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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. Atheism is a religion?!

    So atheism has always been a religion? Atheists have lied to us!!!!

    January 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      In this case, these people seek a subst.itute for religion.

      I would agree that attending secular humanist 'services' is not much different from going to church, but atheism is not a religion.

      January 6, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
      • Atheism is a religion?!

        Why don't atheists just admit they have faith and move on? Seems more logical than denying it to feel superior towards religious people. why must they mock for stupid and childish reasons? Atheism IS a religion that deserves the same treatment atheists give others.

        January 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          The word "faith" does not make something a religion .. people have faith in many things that are not supernatural. Now please explain exactly how Non-theism (not believing in a God(s)) is a religion any more than not believing in unicorns is a religion.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
        • Frank

          A lot of atheists treat atheism like it is a religion.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Some atheists have faith, others do not. Because you believe investing in Jamco is a good idea, does not make that belief a religion. Believing no alien life exists is also not a religion, unless you have faith that that is the case based on a religions network of beliefs. If every belief position were a religion, we'd all have millions of religions.

          January 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
        • jensgessner

          "Why don't atheists just admit they have faith and move on?"

          I suspect we have very different views on the meaning of the word 'faith'. For most Atheists, 'faith' means 'believing without evidence'. Since Atheists usually DON'T believe without evidence, they don't have 'faith' (in that sense). This does in no way make me feel superior toward others.

          January 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
    • No, atheism isn't a religion!!

      January 6, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
      • August 2005

        A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate’s rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion.

        Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2005/08/31895/#4YgqjjYPjeG6t6qY.99

        January 6, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
  2. Happy Atheist

    For those trying to turn atheism into a religion, don't bother, it's not a product that is easily marketable, there is very little to peddle since it's core is summed up in just not believing in things that there is no evidence of. There is no warm and fuzzy salvation to sell. There is no work involved in disbelief and no money to be made saying "Hey, I havn't found any evidence of God yet" so it's not a great start up idea. You need some sort of invisible deity that you claim to work for and know what they want which requires some monetary donation to prove your faith to make any money...

    January 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
    • Atheism is a religion?!

      Atheism is a religion. Period.

      January 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
      • ?

        Ignorant liar. Period.

        January 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
        • Torcaso vs Watkins 1961

          http://askville.amazon.com/case-SCOTUS-rule-Atheism-religion/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=58057495

          Atheism was a religion here too.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:46 pm |
      • Brainwashed Christians

        All hail the mighty word twister!

        January 7, 2014 at 9:04 am |
  3. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    The Bible doesn't convey anything now known to be true, and not knowable in principle by the people who wrote it. It's hard to recommend the inspired word of God as an information source, but centuries of scholarship were wasted on the assumption that it is the primary source of truth. Some people even believe that now.

    January 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
  4. Christopher

    I have heard, "there are no Atheists in foxholes, along with other BS during my time in the military. It is true, however, that there are almost no Atheists in prisons.

    January 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
    • Robert Raulerson

      Especially on Death Row. Everybody there is a Born Again Xtian.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
    • ?

      This is true.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Nothing works a parole board like a recommendation from a minister.

      January 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
  5. Robert Raulerson

    Yep, I was The Atheist in The Foxhole. They tell you we don't exist and they tell you Gawd does – so that's two lies they told you.

    January 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • Thank you

      Robert, thank you for serving. You are braver than I on more than one level. I'm a civilian that doesn't believe in any gods until I loose my keys.

      January 6, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
  6. Robert Raulerson

    If atheism is a religion it's the True Religion. The one you want to belong to. The Gawd of No Gawd. The Church of No Church. Join up today!

    January 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
  7. Ivan

    NO ONE is an atheist when his/her plane that is plunging to death.

    January 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Evidence?

      January 6, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
    • Robert Raulerson

      They say there are no atheists in foxholes, but I'm a Vietnam veteran and I was.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      planes are not alive, therefore they cannot be plunging to death

      January 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
    • Cheryl Magnuson

      What a bunch of malarkey.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
    • Saraswati

      And you would know this how?

      January 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  8. scott

    Let the little atheists have their fun... their numbers are too small (less than 5%) to do any harm while the rest of the world believes there is a higher power and is open-minded.

    January 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
    • doobzz

      Aw, look at you there, trying to be all condescending while bragging about your invisible friend.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I don't believe any number of people can imagine up a real God.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
    • Cheryl Magnuson

      "Open minded"...ha ha ha ha.

      Get over yourself, Scott. You aren't any more special than the atheists in the article.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Are you open-minded about Vishnu; you accept that your god may not be real and in fact the Hindus have got it right? I doubt that very much.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'scott' is essentially an instance of the ad populumfallacy with additional ad hominem elements.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'scott' is essentially an instance of the ad populum fallacy with additional ad hominem elements.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      "their numbers are too small (less than 5%) to do any harm"

      It's the other 95% i worry about. Anyone who is willing to die for their invisible deity is a danger to humanity.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
  9. Bob Arctor

    Funny...he doesn't look a thing like Jesus (except for the hair and beard).

    January 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
    • AE

      Are they taking communion?

      January 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
      • Cheryl Magnuson

        Why do you ask?

        January 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
        • AE

          That is what I first thought.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • Maddy

          Looks like they're drinking coffee to me...

          January 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        They're English, so I'd hazard a guess that it's tea and biscuits*

        * or as they are known in the US, cookies.

        January 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
        • Maddy

          You're most likely correct...

          January 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
        • G to the T

          Tea with milk is an abomination. No wonder the US branch split off...

          January 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
        • Anonymous

          Gotta agree with you there.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
  10. Jesus' Beloved

    "The genealogies in Matthew and Luke were both recorded to show Christ’s right to the throne. Matthew’s account showed that through Joseph’s genealogy, Christ was a legal descendant of Jeconiah (Coniah), but could not sit on and rule from the throne because of the curse. This account also proved how Christ was born of a virgin woman, because the curse would have passed onto Christ if Joseph were, in fact, His natural father. Of course, Christ was really the Son of God—begotten by the Holy Spirit!

    Luke’s account showed that through Mary’s genealogy, Jesus was a descendant of Nathan—David’s son. This allowed the inheritance to pass to Joseph, who in turn passed it onto Christ.

    Matthew 1 clearly explains that Joseph is Mary’s husband. Matthew recorded this for legal purposes, to show the Jews that Christ was the Messiah. It was the custom of the Jews to trace and record the father’s descent. The Jews simply saw Christ as legally Joseph’s Son (Jn. 6:42).
    Joseph’s lineage was also given to show that Jesus was, in fact, born of a virgin. If Joseph had been Christ’s natural father, then Christ could never have sat on the throne of David, because of a curse God placed on one of Joseph’s ancestors.

    This ancestor, Jechonias, is mentioned in Matthew 1:11-12. He is also referred to as Coniah in Jeremiah 22:24-30. Verse 30 states, “Thus says the Lord, Write you this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” This man was so evil, that God cursed him and his descendants. Jeconiah (as his name is spelled in the Old Testament) did go on to have children (I Chron. 3:17). But, this curse was fulfilled because none of his children went on to rule from the throne of David.

    So how could Christ, a descendant of David, qualify to rule from the throne?

    This is how Luke 3 complements the Matthew account. Luke records Mary’s genealogy. According to Jewish tradition, in marriage, Mary’s genealogy was placed in her husband’s name. The Greek simply records that Joseph was “of Heli” (Luke 3:23). But since Jacob was Joseph’s father (Matt. 1:16), Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli.

    Mary’s lineage did not have this curse as Joseph’s did. And Mary descended from Nathan—one of David’s sons! (see Luke 3:31). God honored Nathan, and made him the ancestor to the promised King—Jesus Christ—who would sit on David’s throne forever (Luke 1:31-33). This fulfills God’s promise of establishing David’s throne for eternity!

    According to Israel’s law, if a daughter were the only heir to the father, she would inherit all his possessions, inheritance and rights—but only if she married within her tribe (Num. 27:1-8; 36:6-8). Since Mary had no brothers who could be heirs to her father, she was able to transmit David’s royal inheritance—and the right to the throne—to her husband upon marriage. This made Joseph heir to Heli, giving him the right to David’s throne. This inheritance was then passed to Christ.

    Joseph’s lineage was also given to show that Jesus was, in fact, born of a virgin. If Joseph had been Christ’s natural father, then Christ could never have sat on the throne of David, because of a curse God placed on one of Joseph’s ancestors."

    January 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
    • doobzz

      Sounds like a plot from the old Dark Shadows series.

      January 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
  11. Science Works

    L4H – Vic – AE – fred and topher too or you know all creationists !

    National Geographic: The Story of Earth HD

    Published on May 5, 2013

    The Earth might seem solid beneath our feet but five billion years ago there was no sign of the planet we call home. Instead there was only a new star and a cloud of dust in our solar system. Over millions of years, a series of violent changes led to the formation of our world and, eventually, the creation of life.

    Cutting-edge imagery also reveals how humans first began to walk on two feet and looks into the future to see what may be in store for our home over the next five billion years.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsn3wpVAcjk&w=640&h=360]

    January 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • AE

      Thanks.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbvDYyoAv9k&w=640&h=360]

      January 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
      • Science Works

        AE surprised you posted a video from Niel with his stance on ID !

        January 6, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
        • AE

          I'm surprised you posted "National Geographic: The Story of Earth HD" as a means to put down Christians, when there is a good chance that actual Christians contributed to the story writing, production, animation and scientific knowledge that went into creating that movie.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
        • Science Works

          Really AE glad you know all the people that worked on the project. By the way wasn't there an editor of the BB that went to work for them ?

          January 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • Cheryl Magnuson

          Oh, big bloody deal, you condescending snot. I'm sure there were Christians in production of NdGT's, video too. What does that prove? Nothing. Same as your assertions of ID.

          Get over yourself.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • AE

          I don't know all the people that worked on it. I couldn't find a credit list. But I guessed there is a very good chance that Christians did contribute to the story since so many work in scientific fields. I'm not sure if a BB editor went to work for them. Maybe he/she worked on this:

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYa9VPVAJI8&w=640&h=360]

          January 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • AE

          Cheryl

          "Science Works" posts off topic science videos at me some times. I have no idea why. I'm trying to figure out what he is talking about. I as.sume he thinks I reject science, because I'm Christian? I really don't know.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          And as Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, there are a minority of Christians (usually of the evangelical protestant persuasion) that do actively reject science.

          Several people who think like that regularly post here.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
        • Science Works

          National Geographic: The Story of Earth (TV 2011) TV Movie – Doc-umentary http://www.imdb.com/ti-tle/tt1985159/

          Category

          Education

          January 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • Bethany

          AE is a disingenuous and wimpy little turd.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
        • AE

          I'm not a GOPer

          And there are also people who think logic and science leads everyone to atheism, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I'm curious, AE. If you believe you know there is a God, something must, in your mind, point to God as a fact. If logic together with perfectly sound science happened to contradict that, which would give way: your belief in God or your belief in logic and science?

          January 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @AE,

          clearly while some people have found that logic and science led them to atheism, it does not have to be true for everyone.

          If someone accepts that evolution is God's plan for the development of his 'creation', that's fine with me – it's a 'reasonable' approach. I will say that young-earth creationism is an absurd notion.

          I don't see any evidence that logic and science leads to theism. The theism comes first (it is axiomatic to the believer) and is then rationalized with logic.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
        • AE

          Tom

          I have yet to meet a human being that is completely logical. But if some man or woman comes along that can demonstrate they are completely logical and have knowledge of a perfectly sound science I might take to heart what they have to say about the existence of God. As long as they don't talk about imaginary teapots.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          But that's the whole point about the teapot – it replicates the religious argument; that's how religions look without the centuries of social acceptance .

          January 6, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Speaking of creationists who reject science, the 800 tickets to the Bill Nye / Ken Ham debate scheduled for February 4 at the Creation Museum in Kentucky have sold out.

        http://www.wdrb.com/story/24373374/800-tickets-to-bill-nie-ken-ham

        Look for this on the belief blog a couple of times between now and the first week of February.

        January 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
      • Vic

        That's a wonderful statement by Neil deGrasse Tyson, fair and balanced.

        January 6, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
    • Vic

      For "Evolution of the Species" to be valid, it requires "the presence of the ancestral fossils prior to the emergence of the first forms of animal life," which are completely missing from Charles Darwin's research and from Evolutionary Biology to date!

      Furthermore, there exists no evidence in the fossil record that any species has ever evolved from another species since no undisputed transitional forms have ever been discovered.

      January 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
      • Science Works

        Vic you might want to read this !

        'Ardi' Skull Reveals Links to Human Lineage

        Jan. 6, 2014 — One of the most hotly debated issues in current human origins research focuses on how the 4.4 million-year-old African species Ardipithecus ramidus is related to the human lineage. "Ardi" was an unusual primate.

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140106160041.htm

        January 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
        • Vic

          Speculation at best. I enjoyed reading the article though. I couldn't help thinking, could Evolution have happened backwards, that is other species have evolved from humans?! The article says that the human cranial base pattern is at least 1 million years earlier than Lucy's, an afarensis.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
        • Science Works

          vic so confirms now = speculation ?
          New research led by Arizona State University paleoanthropologist William Kimbel confirms Ardi's close evolutionary relationship to humans. Kimbel and his collaborators turned to the underside (or base) of a beautifully preserved partial cranium of Ardi. Their study revealed a pattern of similarity that links Ardi to Australopithecus and modern humans, but not to apes.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
  12. kenrick Benjamin

    Hello all, science have found God in the equations of mathematics.

    January 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
    • Observer

      kenrick Benjamin,

      Not exactly. The Bible says that the ratio pi is equal to 3.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • kenrick Benjamin

      Observer- That's because they took it to the closest hole number.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • Topher

      Yeah, I've had this conversation before. An atheist here was complaining that the Bible says pi is 3. So I asked him what it really was. He said 3.14. Then I had to explain how that's not it either and how he was doing the same thing he was complaining the Bible did.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        I don't think the Bible claims pi is a constant at all. In general, there's not much useful mathematics in the Bible.

        January 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
      • Vic

        Simply put, Pi (π) is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle. The most common value approximation used is the two decimal point precision of 3.14 while the actual precision is an infinite series, that is an infinite number of decimal places (3.14159265359...) The point of contention here is who discovered it first.

        Some claim ancient Egyptians but that's not proven. Meanwhile, the Bible clearly mentions that ratio in 1 Kings 7:23 & 2 Chronicles 4:2, that is a circumference of 30 cubits and brim to brim diameter of 10 cubits, hence the ratio 30/10 which equals 3. Now many argue that is a good ballpark for initiating the concept, while others go further by by using a more accurate approximation of the cubit to show a more accurate Pi. At any rate, the mention in Bible is not intended for geometrical accuracy; meanwhile, it is without a doubt an OUTSTANDING record of Pi.

        p.s. Using Hebrew Gematria, the Bible verses about Pi reflect an accurate 3.14 value!

        January 6, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
    • Topher

      Aside from measurements, I can't recall off the top of my head there is any mathematics there. Nor would I expect there to be. I'm not a math textbook.

      January 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • Topher

        * It's not

        January 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
  13. THOR

    Didn't Odin-ism come first?, the oldest belief system invented. Or was it paganism? weren't the latter religious beliefs based somewhat on these the oldest of religions and if so begs the question wasn't the true religion perverted for mans benefit?

    January 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bob Arctor

      You also have to factor in Purple Monkey Dishwasher.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
      • CAW

        It wasn't a purple monkey dishwasher...it was a purple monkey dishSCRUBBER....GEEZ

        January 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
  14. Reality # 2

    Once again:

    Churches for atheists? Give us a break!! It is obvious a money-making con.

    We will see when said "church" files their IRS Form 990 this year.

    January 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
    • ?

      Once again: nobody cares about your repeated copy pastas.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Just curious...what do you think you will see?

      January 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        As with most "non-profit" cons, the founders/CEO will make take at least $200,000 a year from the donations as his/her salary.

        Some infamous con men/women:

        Glen Beck, $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html

        and from guidestar.org (from the posted IRS Form 990s)

        Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.
        Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr
        Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr
        Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr
        Erica Brown $134,221/yr
        Eboo Patel $120,000/yr and his “non-profit’s” investment portfolio of $1.2 million
        Dr. Herb Silverman $100,000/yr. ?
        Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $400,000/yr/ea estimated

        Susan Jacoby ????

        January 7, 2014 at 12:18 am |
  15. Robert Raulerson

    If I have Faith
    The Moon's a Balloon
    Will the Moon
    Be a Ballon?
    No
    It's still Green Cheese
    No matter what
    I Believe.

    January 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
  16. Robert Raulerson

    Testing 1 2 3 ... is this microphone on? Just wanted to see if I'm still allowed to post after ruffling some Xtian feathers earlier today.

    January 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
    • ?

      Go for it. I hear ya.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
      • Robert Raulerson

        I told them the Austrian Corporal with the funny little mustache was an Xtian. They don't like to hear that.

        January 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
        • Hey

          http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/13/weekinreview/word-for-word-case-against-nazis-hitler-s-forces-planned-destroy-german.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

          January 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
        • ?

          Robert:
          No, that's one of the hot button topics they will avoid at all costs.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
        • @Hey

          Doesn't negate the fact that Hitler was a Christian................

          January 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • Hey

          Hitler hated Christianity. He called it a disease and said it was invented by the Jews. He killed pastors and replaced them with Nazi pastors. He replaced the cross on Bibles with a swastika. He rewrote the BIble and created an Aryan, anti-Semitic, non-Jewish Jesus.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • @Hey

          And there are ample examples in AH's writings that state the exact opposite. That he was a devoted Christian. So?

          Can we agree that he was a monster who doesn't reflect the views of EITHER Christianity OR atheism?

          January 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
        • Hey

          I've never stated or implied he was atheist. Just that he hated Christianity.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
        • @Hey

          Must have been at odds with himself, since he repeatedly proclaimed his Christianity throughout his life. Tsk tsk.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
        • Hey

          Most politicians lie.

          January 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
    • fyi

      Robert,

      In case you run into a problem with your posts not appearing, Google "CNN Belief Blog Word Press filter" and look for the list of hints of forbidden word fragments.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
  17. BELIEVE

    you all got it all figured out don't ya. your not getting the right answers because your asking all the wrong questions..its not a matter of proof..its a matter of faith. Your lost, totally in the dark... which most people are these days

    January 6, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • ?

      As long as you're not trying to present faith as truth, I'm good with that.

      As for your other assertion: nonsense.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
    • ME II

      Sorry, who said what the "right answers" were?

      January 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
      • ?

        And what are the right questions?

        January 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
        • ME II

          I only ask the right questions, because the ones I don't ask are the only ones left

          (sorry)

          January 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dippy's Assistant

      You're, not your.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
    • Damocles

      Yes, I figured it out. You're using your incorrectly.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
      • ?

        It's better than the "u r" I see so commonly used here...lol. Although not by much.

        January 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
        • Damocles

          I will agree that 'u r' is worse, but they are both fingernails down chalkboards style irritating.

          January 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
        • ?

          Agreed. Two of my pet peeves.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      BELIEVE
      Your lost, totally in the dark...which most people are these days. Really, I don't know any people like that, do I have to go to church to find some?

      January 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "faith": believing something without a single shred of proof.

      it amazes me that religious folk see this word as a badge of honor while any logical thinking person sees it as a mark of foolishness or insanity.

      quite a disconnect.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
      • AE

        That definition of faith is too simplistic to be adequate in regards to Christian faith.

        January 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Tangible proof. Evidence that exists outside of the believer's mind.

          January 6, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
      • Billy

        "...any logical thinking person sees it as a mark of foolishness or insanity."

        No no no no no no. Bad dog. You've obviously never been involved in mathematics or science if you have never met a logical thinker who happens to have faith in God.

        January 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Using religious faith to find "Truth" is like hunting in the dark for a black cat that isn't there.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:31 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.