living without the crutch, fred?"
          =>I was agnostic and my crutch was my pride, lust and lots of drugs.

          "if I don't believe in your version of god, I certainly don't believe in your "Satan" either."
          =>I understand the apologetics on Satan yet I believe the Bible does the best it can to paint a picture of what we are up against. There is very strong force and a very good God making it clear something far greater than we can imagine is at play in our existence. I can find no fault in Jesus who reflected the Glory of God more than any other man and Jesus mentioned Satan. Until such a time as there is presented a better picture of the contrast between light and dark than what Jesus presented I will continue to hang on His every word.
          I have personally witnessed the power of God through the Holy Spirit to transform lives and reveal the truth of God. Exactly how can I doubt what actually happened. How can I doubt events that unfold just as Jesus said they would. Given the track record I have no reason to doubt anything Jesus has to say.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          fred
          You don't get that the 5 billion people who don't believe in your brand of myth are doomed by your vindictive deity and find that personally offensive? I mean how dare you judge me because I do not believe as you do? You sad pathetic people should keep your condemnation to your own cult, hell you even condemn cults that do not interpret the garbage the same as you do. You and JB can dish out any ridicule you want about my beliefs, fine with me, but when I give back as good as I get you can't take it.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          "then which version of God's word should we follow?"
          =>You simply ask God then listen and follow through exactly as you heard it. If you really want to know because you need God you will find the Word intended for you. If you are seeking Gods word for the wrong reason you will find the word for the wrong reason.
          The entire mystery of life reveals itself to those who truly seek. We find our treasure in life or die trying.

          " So many variations, are they all to be considered God's word?"
          =>The Word if God is not in the letters and verses of the various translations. The Word of God speaks to your heart when your heart is open. That Word is revealed to you throughout creation. The Bible is the road map so if you take a journey in your car the experience is not in the map but what speaks to you as you follow the map.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          fred
          I find it interesting that a few of you born again type Christians were self loathing desp!cable sinners that saw the light and came to the crutch of jesus. Now you have the temerity to come on here and spout your self righteous BS after hitting bottom, no thanks anyway.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • fred

          Charm Quark
          "You don't get that the 5 billion people who don't believe in your brand of myth are doomed by your vindictive deity and find that personally offensive?"
          =>Neither of us really can know the fate of billions who are not "in Christ" and I doubt we could even agree upon what that (in Christ) means.
          =>"your vindictive deity" conflicts with God as presented in the Bible and revealed to me and millions of people personally. Such condemnation would be personally offensive to you just about everyone not to mention Jesus.
          =>What we know for certain is that Hell is reserved for Satan and his followers who will find eternal separation from God to be as gnashing of teeth, fire etc. What we do know is they desire this separation from God. Do you really think 5 billion people desire separation from God and are willing to endure eternity separate from God. (rhetorical)

          " I mean how dare you judge me because I do not believe as you do?"
          =>sorry, I fail to see where you were judged by me. Your sensitivity is a good thing because it points to something that needs attention.

          " You sad pathetic people"
          =>Looks like you have a very exclusive belief if all those who are not like you are sad pathetic people.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
        • Madtown

          You simply ask God then listen and follow through exactly as you heard it
          ------
          Many, many people do exactly this, and believe they find what they are looking for. However.......those people still don't end up with any knowledge whatsoever about christianity! How do you explain this? Someone can believe in God, with no knowledge of christianity or the bible. "God" is NOT synonymous with the christian definition of God.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          fred
          What is interesting is that you listen to and follow the voice of the serpent (your post above) and you my deluded friend listen and follow the voices of scam artists. There I feel better, we are even.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
        • midwest rail

          What is truly fascinating about this thread is the reaction of J.B. and fred when they are confronted with their own words. They simply ignore what they find uncomfortable, or just disappear. Then they wonder why their credibility is questioned.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          midwest rail
          Quite right. In an early post he judges me and in his final post he denies same. God doesn't abide liars fred, hells a poppin.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • fred

          Charm Quark
          When I said "What is interesting is that you listen and follow the voice of the serpent yet you know serpents cannot talk" I did take a poke at the demon within if one was listening. That demon rose up. You began to spew out at believers and God. Then you accused God just as Satan would do. ouch

          January 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          fred
          Okay fine, but you should have caught on by now that I don't believe in your myth, doesn't make you any less the liar. As a born again Christian your whole life is about judging people that do not believe as you did you sad pathetic person. You just did it again in your last post, may I suggest you go to hell, I can't it does not exist for me.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
        • fred

          Charm Quark
          Christianity is the opposite as we are specifically told not to judge for as you judge so will you be judged. If God is exactly who the Christians claim then when we judge we are sticking our foot in the flames so to speak. Judging is to say you are less than me because of this or that. We are to recognize that you face a harsh reality because you do not see the sin in your life and you do not know Christ. We are to help you not judge you.
          It is not judging to recognize you need Christ. I guess you could accuse me of judging when I recognize you need gas in your car then offer to give you some. The difference is you are not defensive about your needs and will accept the help.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The process of belief is an elixir when you're weak
        I must confess, at times I indulge it on the sneak
        but generally my outlook's not so bleak
        (and I'm not meek!)

        I'm materialist
        Call me a humanist
        physical theorist
        and I guess I'm full of doubt,
        but I'll gladly have it out with you
        I'm materialist
        I ain't no deist
        it's there for all to see, so don't talk of hidden mysteries with me

        – Dr. Greg Graffin

        January 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
      • Sue

        fred, to paraphrase Kurt Gödel, where logic works, it works. Logic is obviously not on the side of your crazy religious delusions. Even you must recognize that, whether you will now admit it or not.

        Your delusions are broken, inconsistent, and clearly false. Logic is sufficient to show that they are false; we do not even need to invoke non-materialistic considerations to determine that, and they do not help your case. Your attempts to do so just show how desperate you are to find anything to support your (non-existent) case.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • fred

          I suppose you suggest it is not logical to believe God spoke creation into existence (let it be and it was), Jesus was born of a virgin, Jesus walked on water, rose from the dead, sits at the right hand of God and will return at the End of Days. Logically I would think if there is God then anything can and is possible.

          If there is no God then there is no purpose for existence of an accidental universe. I fail to see how your logic is superior.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • BRC

          fred,
          And what puprose comes with being created by "God". Let's say that the universe we see now is the result of an action taken by some god, either they kickstarted the big bang, or the painstakingly designed and lain in place each and every place person, and thing. How would the universe being created by a god inherent give life "purpose". If it is the Christian "God" in particular, why does that make life more purposeful?

          January 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Imagining an anthropocentric Creator may be more emotionally satisfying than a naturalist explanation, but that doesn't make it more in line with reality.
          "One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak certainty of reason- but one cannot have both."

          January 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • fred

          Doc
          The Greeks had their monument to the unknown god which sounds very cold and empty. Reason itself is cold and empty when properly objective. Such is in conflict with our subjective nature and thus I conclude we were wired for subjective expression. It is unnatural to assume the naturalistic as reality and unreasonable based on what is self evident. Our reality includes God (real or imagined matters not) who is subjective by nature (our nature). Creativity as with creation is subjective in purpose thus only a personal revelation of creator is logical and reasonable.

          January 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
        • fred

          BRC
          "How would the universe being created by a god inherent give life "purpose". If it is the Christian "God" in particular, why does that make life more purposeful?"
          =>Christian God is the same as Hebrew God when it comes to purpose of creation.
          =>Created with intention reveals purpose whereas existence out of a static flux or any other unknown spontaneous formation of the physical is operational without express or implied intent.
          =>intention is that of the Creator if causation was the Creator. If we do not know the purpose of creation we cannot know how we should respond. Life becomes more purposeful when we believe we fulfill the purpose and if the highest purpose is onto God then there is no greater purpose. Christ showed us the greatest purpose is to do Gods will regardless of cost. Giving up life out of love for others appears very high if not the highest.

          An accidental existence limits purpose to the temporal and man fulfilling purpose onto self. A better life for family or friends is still limited to self as this is something you want to do for others because of your own need. Contrast this with God creating for your benefit out of love for you. Your purpose with family has not changed but your purpose is now greater in response to Gods love, Gods creation

          January 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
      • Piccolo

        LOL at being "limited by science". Yeah that's totally the way to curb your knowledge. What good ever came from tangible observations and experiments? 😆 If you believe in the divine, that's cool, just don't try to tell others they are "limited" because they don't believe your myths.

        January 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
  15. Sarah

    There's nothing wrong with Atheism church. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone... why do they care? the last time i checked... religion such as Catholics and Christianity killed over billion of people...

    January 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
    • James K

      But why should any gathering of atheists be called "church", which has a specific, Christian religious connotation? We disbelieve in all gods, so why not call it atheist "mosque", "synagogue", or temple?

      January 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
      • Ernest T Bass

        I think just a plain old "club" would be more appropriate.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
      • Saraswati

        It is not called a church...the author of this article made that up. But if they wanted to use a word that has been around for a while for Sunday meetings, why not?

        January 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
    • Patrick

      Checked where? Please cite your sources for this statistic.

      While you're at it, ask yourself if these 1 billion deaths were caused by people truly following Christianity (love thy neighbor) or by people warping Christianity to justify killing for secular objectives, like natural resources and political power.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
      • Alice H

        Still, one would think that nations which are predominantly Christian would find little public support for any participation in war, wouldn't you?

        January 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
      • CosmicC

        I don't know about a billion, but tens of millions, certainly. The conquest of the Americas and Africa, the crusades, sure, easily tens, maybe hundreds of millions.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
  16. Doris

    The God of the Christian Bible is an immoral concept. The alleged god of this type gives free will, but demands belief, when belief is only attained from ancient writings that are easily interpreted in different ways by people. It is an unclear path that has resulted in over 40,000 sects. Furthermore, a god of this type, unlike the Deist creator god, is allegedly an active god, that intervenes on its own terms and judges people at the end of their lives. If I possessed that type of divinity, I would intervene when a young girl is being raped. That's the difference between me and this type of god. Does this type of god hold a grudge since things didn't go his way in the garden – or has he simply been entertaining himself all along from the very beginning?

    January 6, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      god is supposedly omniscient, so he knew when he created the universe that girl would be r.aped.

      January 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      Uh huh... Define what you mean by "free will" and then tell me where it says that in the Bible...

      January 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • igaftr

      God already addressed the ra.p.e of a young girl....the ra.p.ist pays her father 50 sheckles of silver and marries her to remove the "stain" that she got when he ra.p.ed her. It's right there in the bible (and still practiced in Morrocco)

      January 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
      • Observer

        igaftr,

        Yep. It doesn't get anymore HEARTLESS than that. The pitiful victim gets NOTHING but does get FORCED into a marriage with a lowlife rapist she likely hates. So much for God's version of MARRIAGE.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • WC

      Bootyfunk: "god is supposedly omniscient, so he knew when he created the universe that girl would be r.aped."

      Lawrence of Arabia: "Uh huh... Define what you mean by "free will" and then tell me where it says that in the Bible..."

      I'd be interested to know from either of you where the god of the Bible actually says he gave humans free will or that he is omniscient (or omnipotent).

      January 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
      • Doris

        From the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry stie:

        "The compatibilist view is the position that a person's freedom is restricted by his nature as is described in Scripture. In other words, he can only choose what his nature (sinful or regenerate) will allow him to choose. Therefore, such verses as 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20 are used to demonstrate that, for example, the unbeliever is incapable of choosing God of his own free will.

        Libertarian free will says that the person's will is not restricted by his sinful nature and that he is still able to choose or accept God freely. Verses used to support this view are John 3:16 and 3:36. Two subdivisions of libertarian free will would be "open absolute free will" which says that man's choices are not knowable by God until they occur, and "non-open absolute free will" which would state that God can know man's choices but he cannot determine them.

        The biblical position is compatibilism. Since the Bible clearly teaches us that the unbeliever is restricted to making sinful choices (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20) then we must conclude that anyone who believes in God (John 3:16; 3:36) does so because God has granted that he believe (Phil. 1:29), has caused him to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3), and chose him for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13)."

        If I'm reading this right, it sounds like this view is that it's all a game for this type of god. I find it immoral.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          "If I'm reading this right, it sounds like this view is that it's all a game for this type of god. I find it immoral."
          -------–
          No, it's not a game. It just means that there are some things that we probably will never totally understand. People say that about science all the time and they're not condemned for it. The apparent dichotamy between the sovereignty of God and the volition of man is not reconciled anywhere in the Bible, but we are taught the truth of both.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        God is...
        Omnipotent – Matthew 28:18, Mark 1:29–34, John 10:18, Jude 24, Isaiah 40:10–31, Isaiah 45:5–13, Revelation 19:6
        Omniscient – 1 Kings 8:39, Jeremiah 17:10,16, Matthew 9:4, Matthew 11:27, Luke 5:4–6, John 2:25, John 16:30, John 21:17, Acts 1:24
        Omnipresent – Psalm 139:7–12, Proverbs 15:3, Matthew 18:20, Matthew 28:20, Ephesians 3:17, Ephesians 4:10

        January 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          LofA
          Did jesus tweet that list down to you or did you have to you or did you have to look them up yourself?

          January 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Hard to be a smartass when my post doesn't make sense.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Charm,
          I have been a student of the Bible for decades...

          January 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Observer

          But God is UNABLE to beat Satan after THOUSANDS of YEARS.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          What a waste of time and effort, but it is your time and effort. Medieval poetry would have been just as useful.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Observer,
          Is THAT what you think this is? A conflict between God and Satan? I don't know who told you that, but they have quite a distorted view of the Bible.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
        • Observer

          Lawrence of Arabia,

          So apparently God doesn't want to defeat Satan. He'd just rather make bets with him that cost the lives of 10 children, some slaves, and thousand of animals.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          "God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent – it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills."
          – Robert Heinlein

          January 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
        • sam stone

          omniscient god means no free will, larry. try to keep up

          January 6, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
        • WC

          Lawrence: Thank you for your reply, but I must say that the verses you posted do not appear to support the claims of omnipotence, omniscience, or omnipresence (your verses for omnipresence would work except I can't really count Psalms and Proverbs–they are just someone's musings about God; it's not him speaking to anyone).

          That is to say, they fit into a concept of the god of the Bible having those attributes, but they do not in any way establish them. They reference abilities far above human abilities, but that's a far cry from claiming omni-powers. But thank you for your time.

          January 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • Kyle

      Doris –
      I would argue that if God intervened in every act like this (which Christians refer to as sin) then God would effectively be taking away the free will of man.

      January 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
      • Doris

        Ah – I get it – God has favorites. Kind of like fantasy football.

        January 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • Kyle

          "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Matthew 5:3,5

          Although God doesn't intervene to stop bad things from happening on earth every time, He promises eternal reward for those who have suffered. There are a lot of terrible things that happen on earth, that make me sad just thinking about them. When I read these verses I have hope in a God that will erase them with eternal life, so in the end not his "favorites", but everyone who follows Him will be blessed.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
  17. Science Works

    For Vic and L4H do not go ape on me now !

    Apes with big brains: what makes us human?

    Superficially we humans have much in common with other species – but no other species makes cars, computers, and combine harvesters.

    By Richard Dawkins Published 06 January 2014 10:27

    http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/12/apes-big-brains

    January 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      And the omnipotent god of the bible is stuck in the first century, can't use a computer or figure out email, dumb god.

      January 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
      • Science Works

        OR the primordial soup ?

        January 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
      • Madtown

        I don't necessarily need an email, I'd just as soon see the word of God scroll endlessly across the sky, formed out of clouds, covering every person in every region on earth, and in their language. Something like that would convince me that God actually desired to spell out his word. Human creation of a collection of human writings does not.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Agreed...way cooler than email. Gold lettering and a rainfall of chocolate too. And curing all cancer. And Alzheimer's. And some choirs of angels.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Saraswati
          And maybe a few ounces of Northern Lights for our friend Lionly Lanb.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
  18. PD

    Reading the exchanges between the folks above, it brings to mind a befitting couplet by Robert Frost: "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, And I will forgive Thy great big one on me."

    January 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
Advertisement
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.