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. Calling Dr. James W. Watts, line 3

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 🙂 $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    January 7, 2014 at 8:52 am |
  2. she'sgotthatlookinhereyes

    *+*+ $$$ 🙂

    January 7, 2014 at 8:48 am |
  3. Archibald Smythe Pennington, III

    It's -23F in International Falls, MN. Siberians are probably reading the news and saying the Russian for 'ah – that's nothing'. It's "Winter Dreams" – Symphony #1 of P. Tchaikovsky.


    January 7, 2014 at 8:29 am |
    • laststonecarver

      thanx for the vid/tunes, ASP III

      January 7, 2014 at 8:44 am |
    • guest

      Thank you for posting this wonderful piece of music. It has been a long time since I have just listened to the emotions of good classical music: the kind that a person can just let his imaginations lead him into any situation he pleases from a child chasing a butterfly to making sensational love that carries you high above the clouds. Or it may be a stirring ride in the country with a sudden unexpected rain shower. It could even be a winsome shopping trip for a teenage girl—whatever you please..

      January 7, 2014 at 9:21 am |
    • Doris

      I see Archie has been playing around with my computer again this morning. Maybe his sandwich will need a little extra red pepper in it later.

      January 7, 2014 at 11:00 am |
  4. laststonecarver

    Here is a possible alternate view of the atheist or non-atheist phenomenon –
    Nature is the universe, with all its phenomena –
    Your nature is your inborn or inherent qualities –
    Supernatural and Unnatural are not Natural –
    Be yourself in Nature, and the natural world will become obvious –

    January 7, 2014 at 8:25 am |
  5. Reasonable Doubt...

    If God doesn't exist, then where did life come from?

    January 7, 2014 at 7:51 am |
    • Pastor Jill Follower


      January 7, 2014 at 7:54 am |
      • Reasonable Doubt...

        So you're saying that aliens exist but God doesn't?

        January 7, 2014 at 7:57 am |
        • Pastor Jill Follower

          It was a sarcastic remark aimed at your rhetorical question. If you understood biology and what a billion years means you wouldnt be asking the question. As for whether aliens exist, I cant say they do because I have no evidence they do. If they do exist then they do as a part of the natural world. which makes way more sense than the 2000 year old idea of God.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:52 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          Wow... There's lots of hostile atheists in here. Is that the way that you want to world to see you? Hostile?

          January 7, 2014 at 9:08 am |
        • myweightinwords

          There was nothing hostile in Jill's answer. I think you're reading your own bias into her words.

          January 7, 2014 at 9:22 am |
        • AtheistSteve

          "So you're saying that aliens exist but God doesn't?"

          Given the various known facts then yes I would be more inclined to believe there is alien life. The vastness of the universe and the staggeringly large number of possible favorable environments. The fact that organic molecules are distributed throughout the cosmos and the fact that organic chemistry spawned life very early in Earths geologic history suggests it's likely to have occurred wherever else the conditions allow. Don't be fooled into thinking that only an intelligent lifeform would qualify as alien. A microbe is an alien lifeform if it originated anywhere other than Earth. In fact if we ever discover life on any other the other planets in the solar system, like in the sub ice oceans of Europa then the prospect of alien life elsewhere in the universe would be an almost forgone conclusion. The universe is probably teeming with life. Intelligent life like ours may be rare or even unique but that still doesn't point to a deity.

          January 7, 2014 at 10:33 am |
      • JWT

        Aliens would be more likely than any of the gods.

        January 7, 2014 at 9:21 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There is a Chinese creation myth that says the ancestors of mankind were the fleas and lice on the body of the God Pan Gu.
      In the beginning, Pan Gu escaped from the great universal egg by cracking it open with a broadaxe. The light part of the yolk floated up and became the heavens while the cold, hard part stayed below to form earth with Pan Gu standing between them like a pillar to keep the separated. When He died, His breath became the wind and clouds, His voice thunder, His eyes the sun and the moon, his beard and hair turned to the stars in the sky, His blood the water. His veins became roads and his muscles fertile land.

      January 7, 2014 at 7:56 am |
      • Reasonable Doubt...

        Thank you for your sarcastic remark, but I was asking in sincerity. You would make a horrible teacher.

        January 7, 2014 at 7:59 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          My remark is meant to highlight the fact that every religion has it's own creation myth.
          As they are all unique and, for all intents and purposes, undisprovable, none is more or less valid that the other.
          The question of abiogenesis is a profound one to which we haven't yet discovered any solid answers.
          The seeds of terrestrial life may have come from space.
          Ja.panese scientists sealed up Bacillus subtilis spores and other various organisms in a vacuum chamber and simulated the conditions of space exposure over a period of 250 years. In the end. half the sample survived.
          So maybe the Star Trek "founder" theory is correct!
          J. Craig Venter, the geneticist who decoded the human genome, has been absorbed in the study of virii for a number of years. He has discovered millions of new viruses – but perhaps the most interesting is the Mimi virus which mimics certain bacterial life. Mimivirus is so much more genetically complex than all previously known viruses, not to mention a number of bacteria, that it throwing our whole conception of the branching "tree of life" into disarray.
          It has proven that some viruses have an ancestor that was much more complex than they are now. The Mimi virus is at least as old as the other branches of life, which strongly suggests that viruses were involved very early on in the evolutionary emergence of life.
          It is a kind of "missing link" in the study of life's emergence, demonstrating how nucleated cells first appeared.

          So the long and short of it is that we don't yet know anything for sure, but we're accu/mulating data at a fantastic pace in our investigations. As we discover more and more about the natural processes involved in the development of biological life, the less feasible the Creator god hyopthesis becomes – not the least of which is the anthropocentric Abrahamic God.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:19 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          "So the long and short of it is that we don't yet know anything for sure"
          Gotcha... So as long as "we don't know" then God remains as good of an explanation, and carries as much validity as any other theory, right?

          January 7, 2014 at 8:23 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          I still have a reasonable doubt in the doubt of God's existence.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:25 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          So you pretty well ignored the entire passage, save that one line.
          The greatest problem with the Creator god hypothesis, aside from it being completely untestable, is that you fall into a loop of infinite regression. What created the Creator, and so on ad infinitum.

          As for the Genesis account being taken as literal fact – well, I hope you don't believe that females are rib-clones spawned from a male made of dirt and clay 6,000 years ago. That, at least, has been falsified.
          Be wary of the "God of the gaps" – becuase the gaps into which the God hypothesis can fit get smaller with every new scientific discovery.
          Religion was born to serve the same purpose as science; it answered questions about the world and how it worked. Religion was the first symptom of our sentience, of our consciousness and of our acknowledgement of our own subjectivity.
          But now, we've managed to describe, well, almost everything, in physical terms. We've even managed to explain a great deal, too. God, well, he and his kin have been relegated by science to the very beginning of time, the exact moment of the big bang, when all the matter in the Universe was concentrated into one minute area. Everything after that time is accounted for by physics, if only in a general way. And even then, God seems highly improbable. Science says that God is irrelevant to everything we do and everything we are; that means we have to work to make everything we do and everythig we are relevant; and that's hard.
          Religion is an impossiblity our mind allows because it makes us feel safe.
          Religion is the cave-man instinct that comes upon us when we're confronted by something we don't understand.
          Religion is the emotion that precedes thought.
          The world doesn't work how we want it to work. The world is. We can only describe it, and chronicle its workings. God is an explanation for the reason behind the Universe's existence, something which is unknowable and has no relation to what happens in the Universe.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:32 am |
        • truthprevails1

          "So as long as "we don't know" then God remains as good of an explanation, and carries as much validity as any other theory, right"

          No, that is plugging an unknown into an unknown..the God of the Gaps argument. It is more honest to admit to not knowing than to do what you did. Not knowing leads to more questions; using the God of the Gaps argument stops all questions, wrongfully at that. If you want to use that argument then you'll need to provide the evidence that that god exists and which god it is you believe is responsible because based on all the evidence we do have (evidence that is substantiated and peer-reviewed), we know the christian god couldn't possibly exist.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:36 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          No, I read your whole post, I just don't agree with you. Maybe you're not used to that sort of thing, I don't know...

          As long as atheism requires you to believe that life can come from non-life, then it is a ridiculous position, and although it may be a statement of a disbelief in any deity, it is in fact a belief system.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:41 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          To believe that life can come from non-life is to say that it is possible that if you step on an ant, life can come out of that puddle of goo if you heat it to the right temperature and infuse it with the right type of air...

          January 7, 2014 at 8:43 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          "using the God of the Gaps argument stops all questions, wrongfully at that."
          If you don't know, then how can you be certain that the "God hypothesis" is wrong? Answer? You can't be certain.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:45 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Reasonable doubt
          Atheism is a negative statement – it is not a belief system. It doesn't "require" anything at all other than the lack of belief in gods.
          The term describes only what one does NOT believe.
          It is akin to calling the singer in a band the "a-instrumentalist". The term is technically correct, but it only described what they don't do.
          Naturalism is a term to describe what I DO believe.
          If you want to believe in a Creator god, that's just fine – but now the question becomes which one?
          Zeus, Odin, Quetzlcoatl, Pan Gu, Izanagi, Ra.... or one of the countless others in which men have put their faith throughout history?

          January 7, 2014 at 8:55 am |
        • truthprevails1

          If you don't know then why bother using a god?? It is much better to be honest and continue to search for answers than to plug an unknown into it and be satisfied. Once again, which god are you referring to? As previously stated the christian god is highly unlikely given that the only book written has been proven wrong time and time again.
          Your lack of comprehension of how evolution works and how our universe was created only indicates your lack of knowledge and severe need for an education outside of your church.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:55 am |
        • Charm Quark

          You seem to be bouncing around a bit. If life can come from non life begs the question. "How did gods come from nothing?" Of course they, the pantheon of gods, came from the imaginations of man. You should really go and research the many creation myths, Doc provided just another of many far fetched creation myths. Man is pretty good about making up stories about that which he can not understand, man made the gods not the other way around. As to how life can be created from non life science is getting much closer to providing the answer.

          January 7, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • Reasonable Doubt...

          I didn't say which one... You did.
          All I'm sayin' is that there remains a reasonable doubt in doubt. There is no certainty in uncertainty.

          And I DO understand evolution... Well, as much as a college graduate can that is... But evolution doesn't say anything about where life originally came from. And as for a scientific explanation, all we have are GUESSES...

          January 7, 2014 at 9:06 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Although I have little expertise in abiogenesis it is quite easy to find information on the web. For example the earliest signs of life are now estimated to be 3.7 billion years ago, fascinating right? It has also been discovered recently that RNA, the building blocks of DNA, have been found in clouds of dust around young stars and that this material would be part of a new planets composition, fascinating right? BTW as a modern day Deist I do not dismiss a Deity but It could be a natural cause not some supernatural being that most creation myths claim.

          January 7, 2014 at 9:20 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          If by "guesses" you mean hypotheses, there are a number of abiogenesis hypotheses – but there are also a number of theories.
          A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true.
          In general, a scientific theory is accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole and used to make predictions of events.
          For example, in the mid 20th century, Dr. Sidney Fox synthesized amino acids, the basic building blocks of organic life, from inorganic compounds and thermal energy. What he made have been dubbed "protobionts". Protobionts exhibit some of the properties associated with life, including simple reproduction, metabolism, and excitability, as well as the maintenance of an internal chemical environment different from that of their surroundings.
          You can read more about it by searching his paper, "Thermal Copolymerization of Amino Acids to a Product Resembling Protein"

          January 7, 2014 at 9:21 am |
        • myweightinwords

          There was nothing sarcastic in Doc's answer either. Maybe you should look at your own motivations before you respond to comments.

          January 7, 2014 at 9:23 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Reasonable Doubt: You started out by implying a god is responsible. I am asking which one. I merely mentioned that it is highly unlikely it is the christian god.
          Having doubt is what makes for more questions. You seem rather sure that it is a god just by your implications.
          I don't know is a more reasonable answer than implying it might have been a god.

          January 7, 2014 at 9:55 am |
        • Alias

          @reasonable doubt
          Try to consider that all religions have a story about creation.
          You discarded Pan Gu without a second thought. You would probably also discard every other creation story, but you fail to see that if you hadn't been told the biblical account from a very young age it would sound just as stupid as all the rest.
          When I see nothing but stupid explanations, I look to science for a reasonable explanation. Just because science hasn't found the answer yet, that is not a reason to pick some religoin and start claiming their stupid story is reasonable.

          January 7, 2014 at 10:29 am |
        • Doris

          Notice: I will attempt, if here, to respond to any who post a reply. No one will be intentionally ignored.

          @RD: Isn't there already a track record for science explaining many of yesterday's myths? Even though current hypotheses for any given mystery may be off target, isn't it most reasonable then that mysteries facing us now and in the future, if explainable at all, are likely to some day be explained by science in some way?

          January 7, 2014 at 10:46 am |
        • Barcs

          "As long as atheism requires you to believe that life can come from non-life, then it is a ridiculous position, and although it may be a statement of a disbelief in any deity, it is in fact a belief system."

          The problem with that extremely generalizing statement about non life coming from life is that there is no set definition for life. What is the cut off? Viruses? Bacteria? DNA? RNA? Amino Acids? You can go through the whole list of what came from what, but if you can't define what qualifies as life, you will go nowhere. Abiogenesis is about how single basic cells arose from the basic building blocks, something that most likely only happened once, 4 billion years ago. It's an incredibly complex study. Experiments have proven that amino acids can be formed from comet impacts. Experiments have also proven that amino acids in the right environments can form into a few parts of RNA. Sure these are only 2-3 steps in a process that probably involves thousands of steps, maybe millions, but it still counts as evidence. That evidence is still more than ANY for god, so to call abiogenesis a ridiculous proposition while at the same time claiming god did it is absurd. They aren't on equal footing in the least. God has NO tangible evidence whatsoever. Abiogenesis has multiple experiments that have duplicated a few parts of the process. Just because you can't wrap your mind around it, doesn't make it ridiculous.

          And no, atheism is NOT a belief system as there is no SYSTEM. There is only lack of one belief. Atheists can have tons of different beliefs or belief systems, it's not just one system called atheism. Ask an atheist what he DOES belief, not what he doesn't. I don't call myself an a-unicornist who follows the system of a-unicornism just because I don't believe in unicorns.

          January 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      The question itself is flawed. The question should read "where did life come from?" The addition of "if God doesn't exist .. " is irrelevent. It's no different than asking "if Trolls riding unicorns don't exist, where did life come from". You nullify your own question by implying the answer you want. Which then implies the obvious next question of "where did God(s) come from?"

      Not having an answer does not mean "God(s)" wins ... it just means we are ALL still asking that question.

      January 7, 2014 at 10:25 am |
    • Barcs

      If the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist, then where did life come from?

      January 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
    • WC

      Which god are you talking about? Zeus? Thor? Shiva?

      January 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  6. Gollum

    Animal Farm II

    January 7, 2014 at 6:16 am |
    • Science Works

      The ORIGINS of the animal farm with fossils .

      New Fossils Shed Light On the Origins of Lions, Tigers, and Bears

      Jan. 6, 2014 — New fossils from Belgium have shed light on the origin of some of the most well-known, and well-loved, modern mammals. Cats and dogs, as well as other carnivorous mammals (like bears, seals, and weasels), taxonomically called 'carnivoraformes', trace their ancestry to primitive carnivorous mammals dating back to 55 million years ago (the beginning of the time period called the Eocene).


      January 7, 2014 at 7:03 am |
  7. saggyroy

    As an atheist I don't think I would join. On the other hand it might help to start lending some weight to influencing public policy.

    January 7, 2014 at 5:34 am |
    • A double minded man is tipsy and flunks the field sobriety test.


      January 7, 2014 at 5:49 am |
  8. suesista

    What's the official term for someone who simply doesn't give a hoot?

    January 7, 2014 at 1:25 am |
    • doobzz

      A mute owl?

      January 7, 2014 at 1:33 am |
    • Piccolo

      A slim shady?

      January 7, 2014 at 2:20 am |
    • saggyroy

      A doesntgivahooter ?

      January 7, 2014 at 5:33 am |
      • tallulah13

        I vote for this one.

        January 7, 2014 at 9:09 am |
    • devin


      January 7, 2014 at 6:34 am |
    • G to the T


      January 7, 2014 at 8:00 am |
    • no

      A non-thinker.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
      • Former Xtian

        You can still be a thinker and not care about BS.

        January 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • authorextraordinaire

          Thinking is very important. It takes us beyond knowing when not to walk off a cliff to learning how to cross–or avoid the cliff, and if we want to cross it or not–and WHY you make the choice. Associate with people who are thinkers, studiers, doers...

          January 22, 2014 at 9:54 am |
  9. Reality # 2

    No atheist church needed or desired: The following is quite sufficient.

    Only for the new members of this blog-

    The Apostles' / Agnostics’/Atheists' Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (References used are available upon request.)

    January 7, 2014 at 12:22 am |
    • Rajinder Nijjhar

      Hi Brethren,

      Jesus came to create a Universal Brotherhood in which we have One Father and we are all Brethren representing our Father in His Nature of goodness but the crook people loved Mammon as even today you have cheats in the society. So, True Salt of Jesus are very Few, One in a thousand and two in ten thousand foretold by Christ Thomas, a Twin-Brother of Jesus, the Christ.

      January 7, 2014 at 5:36 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Jesus had a twin-brother? Where can this information be found in your bible or better yet in any substantiated peer-reviewed documents?

        January 7, 2014 at 6:15 am |
        • Rajinder Nijjhar


          Jesus is my Anointed Elder Brother as we have One Father.

          January 7, 2014 at 6:45 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Wow, that was a line right our of the pages of an asylum. You may wish to believe that but not all are so gullible.
          Now care to answer my original questions?? Or simply admit that you can't provide the evidence as requested.

          January 7, 2014 at 6:55 am |
  10. No Big deal

    I would rather keep my faith within myself. Most religion promotes goodwill towards mankind thou.. so no big deal for the new cult or religion as long as it will do the same.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
  11. No Name

    Guise, did you know that atheism has been a religion this whole time and atheists have lied to us about it? Spread the truth, atheism is a religious cult!! LOL!!! In your face atheists!!

    January 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
    • No Brain

      U b so right atheism is a religious cult!

      January 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
    • Piccolo

      Oh yeah? Surely you can cite some of the scriptures and atheistic cult rituals for us. Is it any creepier than pretending to eat a man's flesh and drink his blood? Christians need to step outside the box and look at themselves and examine what exactly they are practicing here. Eating human flesh and drinking blood? I mean really? What kind of demonic rituals are you guys really practicing here? That's what's going to get you closer to god? I mean come on. If I started a religion based on eating flesh and drinking blood It would be instantly labeled a loony cult. But for Christians, they've been doing it since birth so they don't even think about. This is why I like the new pope. He doesn't care about traditions and rituals he cares about good deeds, which is what Jesus taught and what Christianity is SUPPOSED to be about.

      January 7, 2014 at 2:04 am |
      • Logical Default

        Christianity is definitely a cult. It just happens to be the largest cult in the world, so nobody realizes it.

        January 7, 2014 at 2:06 am |
      • #atheismisacult

        They perform their God hate ritual here on CNN Belief blogs.

        January 7, 2014 at 4:23 am |
        • Brainwashed Christians

          Can't hate something that doesn't exsist numskull.

          January 7, 2014 at 8:41 am |
  12. devin

    Belief in a Supreme Being/Creator is simply innate. You can deny the fact, reject the fact, manipulate the fact, whatever. What you cannot do is change the fact.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      When you do, you'll be the first to present facts to support your assertion.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
      • devin

        I imagine you fall into the categories of deny, reject and manipulate.

        January 7, 2014 at 12:17 am |
    • No Brain

      Belief in a Supreme Being/Creator is simply inane.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      If it's innate, then why are 90% of religious folks indoctrinated into their faiths? It doesn't come naturally, it is forced on young kids.

      January 7, 2014 at 1:22 am |
      • devin

        Specific faiths and innate belief in a creator are two different animals.

        January 7, 2014 at 1:27 am |
        • Former Xtian

          Regardless, almost all creator based religions are spread via indoctrination, so calling them innate is false. Innate means that it is natural or already in you, like an innate ability to write music. If belief in a creator was actually innate, then nobody would ever have to be indoctrinated, they'd just know, but this isn't the case. Humans are just inquisitive creatures that want an answer for everything and if they don't know it, they'll fill the gaps with whichever deity they feel best describes it. That's why it started polytheistic in the most primitive societies and eventually became monotheistic when people started understanding how things work in the world. Originally gods were believed to control all facets of nature and the world, but the more people learned, the less necessary they all became. People still wanted to believe, so they reformed it to one god.

          January 7, 2014 at 2:15 am |
        • devin

          You are right in that the issue is one of indoctrination, unfortunately you have it reversed.

          January 7, 2014 at 4:09 am |
        • Former Xtian

          Which part do I have reversed?

          January 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • devin

          It's the belief that there is no creator that needs to be instilled and cultivated in a human being. It is only the indoctrination of unbelief that brings one to deny the existence of a Supreme Being.

          January 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
        • Former Xtian

          That doesn't make the least bit of sense. There is no indoctrination of non belief. You simply don't believe something and that's the end of it. Look at my name, I was raised Christian. I wasn't indoctrinated into non belief. When I grew up, I stepped back and analyzed the evidence and saw no reason TO believe and no reason to suggest that Christianity or the bible is the one true way. It wasn't a doctrine, it was me using my 'god given' brain and scrutinizing what I believed. How can you blame me for that when god supposedly gave me the brain to make this determination?

          There are dozens of belief systems, how is it possible to determine which one is correct? Sure you can just blindly believe it because you were taught it as a kid, but that's what millions across the world do for lots of different religions and they will all say the same thing. They say that it is based on faith, but that's not true in most cases. It based on indoctrination at a young impressionable age developing an emotional psychological connection to that particular belief system. Most religious folk follow their beliefs because of the location they were born it. We are a product of our genetics and environment. There a reason that isolated tribes in Africa have never heard of god or Jesus. It is simply not an innate thing and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it is.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:28 am |
        • Rajinder Nijjhar

          Hi Brethren,

          Yes. Most Africans compared with the people of the West are open-minded and they want to know things on logical basis. That is the right way as logical reasoning leads to Logos, His Word. I have learnt Christianity through logical reasoning and when I ask questions to the people of Books at Universities, they cannot think logically and cut a sorry finger.

          Take for example, Allah is from Ilah, the tribal father and Al-Ilah is our The Father, Allah. Now, Allah is Spirit and the Primary Source of Light, the Sun and He is Shariah-Free otherwise he would be bound by the Shariah Laws and not a Free Person. So, Shariah does not from Allah but from Mullahs, the Moons if they have the Light of Allah in them. John, the Baptist was a typical Mullah, a Moon that is witness to the Light but not the Light. So, this Islam of Moon and Star is not of Allah in which you do INSHALLAH without being forced by Mullah's Shariah Laws called INSHMULLAH. I have explained this in my over 3400 Youtube Videos, channel nijjhar1.

          Most of the people are indoctrinated with the result that they are fanatics creating sectarian riots as in Egypt where Morsi is the son of the most high Satan, al-djmar al-aksa. Mullahs and other religious leaders are also sons of most high Satan as in Jesus, we need to be solitary in order to seek the Narrow Gate of our New Covenant.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:19 am |
        • Former Xtian

          That's certainly an interesting perspective. Thanks.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:00 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      “If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”

      – Penn Jillette

      January 7, 2014 at 8:01 am |
  13. Hell was made for bad angels. Morons get there by choice.

    ### 🙂 ###

    January 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
  14. Vic

    Late in the game of an earlier discussion:


    January 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm |
  15. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    For communion I suggest Captain Crunch. Not that Captain Crunch signifies the body of anything, it's just that it stays crunchy longer than anything else. Perhaps cognac for the other element, or maybe scotch.

    January 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      Get me some dark aged Irish whiskey and I'll bless the hell outta that!

      January 7, 2014 at 1:24 am |
  16. Andres Torres

    The Sunday Assembly is a Humanist cult and has betrayed the fundamentals of Atheism! "Get out of her you people, lest you share in her sins!!!"

    January 6, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The wages of sin is... what? Stale biscuits?

      January 6, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
      • devin

        Irregardless of your age, you will have your answer in a relatively short time.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:36 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          More baseless assertions.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
        • Dippy's guardian angel

          irregardless is not a word

          January 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm |
        • devin

          You must be Dippy's fallen angel. It is a word, and more precisely it is an adverb.

          January 7, 2014 at 12:15 am |
        • Observer


          "irregardless" = "ir" + "regardless" which make "not" + "regardless" which cancel leaving "regard" which is not what was meant.

          Look up the word "regardless" for comparison.

          January 7, 2014 at 1:37 am |
        • devin


          Irregardless, it's still a word.

          January 7, 2014 at 3:57 am |
        • Webby


          Ok, and "ain't" is a word too - it's just not standard English.

          January 7, 2014 at 4:01 am |
        • truthprevails1

          No devin, you are wrong. Learn to use a dictionary or perhaps take a basic English course.

          January 7, 2014 at 4:08 am |
        • devin


          I would suggest consulting a dictionary. While you're at it, look up the term oxymoron and and see how it applies to your username.

          January 7, 2014 at 4:23 am |
        • sam stone

          devin: "sin" is a man made concept that only concerns those who accept that concept.

          emtpy proxy warnings about the punishment for sin do not concern the rest of us

          January 7, 2014 at 5:42 am |
        • devin


          That is equivalent to saying, " Starvation is a man made concept that concerns only those who accept it." Now, you may not "accept" the concept of starvation, but if you don't eat for a prolonged period you will experience it first hand.

          January 7, 2014 at 6:31 am |
        • sam stone

          nonsense, devin. starvation produces quantifiable physiological changes. sin does not.

          January 7, 2014 at 6:46 am |
        • Former Xtian

          You can't just make up new words by adding a prefix to them. Irregardless is NOT a word. It doesn't matter if the prefix is real.

          January 7, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
      • sam stone

        the wages of sin is death. but, after taxes are taken out, you are left with a sort of tired feeling

        January 7, 2014 at 5:37 am |
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About this blog

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