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Can you really 'try on' atheism for a year?
Ryan Bell's "year without God" experiment has drawn a wealth of comments, from scornful to supportive.
January 14th, 2014
01:20 PM ET

Can you really 'try on' atheism for a year?

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Ryan Bell, a one-time Christian pastor, says he didn't expect his yearlong experiment with atheism to get much attention.

"This wasn't intended to be an international journey that was done in public," he told CNN's Brooke Baldwin last Wednesday.

But what began as Bell's personal project has now been covered by NPR, the BBC, Religion News Service, and, of course, here at CNN.

READ MORE: Pastor tries atheism, loses jobs, gains $19,000

It's not just the mainstream media that are along for the ride, either. Dozens of blogs and columnists have weighed in on Bell's "Year Without God," with responses ranging from support to skepticism to scorn.

Sikivu Hutchinson, a writer who has criticized the lack of racial diversity in the the atheist community, called Bell's foray into atheism "secular tourism."

"Bell joins a jam-packed, largely white, mostly Christian cottage industry of religious leaders who are capitalizing off of untapped reserves of atheist dollars, adulation and publicity by jumping onto the 'maverick ex-pastor' bandwagon," Hutchinson wrote in a recent blog post.

PZ Myers, an American scientist and prolific blogger on atheism, echoed Hutchinson's comments, and called Bell's experiment "simply ridiculous."

"It’s not a set of superficial practices, it’s a mindset," Myers said of atheism. "What’s he going to do at the end of the year, erase his brain?"

Since the responses have been so varied - and so interesting - we wanted to know what other thinkers and scholars have to say about Bell's experiment with atheism.

In short, we asked a whole bunch of smart folks if it's really possible to "try" atheism for a year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we got a wide variety of answers (The old adage about "three rabbis, four opinions" seems to apply to atheists as well.)

Some of these submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

Catherine Dunphy, executive director of The Clergy Project 

It would be accurate to say that some of our members tried similar experiments, though in a much less public fashion and for a shorter period of time before leaving their faith.

For myself, it was in stages. First, I decided to just stop praying and see what would happen.  Then I stopped going to church, and finally I decided that the idea of God just didn't make sense.

It was like learning to swim with "water wings." Eventually I realized I could float all by myself.

Testing the atheism waters, is in many ways an intellectual process but it is also intrinsically linked to emotion. God is often seen as a surrogate parent, a protector, a supporter. Untangling oneself from this type of over arching narrative is never easy.

Bell should be applauded for his attempt to ask the hard questions. Whether he'll be a theist or atheist on the other side of this journey, I don't know. But it is a good thing that he is wondering.

Penny Edgell, sociology professor, University of Minnesota 

What Bell is doing makes a sense if you remember that it is through daily practice that we become the people we are.  Meditation, daily prayers and devotions ... these are how people become Christian, Muslim, a believer of any kind.

And it's not just religion; there are all kinds of practical, self-help guides to being a better mom, a better husband, a more passionate lover, etc., all of which focus on doing the things that a better mom, husband, or lover would do until you a) feel more momly, husbandly, loverly feelings and b) it becomes a habit to act in the appropriate role-enhancing way.

So there is no reason to be skeptical about Bell's experiment.  Quite the opposite - it may work, and more profoundly than he anticipates.  A year is a long time, and if he really spends that year doing the things an atheist would do, he may not only act like an atheist, but feel like one, and in that union of action and feeling, find that he has become one.

Paul Fidalgo, spokesman, Center for Inquiry 

I think there is at least potential for profound personal and political implications to the discoveries Bell may make in his experiment.

Many people in times of crisis put a great deal of hope in the idea that God will come through, or execute a plan that makes sense of it all. But what happens when the mental and emotional energy that goes into prayer and wishing were put toward something more concrete?

Bell’s experiment won’t settle the religion-versus-nonreligion debate by any stretch of the imagination.

But he might help us to understand what powers we sacrifice when we spend less of ourselves on entreaties to an unknowable being, and direct those energies toward dealing with the real world, as it is, right now.

Dale McGowan, author of "Parenting Beyond Belief" and "Atheism for Dummies"

Trying atheism is not only possible, it’s a very common step out of religious belief. The comedian and author Julia Sweeney called it “putting on the No-God glasses” to see what the world looks like when you stop assuming a god is running things.

A lot depends on how serious and honest someone is in the experiment. There’s a tendency to scramble back to old explanations at the first snap of a twig or the first feeling of wonder.

But those whose will to know is stronger than the will to believe usually find their way out. And when they do, the most common emotion they describe isn’t the anguish and despair they were told to expect — it’s freedom and relief.

Dave Muscato, spokesman, American Atheists 

I think what Ryan Bell is doing is a great thing. It's important to try to see other points of view so that you can have a better understanding of why other people don't believe the same things that you do. I don't think it's quite possible to try on the absence of belief the way he's intending to, though.

If Bell has made the choice to drop faith in superstition in favor of what the evidence shows, then he can understand the atheist experience. If he is holding on, he's not doing what an atheist does. He's simply not practicing his religion. I would say that a better name for this would be a lapsed Christian, not an atheist.

An atheist is an active role, not a passive one. We don't simply stop reading the Bible and stop praying and stop going to church. We love the process of learning and exploring answers.

Instead of resorting to "God did it," atheists are comfortable saying "I don't know, but I'm going to find out." That's where the fun starts; it means we're on the right path to finding the real answers to our questions.

David Myers, professor of psychology, Hope College 

In my book, "A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists," I quote the Christian author C. S. Lewis:

"Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all [these doubts] in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.”

Indeed, psychological science confirms that attitudes and beliefs tend to follow behavior.  Act as if you believe—or don’t—and in time your beliefs may shift toward your actions.

Mitchell Stephens, author, "Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World"

I admit to being uncomfortable with the notion of “trying” atheism.

Can you try to have a conviction? And atheism, unlike religion, is not something that is simply accepted on faith. It presumes to be the result of reasoning and investigation. Limiting the experiment to a year also seems a bit artificial: that reasoning and investigation should never end.

Perhaps by “trying,” however, Bell means allowing yourself to be open to arguments that challenge your convictions. That certainly is noble. And the reading list of atheists and some of the West’s great questioners Bell has assigned himself is impressive. I would hope that nonbelievers would be as eager to confront the ideas of Kierkegaard or Dostoevsky.

Doubt, too, is noble. Surely, there is enough of it recorded in the gospels. Bell deserves credit for exploring rather than suppressing his doubts. He seems a thoughtful and courageous man. It is easy to imagine this being a rich and rewarding year – or lifetime.

It is a shame that some of Bell’s co-religionists are not better able to tolerate this exercise in openness and doubt. Perhaps that is one of the limitations of resting convictions upon faith rather than reasoning and investigation.

Merold Westphal, philosophy professor, Fordham University 

I think it is possible to "try" either atheistic unbelief or theistic belief to see if it "fits" in the sense of doing the practices that go with the position - praying or not praying, going to church or not going to church, reading the Bible or not reading the Bible, etc.

But I very much doubt that it is possible to suspend belief in the sense Bell suggested.

We do get caught up in the world of a movie and feel, for example, real anxiety. But then someone coughs or talks and we remember that what we are watching and hearing is fiction and the real world is the one where I'm sitting in a theater. We haven't ceased to believe, and the sense in which we have temporarily suspended belief (for an hour or two, not for a year) depends on powerful external  aids.  I'm not sure ceasing the practices of faith can have the same result, especially over so long a time.

Lauren Anderson Youngblood, spokesperson, Secular Coalition for America  

I'm not exactly sure how you would "try" it, because atheism is not a religion with rituals and obligations (attending church, fasting, not eating pork, etc).

Either you believe or don't believe. If you're on the fence, I would say you're an agnostic, not "trying" atheism.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Faith • Lost faith • Nones • Spirituality

soundoff (3,260 Responses)
  1. Salero21

    It doesn't take a year to find out that atheism is Total stupidity all over, anywhere everywhere, here there, anytime all the time every single time and forevermore. Is in the Bible and it only take a few seconds to read it! 😀 It was written more than 2,500 years ago.

    Psalm 14:1The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."
    Psalm 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God,"...

    January 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
    • Science Works

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      From CNN

      January 15, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
    • bostontola

      Is it impossible to be a fool or stupid if "there is God" is in your heart?

      January 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
      • Austin

        nope we can still be stupid.
        Philippians 2:12 ►

        Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

        ..............we have not always obeyed.

        January 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
        • Bob

          Numbers 31:17-18
          17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
          18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

          Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

          1 Timothy 2:11
          "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

          Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

          Leviticus 25
          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
          45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
          46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

          Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

          And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

          So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

          Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
          Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
          http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

          January 15, 2014 at 7:09 pm |
  2. Reality # 2

    "Death's Debt is Paid in
    Full

    Death's debt is then and there

    Paid down by dying men;

    But it is a promise bare

    That they shall rise again. "

    Al-Ma'arri

    January 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  3. bostontola

    An omniscient being would know everything that ever happened, down to the state vectors of every particle in the universe. Same thing for everything that ever will happen. Every choice we will make, etc.

    If that were true, there would be absolutely no purpose to the physical universe or to us. It has all already happened in the mind of this omniscient being.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • JWilliams

      An omniscient being may just know all there is to know. It may not know what the future holds, because that knowledge isn't available yet.

      January 15, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
      • bostontola

        Omniscient means knows everything. If you know everything now, you know the future also because it is omnipotent (infinite computing power).

        January 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
        • JWilliams

          Or that being only knows all that there is to know. And the future is an unknown.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          How could a being who knows every position of every subatomic particle and its direction and spin not know where they will be in the next instant?

          January 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • bostontola

          Cpt,
          According to our physics, it would know.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
      • bostontola

        Do you think the future is beyond God? If God only knows the past and the past is finite, then God's knowledge is finite. The Calvanist business of God chooses to limit his own knowledge smacks of rationalization, doesn't it?

        January 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        How could a being who knows every position of every subatomic particle and its direction and spin not know where they will be in the next instant?

        January 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      He could make a teleporter. That would be cool.

      But then according to Xtian tradition, he did.

      January 15, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
    • Russ

      @ bostontola: exactly to the contrary, the purpose would be accountable to whatever this omniscient Being said, thought, wanted, etc.

      along these lines, you might want to google "Calvinism" or "Reformed" – a branch of Christianity that stresses the sovereignty of God. note well: they come to the exact opposite conclusion from you based on your premise.

      January 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
      • JWilliams

        And can a being that isn't omniscient tell us how an omniscient being must be?

        January 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
        • Russ

          @ JWilliams: as one famous theologian stated in response to Feuerbach's Critique ("all theology is just anthropology" / all talk about God is really just human self-projection): "only God can speak for himself." hence the Christian preoccupation with God's Word as the ultimate authority.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Only you don't have God's word Russ, you have a book written by humans.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
        • bostontola

          You don't have to be omniscient to know what omniscience means. It means you know everything.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ GOP: and why do you preclude that possibility that (as the Bible itself claims) God's Word could come to humanity through human agents?

          "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe." (1 Thess.2:13)

          January 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
      • bostontola

        Russ,
        What do you think (not them)? What is the purpose if it has already played out in totality in God's mind?

        January 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • Russ

          @ bostontola: it seems you assume God is subject to space & time. Christians are not alone in believing otherwise – because if God is answerable to something greater than himself...

          January 15, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • bostontola

          Russ,
          It's exactly the opposite. I am assuming God is beyond space and time (or how could he create the universe which includes time). Given that, God knows everything.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
        • Russ

          @ bostontola: so you should understand, then, that God himself defines the purpose. why are you thinking there is "no purpose" instead of God defining the purpose?

          January 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
        • bostontola

          Russ,
          I'm saying this physical world is totally redundant. In a sense, we already lived and died in God's mind. We already made all our choices, etc. There is no purpose to this re-run.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
        • Russ

          @ bostontola: you are conflating our perspective with the divine one.

          1) again, God is not subject to space and time (as you agreed), but your assertion requires that he is. it's not a re-run, because he's NOT in space & time (a "re-run" would require that the conception of the idea was equally a space-time event or set of events). you are conceiving of history and the sequence of events in time as though God is under it.

          2) within Christianity, the legitimacy of space and time as reality (and not merely an idea in the mind of an evil genius, a la Descartes) is confirmed not only in God's purposeful actions within it, but in Jesus entering into it. the One who created space and time willingly stepped into it for his own purposes – thereby clearly revealing our contingent purposes (in light of who he is & what he did).

          January 15, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • bostontola

          Sorry Russ, I can't follow your logic. I don't see why you think I am conflating worlds (I'm not) or assuming God is in our space-time (I'm not).

          January 15, 2014 at 11:13 pm |
        • Russ

          @ bostontola:
          a) a re-run requires there having been an original "run"... that's *in* time. God stands outside of time. your entire "re-run" argument necessarily presumes otherwise.

          b) "conflating worlds"? no. i said you are conflating God's perspective with ours.

          God can see all at once (since he is utterly transcendent) & has his own purpose. we cannot see everything and our purpose is contingent on him. he is the anchor that gives us purpose – the anti-thesis of your assertion that his sovereignty leaves us without purpose.

          note well: the long-standing argument of Christians (and theists in general) has been that God defines the purpose of existence. along the same lines, in direct contrast, it has been the argument of outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins that the universe is purposeless (and all of life by extension). understand, that's BOTH theists & atheists speaking against your position.

          January 15, 2014 at 11:47 pm |
        • bostontola

          Russ,
          I am agreeing with you, an omniscient God would "see" all time at once. The entire universe for all time at once. Our existence is then redundant.

          The Bible repeatedly tells us that God knows everything. His knowledge, in fact, is “perfect [Job 37:16] and is “beyond measure” [Psa. 147:5]. He sees every move we make, He even knows what we are going to say before we say it [1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9; Psa. 139:1-6; Jer. 17:10; Heb. 4:12-13]. Unlike the false gods of our time, the Lord knows everything: Even what’s going to happen in the future [Isa. 41:21-24; 42:9; 44:7]. Jesus, interestingly enough, also tells us that our heavenly Father numbers the very hairs on our head. By the way, it’s interesting to note that God actually revealed to Isaiah the name of Cyrus even before he was actually born — in fact, one century before he was born. Cyrus, of course, was the king who returned the Jews to their homeland after the Babylonian exile [Isa. 44:28-45:1].

          January 15, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Bostontola: you are making a leap of logic here that i need you to make explicit. it sounds like – by your reasoning – an author can have the whole story in his mind, but the fact that he writes the book makes the book a redundancy?

          again, i think you are conflating categories.

          January 16, 2014 at 10:37 am |
    • lngtrmthnkr

      not quite Boston ,He knows all that will or could happen depending on our actions.All the possibilities of our choises and the results of them. That's why he warns us of the consequences.

      January 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
      • bostontola

        I'll take your word for it, but then your God is not omniscient.

        January 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          why not omniscient?

          January 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
  4. bostontola

    How often do you see a engineer comment on the correctness of a medical procedure? Pretty rare.

    So why does a lay Christian think they can decide what is or isn't good science? Any time an unqualified person critiques a subject you should be very skeptical.

    Almost every biologist on this planet (including the religious ones) considers evolution solid science. Is there plenty of open areas to pursue? Of course, that is still true with gravity. Does that mean that the phenomenon of evolution, including speciation, is doubted by any of these biologists? No.

    Almost every physicist on this planet (including the religious ones) considers Big Bang cosmology solid science. Same comment on the open questions.

    The fact that a person doesn't understand a subject and can ask naive questions about it is not evidence that the phenomenon is false or the theory of the phenomenon is wrong. I encourage questions. The answers to most of those questions is available with a little bit of effort ( a few mouse clicks away). The fact that these naive questions are asked over and over suggests that the person is unwilling to make the effort and/or they don't want to waste their time because they think they already know the answer.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
    • An unenlightened one

      My cousin is a microbiologist, she is also a Christian. On one hand she speaks as a scientist the other a philosopher, they are not the same thing and if you try and mix them you just get the obvious again, nobody can see any gods...including them.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
      • bostontola

        Good points. What does you microbiologist cousin think about evolution, if I might ask?

        January 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
        • No atheism please

          Why is evolution so important to atheists? Is it like a religious thing for atheists who cling to it tightly?

          January 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Evolution is an important principle for understanding much of biology. It is most likely true. People who are religious often try to deny it and prevent it from being taught in our schools.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • No atheism please

          You didn't answer the question tommy boy. Evolution is ONE theory out of all them in existence. Now why only that theory above ALL others? Evolution proves NOTHING that atheists want it to prove. If atheists would stop telling people that it somehow it disproves God(even famous atheists) Evolution means change over time. Maybe atheists should stop making stuff up that mocks and attacks people who aren't atheist.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          You know best what evolution might say about your God. There are believers who accept all of the principles of the modern understanding of evolution. That should indicate that some God beliefs are compatible with it. I don't think it is counter to the possibility that gods or a God exist.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          "Evolution is ONE theory out of all them in existence. Now why only that theory above ALL others?"

          The Christian god is ONE god out of all them in existence. Now why only that god above ALL others?

          Besides, the answer to your question is that evolution and its attendant theories is held in more high esteem than other theories because there is more evidence for it, it explains more, etc.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
        • No atheism please

          Except it doesn't prove more atheists correct and that's why generally most atheists cling to evolution tightly because in their minds it actually does. The atheist version of evolution I do not believe.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Whether evolution is correct or not has no bearing on my atheism. Evolution doesn't prove or disprove atheism. Where did you get this idea? I haven't seen anyone say such a thing.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • bostontola

          Evolution is important to science. All concerned citizens should be worried when a small part of our population want to distort what we teach our children science is. It could degrade our compet.itiveness in the future.

          Evolution is very important to Christians because it brings their literal creation myth into question.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Evolution is a collection of scientific facts into a consistent model. It has NOTHING to do with any god ideas unless your particular god idea doesn't match up with evolution. Then that would be your problem, and not the problem for any folks who believe in god and evolution, or just evolution.

          Obviously.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        It's pretty easy for rational Christians to accept that evolution is "God's plan" for his "creation" to unfold.

        It is Biblical literalism and young earth creationism that is nonsense.

        What I find interesting is the Jewish view of Genesis. It is their creation myth, yet most Jews will happily tell you that they interpret it allegorically. It is fundamentalist Christians who get hung up on literalism.

        They are the laughing stock of the thinking world including most Jews and Muslims.

        January 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
        • bostontola

          Yup.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
        • Austin

          is that a reason to discredit the entire bible? there is no value in a cirriculum that inhibits and discourages spiritual truth and the sin theory.

          doing so is vampire like, vacuum like and an agent of spiritual death.
          rejecting the law of sin as stated in God's narrative of mankind , is a demonic attack like the temptation.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
        • Johnny

          Yes, Austin, it is. Without a literal Adam and Eve the sacrifice of Jesus makes no sense and Christianity falls apart. So if it is proven that Adam and Eve never existed (which for all intents and purposes it has) you can throw out the New Testament pretty much entirely.

          January 16, 2014 at 11:39 am |
  5. Sungrazer

    I've seen comments across several threads that go something like "I/we can't prove non-existence". This might be construed as saying, "I/we can't prove a negative." If so, I want to point out that this is not strictly true. The key consideration is: what is the size of the searchable universe? For example, if I say, "Prove there are no quarters in my right front pocket", it would be a simple matter of you emptying the contents of my right front pocket, because the searchable universe is quite small. The searchable universe in the statement "Prove there is no god" is just too large, and that is normally why people say "You can't prove a negative". Anyway, just something I found interesting when I was first enlightened.

    Also, I think most of the atheists here would agree with me that you CAN prove the non-existence of gods when they are described in specific ways, such as when they're given the incompatible properties of omnibenevolence and omnipotence.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "the incompatible properties of omnibenevolence and omnipotence

      Are a logical paradox which by themseleves do not consti,tute a proof. They cannot coexist in a rational system.

      For them to coexist in a single ent.ty when combined with simple empirical observations about what we see in the world around us an irrational system is required.

      So for believers: Q.E.D.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        In a (logically) possible world logically impossible things cannot occur. God is supposedly a necessary being (present in all possible worlds) and is able to do logically impossible things (miracles). Either God has to go or possible worlds do.

        January 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
        • Rong

          I don't see why you would say that god is required. Seems the possible world could get along without him, this one has done so for several thousand years.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        Or more probably , simply a system we don't completely understand.

        January 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Excellent and accurate statements, all.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • An unenlightened one

      I don't consider myself "enlightened" by the fact that I realize there is nothing at all supporting life after death or any gods at all. In my eyes it's just stating the obvious. I consider myself a bit unhappy with my mortality. I wish I believed in something.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
      • Sungrazer

        By "enlightened", I meant when I was made aware of the "size of the searchable universe" point. I wasn't speaking to (non) belief.

        January 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
        • An unenlightened one

          That makes more sense. Belief strikes me as one of those things a person would have to work pretty hard at getting, or keeping.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Yes. I wish I could remember where I read it, but someone (Dawkins?) made a point that it's not really a "leap of faith". It's not a single leap. It's constant.

          (Man, I could quote the original, since it's so much clearer and more eloquent.)

          January 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        One ,there is a lot of supporting evidence for life after death. There are many neardeath accounts that answer questions about the afterlife .Check out the website (NDE) and read some of the accounts.

        January 15, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
        • Wishful

          I hope you are right. I read those all the time. Though look at DMT, some think these are the brains release of those chemicals. I know, that's bad news but we have to look at it all good and bad.

          January 15, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
        • Dandintac

          I have a few comments regarding Near-Death Experiences (NDEs).

          1) NEAR death is not the same thing as DEATH. The brain is still alive and functioning. No one has ever truly died–brain dead, flatline dead for over 6 minutes and returned to tell about it. So any claim of people "dying and coming back" is false right from the get-go.

          2) These experiences take place when the body and brain is going through a terrible trauma. When this happens, it is common for people to hallucinate. With the brain still functioning, the best explanation is that these NDEs are some sort of dream or hallucination.

          3) Survivors of NDEs often have commonalities, but there are also big differences based on culture and religion. Adherents of a particular religion tend to have NDEs that are consistent with their beliefs. This alone should cast tremendous doubt over whether these NDEs truly have anything to say about any sort of afterlife.

          4) Many claim to have had Out of Body Experiences that accompany the NDE, but there is never hard objective, tested evidence that this indeed occurred.

          5) There is evidence that NDEs are the result of too much CO2 in the bloodstream during cardiac arrest.

          NDEs are NO evidence whatsoever for the existence of a soul, an afterlife, or a God.

          January 15, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Dan,near death is a situation where the soul (spirit) leaves the body at the point of trauma or the instant of heart stoppage by whatever cause. Recently a Doctor had an episode where he had an out of body experience while his brain was shut down by a massive infection. He reported a vivid experience of an encounter of the spirit world very similar to those of other people. He concluded that the experience was real and not chemicaly induced as some say.

          January 16, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • igaftr

          ing
          "near death is a situation where the soul (spirit) leaves the body "

          Opinion. There is no evidence of a soul or a spirit. The accounts of individuals are subjective , and since we know the brain generates many signals, and interprets many signals, you do not know that these experiences were external to a body ( for which there is NO evidence for.
          To say it is a spirit or soul has no evidence to back it up at all, and is only a conclusion based on speculation.

          January 16, 2014 at 11:26 am |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Igaftr, having had one myself,I can state with certainty they are real. However,to you it would only be conjecture,you don't want to believe so you won't.

          January 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
    • JWilliams

      Absolute certainty that there is no God means that one would have to be omniscient.

      That is why I can't say I'm an atheist.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        That means your agnostic, since Gnosticism deals with spiritual knowledge.

        If you don't believe in any gods, then you're an atheist, since if you were a "theist" you'd have a god belief. If you don't have any particular god belief, you're not a "theist," but rather, you're an "atheist."

        Welcome.

        January 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
        • JWilliams

          I'm not atheist. I'm agnostic. Kind of like Einstein in that I believe in some greater power.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Einstein was a deist. Look up Spinoza's God. That is the sort of concept that Einstein preferred.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • JWilliams

          Ya,I guess Einstein was a diest, not agnostic or atheist.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • Observer

          Einstein said that he was an "AGNOSTIC" and that the word "god" was pretty much of a joke.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          JWilliams,

          One can be both an agnostic and an atheist. "I have no certain knowledge of god's existence or non-existence" is agnosticms. "I have no belief in god" is atheism. Most atheists would call themselves agnostic. I know some who insist that everyone, believers and non-believers alike, are agnostics, since none of us know with certainty. That is why I find the label "agnostic" to not be very helpful, since it doesn't tell you much, except that an agnostic is intellectually honest.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • JWilliams

          Einstein said he was not an atheist. He also made a funny joke about "fanatical atheists".

          And then there was this:
          ‘What really makes me angry is that they ['people who say there is no God'] quote me for support of their views.’

          January 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • urnotathinkerareu

          So why in your DISHONESTY didn't you include everything that went with that quote? Here are a few: I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. (Albert Einstein, The World as I See It)...more.......I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbour such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms. (Albert Einstein, obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955)...more...It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954) From Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press.......You "christians will misrepresent everything to try and show support for your UN EVIDENCED poistion. Highly unethical. Show some intellectual honesty for a change. Hypocrites

          January 15, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • JWilliams

          Sun

          I am agnostic. But I'm not an atheist.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Unfortunately, society gets to define words, not an individual. So, if you lack a belief in any gods, you're an Atheist, because if you believed in any gods, you'd be Theist.

          If you claimed to have "spiritual knowledge," then you'd be Gnostic. If you don't claim to posses any spiritual knowledge, then you're an agnostic. You might be an agnostic atheist who does not claim to have any spiritual knowledge AND who does not believe in any gods.

          Sorry you don't like your own language.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • JWilliams

          I'm not an atheist. Nobody in society decides that I'm an atheist. Some guy posting as Cpt Obvious doesn't get to decide that for me either.
          If I had knowledge that there was no deity or God, I would be an atheist. But I don't have that knowledge.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Well, I'm glad you're not calling yourself an atheist since you seem to think you can define words however you want to! Thanks for not spouting that stupidity from the "atheist position."

          Theism and Atheism deal with god belief and the lack of belief in gods. If you lack belief in any gods, you're an atheist regardless of how badly I wish you weren't.

          Gnosticism and Agnosticism deal with spiritual knowledge (which you are describing every time you post about not having all KNOWLEDGE of gods/spiritual realms), so if you lack spiritual knowledge, then you're agnostic, just like me.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
        • JWilliams

          One great agnostic, Albert Einstein, said it best:

          "To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious."

          January 15, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • Dictionary

          ag·nos·tic
          noun \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\

          : a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not

          : a person who does not believe or is unsure of something

          January 15, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          symmetrical (having symmetry)
          asymmetrical (not having symmetry)

          theism (belief in a god)
          atheism (not belief in a god)

          Hint: It's the "a" that does it.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
        • JWilliams

          So someone is either a theist or an atheist? What about polytheism? Autotheism? Pantheism?

          January 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
      • Dandintac

        J, I can't think of a single atheist who has ever claimed absolute certainty that there is no God. So this is narrowing the definition of atheism out of existence basically. I certainly don't claim absolute certainty or knowledge there is no god, but I'm an atheist. I don't believe in a God or gods. I mean that in the same way that I don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster. I don't know for sure if "Nessie" isn't lurking in some dark corner of Loch Ness, but I don't believe she exists.

        Do you believe in a God based on what you know now? Note that I don't ask what you KNOW. That's all an atheist is–just someone who doesn't believe in a god. It's really very simple.

        January 15, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
  6. On trying atheism

    You can't un-ring a bell.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
  7. No atheism please

    Why do many atheists want evolution taught so badly to our children? What does evolution prove to them? Why do they put one theory above all in existence? Answer: those atheists want it taught badly because in their child-like minds, it disproves God and children need to be taught a "fact"! Their version of evolution doesn't exist.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      LOLOLOL. Thanks for that! Comedy gold! LOL

      January 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
    • Bones McCoy

      I guess you can't fix stupid. I HOPE you are being facetious on purpose, because you are making all creationists look bad. Evolution is science, and is rightfully taught in a science class. Intelligent design = NOT SCIENCE. It has nothing to do with atheism. Most Christians today accept evolution, even the last 2 popes! Get out from under that rock.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
      • And

        The Big Bang Theory was fathered by a Catholic priest!

        January 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • bostontola

          The name big bang was fathered by a priest, what is your point?

          January 15, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
        • And

          No point, just a fact.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
      • No atheism please

        Most people don't accept what atheists preach evolution proves. That's why I said the atheist version of evolution is not proven. Learn to read better troll.

        January 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
        • Billy

          No it is comedy gold because most people accept evolution for what it is. Some theists want to tag on more to say it was still all God's doing and then some other theists want to falsify all or part of evolution to satisfy their beliefs.
          There – fixed it for you, troll.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
    • Testing

      Evolution does not prove or disprove God. It is a logical, progressive (time, not ideology) explanation of life on Earth. Evolutionary thought is not exclusive to Atheists. Evolution is nothing more than the change in frequency of genes in a population.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      We want science taught to our children. Math, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and indeed biology.

      You are perfectly free to provide your children with religious instruction in your home or in your church. Just not in public schools.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • igaftr

      "Why do many atheists want evolution taught so badly to our children?"

      We don't...we want it taught well.

      January 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Too funny. Apparently it is being taught badly. If it weren't, fewer than 46% of Americans would believe that God created man less than 10,000 years ago.

        January 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
      • Petra

        You win. 🙂

        January 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
    • Dandintac

      Many theists want evolution taught also, and you don't have to believe evolution to be an atheist. Dr. Ken Miller is Catholic, but he's also an evolutionary biologist, and was a key witness in the Kitzmiller vs Dover trial.

      Basically, evolution is the most important scientific theory in the field of biology, and some would argue the most important scientific theory of all time. It is the core theory of Biology, in much the same way that Plate Techtonics is core to geology, or the Theory of Relativity is a core theory of Physics, or Atomic Theory to Chemistry. A lot of things spring out of it–so much of what we understand in that field–it's like a bush with each branch an understanding, with Evolution as the main trunk.

      Evolution is REAL. It really works, and it is an observable, testable, scientific FACT. And Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection is the best theory that has been put forward to explain the facts of evolution that we observe. There are NO other viable theories at this time that explain life's diversity, change and adaptation. "Intelligent Design" for example, is not science–it is Creationism, basically religion, and ID has produced no testable hypotheses.

      By trying to undercut the teaching and understanding of this vitally important theory, opponents threaten to retard scientific progress in the US and elsewhere. This could have grave implications for the field of Medicine, and other fields that spring from the discipline of Biology.

      If you want to undercut a scientific theory with SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE–hey, no problem, more power to you. Because then you advance our overall understanding. But this is not what is happening–Evolution by Natural Selection is being attacked POLITICALLY because it conflicts with the religious views of some people–which is an entirely different ball game, and presents a hazard to the intellectual welfare and progress of our nation.

      January 15, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
  8. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    "When someone starts a conversation by identifying themselves as a 'Christian', they are about to be an asshole." ~ LET

    January 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
    • A Christian

      How's the weather?

      January 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
      • Science Works

        Colder than Hell and snowing.

        January 15, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
  9. Jake

    I'm thinking of a number between negative infinity and positive infinity. Your chances of guessing that number are the same as the chances that there is a god and that god is what you think it is.

    January 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • I'll bite

      42?

      January 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • Jake

        Sorry, no god. 😦 I'll give you a clue, it's less than 100, but greater than a negative number so big neither of us can comprehend it.

        January 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • I'll bite

          Infinity

          January 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • I'll bite

          Oh wait you said less than 100. Never mind.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
      • bostontola

        Crazy hitchhiker.

        January 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          That's how I read it as well.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
        • Jake

          I'm not following boston. What's this hitchhiker you speak of?

          January 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 42 is the answer to "life, the universe, and everything." Highly recommended series.

          January 15, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
    • Vic

      Evolution is so improbable that it is biologically impossible! Mathematically, anything less probable than 10^49 (another standard is 10^150) IS IMPOSSIBLE! The "evolution of the first living cell" is less probable than 10^4,478,146! Need not mention the probability of every bit of everything else, and all coming together!

      January 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • Jake

        Yeah...but the thing about that is, we already know evolution is true. So, it's actually a probability of 1:1. Your figures are slightly off.

        January 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • Vic

          Evolution of the Species is a hypothesis that is upgraded to a theory at best; it is not repeatable, testable, nor is it empirically proven!

          January 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • Jake

          Let me guess, you were educated in the south?

          In case this isn't clear to you, you should be fully aware that when you deny evolution, most people immediately assume you're an idiot. I am one of those people.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Vic

          Note to the reader:

          The probability math is run for the Evolution of the Species only for the sake of argument; that does not suggest it is logically sound!

          I myself believe Abiogenesis and Evolution of the Species are but fantasies and are NOT POSSIBLE!

          January 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • Piccolo

          Hey Vic, the dark ages called. Give em a call back when you get a chance. They miss you.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • Simba

          Nagger please. You made up the probability math on the spot or copied it from a lying creationist website. Science denial is so 700s.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • Johnny

          Evolution of the Species is a hypothesis that is upgraded to a theory at best; it is not repeatable, testable, nor is it empirically proven!

          Saying something like that only proves that you don't know what a scientific theory is.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "The probability math is run for the Evolution of the Species only for the sake of argument; that does not suggest it is logically sound!"

          The math is completely bogus. Show your work, please.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Jake,
          Before you go picking on the South too much, just remember, it was Yankees that gave us Punkin' Chunkin'

          January 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          you can refute a theory of evolution, like Darwin's theory, or Lamarck's theory, but you can't refute evolution because it's a fact. It is a directly observable fact. There may never be a theory that captures all the modes of evolution, but evolution is a fact.

          Saying you refute evolution is like saying you refute gravity. The Newtonian theory was not completely right, the einstein theory is not completely right, but there is gravity.

          – bostontola

          January 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • exlonghorn

          @Vic

          Vic, you said "Evolution of the Species is a hypothesis that is upgraded to a theory at best; it is not repeatable, testable, nor is it empirically proven!"

          Actually it IS repeatable, testable, and can be empirically proven. In fact, this is the entire foundation of the science of genetics. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics, mutation due to radiation or chemical interaction, etc., is repeatable and can be performed in a lab, and we can confirm through sequencing that the resistance can be observed in changes to the genetic material in the bacteria. J. Craig Venter also has a say in how this microevolutionary change can tie to macroevolutionary change given the proper inputs.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
      • ME II

        @Vic,
        "Mathematically, anything less probable than 10^49 (another standard is 10^150) IS IMPOSSIBLE!"

        Actually no. While such a thing may be some improbably that we can consider it impossible, it is not in fact impossible. Neither of which include evolution.

        "The 'evolution of the first living cell' is less probable than 10^4,478,146!"

        1) Evolution does not cover the origin of life, just the development of life thereafter.
        2) We cannot calculate the probability of abiogenesis, because we don't know enough about it yet.

        January 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • Loving beings do not torture

        Please provide your source for those odds and that equation. Please explain where you got the numbers and how you know odds that scientists all have yet to determine. 😆 Reading something on a creationist website doesn't make it true. Evolution is universally accepted in the scientific community and is based on mountains of evidence. Denying it is like denying the earth goes around the sun. It's obvious and apparent.

        January 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • Vic

          You are asserting at best. Universally accepted does not mean proven!

          The sales of cigarettes are universally accepted and available at almost every convenience store or so, yet, that does not mean cigarettes are any good. Even better, we have the luxury to empirically prove the adversity of cigarettes, and yet, they are still universally accepted, while we cannot possibly empirically prove the Evolution of Species!

          January 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • G to the T

          Vic – you seemed to have missed where he asked you a question: "Please provide your source for those odds and that equation." I would like the references on that as well.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          So you aren't going to source the odds? I figured you'd change the subject to a complete red herring like cigarettes. Guess why people know that cigarettes are not healthy? It begins with SCI and ends with NCE. Now why do you think science is accurate in that case, but not accurate about evolution? Funny, your red herring actually helped me prove my point. I appreciate that.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • Vic

          Cigarettes are testable, repeatable, and empirically provable; Evolution of the Species is NOT!

          January 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          So in other words, you lied about the math, just as we all suspected. Good to know.

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

          Lets start here. Please show me where the evidence is wrong. Evolution has been proven time and time again with fossils, radiometric dating and then later confirmed by genetics with genome mapping. Plus evolution has happened in a lab. Unfortunately you have been indoctrinated into a ridiculous belief system, where you place your faith exclusively on literal interpretation of ancient texts written by humans. In other words, you place your faith in MAN over GOD. When it gets to the point of denying science in favor of a complete guess, it becomes brutally obvious that you are delusional.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Vic

          You are resorting to a defensive mechanism. When I responded to the OP, I did not mention my faith nor based my argument on it. I responded within the perimeters of the OP's premise on probability.

          Continuing on:

          For Evolution 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! Meaning, life DID NOT evolve!

          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 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • Vic

          "..parameters.."

          January 15, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "The sales of cigarettes are universally accepted and available at almost every convenience store or so, yet, that does not mean cigarettes are any good"

          Ridiculous analogy. "good"is a value judgement, not an empirical conclusion. One can certainly judge the existence of cigarettes based on their appearance in most convenience stores.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • Science Works

          Vic
          You might want to read this ,

          As the skeleton comes out of the closet ?

          The Loom:

          How We Got On Land, Bone by Bone
          by Carl Zimmer

          http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/13/how-we-got-on-land-bone-by-bone/

          January 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "For Evolution to be valid, it requires 'the presence of the ancestral fossils prior to the emergence of the first forms of animal life,'"

          Not sure where you got that but it is incorrect, or at least out-of-context because evolution does not address how life first began, only its development after it first began.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • Vic

          You are missing the point!

          Evolution of the Species has NO ANCESTRY!

          January 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • urnotathinkerareu

          Christians have rarely studied the real aspects of Evolution. The only info they have comes from what they hear around the internet and a few generally known statements. They ask atheists to PROVE Evolution by the same methods that informed humanity about evolution and are considered FACTUAL by any serious scientist but when asked to use the same method to prove god they cannot do it......why? because god doesn't exist. It that simple. Faith is faith and not fact. Then they ask us to prove THAT which does not exist. With those types of thinkers leading the charge you are talk to a potato that thinks he is a steak sandwich.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          😆 Typical. When asked to back up your claims you change the subject. When shown actual evidence of evolution you pretend it doesn't exist and instead make up a straw man about what you think evolution has to prove. Not only that but you invoke Charles Darwin, the guy who first suggested evolution before we even had microscopes and millions of fossils that prove it. So that's 3 fallacies and a flat out lie about your math odds. Anything else you'd care to lie about? Now you're suggesting that you aren't a biblical literalist? The only other choice is a Koran literalist. There's no other reason whatsoever to deny evolution, a valid field of science, verified constantly by the folks that spend their lives studying it.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "Evolution of the Species has NO ANCESTRY!"

          Your wording here is odd, since Evolution is a concept and would not have ancestry, per se. Additionally, If a "first" organism is identified, then it would, by definition, not have any ancestors,. however, it also would not have evolved. (at least not in a biological sense. Perhaps a form of chemical descent with modification, but that's a different discussion)

          January 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
        • Vic

          I am a born again Christian Protestant, and I believe in the "Creation" by God, and I totally reject 'Abiogenesis' and the 'Evolution of Species.'

          January 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          That's fine reject what you want, but don't claim what evidence clearly refutes.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • Bones McCoy

          By "evolution of species" what do you mean exactly? Are you referring to the theory of modern synthesis or throwing up some other straw man to distract people?

          January 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          "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."

          It doesn't count if those doing the disputing are religionists. Scientists are indeed debating some transitional fossils. But there are plenty that aren't being debated or disputed by scientists. The evolution of the whale and the evolution of the horse are particularly well demonstrated.

          Also, not only is evolution a fact, it is happening NOW. Why do you think you need a different flu shot each year?

          January 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
        • exlonghorn

          @Vic,

          You said "Cigarettes are testable, repeatable, and empirically provable; Evolution of the Species is NOT!"

          Interestingly, neither are gods and most of the claims of the bible, book of mormon, Koran, Torah, etc.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
      • Madtown

        Evolution is so improbable...
        ---–
        Yet you believe in a literal reading/interpretation of the bible?

        January 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • igaftr

        Vic
        Since you do not have all of the variables, you can not make a mathematical calculation that is accurate. Also, unless mathematically you can get to zero, it is possible.
        I don't know where you studied math, but go get your money back for the class.

        Now...calculate the likelyhood that god exists. Show your work. ( do not even try to say 100%, your math will not bear it out if you are honest, and you will fail)

        January 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Vic

          You cannot prove God empirically, that's a fallacy.

          God is metaphysical, infinite—eternal, and outside the realm of this universe, its beginning and its time.

          The "First Cause" for the existence of the universe and life in it is a LOGICAL MUST.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Johnny

          Vic are there any other things in your life that you believe to exist just because no one has proven that they don't? If not why are you o.k. with doing that when it comes to god?

          January 15, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • igaftr

          Ahhh...back to the first cause...so what was the first cause that caused god to exist?

          Your logic is not.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic
          "You cannot prove God empirically, that's a fallacy."

          Sure I can, all I need is for Him to show up and confirm that He is God. Empirical evidence, done.

          It is not possible to prove non-existence (except through contradiction), but existence just requires verification/observation of one instance of existence.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
      • Christian Crusader

        THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR!!!!

        You do realize that by lying about evolution, you only increase the ammo for the atheists, right? Why couldn't god have used evolution as a tool for creation? He's all powerful right? Why limit his power to playing in the mud and creating a man out of nothing, when the stories are not supposed to be literal! They are supposed to teach you things. I'm a har.dc.ore Christian but you seem to have completely missed the purpose of the bible and what Jesus taught about empathy.

        January 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Vic

          You are being defensive as well while suggesting the faith argument!

          Here it is again:

          For Evolution 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! Meaning, life DID NOT evolve!

          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 15, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "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.'"

          Misleading.
          1) Nothing is completely "undisputed". There's even a Flat Earth society In addition, science is not a popularity contest.
          2) There are many transitional fossils, including Tiktaalik, Ambulocetus, Archaeopteryx , etc. even if you don't want to accept them.
          3) Fossils are not the only evidence; there's also Bio chemical, Biogeographical, Genetic, and experimental evidence.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          "For Evolution to be valid, it requires "the presence of the ancestral fossils prior to the emergence of the first forms of animal life," "

          Can you prove this statement? Please quote me the science book or research paper that defines that as criteria to prove evolution. Obviously you won't because you are only proving you don't have a clue about how science works. Evolution is the changing of life over time via genetic mutations and natural selection. It isn't the study of how life first began. That one is called abiogenesis. If you can't even differentiate between the 2, you have no business coming into a thread a spreading lies about science. Do some actual research, the internet is wonderful because all you have to do is search for "evidence evolution" and you'll find a vast amount of resources and science experiments that undoubted prove genetic mutations and natural selection change species over time. Denial of that is absurd, like denying that the sun provides energy to the earth or claiming that gravity is false.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • igaftr

          vic
          to paraphrse, we have not found some information so it is impossible...same could be said for your god then.

          As far as the fossils go...ALL creatures are the transitional forms since we KNOW evolution is always happening.

          The more you deny it, the more fuel you provide showing the level of willfull ignorance that is possible if one is REALLY good at ignoring the libraries full of data confirming beyond doubt that evolution is still ongoing.

          Why do you keep dodging the god question? What is your calculation for the existance of not just any god but YOUR god? Show your work.

          You claim there HAD to be a "first cause" to the universe, so there must have been a "first cause" for your god, if your logic is correct.
          You can't have it both ways (although in your mind, you have done the mental contortions required to insist it has to be in one case, and it doesn't have to be in the other.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
      • Evolution is a belief

        @Vic, agree, there is no evidence to support the theory of macro evolution.

        It isn’t the fossil record—that supports sudden creation
        It isn’t transitional forms—they are missing
        It isn’t simple basic cells as Darwin said, must be—cells are irreducibly complex
        It isn’t ape to man evidence—no evidence

        Evolution is a house of cards. It is 19th century science that is being propped-up by the latest imaginative drawing of a cave man.

        January 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
        • ME II

          @Evolution is a belief,

          Incorrect. There is plenty of evidence for evolution.
          Bio chemistry such as Cytochrome C
          Bio geography such as penguins, marsupials, etc.
          Fossils such as Tiktaalick, Ambulcetus, Archaeopteryx , etc.
          Genetics such as Human Chromosome 2, ERVs, etc.
          Experiments like Lenski's long term ecoli experiment

          January 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • Evolution is a belief

          Nope, you are incorrect:.
          A study of enJSRV has been shown to regulate trophectoderm growth and supports the hypothesis that ERVs play fundamental roles in placental morphogenesis and
          mammalian reproduction.Also,non-coding portions of DNA and evolutionary remnants are actually playing important functional roles and is not evidence of common descent
          Cyto-C is just one of the thousands of sequences and is not proof of common ancestry,as there are more variations than similarities in the genetic code,
          Mutations do not add new information to the genome. Duplications are the result of duplicating existing genetic information,
          and mutations alter existing genetic information (whether original or duplicated). Neither of them adds new information.
          experimental evidence such as Lenski's long term e.coli experment-shows adaptation of the bacteria to its culture and does not prove evolution.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
        • Bones McCoy

          "It isn’t the fossil record—that supports sudden creation"
          No it doesn't. Evidence for sudden creation would include all types of life being spread all throughout the geological column. You'd see species in some places that aren't even remotely related to the ancestor's fossils. Unfortunately for you, this is merely a lie spread by creationists. Not a single species has ever been found out of place in the geological column.

          "It isn’t transitional forms—they are missing"
          All fossils are transitional forms. You are looking for the word "intermediary" and yes plenty of those have been found as well.

          "It isn’t simple basic cells as Darwin said, must be—cells are irreducibly complex"
          Prove that a cell is irreducibly complex. That argument is a fallacy.

          "It isn’t ape to man evidence—no evidence"

          😆 There is more evidence for ancient ape to modern human than there is for almost any other transition. We have found over 20 distinct species of hominid in between ancient ape and modern human and gee, what a surprise, they all go in perfect order and you see the cranial capacity in the skulls slowly increase over time. Plus numerous hominids besides humans have had their genomes mapped. The relation is undeniable.

          So basically you posted all lies. Well done.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          LOL!!!!!!

          "Well, yeah, that bacteria CHANGED OVER TIME to better exist with its environment, but that's not evolution."

          Lol, yes, and that other bacteria, and that virus, and that gene, and that flower, and that hominid. Evolution isn't up for debate; it's fact. I don't believe in calculus, gudd@mmit!!! Who wants to fight??

          January 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
        • ME II

          @"Evolution is a belief",

          First, why would functionality of a gene disprove common descent. In the case of ERVs, even genetic information from a virus could still be functional in a genome.

          Second, science doesn't deal in "proof" per se, however, the sequences in Cryto-c in various species are evidence of common ancestry. Whether there are more variation than similarities, over all species, isn't relevent, it is which similarities occur in which species.

          Third, "new information" is an equivocation. Duplication and mutation both, whether you call it "new information or not, changes the sequecnce of the protein and/or the expression of the gene and therefore changes the effect or output of that gene sequence. whether that is "new" or not may just be semantics, is is a difference from what was there before.

          Fourth, again science doesn't deal in "proof", however Lenski's experiment did show changes in the species' genetic structure tha allowed functionality that the organism had never shown before.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
        • Evolution is a belief

          Your original claim that there plenty of evidence when disproved is now replaced with the statement that 'science does not deal with proof'. You are hopelessly flailing in the absence of evidence. It sure does sound like you rely on your "belief system" to support your claims.

          January 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
        • Jake

          @Evolution is a belief

          Your name undermines anything you have to say, so I suggest you change it. Evolution is not a belief, it is a conclusion based on evidence that we (or actually, people much more qualified than us) observe first hand.

          January 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
        • ME II

          @Evolution is a belief,
          "Your original claim that there plenty of evidence when disproved is now replaced with the statement that 'science does not deal with proof'"

          Did you read your own comment? Evidence does not equate to "proof". a "proof" is something in math and logic that is always true if the premises are true. In addition, where exactly was the evidence disproven?

          "You are hopelessly flailing in the absence of evidence."

          I have list a few highlights from an enormous amount of evidence, which you haven't even begun to refute. How is that flailing?

          January 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
        • Evolution is a belief

          In the absence of evidence, you have no proof. In the absence of proof , you have to repeatedly remind yourself that science does not deal with proof. Do you see the absurdity of the claims you are making, the extent of mental gymnastics you have to go through to convince yourself that you have evidence. What you call as "evidence" has already been refuted, you came back repeating yourself that science does no deal with proof . By repeating that statement you are hopelessly flailing. Deal with the fact that you have to rely on your faith in evolution in the absence of evidence.

          January 15, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
        • ME II

          @Evolution is a belief,
          "In the absence of evidence...."

          Wrong at the start. There is plenty of evidence supporting the Theory of Evolution, a small sample of which I have already posted.

          "What you call as 'evidence' has already been refuted..."

          In what way?

          Your claim about ERVs is false. Why would the expression of an ERV gene disqualify it from showing common ancestry? *

          Your calim about Cyto-C is false. "For example, the sequences of cytochrome c in humans is identical to that of a chimpanzees (our closest relatives), but differs more from that of horses. [6]" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytochrome_c)

          Your claim of "new information" is just a red-herring without defining what you mean by "new information" and why that might be necessary.

          Your claim of adaptation-only in Lenski's experiment is false. You fail to account for the genome change necessary for citrate usage in e.coli. "Although adaptation decelerated sharply, genomic evolution was nearly constant for 20,000 generations." (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7268/full/nature08480.html)

          * – "Retroviral infections have been a constant on animal life for millions of years. Occasionally, some of these genetic parasites integrate into the germline as endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). Genetic footprints such as these consti[]tute up to 8% of the human genome [1]. Many of these ERVs lay now dormant, after millions of years of genetic change, whereas some still retain protein coding capability and play roles in the host organism that range from adhesion promotion [2], [3], [4] to immune response modulation [5], while also being implied in diseases such as multiple sclerosis [6], [7] and correlated with certain types of cancer [8]."
          (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048862/)

          January 16, 2014 at 11:34 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        So, evolution is mathematically impossible, but magic is possible?

        January 15, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Yeah, stupid! Obviously a big invisible sky wizard chanted magic spellz for six days to make da worldzz!! Of course it's not a slow process of change over time in response to environmental conditions that matches every single fact in genetic research, microbiology, fossil artifacts, and geology. R u stipud or sump'n?

          January 15, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        Vic, how about calling it biological progression instead of evolution. does that help you ?You know, from simple to complex?

        January 15, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
      • Dandintac

        Vic,

        No offense intended, but I don't think you really know what you are talking about. You are either making up these odds or you are getting them from a Creationist website.

        First of all, evolution and abiogenesis are two entirely different things. Evolution describes the change and diversification of our biosphere over time. I think you are talking about the beginning of life–which is not about evolution.

        We cannot possibly know the true odds of life forming, since we do not understand how it happens. Ignorance however, should never be an excuse for invoking supernatural explanations.

        January 15, 2014 at 11:36 pm |
  10. Loving beings do not torture

    You know what would be awesome? If Islam ended up being the true religion and Christians all went to hell. I'd be quite content as an atheist going to hell myself just for a front row ticket to that!

    January 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • Iblis in a lamp

      As you wish. Two more wishes to go.

      January 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
    • Loving beings...

      ...don't post messages like that.

      That's ugly.

      January 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • Iblis in a bottle

        Okay no more messages like that one. You have one wish left, use it wisely and don't expect my response on this board.

        January 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • Loving beings do not torture

        Hey, I never claimed to be a loving being. But hey, that picture is only ugly to you, because I'm talking about YOUR belief system. How do you think other people feel when they are told by Christians that they are going to hell because they haven't accepted Jesus as their lord and savior. Some people can dish it but they can't take it. Christianity is just as likely to be right as any one of the hundreds of belief systems created by humans on earth.

        January 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
    • Iblis

      Kids, kids stop fighting over my time. I have enough pineapples for both of your chairs, now who's hungry we have German potato salad and some cold white castle burgers.

      January 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
      • Bones McCoy

        Got any baby?

        January 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • Iblis

          Nope, sorry they don't call it hell for nothing I'm stuck with the white castle burgers too you know.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
  11. Science Works

    Just remember we are all primates !!

    ScienceDaily: Your source for the latest research news
    Reference Article
    from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Human biology

    Human biology is an academic field of biology which focuses on humans; it is closely related to medicine, primate biology, and a number of other fields.

    A human being is a multicellular eukaryote consisting of an estimated 100 trillion cells.

    It should be noted that there is no consensus on the actual number of cells in the human body; estimates vary widely.

    As a species, humans are primates and can be distinguished from other primates by their more highly evolved brains.

    Even though humans are multicellular animals, many of the basic life processes of human cells are basically the same as in simple unicellular eukaryotes such as yeast and even prokaryotes.

    January 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
  12. Promonet

    I love being an atheist! All the blood of all the wars is on other people's hands, not mine. And all I had to do was say I don't believe in God and that I consider myself a good person. YES! Sucks to be you, religious people!

    January 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • Christian Crusader

      It must be nice to be in denial of the truth. I love being Christian. I know that I'm right and that I'm going to spend eternity in paradise with God, while non believers like you are destined for the eternal fire pit. I feel sorry for all those ignorant atheists that still to this day can't prove god wrong.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
      • Baphogoat

        Atheists are not the ones claiming that there is a creator, so it is on the believers to prove the existance of god, not the other way around. Most intelligent people know it is impossible to prove non-existance.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
      • Jake

        That is a lie. You do not KNOW that you are right. In fact, you are almost certainly wrong. Don't blatantly lie like that if you want to be taken seriously.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • Christian Crusader

          Dang it, I guess my parody wasn't sarcastic enough! My post was satire because the one I responded to was obviously satire as well. 😛

          January 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • ME II

          Poe's law rides again.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • ME II

        @Christian Crusader,
        " I feel sorry for all those ignorant atheists that still to this day can't prove god wrong."

        If the Bible is God's word and to be taken literally, then it is easy to show that He is wrong. Gen 1 is wrong in both time scale and order of events.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • WOAH!

      Hold up! Let me throw some logic at you, as an atheist I'm sure you will appreciate some logic. Okay, now if Ted Bundy has no religious beliefs are YOU now responsible for his atrocities? If Hitler is Catholic, are all Catholics responsible for his actions? All Germans? All Christians? All Caucasians? All males? Where is the line? I'm not sure what fallacy this is but it's common and it's ridiculous.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • Promonet

        I'm free and the religious people are in bondage. Just because I say so!

        January 15, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Propicasso

          Are you kimchee from yesterday?

          January 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • WOAH!

        What religion is that one? Promonetism?

        January 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • G to the T

      Please – don't feed the POE or tap on the glass. Thank you.

      January 15, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
  13. Baphogoat

    I took this "trying" to mean that he was opening up himself to questioning his faith and that he was giving himself up to a year to see if he was willing to give up his previously held beliefs. The wording makes it sound a little cheesy and unrealistic, but I think his head is in the right place for the journey he is about to take.

    January 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  14. pat

    If you can live without God for a day, your already an atheist. I don't have to become an atheist to understand them. I talk to them and they tell me, usually after the tirade of 'sky fairies' and 'spaghetti monsters' have past. What I have found is, they are not individual, it is group think like everything else. What I have also found is they are angry people.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
    • Mr_Philosopher

      The thing is, there is nothing about atheism that is an expansive philosophy. It is simply one statement, that of a lack of belief in a deity (either explicitly or implicitly), sometimes mixed with agnosticism or gnosticism. There is atheist commentary on religion but it has nothing to do with the small philosophy of atheism. We are a bit angry and annoyed because religions have monopolized the human mind and given civilization a simplistic security blanket that shields them from inquiry and honest investigation into the wonder of the universe. It's a roadblock before an infinite journey into knowledge of reality. That upsets me because I'd like other people to appreciate the Universe around them to a much fuller and more honest degree instead of looking up into the sky and forgetting that the stars are always there.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
      • lngtrmthnkr

        Philo,I totally agree with the last part about discovering the hidden mysteries and wonder of the universe .I am in awe of all that is and all we can learn.I stay on the cutting edge of knowledge and discovery by reading all the science and astronomy mags I can. Yet I am a believer in a creator. I am a believer in the Bible and see no conflicts between it and evolution or intelligent design. There need be no conflict in Christianity about what is written and what we see with our own eyes. No one need be afraid to open their eyes to what is real. It won't destroy your beliefs , it should strengthen them.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          And who again created your creator????

          January 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • Johnny

          The only problem I see is that without a literal Adam and Eve there is no reason for the whole Jesus sacrifice part of the story. So without a literal reading of Genesis Christianity falls apart.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          that's a very good question. And we can ask him when we meet him.

          January 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
    • bostontola

      pat,
      How do you know that people with the similar ideas get them from group think? Group think certainly exists, but not all people with similar ideas get them that way. Science utilizes a rigorous filter to extract only those ideas that stand up to experimental validation. Doesn't it stand to reason that they would then have similar ideas? If you believe there is a reality, a real world we live in, and the scientific method can sort correct ideas from incorrect ideas by testing them, then we would end up with one science. That is indeed what we have and are building, no?

      January 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
    • curious

      "angry people"?? like how? like they are annoyed; or more like upset over people trying to inject their religious views into law? or really really angry like you aren't playing the game you made with them the way they want, so they want to drown everyone in a flood – that kind of angry?

      January 15, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      People congregate in groups at a church, chant in unison and people who are atheist follow a group think?! How absurd. A-Theist means only one thing .. no belief if gods, that's it, period. Anything else is simply for arguments sake.

      Apparently we ALL also have "group think" since there are infinite things we all don't believe in ... together.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jake

      Well, keep searching because what you've found is not atheism.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • Jake

      One other thing, we all live without god every day, yet not everyone is an atheist, so you're just wrong.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • Mevangle

        You have proof there is no God?

        January 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • No atheism please

          Shhhh. Atheists don't like when their belief is questioned. Cue the excuse train!!

          January 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • Sean

          It's called Burden of Proof...look it up. Atheism is a LACK OF BELIEF. Again, what belief are your talking about? You are making a claim, so you must provide proof. Please use logic.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • igaftr

          mev
          You have proof that we are not in a giant dust speck on a pedal of a flower being held in the trunk of an elephant named Horton?

          January 15, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • Jake

          No atheism please – What belief of mine was questioned? I'm an atheist. I don't have a belief in god. I would like to know how any thinking person thinks there is any reason to believe in a god.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Strong circ-umstantial evidence that there is no god (or did they all die as martyrs?)

          Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

          1. 300,000,000 approx.
          Smallpox

          2. 200,000,000 ?
          Measles

          3. 100,000,000 approx.
          Black Death

          4. 80,000,000–250,000,000
          Malaria

          5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
          Spanish Flu

          6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
          Plague of Justinian

          7. 40,000,000–100,000,000
          Tuberculosis

          8. 30,000,000[13]
          AIDS pandemic

          9. 12,000,000 ?
          Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

          10. 5,000,000
          Antonine Plague

          11. 4,000,000
          Asian Flu

          12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

          January 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Yea, I've never met anyone that has proof there is no God. It sounds like you guys are agnostics, which is smart.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • Sean

          No one is called upon to prove a negative. That is illogical. Please look up Burden of Proof. The onus is on you to provide proof. Atheism makes no claims. It is simply a lack of belief in gods. That's it.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • Mevangle

          igaftr

          Do you honestly believe that we are in a giant dust speck on a pedal of a flower being held in the trunk of an elephant named Horton? Or are you trying to be facetious?
          I don't believe that. It sounds unreasonable.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Jake

          Mevangle, you don't understand the difference between agnostic and atheist. An atheist has no belief in a god. That's not the same as knowing there is no god, there's just nothing that remotely approaches a good reason to believe it, similar to the dust story. An agnostic thinks it's reasonably likely there is or isn't a god. Very different.

          The question is, can you DISPROVE the speck of dust story? No? Well, that isn't any reason to believe it, now is it? Exactly the same as you pretending that the inability to disprove a god is a valid reason to believe in one.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          It's not any more unreasonable than saying god create sin and therefor had to save humanity from it by incarnating himself into a human and then dying a painful death.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Excpet you just made up that speck of a dust story. Most likely you learned that argument technique from an atheist website. I certainly know those types of stories and defenses exist there. But it is a flawed argument.

          Also, it doesn't prove there is no God. You made a statement that indicated you know for a fact that there is no God. How do you know this? Because somebody can't prove to you there isn't a dust speck on a pedal of a flower being held in the trunk of an elephant named Horton?

          January 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Sean

          Did you think about your response? Yes he made up that story, just like the story of any god was made up. That's the point. You are making unfalsifiable claims by stating there is a god. No one is called upon to prove a negative. Can you prove there isn't an invisible unicorn in your room? If you can't, is that a good reason to believe that there's one there? Of course it's not.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Mevangle

          -Loving beings do not torture

          Yes. Religious and atheist beliefs are both based on faith.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Sean

          The definition of faith: strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension RATHER THAN PROOF. Atheists lack a belief in god. At this point you are being willfully ignorant as this has been told to you countless times. Why is this so hard to understand?

          January 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Jake

          Ugh, why do you make it so difficult? Are you honestly TRYING not to get it?

          The point is, anyone can make up any proposterous story that can't be disproven. That is not a reason to believe the story. That is why it's stupid to suggest that the fact that a god story (or any other crazy story) can't be disproven means it must be true.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • igaftr

          Mev
          "I don't believe that, it sounds ridiculous"

          Exactly...you have no proof that it is NOT, right?
          It is just one of an infinite number of possibilities.
          To me, and many others, your belief in god is the EXACT same thing.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Belief in God is not that proposterous. I don't believe, but certainly recognize that smarter men and women than I do believe. And what they describe is not quite the speck of dust story you made up or probably read about on an atheist website.

          You indicated you know there is no God. How do you know this?

          January 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • igaftr

          mev
          Atheist NON belief is not based on faith, though whatever the individual DOES believe (which has nothing to do with atheism) may be based in faith.

          There is no faith involved in NOT believing.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • Mevangle

          igaftr

          I don't believe in God. You should gather all the facts before you make as as-sumption like that!

          I just am asking if there is proof there is NO God.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Saying that other people have no knowledge of God because you don't have knowledge of God is based on faith.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          And you know for a fact that the bible stories were not made up? There is no proof of god. There is no proof that god doesn't exist. There is no proof of flying crocodiles. There is no proof that flying crocodiles do not exist. You have to understand that non existence is the logical default for ANYTHING, unless objective evidence is presented. I don't have to prove god false to claim your religion is BS. But if you're going to claim god DOES exist, then the burden of proof is on you to show this. If I tell my friend that I have a basketball and he asks for proof I can simply show him the basketball. I'm not going to tell him he can't prove that I don't have one.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • igaftr

          mev
          Seriously? Never heard of "Horton hears a who" by Dr. Suess?
          Just as plausible as the god hypothesis, but actually has a higher PROBABILITY of being right, since we know dust, flowers and elephants exist.
          Not so with any of the thoousands of gods men have worshipped.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • Mevangle

          I don't know for a fact there is no God. I don't know for a fact there is a God.

          I'm not a theist or an atheist. I'm agnostic.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • Mevangle

          igaftr

          I understand that story is a work of fiction. Dr Seuss never asked people to believe Horton exists.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Jake

          By that definition, everyone on the planet is agnostic. No one "knows" for a fact one way or the other. One is just infinitely more likely than the other.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • igaftr

          mev
          "Saying that other people have no knowledge of God because you don't have knowledge of God is based on faith."
          Incorrect.
          They have no knowledge of any gods, no evidence of any gods, but I have met many people who claim a god experience, but cannot show any evidence. Since there are so many other possibilites that can explain the experiences, you have delusion, not evidence. Simply disregarding other possibilities because they do not fit your belief is delusion.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Mev, you dismissed the spec of dust story before because it was made up. Who's to say that the stories written about god are not made up? It's the same exact logic, except the texts were written thousands of years ago when society was mostly illiterate.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • igaftr

          mev
          "igaftr

          I understand that story is a work of fiction. Dr Seuss never asked people to believe Horton exists"

          Which is why it is a good analogy for any other faith. Can you show that it is not true, do you have proof? It is one of an infinite number of possibilities, so you cannot so quickly disregard it.
          There is just as much evidence of it as there is for any gods..

          January 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Jake said there is no God. Those who believe in God are wrong.

          I asked for proof there is no God, and all I got were the typical theories that one would find on an atheist website that teaches one how to argue for the non-existence of deities.

          So no proof?

          January 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • Jake

          Nope, you're putting words in my mouth. I did not say I know with 100% certainty there is no god. But it would be weird to speak with any other assumption given no evidence.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Please explain how it is possible to prove something with no supporting evidence whatsoever does not exist. Please explain the steps to doing this and how this conclusion could possibly be reached.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • Mevangle

          "...we all live without god every day, yet not everyone is an atheist, so you're just wrong."

          Can you prove that we all live without God? Some people claim they do. And when they describe God it is not the same as you describing Horton or the Tooth Fairy.

          You indicated that someone who believed in God was wrong.

          I'm just asking if you have proof or evidence. It is ok if you don't. I don't have any.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • Jake

          No, there is no proof or evidence because it / he doesn't exist. It is the same as the Tooth Fairy. If a person can't provide any evidence that the Tooth Fairy or god exists, yet they claim to have them in their lives, they're delusional.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • Mevangle

          I know people who believe in God and they are not delusional. I know people that believe in God that demonstrate they know more about logic, reason, science and evidence than the typical atheist knows. As in, they get paid a lot of money to teach on those subjects.

          Just because you don't have knowledge or understanding of God, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You are a flawed, imperfect human being that is incapable of knowing all there is to know. Just like me.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • urnotathinkerareu

          This is a really sad fail. What wrong with it? If they had SOUND logic and reason they wouldn't believe in the non existent sky captain.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • Mevangle

          I'm saying there are people who can prove they have a grasp on logic and reason believe in God.

          And then some guys on the internet who haven't proven they can reason or understand logic claim that these highly intelligent being's deity is a non existent sky captain.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • Herm

          Is God really only as probable as a tooth fairy?

          January 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm |
      • Jake

        Proof there is no god? No, of course not. How can you prove something doesn't exist? Do you really need me to explain to you why your request is flawed? Do you have proof that Martians don't exist? If so, do we just assume they do exist? No, that's not what thinking people do.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • No atheism please

          And here's another liar for atheism.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Jake

          Are you just a troll or would you care to attempt intelligent discussion?

          January 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Sean

          In what way was this trolling? He's pointing out your flawed logic.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Mevangle

          You seemed to indicate you have knowledge that there is no God. I'm asking if you have proof of that. I'm not talking about Martians. I'm talking about something like a deity.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • Jake

          No, I indicated I don't have a belief in a god. I also don't have a belief in the existence of Martians. I can't disprove either, but I also have never seen any reason to believe in either. Thinking people don't go around just believing stuff out of the blue that they can't disprove.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Religion in general has done its absolute best to suppress critical thinking and logical reason since its inception. I mean Galileo had to live in isolation his entire life for proposing the heliocentric model of the solar system, which was true, all because religious folk were set in their ways and automatically professed to others as absolute truth because of one silly verse in a book written by ancient humans.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Mevangle

          You said we all live without God. You are really only qualified to claim you don't live with God. You don't really get to decide that for other people and declare them "wrong". I mean you can, but that is just arrogance, not intelligence at work.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • Mevangle

          -Loving beings do not torture

          http://www.amazon.com/Galileo-Other-Myths-Science-Religion/dp/0674057414

          January 15, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Jake

          I can say we all live without god with the same certaintly that I can say we all live without the tooth fairy. It's true, some people believe in the tooth fairy, but in reality, we all live without the tooth fairy.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Just because the tooth fairy doesn't exist, doesn't mean that there isn't something like a deity responsible for the universe.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
        • Jake

          Yes, that's true. But wait – we don't KNOW that the tooth fairy doesn't exist. You just implied that you KNOW that the tooth fairy doesn't exist. What proof do you have that the tooth fairy doesn't exist?

          I think the existence of the tooth fairy is equally as likely as the existence of anything that approaches the typical definitions of god.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Mev, Galileo living in isolation isn't a myth. I never said he went to jail or was arrested. He was shunned and pretty much cut off from the rest of society.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Most religious people accepted Galielo's claims.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • Mevangle

          The fact that I don't believe in the Tooth Fairy is not proof there is no God.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Jake

          That is correct. The fact that you don't believe in the Tooth Fairy is, however, proof that you don't consider the inability to disprove something to be a valid reason to believe in its existence.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Yeah they accepted his claim years later when it was independently verified.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Mevangle

          No, during his lifetime they accepted it. It was just the government that was against it.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Mevangle

          The only people that talk about the Tooth Fairy are atheists on religious blogs and my parents. My parents told me it was a story they made up. And perhaps some day I'll tell a similar story to my children. Only atheists on atheists websites and religious blogs seem to think it proves something.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Ah, so it was only the CHRISTIAN controlled theocracy government that did that, not the civilians. Gotcha.

          People talk about the tooth fairy because you cannot EVER prove non existence of something. That's the way it is. There are millions of possibilities out there. God is one of them. Proving something doesn't exist is impossible, no matter what it is and isn't a valid reason for believing. That's the point we've been trying to make but you don't seem to understand it.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • Johnny

          The Bible itself is enough evidence to prove the Christian version of god doesn't exist.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • Mevangle

          Theoretically I understand what you 2 are trying to say. I was asking for evidence because he sounded certain there was no God. I know understand he doesn't really know something like that.

          January 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
    • JJ

      And another liar for Jesus.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
      • No atheism please

        And another liar for atheism.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • Morons for jeebus

          I know you are but what am i.... nah nah nah nah nah!

          January 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • Morons for atheism

          Nah nah nah nah

          January 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Jake

          A liar is someone who claims something is true while knowing it is false. That's what most god-believers do, although some probably really believe it.

          An atheist doesn't make claims about what they know. Atheists just don't share your belief in a god since it's incredibly far-fetched and unsupported by evidence.

          January 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
    • Which God?

      Lie much, pat?

      January 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • The Atheist

      your a dum kunt

      January 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
  15. DanFromAustin

    On the argument of science vs spirituality...or belief, there is some science that points to intelligent design. They did the a study on the complexity of the human eye. They said that the chances of the human eye forming naturally though evolution is the same as taking a pocket watch completely apart and putting all the pieces in a bag...then shaking that bag until that watch is completely put back together...including any screws needed to be screwed in. That is just the eye. Now it gets even crazier when you put something like the ability to have memories. The chances of that through evolution from single cell organisms ...would be too hard to compare to. So a growing number of scientist my not say it is God. However, many are now pointing to some sort of intelligent design.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
    • bostontola

      You must have a very very very very low bar for the word "many". Almost every scientist fully understands why the watch analogy is fallacious and how the eye evolved. In fact, sensors to see (i.e. eyes) have evolved multiple times, some end up very similar (with key differences, like human eyes and octopus eyes), while some are very different. Most use lenses, but some use mirrors like our big telescopes.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Why do you post ".. science vs spirituality...or belief"? Atheism has nothing to do with science.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
    • Loving beings do not torture

      "They did the a study on the complexity of the human eye. They said that the chances of the human eye forming naturally though evolution is the same as taking a pocket watch completely apart and putting all the pieces in a bag...then shaking that bag until that watch is completely put back together...including any screws needed to be screwed in."

      What science book did you read that in? Creationism 101? Please link me to this scientific study about the eye that claimed this. Is flat out dishonesty really necessary?

      January 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  16. bostontola

    If there were no more religions and all the religious people became deists or spiritualists (so there was still only 2% atheists), many wars and much of the sectarian fighting would end, secular freedom would flourish. As an atheist I would take that world.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
    • Hallie

      People would find something else to fight over. People fight over land, drugs and sports.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
      • bostontola

        Who said it would eliminate fighting? Of course there would be political, resource wars, but it would get rid of a lot.

        January 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • lngtrmthnkr

      as a Christian ,I would take that world too,but would you feel left out?

      January 15, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
      • bostontola

        I don't feel left out now, so no.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Steve Farris

    I think too much is being made of this. Suppose that instead of saying Mr. Bell was trying out atheism, he declared he was giving agnosticism a looking at. Suppose a person doesn't really know if there is a God. Agnosticism simply says we do not know. It doesn't say that my state of mind has to be that one has faith in God or does not believe in faith in God. So, in this case, there is not particular "mind set" some critics above refer to. That definitely takes the sting out of the concept that a "mind set" switches on or off.

    Now one argues, that actually Mr. Bell is trying out atheism. The belief that there is no God. Okay, so what does the claim "there is not God" suddenly by a former believer that there is a God actually imply and entail? Does a person have to suddenly believe the Bible doesn't exist. Well, no, the book in various form clearly exists. Does one have to proclaim that what is in the Bible is in someway "wrong"? Well, not particularly as one choosing to try to follow other doctrines doesn't have to say another doctrine is somehow within the notion of faith, "wrong". And in the Bible are there still things one can practice? Of course! Bell points out the "Golden Rule" still applies, etc. So, practicing "good" isn't novel to Christianity, or at least belief in God. Trying to do things one thinks are "right" is not exclusively taken away. So, you don't believe there is a God and hell fire and damnation on the other side of the ledger. There are just humans trying to live lives without overly impacting others and that is all. There isn't a whole lot of different mind set. So, putting *down* the Bible, as in setting it aside, and reading other things and learning those things isn't somehow evil. It is just doing something else. There is very little in the way of a "mind set" that needs changing.

    As an agnostic I often say in a prayer like manner something of the nature; "God, if you exist, it would be nice if a particular person (sometimes myself, often someone else) was helped out some." Nothing overly Earth shattering in that either way. Regardless of whether you believe in God or not. So, if you don't believe in God. Actually don't believe that faith in God is a correct view, that doesn't mean you can't hope something good for someone without somehow having God's intervention!

    There is no barrier that precludes non believers from doing good, and things that are often espoused as good by religion.

    In fact, as far as belief that Jesus lived, and the notion of the Christ in Christian isn't wholly the province of believers. Suppose Jesus in fact *never lived* in reality many centuries ago. What is written about this man, who would then be fictional, isn't all bad from learning something from. The phrase "what would Jesus do?" can still be asked by a non believer as by a believer. And, trying to say you want to follow a similar premise doesn't make a person a Christian. It makes a person who wants to do something the spirit behind the story of Jesus indicates which that person thinks is good.

    In short, too much is being made out of trying out a belief that isn't too radically removed from the previous one as in this case.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
    • Jake

      Atheists don't claim to know there is no god, we just don't have have a belief in a god since there's nothing that approaches a convincing reason to believe in one. That's significantly different than what you describe as an atheist.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
      • G to the T

        Agreed – I'm an agnostic atheist. Not sure why so many people have a problem with understand how they relate (knowledge vs belief).

        January 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
  18. God Forbid

    PZ Myers is probably the worst person to be a spokesperson for atheism. He is one of the most reprehensible people on the planet. You could've tried Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, or any of the other more well-spoken atheists out there.
    I mean, come on CNN.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • Sam

      Most atheists want Richard Dawkins to shut up.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
      • Mr_Philosopher

        I enjoy him to an extent, but he divides rather than unites, which I have a problem with.

        January 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
        • Sam

          He is s a good scientist. He is a lousy philosopher.

          January 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
        • exlonghorn

          @ Mr_Philosopher

          Do theists and atheists share a common goal?

          What is the goal of a theist? To know god? To be saved? To be faithful? To get into heaven? I don't know...there seems to be several assorted goals here.

          What is the goal of the atheists? To enjoy their finite life? To be good people? To find inner peace? Unclear.

          Do the theist and atheist goals line up? If they don't...and this is important...then the conversation between the two should simply stop. Period. There is no point. You cannot resolve a conflict between two parties if they can't share a common goal. If they CAN find a common goal, then their conflicts rest on their differing assumptions underlying their positions. We can then go to work on the assumptions until we remove those assumptions found to be invalid. This is where very careful and stringent critical thinking processes are necessary. But overall, that's the deal.

          January 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
      • Loving beings do not torture

        Bingo. Dawkins is dead on when it comes to science and his views are well researched. He does poke at religious folk quite a bit, but in reality they bring it on themselves by promoting absolute garbage like young earth creationism or claiming intelligent design is a valid field of science. There really is no valid reason to believe in any god or any belief system set forth by man about a being like that.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      PEOPLE are the same all over .. be they Christian, atheist, Hindu, Muslim, etc .. there is a certain percentage of the population who are kind or jerks or somewhere in between.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • No atheism please

      Dawkins is a hateful atheist. Why would ANYONE look up to him? Oh, it's hateful atheists who look up to him.

      January 15, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
      • Billy

        How is he hateful. By having to repeat himself asking that people look at evidence they are ignoring?

        January 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
      • Jake

        Hateful? In what way? He is raising a valid concern over the mental abuse that is childhood indoctrination. I hardly find trying to protect children across the world from mental abuse to be a hateful act.

        January 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • Loving beings do not torture

          Couldn't agree more. Children should not be psychologically damaged by indoctrination. When you look at it, it's the only reason why these archaic belief systems are even still around. Mommy said so, cuz her mommy said so, cuz her mommy said..... back to the dark ages where people were executed for not believing which made indoctrination of kids a must to avoid them being tortured and slain by the idiots in charge.

          January 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  19. codeblitz

    So will this man go to hell if he should pass away while he tries atheism? If not, then I say this man is a fake.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
    • Mr_Philosopher

      To quote a famous song, "hell if for children", with all due respect.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • Loving beings do not torture

      Only if hell actually exists. If it doesn't, then there is no risk at all. Since atheism means not believing in god or hell, that should cover that.

      January 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
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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.