CPAC reverses decision, will not allow atheist group at conservative conference
David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, will not have a booth at CPAC.
February 25th, 2014
02:53 PM ET

CPAC reverses decision, will not allow atheist group at conservative conference

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington - Organizers for the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference will not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth at the conservative conference, the group's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The decision comes just hours after American Atheists, the outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, announced that it would have a booth at the event. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, tells CNN that a groundswell of opposition from high-ranking members of CPAC compelled the group to pull the invite.

Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for CPAC, said in a statement to CNN that “American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.”

[twitter-follow screen_name='danmericacnn'] [twitter-follow screen_name='CNNbelief']

"I'm surprised and I'm saddened," Silverman said in response to the announcement.  "I think this is a very disappointing turn of events.  I was really looking forward to going."

Representatives of CPAC called Silverman Tuesday afternoon and said they would be returning the group's money, Silverman said.

"It is very obvious to me they were looking for a reason to say no," Silverman added.  "Christianity is bad for conservatism and they did not want that message out there."

In an interview with CNN on Monday night, Silverman said his group planned to use the booth to bring conservative atheists “out of the closest” and said he was not worried about making the Christian right angry because “the Christian right should be threatened by us.”

Snyder said CPAC spoke to Silverman about his divisive and inappropriate language.

“He pledged that he will attack the very idea that Christianity is an important element of conservatism.  People of any faith tradition should not be attacked for their beliefs, especially at our conference.  He has left us with no choice but to return his money,” she said.

When Snyder confirmed to CNN on Monday that American Atheists would be at CPAC, she said in a statement that they were allowed to display at the confab because “conservatives have always stood for freedom of religion and freedom of expression.”

“The folks we have been working with stand for many of the same liberty-oriented policies and principles we stand for,” Snyder said.

The Conservative Political Action Committee, the largest and oldest gathering of conservatives, is run by the American Conservative Union and will be held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland's National Harbor from March 6 to 8. Last year, the event brought together thousands of activists to listen to dozens of Republican leaders speak about everything from economics and foreign policy to social issues. The event has long been considered a required stop for Republican presidential hopefuls.

The decision to include American Atheists outraged some conservatives, with many taking to Twitter to voice their disapproval.

According to Silverman, Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, called him to talk about the group's inclusion in the event and the response from conservatives members.

In a statement to CNN on Monday night, Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative think-tank Family Research Council, expressed outrage at the decision, stating that the American Atheists did "not seek to add their voice to the chorus of freedom."

"CPAC's mission is to be an umbrella for conservative organizations that advance liberty, traditional values and our national defense," said Perkins, who spoke at CPAC in 2012. "Does the American Conservative Union really think the liberties and values they seek to preserve can be maintained when they partner with individuals and organizations that are undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God? Thomas Jefferson warned against such nonsense."

"If this is where the ACU is headed, they will have to pack up and put away the 'C' in CPAC!" the social conservative leader added.

American Atheist is well known for its controversial billboards and media campaigns and is considered the in-your-face contingent in the world of atheist activists. The group’s members pride themselves as being the “Marines" of the atheist movement.

The atheist organization paid $3,000 for booth 439 in the event’s exhibition hall. That money will now be returned. Its booth was set to be right next to the Republican National Committee’s booth.

In explaining why the group decided to join CPAC on Monday, Silverman cited a 2012 Pew Research study that found 20% of self-identified conservatives consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. While that does not mean they are atheists, Silverman believes learning more about atheism will make it more likely conservatives will choose to identify with those who believe there is no God.

“Just as there are many closeted atheists in the church pews, I am extremely confident that there are many closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives," Silverman said at the time. This “is really a serious outreach effort, and I am very pleased to be embarking on it.”

The group has long targeted Republican lawmakers, although Silverman considers the organization nonpartisan.

In 2013, American Atheists launched a billboard campaign against three Republican politicians: former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. All three Republicans have spoken at CPAC in the past.

On one billboard, Santorum is pictured to the left of a quote attributed to him. “Our civil laws have to comport with a higher law. God’s law,” the quote reads. Underneath the graphic is a tagline: "GO GODLESS INSTEAD."

The group has also prided itself on trying to reach into religious communities and help "closeted atheists" come out, as it did in a 2012 billboard campaign aimed at Jews and Muslims.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (829 Responses)
  1. thefinisher1

    Stop forcing your atheism onto our children and govt and there won't be a problem atheists😜

    February 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Stop forcing your atheism onto our children and govt and there won't be a problem atheists"
      Nobody is forcing you to open your eyes and mind. You are free to remain blissfully ignorant. You are free to reject reason, logic and rational thought. You are free to cling to your infantile beliefs. You are free to believe in your imaginary friend, just like you are free to believe in the Tooth Fairy. Eventually mental midgets like yourself will only be of marginal interest to society. Mostly as an amusing example of how gullible people are.

      If you feel that your fairy tale nonsense is getting an undeserved bad rap, please provide a rational argument in support of it. Good luck. You'll need it.

      February 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        LinCA, these are honest questions. When you looks at a painting, how do you know there is a painter? Or when you look at a building, how do you know there is a builder? When you look at creation, how do you know there is a Creator?

        February 25, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • observernow

          A building shows that it was created by MAN, not God.

          February 25, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
        • otoh2

          "When you look at creation, how do you know there is a Creator?"

          Calling all of existence "creation" is loading the question.

          February 25, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          The painting is proof that there is a painter. The building is proof that there is a builder. Creation is proof that there is a Creator.

          February 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
        • observernow

          If there was a "creator", there is ZERO proof that it was God. It could have been an infinite number of possibilities including God, Zeus or the Great Pumpkin.

          February 25, 2014 at 11:37 pm |
        • redzoa

          When we look at human artifacts, we infer human design because we recognize, understand and can replicate the mechanisms of manufacture. When we look at "creation," what we find are natural processes producing complex and specific structures. For example, evolution is a "designer" in that it has been repeatedly shown to produce complex and specific biological form and function (Lenski's E. coli, Pod Mrcaru lizards, etc). On the other side, ID cannot distinguish between "actual design" (via a supernatural designer) and "apparent design" (via evolution) because ID has no mechanism beyond "god did it."

          February 25, 2014 at 11:47 pm |
        • sam stone

          how do you make the logical leap from a creator to a God?

          if there were a creator, what makes you think he gives a damn about what man does?

          February 26, 2014 at 5:44 am |
        • LinCA


          You said, "When you looks at a painting, how do you know there is a painter?"
          Past experience. We have concrete evidence that people paint.

          You said, "Or when you look at a building, how do you know there is a builder?"
          Same as above. Concrete evidence.

          You said, "When you look at creation, how do you know there is a Creator?"
          You don't. There is no indication that there was anything designed in "creation". natural processes seem to be the most logical explanation, even if we don't yet fully understand these processes.

          Assigning "creation" to a creator, without a single shred of evidence that such a creator is real, is an argument from ignorance.

          February 26, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa and LinCA,

          Do either one of you believe that intelligence can arise from non intelligence?

          February 26, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
        • redzoa

          @tf01 – "Do either one of you believe that intelligence can arise from non intelligence?"

          If by "intelligence" you mean the type of intelligence that humans possess (i.e. the ability to perceive and respond to environmental stimuli), then yes. We can look at discrete examples of evolution producing novel biological functionality ranging from particular molecular pathways to gross anatomical structures and even up to complex behaviors (e.g. mate preference). In light of the creative power of natural processes to produce complex specified biological functionality, I see no barrier to the ability of such a process to culminate in the generation of what we recognize as human "intelligence." Add to this the progressive technological abilities as one moves up through the progressive order of pre-hominid through hominid lineages (e.g. the Oldowan technology of the H. habilis v. the Acheulean technology of H. erectus). Whether it's "intelligence" in the simple molecular sense or "intelligence" in the complex cognitive sense, the available evidence indicates these applicable forms of biological functionality can and are produced via the "non-intelligent" processes of natural selection and evolution.

          February 26, 2014 at 11:50 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa, I apologize for the confusion. Let me give an example. Take for example the information in the DNA of a one felled amoeba. Richard Dawkins has admitted the message in just the nucleus of a one felled amoeba is more than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined. Indeed, the entire amoeba has as much information in its DNA as 1,000 complete sets of encyclopedia! As Geisler and Turek's book states, "these 1,000 encyclopedias do not consist of random letters but of letters in a very specific order-just like real encyclopedias." This is what I was referring to when I said intelligence.

          February 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sorry...supposed to be one-celled amoeba.

          February 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
        • redzoa

          @tf01 – I believe I understand what you're talking about and despite the shift from "intelligence" to "information," the mechanisms I described and the examples I provided also speak to the acc-umulation of molecular "information." But again, more important than the sheer information content is the functionality of this information. We have clear examples of non-intelligent natural mechanisms adding both "information" and "intelligence" to genomes. For example, we know that gene duplication and lateral gene transfer adds genetic material to genomes and we know that mutation generates variation and that from within this variation, natural selection can filter for novel functionality.

          So the answer is still yes. Whether we're talking about "intelligence" or "information," we know that non-intelligent processes yield additional and novel biological intelligence and information.

          February 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa, so your saying that unguided natural processes can produce information the equivalent of 1,000 complete sets of encyclopedias?

          February 27, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
        • redzoa

          @tf01 – With all due respect, I appreciate you think the encyclopedia analogy is impressive, but this betrays your miscomprehension of the relevant science and the limitations of the encyclopedia analogy. The bottom line is that yes, non-intelligent processes can and do produce "information/intelligence" and there is no known limitation to the acc-umulation of this "information/intelligence" over time. Again, we can point to Lenski's E. coli, the Pod Mrcaru lizards, and other research in the lab/field showing the evolution of complex biological information/intelligence, from new molecular pathways to dramatic morphological adaptations to complex mate choice behaviors; all the product of a non-intelligent natural process.

          February 28, 2014 at 12:40 am |
  2. jellyroll713

    "I am myself an empiric in natural philosophy, suffering my faith to go no further than my facts. I am pleased, however, to see the efforts of hypothetical speculation, because by the collisions of different hypotheses, truth may be elicited and science advanced in the end."

    Don't abuse the legacy Thomas Jefferson to promote your narrow-minded dominionist views, republicans. He would be disgusted with the rhetoric you use and the blatant religious pandering you lower yourself to. If your most diehard supporters had actually read the writing of the founding fathers, they wouldn't be swayed by the tortured dogma you spout in their names. They would see how twisted your version of "liberty" is.

    Now the half of your party not up to their eyes in Christian demagoguery can see the sinking ship. I feel for them, but this is what happens when you appeal to ideology to get votes. In the world of the fundamentalist, there is always someone who wants to take it further. Now you've let them grab the whole platform and make a beeline for theocracy. Religion is in decline in the US. The newest generation is the least religious yet and now that the stigma is fading, even more closet atheists are coming out of the woodwork. Vacuuming up the votes from the die-hard religious right with empty piety is becoming a more dangerous political proposition than it was even a few years ago. I'm sure it's terrifying to have to provide results to get votes again.

    February 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
    • Austin

      Life is not a political platform. It is a spiritual test between you and God.

      Leading children into the devils lies is a sin like any sin deserving death.

      But you are forgiven. And you are allowed to worship thomas jefferson instead of the savior.

      Go on then. Thomas jefferson is not a role model. Paul and john are

      February 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
      • commonsensed01

        But you left out George and Ringo.

        February 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
        • sam stone

          Not to mention the lesser deities of Mick and Keith

          February 26, 2014 at 5:58 am |
      • sam stone

        sin is a man made concept, just like the devil, god, heaven or hell

        "won't someone PLEASE think of the children?"

        you are a delusional chump

        February 26, 2014 at 5:56 am |
  3. ausphor

    As a Deist I am not in the least bit afraid of the judgement or wrath of any mythical god. Why would a largely religious group like the CPAC be afraid to alternate views if they believe they are so right? Conservatives have always stood for freedom of religion and freedom of expression, of course only if we agree that the freedom expresses our views.

    February 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm |
    • bostontola

      Over 70% of people alive have no fear of going to Christian hell. American Christians are such a majority, they can't conceive that they might be wrong.

      February 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
  4. kyzaadrao

    If this kind of "anti" effort were against race or gender it'd be discrimination or hate speech. Time for atheists to start following the same laws as the rest of us.

    February 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
  5. bostontola

    No one seems capable of proving atheists or religious right or wrong. Maybe there are lots of Gods.

    Christians, how do you know that your God is the only God?

    Please don't say the bible says so, that was either written by your God or by man, either way that doesn't prove anything if more Gods are possible.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      We know by faith, which is a gift from God, but I will be the first to acknowledge this cannot be "proven".

      February 25, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
      • LinCA


        You said, "We know by faith, which is a gift from God, but I will be the first to acknowledge this cannot be "proven"."
        Then how is it in any way different from a sincere belief in the Tooth Fairy?

        February 25, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
      • sam stone

        You "know by faith"?

        I hear by sight

        If you cannot prove it, then it is not knowledge, it is belief

        funny of the pious confuse the terms

        February 26, 2014 at 6:01 am |
    • guidedans

      Hey Bostontola,

      There are numerous arguments for and against God's (the Christian God or any Monotheistic God) existence. All of them are heavily debated and I don't want to go into them here. I feel like the thing that you are really asking when you ask, "how do you know that your God is the only God?" is you are asking for us to prove to you that God exists.

      Clearly, if this could be done, everyone would believe in God and there would be no question on whether someone should be a Christian or not. Proving God's existence is not possible, but I want you to really think about the concept of "proof" in general. I would argue that you cannot even prove that you or I exist let alone that the reality that we both enjoy exists. If we cannot even prove that most fundamental belief, then you asking us to prove something much more complex like God seems impossible as well.

      What it really comes down to is that you, and I, and everyone here needs to admit that we are never going to be able to prove our way into a belief. We have to choose our beliefs and choose them based on, not only what our clearly limited senses tell us, but also what our hearts tells us. I would suggest you choose Christianity and follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

      February 25, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
      • LinCA


        You said, "We have to choose our beliefs and choose them based on, not only what our clearly limited senses tell us, but also what our hearts tells us."
        What "your heart tells you" is most likely influenced by your childhood indoctrination. You can thank your parents for instilling the delusion of the existence of god(s).

        You said, "I would suggest you choose Christianity and follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior."
        Why? And why not the Tooth Fairy? There is an equal case to be made for her. There isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. There simply is no reason to believe any exist. The one that you favor is easily traceable to people who were ignorant about virtually everything. They were clueless about the world more than a few miles from where they lived, which explains why they invented gods to explain things.

        February 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
  6. maanirantel

    Setting aside that their claim that "conservatives have always stood for freedom of religion and freedom of expression" has now gone out the window, CPAC is missing a golden opportunity, since American Atheists is correct that the GOP desperately needs to "open their tent wider" if they hope to overcome the demographic changes that are making them and their policies increasingly obsolete. There is no question that the "power" (though not necessarily the presence) of the so-called Christian Right is hurting the GOP's ability to widen their tent, so if American Atheists can identify non-believing conservatives who may be put off by that, and bring them back into the fold, CPAC wins. (BTW, I am an evangelical minister.)

    February 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Maybe they'd welcome the Latino Atheists of America.

      (All four of them.)

      Of course I jest, though like African Americans, Latino Americans have a much higher rate of religions affilliation than others.

      February 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
  7. lawdog1521

    This is one of the things that's wrong with the party. I'm an atheist and for most of my voting life, a republican. But since the party has decided to cater to the far right, I left a few years ago. If you want your party to be run by bible thumpers go right ahead. Just don't act surprised you can't court the moderate vote anymore.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  8. greggteslovich

    Perhaps this ancient India saying provides insight, "Religion divides people, organized religion even more so."

    February 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
  9. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Tony Perkins: "Does the American Conservative Union really think the liberties and values they seek to preserve can be maintained when they partner with individuals and organizations that are undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God?"

    Individuals like Thomas Jefferson perhaps?

    February 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
    • derado8

      Am I free because I am by nature of my being, or because you decided I am?

      (I know it's semantics but I think that is the point.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Living in the United States, where does your "liberty" come from?

      February 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Last time I checked, it was from all of us, here:

        We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Const.itution for the United States of America.

        February 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Nothing divine there.

        February 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
      • derado8

        I agree there is nothing divine involved.

        However if my mother had me, and here I was on this continent. There I would be. Now you come along. Now you think that I am allowed to do what I do because you said so, where as if you were not here before I'd be doing it anyway.

        Note: This is not a religious opinion

        February 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
      • Vic

        United States Declaration of Independence
        July 4, 1776


        "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

        The Constitution of the United States is based on "Natural Law" which the Founders believed is from "Nature's God."

        The Founders of the United States believed that the government does not grant the citizens their rights, rather, the government protects the "Unalienable Rights" of the citizens which are endowed by their Creator.

        February 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
        • derado8

          Vic, some people want there to not be a creator, therefore in the absence of a creator it could be moved to rights exist because we exist.

          February 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
        • derado8

          The government might be better able to protect Unalienable rights, if people didn't have to have long drawn out philosophical debates over an invisible deity just to ensure unalienable rights are not taken away.

          February 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
        • derado8

          Also creator could mean mom and dad, or the universe, or planet earth.

          February 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


          The Declaration of Independence is not the law of the United States. The Consti.tution is not derivative from the DOI and the DOI has no bearing on the law.

          The DOI was a screed to encourage people to join the revolution. Have you ever read past the preamble?

          Are you still worried about the abolition of the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies?

          The preamble is nice, (and was mostly plagiarized from George Mason) but most of the DOI is whiny complaining exaggerated supposed injuries inflicted by the King.

          February 25, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
        • derado8

          What I am saying GOPer is that there is a whole side to the fact that you exist that is not at all related to laws and politics that other people made up.

          February 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
  10. derado8

    I'm not sure I understand this and I'm scratching my head a bit. If Silverman's idea was to keep conservatism but toss religion, I guess I don't understand why he'd keep the conservatism.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      A person can have conservative ideas without religion.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
      • derado8

        True. But if we take something like gay marriage. The only argument against it is religion. If you were to get rid of religion why on earth would you keep that position?
        If it were something else that would be a different argument.

        February 25, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
        • commonsensed01

          Then they would have to acknowledge their hate instead of claiming "God is against it."

          February 25, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
        • derado8

          It probably wouldn't bother them anymore, because there would be nothing left to fear about that issue.

          February 25, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          Not all conservatives oppose gay marriage.

          "Conservative" is a general description.

          And, when it comes to same gender marriage, the arguments against it all fall into "It's icky and I don't like it" when it comes right down to it.

          I am possibly one of the most liberal people I know, but I am highly conservative in certain areas. I support equality across the board, and I support feeding the poor and caring for the defenseless always. But I also support strong fiscal policies, and generally, in theory anyway, I support a small, but strong and equally applied, government.

          Not everything fits into neat little boxes.

          February 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
    • Akira

      Conservatism isn't inherently a bad thing.

      February 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
      • derado8

        What parts of it do you agree with?

        February 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      There are at least 2 sphere's that "Conservative" can be applied to, the most popular being "social" and "fiscal".

      The challenge is that the GOP has conflated the 2 to the point that there's no room for "fiscal conservatives" who don't agree with the current "social conservatism".

      February 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
  11. neverbeenhappieratheist

    “American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.” aka "“American Atheists won't agree to validate our premise that Christianity is integral to a successful America. I mean, we just thought they would agree with us if we invited them but they wanted to play hard ball and not aquiesse to our reasonable demands."

    "individuals and organizations that are undermining the understanding that our liberties come from God?"

    No, it's the complete lack of evidence for anything supernatural that undermines the understanding that liberties come from an invisible man in the sky, and the religious hate it when that fact is pointed out.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
  12. youreyesareweird

    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. ... Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error" –Thomas Jefferson

    Odd how the Christian conservatives always forget Jefferson was not like them.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
  13. snowr14

    I can only imagine what CPAC is scared about with atheists.. is it "Christian"PAC? why won't they just rename themselves so?

    February 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      It will be a happy day in America when people stop saying the "C" word...

      February 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
  14. hotairace

    CPAC, ACU, Perkins can all be summed up in a single word: cowards!

    February 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
  15. bostontola

    A question for my Christian friends:

    Would you be happier if the US was a Christian Theocracy?

    February 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      They think they would, until they find out there are 42,000 Christian denominations all with differing doctrinal ideologies and beliefs. The fact is we would end up in a 2nd Civil war if Christians tried to turn the country into a theocracy, and it wouldn't be atheists vs Christians, it would be center left liberal Christians fighting the center right conservative Christians.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
    • Robert Brown


      February 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
  16. Doris

    Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 22nd May 2013.

    Daniel Dennett is one of the world's most original and provocative thinkers. A philosopher and cognitive scientist, he is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University.

    On May 22nd he came to Intelligence Squared to share the insights he has acquired over his 40-year career into the nature of how we think, decide and act. Dennett revealed his favourite thinking tools, or 'intuition pumps', that he and others have developed for addressing life's most fundamental questions. As well as taking a fresh look at familiar moves - Occam's Razor, reductio ad absurdum - he discussed new cognitive solutions designed for the most treacherous subject matter: evolution, meaning, consciousness and free will.

    By acquiring these tools and learning to use them wisely, we can all aspire to better understand the world around us and our place in it.


    February 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
    • pourmonamijc

      I find the first slide of the video quite revealing. The message you are trying to convey is not so much that you are atheist but rather that you are intelligent. This is what this is really about. I must admit one thing; we rarely hear about Christianity intelligently. The major hurdle in the US when it comes to Christianity is the heresy of Sola Scriptura. When anyone can be reasonably objective they must come to the conclusion that no one knows why there is something rather than nothing. By the way the Big Bang theory come from the brain of a catholic monk/priest who was a close friend with some of the greatest minds of its time. So, yes, faith and intelligence are possible.

      February 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
      • LinCA


        You said, "When anyone can be reasonably objective they must come to the conclusion that no one knows why there is something rather than nothing."
        You'll be hard-pressed to find an atheist here that will claim to know for certain that there isn't a remote possibility that there "is something". The difference between acknowledging that there is a possibility, however remote, and blindly accepting that there is something, and worse, that there is something even remotely resembling the christian god, is vast.

        Given all available evidence, the odds that there is anything like the christian god, or any other, are infinitesimally small. They are on par with the odds that there is really an Easter Bunny or a Tooth Fairy.

        You said, "By the way the Big Bang theory come from the brain of a catholic monk/priest who was a close friend with some of the greatest minds of its time. So, yes, faith and intelligence are possible."
        While the combination is possible, I imagine that the cognitive dissonance must be staggering.

        February 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Not all cognitive dissonances are equal.

        Young earth creationism is absurd. The notion of an existence outside what we can observe within our physical universe is much less so.

        Having said that, vindicive and capricious but somehow loving Gods are an oxymoron.

        February 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
  17. ewfjcopwaef

    Religious nutjobs are weak-minded, brainwashed, irrational, ignorant, gullible lemmings holding back the human race.

    February 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
    • demfromsc

      Beautifully said, and extremely accurate.

      February 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
    • derado8

      I disagree. I understand the poster is frustrated and I think that AA should have been allowed. But I also think insults are a poor sales pitch.

      If you wanted to market a product you wouldn't say ignorant, brainwashed people holding back humanity don't drink fizz cola.

      You would probably say smart, clear thinking people who are an asset to the human race drink fizz cola.

      It's all in the marketing.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
      • LinCA


        I was a statement of fact, not a sales pitch.

        February 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm |
  18. Salero21

    Atheists because of their extreme hypocrisy, compulsive and pathological lying misrepresented themselves. No surprises here at all!!

    That extreme hypocrisy and pathological lying besides being one, if not the biggest Evidence of the Total stupidity of atheism. Has place them [atheists] outside the realm of men of reason and reasonable men. Just as Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro et al, they are not interested at all in any form of Fair and Just Government.

    They just want to be in charge, to impose by crook or hook, by the might makes right belief, their evil Cult like system of "non-belief". Which includes among many other evils their choice of an economical philosophy/system, namely communism.

    February 25, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
    • johnbiggscr

      Well thanks for that total nonsense.

      So what are you? a troll or just a hypocrite believer? We'll let you choose.

      February 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
      • daphnerp

        I vote troll.

        February 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
        • johnbiggscr

          I dont know if troll, he seems to a be genuine hypocrite to me

          February 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
      • Salero21

        And you, what or who are you? Are you a child of the devil or just the devil's child?

        February 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • johnbiggscr

          so hypocrite then, at least we now know.

          February 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
    • bostontola

      You forgot to mention that atheists steal children from their families, and perform human sacrifices regularly.

      February 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
      • johnbiggscr

        no, no, not sacrifices. A sacrifice suggests an offering to something. You have to say an atheist performs scientific human dissection.

        February 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
        • joey3467

          NO even that is too nice. Atheists just cut up people for no reason at all.

          February 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
        • meatheist

          We do it in front of the parents to make them suffer. We are just plain mean.

          February 25, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
    • hotairace

      I wonder why Dalahazz has not reined in this azz?

      February 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
  19. bostontola

    People were tortured and killed in various European countries for adhering to the "wrong" sect of Christianity. The American colonies were a place people could come to find a place to worship as they pleased. That freedom is as conservative as it gets. Ironic that a conservative group would ban a group for not having a religious affiliation. We are in danger of becoming what we fled.

    February 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • Akira


      February 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
    • jedclampett

      I am pretty sure that the conservative muslim booth was also rejected. The GOP big tent is more like a small shed.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "The American colonies were a place people could come to find a place to worship as they pleased."

      Only if you picked the 'right' colony. Pick the wrong one and you were persecuted.

      Start with the Battle of the Severn (1655).
      Franklin ran away from Boston to get away from the likes of Cotton Mather and his cronies in ~1723.
      The colonies were a sectarian minefield, which is in large measure why we have a secular government.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
      • jellyroll713

        The Puritans were not nice people. All you hear in school is that they fled England seeking religious freedom. What you're not told is that the freedom they wanted was the freedom to persecute those who didn't conform to their incredibly conservative views. England enforced religious tolerance in a very limited way, but even that was too much for those who demand power over others in the name of their god. Don't be too surprised at the bizarre contortions of the religious right. This stuff in in our DNA.

        February 25, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
  20. mikeymo74

    For Christian conservatives, freedom of religion just means freedom to push their religion down everyone else's throat.

    February 25, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • bluebirdsister

      I have to agree. It seems Christian conservatives are putting their rights above those of others.

      February 25, 2014 at 5:31 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.